Scruples – Light and Peace, Quadrupani, 1795

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Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts48cf51a6f023fd55e6751f60879646cb

It’s a scary world out there. The world, the flesh, the devil are constantly pulling at us, trying to suck us in. Everywhere we look there is promiscuity, immoral values, unjust suffering, etc. It almost makes one swing to an extreme….an extreme where there is no good in the world left and everything becomes a sin. An easy trap to fall into?

If the devil can’t get us one way, he will try another, won’t he?

This excerpt is from the wonderful book Light and Peace by Quadrupani. It is one book that I have always had on hand. I have passed it on to my family and my friends because of the wise and balanced words between the covers.

How much these wise words are needed today:

1. There are persons who look upon scrupulosity as a virtue, confounding it with delicacy of conscience, whereas it is, on the contrary, not only a defect but one of a most dangerous character. The devout and learned Gerson says that a scrupulous conscience often does more injury to the soul than one that is too lax and remiss.

2. Scruples warp the judgment, disturb the peace of the soul, beget mistrust of the Sacraments and estrangement from them, and impair the health of body and mind. How many unfortunates have begun by scrupulosity and ended in insanity! How many, more unfortunate still, have begun by scruples and ended in laxity and impiety! Shun then this insidious poison, so deadly in its effects on true piety, and say with Saint Joseph of Cupertino: Away with sadness and scruples; I will not have them in my house.

3. Scrupulosity is an unreasonable fear of sin in matters where there is not even material for sin. But the victim does not call his doubts and fears scruples, for he would not be tormented by them if he believed he could give them that name. He should, however, place implicit reliance in the opinion of his spiritual guide when he tells him they are such and that he must not allow himself to be influenced by them.

4. In all his actions a scrupulous person sees only an uninterrupted series of sins, and in God nothing but vengeance and anger. He ought, therefore, to consider almost exclusively the attribute of the divine Master by which He most delights to manifest Himself, mercy, and to make it the constant subject of his thoughts, meditations and affections.

5. There is but one remedy for scruples and that is entire and courageous obedience. “It is a secret pride,” says Saint Francis de Sales, “that entertains and nourishes scruples, for the scrupulous person adheres to his opinion and inquietude in spite of his director’s advice to the contrary. He always persuades himself in justification of his disobedience that some new and unforeseen circumstance has occurred to which this advice cannot be applicable.” “But submit”, adds the Saint, “without other reasoning than this: I should obey, and you will be delivered from this lamentable malady.”

6. By sadness and anxiety the children of God do a great injury to their Heavenly Father. They thereby seem to bear witness that there is little happiness to be found in the service of a Master so full of love and mercy, and to give the lie to the words of Him who said: “Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavily burdened and I will refresh you.”

“Woe to that narrow and self-absorbed soul that is always fearful, and because of fear has no time to love and to go generously forward. O my God! I know it is your wish that the heart that loves you should be broad and free!

Hence I shall act with confidence like to the child that plays in the arms of its mother; I shall rejoice in the Lord and try to make others rejoice; I shall pour forth my heart without fear in the assembly of the children of God. I wish for nothing but candor, innocence and joy of the Holy Ghost. Far, far from me, O my God, be that sad and cowardly wisdom which is ever consumed in self, ever holding the balance in hand in order to weigh atoms!… Such lack of simplicity in the soul’s dealings with Thee is truly an outrage against Thee: such rigor imputed to Thee is unworthy of Thy paternal heart.”—Fénelon.*

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Don’t put your marriage on the back burner. Pray about it, hang out with those who build up instead of tear down, make friends with good books that are attitude-changers, be willing to say, “I’m sorry.” Go the extra mile…and then travel a little further. Every effort you expend in this area will make you and your family healthier, happier and holier!
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One Heart, One Soul

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Yesterday our family with other families of the Parish met at the Church and said the Rosary in front of this picture of the Holy Family. We then said prayers out of a little booklet  asking God to bless our families, and to bless our love as husband and wife. They were beautiful prayers and a reminder that the love between husband and wife is so close to the Heart of Jesus and the most beautiful love on this earth. It is worth striving for!

from Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.

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How happy are married persons who can say as Maurice
Retour to his wife, “We love each other for our ideas. We see only God and we have become united in order to serve Him better.” Such is Christian love.

“We shall ask Christ, who sanctified marriage, to give us all the graces necessary for us. We pray with force but also with joy because we have great confidence in the future since both of us expect our happiness from God alone.”

And after Holy Communion which they both received on their wedding day they begged God “to make their mutual love always effect their personal sanctification, to bless their home by sending them many children, to keep in His grace themselves, their little ones and all who would ever live under their roof.”

Sometimes we hear it said that there are no examples of married persons living effectively the holy law of marriage as God prescribed it and Christ ratified it.

There are many. More than one might think. And, thanks be to
God, there have been some in all ages.

In the time of the early Church, Tertullian, believing his death to be approaching, wrote two books entitled Ad Uxorem, “To My Wife.” In the last chapter of the second book he gives an unforgettable picture of marriage. One cannot meditate on it too often.

He extols the happiness of marriage “which the Church approves, the Holy Sacrifice confirms, the Blessing seals, the Angels witness, and God ratifies. What an alliance is that of two faithful souls united in a single hope, under a single discipline, under a similar dependence. Both are servants of the same Master. There is no distinction of mind or of body.

Both are in truth one flesh; where there is but one body, there is but one mind. They kneel in prayer together, they teach each other, support each other. They are together in church, together at the Banquet of God, together in trials, in joy. They are incapable of hiding anything from each other, of deserting each other, of annoying each other.

In complete liberty, they visit the sick and help the poor. Without anxiety about each other they give alms freely, assist at Holy Mass and without any embarrassment manifest their fervor daily. They do not know what it means to make a furtive sign of the Cross, to mumble trembling greetings, to invoke silent blessings.

