27 December 2011

January Preview, December Cap

1        Circumcision and Name of Jesus
2        J.K. Wilhelm Loehe
6        Epiphany of Our Lord
8        Baptism of Our Lord
10      Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa
18      Confession of St. Peter
20      Sarah
24      St. Timothy
25      Conversion of St. Paul
26      St. Titus
27      John Chrysostom

(Commemorations are italicized.)

Merry Christmas!  And Happy St. Stephen's Day (26th), St. John's Day (27th), and Feast of the Holy Innocents (28th).

We have feasting every night this week.  Last night's 3rd annual St. Stephen's Day Carolfest was a success.  If you've never sung Good King Wenceslas responsively, do it!  Men sing the Wenceslas parts, women sing the page's parts, and everyone sings the narrative.  My favorite line: "When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even."

Tonight my husband's aunt is hosting a traditional standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding supper.  Wednesday night my sisters and their significant others are coming over for Game Night.  More food at our house Thursday night with out-of-town relatives.  Friday night another Game Night with other good folks.  Saturday night Italian take-out, vasilopita, and a Jim Brickman concert.

Sunday we thank God for the Name of Jesus, into which we were baptized, and at which every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

21 December 2011

St. Thomas (December 21)

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas was the one who responded, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” To this Jesus answered: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:1-6

The Incredulity of St. Thomas  Carravaggio 1602

One reason I like the Church Year is because it keeps us from focusing exclusively on one event or doctrine.  In the middle of setting up nativity scenes and cutting out manger-cookies, hanging star and angel ornaments, here's a feast seemingly far from Christmas.  And yet, Christ was born of woman, under the Law, and Thomas (as witness above) stuck his finger inside that real Flesh.

Check out Pr. McCain's post for more Scripture on and history of St. Thomas.  

"Pie Day" in some parts of the world; prepare and freeze pies for Epiphany (I don't know if this is intented, but it's a nice tie to Thomas realizing and confessing who Christ is after he touched his side)

It is a Charity Day in England.  Prepare food for the poor (or donate to a local pantry).  Whereas on St. Nicholas Day we gave toys and childrens' clothes, today we'll collect food for the poor.

Coloring page.

Any ideas?  I find it interesting that searching for "St. Thomas traditions" shows how sectarian the Roman Catholic church is.  Almost always St. Thomas More or Becket show up.  I think I had to look 3 or 4 pages in to find a Catholic page honoring the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle.   Even Aquinas is pretty  much ignored.  Writing this blog has revealed who and what holy days are important to contemporary American RC piety.  

17 December 2011

O Antiphons

From Pr. Weedon's blog, last year:
The Great O Antiphons, used to frame the Magnificat in Vespers in the days before Christmas, begin [this] evening with O Wisdom.  The Treasury [of Daily Prayer] includes them in the daily propers section.  As each of these Old Testament names for God is prayed, and Christ is invoked to come to us, the clarity of whom the Blessed Mother bore is driven home in an unmistakable way, climaxing in the confession that He is Emmanuel, God with us.  The Latin titles read backwards announce:  ERO CRAS - I'll be [here] tomorrow, which is very fitting as the O Antiphons conclude upon December 23.
If you don't have the Treasury of Daily Prayer, you can find an explanation of each Antiphon here, along with appropriate Scripture and a meditation.  Sing the appropriate verse from LSB 357.  A sermon series based on the antiphons is at steadfastlutherans.org.

16 December 2011


Here are the cookies I'm making this year:

Γιαγιά Georgia's Koulouria

Great Grandma Quinn's Sour Cream Cookies
2 c. granulated sugar

1 c. butter, room temperature
3 eggs, well beaten
1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. flavoring extract of your choice
1 1/2 to 2 c. flour or sufficient to make a dough that can be rolled
Cream together sugar and butter. Mix eggs and beat well until light and fluffy. Stir baking soda into the sour cream and add this, along with the eggs, to the creamed butter mixture. Flavor to taste.
Roll out then and bake in a 350°F preheated oven 10 to 12 minutes or until done.

Buttery Spritz (my kids like the "cookie gun")
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. confectioner's sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
food coloring, optional
Cream cutter and sugar.  Beat in egg and extracts.  Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture.  Tint, if desired.  Using a cookie press, press two inches apart on greased sheet.  Top with sprinkles. Bake 375F 6-8 minutes (don't brown).

