Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas….

Okay, it is 4.25 a.m. Christmas Eve. And I can’t sleep.

Not sleeping is nothing new. Welcome to my life.

I’m adding items to a Christmas to do list.

And getting so excited about Christmas tomorrow. The Midnight Mass tonight. The Nativity of Our Lord.

In the liturgical year there is a historical progression, beginning in Advent with the waiting for the coming of the Messiah.

Followed by the remembrance of His birth at Christmas.

During the Sundays after Epiphany, the Holy Childhood is commemorated, while during Lent we are reminded of the fasting in the desert and the Passion of Our Lord.

The sacred cycle is completed at Eastertide, when we celebrate the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord and the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.

Notes from the Roman Missal (1962): Christmastide (The Christmas Cycle)

II. CHRISTMASTIDE (from the Vigil of the Nativity [December 24] through the Baptism of Our Lord [January 13]).

During the Season of Advent we longed for the coming of Christ. In Christmastide we experience the joy of His coming into the world.

The Church is full of the Mystery of the Incarnation of Christ. Jesus as God, begotten of the substance of the Father before all the ages and born of the substance of His Mother in the world, is given to us. ‘And His Name shall be called the Angel of Great Counsel.’

By the union of our souls with Jesus born to human life, we are born to the divine life. ‘As many as receive Him He gave them power to be made Sons of God.’ (St. John)In the birth of Jesus we learn to know God as His Father: ‘All things are delivered to Me by My Father. And no one knoweth the Father but the Son and he whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him.’ (St. Matthew)

During Christmastide, the liturgy shows us the Messias as the Son of God, clothed with humanity, glorified by the humble surprised shepherds, and adored by the Magi from the East.

Let us fall down before the Child and bless God, for the birth of Jesus is the beginning of our Redemption through grace to the supernatural life.

Christmas is the only day of the year which keeps the custom of celebrating its Feast at midnight. At this hour we call to mind that Mary in her spotless virginity gave to the world its Saviour. In the midst of the darkness, the Light was born. Therefore the Church celebrates Christmas on December 25, the time of the year when the days begin to lengthen.

Whereas Advent is the season of the ‘absence of Jesus,’ Christmastide is a season of great joy in our possession of the Saviour.

I love the history, the significance, the outward expression of our Christianity, seen in our celebration of the liturgical year.


Cui peccare licet peccat minus

This was posted at the Unschooling Catholics email list.

A quote from Ovid, roughly translated as He who is allowed to sin, sins less.

Now, the poem deals with a husband wishing to restrain a young wife and points put how she must own her chastity and that this ownership would make her chaste without spousal restraints.

Among other things.

We have discussed how this may, or may not, apply to our children. And to our relationship with our children.

I found the statement to be true in my own growing up.

My mum was very liberal . I had no curfews, no rules about under age drinking, no dress codes, no rules about bedtimes or books or movies.

I ended up being the most conservative of my friends. I used to make sure I’d be home at a reasonable time, while my friends wouldn’t get home to the minute of their curfew. I felt I had to be responsible so as to not betray my mum’s trust and because I was in charge of myself, I ended up acting as a grown up.

Now, I grew up in a single parent home and as the eldest child, always felt responsible for my mum. I felt I had to protect her. I felt that I had to be better than average, as a justification of sorts for our then unusual lifestyle choices.

So, freedom to sin ( or not) is not the whole story. I had freedom to sin yet I chose not. Because of the freedom? Or because of family dynamics?

Or because of who I am . A reader. Someone who was a bookworm as a child. I devoured the classics and children’s stories alike and ended up being heavily influenced by some favourite authors. I learned about virtues, about Christianity, about virtuous conduct, about warm family life, from books. From novels. As writer Maya Angelou said ~ When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading,just as I did when I was young.

Some of this experience has flowed onto my relationship with my children. I have always read aloud, strewed books, shared books, talked books. I have tried to have few rules, to discuss the whys and wherefores, to give my sons freedom to choose, while hoping that sharing my life and faith and books will help form their consciences.

The kids have never had set bedtimes or curfews, for example. I try to offer guidance not rules for dress and music and books and friends.

