Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year, Feast of Mary the Mother of God

And we're going to celebrate (after Mass, of course!)by moving my teenager into her new room, which we painted together, and has a Hawaiian Theme (you'll love it Esther). We want to stencil light turquoise hibiscus flowers on the walls. Does anyone out there have stencils like these, or know what material we should use to make our own?
Oh, and after Gaby is moved in, Rebecca has reminded me that my house needs a total overhaul! Check out her magic method of housecleaning!

Happy New Year to my Aussie Readers!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Il es ne, le Divin Enfant.

This French carol I learned in Our Lady of Mercy Academy, and all-girls convent school, where I enjoyed being a Catholic after 11 years in public school exile. We were preparing carols for a Christmas pagaent. It was one of my happiest Christmas memories at school.

Tomie de Paola unit continues

Last year, hankering for one of my alltime favorite Christmas carols, but unable to find a recording, I went to Amazon and found this treasure illustrated by Tomie de Paola, "The Friendly Beasts". It tells of how the animals in the manger proudly contributed to the comfort and safety of the baby Jesus

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Reminder to Keep Our Priorities Straight This Christmas

I found this gem at Dymphna's Well. It reminds us to be love to our families this Christmas.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Our Newest Christmas Books

Thanks to the reading list for December in Real Learning, I found two new treasures to read aloud on the fourth day of Christmas.
The Huron Carol was actually written by Jesuit martyr, St. Jean de Breubeuf, in an attempt to help the Huron Indians understand the birth of Christ. I really only knew St. Jean by the nature of his martyrdom, and not so much for his accomplishments in ministry, so I was grateful for the information. Frances Tyrell does a lovely job incorporating Indian imagery with the Nativity Story.
Good King Wenceslas, by John M. Neale,the carol's original author, and Tim Ladwig, brings the beloved carol to life with tender and engaging illustrations, while giving an informative history of Vaclav Wenceslas, king of Bohemia.
Both books include the music and lyrics for the songs.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I Have an Epiphany Craft in the Making

Years ago, I bought this gold box with Frankincense and Myrhh, in a Catholic catalogue, in an effort to find traditions to celebrate Epiphany, but, other than let the children touch and smell them, the idea fell flat. Then, Isabella suggested we decorate treasure chest type boxes, like the one in "The Nativity Story" to place the gifts in. . . and a craft was born.
I'll post them as we work on them, but, right now, I'm envisioning velvet-lined interiors, and richly painted, jewel-encrusted, gilded exteriors.
Quite a step up from the macaroni-decorated wipes boxes I had my daycare children fashion into jewelry boxes for their mothers one Christmas!
My three girls are the perfect number to take possession of one box each, and make them not only works of art, but also works of love.

Let's see what happens, now that we have more time on our hands.

Something Special Happened this Christmas

Lisa, over at Catholic Mom Moments has an insightful post on what made her Christmas so beautiful, she decided to forgo the gifts and concentrate on the Giver. This led to an "aha" moment for yours truly.
I had tried to do the same, although I did get some lovely gifts anyway, I hadn't thought about them, in fact, for some reason I actually had an aversion to gifts this year. Those of you who know me are sure that this is a supernatural gift, being so contrary to my nature!
So that's why I had just a beautiful Christmas!

God gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him!

Why Do We Do All These Celebrations in Our Homes?

The answer is simple: to keep our kids Catholic, by weaving Catholicism into their identity so thoroughly with day to day celebrations in the home of the beautiful feasts in the Church, that they couldn't envision a life without the Faith.
Rebecca at A Gypsy Caravan understands the power of these feasts.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

