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Holy Week Hymns (Or, When Nothing Else Gets Through)

If you, like me, are struggling with what it means to observe Holy Week as a parent, if you have little time to meditate in silence and find most of your observances to be hijacked by whiny toddlers, I was reminded today of the power God has given to music to reach and shape our souls (even when we are annoyed with our kids and foundering in Holy Week intentions). We sang the following two hymns during our Spy Wednesday service today and both managed to get through to my not-particularly-soft heart. Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power; Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour, Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray. See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned; O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained! Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross. Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet, Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice …

A Baptist and the BCP

Thank you to Jordan Riggle for his guest submission to our series on the BCP in Daily Life. Jordan  and his wife Katrina live in Dayton, Ohio with three children. He’s a writer and entrepreneur, and she’s a baker and a painter. They’ve fallen deeply in love with simple, liturgical, gospel-centered living. In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I aren’t Anglicans, we don’t attend an Anglican church, nor does our church use the Book of Common Prayer. None of our friends use it. In fact, the only other family we personally know who uses the Book of Common Prayer on a regular basis would be Amanda’s, one of the editors here at The Homely Hours. However, my wife and I use the Book of Common Prayer with our children twice a day, every day. A year and a half ago we began following the liturgical calendar and began hearing about this thing called the Book of Common Prayer. Since then, the Book of Common Prayer has slowly worked itself into the very warp …

A Productive Home

When my oldest two children went to school, my unspoken daily goal was to bring my home back to a “showpiece” state every morning after they left.  Problem was, I still have several young children and babies at home, so you can imagine the tension this created.  Our visual culture tells us that to be a “successful” homemaker (and this does not just apply to stay at home moms, but any person who has a home), our home needs to look Pinterest perfect all the time. Home in our culture is no longer a place of production.  The only “meaningful” things that happen at home anymore have been relegated to hobby status: cooking, crafting, the cult of organization.  All of our modern conveniences have ensured that housework can be done in the minimal amount of time, so we can move on to more important things.  And I enjoy the benefits of this, as we all should. But what if Home was meant to remain productive?  What if the messes that are created daily at home …

“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

From the Archives: St. Nicholas Day Treat Bag

Saint Nicholas Day has come to be one of my favorite Advent traditions.  It is a bright and celebratory spot in the waiting weeks of Advent, and it reminds us of a man of faith who loved, and brought joy to, children.  There are many great resources about Saint Nicholas: Saint Nicholas Center – A site packed full of information on “the original Santa Claus,” with lots of information on Saint Nicholas, and ideas for activities, food, and other ways to celebrate. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend – This story elaborates on the idea that Saint Nicholas’ good works and generosity all stemmed from his love for God. The Baker’s Dozen – My favorite St. Nicholas Day story, about a baker who learns to be generous and open-hearted the hard way.  The illustrations in this book are stunning. In past years, we have done homemade gifts for all of our kid friends, and delivered them on Saint Nicholas Day, with a little note.  Since we have a new baby in the house …

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 …

A Holy Year Calendar

Isn’t it interesting that the Christian year begins the first Sunday in Advent?  What a lovely way to orient ourselves to a new year, by beginning with quietness and darkness, preparing to welcome the great light of Christ. I painted this church year calendar for my own children, as a way for them to visualize how the changing sundays and colors of the church year correspond to the seasons.  Now that we live on a farm, I am even more appreciative of the endless sundays in Trinity, that ordinary time, that is full of the necessary and mundane business of life.  As we approach winter, with less “ordinary” work, our time is free for celebration and feasting. Please enjoy this printable with your own family, and Happy New Church Year! A Church Year at Home  

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 …

“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, …

Family Culture and Sunday Tea

Our eldest child is seven now, which doesn’t seem so old, but in today’s society means he will soon be noticing more about the culture, asking us possibly difficult questions, paying more attention to his peers, and seeing how our family is different from others.  The teen years are looming, in the not so distant future, and I have been thinking that now is the time to focus on building a “family culture” to provide a buffer between our family and society at large. What is a “family culture”?  No, it’s not a bad joke about the sharing of bacteria in your house.  A family culture is, simply, how your family differs from every other family.  I appreciate this post from Catholic All Year on this topic. A family culture mostly has to do with preferences: What does your family like?  And matters of discipline: What will you allow/not allow in your home?  And other fun stuff: How do you like to recreate together?  How do you find rest and relaxation together?  Your family is like …