Shortbread Squares 
1 lb. butter
1 c. sifted confectioner's sugar
3 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
Cream butter and sugar.  Combine flour and cornstarch; gradually combine.  Press into a 15"x10"x1" ungreased pan.  Pierce with fork.  Bake at 325F 40-45 minutes.  Cut while warm.

Almond Butter Cutouts (all-time favorite.  If I only had time and means for one batch of Christmas cookies, I'd make these)
1 c. butter, soft
1 c. sugar
2 egg yolks
1 t. almond extract
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. ground almonds
Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg yolk and extract.  Combine flour, salt,and baking powder.  Gradually combine with creamy mixture.  Stir in ground almonds.  Cover and chill at least 2 hours.  Roll out 3/8".  Cut into shapes. Place on ungreased sheets and sprinkle if you desire. Bake 375F 10-13 minutes.

Molasses Crinkles
3/4 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses
2 1/4 c. flour
2 t. soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cloves
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
Blend shortening and sugar, then add molasses.  Mix dry ingredients and combine.  Chill.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Roll dough into balls. Dip the tops in sugar. Place 3" on greased sheet. Sprinkle with water and bake 10-12 minutes.

German Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. whipping cream
1/4 c. flour
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. salt
2/3 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
Melt butter.  Ad sugar and cream.  Stir until boiling.  Remove and stir in flour, cloves, ginger, salt and oats.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a butter, floured sheet 4 portions each sheet.  350F 3-4 minutes

Dark Chocolate Brownies
1/2 c. butter
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
11/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
Stir butter and chocolate over heat until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour and walnuts.  Spread into buttered and floured 8" square pan.  350F 25-30 minutes.  Top with chocolate glaze:  1/3 c. whipping cream, 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips heated until smooth and melted. Add 1 t. vanilla.  Cool slightly and spread over warm brownies.

I am trying to track down the recipes for cookies sold at a nearby Italian deli.  They are really expensive (about $5 for 7 little cookies), but soooooooo good.  I think one may be Ricciarelli, and another has a strong anise flavor.  Any Italians out there who want to spread the love?

We also might make chocolate chip cookies, but everyone has their favorite recipe already. What is your favorite or unusual Christmas cookie recipe?  How about homemade fudge or candy?

I should invest in butter (did you here about the shortage in Norway?!)

12 December 2011

St. Lucia (December 13)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

Feast of Santa Lucia. Carl Larsson 1908

One of the victims of the great persecution under the Roman emperor Diocletian, Lucia met her death at Syracuse on the island of Sicily in the year A.D. 304, because of her Christian faith. Known for her charity, “Santa Lucia” (as she is called in Italy) gave away her dowry and remained a virgin until her execution by the sword. The name Lucia means “light,” and, because of that, festivals of light commemorating her became popular throughout Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries. There her feast day corresponds with the time of year when there is the least amount of daylight. In artistic expression she is often portrayed in a white baptismal gown, wearing a wreath of candles on her head.
The most famous tradition of St. Lucia's Day is to have the oldest daughter wear a white robe with a red sash (representing the blood that spilled from the martyred Lucia), and a wreath with candles.  She rises early, when it's still dark, and prepares a breakfast of lussekotter and coffee and then wakes and serves her whole family, announcing the soon arrival of the Light of the World, the Christ-child.  Like St. Lucia, our faithful pastors "bear witness about the light," wake dead-asleep sinners, and nourish them with the Bread of Life.  For,
anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.  (Eph 5:14)


  • Lots and lots of activities here, including coloring pages, songs, and crafts. 
  • CSPP has a good lussekotter (saffron bread) recipe.  I tried it last year and it's delicious!  Fortunately, when my elder two dumped 2 quarts (and probably $100) of spices and herbs into one big bowl one morning last month, they forgot the saffron. 
  • Here's how to make wheat ornaments, a traditional Swedish craft.  
  • Paper dolls.
  • Grow wheat to sprouts by Christmas.  Here are instructions from Penitents.org:
"The tradition of planting wheat on Saint Lucy's Day (December 13) comes from Hungary, Croatia, and other European nations. Plant wheat grains in a round dish or plate of soil, then water the seeds. Place the container in a warm spot. If the planting medium is kept moist (not sopping wet), the seeds will germinate and the shoots will be several inches high by Christmas. Then the new green shoots, reminding us of the new life born in Bethlehem, may be tied with a ribbon, if desired, and a candle may be placed near them as a symbol of the Light of Christ.
lace the plate of sprouted wheat near the Nativity 
set where it will remind all that Christ, the Bread of Life, was born in Bethlehem, whose name means "House of Bread." The wheat recalls the Eucharist which is made from wheat. It also brings to mind Christ's parables about wheat:
[John 12:24; Mark 4:1-20; Matthew 13: 4-23; Matthew 13:24-30; Matthew 13:33; Mark 4:26-29; Mark 2:23-28]