One of the things I occasionally missed about being single was peaceful Christmas Eves. I have always felt that Christmas Eve was just meant for quiet contemplation of the Incarnation, before the celebration kicks in. Once I got married to a Latin American, I discovered that Christmas Eve is akin to New Years Eve with the celebration beginning before Midnight Mass, and stretching far beyond it with dancing and feasting and opening gifts till the wee hours. This year, by happy circumstance, I received a gift from Jesus, a quiet Christmas Eve.
It began in the morning with Mass at a local Monfort shrine (see the lovely Nativity Scene) where Father encouraged us to turn off the crudeness on TV (Amen to that!) and run over to the bookstore, and buy St. Joseph Communications CDs for only $3.00 to give to family and friends for Christmas. Great idea, I thought, so I sped over there, girls in tow, to stock up on these treasures at such a great price.
Like: 7 Reasons to be Catholic by Peter Kreeft (good for those Evangelicals in your family who used to be Catholic), How to bring Fallen-Away Catholics Back to the Church by Scott Hahn (they know my family!), Making Sense Out of Suffering by Scott Hahn (they know me!)and Fr Larry Richards on Confession, (that's a special intention). Father Roy said to give these in our family's stockings after praying to the Holy Spirit. He didn't mention ducking as they found them, and sent them flying past our heads! Sigh
We spent the afternoon wrapping gifts in front of the fireplace, with carols playing. Did I ever mention my all time favorite record, em, cassette tape is "Christmas on the Rhine"?It's a collection of traditional German carols sung by a choir, and best of all, it begins and ends with those venerable old bells ringing. It always transports me to my childhood Christmases, and all the magic. These must be the carols Pope Benedict grew up singing, like "Es Ist ein Ros' entsprungen" (Lo, How a Rose is Blooming) and "Ihr Kinderlein Kommet" (O Come Little Children). Germans do have a gift for celebrating Christmas!
We ate a simple salmon dinner, a poor facsimile of the 12 fish dinner my Italian aunts would prepare. As the rest of the family took naps, Christina and I went together to serenade the Baby Jesus after sunset at the life size outdoor creche at the Shrine. I knew it was going to be very special simply by all the trouble it took to find her shoes, and coat, and convince her to get into the van. The Enemy hates it when we love Jesus. It must have really burned him when during "O Come All Ye Faithful" Christina struggled from my arms, and went up to visit with the baby Jesus in the manger. So many people, other than her mother had tears in their eyes that night!

She was an angel later at Midnight Mass, where we had to stand in the vestibule (when, for once, we didn't need to be there!) but we were glad to be there as the girls say, "when Christmas happens". I was so happy, after this perfect Christmas Eve, I wanted to stay awake just to savor it. I re-read parts of an old favorite, "The Day Christ Was Born" by Jim Bishop, to make the details of the Nativity come alive in my mind.
Sometimes, Jesus, I don't need words. I just smile up at You, and You understand.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Catholic Devotion Meme

I was tagged by my friend Esther, from A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.
Mele Kalikimaka. (Did I say that right? I learned it from Bing Crosby's Christmas album!?) Don't you just love his version of "Faith of Our Fathers"?
And I was just tagged by Rebecca at A Gypsy Caravan as well, thanks.

1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus?Other than the Holy Mass, Eucharistic Devotion and Benediction are my favorites
2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer?The Holy Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort's Consecration and the Rosary Novena. We also enjoy our May altar and Marian processions.
3. Do you wear a scapular or medal?I wear the Brown Scapular which has the crucifix and St. Benedict Medal and a Miraculous Medal.
4. Do you have holy water in your home?Oh yes! I have a holy water font at the entrance to my home. (I've read that holy water blessed with the rite of exorcism as in the old Latin rite is much more powerful)
5. Do you 'offer up' your sufferings? This has always been very important to me, and has helped me persevere through many difficult situations. I guess I learned it from the autobiography of the Little Flower, where she describes this as a great privilege and joy to suffer for the good of souls. I try to offer it for the person who is causing the suffering (if there is one) or the one in this world in danger of dying out of the state of grace.
6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays?Yes and have been for 7 years now.
7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration?Yes, with my daughter, for a Holy Hour, each Thursday
8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or Sunday morning Mass person? I prefer Sunday Morning Mass as a family, once a month we attend an Indult Latin Mass. Occasionally, we go on Saturday Evening because it's in Spanish, and I teach a First Holy Communion Class in Spanish (good example to them).
9. Do you say prayers at mealtime?Yes, grace before meals, "Bless us, O Lord. . "
10. Favorite Saint(s)? Padre Pio, St. Francis, Blessed Mother Teresa, St. Filomena, St. Clare, St. Juan Diego, John Paul the Great, etc.,
11. Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart?Yes.
12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day?Yes, but it's more like short calls for help, or a quick "I love you Jesus". I would like to remember the beautiful ejaculations like, "Jesus, Mary, I love you, please save souls!"
13. Bonus Question: When you pass by a automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved?Yes, and a sign of the Cross when we hear a siren or pass a cemetery or Catholic Church

I tag the following blogger:
Beati Pauperes Spiritu

It's Time for Those Christmas Carols We've Been Nearly Bursting to Sing!

