Advent · Blogs I Know

Preparing for Advent 2007

This year we are trying something a little bit new for us.  We are trying to finish our Christmas shopping before Advent.  The goal is two-fold: missing the Christmas consumerism chaos and being able to set Advent aside as a spiritual, joyful and family time.

Goldstar #1 for me I have my Advent candles purchased and ready to go. 

The Anchoress has a couple ideas for Christmas gifts and I really like the idea of purchasing from religious and entrepreneurs.   Fantastic idea and there is still time in most cases to make it a reality.  I will toss a plug out there for one of my favorites the date nut cake from Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey in Lafayette, Oregon.

Blogs I Know

A wonderful poem

Over at Shower of Roses I found a lovely little poem by St. John Berchman.  A lovely site and well worth checking out.

Here is the poem:

      To an Altar Boy

To be Christ’s page at the altar,
To serve Him freely there,
Where even the angels falter,
Bowed low in reverent prayer.

To touch the throne most holy,
To hand the gifts for the feast,
To see Him meekly, lowly,
Descend at the word of the priest.

To hear man’s poor petition,
To sound the silver bell,
When He in sweet submission,
Comes down with us to dwell.

No grander mission surely
Could saints or men enjoy;
No heart should love more purely,
Than yours, my altar boy.

God bless you, lad, forever,
And keep you in His care,
And guard you that you never
Belie the robes you wear.

For white bespeaks untainted
A heart both tried and true;
And red tells love the sainted
And holy martyrs knew.

Throughout life, then, endeavor
God;s graces to employ;
And be in heart forever
A holy altar boy.

Blogs I Know · Faith in Action

On the side of good

In Red Hat, Brown Radical over at Whispers in the Loggia we read about cardinal-archbishop Sean O’Malley.  It is a wonderful read.  Two points I would like to pluck for you:

Though canonically released from his vow of poverty on his appointment to the episcopacy in 1984, the Friar-prelate has gone to considerable lengths to maintain the simple state of life.

As bishop of Fall River, for example, O’Malley once got a group of priests excited by inviting them to dinner at his “new favorite restaurant,” the clerics only discovering when they pulled into the parking lot that their bishop’s choice was a Pizza Hut. Then, in Boston, he sold the Italianate palace occupied by a century’s worth of his predecessors to help fund the archdiocese’s abuse settlement, taking up residence in a spare room at the rectory of Holy Cross Cathedral.

and  his own comments:

Some people are advocating removing some of the concrete directives on prayer that are in the Constitutions and place them in the Ordinances. This would be a fatal mistake. The ordinances are unknown and irrelevant to most of the friars. The Rule and Constitutions will always be the documents that form us and teach us our identity. The Constitutions cannot be a weak exhortation to live a vague ideal of the most common denominator. Rather, the Constitutions should be a challenging document that incorporates concrete directives about the life of prayer, poverty, and austerity. We need more boldness in our Constitutions if we are going to inspire young men to join our ranks.

It is boldness not ease that is drawing young people into religious life and inspiring young families to lead a more “Roman” Catholic life.

Advent · Christmas Alliance · Fun · My world

An Old Christmas Friend

thecinnamonbear.jpg

Here in Portland we are blessed when it comes to radio.  We have a couple very nice Christian talk/music stations, a great jazz station, very good classical and my personal favorite KBVM — our very own lay-owned Catholic radio station. 

Among the many fantastic things about KBVM is the Advent/Christmas season.  While every other radio station is stuck playing the same 14 Christmas songs 24/7 KBVM is playing its regular selections with Advent music mixed in.  Christmas Eve comes followed by Christmas day and 12 days of Christmas music both religious and secular to celebrate the season.  

KBVM is a family friendly radio station.  Twice a day there is “Kid’s songs” — Veggietales, fun sing-along songs and community children reciting scriptures or prayers.  My children look forward to this especially during Advent where KBVM replaces their usual offerings with a classic radio show entitled “The Cinnamon Bear”. 

I believe that the start date this year will be November 16th.  You can listen to KBVM on their website.  “The Cinnamon Bear” dates back to the 1930s and is really quaint.  Two children go up into their attic to find their Christmas star and end up on a wild adventure hunting a Crazy-Quilt Dragon who has stolen their star with the help of Paddy O’Cinnamon.  I will admit that I find it a wee bit grating, but the children laugh and get terribly excited by it and look forward to each installment… so who am I to argue. 

For more information check out:
Wikipedia for some history on the program
Radio Lovers has all the shows for free download to listen

So this Advent season you might want to check it out.  And take a couple minutes to check out the other offerings at the Christmas Alliance.

Advent · Faith in Action · Simplicity

Living with less

Simply Catholic is the name of this place and when looking through the “Search terms” I find that a good number of people come here looking for “Simple Christian living”,  “Catholic Simplicity”, “Living Simply Catholic” and similar quests.  And it has been a while since I have addressed the concept of simplicity.  

Why do people search for simplicity?  Especially Christian/Catholic Simplicity?  I think the root has a lot to do with how cluttered our daily lives are.  We sense something important in our faith and we know instinctively that if we could focus on that we would be happier, more fulfilled, more ourselves and much more at peace.  But life is so overwhelmingly cluttered that we can’t fathom where to start, even how to begin.  So people go online and search hoping to find a solution or a path. 

I am not an expert on much, but I can do simple.  The first step is learning to let go.  And that can be really difficult.  I understand that.  But we do not find happiness in things, we find happiness in living and when our things (stuff, jobs, homes, activities) take away from our living for God and for each other then they are hurting us. 

Advent is coming soon.  For Catholics Advent 2007  starts December 2nd.   I plan on using the time between now and then to start decluttering my house (again) so that I will have more “space” to concentrate on spiritual things this Advent.  I look at it as “unpacking” for the journey.

Blogs I Know · Caritas

Speaking of Dumb as Rocks

Corinne Maier has published a ground breaking work that is sure to save shallow idiots everywhere from the horrible drudgery and tedium that is parenthood.  Her No Kid, 40 Reasons for Not Having Childrenpoints out chapter by chapter that having children is hard work, self sacrifice and not the fast track to material success — just in case you missed that and figured that child-rearing would be a good way to entertain yourself and would keep you from being lonely. Yes, and in other news water IS wet.

I have seen a lot of comments in the “Mommy-blog-sphere” about how awful this book is, especially for this woman’s children.  But I can’t help but wonder… really is she serious?  Could anyone actually have a degree in psychology and still be so stunningly naive about the burden that child rearing can be?  Could anyone be that clueless?  I find it much more likely that she wrote the book to be provocative and knew it would stir a reaction and consequently make her a great deal of money.   Either that or she really is unfathomably self-centered and incapable of understanding that other people are not having children for exactly the same reasons she claims to have. 

I never expected raising children to be easy, but it is fun.  There are moments of heartbreak and pain.  There is also unexplainable pride, joy and happiness.  There is nothing that beats seeing my children learn and grow and become interesting accomplished people in their own right.   I suppose if I thought they would be little robots that I programed out to be just like what I wanted, or it to be some fantasy perfect child thing I would be disappointed, but then I probably would have stopped at two.   

I hope, really I do hope that Ms Maier is sitting around the dinner table tonight laughing with her children about how great mummy’s little plan to make them enough money to afford a great vacation this year and put them through university is going.  They all giggle at the great joke they have played on the world.  She gives them a big hug tonight and tells them how much she loves them and that she wouldn’t trade them for all the art exhibits and cocktail parties  in the world.  Because really, the alternative is sad. 

A tip of the hat to Karen Edmisten