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  

09 December 2011

Homemade Christmas gifts

Each year I make something to deliver to neighbors on Christmas Day and give to friends at church on Christmas Eve.  I also like to have some gifts ready on the shelf to take to Christmas open houses, dinner at friends' homes, or Christmas parties.  For the last two years, it's been homemade apple butter I made in October, with a homemade bead ornament  attached with a ribbon.  This year we will do jar gifts, but I haven't decided which recipe.  Here are some homemade gift ideas:

Prayer photo book:  This is something I have been meaning to do since my firstborn was in utero, and I think I'll actually do it this year.  The first few pages are prayers your family prays each morning or evening (a page for each prayer, and printed large and clearly, so reading children can read the prayers).  So our family will have p1.Ten Commandments  p2. Apostle's Creed p.3 Lord's Prayer p.4 Evening Prayer.  You can decorate with magazine cutouts or print out appropriate art.  Each page after those pages will be for a particular family, starting with our own, and moving outward to the grandparents, aunts and uncles with their significant others and cousins.  Then special neighbors, church families, our pastor's family, our kids' godparents (and our own godchildren and their families). Each page will just be a picture of the family we are praying for, or a particular prayer (our family often prays "for all the pregnant mommies and their babies"). Obviously the list could go on and on, and it can be adapted to suit your needs!  A great gift for a sibling expecting their first child!

Framed prayer or Bible verse (add art if you're artsy):  For a baptism gift, I print out Luther's Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer (from the Small Catechism) in a color matching the new baby's nursery, draw vines and flowers around the prayer (haven't made for a baby boy yet), and mat and frame.  I plan on hand-printing Psalm 128 for our dining room.  (Side note: you could find out the sermon text for an engaged couple's wedding, then print or write it out, and decorate with your own art, pressed flowers, etc.)

Handprint apron:  Each year the children 2 and older get to make Christmas cookies with Yiayia and Oma (our kids think "Grandma" is the plural form).  Last year I bought plain aprons at a craft store and had the cookie-making kids print their hands on them with fabric paint. I printed their names beneath their respective prints.  Next year, child #3 will add his hand when he joins the cookie posse.

Postcards:  Buy blank postcards from the post office and have your kids decorate or draw on the blank side. Tie a few together with a ribbon and give as gifts.  Or you could use them to write thank you notes after Christmas.

Jar Gifts
Cookie mix
Herbed Rice
Pancake mix
Bath salts
Vanilla Extract

Orange candles
Q-tip snowflakes
Dime Store games
Great blog  http://www.notmartha.org/tomake/

Other ideas I really liked, but more elaborate:
Play Table 

This is awesome (from a comment on getrichslowly.com):
"We are now writing a chapter of our family history each year. We’ll pick a topic, and each family member will write about it. One person plays “editor,” collecting the stories, and presents them all together for Christmas. We’ve written about our favorite Christmas (seven differing perspectives on the same year), the house we grew up in, and this year we’re writing about how we met our spouse. Last year, my Mom sent out her first draft of her entire life history."

Whew!  So what are your favorite homemade gifts, given or received?

08 December 2011

Ambrose of Milan (December 7)

Lord, teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me when I seek you. For I cannot seek you unless you first teach me, nor find you unless you first reveal yourself to me. 

Ambrose is often depicted baptizing.  What a wonderful picture of a bishop, especially one who was called before he was baptized!  Here is a nice gallery of other Ambrose portraits and icons.

St. Ambrose Day is overshadowed by remembrances of St. Nicholas and  the attack on Pearl Harbor, but we managed to color this page and sing Savior of the Nations, Come (LSB 332), written by Ambrose.

Here is a sweet essay on Ambrose and Justification.

Finally, Bach's version of "Savior of the Nations, Come."

06 December 2011

St. Nicholas (December 6)

The Feast of St. Nicholas c.1663 Steen, Jan.

All things St. Nick at The St. Nicholas Center.  Everything you ever need to make December 6 all about the good bishop of Myra! Recipes, games, ethnic traditions, coloring pages, etc.  I wish every feast, commemoration, and season had a one-stop-shop like St. Nicholas! (I suppose then I wouldn't have this blog...)

