ADVENT, SAINT NICOLAS, THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, SAINT JUAN DIEGO, OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, OUR LADY OF LORETO, SAINT LUCY, THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD, CHRISTMAS, SAINT STEPHEN, FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY
Advent is the 4 weeks of preparation and great anticipation of the celebration and recognition of the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ on Christmas! It is the day we await that is the fulfillment of the scriptures, which is the day of the nativity of Jesus Christ, our savior from sin and the one that shows us the way to His glory in Heaven through His life. Doing things that are Christ and nativity centered at this time, give due reverence and belief to this reality.
Make an Advent Wreath!
Make your own Advent wreath or acquire one. Always make sure to buy candles in advance. They seem to sell out quickly, or be hard to come by often! To make your own, an easy way is to buy a circle base with 4 candle holders. Simply wrap the greenery around with a festive ribbon or wire. You can get greenery scraps often for free where Christmas trees are sold and trimmed.
Place it on your kitchen table with the candles to be lit daily with prayers! Below is an Advent wreath prayer sheet that you can print out and pray with daily as you await Christmas day! (I laminated mine and keep it in my Advent bin, always ready to go when advent begins!)
Decorate specifically for the season. Christmas is about the birth of our savior. Make sure you decorate accordingly to put the focus on the right thing, as it certainly seems like a struggle to find it out in the world, in the midst of the focus being on the excitement of the coming of Santa, and winter wonderland snowmen as opposed to the coming of Christ. In other words, what do your decorations show God, and others? Is the coming of Santa or Jesus at the focus of your family? Who are the decorations for? Be a witness to your children, family and neighbors. Many years ago, when I went to a big chain store to specifically look for some reverent nativity ornaments or decorations, I could not find a single one. It literally brought me to tears for Jesus and how sad that must make him feel. It was very eye opening, at just how pagan things have gotten. His humble birthday in a manger has become something so different in the world filled with so many distractions. Intention and what is in our heart is what matters to our Lord’s heart. He wants us to love Him, because that is what brings true happiness, and He wants us to be happy!
After my moment of awakening, and the emense sadness I felt for Jesus, I wanted to make it right in my home, and it felt so right and good to get rid of so many pagan decorations that I had acquired over time, and just simplify and focus our surroundings on the simplicity of The Holy family and the grandeur of the birth of our Lord and savior. So much of the decor had become like noise and distractions from the reason for the season before I had the call to purge. Having images of The Holy Family around the house to focus on the birth of Christ to counter the force of what the pagan December 25th has become about has been a reprieve from it. This is a great gift to give the children, family and neighbors, especially Jesus! We let the kids know that it is the best and most special birthday party of the year!
It's a fun family tradition to find and cut down our own tree ever year! It's fun having a CHRISTmas tree! We make sure to have Christ centered ornaments, holy family and family centered ornaments so we can be placed with them, and to be reminded to be a holy family! It's fun to have it up all Advent as a fun tradition! I think it’s fun to combine the CHRISTmas tree tradition with Jesse Tree Ornaments!
About The Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree tradition is rooted in Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”Jesse was the father of David, Israel’s greatest king. And Jesus is descended from the line of David. He is the branch God promised would grow from Jesse’s family tree. Jesse Tree is a way of preparing for Advent by journeying through the stories on Jesus’s family tree. During Advent, a Bible story is read each day about someone on Jesus’s family tree along with hanging to corresponding ornament. With a Jesse tree we see how God prepared for the birth of Jesus though his descendants.
There are also beautiful Jesse tree options out there on Etsy! I think this one on Etsy is Beautiful! https://www.etsy.com/listing/901428392/the-jesse-tree-advent-calendar-christmas?ga_search_query=Jesse&ref=shop_items_search_2&crt=1
How special it is to decorate as a family!
Kit includes 25 sliced wood ornaments and 1 booklet with meditations for everyday! Each ornament and story is about the family tree leading to Jospeh, Jesus and Mary! It's very christ centered, and you learn about the lineage.