They sing hymns and psalms vying with each other to give God the most praise. Christ rejoices to see and hear them and gives them His peace. Wherever they are, Christ is with them.

“That is marriage as the Apostle speaks of it to us . . . The faithful cannot be otherwise in their marriage.”

Oh, that we might fulfill this ideal in our marriage!

We must pray for it and really want it.

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“Friends have been defined as those between whom there need not be conversation. They are aware of each other’s presence, and that is enough.” – Fr. Leo Kinsella, The Wife Desired, 1950’s

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Tids ‘n’ Bits and a Giveaway!

Happy Advent! What a beautiful time of the year! One can’t help getting into the Christmas….I mean Advent, spirit, can one? That’s why I am offering a Giveaway for you!

But, just some chatty things before the Giveaway.

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I thought you’d like this one. Our little granddaughter, Nini (Sienna) is 4 and is very observant and articulate. This is the text I got from her mom, Theresa:

Nini: Can I have an orange?

Me (Mom): No.

Nini: But, Mom, this is Oranging Day, cuz that guy won, to lead us in our country!

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Haha! Smart Kid. It’s worth a try…..

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Father gave a sermon this Sunday about Advent. It was very good…the kind that just sticks.

Do you remember 2010 and the Chilean Mining Accident? Thirty-three men were in a collapsed mine, 2300 ft. underground and 3 miles from the entrance to the cave! And they were there for 69 days!! Frightening!!

How they must have longed for the light! How they must have longed to be rescued! I really can’t imagine.

President of Chile visiting the miners at the hospital after they were rescued:

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Father then compared that longing to the longing of men before Christ’s coming. How they longed for the light and to be rescued!

We, too, must stir up a longing for the Christ Child at Christmas through our Advent preparations and sacrifices, whatever they may be. The more we put into Advent, the more will be the fulfilling of our heart at Christmas by Him who loves us so much!

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Then Father talked about the Blue Ox in the story of the very big lumberjack, Paul Bunyan. Father is from Minnesota and that is where the story originated.

The Blue Ox was so big that you could tie the end of a road onto his neck and he would pull and pull, until it straightened right out…so they say.😀

(Father is very smart to tell these stories because that’s the glue that makes the sermon stick.)

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Anyway, he went on to ask what windy roads we have between God and ourselves?  What is it in our life that makes it hard to get to God and for Him to get to us? What vices, addictions, attachments and other things are in the way of giving our lives to Him?

Whatever it is, we need to work on them, pray about them, go to confession….make those winding, hard-to-travel roads straight again! It is a must if we are to grow in virtue and love of God!

Great meditations!

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These are our granddaughters Emma and Sienna. As you can see, it starts young….after many minutes in the bathroom they emerge…ready for town!

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Some good games of Life and Cribbage going on!

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Rosie and Magdalene:

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I will announce the winner a week from today….Weds. Dec. 7th! You will get the beautiful Christmas Kanzashi Flower Accessory, the Rosary Bracelet and the Finer Femininity Advent/Christmas Booklet!

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Each day is a chance to grow in virtue and it begins with the little things. Show your husband you care….listen to him, smile at him, give him a hug when he doesn’t expect it. Your children are watching and courtesy and love are contagious! This Advent can be special…. it starts with you!

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Intricate and Classy Hand-Crafted Kanzashi Accessory Flower.. Hair, Scarf, Collar, etc…. This fetching ribbon flower is a perfect accent to any special outfit and provides a sweet final touch!
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St. Andrew Novena – The Special Christmas Novena! Today – Nov. 30th!

From The Rosary and Gifts

A Favorite Christmas Novena ~
The St Andrew Novena

jesus-birthThe Christmas Novena, the St Andrew Novena  (November 30th – December 24th), is I believe, one of the most popular Catholic Advent prayers.

My family and I love to say this novena each year in preparation for Advent. We offer the intention as a family intention, one we wish to gain for the family as a whole, and also a private intention, one that each one of us would like to gain like a particular virtue or help in fighting against a vice.

Because the prayer is longer than nine (9) days, and not quite 27, it’s technically not a novena or a set of novenas, but, because it is prayed ‘novena style’, that is, repeatedly for a set amount of days, it is referred to as a novena.

In my family, we have found that we remember to say the novena best when we attach it to our daily Rosary. We set the slips of paper that we have written or printed the prayer out on next to our Rosary bowl. I do know other families say this novena with their grace before dinner while they light the candles as part of their Advent wreath prayers.

The prayer can be said at anytime during the day, but if you have a regular time the whole family is together like for the Rosary, morning/night prayers, or at meals, it might be a good idea to say the novena at a set, regular time.

Imagine a child who loves you…he is willing to do just about anything in his power to please you.

NOW imagine the Christ-Child. He too is willing to do just about anything for you. Everything is in His power to do and to give, as long as the petitioned favor isn’t contrary to what Our Lord deems necessary for your eternal salvation. This is an important caveat that I have trouble remembering!😉

In this Advent season of preparing for Christ’s coming, the St Andrew Christmas Novena is a loving way to prepare ourselves and our families.

St Andrew holds the honor of being the first apostle to be called by Christ to follow Him.

This novena is a bit different in that it does not invoke the intervention or aid of the saint himself, but is adoring, glorifying the hour of Christ’s birth and seeking aid from God Himself!

The novena is begun on the Feast of Saint Andrew, November 30th, and is said thru Christmas Eve, December 24th.

**(If you start late, or if you miss a day do not be discouraged! Catch up by saying the extra prayers you missed along the way….Jesus will bless every effort!)

St Andrew Christmas Novena

Hail and Blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.  In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Recite 15 times per day. It is permitted to break it up and pray 5x’s in the morning, afternoon and evening, but for the sake of missing one of the times and forgetting, I prefer to say them all at once.

Prepare for Miracles!

