“Happy new year!” Dad greeted me this morning. Advent has arrived, the first day of the liturgical year, the time to remember the waiting of Israelites for the coming of the Messiah, and prepare for Christmas. One of the ways I’m getting ready is by saying the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena, which I have heard of but never done before. Though its not technically a novena, it consists of saying this beautiful prayer 15 times a day from Nov 30, (St. Andrew’s day), until Christmas:
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, [State your intention(s) here…] through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
A few days ago I received a thick packet in the mail and I opened it hastily. It was from the Universal Living Rosary Association, which has over 11 million members all praying a single decade of the rosary daily. When I got the envelope open, I couldn’t find the card which had my assigned decade amidst all the pamphlets and holy cards of Saint Philomena, the patroness of the organization and also my confirmation saint. I found it eventually, however, and my decade is the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven. If you would like to enroll and be assigned a decade, you can visit http://www.philomena.org/.
Sunday was both the end of daylight savings time and Mom’s birthday. We went out to Johnny Carinos, my favorite restaurant, where Mom got free tiramisu. The next day she opened a present that Landon, Maria, had I ordered her a birthday present and came a day late.
We’ve been eying this statue of Our Lady for a long time, plotting to get it for her sometime. Once Mom was paging through the Leaflet Missal Catholic catalog, and she remarked that she had always liked that statue. Landon and Maria were with me, and they both winked and nudged me with their elbows at the same time. Thankfully, Mom didn’t see it.
Last night I sang at a requiem mass for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The Priest was dressed in black to symbolize our mourning for the dead, and the music was solemn and beautiful. Landon and John were both serving, and Landon was M.C., a part he had waited to be for a long time and only recently learned how to do.
“It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” (2 Maccabees 12:46)
It’s been two years since we’ve had a homeschool All Saints Eve party, but this year it was announced on Oct 20 that we were starting up the tradition again. I spent Friday and Saturday sewing costumes, which turned out pretty well. Maria was St. Bernadette, Johnathan was St. Anthony, Alexander was St. Michael, and Joseph was St. Juan Diego. Maria and John slipped out the door before I could get a picture of them, but here are the little boys:
St. Philomena is my confirmation saint, so I was very happy to hear that our priest was having a special mass on her feast day, August 11, and that there would be a blessing with a first class relic (part of Philomena’s bone) and the oil that burns before her tomb afterwards. It was in a beautiful little church in the town of Salem about forty minutes away, and our whole family drove out for the mass.
After mass we were anointed with the oil, and then had a chance to kiss the relic. Alexander was a little confused when it was his turn to kiss the relic, and opened his mouth instead. I think he thought he was about to receive his First Holy Communion. Fortunately, Dad was next to him and he told Alex what he was supposed to do.
After Mass, I took a close up picture of the pretty statue of St. Philomena and her relic.
We still had a whole afternoon of free time left after the museums, so we explored downtown Chicago on foot. I got a T-shirt, keychain, and a mug as souvenirs, and Landon made a purchase at a big Lego store (funny, that’s where he went in Downtown Disney in FL too). There was even an Apple store for Dad and specialty teas for Mom.
The quiz bowl took place on Saturday, May 29, and even though we only won two out of ten games, it was a lot of fun.
I love our matching shirts. Each of us has a nickname on our backs. Mine is Degas (de-GAH) Dancer. Degas was a French artist who painted ballerinas, like these ones here we saw at the art institute:
After the Quiz Bowl, we put on a little cheer as a thank you the quiz bowl team coach, who holds lots of practice sessions to prepare for the quiz bowl.
On Sunday, we went exploring a little bit more before we went to Mass, and then from there to home.
Today marks the 93 anniversary of the first visit to Lucia Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The story of the Fatima children has always been one of my favorites. I had a book on Blessed Francisco and Jacinto, and I read over and over again about how the Blessed Virgin had appeared to three children nearly my age, how they had courageously refused to reveal Mary’s secrets even when the authorities had taken advantage of their young age and gullibility and threatened them with death in a pot of boiling oil. And finally, the conclusion of the apparitions with the amazing miracle of the dancing sun.
Our Lady of Fatima, Lady of the Rosary: pray for us!
I cooked lamb again this year for Maundy Thursday, in remembrance that Jesus was celebrating the Passover with his disciples at the Last Supper. I also found recipes for the other traditional Passover dishes. I found a picture of what a dish of Passover foods looks like (there’s a very specific way to set it all up) and Mom and I replicated it:
I tried making pretzels for our Ash Wednesday supper a few years ago, which turned out to be a total flop. This year I abandoned the idea and made some oatcakes instead, and we ate them with butter and cheese. Well, most of us ate them that way, Dad had his with peanut butter, and he liked them.
Today, August 11, is the feast day of my confirmation saint, St. Philomena.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant us the pardon of our sins by the intercession of Saint , virgin and martyr, who was always pleasing in Thy sight by her eminent chastity and by the profession of every virtue. Amen.
Illustrious virgin and martyr, Saint Philomena, behold me prostrate before the throne whereupon it has pleased the Most Holy Trinity to place thee. Full of confidence in thy protection, I entreat thee to intercede for me with God, from the heights of Heaven deign to cast a glance upon thy humble client! Spouse of Christ, sustain me in suffering, fortify me in temptation, protect me in the dangers surrounding me, obtain for me the graces necessary to me, and in particular
(Here specify your petition).
Above all, assist me at the hour of my death. Saint Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us. Amen.
O God, Most Holy Trinity, we thank Thee for the graces Thou didst bestow upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, and upon Thy handmaid Philomena, through whose intercession we implore Thy Mercy. Amen.