All posts filed under: church year and seasons

Embracing Finitude

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  ~2 Corinthians 4:7 In the liturgical year, there is no more striking reminder of our mortality than on Ash Wednesday.  Our foreheads are marked with the cross and we hear “it is from dust you came, and to dust you shall return”.  It never fails to be a strange experience, standing as you would for a blessing, and receiving such sobering words; yet it is also surprisingly comforting.  It is a moment of release, a restoration of place.  It is the first step in the long Lenten journey, and it starts with a word of truth; a reminder of our finitude. I recently listened to a beautiful talk on “The Spirituality of Time” by Professor Sarah Williams from Regent College.  In it, she explores the nature of time and our post-modern society’s view contrasted with the perspective of the church.  She makes many profound observations, but the most striking among them was an emphasis on …

“The Great O Antiphons” with New Printable Ornaments

Singing or reading the Great “O” Antiphons in the week leading up to Christmas has become a lovely tradition of my own that I try to observe during Advent.  This year, I plan to print these images that I painting last year, and make them into ornaments with my kids.  I share them here in case you would like to do the same. As part of our Advent devotions, we will likely cut these out, and someone will write the accompanying verse and plea on the back.  Then we will hang it on our tree, alongside the Jesus Tree ornaments we have read.  Simple, short, but a way to continue to look forward to our Savior’s arrival.  And if in the madness of life we don’t do it this year, we will try again next year. The Great O Antiphons Ornaments

Advent is for Making: A Reflection

There is a special dearness about Christmas gifts that are made.  Even when they are clumsily made, they are lovely because the loveliness that goes into them is from the heart and the mind and the hands: hours and days of tacking and tying, fitting and pasting, stitching and hammering, chiseling and modeling – all of it with a permeation of love and effort that cannot be priced.  The making of gifts should be a special part of Advent; an outpouring of self into something we make for someone we love, entirely in the spirit of the remaking of our hearts for Christ, for receiving the gift Someone who loves us made for us. With this making go long evenings of work together, wonderful conversations, meditations, evening prayers.  We need only work together to have an early dinner, clear away the dishes, tidy the kitchen, get the littlest ones off to bed, keep the TV and radio turned off, and there – we have a long evening before us.  Perhaps it is not possible to …

Stories of the Saints, and Costumes!

We are slowly building a collection of picture and chapter books about important figures in church history.  It always amazes me how much children enjoy reading biographies!  Here are a few recommendations from our library: Saint Valentine – A beautifully illustrated story of a Roman Christian saint; on whom our traditions of Valentine’s Day are based.  The illustrations are done in cut paper mosaic and are very lovely. Saint Patrick – One of the many faith-based books from author and illustrator Tomie DePoala. Trial and Triumph – A great compilation of histories of people throughout church history.  Good for older kids.  Be aware there is some mildly anti-Catholic sentiments; but overall an informative and useful book, with stories from the early church through modern times. If you have a look on Amazon, you will find a larger selection of books, including these that look interesting: Brigid’s Cloak Roses in the Snow The Miracle of Saint Nicholas The Prayer of Saint Francis And….if you need some Halloween/Saints Day costumes, be sure to check out Kendra’s posts: 150 …

All Hallows Eve & All Saints Day: Anglican Links and Quotations

Collect for All Saints: O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. In this post, we’ve gathered together some Anglican links and quotations for you about All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day. We highly recommend that you read Full Homely Divinity’s article on All Hallows and Day of the Dead. The whole post (which includes background on Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls) is well worth your time, but here are a few highlights.  On Remembering the Dead:  “The last night of October and the first days of November are the days set aside for remembering the dead, and contemplating our own deaths. There can be little doubt that our Christian observances owe much to pre-Christian customs. …

“Advent is for Making:” Sharing a Gift From Your Family Culture

One of the most meaningful gifts I or my family has ever received came last Christmas from some dear friends of ours.  Their family loves to read; they love a good story, fairy land and tales; and they love beautiful language and pictures. They spent time frequenting library book sales, and put together personalized stacks of books for gifting according to their friend’s and family’s interests.  It is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received; but I mostly love it because in sharing a stack of great books, it was clear to me that they were gifting us a slice of their precious family culture. This Advent, why not consider assembling or creating gifts together with your children to give to family and friends?  If you are longing to simplify gift-giving, and avoid the commercialization of the holiday season, working with your children to craft gifts is one way to take the focus off of the things they are wanting, and transfer it to considering what they could create to delight others.  Plus, …

Dragon Bread for Michaelmas

The Feast of Saint Michael and all Angels on September 29 remains a somewhat mysterious feast day to me, perhaps rightly so, as it deals with otherworldly creatures, the “heavenly hosts.”  The collect for the day sheds some light on what we can teach our children about the importance of this feast: O Everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order; Mercifully grant that, as thy holy Angels always do thee service in heaven, so, by thine appointment, they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. The Epistle reading for the day, from Revelation 12:7-12, reminds us that, “There was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon… and the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil.” In our home, we have traditionally made a loaf of sweet bread, similar to challah, and shaped the dough into the shape of a dragon during the second rising.  Any dough recipe will do; I particularly …

Preparing for Michaelmas

Phil James, of Dappled Thoughts, recently sent us a booklet on Michaelmas he wrote for his grandchildren. We are so impressed by this booklet and are very excited that he is letting us share it with you! We know you will really appreciate both his reflections on angels and what they mean for our understanding of reality, in addition to getting a glimpse into his family’s Michaelmas traditions. Thank you, Phil, for sharing this with us! Why is Michaelmas one of your family’s favorite celebrations? Honestly, I think it’s because of the fantastic nature of the menu. Once a year we eat roasted dragons tongue (which tastes a lot like pork). That’s obviously notable. And while it’s not unusual for friends to be at any of our celebrations, somehow Michaelmas developed so that the inclusion of friends in the evening became a necessary ingredient. Also, Michaelmas is a gate of sorts. We leave the unique charms of summer behind and prepare for All Hallow’s Eve, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas’s twelve days and Epiphany. This means the …

What are the Ember Days?

The Michaelmas Ember Days are  Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. In this post, we give an overview to the background of the Ember Days as well as their purpose (If you don’t have time to read anything else, do scroll down to the bottom of the post and read the poem Autumn Inaugural by Dana Gioia; it is rather perfect for these days). What are the Ember Days? The Ember Days are set aside by the Church as a way to mark the passage of seasons through prayer and fasting.  As you may suspect, this happens four times a year: in winter, after the feast of St. Lucy; in spring, after Ash Wednesday; in summer, after Pentecost Sunday; and in fall, after Holy Cross Day. An old English rhyme states: “Fasting days and Emberings be / Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie.” In Latin, these days are called Quatour Tempora (Four Times). The word “Ember Days” is from the Anglo-Saxon ymbren, a circuit or revolution (from ymb, around, and ryne, a course, running). Folk etymology claims that the source of “ember” comes …

Trinity Sunday: A Few Traditions and Links

The Collect for Trinity Sunday “Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.” On Trinity Sunday, it is a tradition to sing  “I Bind Unto Myself Today.” For more on this glorious hymn, you can read our post on “The Breastplate of St. Patrick.” Along these lines, here is also  a beautiful post on Celtic Christianity and Trinitarian Theology, specifically how it manifests itself in the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of Gaelic hymns and prayers: For the Gaelic writers, the Trinity is not an esoteric dogma to be recited and systematized but rather a living and lived reality, for God as Creator is near to us in creation, and all that he has made is a reflection …