religion, Unschooling

It is beginning to look a lot like Advent….

…….In this illuminated miniature Saint Bernard is intoning the Introit of the First Sunday of Advent, Ad te levavi animam meam. He is lifting up his soul in the form of a newborn baby, the new liturgical year! God the Father, surrounded by angelic hosts, thrones in glory above him. To his left a choir of monks sings the Introit that Bernard has intoned…..

It is beginning to look a lot like Advent..and we have…..Christmas DVDS to start watching………….

An Advent Calendar with Advent readings for the family to read together ( we have yet to choose our Advent personal spiritual reading, and yet to choose our Advent penances) …….

Ourside Advent Wreath………….
………………………Christmas books to read………………………..

…..Our table centrepiece and Advent Wreath..and our traditional Cadbury’s chocolate Advent calendar….

…and violet or purple vestments for Holy Mass on this first Sunday in Advent.

Hidden Art

What is Hidden Art? In The Hidden Art of Homemaking Edith Schaeffer writes:

Whatever it is, surely art involves creativity and originality. Whatever form art takes, it gives outward expression to what otherwise would remain locked in the mind, unshared. .

It is true that all men are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator. If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for our appreciation.

I first read this book about eighteen years ago. Eighteen years! I can’t believe it was that long ago ..I was expecting son number five,. Had just prayed my very-first-ever-novena. This one to St Gerard Majella, asking for intercession for the gift of another child. I was on bed rest, in a difficult pregnancy healthwise, and although not yet Catholic, I knew the power of prayer.

And the power of beauty.

Into my life came the above book, inspiring one to find Hidden Art in daily life. To appreciate beauty in both work and prayer.

I found beauty in prayer in the Latin Mass, Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Eventually found my way , four years later, to being a Catholic.. as you all know.

Not only did I experience beauty and Truth in the mass, in the prayers, in the beliefs expressed by the words and actions of the mass. I also found beauty in the externals..My senses were filled…and I was drawn into Catholicism by God…my mind, my soul, my heart, my urge for beauty and little bit of the sacred were also satisifed…the candles on the altar, brightly polished candle stands; awe inspiring icons ; reflective art for Stations of the Cross; incense; marble altars with intricate altar cloths; priestly vestments, made with care and detail, colours changing to reflect the liturgical year, donned wth care and prayer..there was nothing ordinary, every day, nothing prosaic in the mass..Every detail was taken care of, to demonstrate and catechize inspire..

Because, however, the celebration of the Eucharist, like the entire Liturgy, is carried out through perceptible signs that nourish, strengthen, and express faith, the utmost care must be taken to choose and to arrange those forms and elements set forth by the Church that, in view of the circumstances of the people and the place, will more effectively foster active and full participation and more properly respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful.
General Instruction of the Roman Missal (20)

I have been on a bit of a “liturgy kick ” recently. Reminding myself of what is important in liturgy; of why the Holy Mass and its rubrics and celebration is important.

And today I remembered The Hidden Art of Homemaking and its application to the beauty of externals in the Mass.

If we should be sensitive to beauty in daily life, how much more should we be sensitive to beauty in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To the beauty of the prayers and of the Eucharist. Christ truly being there, for us to receive.

To the beauty of the externals. Like the vestments of the priest.

Vestments? Those garments, worn by the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon during the celebration of the Eucharist.

These are rich with symbolism; part of their Hidden Art is to remind one of the liturgical year, of the role of the priest, of Christ, of the mass through the centuries, of the sacredness of the liturgy, of the sacredness of the Holy Sacrifice.

