Thursday, December 15, 2011

Veni, Veni, Emmanuel!

Advent is always a special time for obtaining graces and a great time of anticipation and excitement especially among the children for the big event that is to come:  the Birth of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 

The key to helping children prepare their little hearts and minds for such big event, as many would already have experienced, is through the use of several activities, interactive exercises, games and visual reminders.


The family Creche is a classic symbol for the season and what we are preparing for.  Whilst the figures are laid for the children to see and be reminded of the wonderful story of Christmas, the manger remains empty to emphasize the great anticipation for the Birth of Christ.  Come midnight of the 24th, the figure of the Infant Jesus will be passed around amidst singing of the "O Holy Night" or "Silent Night" until the end of the song and whoever the figure ends up with carefully places the little Baby figure on Its manger.


A beautiful family tradition we have started a few years ago is the adaptation of the "Jesse Tree" which is a great tool for teaching the children about God's love and the stories of God's relationship with His people from the time of Creation leading up to the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ - Our Redeemer into the world to reconcile His fallen people to Himself.

For us this tradition and the use of the tree and symbols have evolved in terms of materials and scriptural readings used, fundamentally to make it simple and understandable for all our children, regardless of the age.  This year we have utilized a "tree" planted in a pot covered in purple (advent) fabric.  We decorated the tree with 5 bows:  3 purple (to represent the 1st, 2nd and 4th week of Advent), 1 pink (for Gaudete Sunday) and 1 white (Christmas day).  The ornaments have been made such that they look like little "stained glass" ornaments hanging on the tree.  Perspex sheets (about 3-4 mm thick) have been cut to size and beautiful pictures were drawn on them to depict the stories discussed nightly from the 1st of December to 16th, and then the symbols for the O Antiphons which are chanted/recited from the 17th up to the 23rd.

December 1 - CREATION - Genesis 1:1-31; 2:1-4

December 2 - ADAM AND EVE:  Genesis 2:7-9, 18-24

December 3 - FALL OF MAN:  Genesis 3:1-7 and 23-24

December 4 - NOAH:  Genesis 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17,23, 24; 8:1, 6-22

December 5 - ABRAHAM:  Genesis 12:1-3
Stars for Abraham - to symbolize God's promise that his descendants will be as many as the stars in the sky
December 6 - ISAAC:  Genesis 22:1-14

December 7 - JACOB:  Genesis 25:1-34; 28:10-15

December 8 - JOSEPH OF EGYPT:  Genesis 37:23-28; 45:3-15

 December 9 - MOSES:  Exodus:2:1-10

December 10 - SAMUEL:  1Samuel 3:1-18
Temple for Samuel - to symbolize where he was called by the Lord
December 11 - JESSE - 1Samuel 16:1-13

 December 12- DAVID:  1Samuel 17:12-51

December 13 - SOLOMON:  1Kings 3:5-15, 16-28

December 14 - JOSEPH:  Matthew 1:18-25

December 15 - MARY:  Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38

December 16 - JOHN THE BAPTIST - Mark 1:1-8


From the 17th of December,  as the anticipation for the big event intensifies, the Church and families recite or Chant the O Antiphons.  They express our great longing for the coming of our Saviour and the great Gift that the Christ-Child is about to bless the world with.  The underlying theme of the O Antiphons is the majesty of the Redeemer, His wisdom, faithfulness and sanctity, His justice and mercy, His covenant with His chosen people.  They point towards his power and love as King and Saviour of the world and His relation to every person as Emmanuel, God-with-us.

December 17 - O SAPIENTIA (O Wisdom) - Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) 24:2, Wisdom 8:1
The "all-seeing eye" represents the all-knowing and ever-present God. During the late Renaissance, the eye was pictured in a triangle with rays of light to represent the infinite holiness of the Trinity. The lamp is a symbol of wisdom taken from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25.
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia:  veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom, Who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly, Come and teach us the way of prudence.

December 18 - O ADONAI (O Lord and Ruler) Exodus 3:2; 20:1
The burning bush reminds us of the time the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses on Mt Sinai.  The 10 Commandments are used to represent the whole of God's law, the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible, the Torah), or the entire Old Testament.

O Adonai, et dux domus Israel, qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti:  veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with outstretched arm.

December 19 - O RADIX JESSE (O Root of Jesse) - Isaiah 11:1-3

The flower which springs up from the root of Jesse is another figure of christ.  Isaiah prophesied that the Saviour would be born from the root of Jesse, that He would sit upon the throne of David, and in Christ this prophecy is fulfilled.

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come to deliver us, and tarry not.

December 20 - O CLAVIS DAVID (O Key of David) - Isaiah 22:22

The key is the emblem of authority and power.  Christ is the Key of House of David who opens to us the full meaning of the scriptural prophecies, and reopens for all mankind the gate of Heaven.