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I made this Advent Chaplet to keep track of your 15 Christmas Novena prayers. It has a lovely brass crucifix, is durable and wire-wrapped to last for many Advents to come! Limited quantity. :)   Included is a laminated prayer card with the novena prayer on it. If you are interested go to Meadows of Grace.

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“Children must be taught constantly from their tenderest years to have a real love and friendship for their Angels, to have boundless confidence in them. They must be accustomed to feel and realize the personal presence of their Angels, to call on them in all their fears and troubles.” -Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, All about the Angels

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This little Maglet (magazine/booklet) is full of inspiration and devotions for your Advent and Christmas Season! Check it out here.

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Christkindl and Other Advent-y Things by Maria von Trapp (Part Two)

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Continued from Part One Here….

After our first gathering around the Advent light, and the singing of the first Advent hymn, an air of expectancy spreads over the family group; now comes the moment when the mother goes around with a bowl in which are the little cards with the names of the new saints.

Everybody draws a card and puts it in his missal. This saint will be invoked every morning after Morning Prayer. Everyone is supposed to look up and study the life story of his new friend, and sometime during the coming year he will tell the family all about it.

As there are so many of us, we come to know about different saints every year. Sometimes this calls for considerable research on the part of the unfortunate one who has drawn St. Eustachius, for instance, or St. Bibiana.

But the custom has become very dear to us, and every year it seems as if the family circle were enlarged by all those new brothers and sisters entering in and becoming known and loved by all.

And then comes another exciting moment. Once more the mother appears with the bowl, which she passes around. This time the pieces of paper contain the names of the members of the family and are neatly rolled up, because the drawing has to be done in great secrecy.

The person whose name one has drawn is now in one’s special care. From this day until Christmas, one has to do as many little favors for him or her as one can. One has to provide at least one surprise every single day—but without ever being found out.

This creates a wonderful atmosphere of joyful suspense, kindness, and thoughtfulness.

Perhaps you will find that somebody has made your bed or shined your shoes or has informed you, in a disguised handwriting on a holy card, that “a rosary has been said for you today” or a number of sacrifices have been offered up.

This new relationship is called “Christkindl” (Christ Child) in the old country, where children believe that the Christmas tree and the gifts under it are brought down by the Christ Child himself.

The beautiful thing about this particular custom is that the relationship is a reciprocal one. The person whose name I have drawn and who is under my care becomes for me the helpless little Christ Child in the manger; and as I am performing these many little acts of love and consideration for someone in the family I am really doing them for the Infant of Bethlehem, according to the word, “And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.”

That is why this particular person turns into “my Christkindl.” At the same time I am the “Christkindl” also for the one I am caring for because I want to imitate the Holy Child and render all those little services in the same spirit as He did in that small house of Nazareth, when as a child He served His Mother and His foster father with a similar love and devotion.

Many times throughout these weeks can be heard such exclamations as, “I have a wonderful Christkindl this year!” or, “Goodness, I forgot to do something for my Christkindl and it is already suppertime!”

It is a delightful custom, which creates much of the true Christmas spirit and ought to be spread far and wide.

And there is still one very important thing to do for Advent. According to Austrian custom, every member of the family writes a letter to the Holy Child mentioning his resolutions for the weeks of Advent and listing all his wishes for gifts. This “Christkindl Brief” (letter to the Holy Child) is put on the window sill, from whence the Guardian Angel will take it up to heaven to read it aloud to the Holy Child.

To make small children (and older ones, too) aware of the happy expectancy of Advent, there is a special Advent calendar which clever hands can make at home.

It might be a house with windows for each day of Advent; every morning the child opens another window, behind which appears a star, an angel, or some other picture appropriate to the season.

On the 23rd, all windows are open, but the big entrance door still is closed. That is opened on Christmas Eve, when it reveals the Holy Child in the manger, or a Christmas tree.

All kinds of variations on this theme are possible, such as the Jacob’s Ladder shown on our illustration, which leads step by step to the day of Christ’s birth. All such little aids make Christmas more wonderful and “special” to a child, and preparing them adds to our own Christmas joy.

{Advent Calendar: Take piece of cardboard; cut out clouds, leaving them attached at one point so that they can fold out. Cut spaces in ladder as on insert so that they can fold down. Take transparent paper same size as cardboard. Paint and draw pictures of stars, angels, toys, etc. on spots behind clouds and ladder steps. For top cloud, put Christmas tree or Christ Child in crib. Paste this on back of calendar. Each day another cloud or ladder step should be opened, until Christmas Eve is reached on top of ladder.}

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“All monasteries have a bell. St. Bernard, in writing his rules for monasticism, told his monks that whenever the monastic bell rang, they were to drop whatever they were doing and go immediately to the particular activity (prayer, meals, work, study, sleep) to which the bell was summoning them. Our home is our ‘Domestic Monastery’. Our monastic bell is each task to which we are called. We respond immediately, not because we want to, but because it’s time for that task and time isn’t our time, it’s God’s time.” -Ron Rolheiser OMI
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The Advent Wreath and Other Advent-y Things by Maria Von Trapp (Part One)

This article will inspire you to bring back these old customs that have been swept under the rug the past few decades! Do you want your children to love the Faith? Then inundate them with sweet traditions like the ones discussed below! Our Faith then becomes a Living Faith as we celebrate the liturgical year…..an ongoing journey that we can grow with as the years go by!

This is our Advent wreath that a dear friend made. Tea lights sit atop the Advent-painted wooden cylinders. It is lovely….and what is most amazing is that I dug it up the day before Advent started so we actually had it ready on time!

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from Around the Year With the Trapp Family – by Maria von Trapp

Read Part Two Here.

In the week before the first Sunday in Advent, we began to inquire where we could obtain the various things necessary to make an Advent wreath.

“A what?” was the invariable answer, accompanied by a blank look.

And we learned that nobody seemed to know what an Advent wreath is. (This was fifteen years ago.) For us it was not a question of whether or not we would have an Advent wreath. The wreath was a must. Advent would be unthinkable without it. The question was only how to get it in a country where nobody seemed to know about it.