Last night the kids put their shoes outside their door and we filled them with almonds and "money candy."  Today we are going to make Speculatius (image) Cookies and Pfeffernuesse (peppernuts).  We will use this template for the Speculatius.  The kids will drink hot chocolate and the mister and I will enjoy Bisschopswijn with cookies tonight around the Advent wreath.  Only on St. Nicholas and St. Lucia/Lucy Days do we break our Advent sugar and treat fast. (And do we ever break it...)

One tradition has the man of the house dressing up as St. Nicholas, then helping the children to examine their consciences (I imagine we get the modern "naughty and nice" lists from this tradition).  This would be a good way to tie St. Nicholas's Day with the rest of Advent, the season of Preparation.  "St. Nicholas" could guide the children through the Small Catechism questions on Confession and Absolution or through the Ten Commandments and Penitential Psalms.

In honor of St. Nicholas's charity, each year we choose toys or clothes to give to a local mission.  This year I decided each giver will give as many as he is years old.

Send me your favorite Christmas recipes, and I'll include them this week in one of two posts: Christmas Cookies and Homemade Christmas Treats to Gift.  Tell me why you and your family like the recipes!

St. Andrew (November 30)

I just finished this post today, but I thought I'd put it up instead of waiting until next year.  How did you celebrate St. Andrew's Day? 
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him.    Matthew 4:18-20

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. Hefirst found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus.                      John 1:40-42 
The Calling of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew, James Tissot c.1889

St. Andrew, A fragment of a Florentine fresco, 14th c.

San Andres. Jose de Ribera. 1616

Crocifissione di S. Andrea. Carlo Dolci.  1646.

Hymn:  LSB 586  (Check out The Hymn of the Day on lcms.org), and of course LSB 517.5

Extra-biblical history from Catholic Encyclopedia:

01 December 2011

Ember Days and fasting

Ever pregnant and/or nursing, I don't do a whole lot of fasting in this season of my life.  However, I don't want my children to grow up thinking fasting with prayer is strange--something either the Roman Catholics or Pentecostals do.  Moms (or dads), what are your experiences with and philosophies about giving your children a healthy view of fasting?

This question hit me as we approach Ember Days and because of a close relative's misplaced IHOP "piety."

30 November 2011

Noah (November 29)

 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.           Genesis 6:5-7

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah,while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven andis at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.  1 Peter 3:18-22

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.  Luke 17:26 (Good Advent verse!)

A series of paintings telling the story of Noah.
Coloring pages: One, Two,
Lots of Noah's Ark activities and stuff
After reading 1 Peter 3, review the Small Catechism on baptism


Here's a wonderful Orthodox site with icons of Old Testament people and lots of Easter books and cards. You can get a Noah for next year!(HT Kira)

28 November 2011


And again Isaiah says,
   "The root of Jesse will come,
    even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
    in him will the Gentiles hope."
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.                                 Romans 15:12-13

The Last Judgment Fra Angelica

Happy New Year!  The Christian Church, at least in the West, marks Advent as the beginning of a new church year.  We look forward, as ancient Israel did, to Christ's birth, and as the New Israel, to Christ's return.  While looking for Advent material, I noticed two contrasting sentences, both meditations on Christ yesterday, today, and forever.  
On a Roman Catholic site there is a quotation from an essay on Advent and Christ's threefold coming. The essay is based on a statement by St.Bernard: "In the first coming, He comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third."

I did not disagree technically with that statement, if interpreted rightly, or really with the rest of the essay (with a few exceptions).  However, the Advent banner over at lcms.org was compelling: "As Christ came long ago in Bethlehem, so we pray He would come among us today in Word and Sacrament and again in all His glory in the last day."
Spirit vs. Sacrament (Flesh).  
Power, generally, vs. the Word, specifically. 

During Advent we remember His first coming "in flesh and weakness," but also confess He continues to come to us, in the Flesh, and in weakness (plain water, simple bread and wine, a sinful pastor).  God's ways are hidden, and appear weak to us. Flesh and weakness are not replaced by Spirit and power, but rather actually deliver to us the power of the Holy Spirit, that is, the gift of faith and salvation.