Instead of the Pagan Elf on the Shelf, try the Shepherd’s Treasure! Same concept as the elf, but it's a shepherd looking for Jesus, which he finds on Christmas morning!
We love this tradition!
A family Christmas tradition focused on giving and the true meaning of Christmas. Every time someone goes out of their way to do a kind act, they get to place a piece of straw in the manger to make a soft "bed" for Jesus on Christmas morning!
$.50 wood ornaments on Etsy!
My dear friend gave me a box with a chocolate nativity a few years back, and I thought they were SO SPECIAL! I ordered molds on Etsy immediately for only a few dollars, and this is such a fun and neat Christ centered activity and gift for others!
Tough plastic mold made by one of the leading manufacturers of candy and soap molds in the United States: It is durable and reusable. Made of clear, environmentally friendly PETG plastic. FDA approved.
A unique and meaningful Catholic gift!
Endorsed and loved by Monsignor John Esseff, Saint Mother Teresa’s Spiritual Director and EWTN
*About Living Tabernacle Home Sanctuary Light*
-Made of glass and paraffin wax
-The label is a beautiful and textured metal label
-battery-operated peaceful flickering flame
-AAA Battery operated so that the wax never burns out!
The beautiful reverent metal label reads:
"May this reminder lead you to a holier life; to find unity with Christ on earth, so that you may find it with Him someday in heaven."
My dear friend gave me a box with a chocolate nativity a few years back, and I thought they were SO SPECIAL! I ordered molds on Etsy immediately for only a few dollars, and this is such a fun and neat Christ centered activity and gift for others!
-Buy melting chocolate-melt it by slowly stirring, and careful to not overheat-add to molds-cool down in fridge -bend carefully to take out-and you have yourself the sweetest little holy family chocolates!
I bought some fun little boxes to put them in, but you can also put them in little tins, or whatever would be fun!
Years ago, our family friends with 7 children made tins and tins of chocolates for friends, and drove around delivering them to their friends for Christmas. It was such a joyous gesture that I haven't forgotten and have been inspired by it! You can add candy and prayers to the tins of cookies! We have had some wonderful and faithful friends inspire us along the years! The dollar store sells tins, or you can order them in bulk, or do fun bags!
Each child has an inner artist! You can do this with the family or friends! Buy the paint holders and put in different sprinkles. As you know, little ones with full sprinkle jars tend to dump them out or have no portion control. This helps with the presentation of the fun factor, and portion control!
Christ Candy Canes!
With pagan Christmas competing for our children's attention captivated by Santa, presents and reindeer, it's fun to do a simple Christ centered craft like this to give away to others, to refocus our thoughts on our Lord's birth.
1. Buy candy canes
2. Print out legend of the candy cane. I copy and paste several to a word document
3. (Laminate and) cut
4. Your child will have so much fun taping candy canes to these and be excited to give them away!
ROCK-A-BYE Baby Jesus ORNAMENT
Jesus is my Rock
Painted Baby Rock Jesus!
My kids love painting rocks, and they love picking out little rocks that would be perfect for baby Jesus rocks.
1. Paint the rock a solid color
2. paint the face flesh tone.
3. draw in the face and lines.
4. Hot glue ribbon for an ornament or leave as is!
Super easy and fun!
Family hand cut out CHRISTmas tree!
1. Everyone has fun tracing hands on green paper.
2. Cut them out.
4. Glue on from smallest at top to biggest on bottom! Add a star and trunk!
Family CHRISTmas tree!
I love activities the whole family can do together!