The symbolism customary among the liturgists from the ninth to the eleventh century is a moral symbolism, that is the liturgical vestments were made to symbolize the official and priestly virtues of their wearers. In the twelfth century there were added to this the typico-dogmatic symbolism, in which the vestments were expounded in reference to Christ Whose representative is the priest, and soon they symbolized Christ’s Incarnation, the two Natures of Christ, the unity and relation to each other of these natures before long, the virtues of Christ, His teaching, and soon, lately, His relations to the Church.
Curious to say the vestments were not made to symbolize Christ’s Passion and Death. This last symbolism, which may be called typico-representative, first appeared in the course of the thirteenth century, and quickly became very popular, because it was the most easily expressed and consequently most easily understood by the people. The people interpreted the vestments as symbolizing the instruments of Christ’s Passion, as the cloth with which Christ’s head was covered (amice), the robe put on him in mockery (alb), the fetters (cincture, maniple), etc., and the priest who was clothed with these was regarded as typifying the suffering Saviour.

The Catholic Encyclopedia

I wasn’t aware of any of this, when I, as a non Catholic, attended the Latin Mass. I just knew there was a sense of being apart from the world of every day, of entering into the mysteries of Faith and of Life and Death. I wanted to know more.

I was inspired by the beauty of the whole mass, having all my senses employed, my sense of beauty ignited in a spiritual and physical fashion. By prayers and sacred language.

And I was inspired not by unadorned tables or altars and polyster garments but by the richness of detail and the lavish care given to every detail..even to cloths..and candles..and vessels..and statues..and vestments.


The Spirit of the Liturgy

Got hooked on this book. “The Spirit of the Liturgy.”

So many salient quotes with regard to liturgy, to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Because when we go to Mass, we ( hopefully) remember that it is more than a liturgical gathering. It is Holy Mass. It is not praise and worship alone. The central act , the central focus of the Mass, is not that of the priest as such or that of the laity. The central action/focus is Christ our Lord, truly present on the altar.

Mass is not about the people or a committee deciding what to add, what to infuse or inject. It is not like organising a parish barbecue ( I speak from experience here..experience of organising parish barbecues!).

(Mass) … never just an event in the life of a community that finds itself in a particular place. No, to celebrate the Eucharist means to enter into the openness of a glorification of God that embraces both heaven and earth, and openness effected by the Cross and Resurrection. Christian liturgy is never just an event organized by a particular group or set of people or even by a particular local Church. The Spirit of the Liturgy, Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)

We don’t need creativity in the Mass. We don’t need ethnic groups represented. We don’t need spontaneity. These things can be done most effectively outside the mass, in our friendly parishes and events and groups.

Unspontaneity is of their essence. In these rites I discover that something is approaching me here that I did not produce myself, that I am entering into something greater than myself, which ultimately derives from divine revelation. This is why the Christian East calls the liturgy the “Divine Liturgy”, expressing thereby the liturgy’s independence from human control…… . The greatness of the liturgy depends – we shall have to repeat this frequently – on its unspontaneity . Ibid.

My life is full of flexibility, of little traditions ( think Christmas traditions) and rituals ( tea making); time with friends; laughter, music, singing; hanging out; sharing meals with others; ordinary every day actions and words. Oh, and work!

Mass, worship, should be something set apart. Something sacred. Something inspiring awe. Reminding us of eternal, sacred things, of things out of the ordinariness of life. Filling our souls and our sense of , our urge, for beauty.

Helping us to face God, as it were, in our worship and in our lives. Not facing the gods of money, fame, awards, perfect houses…and so on.

From the book above, again,..

A common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of accidentals, but of essentials. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. It is not now a question of dialogue, but of common worship, of setting off towards the One who is to come. What corresponds with the reality of what is happening is not the closed circle, but the common movement forward expressed in a common direction for prayer….In this way we obey the ancient call to prayer: Conversi ad Dominum, “Turn to the Lord!” In this way we look together at the One whose Death tore the veil of the Temple — the One who stands before the Father for us and encloses us in His arms in order to make us the new and living Temple.

Something to think of, during this weekend as we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Giving Your "All"

Sunday November 8, was a time of farewell. Friars leaving our parish, to be replaced by new friars.

One of the friars celebrated his last Sunday mass, thirty second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Fr’s homily was far from ordinary. He inspired not only me, but many others who have also shared with me their thoughts and tears.

Inspired us all to give our ALL.

Give our all in our vocations – be it as husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, priests, religious, lay people, teachers, doctors, nurses..and so on.