So, as Lutherans, rejoice in the hope to come, God's glory.  But remain in the little helpless God-Baby, born in Bethlehem, and the naked, wretched God-Man, cursed and dead on Golgotha.  Continue to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood until He returns.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Romans 5:1-2

One of the many concerns of Christian parents, across confessions, is how to "take back Christmas," or keep Jesus the "reason for the season."  For liturgical Christians, this means restoring Advent and moving Christmas to its historical place (beginning at Christmas Day, but lasting  all the way to Epiphany! Take that, Adam Sandler!). One way is to observe Advent is to save your festivities (cookies, parties, open houses) for the real Christmas season. Another is to wait to decorate until Christmas Week, or even Christmas Eve.

And I think Advent is a beautiful season for the woman of the house.  She can plan, cook, clean and wrap without stressing out. Then she can actually relax for days instead of one day. Everything is drawn out and takes longer and tastes sweeter because there isn't a mad rush.  A mad rush to prepare, a mad rush to party, then it's all over.  I know some families who do their Christmas shopping after Christmas Day, then spread the giving out over the rest of the season.  On a practical level, praise God for Advent!

Here are some sites with great ideas (use your discretion,only the third one is Lutheran)

Baby Steps for Celebrating Advent
Fisheaters-Advent Overview
Christmas in September (lots of Advent ideas, too!  Read through all the comments!)

What we're gonna do....

Learn a new hymn
Slowly decorate the house:
On Advent Sunday just put electric candles in each window, and an Advent Wreath on the table.
Eight days before Christmas ("Golden Days" singing the O Antiphons) we'll add Christmas lights and an empty Nativity Scene.
Hide-n-seek each morning during Christmas Week for certain Nativity figures until Mary on Christmas Eve and Jesus on Christmas Day.  Wisemen begin to make the trek from upstairs.
 We always get our tree a few days before Christmas and decorate it on Christmas Eve
Attend midweek services
Make Christmas gifts
Make Christmas cookies and treats to freeze, consuming only during Christmas
Introduce new (read "different") prayers to memorize and pray during bed time
Memorize the Ten Commandments (my kids have the Creed, Lord's Prayer, Morning and Evening Prayers down, so now is as good as ever to start something new).

Other ideas I'm interested in, but am not committing to, yet:

*Collecting 30 or so religious picture books to wrap up in tissue paper and "unwrap" each evening before bed to read.  Of course, many will be Christmas-themed, but not all of them.  An Arch Book on John the Baptist (preparing the world for the first advent of Christ) would be appropriate, or some of the parables about the Parousia. You could, over time, collect a lot from amazon/garage sales/used book stores.

*Freezing meals over advent to use during Christmas. What a great way to prepare to rest during the season!

What are you doing special for Advent?  Watch for future posts on recipes, gift ideas, etc.

Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning 'neath their sorrow's load;
speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.

23 November 2011

Clement of Rome (November 23)

In love the Master took us unto Himself; for the love which He had toward us, Jesus Christ our Lord hath given His blood for us by the will of God, and His flesh for our flesh and His life for our lives.  1 Clem. 49:6

Clement (ca. A.D. 35–100) is remembered for having established the pattern of apostolic authority that governed the Christian Church during the first and second centuries. He also insisted on keeping Christ at the center of the Church's worship and outreach. In a letter to the Christians at Corinth, he emphasized the centrality of Jesus' death and resurrection: “Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world” (1 Clement 6:31). Prior to suffering a martyr's death by drowning, he displayed a steadfast, Christ-like love for God's redeemed people, serving as an inspiration to future generations to continue to build the Church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Christ as the one and only cornerstone." (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer)
I found the passage above from I Clement (a letter to the Corinthians) while trying to learn more about the man.  (I also found some dismayed blog posts: "Early Church Fathers Taught Substitutional Atonement?!" Yup.)  "His Flesh for our flesh and his Life for our lives."  

"St. Clem's Day" was very popular in England, and was a festival for blacksmiths.  I could not find many customs relating to the man himself.  I also could not find any coloring pages.

  • Since St. Clement drowned, we are going to focus on the passages on Baptism in the Small Catechism.  He both died and rose again at his Baptism and died into Life Eternal at his death!
  • Older children could read some of Clement's letters and find doctrine parallel to Peter's and Paul's epistles.  See Early Christian Writings for translations and history.  
  • Older children could also study the history of Penal Substitution, or find passages in the Bible that clearly support that doctrine.
  • We are beginning a tradition this year to have our first clementines of the season on St. Clement's Day :)  (It's 9am and I think we've gone through ten...see The O'Connor Home for how to use all those peelings.  I also like to clean and freshen my garbage disposal with ice cubes and orange peel.)

19 November 2011

Church Year Art

If you haven't noticed, I really like art.  I found on a home school blog the idea to buy a Metropolitan Art Museum desk calendar each year, then laminate the art you want to keep for future use!