I've been trying to truly observe Advent this year. abstaining from meat and sweets, more prayer, confession, holding off on Christmas celebrations as much as possible, and trying to sing only Advent Carols. I learned more of the Advent carols, and really said and meditated upon the O Antiphons this year. Thanks to my blogging friends, we observed our best Advent yet.
So, today, the Vigil of Our Saviour's birth, we can FINALLY burst forth into those beloved carols that the radio and TV have been broadcasting for a month now.
I just discovered a wonderful aid to expanding your Christmas Carol repertoire. In addition to the things I buy every year for Christmas, there are things I try to learn every year. Like a Christmas carol in a foreign language. This year I want to teach the girls Stille Nacht in German.
I want to FINALLY learn all the lyrics in Italian to my favorite carol "Gesu Bambino".
Here is a MIDI index of tunes you can use to learn the lyrics of popular Christmas carols. Click on the tune, under the heading 'tutti' and the MIDI will play all four voices of the carol. If you want to learn the harmonies separately, you can click on, for example, just the tenor voice.Injoy! I'm sure it will provide my family with a lot of enjoyment this Christmas season.
How did I do learning to play Christmas carols with my daughters? Gaby and I perform a lovely meditative"The First Noel" with her on guitar, and me on violin, and Isabella plays a majestic"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" on the organ, while I play the melody. Next year, we'll have enough practice in and I'll be technologically advanced enough to post a concert on this blog via You Tube.

A Peek into our Christmas Celebration

The Twelve Days of Christmas:Day 2

My friend Esther, at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii has done it again! To enjoy the 12 days of Christmas, go and see her post today on St. Stephen's Day.

Catholic Carnival 99, The Christmas Special is Up

Go and see what Catholics are doing to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Beautiful Slide Show of the Nativity

Is at A Living Education. Go and enjoy!

Welcome those A and P Catholics to Your Parish this Christmas!

Barbara over at SFO mom, has a great post on welcoming our visitors to Mass on Christmas. I felt a bit put out last year, when I came as early as possible to Easter Sunday Mass, and ended up standing in the vestibule anyway. I swallowed my pride, however, because that's what it is, and tried to rejoice in the extra company.
By the end of Mass, my attitude had been transformed by the Eucharist into a truly charitable one. Remember what Our Lord said about there being more rejoicing in Heaven for the return of the 100th lost sheep than for the 99 already in the fold, and don't be the Prodigal Son's cranky older brother, like I was!
A Catholic Matriarch in My Domestic Church AKA Catholic Mom has some worthwhile comments on this topic as well.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Best Christmas Gift

Special needs children are like roses slowly unfolding.
"Because parents cannot take milestones for granted, development takes on an added element of excitement and anticipation."
Dr. William Sears, The Baby Book

These words helped get me through some tough times during Christina's slow development. Eight homeschool moms were due to have babies within 2 months of each other, when Christina was born, and, to this day, when I see our children together, and see how grown up their 4 year olds are compared to Christina, I wince inwardly.
Then God sends the surprises, which are truly appreciated by special mothers, like when Christina discovered the Christmas train at the old fashioned hardware store on the corner. She was completely absorbed, running to and fro, to see the train emerge from the tunnel connecting it to the other side of the store window, saying, "where go?" each time, Just to have her so engaged in a typical childhood activity, and speaking appropriately, was a thrill to me, a Christmas surprise.