I try to keep in mind St John Bosco’s words to educators –Love what the boys love and they will come to love what you hold dear.

And St Philip Neri to the boys in his care– Do as you wish, I do not care so long as you do not sin.

Three Years

Three years. We will be in Sydney another three years.

Dh has received a transfer, to another position here in Sydney. This posting is for three years. So, here we are. Here we stay. Hopefully, this is right for us. What God wants.

A super nice thing about staying in Sydney is being with friends. We’ve made some NICE friends, very nice….And some of these friends gave me the blue willow soup tureen above, as a Christmas-and-thank-you present ; a thank you for organising Homeschool Teen Group. Love blue willow. Love my friends.

Another of the really, really good things about living in Sydney is the chance to experience various exhibitions. Like the Monet Exhibition in November. And the Star Wars Exhibition this week.

We came straight home from the exhibition and strew our Star Wars books. Wanna catch up on the Star Wars movies again.

Right now we are strewing Advent, Christmas and Star Wars!

Mary Mackillop

I am reading Mary Mackillop Unveiled as part of my Advent reading. A bit of Australian history mixed with the story of Blessed Mary Mackillop.

Reading of her spiritual life, I am struck by the the strength of her friendship with Fr. Julian Woods. Fr. Woods was Mary’s friend, mentor, spiritual director, confidante.

They shared correspondence. They shared jokes and made light fun of each other.

Fr Woods wrote to Mary ~ ” I think I have told you about 100 times that if I have much to do and cannot write, you mustn’t think that I am in a huff. I think also I have said, say half as many times, that if I should be offended with you, I should tell you so without loss of timee…Think of me up to my knees in unopened letters, up to my elbows in ink, up to my eyebrows in postage stamps – obliterated of course – and out of my wits trying to understand where I am, who I am, and how I am to satisfy all. But an end must come. Who knows but I shall be found lifeless at my desk with an epitaph just finished – he answered his letters, the mail is now closed“..Thinking that Mary may take his letter too seriously he finished “I give
you leave to read this to your sister Maggie, for perhaps you may misunderstand and she will laugh

Reading this letter, makes the Saint seem more real.

And I am reminded of the strong connection between many Saints, many holy people, and priests, as spiritual directors and as friends.

Margarita Tuchkova , a holy woman of the Borodino community in Russia, who built a memorial church, a women’s community, and a flourishing monastery ~ with the encouragment of her priest, friend and mentor.

St Elizabeth of Hungary and Conrad of Marburg.

St Peter of Alcantara and St Teresa of Avila.

Many, many others.

We are lucky to have our priests in our Church. Their role is important and yet can easily be taken for granted.

Why must there be a Catholic priesthood for the survival of the Catholic Church? Listen. In the times of convolution over the past centuries notably in the sixteenth century the Catholic Church disappeared where the necessity of the Catholic Priesthood was denied. There is no Catholic Church without the priesthood instituted by Christ.
To understand this necessity is to have laid the foundations for a correct appreciation of the Church’s ordained priesthood. We may think well of – we may respect – what is useful but we prize we hold onto with all the force of our being with what we think is necessary. We hold onto with our life’s blood what is necessary and the priesthood is necessary for the life’s blood of the Church. There is no Catholic Church – underline, encircle, emblazon the word, “NO” – there is no Catholic Church without the priesthood. It is the faith realization of the absolute necessity of the Priesthood that justifies the place, the dignity of the priest in Roman Catholicism. And why the people who may be both torn between their faith and their experience, will respect, honor a priest no matter how humanly speaking, how dishonorable he may become.
It is this necessity that justifies the deep concern of the Church at large and of the faithful for having holy priests because then their sanctity is the visible expression of their necessity. It justifies the conviction of the necessity of the priesthood. Justifies the crusade of prayers and sacrifices by religious and the faithful for priests, for the conversion of priests who have strayed away, and for their continued and ever growing sanctification.

Fr. John Hardon ~ The Necessity of the Catholic Priesthood.