Admittedly, there aren't as many church-year relevant pieces as I'd like, but there are even some pages I might frame and hang up.  (Side note: large bookstore calendars are great for finding art you want to display in your home.  Buy discount ones after the New Year.  Way cheaper than buying prints or posters from museums.  We have the Rublev Trinity above our fireplace, from an icon calendar on sale for $5.)

Another idea is to scoop up coffee table art books from antique malls or library book sales. You have to get used to taking a razor blade to books, though....

Elizabeth of Hungary (November 19)

Edmund Blair Leighton (1853-1922) The Charity of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

Marianne Stokes.  St. Elizabeth Spinning for the Poor

 Bartolome Esteban Murillo St. Elizabeth of Hungary Tending the Sick and Leprous, c1671-74

Born in Pressburg, Hungary, in 1207, Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II and his wife Gertrude.  Given as a bride in an arranged political marriage, Elizabeth became the wife of Louis of Thuringia in Germany at the age of 14. She had a spirit of Christian generosity and charity, and the home she established for her husband and three children in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach was known for its hospitality and family love. Elizabeth often supervised the care of the sick and needy and even gave up her bed to a leper at one time. Widowed at the age of 20, she made provisions for her children and entered into an austere life as a nun in the Order of Saint Francis. Her self-denial led to failing health and an early death in 1231 at the age of 24. Remembered for her self-sacrificing ways, Elizabeth is commemorated through the many hospitals named for her around the world.  (from lcms.org)

  • Coloring page
  • Crown-themed activities.  I found this Crown Cake recipe via CatholicCuisine.com.  We will make paper crowns (just as my elder son loved playing soldier all day on St. Martin's, my daughter will enjoy playing Queen Elizabeth).
  • Acts of Mercy.  Visit a shut-in or ill friend or relative.  Bring baked bread to your neighbors. If you're crazy enough to shop for Thanksgiving today,  buy some items for your local pantry.  (Maybe call first to see what they need.)
Elizabeth of Hungary, while an epitome of charity, can be hard for Lutheran mothers to admire.  Instead of accepting her God-given vocation, she left her fatherless children to enter a convent.  That really bothered  me until I read more on her life.  Maybe I am making excuses for her, but these are some of my thoughts:  She was a girl of her times, and we all carry with us baggage and private heresies which God will thankfully rid us of at Judgment.  She had suffered a lot in her short life--her mother had been murdered, her oldest child died young, and she was widowed when she was 8 months pregnant.  Her father confessor, after her husband died, put pressure on her to enter the convent (and initially her children came with her).  This may have partly been for her protection, since many in court resented the royal couple's generosity, and the to-be king was only 5 years old.  A lot of histories seem to suggest Konrad, her confessor, was a hard, controlling man, taking advantage of a distraught girl .  I have no idea if that is true, or simply the modern interpretation of his character.  What are your thoughts about this?  I'm sure I will have to answer some questions in the future from inquiring, thoughtful children who know their catechism....

I have no problem with the fact that Elizabeth is on our calendar because she's a popular saint among the Germans and Hungarians.  Who wouldn't love a young queen whose husband loved her and who opened her home to the sick and dying during epidemic?  Who spent her own dowry (with her husband's permission) to feed the poor during famine?  I definitely would prefer my daughter think of St. Elizabeth (or St. Margaret of Scotland) when they think of princesses and queens, instead of the Disney Princess Collection.

11 November 2011

St. Martin (November 11)

Martin of Tours, Pastor (from lcms.org)
Born into a pagan family in what is now Hungary around the year A.D. 316, Martin grew up in Lombardy (Italy). Coming to the Christian faith as a young person, he began a career in the Roman army. But sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was “Christ's soldier.” Eventually, Martin was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the Gospel throughout rural Gaul. Incidentally, on St. Martin's Day in 1483, the one-day-old son of Hans and Margarette Luther was baptized and given the name “Martin” Luther.

Found this great coloring page.

We're going trace the image on wax paper and make some St. Martin lanterns.

Apparently, in Germany, St. Martin's Day begins on the 11th minute of the 11th hour, so I'm sure today is extra special :)

My son is wearing his Roman armor all day.  He is on a "soldiers" kick, so today is really exciting for him.

We might try Weckmann.

Some basic history, along with customs and superstitions.

06 November 2011

I haven't given up on this blog yet!

My beautiful excuse: Mary Elizabeth born September 11, born again September 25.

