Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Strawberries in Lent

Curlytops and Brighteyes have their birthdays 3 weeks apart.  So this year, we figured, we'd have one celebration for both occasions.  Since it was the weekend when their Catholic kids' club meeting was scheduled this month of March, we requested that the activities be done at the party, at our place.

Apart from the facilitators, we had a good turnout of kids, of various ages so the group was split up into the younger and older kids, mainly for the activities.  Since it was Lent, each younger child had a Stations of the Cross booklet to colour in and take home to use as a prayer book throughout Lent.  The older kids had a variety of activities from Lenten wordsearch, colouring, discussion and some games.

All in all the kids had a great, fun-and-faith-filled time.  We were hoping that although we decided to celebrate this occasion during Lent, we would not take away from the focus on this very important Liturgical season.  Evidently, on the day, the children - not only sharing good times but also exchanging Lenten thoughts - it looks like we have achieved just that, and perhaps even more.  Laus Deo!

Friday, March 25, 2011


The Marian Monk

Blessed Herman of Richenau was born in Switzerland to very loving, noble parents.  They were devout Catholics who wanted for their son to obey the will of God.  But because he was born disabled, his parents sent him to the Benedictine monastery at the age of 7.  When he was 20 years old, he became a monk. 

Herman had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother of God that he composed the Salve Regina, or the Hail Holy Queen which is now a very popular Marian prayer.  He wrote it to give honour to Our Lady. 

Despite being crippled, Herman was never in a bad mood.  Whenever he was struggling or suffering, he offered it as a sacrifice, one way he earned merits.  Whenever Blessed Herman was tempted, he sought recourse to Our Lady; so he kept strong against Satan.  He was obedient, prayerful and persevering.  And  because of this, God rewarded him with Heaven.

In spite of his struggles, Blessed Herman kept his eyes on his destination:  Heaven.  He is a good example of perseverance and Marian devotion to us who want to follow Christ.

(Creative Writing,
Grade 5,
Term 1, Week 7)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St Joseph's Feastday

Today is St Joseph's feastday.  And this is the first ever time we would be celebrating it as Roadrunner's nameday (having been named after this virtuous saint and Our Lord's foster father).

We had made some preparations for this special day, including Roadrunner's St Joseph costume, getting some crowns together, with the central theme of our celebration being St Joseph as royalty, having descended from King David. 

Weeks beforehand we were able to ask Fr Hartley to come and celebrate Holy Mass at our home chapel.  As a special gift, we were also graced to have Benediction and some moments of adoration with our Eucharistic Lord!  What an awesome, unforgettable celebration, indeed!!!

Happy St Joseph's Feastday! 

And Happy Nameday, Roadrunner!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's Day 2011

This would probably be the most memorable St Patrick's Day celebration we have had - thus far - because we made a tad bit more preparation than we've ever had in the past. 

On the night before St Patrick's day, I prepared the kids' hats by decorating green plastic hats with white correction pen.  The morning of the saint's feastday saw the kids dressed in whatever green clothes they could find in their closets, green being the distinct colour of the Irish saint (i.e. colour symbolizing both Ireland, the Emerald Isle, and the shamrock which is widely recognized as a symbol for St Patrick, as this was the object he used to teach the people of his time about the Holy Trinity). 

Breakfast consisted of green steamed rice muffins (puto) topped with shamrock-shaped cheese, and for beverage I made green pandan-flavoured jelly - cubed and mixed with chilled milk (though I would have preferred to have incorporated some young coconut juice (buko) in the mixture, I had to use ingredients that I already had available).  By and large, the kiddies enjoyed their St Patrick-themed morning, dressed in St Patrick's colour!

Although they've watched it several times in the past, the kids engaged in watching the St Patrick animated story a few times during the day, even talking about events in the story that fascinated them, such as the miracles God worked through St Patrick which caused the conversion of numerous pagans.  St Patrick colouring pages were pre-printed and made available to anyone who wanted to do some colouring.

To conclude this feastday, we attended evening Mass in honour of the celebrated saint.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, of course, always the perfect highlight to any celebration.

Saying grace before our St Patrick breakfast..

"Bon appetit!"  Or in Irish, "Slainte!"

St Patrick, pray for us!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bright-eyes Prays!!!

Tonight our little Bright-eyes (turned 3 last week) surprised us all when she joined the family prayer for the first time.  We, including the 3 older kids have been leading a decade each of the rosary until tonight when Bright-eyes asked if she, too, could lead a decade,  saying:  "Can I do it, too, Dad?"  Tatay answered:  "Do you know how to say it?"  and she eagerly nodded.  Then she proceeded to say the Pater Noster first, followed by 10 Ave Marias, amidst lots of cheering!

And they brought to Him young children, that he might touch them.  And the disciples rebuked them that brought them.  Whom, when Jesus saw, He was much displeased, and saith to them:  "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God."  (Mark 10:13-14 - Douay-Rheims 1899)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lenten Journey

Lent.  Another opportunity for spiritual growth, yet again.  As Holy Mother Church recommends to her children, PENANCE - to strengthen us spiritually at this particular time through the 3 penitential practices of fasting, prayer and almsgiving.  We fast in order to conquer our weaknesses and strengthen our will against the concupiscences of the flesh.  We pray in order to master our propensity to pride, and strengthen our relationship with our Creator.  And we give alms in order to counter our tendency towards greed and avarice.