Give ourselves fully to our vocations.

The trouble with me hearing give my all is that I tend to use it as a stick with which to beat myself.

I want to give my all because I want to; because I know I should; because it is the right thing to do. And when I fail to give my all, as we all fail at times, I feel guilty and bad.

Catholic guilt? As if! There is no such thing….Nah, I felt like this way before I was a Catholic.

Giving our all in our vocations should be done with love. Yes, I get that part. I love and so I want to give my all.

But it can’t be done on our own. We give our all in love, with love, with God’s help, His graces and His love.
We may give imperfectly but it is in the striving, the leaning on God, the love that counts . That helps us live out our vocations, our lives.

I am the first to admit that this is hard for me. Loving God is easy. Living that out in my vocation is not.

I have read and talked with friends about the Five Love Languages.

How we express our love, in ways that another appreciates.

I love to do things for others..the trouble comes, for me, when others try to do things for me.

I can see where my husband and children have strong leanings towards different love languages – one likes the language of touch; another of affirming words..and so on.

But I, personally, don’t like any of the five love languages. Not that I don ‘t want to be loved but I dislike it, well, feel uncomfortable, when others show they care. I just want to live my life day to day, doing my best, following God, finding joy.

I am uncomfortable with receiving love.

There. I said it. I blogged it. With trepidation. Because maybe my writing this out will help others in their vocations, in giving their all.

And maybe this uncomfortable-ness with emotions is what also prevents me from giving my all in my vocation, giving my all as well I could. Or should. Or as well as I want to.

The Five Love Languages

Words of Affirmation – I am uncomfortable with receiving praise or words of affirmation..but love to affirm others. ( So uncomfortable with words…Lois and Brenda…You know, someone says you have a nice smile and your immediate thought is..yeah, that translates as I’m fat and ugly but they are trying to say something nice..)

Quality Time – love spending time with family and friends but hate the idea of quality time..feel controlled or owned. That I have to perform or please. And fail.

Receiving Gifts – Oh, shopping for gifts for others is so much fun! Receiving gifts can be kind of do I say thank you? How do I receive? I’d rather give!

Acts of Service – This is a big way that I try to show my love, to give my all. I give by giving – gifts and acts of service. But I hate things being done for me! Ack!

Physical Touch – I am just not a touchy feely sort of person. But I am learning to give hugs. To like hugs. Enough said!

These are the things I have thought about this week. Why?
Because of Fr’s excellent homily. Inspiring. Give your all to your vocation!

Because of some emotional stuff. And dealing with emotional eating.

Because of dealing with unhappiness in others – my fault? Did I, am I really giving my all?

And because of wise words from a long term friend….one who knows me and my family and extended family well…a quote…

It is the mother who gives food and in being mothered you were really sold short. So to make up for this, you have been excellent in mothering – both your boys and your friends. Well – I don’t know about the others but you mothered me and you helped in turn with my mothering. I expect its the same for the others though. But all that giving without the initial sustenance has left you starving. And every so often you feel that starvation. But you have been left – not only without a mother – but with a great distrust of being able to receive mothering. So you fill the starvation with food.

Now, these words, and the rest of her too-personal-to-share message, were like a splash of cold water to me. What? Could this be right? Too much to think about!
Two days in Queensland with female friends, for a friend’s son’s graduation, became not only a time of laughter and shopping and fun and talking and alcohol but also a time for prayer and reflection. And book buying. Buy a book! Solve your problem!

Reflection? On giving my all as a wife, mother, friend, teacher.

And learning how to receive so that I can actually give my all. Instead of my (many times) feeble attempts.

And trusting in God, not doing this on my own power, but with His love and grace.

Giving my all in love.
Even when I fail.