My less-than-beautiful excuse: This is hard.  I had visions four children ago of some sort of elaborate home school unit study based on the Church Year.   Our house will probably be more like this in a few years (with less Mexican and more Greek, but similarly spontaneous and maybe dangerous, and me bemoaning the lack of decorum).

Blessed All Saints' Week!

15 August 2011

St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord (August 15)

Happy St. Mary's Day!  I did not have time this week to put together a proper post, but here are some of my favorite paintings of Mary:

I'm realizing, this first year of creating a curriculum of activities around the Church's Year and Feasts, that sometimes it's OK just to talk about who we are honoring.  We sang the Magnificat, but didn't do any particular crafts or traditional baking or even coloring sheets.  It's nice to honor Mary--and talk about her--outside of the Christmas season.  We talked about death (and how for the Christian, death is really just like sleep), and what a saint is.


And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in pain to be delivered. 3 And there was seen another sign in heaven. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and on his heads seven diadems. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered: that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. 5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her son was taken up to God and to his throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her, a thousand two hundred sixty days.

    7 And there was a great battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels. 8 And they prevailed not: neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world. And he was cast unto the earth: and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ: because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of the testimony: and they loved not their lives unto death.

11 August 2011

Lawrence (August 10)

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.  If anyone serves me,  the Father will honor him.  John 12:25-26


From The Treasury of Daily Prayer:
Early in the third century A.D., Laurence, most likely born in Spain, made his way to Rome. There he was appointed chief of the seven deacons and was given the responsibility to manage church property and finances. The emperor at the time, who thought that the church had valuable things worth confiscating, ordered Laurence to produce the “treasures of the church.” Laurence brought before the emperor the poor whose lives had been touched by Christian charity. He was then jailed and eventually executed in the year 258 by being roasted on a gridiron. His martyrdom left a deep impression on the young church. Almost immediately, the date of his death, August 10, became a permanent fixture on the early commemorative calendar of the Church.
St. Lawrence's commemoration coincides with the Perseid meteor shower (August 10-12).  These used to be called "St. Lawrence's Tears."  We did not associate the meteor shower with our remembrance of St. Lawrence, but I thought I would mention it here. The modern man is not in tune with Creation and nature, as our ancestor were.  I do not think it is wrong to associate the natural creation with Redemptive Creation all the time, but it is definitely a temptation to dig into the the traditions of the Church year and arrive at some weird pagan hybrids.  My daughter's godfather cautioned me once regarding misusing or broadening the meaning of  the word "sacramental":
The propensity toward magic is deeply ingrained in the (fallen) human psyche, and I was for a time drawn to it as an adult and hence to Rome. The "God-haunted" world (to borrow from Flannery O'Connor) is just plain more interesting. But the Incarnation isn't about fixing our metaphysics or clarifying our dualism: It's about a saving mission that ends in crucifixion—for Christ, for our Baptism-drown flesh. In the end, "incarnational Christianity" covereth a multitude of very attractive paganism.
Just some thoughts!  Please email or comment if you are ever concerned by the activities I suggest on this site.  I always intend to keep our celebrations "Lutheran"--grounded in Christ and his sacrifice.

If you do view the meteor shower (the very early morning of the 12th is supposed to be peak), read Psalm 8 beforehand. (I prefer KJV since that's the translation I memorized, but any one will do.)

Psalm 8
O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

 2Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

 3When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

 4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

 5For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

 6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

 7All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

 8The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

 9O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!


Alms: Central to Lawrence's story is the distribution of goods to the poor, and recognizing the poor as the treasures of the Church.  Consider helping someone in your church financially (or with your time).  "Poor" can also mean the the lonely or broken-hearted or troubled (visit nursing homes or volunteer at a pregnancy care center). 

From fisheaters.com: "Given St. Lawrence's mode of death, a barbecue seems a very natural choice. Grill some meats and vegetables, have a nice cooler of beer, and prepare for a late night of star-gazing and recalling the glory of St. Lawrence."  Of course his glory is his martyrdom, and a blessed death in Christ, but Lawrence's ultimate glory is also ours in baptism--Christ! (Sorry if this suggestion offends anyone; I thought it was funny. Other sites say waffles for breakfast)

Coloring page from Family in Feast and Feria.