Nick's Christmas Miracle

I just have to share with you the best Christmas present I got this year! As many of you know, we adopted a little boy, Nicholas, as an infant. What I never shared with you is that we knew he was going to be a "special" needs child... he receives speech, physical, and occupational therapies as he doesn't walk yet, talk or even babble. He will be 20 months old in a few days. I have been signing with him from very early on, but he is unable to imitate anything. He seems to understand "milk", "eat" and "more" (all the important signs! )
I have to add that he is a happy child who loves to laugh and smile....he brings us great joy. Anyway, the OT was here working on feeding issues with Nick. As always, we repeat the sign "more" before giving him more food. For the very first time, he grabbed the therapists hands and moved them back and forth to make the sign!!! He did this more than once and repeated it when we were playing on the floor and he wanted "more" ball!! I just started to cry as this is such a major break through for him!!...the very first after a year of therapy!
At dinner, he grabbed my hands and moved them to sign "more" and I was able to share the joy with my husband. Ahh, how I used to take the little things for granted with my other children. God is so good.
Merry Christmas to all!!!


Mary Faith has a gift for her Parents Too!

Oh those precious gifts! I know my husband and I just walk around with the biggest smiles on our faces when Mary Faith (3 yrs old with Down Syndrome) does even the smallest milestone!

Two days ago I was driving the car and Michael Jr. & Mary were in the back seat, and all of a sudden Mary started singing the alphabet! My mouth fell wide open and Michael just looked at her in amazement. When she was done, she looked at us and started clapping for herself! I live for these moments.
Thank you God for Nick and all his children's glorious gifts this Christmas!

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo ! ( An Italian Merry Christmas & Happy New Year !)
Tam Musella

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expectation and Savior of the nations! come and save us, O Lord, our God!
Isaias 7:14, 33:22
Symbols: tablets of stone, chalice and host

HT: A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

Friday, December 22, 2006

O Rex Gentium

O King of Nations, and their desired One, and the cornerstone that makest both one; come and save man whom thou formedst out of slime.
Psalm 27:7-8
Ephesians 2:14-20
Symbol: crown, sceptre

HT A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

Happy first day of winter, and shortest day of the year.

Here's one of the first poems I helped Gaby memorize. It was wonderful spending so much time in those snowy woods with Frost. I was told in college that the last stanza has to do with death. Perhaps, but I am reminded of sitting in Adoration, soaking in the Lord's presence, fighting the urgency of my daily duties.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Some Children See Him

Come and listen to Debbie Boone sing one of my favorite Christmas carols since childhood when I listened to my parents' records in their living room, just letting the miracle of Jesus' coming at Christmas 'happen' to me, as I gazed at the manger scene. Jesus came to me every year this way. Please take the time to gaze at the manger this year, and let Him come into your heart.
Enjoy these pictures of beautiful children who all made their versions of Alice's take along manger, reflecting their vision of the "Saviour whom we kneel beside".

Some children see Him lily white,
the baby Jesus born this night,
Some children see Him lily white,
with tresses soft and fair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,
The Saviour whom we kneel beside,
Some children see Him almond-eyed,
With skin of yellow hue.

Some children see Him dark as they
Sweet Mary's child to whom we pray,
Some children see Him dark as they,
and, ah they love Him too!

The children in each different place,
Will see the baby Jesus' face,
Like theirs, but bright with Heavenly Grace,
And filled with holy light.

Oh, lay aside each earthly thing,
And with your heart as offering,
Come worship now, the infant King,
His love was born this night.

O Oriens

O Radiant Dawn ,splendour of eternal light, and Sun of justice! come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Symbol: sunrise
It just struck me that this O Antiphon comes on the shortest day of the year, the day the sun reaches it's solstice, and the days begin to lengthen again. Oh, how beautiful to live the liturgical year with our Ancient and Wise Mother Church!

HT A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

What I buy every year for Christmas

Since I was single, and couldn't wait to be married with children as I am now, I have had a tradition of buying at least one ornament, and one collection of Christmas music. Now, I have some lovely religious items some with precious memories that remind us of Christ's birth.
1. Music (first it was albums, then cassettes, now CDs. but Gaby wants to graduate to downloads!) Guess who's getting an Ipod?
This year we augmented our Spanish Christmas Carol Collection. One of my favorite carols is, "Los Peces en el Rio" (The Fish in the River)which tells a tale of how when the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus were by the river, the fish gathered near to see God incarnate. I'm also buying a copy of Kara Klein's Christmas album. She's a lovely pro-life young singer who has written a moving song about Terri Schiavo entitled, "Do You Still Think I'm Beautiful?"
2.As a newlywed, I nervously bought this large creche display for half price after Christmas, wondering if I was doing the right thing. This began our tradition of collecting Fontannini Nativity figures: we buy them after Christmas when they go on sale, and add them for Three Kings Day. We have amassed a Neopolitan-style display! The girls love playing 'Nativity' with them, which keeps them focused on the birth of Christ. This was one of the best investments I have made.