Beginners in the service of God sometimes lose confidence when they fall into any fault. When you feel so unworthy a sentiment rising within you, you must lift your heart to God and consider that all your faults, compared with divine goodness, are less than a bit of tattered thread thrown into a sea of fire.Suppose that the whole horizon, as far as you can see from this mountain, were a sea of fire; if we cast into it a bit of tattered thread, it will disappear in an instant. So, when you have committed a fault, humble yourself before God, and cast your fault into the infinite ocean of, charity, and at once it will be effaced from your soul; at the same time all distrust will disappear St Paul of the Cross

And I do all things for the gospel’s sake: that I may be made partaker thereof. Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air: But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9 23-27 ( emphasis mine)



This Sunday I had the privilege of attending three different Sunday masses. A vigil. A morning mass. An evening mass.

Just because that is the way things worked out!

Three masses . Masses with liturgical differences.

All masses were valid. Two masses were celebrated with great care for rubrics and with reverence.

We Catholics express our faith, our beliefs, by actions and by words. Reverence in mass reminds us of Whom we are reverencing.

There is a difference between a mass where the priest follows rubrics carefully and a mass where a priest ad libs. Even a little.

a title, heading, direction, or the like, in a manuscript, book, statute, etc., written or printed in red or otherwise distinguished from the rest of the text.
a direction for the conduct of divine service or the administration of the sacraments, inserted in liturgical books.
3.any established mode of conduct or procedure; protocol.

The rubrics of the Mass form the directions, the guide, for the priest to follow. They serve as protocol for the mass; reminding us that mass is about worshipping God , that it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that Jesus is truly present at the altar..and that mass is not about the people and the personality of the priest.

It is not a feel good exercise.

From one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council – there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them, and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing(Sacrosanctum concilium ).

I am truly not being critical here. Not being that liturgical nazi that my family all hate, the one who decries any change post 1962.

I just know that we go to mass to adore God, to receive Jesus. Yes, within the community of believers and with communion with all the saints but also with a focus on Christ, on prayer, on eternity, not the here and now of laughter/clapping/jokes/priests wandering around giving a homily..( I am sorry, Fr, but it is impossible for me to listen well, to gather myself and my thoughts interiorly, with you wandering near my elbow, giving a homily, asking me and others to cry out Praise the Lord. Is PTL part of the rubrics? Can’t we participate more fully when we are not distracted?).

Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Pope Benedict the XVI, (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) The Spirit of the Liturgy

The richness of Catholic theology, the theology of the Mass, the ritual over the centuries, gradually unfolds in the mass. Forms our beliefs. How we worship really does have an effect on what we believe.

We demonstrate our beliefs by the rubrics of liturgy. We develop and understand these beliefs, we grow in grace and in love and understanding, by the way we worship, by familiarity with the liturgy, a familiarity that comes with repetition – with very careful observance of liturgical norms. If the norms are ignored, are played with, are altered in small ways, not necessarily via big liturgical differences or abuses but via little changes and injections of personality, then we lose an opportunity. We lose a powerful means of transmitting and re-inforcing the Church’s teaching about the meaning of the Mass, of the Eucharist, of what we as Catholics believe.

We lose an opportunity to lift ourselves out of the sometime quagmire of daily life, to think not of ourselves but to lift up our hearts and eyes and minds towards God.

When we change or add little things to the Mass, things that of themselves are not of great substance, that certainly do not mean liturgical abuse or an invalid mass yet are little people-centred innovations, well, when we do this, we not only lose a sense of awe and a sense of the sacred. We also lose a sense of unity, of praying the one and same mass with others.

We have liturgical legislation not to enforce what one writer calls “rigid rubricism” but instead to encourage reverence and unity in Catholic liturgy… in Catholic worship.

The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer..Pope Paul VI


Eating Emotionally

That is, eating to cover up emotions, to deal with emotions.

It is NOT eating with emotion and gusto.

In conversation with a friend today. We discussed many things. One of which was emotional eating.

Now, eating ice cream or chocolate when sad or angry almost seems acceptable amongst my circle of friends. I mean, we all do this at some time or other. We joke about it. We share Facebook comments about our comfort foods. We laugh at how emotional eating is portrayed in movies. Harmless. Fun. An occasional lapse.

For some of us, this emotional eating is not so harmless.