This year, although we had a slow start with our preparations for Lent, we are looking forward to a grace-filled Lenten season.  To help us achieve some sort of growth and to especially aid the children in understanding this particular time in our liturgical journey, we have chosen a few activities to undertake as a family - most of them taken from books and other reading materials, and other ideas were sourced online.


To help the kids with fasting / offering up sacrifices, we wanted to have a visual reminders of the objects associated with the Passion of Our Lord.  So we constructed a new crowns of thorns this year which were basically the same as last year's, only a little thinner and therefore more realistic.  We made  a darker dough for the crowns and the children all helped insert the "thorns."  We also shaped nails out of the dough and the rest of it was molded into a tomb-like structure complete with the boulder which we planned to use for Easter.  After baking, the "nails" were painted in hammered grey which surprisingly made it rather realistic!

We placed one set of  "Crown of Thorn and Nails" in a purple-covered stand which sat in the middle of our dinner table - to keep reminding us of the season and our goals this Lent.  Each time a good deed was performed, one earned a chance to pull out a thorn, and everytime one performed an act of charity, he/she would earn a jewel to attach on the crown.  It is, of course, the ultimate goal to have all thorns pulled out by Easter and the crown filled with colourful, shimmering jewels instead!

Also, to increase our awareness of our weaknesses, transgressions and how we are all responsible for making Jesus suffer and die on the cross, hubby constructed a big styro cross which the kids painted dark brown.  We velcroed it on a door along a thoroughfare which made it very visible.  Everytime somebody chose to do the wrong thing, they had to write the fault on a brown piece of paper and pin it up on the big cross.  Undoubtedly, this cross would be filled with our "sins" throughout Lent.  However, come Good Friday, these "sins" will be taken away and burnt, symbolizing the truth that Jesus paid for all our sins when He died on the cross on Good Friday.  On Holy Saturday, the holes made by the pins used to affix the "sins" to the cross will be covered with flowers to symbolize repentance and consequently God's mercy on our sins. These brown papers with sins written on them will be burnt on Easter Vigil, in preparation for the New Life that Jesus gives us on Easter, when He is resurrected.


Apart from maintaining our nightly family Rosary, we incorporated the Via Crucis or Way of the Cross which will be prayed every Friday, to emphasize to us how much Jesus suffered before He died for us on the Cross, hopefully increasing our sorrow for our sins and strengthening our desire and resolutions for change, in order to welcome Easter and receive His New Life with a much cleaner heart.

Throughout Lent we will be using a prayer which would be recited before the Rosary:

Lenten Prayer
O Lord and Ruler of Life,  take from me the spirit of idleness, despair, cupidity, and empty talking.  Yea, O Lord grant that I may see my own sins and not judge my brother.  For thou art blessed forever and ever.  Amen.


In order to 'make an effort' in this aspect, we also placed a jar in the middle of our dinner table which is labelled "Our Lenten Share."  On it is also affixed the cost that each member of the family has to "pay" for every meal they have on this table.  For the adults, breakfast and lunch cost $1, and dinner costs $2.  For children breakfast and lunch cost $0.20 for breakfast and lunch and $0.50 for dinner.  At Easter, we will be opening this jar, counting the total amount we saved and giving it to a chosen charitable institution.


At home before the Rosary, we said our Ash Wednesday prayer which was basically a "farewell" to Alleluia and also a prayer of invocation to the Holy Spirit to guide our efforts in achieving our Lenten resolutions.  To make the Alleluia Farewell tangible and therefore more memorable for the kids, we asked the two boys to walk to the altar carrying our Alleluia stand (which we had painted beforehand) and "bury" it under the purple cover (symbolizing penance and great anticipation) which adorned our Lady's altar this season, together with the 2nd set of crown of thorn and nails.  On Easter, we will be taking out the Alleluia stand and placing it in a highly visible place, for all to see and be reminded of the great joy of the Eastertide.

Alleluia, Song of Gladness
(from the early 9th and 10th centuries; referring to the farewell to the Alleluia in the liturgy)

Stay with us today, Alleluia,
When the morning rises,
thou shalt go thy way.
Alleluia, alleluia.

May the Lord be thy custodian, Alleluia.
And the angel of God accompany thee.
May the Lord keep thee alive
And protect thee from every evil.
Alleluia, alleluia.

The mountains and hills shall rejoice, Alleluia,
While they await thy glory.
Thou goest, Alleluia; may the way be blessed,
Until thou shalt return with joy.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Ash Wednesday Prayer
Heavenly Father, let us enter the season of Lent in the spirit of joy giving ourselves to spiritual strife, cleansing our soul and body, controlling our passions, as we limit our food, living on the virtues of the Holy Spirit.  Let us persevere in our longing for Christ so as to be worthy to behold His most solemn Passion and the most holy Passover, rejoicing the while with spiritual joy. Amen

By and large, we had a wonderful start to Lent.  Apart from our prayers and activities at home, we went to Ash Wednesday Mass.  In addition, we were able to request Fr Hartley for a holy hour with our Eucharistic Jesus, to which Fr very kindly agreed. Hence, besides having the very concrete reminder of the start of the season: ashes on our foreheads, it was certainly very good to start Lent by receiving Jesus sacramentally in holy communion, and spending sometime with Him in the Eucharistic Veil!