3. Ornaments: This year, I collected ornaments for the tree all year; I bought this hand carved Peruvian nativity ornament in September from a flea market at the parish I grew up in, and I saw this collection of Catholic saints at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island (or soon to be saints in the case of Blessed Mother Teresa and Servant of God John Paul II). I think they're lovely, and they're virtually indestructible! I attended my cousin Larry's son's Baptism this fall, and received a lovely Celtic cross as a favor, which adds that personal touch to the tree, and reminds my children they are 1/8 Irish. They are half El Salvadorean, 1/4 Italian, and 1/8 Polish, this makes for a truly catholic (in the sense of universal)Christmas celebration.

4. Children's books: this year we bought "The Donkey's Dream" , "St Francis and the Donkey"(do I see a donkey theme here?!), and "Mary, Mother of God", "The Country Angels Christmas",and "Hark, A Christmas Sampler" ,which we loved from our Tomie de Paola Christmas unit. It has made Advent so rich this year, as his stories bring the children's imaginations to the story, and get them involved like few other authors.
See the blue Aunt Chiara's Stellini (star) cookies whose recipe is included in the back of "Jingle, the Christmas Clown". I used almond flavoring instead of orange juice, and they were perfect to celebrate the Immaculate Conception with the Queen of Heaven.
These items serve as what Mother Angelica called 'holy reminders' of our Heavenly Destination.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Illuminated Ink Coloring Contest

The contest is here. Your entry must be postmarked by 12/22.
Here are my daughter's entries, Isabella's on the left, and Gaby's on the right. I took this photo in case I don't see them again (ie. they don't win!) Christina colored the envelope, which I tried to explain, wasn't getting her any prizes.
Isn't the picture wonderful? It's got all the O Antiphons in Latin. My entire CCD class entered as well, so maybe we'll see a winner with about 15 entries.

O Clavis David

O Key of David, and sceptre of the house of Israel! who openest, and no man shutteth: who shuttest, and no man openeth; come, and lead the captive from prison, sitting in darkness and int the shadow of death.
Symbols: key, broken chains
Go visit the Parade of O Antiphon Houses, for some inspirational designs!

HT for image, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii, mahalo, Esther!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, who stands as the ensign of the people; before whom kings shall no open their lips to whom the nations shall pray: come and deliver us; tarry now no more.
Isaias 11:1-3
Symbol: flowering plant
hat tip for image: A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

My Treetop Madonna

It's nice having a daughter as tall as you are. They usually gave me this job when I worked at Catholic Charities.
I had always wanted a treetop madonna and child. Why should an angel get the honor when the Queen of Angels should be there? I found this years ago in Abbey Press Catalogue.

Okay Okay, Maybe there WAS a Cat at the Manger!

Someone had to keep the mice away!

Our Unseasonably Warm December

Has confused the poor lilac bushes! I hope this doesn't affect them this spring. They are sooo lovely in May.

Sometimes You Just Need a Nap!

Christina is tuckered out by our busy Advent season!

Vatican Gives Thumbs Up to Homeschooling

It's nice to have all your hard work noticed by the boss!
What got my parents on board about home schooling was a speech by a priest representing EWTN, who had come to my diocese to promote the network. He said, "homeschooling will be salvation of the Church in this country". I thought, back then, in 1994, that this was an exaggeration, but when you look at the fruits of homeschooling, particularly the vocations to religious life, he was on the mark!

Monday, December 18, 2006

O Adonai,

O Sovereign Lord, and leader of the house of Israel, who appearedst to Mosed in the fire of the flaming bush, and gavest him the law on Sinai; come and redeem us by Thy outstretched arm.
Symbols; burning bush, stone tablets
Illuminated Ink has a lovely coloring page for the O Antiphons, which you can use to enter their Advent Coloring Competition if postmarked by December 22nd.
Hat Tip: A Catholic Mom in Hawaii for image

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The 50th Carnival of Catholic Homeschooling is Up

Go and see what the Catholic homeschool bloggers are up to!