Back in Austria we used to go to a toy shop and buy a large hoop, about three feet in diameter. Then we would tie hay around it, three inches thick, as a foundation; and around this we would make a beautiful wreath of balsam twigs. The whole was about three feet in diameter and ten inches thick. As we tried the different toy shops in Philadelphia, the sales people only smiled indulgently and made us feel like Rip Van Winkle. “Around the turn of the century” they had sold the last hoop.

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Martina, who had made the Advent wreath during our last Advents back home, decided to buy strong wire at a hardware store and braid it into a round hoop. Then she tied old newspaper around it, instead of hay, and went out to look for balsam twigs. We lived in Germantown, a suburb of Philadelphia. Martina looked at all the evergreens in our friends’ gardens, but there was no balsam fir. So she chose the next best and came home with a laundry basket full of twigs from a yew tree.

In the hardware store, where she had bought the wire, she also got four tall spikes, which she worked into her newspaper reel as candleholders, and in the five-and-ten next door she bought a few yards of strong red ribbon and four candles. The yew twigs made a somewhat feathery Advent wreath; but, said Martina, “It’s round and it’s made of evergreen, and that is all that is necessary.” And she was right.

An Advent wreath is round as a symbol of God’s mercy of which every season of Advent is a new reminder; and it has to be made of evergreens to symbolize God’s “everlastingness.”

This was the only Advent we celebrated at home because the manager who arranged the concerts for us had discovered that our tenth child would soon arrive and had canceled the concerts for the month of December. In the next few years a much smaller Advent wreath would be made by our children and fastened to the ceiling of the big blue bus in which we toured the country.

We always started out by looking for balsam fir, but not until years later, when we were to have our own farm in Vermont, would we have a balsam Advent wreath again. Meanwhile we had to take what we could find in the way of evergreens in Georgia it was holly; in Virginia, boxwood; in Florida, pine.

The least desirable of all was spruce, which we used the year we traveled through Wisconsin, because spruce loses its needles quickest. But as long as it was an evergreen….

In order to get ready for the celebration of the beginning of Advent, one more thing has to be added a tall, thick candle, the Advent candle, as a symbol of Him Whom we call “the Light of the World.” During these weeks of Advent it will be the only light for the family evening prayer. Its feeble light is the symbol and reminder of mankind’s state of spiritual darkness during Advent.

On the first of January a new calendar year begins. On the first Sunday of Advent the new year of the Church begins. Therefore, the Saturday preceding the first Advent Sunday has something of the character of a New Year’s Eve.

One of the old customs is to choose a patron saint for the new year of the Church. The family meets on Saturday evening, and with the help of the missal and a book called “The Martyrology,” which lists thousands of saints as they are celebrated throughout the year, they choose as many new saints as there are members of the household.

We always choose them according to a special theme. One year, for instance, we had all the different Church Fathers; another year we chose only martyrs; then again, only saints of the new world….During the war we chose one saint of every country at war.

The newly chosen names are handed over to the calligrapher of the family (first it was Johanna; after she married, Rosemary took over). She writes the names of the saints in gothic lettering on little cards. Then she writes the name of every member of the household on an individual card and hands the two sets over to the mother. Now everything is ready.

In the afternoon of the first Sunday of Advent, around vesper time, the whole family–and this always means “family” in the larger sense of the word, including all the members of the household–meets in the living room.

The Advent wreath hangs suspended from the ceiling on four red ribbons; the Advent candle stands in the middle of the table or on a little stand on the side. Solemnly the father lights one candle on the Advent wreath, and, for the first time, the big Advent candle. Then he reads the Gospel of the first Sunday of Advent. After this the special song of Advent is intoned for the first time, the ancient “Ye heavens, dew drop from above, and rain ye clouds the Just One….”

Consciously we should work toward restoring the true character of waiting and longing to these precious weeks before Christmas. Just before Midnight Mass, on December 24th, is the moment to sing for the first time “Silent Night, Holy Night,” for this is the song for this very night. It may be repeated afterwards as many times as we please, but it should not be sung before that holy night.

Since we have found that Advent hymns have been largely forgotten, we want to include here the ones we most often sing; and we also want to explain how we collected our songs. First, there were a certain number, the traditional ones, which were still sung in homes and in church during the weeks of Advent. Then we looked for collections in libraries; we inquired among friends and acquaintances; we wrote to people we had met on our travels in foreign countries. Each song that has come to us in this way is particularly dear to us–a personal friend rather than a chance acquaintance.

YOU HEAVENS, DEW DROP FROM ABOVE

Text, Isaias 45,8; melody, first (Dorian) mode. This is the medieval

Advent call–sing three times, each time a tone higher.

Ye Heavens, dew drop from above and rain ye clouds the just one.

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O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL

The text of this hymn is based on the seven Great Antiphons (O-Antiphons)

which are said before and after the Magnificat at Vespers from December

17 to 23. The metrical Latin form dates from the early 18th century.

English translation J. M. Neale (1818-1866), and “The Hymnal of the

Protestant Episcopal Church in U.S.A.” (stanzas 2 and 4), by permission

of “The Church Pension Fund.” Melody, first (Dorian) mode.

  1. O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here,

Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel!

Shall come to thee, O Israel!

  1. O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,

Who ordrest all things mightily;

To us the path of knowledge show,

And teach us in her ways to go.–Refrain

  1. O come, Thou Key of David, come,

And open wide our heav’nly home;

Make safe the way that leads to thee,

And close the path to misery.–Refrain

  1. O come, Desire of Nations, bind

In one the hearts of all mankind;

Bid thou our sad divisions cease,

And be thyself our King of Peace.–Refrain

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DROP YOUR DEW, YE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN

Text, Michael Denis, 1774; melody, 18th century Austrian, probably

Michael Haydn, 1737-1806.