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israël, qui aperis, et nemo claudit, claudis, et nemo aperuit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David, and Scepter of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens; Come and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

December 21 - O ORIENS (O Radiant Dawn) - Psalm 19:6-7 (Or Psalm 18 in older bibles)
Just as the natural sun gives light and life to all upon whom its rays fall, so Christ, the Rising Dawn, dispels darkness and brings eternal life and light.
O Oriens, splendor Lucis aeternae, et so justitiae; veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Dawn, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice, some and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

December 22 - O REX GENTIUM (O King of the Gentiles) - Apocalypse 15:1-4
The crown (and sceptre) signify Christ's universal kingship.  As we sing in the fifth O Antiphon, Christ is not only the King of the Jewish nation, but the "Desired One of all," the cornerstone which unites both Jew and Gentile.

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum; veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

O King of the Gentiles and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one; Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.

December 23 - O EMMANUEL (God With Us) - Isaiah 9:2-7
The manger reminds us of the simplicity and poverty surrounding the birth of Jesus and is representative of His life of humility.

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, expectatio gentium, et Salvator earum; veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour:  Come to save us, O Lord our God.

Our little Jesse Tree showing some of the ornaments


As in the past, we are using the wooden manger that hubby constructed some years ago; although this year (instead of using the small manger in the Creche), we are using this bigger one for the children to earn straws to line the manger.  As an added emphasis, apart from earning straws for each good deed, they also have to place pebbles / little stones on the manger whenever they choose to do something wrong - to help them understand that any little offense hurts Jesus. 

What an exciting time Advent is, indeed.  We thank God for little opportunities for earning grace that he allows us to have.  For children, using materials and symbols are always excellent tools and resources to help them internalize the gift that we are about to receive; and really live the experience of preparing their little hearts for the coming of the Christ-Child.  And at this stage, we pray that come Christmas Day, we will have prepared the little mangers in each of our hearts ready for Jesus to take His rest.

Veni, veni, Emmanuel;  captivum solve Israel!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Requiescas in Pace, Dad

On the occasion of your 2nd Death Anniversary (Nov 17, 2009), we remember you in our prayers and Mass intentions, hoping that they may send you off to your final deliverance and Eternal Rest.  May God's angels in heaven escort you toward the Almighty Father's merciful and loving embrace.

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei, Dómine, et lux perpétua lúceat ei.  Requiéscat in pace. Amen.

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei, Dómine, et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen.

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei, Dómine, et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Parenting Sentiments

10 Things We Hope We Never Do To Our Children:

1  Buy them secular video games;

2  Allow them online without supervision;

3  Allow them to read Harry Potter and similar books about witchcraft, the occult, and the like;

4  Dress them in ghoulish Halloween costumes or let them participate in any activity that glorify the devil, his pomps and works;

5  Enrol them in a regular school;

6  Take them to a public library without supervision;

7  Let them watch secular TV programs, not even commercials;

8  Take them to a video arcade or similar places;

9  Let them go anywhere with friends whom we do not thoroughly know and trust;

10  Dress immodestly

10 Things We Hope to Achieve for Our Children, As Their Parents:

1  Teach them about the Catholic faith;

2  Keep them away from secular and other dangerous media;

3  Pray as a family on a regular basis, preferably daily; and treat them to precious moments with our Eucharistic Lord as often as we can (adoration);

4  Take them to Holy Mass on a regular basis (preferably daily), and to confession (where applicable, at least twice a month);

5  Educate them at home, being the most comfortable, wholesome, nonjudgemental environment for learning;

6  Teach them life skills by allocating age-appropriate household chores to foster responsibility from an early age;

7  Teach them about the saints, especially our Blessed Mother, to learn from and draw upon their experiences - for inspiration;

8  Strive everyday to become better examples;

9  Practice family devotions, and develop liturgical family traditions that are deeply rooted in our faith;

10  Pray for each of them and try as best we can to, one day, get them to Heaven, our true home!

If I had to advise parents, I should tell them to take great care about the people with whom their children associate . . . Much harm may result from bad company, and we are inclined by nature to follow what is worse than what is better. - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

"Mankind's future rests in, and depends upon, the family more than any other society, institution, or environment. "  Pope John Paul II

Friday, November 11, 2011

Webster Turns 10

On the occasion of his 10th birthday today, Nov 11th, we made a video of Webster (in his St Martin of Tours costume) telling the story of one of his favourite saints, St Martin of Tours, patron saint of soldiers, whose feastday we commemorate today.  

To celebrate his special day, we had a family meal out, Holy Mass, followed by adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, a perfect finish for Webster's day!

To our dear Webster, Happy 10th Birthday!  May the Good Lord keep guiding you towards His willed purpose for your life, and may our Blessed Mother keep you in her motherly care today and always.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Corpus Christi Celebration 2011

As we do every year, we attended this year's Archdiocese of Brisbane's Corpus Christi celebrations.  The children participated in the procession in their own ways, and had a great time indeed. 

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

Back home, after the big day, the kids had their well-earned rest in the afternoon which gave me a chance to put something together (for dessert, at least) to tie in with the very special occasion.  It was simply a "modified" trifle, made with red and white elements, reminiscent of Our Lord's Body and Blood:  red jelly, custard, pitted cherries, white whipped cream drizzled with raspberry coulis and topped with a white meringue.  And I thought it was particularly appropriate to serve these in the cute, chalice-shaped plastic cups!