Interested in commenting on the direction of the Church?

Go over to To Jesus Through Mary and let Edward know you're interested.

Why are Christmas Trees Cat Magnets?

Here's Max, setting up camp where he will probably spend every night until the tree is gone. Let's hope he doesn't decide to climb it this year!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Home made gift for Dad: Heavenly Tool Kit

Just what the man who has everything needs, a little reminder from his children to pray with them.

This kit contains the essentials, a rosary, a crucifix, a bible, is that holy water? Two holy children and a church.

Made by triplet 5th graders Julie, Sabrina and Tommy, children of my friend Tom, who has obviously made good use of his kit!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Look who came to our house today!

Isn't He adorable?!
I ordered this infant Jesus from EWTN catalogue so that I could organize Las Posadas with my Spanish CCD class.
All year, I had the booklet with the accompanying prayers for the Posadas in my desk, so I decided to put it away. Last month. Guess what?
I can't find it and the Posadas begin tomorrow night!
This happens to me a little too often.
St. Anthony. . . it's me again!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thankful Thursday: I'm thankful for those long-suffering older sisters of homeschooling families

Read this post from Anna Catherine, a seasoned older sister who has been her mother's helper for years, and is getting very good at it! Where would we moms be without our homeschooling helpers?
I'm going to have my Thankful Thursday saying;
Thank you, Gaby for all the diaper-changing, rocking to sleep, Barney videos you've put on, toys you've put away, clothes you've folded, babysitting, face wiping,spill-wiping, unsolicited help with housework, daily entertaining Christina, help with just about EVERYTHING.

Don't think your help goes unnoticed. I see it, and so does Jesus.

You will be an unselfish and capable mother or religious sister some day, who doesn't shrink from doing her part. You understand self-sacrifice.
I love you, not for all this, but for YOU!


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

St. Lucia Braided Wreath Bread

Karen Edmisten had a wonderful recipe for this bread on her blog yesterday, and we tried it on St. Lucy's Day, as the day before was crazy. As I'm a diabetic, we only did the glaze on one of the wreaths.
It was delicious just plain with butter, and my ESL students who ate it after their final exam last night, told me I should open a bakery!

You had to get up pretty early in the morning today. . .

To catch St. Lucy at her rounds!

"Wake up! Lucia comes today!

So be glad!

Lucia comes in bright array,

to open our hearts for Christmas Day!"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Old Friends and The Messiah

Two of my favorite Christmas traditions are attending a "Messiah "sing-in, where the audience brings their own scores, and the concert hall provides orchestra, conductor and solosists. It's so much fun to participate with REAL musicians, and I mean in the audience as well!
I only make it about every 10 years, unfortunately, but this year was special. My childhood friend and companion in my London adventure (see A Dickensian Christmas in London post), Helena, surprised me by coming to town, and joining me with her daughter Serena.
We met singing in elementary school too many yearsago to mention, and sang together in a truly wonderful high school choir which toured the country spreading beautiful sacred music. As I neared graduation, I cried knowing what a rare opportunity I had to be able to sing with such a group.
So, on Sunday, we relived old memories and sang our hearts out in the "Hallelujah Chorus". It was glorious!

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe II

My bilingual First Holy Communion class consists largely of children of El Salvadorean immigrants. Their families share the Mexicans' devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Thechildren and their parents processed with their hand-made tissue paper roses, genuflected in front of the Monstrance, and then processed to the image of Our Lady to sing the traditional song sung on the vigil of her feast day, "Las Mananitas". Then, they left Our Lady with their flowers as tokens of respect and love. It was so innocent and sweet!

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe I

On the vigil of the feastday, the kids at the homeschool co-op smashed the 'sun-god' of the

pagan Aztecs. In the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe , she is shown in front of the sun, to show the Aztecs that she has superceded worship of this false god.

For us, we take our text from Revelations 12:1-

"Then a great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head, a crown of twelve stars."