  1. Drop your dew, ye clouds of heaven,

Rain the Just One now to save!

With that cry the night was riven

From the world, a yawning grave.

On the earth by God forsaken

Sin and death their toll had taken.

Tightly shut was heaven’s gate,

For salvation all must wait.

  1. To redeem our sad condition

Was the Father’s loving Will,

And the Son took the glad mission

His decision to fulfill.

Gabriel to earth descended,

Brought the answer long attended

“See the Handmaid of the Lord,

Do according to thy word.”

  1. Let us walk with right intention,

Not in drunkenness and greed,

Quarrels, envies and contention

Banished far from us indeed.

Fully now to imitate Him

As with longing we await Him

Is the duty of these days,

As the great Apostle says.

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O SAVIOR, HEAVEN’S PORTAL REND

Text and melody, 17th century German. This forceful melody in the first

(Dorian) mode should be sung in unison.

  1. O Savior, heaven’s portals rend,

Come down, from heav’n, to earth descend!

Open celestial gate and door;

Never to lock nor fasten more.

  1. O brilliant Sun, O lovely Star,

We dare behold Thee from afar.

O Sun arise, without Thy light

We languish all in darkest night.

  1. Drop dew, ye heavens from above,

Come in the dew, O God of love!

Ye clouds now break, rain down the King,

His peace to Jacob’s house to bring.

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MARIA WALKS AMID THE THORN

German folksong known since the 16th century; probably much older.

Translation, Henry S. Drinker.

  1. Maria walks amid the thorn,

Kyrie eleison,

Which seven years no leaf has borne,

She walks amid the wood of thorn,

Jesus and Maria.

  1. What ‘neath her heart does Mary bear?

Kyrie eleison.

A little child does Mary bear,

Beneath her heart He nestles there.

Jesus and Maria.

  1. And as the two are passing near,

Kyrie eleison,

Lo! roses on the thorns appear,

Lo! roses on the thorns appear.

Jesus and Maria.

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BLESSED MOTHER OF THE SAVIOR

Text by Hermann the Cripple, 1013-1054, monk at Reichenau in the Lake of

Constance. Melody in the fifth (Lydian) mode. This is the liturgical

Antiphon in honor of the Blessed Virgin for the season of Advent and

Christmas.

Blessed Mother of the Savior,

thou art the gate leading us to heaven,

and Star of the Sea, aid thy falling people,

help all those who seek to rise again.

Thou who art the Mother, all nature wondering,

to thy Lord, thy own Creator: Virgin before, Virgin forever,

from Gabriel’s mouth thou didst hear that blessed Ave,

on us poor sinners take pity.

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“Your joy in your children should outweigh by far any disadvantages they may cause. In them you will find your own happiness.” – Rev. George A. Kelly, The Catholic Family Handbook

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Visit the Meadows of Grace Shoppe:

Little Lady’s Charming Crocheted Festive Occasion/Church-Going Hat!

Without Me You Can Do Nothing

Happy Advent! What better way to start this beautiful season off than to be reminded how important peace is to the soul and that in order to achieve it, we must realize, truly and deeply, that without God we can do nothing!

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Searching for and Maintaining Peace

by Father Jacques Phillipe

In order to understand how fundamental it is for the development of the Christian life to strive to acquire and maintain peace of heart, the first thing of which we must be convinced is that all the good that we can do comes from God and from Him alone: Apart from Me, you can do nothing, Jesus said (John 15:5).

He did not say, “you can’t do much,” but, you can do nothing. It is essential that we be persuaded of this truth.

We often have to experience failures, trials and humiliations, permitted by God, before this truth imposes itself on us, not only on an intellectual level, but as an experience of our entire being.

God would spare us, if He could, all these trials, but they are necessary in order that we should be convinced of our complete powerlessness to do good by ourselves.

According to the testimony of all the saints, it is indispensable for us to acquire this knowledge.

It is, in effect, a necessary prelude to all the great things that God will do in us by the power of His grace.

This is why St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, would say that the best thing that God could have done in her soul was “to have shown her her smallness, her powerlessness.”

If we take seriously the words cited above from the Gospel of St. John, then we understand that the fundamental problem of our spiritual life becomes this. How can I let Jesus act in me? How can I permit the grace of God to freely operate in my life?

That at which we should aim is, then, not principally to impose a lot of things on ourselves, as good as they may seem with our own intelligence, according to our projects, etc.

Rather, we must try to discover the disposition of our soul, the profound attitude of our heart and the spiritual conditions that permit God to act in us. It is only thus that we can bear fruit — fruit that will last (John 15:16).

To the question, “What must we do in order to let the grace of God act freely in our lives?”, there is no unequivocal answer, no master key.

In order to respond to this question completely, it would be necessary to do an entire treatise of the Christian life in which one would speak of prayer (principally of meditation, which is so fundamental in this regard), of the sacraments, of the purification of our hearts, of docility to the Holy Spirit, and so forth, and of all the ways in which the grace of God could further penetrate us.

In this small work, we do not wish to address all these themes. We simply want to concern ourselves with one element of the response to the question posed above.

We chose to speak of it because it is absolutely of fundamental importance.

Furthermore, it is too little known and taken into consideration in day-to-day life for most Christians, even those who are very strong in their faith.

The essential truth that we wish to present and develop is the following: To permit the grace of God to act in us and to produce in us (with the cooperation, of course, of our will, our intelligence and our capabilities) all those good works for which God prepared us beforehand, so that we might lead our lives in the performance of good works (Ephesians 2:10), it is of the greatest importance that we strive to acquire and maintain an interior peace, the peace of our hearts.

In order to understand this, we can use an image (without exaggerating, as we should always avoid doing in making comparisons); but one that can be illuminating.

Consider the surface of a lake, above which the sun is shining. If the surface of the lake is peaceful and tranquil, the sun will be reflected in this lake; and the more peaceful the lake, the more perfectly will it be reflected.