Saint Nicholas was neither fat nor jolly. He had a reputation as a fiery, wiry, and defiant defender of church doctrine during the Great Persecution in 303, when Bibles were burned and priests were made to renounce Christianity or face execution. After the Protestant reformation from the Catholic Faith that Jesus established began in the 1500’s, saints like Saint Nicholas fell out of favor. Washington Irving's 1809 book Knickerbocker’s History of New York first portrayed Saint Nicholas flying a wagon over rooftops delivering presents to gifts to good kids, in a way, making him like God in knowing who is good or who is bad, and the idea that we should be good for Santa so he can bring us gifs, as opposed to be Good for God, so we can go to heaven. In 1821 an anonymous illustrated poem, "The Children's Friend" shaped the modern Santa and associated him with Christmas, stripped Saint Nicholas of any religious characteristics, away from his feast day, and dressed him in the furs of Germanic gift bringers. In 1822 Clement Clarke Moore wrote "The Night Before Christmas," and this is where he was portrayed as plump, jolly Santa on a sleigh with eight reindeer. Santa has become quite the distraction from the coming of Jesus, to the coming of Santa and his presents. Saint Nicolas was Bishop of Myra in the province of Lycia during the fourth century. He is known as a man of great faith, and as the patron of children, gift-giving and charity. He secretly gave gifts with a charitable heart without wanting any recognition, because he knew that the real recognition came from God. This is so far from all the recognition he gets now. This saint overtime became the dominant force in the pagan celebration of Christmas as Santa Clause.
Today, in the anticipation of the Lord's birthday, and in the spirit of Saint Nicolas, you can take each child separately to the store (or even the dollar store for affordability and flexibility for little ones to let them pick anything out), and have them pick out 1 gift for each sibling or family member for Jesus’s Birthday! I love to see how excited they get to choose things for each other, and the thought they put into each thing! This helps take the focus away from what they want, and what they will get on Christmas. Honestly, on Christmas morning the kids can be even more excited to give their presents than to receive! This is in the spirit of Saint Nicolas, the charitable gift giver! It is such a great practice to take the focus off of oneself!
Another fun option is to make a craft or color a picture for each person, to give on Christmas! They will be so excited! Depending on how old they are, you can even guide them through wrapping the presents on their own, or having them select gift bags for each gift!
Often, there is a misconception of this day being about the "Immaculate Conception of Jesus in Mary", but in fact, this day is about the Immaculate Conception of Mary in her mother, Saint Anne!
The title of the Immaculate Conception recognizes Mary’s privilege of coming into the world free from sin from the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. Through the power of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, every human being can be freed from sin at Baptism. Through that same power, Mary was always free from sin, even from that very first moment of life.
On this day, let us pray to the patron Saint of Mothers.
Prayer to Saint Anne
Glorious St. Anne, Filled with Compassion for those who invoke thee, and with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at thy feet and humbly beg of thee to take the present affair which I recommend to thee under thy special protection. Vouchsafe to recommend it to thy Daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and lay it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all obtain for me the grace of one day beholding my God face to face, and with thee and Mary and all the Saints, praising and blessing Him for all eternity. Good St. Anne, mother of Her who is our Life, our Sweetness and our Hope, pray to her for us, and obtain our request.
Read the story to your children! Juan Diego was an indigenous native Mexican with the name Cuauhtlatohuac, meaning “The eagle who speaks”. In 1531 when on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City, and asked that a shrine be built in her name. Juan Diego told the bishop about this. The Bishop asked for a sign to prove that the apparition was true. The Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the roses in the winter. He gathered flowers, and Our Lady carefully placed them in his mantle and told him to take them to the Bishop as "proof". When he opened his tilma (the article of clothing he wore as shown in the picture), the flowers fell on the ground and the flowers had created a miraculous image of the Blessed Mother that is now known as Our Lady of Guadeloupe. The image is preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico. Because of the miraculous image our Lady and what it depicted, 9 MILLION people converted to Catholicism! Wow!
Awesome Liturgical Living tip! Buy beautiful colorful roses to have out on display during this time to be reminded of the miracle!
Both of these feasts are excellent reasons to celebrate with a Mexican Fiesta!
During the advent season, it’s a great time to get friends together and make tamales or any traditional Mexican dishes like enchiladas, tacos or quesadillas and guacamole! Yum!
Learn about the image! Learn more about geography. Do your kids know where Mexico is! Where is the tilma with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe located?
John Paul II’s Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.
Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.
Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.
Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.
Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.
We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.
Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
His Holiness John Paul II Mexico, January 1979. Visiting Her Basilica during his first foreign trip as Pope.
The Holy House of the Blessed Virgin is located in Loreto, Italy, and it is said to be the home in which Mary was born and where the Angel Gabriel appeared to her. Mary’s home had long ben revered in her hometown of Nazareth, and the apostles are said to have used the residence as a church. After the fall of the Latin Church in Jerusalem in 1291, tradition says that angels transported Mary’s home from Nazareth to what is now Croatia. To avoid destruction, they later carried the home to Italy where it eventually came to Loreto in December of 1295.
Today is the perfect day to make that gingerbread house with candy with your family and live liturgically and talk about Our Lady of Loreto!! It's n to give the ever popular gingerbread house intention!
You can buy a set online or make one and decorate it!
For children that want to decorate their own, you can use (cupcake) icing or hot glue little houses together out of Golden Grahams! Have all the supplies ready out for each child!
You can invest on a set of the paint trays for portion control on candy, sprinkles and treats on actives like this!
Make candy angels to put around the house, or draw or place decorative angels around the house to resemble the angels lifting the house. You can search Hersey Kiss Angels (such as this how to youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs3VhPGXfr0)
Did you know that Our Lady of Loreto is the patroness of aviation? Next time you or someone you know goes on a flight, you can pray!
O Holy Mother of God, our Lady of Loreto, patroness of aviation and air travelers. We come to thank you for all the graces and benefits bestowed on us. Full of trust in your powerful intercession, we fly to you, begging for your maternal solicitude and care. Listen to our supplications for the success of this flight and all the flights we may undertake. Do bless the pilots, the flight attendants, the technicians, and all of us, passengers, placed under their care. As we piously believe that your house in Nazareth was borne by angels to Loreto, so may you also bring us all safely to our destination here on earth and to our final home in heaven. Amen
Going to daily Holy Mass at Our Lady of Loreto Chapel in Pensacola, Florida!
Saint Lucy was a young Christian woman who vowed to live her life in service of Christ. Courageously keeping her vow of virginity, St. Lucy refused to marry the Governor of Syracuse and was brutally tortured because of her faith. One tradition holds that her persecutors gouged her eyes out before she was killed with a sword. Her veneration spread to Rome so that by the sixth century the whole Church recognized her courage in defense of the faith. She is also known as a light of faith. She was raised by her Greek mother, Eutychia, who instilled in her the sense of sharing with the poor which helped foster the desire to serve Christ in the poor. After several prayers at the tomb of Saint Agatha, Lucy saw the saint in a dream. Saint Agatha told Lucy her sick mother would be cured through faith, which Lucy used to persuade her mother to give the dowry money to the poor and allow her to commit her life to God. Saint Lucy brought food to Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs, and wore a candle lit wreath on her head to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible.
Lucy’s name means "light" or "lucid," and she is the patron saint of the blind. She is often seen with a cup or plate with eyes on them. In paintings, she is often depicted with a golden plate holding her eyes and often holds a palm branch, which is a symbol of victory over evil.
Make eyeball food!! I got this idea over Halloween, when I touched a “bowl of eyeballs”, and I did some more investigating on eyeball food!
Simple “eyeballs”-Buy, peel and eat peeled grapes today in recognition of Saint Lucy. Boiled egg cut in half with olive or blueberry pupil.
Marinated mozzarella eyeballsKids would love to help! These are so much fun more involved eyeballs recipes:https://www.foodandwine.com/news/halloween-eyeball-recipes?slide=0dda24b7-4e4d-48b1-b0a1-b0ae6b6f0ed3#0dda24b7-4e4d-48b1-b0a1-b0ae6b6f0ed3
Lucy’s name means "light". Light candles to remember the candle light she used to aid the Christians and her bravery.
Make paper wreaths today. Super easy with construction paper and a little imagination! (Or you can search for one)I grew up having a battery operated wreath that I loved playing with. I would wear a white gown and my lit wreath and would play as kids do! I am half Swedish and have had the privilege of participating in how they go all out in recognition of Saint Lucy there. They have a custom of wearing wreaths on their heads with candles.
