December 5, 2007 § Leave a comment
I finally have gotten around to moving the pictures off the camera and onto the computer.
First our wall wreath:
Then our Advent Wreath:
December 3, 2007 § Leave a comment
Last night we had a fantastic time. Not only was it the first Sunday of Advent, but we went to see Trans Siberian Orchestra and really enjoyed it.
We made our wreaths yesterday. I will have pictures of them later today.
November 17, 2007 § Leave a comment
I have created a page for Advent Ideas. If you have an idea you would be willing to share please comment or send me a link.
November 14, 2007 § Leave a comment
Advent, the basics for this year:
The first Sunday of Advent is December 2nd, 2007. December 9th, 16th and 23rd obviously filling out the four weeks. Important dates within Advent are: the Feast of Saint Nicholas on Thursday, December 6, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday, December 8 and the Feast of Saint Lucy on Thursday, December 13. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a Holy Day of Obligation. The four weeks of Advent are typically “themed” Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. I have seen several variations on this, but I would discard any that didn’t have the pink candle and Joy for week three (Gaudete).
Advent is not just a Catholic thing, Lutherans and a few others have long celebrated it and some other reformed and protestant churches are also bringing it back. But I am not really up on all the ways others celebrate so you might have to bare with me.
Advent is ideally a time of prayer and spiritual reflection. A time for anticipating the Birth of the Savior. Which sounds rather strange considering it is an event that took place some 2000 years ago, but we anticipate it every year as part of the liturgical calendar. Liturgy is one of those sublime things. Its ability to bring us in again and again to the events that shape our collective faith strengthens and shapes our personal faith. The birth of Christ, celebrated in the darkest days of the year, reminds us in a very tangible way that no matter how far from Him we have traveled and how broken we have made ourselves Christ is born again in the darkness of our lives and we are born again in Him.
I didn’t grow up with Advent, being a convert. Our family has been building our Advent traditions each year we try one or two new ideas and keep those things we find give us joy and build our faith. Not everything works for every family.
After my conversion to the Catholic faith in 1998 I was overwhelmed by everything that is Catholic. There are many wonderful devotions and practices, traditions and cultural expressions of the Catholic faith. No one can do them all. Advent really appealed to me. Each year we have experimented with one or two ideas and kept those that mean the most to us.
Over the next couple weeks I am going to write about those Advent activities that have become traditions for our family. Today I want to focus on The Wreath. One of the first things we began was the advent wreath. I make two evergreen wreaths every year. One a wall hanging and one for the Advent wreath. It becomes the focal point during Advent. Four candles, three purple and one pink adorn the wreath in addition to ribbons and florist “picks”.
Some parishes have Advent wreath making events where the parishioners gather together and make their wreaths which are then blessed and taken home to be used throughout the season. We make ours at home. Later this month I will post instructions and hopefully pictures of our wreath making endeavors. Anyone can bless the wreath (you don’t need to take it to a priest) usually I see prayer books recommend the father take on this duty and I think that is a wonderful thing.
November 12, 2007 § 1 Comment
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.
November 9, 2007 § Leave a comment
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.
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.
November 7, 2007 § Leave a comment
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.