If, on the contrary, the surface of the lake is agitated, undulating, then the image of the sun can not be reflected in it.

It is a little bit like this with regard to our soul in relationship to God. The more our soul is peaceful and tranquil, the more God is reflected in it, the more His image expresses itself in us, the more His grace acts through us.

On the other hand, if our soul is agitated and troubled, the grace of God is able to act only with much greater difficulty.

All the good that we can do is a reflection of the Essential Good, which is God. The more our soul is peaceful, balanced and surrendered, the more this Good communicates itself to us and to others through us.

The Lord gives strength to His people, the Lord blesses His people with peace, scripture says (Psalm 29:11). God is a God of peace.

He does not speak and does not operate except in peace, not in trouble and agitation.

Let us remember the experience of the prophet Elijah of Horeb: God was not in the hurricane, nor the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the whisper of a gentle breeze (cf. 1 Kings 19)!

Often, we cause ourselves to become agitated and disturbed by trying to resolve everything by ourselves, when it would be more efficacious to remain peacefully before the gaze of God and to allow Him to act and work in us with His wisdom and power, which are infinitely superior to ours.

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: By waiting and by calm you shall be saved; in quiet and in trust your strength lies, but you would have none of it (Isaiah 30:15).

Our discussion is not, it is well understood, an invitation to laziness and inaction. It is an invitation to act, even to act considerably sometimes, but under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, which is a gentle and peaceful spirit.

And not in a spirit of disquietude, agitation or excessive hurry, which is too often the case with us.

Our zeal, even for God, is often badly illuminated.

Saint Vincent de Paul, the last person anyone would ever suspect of being lazy, used to say: “The good that God does is done by God Himself, almost without our being aware of it. It is necessary that we be more inactive than active.”

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Do you love your kids? Do you want the very best for them? Then love your husband, respect him. Show it. It is the best gift you can give to your children!

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A Spiritual Christmas Crib

A beautiful devotion….Every year I repost as a reminder for you to get prepared for this precious custom.

It’s nice to follow this devotion from a book so consider getting the Finer Femininity Advent/Christmas Maglet.

Or….you can order this lovely set from the Sisters Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary here.

“Build your Spiritual Christmas Crib in your heart by these short day-by-day meditations and practices for December 1–24. Its a perfect activity to practice with your family!

Made by the Sisters, this little spiritual gift will be a treasure for every Advent season!”

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This is a custom we have kept throughout the years. It is a beautiful little devotion preparing our hearts for the coming of Our Lord at Christmas.

You can do the special activities indicated each day in this devotion in your own manger scene. When my older ones were young we made a 3D stable out of heavy cardboard and added the different themes each day…whether it was drawing in the cobwebs or making paper doll figurines for the nativity scene.

Or you can do what we have done the last few years. We put up 4 big white posterboard papers on an empty wall to make a big blank paper just waiting for the crayons and sharpies to make their mark! (You can make it as big or small as you like, using just one or two posterboards.) Each morning we draw the part of the manger scene that is applicable to that day.

One of my older daughters or I usually do the drawing in pencil then the child whose day it is traces it with colored markers and colors it in.

We also print out (or write out) the special prayer for the day and put the assigned one up so we can say it throughout the day. (This is where the Sister’s cards could come in).

We sometimes forget a couple days and have to back track. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is a wonderful family devotion that helps to make Advent and Christmas meaningful!Nativity WallpaperPhoto 7Photo 2-002Christmas Dance 2013 (101)

2014:

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Virginia’s Devotion-in-Progress

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Here’s the devotion:

Start on December 1.

Read the thought indicated
about Christ’s first crib.
Practice it during the day. Do this daily during
December and make your heart a worthy crib for
Christ on Christmas Day.

DEC.1 – THE STABLE
Frequently during the day offer your heart to the
little Infant Jesus. Ask Him to make it His home. –

Sweet Jesus, take my heart and make it meek and
pure.

DEC.2 – THE ROOF
See that the roof of the stable is in good
condition, so that the Infant Jesus is protected
from rain and snow. This you will do by carefully
avoiding every uncharitable remark. —Jesus,
teach me to love my neighbor as myself.

DEC.3 – CREVICES
Carefully stop every crevice in the walls of the
stable, so that the wind and cold may not enter
there. Guard your senses against temptations. Guard
especially your ears against sinful
conversations.–Jesus, help me to keep
temptations out of my heart.

DEC.4 – COBWEBS
Clean the cobwebs from your spiritual crib.
Diligently remove from your heart every
inordinate desire of being praised. Renew this
intention at least three times today. —My Jesus,
I want to please You in all I do today.

DEC.5 – FENCE
Build a fence about the crib of your heart by
keeping a strict watch over your eyes, especially
at prayer. —Sweet Jesus, I long to see You.

DEC.6 – MANGER
Fix the best and warmest corner of your heart
for the manger of Jesus. You will do so by
abstaining from what you like most in the line of
comfort and amusement. —Mary, use these
sacrifices to prepare my heart for Jesus in
Holy Communion.

DEC.7 – HAY
Supply the manger of your heart with hay, by
overcoming all feelings of pride, anger or envy.
Jesus, teach me to know and correct my greatest
sins.

DEC.8 – SOFT STRAW
Provide your manger with soft straw by
performing little acts of mortification; for
instance, bear the cold without complaints; or sit
and stand erect. —Dear Jesus, Who suffered so
much for me, let me suffer for love of You.

DEC.9 – SWADDLING CLOTHES
Prepare these for the Divine Infant by folding
your hands when you pray, and praying slowly and
thoughtfully. —Jesus let me love you more and
more.

DEC.10 – BLANKETS
Provide the manger with soft warm
blankets. Avoid harsh and angry words; be kind and
gentle to all. —Jesus, help me to be meek and
humble like You.