(Image from Food and Wine)
(Image from The Food Channel)
Make and decorate a birthday cake for Jesus together as a family. Put candles on it, light it, sing happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas, and blow out the candles! Kids love birthday parties and cake! Put the focus in the right place in a fun way!
Happy Birthday Jesus! What a special day it is! All throughout Advent and especially before bed time on the 24th, make a tradition to read the story of the nativity. Prepare the day before like you would for a birthday party...but for Jesus!...so, it's EXTRA special! Make sure that you have prepared this very special day to celebrate it as a birthday party for Jesus! Christmas day is a busy day! So, it's fun to make the birthday cake before, in anticipation of the day! It's a great way to take a pause during Christmas day and sing happy birthday and redirect our attention to our Lord's birthday from the distractions of presents on this day!
Cookies and Baking! Each child has an inner artist! You can do this with the family or friends! Buy the paint holders and put in different sprinkles. As you know, little ones with full sprinkle jars tend to dump out or have no portion control. This helps with the presentation of the fun factor, and portion control!
Saint Stephen, December 26th
Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr. He was stoned to death. Martyr means witness. We are all meant to be a witness, but not necessarily shed blood. Martyrdom has always been honored as an ultimate act of love and faith. He saw a vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He said, "Look, I can see heaven thrown open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." That vision was taken as the final proof of blasphemy to the Jews who did not believe Jesus was the Messiah or Son of God. As Stephen was being stoned to death, he said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, do not hold this sin against them." He used similar words of Jesus on the Cross. A Rabbi named Saul of Tarsus witnessed Stephen being martyred. He had been a persecutor of the early Church. Later, Saul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, and was dramatically converted. His encounter is recorded in the 9th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. He took the name Paul and became one of the great apostles of Jesus!
Paint rocks today!
Eat Rock Candy or Pop Rocks!
Saint Stephen was the first martyr. Discus with the family, some of your firsts together.
Today is the feast of The Holy family. Talk about what made this family the Holy Family. Talk about ways your family can be a holy family too, each and all together!
Put a picture of your family next to a picture of THE holy Family as a reminder for this goal that we should all wish to attain, and wish for out holiness and the holiness of others.
Today is a perfect day to have the kids draw family pictures!
Saint John Paul II was quite sensitive about what happens in human life from conception onward. He knew that the early years of life are important and their effect is lasting. He knew that parents have a major role in developing the human and spiritual life of their children. He calls the parents the “first evangelizers” of their children. Most people see this as reading directly from the Bible to the kids, but it’s more than understanding the Bible, it’s embodying the gospel in daily life in actions and words, this is true evangelization. He felt that this was an important message for families, as they get busier and busier and more distracted from their children and primary vocation of spouses and parents. Saint Pope John Paul II wrote Familiaris Consortio. In it he wrote that the family has a mission to guard, reveal and communicate love.
With that said, there have been several mentions on the biggest spiritual battles of our times being on the family. The awareness of this reality allows us to be awake to it, and to choose holiness, love and presence over anything else. It allows us to choose whatever is beautiful, whatever it pure and to think about such things. This goes back to what I had mentioned before on having a family mission of holiness and heaven to always revert back to guide us in all our decisions.
Cardinal Caffarra said that “speaking again with John Paul II, you could feel that the family was the core, since it has to do with the supporting pillar of creation, the truth of the relationship between man and woman, between the generations. If the foundational pillar is damaged, the entire building collapses and we're seeing this now, because we are right at this point and we know it.”
Sister Lucia dos Santos of Fatima wrote to Cardinal Caffarra, “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about Marriage and the Family.’ Don't be afraid, she added, because whoever works for the sanctity of Marriage and the Family will always be fought against and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. Then she concluded: ‘nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head.”
-Family bonding! Do fun activity as a family that the family enjoys!
-Talk about how you can embody the gospel in your daily life more!
-Talk about this real spiritual battle, and how we can combat it!
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