Saturday, November 30, 2019

Happy New (Liturgical) Year!

Happy New Year!  Is it just me, or is having Advent starting three days after Thanksgiving sending you into a bit of a tailspin?   I just feel like we should at least have all the turkey eaten before we bring out the Advent wreath, right?  But such is life when we mix the secular holidays with the liturgical season, I suppose.  Not that I have a real problem with that, of course.  It’s just more to celebrate!  But it does make this mom a little crazy, and last year’s week in between was awfully nice.  Thankfully, I can set up our Advent wreath pretty quickly, and the Thanksgiving leftovers will keep me from having to cook supper, so all in all, it’s probably not as bad as I’m making it out to be.

I haven’t blogged much this year, so I thought that maybe to close out this liturgical year, I’d share how our family celebrated it.  I always feel like I should be doing more with my family to celebrate various saints’ days, holy days, etc. but there is only so much time, and so I just try to pick and choose a few things each month.  Each year, however, I feel like I do a little more than the year before, and now that I’m looking back at some of the photos from our liturgical year, I realize that I did more than I’d thought, which I hope means that I’m creating a very Catholic home in which my children are learning the faith in fun and memorable ways.  I’m not sure if it is sticking with them or not, but I know that I’m enjoying it!  And maybe that’s the real reason I’m doing it.  Maybe it’s less for the kids and more for me, because I never received this kind of catechesis when I was a Catholic child.   As a first-generation post-Vatican II kid, I feel like I was deprived of a lot in regards to being catechized and understanding the meaning (and joy) in what our church does and teaches.  So, I am learning now right along with my children, and I can’t imagine doing things any differently.  Following the liturgical calendar has enriched our lives so much, and as Catholics living in the Bible belt, has especially helped us to feel connected to a larger Catholic community since where we live, we have none of that.

I must say, however, that I have to give Kendra Tierney and her blog and book most of the credit for getting me so far on this journey of living a life centered around the liturgical calendar.  Had I not found her blog a few years ago, I’d have had no idea where to start.  So thank you to her for being a shining example to me and so many other Catholic parents and teachers who are part of the same generation that I came from, growing up Catholic with no idea how to live that out on a daily basis, let alone pass it down to our kids.  There is no way to measure the difference that Kendra’s efforts have made for my family and hundreds, maybe thousands, of families now.  All we needed was a leader.

So, without further ramblings, here’s a little photo collage of how we spent our liturgical year, 2019. 


St. Nicholas Day.  This is a favorite. Our kids love it as much as Christmas day. 
They get candy and new shoes and sometimes new winter coats or pajamas. 
I'm always amazed that they love this day so much considering we give them just a few things.

For Marian feast days, we always try to get fresh flowers for "our mother" and say a rosary.
Sometimes, the flowers go outside around our outdoor statue of the Blessed Mother,
but when it is below freezing, I put them inside around this little statue.

Of course, we have a Christmas tree.  We put the tree up on Gaudete Sunday.
 This year, the boys decorated the tree all by themselves.  A first for them, and a win for mom!

Other things we did during Advent but not pictured are daily lighting of the Advent wreath after supper followed by Advent prayers.  We try to do "little gifts for Jesus" through Advent, being mindful of how we can "gift him" him love by loving others.  We hang lights in our home on the feast of St. Lucy and leave them up until Candlemas. And we always go to a Posada hosted by our Mexican friends, which is a definite highlight of our Advent season.


On Christmas day, we always have a birthday cake for Jesus and sing Happy Birthday to him.
 This year, I was told Jesus wanted German chocolate.  LOL!

After Christmas Day, we always take a few days off lessons and celebrate the Christmas octave.  We also try to do something extra fun and Christmasy during the 12 Days of Christmas.   For the feast of the Holy Family, we always go on a family hike, and for the feast of the Holy Innocents, we always visit the graves of our unborn babies.   To wrap up the Christmas celebrations, we have a big party on the Feast of the Epiphany, complete with a frantic search for gold (chocolate gold coins), a king cake, and the blessing of the home


We start February by celebrating Candlemas and putting all our candles out on the mantle and lighting them after sunset.  It is so pretty! We also take down our Christmas lights on Candlemas.  For St. Valentine's day this year, I made a vegan, gluten free raspberry and cashew creme sorbet. The kids loved it!  We also spent the first two weeks of February writing little love notes to each other and hanging them on the window, then when February 14 came around, we took them down and made little books for each member of the family out of them.  


We don't do much celebrating during Lent, of course.  The boys made little chains with 40 links, each with a special virtue to practice that day during the 40 days of Lent.  We did take a break though to celebrate Joah's baptism anniversary, and then a few days later, St. Joseph's day.  We wore red and enjoyed homemade pastries with whipped cream.


Easter! Mass followed by a feast at home and egg hunt always make our Easter Sunday a fun (and hectic) day!  We make a point of celebrating the entire octave of Easter too, by having dessert every day and eating steak on the Friday of the octave (we normally abstain from meat on Fridays).  Later during the Easter season, we had our own May crowning of the Blessed Mother in our yard, and managed to finally get an Easter family photo.  But best of all, during Easter, Joah received his First Holy Communion this year!


In June, we make a special treat to mark the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The boys got a kick out of the bloody heart, as only boys would!  We also made some chocolate angels to surround it.  Then later that month, we made a trip to the University of Notre Dame so that our boys could experience a real Catholic wedding.  While traveling, we made a point of buying some special treats for John, who celebrated his name day on the Feast of  the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 24th. 


The Feast of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary is also our son John's baptismal anniversary, so we were sure to make him a little treat and renew his/our baptismal promises that day.  Then, after mass, we all processed to this new little shrine across the street and watched our priest bless this statue.  Two weeks later, the statue was stolen, but by divine intervention, was returned to the church unharmed 10 days later!  Later in August, we celebrated Dominic's birthday and since he turned 3, he had a special blessing and party after mass the following Sunday, for his Presentation to Jesus (a Hispanic Catholic tradition). He looked so handsome!


The first couple of weeks of October are filled with so many great saint feast days and so we put out our statues and try to remember to ask them for their intercession. On October 2nd, we remember Dominic's baptism, and he loved the chocolate cake I made with little angels on it. Given all that happened during his birth, I just know that he has the best guardian angels watching over him and love that his baptismal anniversary falls on this special day.


For All Saints' Day, I went a little crazy.  This year, not only did the kids dress up as saints but Tom and I did as well.  And even my parents got into the act, dressing up as St. Isidore and St. Rita.  We wore our costumes to mass and then afterwards, hosted an All Saints' Day party at our house for the whole parish (which really isn't that many people).  It was a lot of work but worth it when I saw how much fun everyone was having and how it made the holy day extra special for everyone who participated. Which I think just proves that the greatest way to evangelize is to simply show enthusiasm!  

And that, in a nutshell, was our liturgical year.  I know I've forgotten a few other things but this is the gist of it.  I'm already looking forward to the year to come.  If you haven't incorporated a little liturgical living into your daily life, I really encourage you to give it a try.  And even if you don't have kids at home, I think it could still be fun!  Who doesn't like having a few more things to celebrate??   I hope you have a blessed new year to come!  Happy Adventing!

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