What makes a priest different or special? Fr. Hardon goes on to say ~

There are people who are more intelligent than priests – I know I have taught too many priests and lay people too. There are people who are holier than priests, there are people who are better qualified as leaders, leaders in society than priests. But that is not the issue,…. having a long conversation with the Lutheran Chaplain while teaching at the state university – we knew each other well. He had his doctorate in theology like I had mine. We talked over a period of months on what is or is there any difference between an ordained minister like himself and a Catholic priest…..Do you know what the word ontological means? He said sure, ontological has to do with (ontos) the Greek word for being. When you were ordained as you say to the Lutheran ministry were you ontologically different than you were before? He said no! Well, I did!

There is a change in being, a change in ontos, and in its own way as different a change in being as a child before being baptized and then is baptized. It is just not the same person.

Now what is it that the sacrament orders confers on the priest that gives the priest the power to do and changes him not only in time but as faith tells us into eternity?
A priest receives the power of offering the sacrifice of the Mass. A priest receives the power to forgive sins. The priest receives the power of exercising authority in Christ’s name.
So, if we recognise the importance of priests in our Church, how should we then act? Act towards these priests, those in our local parish, for example? How should we treat all religious?

Well, we should treat everyone with respect. Adults, children, priests, religious, old, young…

In particular, we should treat our priests and religious with extra courtesy.


I will paraphrase some of Fr. Hardon’s suggestions.
*Promote vocations .
*Pray, pray for priests and religious.
*Sacrifice for priests. A priest is one who is to sacrifice. The hard part of the priesthood is not the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass. It is the self-sacrifice that a priest is called upon to make and the more priestly a priest is the more the people of God will use him, will wear him out. Priests need the merits of our sacrifices.
*Assist priests.Help, assist, provide services. Help your parish.
*Encourage priests and religious. Our parish women’s group has committed to pray daily for the friars in our parish and we hope to encourage them in their vocation by our talk and by our deeds.Don’t you love it when someone notices something you have done, gives you a gift or says something nice, helps you when you need it or when you are feeling less than happy? How nice to do that for others..

Definitely. Something for us to think about as Christmas approaches.

Gaudete Sunday

Last Sunday.

We, however, lit our rose candle, for Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent, on Monday.

Rose, a colour for rejoicing, amidst the other purple or violet candles ( penitence) for Advent. Violet, recalling somberness and penance. Rose, which has never enjoyed frequent use, serves as a reminder, by using an unusual color, that we are halfway through a penitential season.
Why have a variety of colour in our church, in our Advent wreath? Well, this gives an outward expression to the character of the mysteries of faith being celebrated ( for example, to Advent and then to Christmas). And it also gives a sense of Christian life and of our passage through the year, the liturgical year. Visual reminders of our journey.

Sunday, however, was just too busy for us to remember to light the rose candle – Mass, junk mail delivery, finishing off the parish newsletter, arriving at church at 4pm to help set up for carols that night.

Fun carols. Fun to be with friends.

Ended up at McDonalds late, after 10.00 pm, for a late dinner, after clean up.


A break mid Advent, similar to the break of Laetare Sunday mid Lent.

Gaudete Sunday, therefore, makes a breaker like Laetare Sunday, about midway through a season which is otherwise of a penitential character, and signifies the nearness of the Lord’s coming.

The spirit of the Office and Liturgy all through Advent is one of expectation and preparation for the Christmas feast as well as for the second coming of Christ, and the penitential exercises suitable to that spirit are thus on Gaudete Sunday suspended, as were, for a while in order to symbolize that joy and gladness in the Promised Redemption which should never be absent from the heart of the faithful. Catholic Encyclopedia



Wow. Greg is back from the UK. We had a birthday cake for him, his birthday was this last week.
And I am thrilled to receive two blog awards from

Grace at Beyond the Black Stump. Isn’t she sweet? Run over and check out her blog.

The awards? One for being real ( the Marie Antoniette award) and Grace also tagged me as being one of her favourite Catholics. She writes – I have been tagged by Therese to name my 10 favourite living Catholics.Too easy, my favourite Catholics are the nameless faces I have observed over the years. Those folk that do nothing spectacular but their faith seems to shine from them. They have warmth in their eyes and a kind smile.

That describes Grace.