As the children started to wake up they were certainly wide-eyed upon sighting our little Corpus Christi centrepiece with the Child Jesus Eucharist statue in the middle!  Come dessert time, we all enjoyed our little Corpus Christi-themed sweet treat!

From our family to yours,
happy feastday of the Body and Blood of Christ!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Locusts and Honey

And in those days cometh John the Baptist preaching in the desert of Judea. And saying: Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. And the same John had his garment of camels' hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins: and his meat was locusts and wild honey. (Mt 3:1-4)

Today is June 24, the feastday of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets.

St John the Baptist was the precursor to the Messiah.  As such, he went around preaching to the people and urging them to "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand."  He baptized people with water and sent them forth to change their lives for the better, in preparation for the coming of the Saviour.  Later on Jesus came to St John the Baptist and asked to be baptized, in preparation for the great mission of saving us from our sins.  Although St John the Baptist was hesitant to do this, saying that he is not worthy even to undo Jesus' sandals, St John baptized Jesus in order to fulfill Jesus' request, and what was already written in scripture.

Before St John the Baptist started his ministry, he went to the desert and prayed.  Scripture has it that he was donned in camel hair and his diet consisted of wild honey and locusts.

In the spirit of St John the Baptist's feastday, the kids had watched an animated movie about St John the Baptist earlier in the day which was a nice reminder of how humble and virtuous this great prophet was; and this afternoon we had honey biscuits (which turned out nice and chewy), and locusts made from prunes and cut-out licorice strips.

Happy feastday of the Nativity of St John the Baptist!!!  .. and..  bon appetit!!

Friday, June 3, 2011


The History of the Miraculous Medal

The Miraculous Medal is a very small but powerful gift that Our Lady has given us through the Church.  It takes its origin from France in the year 1830 before the French Revolution began.  During the French Revolution, priests were outlawed, it was forbidden to pray in public, and if this was done, the people would be beaten terribly, or even killed for attending Mass.  Because it was a time of great suffering, people asked for help from Our Lady, and these prayers were heeded.

Before the Revolution, a 24-year-old girl, Zoe Laboure entered the convent of the Sisters of Charity which was founded by St Vincent de Paul.  When she was accepted and became a novice, she took the name Sr Catherine.  

Sr Catherine had a great love and devotion to Mary, because when she lost her mother at the age of 9, she had asked Mary to be her own mother.  As a novice, she prayed a novena to St Vincent and at the end of the 9 days, she asked him for the favour of being able to see the Blessed Virgin Mary in person.

On the eve of St Vincent's feastday, July 18, while in bed, Sr Catherine was woken by her guardian angel in the form of a child - so as not to scare her - and led her to the convent chapel.  There, Our Lady appeared to Sr Catherine which made her overjoyed.  However, during this apparition, Mary warned her about the great trouble that was near at hand, especially for France.  The Virgin Mary foretold the Archbishop's death, the persecution of the Catholic Church in France, and the suffering that would follow.

Within days of this apparition, the revolution began, and all that was prophesied by the Virgin Mary in her apparition to Sr Catherine came true. 

Four months later, Our Lady appeared to Sr Catherine again.  This time she appeared within an oval frame, standing on a globe.  She had gems on her fingers from which shone gold rays (representing the graces she obtains for us from God).  Some of the rays were not shining brightly because "there are many graces available but people do not receive them because they do not ask."  Around the frame were the words:  "O Mary conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."  This vision 'rotated' and in the back was the Marian Cross (a letter M surmounted by a cross) and the Two Hearts (Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary) all surrounded by her crown of 12 stars.  Then Sr Catherine heard a voice saying:  "Have a medal struck according to the model you see.  Those who wear the medals, blessed, especially around their necks, will receive a multitude of graces."

Sr Catherine had spoken about these apparitions to her spiritual director and asked him for advice regarding the mission she was given.  He was very supportive of her and after 2 years, helped her to have the medals created and distributed.  However, he kept it a secret that Sr Catherine was the visionary whom Our Lady had given the medal design and instructions to.

Over the years, there have been many miracles because of Our Lady's powerful intercession through this medal.  Although it was originally called the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, it was later changed into the "Miraculous Medal"  because of the countless miracles reported by people who used it.  Some examples are the many conversions, healings and blessings.  Even some haters of God and enemies of the Church became believers by wearing it.

These days, people - even Catholics - seem to have forgotten how strong Our Lady's intercession is, and have neglected the importance of sacramentals like the Miraculous Medal.  Just like Our Lady said, we will "receive a multitude of graces"  if we wear the medal with great confidence in her intercession.  We should always be trusting of how powerful her assistance can be, being the Mother of God, especially in times of great difficulty!

O Maria, sine labe originali concepta, ora pro nobis, qui confugimus ad te.

(Creative Writing,
Grade 5,
2011, Term 2, Week 5)