DEC.11 – FUEL
Bring fuel to the crib of Jesus. Give up your own
will; obey your superiors cheerfully and
promptly. —Jesus, let me do Your will in all
things

DEC.12-WATER
Bring fresh clean water to the crib. Avoid every
untruthful word and every deceitful act.
Dearest Mary, obtain for me true contrition for
my sins.

DEC.13 – PROVISIONS
Bring a supply of food to the crib. Deprive
yourself of some food at mealtime or candy as a
treat. —Jesus, be my strength and nourishment.

DEC.14 – LIGHT
See that the crib has sufficient light. Be
neat and orderly about your person; keep
everything in its place in your room. —Jesus, be
the life and light of my soul.

DEC.15 – FIRE
Take care to have the crib of your heart warmed
by a cozy fire. Be grateful to God for the love He
has shown us in becoming man; behave with grateful
respect towards your parents and relatives. —
Jesus, how can I return Your love; how can I show
my gratitude to You?

DEC.16 – THE OX
Lead the ox to the crib. Obey cheerfully without
making excuses and without asking “why.” —I will
obey for love of You, Jesus.

DEC.17 – THE DONKEY
Bring the donkey to the crib. Offer to the Divine
Infant your bodily strength; use it in the service
of others. —Jesus, accept my service of love;
I offer it for those who do not love You.

DEC.18 – GIFTS
Gather some presents for the Divine Infant and
His Blessed Mother. Give alms for the poor and say
an extra decade of the rosary. —Come, Jesus, to
accept my gifts and to take possession of my heart.

DEC.19 – LAMBS
Strive to bring some little lambs, meek and
and patient. Do not murmur or complain.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make

my heart like Yours.

DEC.20 – SHEPHERDS
Invite the shepherds to pay homage to our newborn
King. Imitate their watchfulness; stress in your
speech and thoughts the idea that Christmas is
important because Jesus will be born again in
you.
Jesus, teach me to love You above all things.

DEC.21 – THE KEY
Provide the stable with a key to keep out
thieves. Exclude from your heart every sinful
thought, every rash judgment —Dear Jesus, close
my heart to all that hurts you.

DEC.22 – ANGELS
Invite the angels to adore God with you.
Cheerfully obey the inspirations of
your guardian angel and of your conscience. —
Holy Guardian Angel, never let me forget that You
are with me always.

DEC.23 – ST. JOSEPH
Accompany Saint Joseph from door to door. Learn
from him silently and patiently to bear refusals
and disappointments. Open wide your heart and beg
Him to enter with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Saint Joseph, help me to prepare for a worthy
Christmas Communion.

DEC.24 – THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Go meet your Blessed Mother. Lead her to the
manger of your heart and beg her to lay the
Divine Infant in it. Shorten your chats and
telephone conversations and spend more time today
thinking of Jesus and Mary and Joseph.
Come, dear Jesus, Come; my heart belongs to You.

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Visit my Meadows of Grace Shoppe to browse through these truly lovely Kanzashi Ribbon Flowers made by my daughter, Virginia! What great Christmas gifts for that special someone!

Intricate and Classy Hand-Crafted Kanzashi Accessory Flower.. Hair, Scarf, Collar, etc…. This fetching ribbon flower is a perfect accent to any special outfit and provides a sweet final touch!
Each petal takes undivided attention! First, it is cut and shaped, then burnt to ensure there will be no fraying. The petals are then folded and glued into a flower design and the finishing touches are then added.
The back of the flower has a clip that easily opens and holds firmly.
Ribbon flowers are an excellent alternative to real flowers and will look fresh and beautiful forever!

Where did Advent Go? – Maria Von Trapp

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The events that come to mind when we say “Christmas,” “Easter,” “Pentecost,” are so tremendous that their commemoration cannot be celebrated in a single day each. Weeks are needed.

First, weeks of preparation, of becoming attuned in body and soul, and then weeks of celebration.

This goes back to an age when people still had time–time to live, time to enjoy.

In our own day, we face the puzzling fact that the more time-saving gadgets we invent, the more new buttons to push in order to “save hours of work”–the less time we actually have.

We have no more time to read books; we can only afford digests. We have no time to walk a quarter of a mile; we have to hop into a car. We have no time to make things by hand; we buy them ready made in the five-and-ten or in the supermarket.

This atmosphere of “hurry up, let’s go” does not provide the necessary leisure in which to anticipate and celebrate a feast.

But as soon as people stop celebrating they really do not live any more–they are being lived, as it were.

The alarming question arises: what is being done with all the time that is constantly being saved? We invent more machines and more gadgets, which will relieve us more and more from the work formerly done by our hands, our feet, our brain, and which will carry us in feverishly increasing speed–where? Perhaps to the moon and other planets, but more probably to our final destruction.

Only the Church throws light onto the gloomy prospects of modern man–Holy Mother Church–for she belongs, herself, to a realm that has its past and present in Time, but its future in the World Without End.

It was fall when we arrived in the United States. The first weeks passed rapidly, filled with new discoveries every day, and soon we came across a beautiful feast, which we had never celebrated before: Thanksgiving Day, an exclusively American feast. With great enthusiasm we included it in the calendar of our family feasts.

Who can describe our astonishment, however, when a few days after our first Thanksgiving Day we heard from a loudspeaker in a large department store the unmistakable melody of “Silent Night”! Upon our excited inquiry, someone said, rather surprised: “What is the matter? Nothing is the matter. Time for Christmas shopping!”

It took several Christmas seasons before we understood the connection between Christmas shopping and “Silent Night” and the other carols blaring from loudspeakers in these pre-Christmas weeks.

And even now that we do understand, it still disturbs us greatly. These weeks before Christmas, known as the weeks of Advent, are meant to be spent in expectation and waiting.

This is the season for Advent songs–those age-old hymns of longing and waiting; “Silent Night” should be sung for the first time on Christmas Eve. We found that hardly anybody knows any Advent songs. And we were startled by something else soon after Christmas, Christmas trees and decorations vanish from the show windows to be replaced by New Year’s advertisements.