It is how we live.

I live like this.

I am getting better. As I confessed to my friend, at least now I recognise that I am comfort eating. As I stand at the kitchen counter, eating, I now know why.

Before, I just ate. And ate. When angry. Or sad.

Now, I probably still eat and eat but nowadays, as I wolf down another handful of Cheezels or Peanut M &Ms or…as I swallow, I realise what I am doing.

I realise and feel, really feel, the hole inside, something aching. I realise that I am eating to fill that hole. Even though eating doesn’t really help . Or maybe it eat until stuffed so now you feel sick and thus unable to feel that scary emotion.

Is this a step towards recovery from emotional eating? This is what my friend and I talked about. Is there some multi step programme for overcoming eating, working from within?

Step One – you just eat when sad.

Step Two, you still eat but you realise why you eat.

Step Three, you eat, you realise you are eating when sad or lonely or angry and you let yourself pause, for a minute, to feel that ache, that gap. Then return to eating, to stuffing oneself silly with food.

Step Four. I don’t know. I am not there yet. Having only recently reached Step Three.

Maybe the next steps involve eating less. Or not comfort eating At All?

Or maybe that is too much to expect!

Hi, I am Leonie. I was, I am, I probably always will be a comfort eater.

Totally Britney.
religion, Unschooling

Pegging Prayers for All Souls

I have talked about pegs, pegs in our day, before.

And Lissa has that great blog post on pegs, too.

Lately, I have been trying to naturally, rhythmically, seamlessly, add more prayer into the life of our family.

I used the idea of pegs yet again.

Specifically, I have pegged an additional prayer to our evening Grace before meals..most days..especially those days when we don’t have visitors and when we are actually home for dinner, however late that dinner may be. Even if that dinner is leftovers again, or make yourself a sandwich again. ( She says guiltily. She who hasn’t cooked a dinner since Wednesday of last week. NO, Pam, I didn’t end up cooking last night, either!)

During September, we re-visited the Latin prayer ~ Memorare before dinner. Food means I have a captive audience!

In the month of October, I pegged the prayer to St Joseph to grace before dinner.

This month of November, of Holy Souls, I am pegging this prayer..

My Jesus, by the sorrows Thou didst suffer in Thine agony in the Garden, in Thy scourging and crowning with thorns, in the way to Calvary, in Thy crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in purgatory, and especially on those that are most forsaken; do Thou deliver them from the dire torments they endure; call them and and admit them to Thy most sweet embrace in paradise. Our Father…, Hail Mary…., Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Liturgically speaking, for All Souls and Requeim Masses, the priest may wear black vestments.

The use of black represents Christian realities. Christians are people of hope ; we are also aware of the reality of sin and of judgement. We do not presume to know the state of another’s soul. We know that we have a tendency towards sin and that we do not always resist, nor always repent of our sins. So, we hope and pray.

Black has overtones of mourning , and acknowledges our emotional response to loss , and reminds us of our need to pray for the repose of the deceased’s soul. It also is a reminder and symbol of our belief in purgatory, where the suffering souls require our prayers and Masses.
Black represents our mourning and reminds us that there is work to be done — the work of prayer.

The gold or silver which adorns the black vestment gives us that silver-lining of Christian hope .

I’d like to see you have a little direction.

Mel: I’d like to see you have a little direction.
Cher: I have direction!
Josh: Yeah, towards the mall.

From the movie Clueless

I needed some direction today. Some retail therapy.

Sometimes a little shopping makes you feel better.

Went into Borders and Dymocks to buy one book ~ another copy of Anne of Green Gables.

Came out with a bunch of books and a very cool, very organised looking 2010 diary/planner.

Almost bought a book on saving money, The $21 Challenge. but stopped myself. Had a glass of Coke Zero instead.

I mean.

Sometimes you can go too far.

Today might’ve had sadness but there was no need to add guilt in the form of a budgeting book!


All Saints Day

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord:grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you;through Jesus Christ our Lord,who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit ,one God, now and for ever. Amen.