On our concert trips across the country we also saw that the lighted Christmas trees disappear from homes and front yards and no one thinks to sing a carol as late as January 2nd.

This was all very strange to us, for we were used to the old-world Christmas, which was altogether different but which we determined to celebrate now in our new country.

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“Love is the most wonderful educator in the world; it opens up worlds and possibilities undreamed of to those to whom it comes, the gift of God. I am speaking of love which is worthy of the name, not of its many counterfeits. The genuine article only, based upon respect and esteem, can stand the test of time, the wear and tear of life; the love which is the wine of life, more stimulating and more heart-inspiring when the days are dark than at any other time,—the love which rises to the occasion, and which many waters cannot quench.”
-Annie S. Swan, Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making, 1894
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My Little Thanksgiving Story….

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A repost for Throwback Thursday…..Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is here and it is always a good time to remember the many things we are grateful for! I have a couple of stories that happened in our life that shook me to the bottom of my toes but gave me so many reasons to be thankful!

Isn’t that the way? You don’t see it at the time, but, in hindsight, if we continue to “get better, not bitter”, we realize God’s goodness through it all!

2003 was our Terrified-Going-Through-It but So-Thankful-For-Everything-in-Hindsight year!

It was the middle of the night,  Epiphany 2003,  when we were awakened by the best and most efficient fire alarm ever….  three ear-piercing shrieks delivered by my 17 yr. old daughter!

It was 1 a.m. and Virginia was sleeping on the couch when our Christmas tree burst into flames – and I mean BURST!  The flames licked across the ceiling and melted the laundry room door that was on the other side of the house!  Within seconds the couch that my daughter was sleeping on exploded into flames!  Inside 30 seconds all thirteen of us were out of the house and shivering in the cold! It was a frightening experience watching hearth and home going up in flames!

Four months later, after the dust settled, and we were back in our home, we remembered the many things we were grateful for: the elderly gentleman who opened up his home in the middle of the night to 13 of us and let us stay there until we found somewhere to live, the incredible generosity of friends and neighbors, the support of our pastor and parish, just naming a few!

We were very grateful for what happened the next day.  You see, it had been a particularly rough winter financially.  When you are a construction contractor, you live on the edge, especially in the winter.  When the insurance handed us the $5,000 check to take care of our most immediate needs, it came in very handy!  With the rest of the forthcoming money we were able to rebuild the house and finish off some much needed bedrooms.

A few months later, July 23rd to be exact, on a hot and sultry afternoon,  I sent my daughter, Theresa, to go to the neighbor’s to get some sweet corn.  The road had just been recently graveled but she was a very careful driver and I knew I could trust her.  Jeanette, my 9 yr. old, asked if she could go, too.  So off they went.  An hour later I began to wonder where they were.  Being a worrier, I told myself that it was silly to worry.  I tried to put it out of my mind and I continued doing what I was doing.  I heard a knock at the door.  It was a man who said that I needed to call 911 because there had been a bad accident on the gravel road.  When I asked him what vehicle was involved and he said it was our blue van, I fell apart! I asked him if they were ok and he said, “Well, they’re still breathing.”  Yikes!!!

Within minutes, the emergency team, my husband, our priest and several other people were at the scene of the accident. It was every mother’s nightmare and I was a wreck!  Theresa had to be life starred to Topeka and Jeanette was put in Intensive Care in Kansas City.  She didn’t come to until 3 days later. I think the worst thing out of this ordeal was knowing that my girls were in the ditch for an hour, with Theresa trying to crawl to the road while fainting in and out of consciousness and Jeanette pinned under the van…while I was sitting at home telling myself not to worry.😦

Looking back, we again were able to find SO many things we were thankful for. For example:  when Theresa was losing control and veering off the road she hit a sign!  This pushed her forward several yards where she ended up rolling the van.  If she didn’t hit that sign she would’ve went over the bridge and landed into the dry creek bed that was several feet down!  That would not have been good.

Once again, the generosity of friends and neighbors was incredible.  Within hours, someone had lent us their vehicle and gifts of all kind came pouring in.  Meals were made for us for the next several days to ease the burden. Most especially, there were no lasting effects…Theresa has a titanium rod in her leg. We tell Jeanette that she was lucky to get away with just slight brain damage which makes her fit right in with the rest of us.🙂Christmass 08 020Devin 118

Those were a couple of the big things that reminds us of what we have to be grateful for.  You probably have some of your own “big things” that has helped you to grow in love, patience and thankfulness.

But there are many, many more little things that happen in every day life that we can be thankful for.  A good cup of tea or coffee?  A homemade apple pie?  A good movie?  A stranger’s smile?  A friend who cares?  In this time of hard economics, just having a job is something to be thankful for.  I’m grateful for the beautiful fall we have had.  I grew up in Canada and at this time of year winter is getting its tight grip on each day.

Thanksgiving is a great time to remember those big and little things that each of us has to be grateful for.  It’s also a good time to be thankful for the adversities in our lives because they have helped us to grow and to have compassion on others who are going through rough times.

Cicero once said, “A grateful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”

I read these words from a very wise woman: ” Learn to enjoy life.  Be thankful.  Smile.  When you catch yourself becoming irritated or disturbed at circumstances, stop and laugh at the little things that steal your peace.  Count your blessings and learn to be appreciative.”index

If we remember to always count our blessings then Thanksgiving can be transformed into “Thanks living”.  Not just the holiday but each and every day!Colin's pre-wedding 091

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“No other work that God gives any of us to do is so important, so sacred, so far reaching in its influence, so delicate and easily marred—as our home-making. This is the work of all our life—that is most divine. The carpenter works in wood, the mason works in stone, the smith works in iron, the artist works on canvas—but the homemaker works on immortal lives. Whatever else we slight, let it never be our home-making. If we do nothing else well in this world, let us at least build well within our own doors.” – J.R. Miller

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