03 August 2011

Joanna, Mary, and Salome (August 3)

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.  Luke 24:1-12

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.        Mark 16:1-8

The angel preaches the Gospel to the scared women, and they in turn run to proclaim it to the apostles, becoming "apostles to the apostles."
Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." And they remembered his words.
Remember, Jesus said in John 14, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."  Just a housewife's musings, but it seems to me evidence here that the birth of the Church was at Christ's death, not at Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit immediately "brought to mind" what Jesus had said here at the Resurrection scene, even before he had ascended.

What do you think?  I had suggested in my Pentecost post to make a birthday cake for the Church, but now I'm not sure saying Pentecost is the church's birthday is accurate (not WRONG, just not accurate).  I also am persuaded by the beautiful image of the New Adam's Bride created from his rib (Blood and Water) at his death, just as Eve was made from Adam's rib.  The Church was born when the atoning sacraments spilled forth on the world, and the Holy Spirit immediately began working in her individual members (Peter's sorrow when the cock crowed, etc.)

Ok, back on topic...

  • Older children (or moms and dads) can do a little research on who exactly these women were, and explain the apparent contradiction of the Gospel account (did they go straight to the Apostles or not?)  There are many great resources explaining the different details of the Resurrection story, and how these details in fact do not contradict.  What did you find?  Both the Treasury of Daily Prayer and Lutheran Study Bible would be helpful.
  • Research the practice of anointing the dead with spices in Hebrew and other ancient (or modern) cultures.

31 July 2011

Daily, Weekly, Yearly, Forever

I've been intending to write a little piece on the Church Year and observing and celebrating our Eternal Life here in this life.   Pr. Weedon has captured exactly how I feel about the Church Year.  Someday I would like my family life to comfortably revolve around daily prayers and readings, feasts and festivals, and seasons, much as we already intuitively follow the liturgy on Sunday mornings.

19 July 2011

Elijah (July 20)

Elijah Taken Up in  a Chariot of Fire Giuseppi Angeli 1740-55
 Other paintings of Elijah can be found here.

From Treasury of Daily Prayer and lcms.org:

The prophet Elijah, whose name means, “My God is Yahweh, the Lord,” prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel, mostly during the reign of Ahab (874–853 B.C.). Ahab, under the influence of his pagan wife Jezebel, had encouraged the worship of Baal throughout his kingdom, even as Jezebel sought to get rid of the worship of Yahweh. Elijah was called by God to denounce this idolatry and to call the people of Israel back to the worship Yahweh as the only true God (as he did in 1 Kgs 18:20–40). Elijahwas a rugged and imposing figure, living in the wilderness and dressing in a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt (2 Kgs 1:8). He was a prophet mighty in word and deed. Many miracles were done through Elijah, including the raising of the dead (1 Kgs 17:17–24), and the effecting of a long drought in Israel (1 Kgs 17:1). At the end of his ministry, he was taken up into heaven as Elisha, his successor, looked on (2 Kgs 2:11). Later on the prophet Malachi proclaimed that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah (Mal 4:5–6), a prophecy that was fulfilled in the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist (Mt 11:14).

  • Build an altar with caramel squares (get it?  Mt. Carmel?) and red hots on top to represent God's fire.
  • Make a simple flat bread recipe, remembering how the widow's oil and flour never ran out during the drought (I Kings 17).  Here is an example, although there are many ethnic varieties to choose from if you browse the web!
  • Make a list of how Elijah is a type of Christ.
  • Coloring page

    Ruth (July 16)

    Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God  Ruth 1:16

    Biography from The Treasury of Daily Prayer and lcms.org:
    Ruth of Moab, the subject of the biblical book that bears her name, is an inspiring example of God's grace. Although she was a Gentile, God made her the great grandmother of King David (Ruth 4:17), and an ancestress of Jesus himself (Mt 1:5). A famine in Israel led Elimelech and Naomi of Bethlehem to emigrate to the neighboring nation of Moab with their two sons. The sons marriend Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth, but after about ten years, Elimelech and his sons died (Ruth 1:1–5). Naomi then decided to return to Bethlehem and urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families. Orpah listened to Naomi's but Ruth refused, replying with the stirring words: “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). After Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, Boaz, a close relative of Elimelech, agreed to be Ruth's “redeemer” (Ruth 3:7–13; 4:9–12). He took her as his wife, and Ruth gave birth to Obed, the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:13–17), thus preserving the Messianic seed. Ruth's kindness and selfless loyalty toward Naomi, and her faith in Naomi's God, have long endeared her to the faithful and redounded to God's praise for his merciful choice of one so unexpected.
    The last painting above (by Michelangelo) depicts Ruth with her father-in-law, Salmon (husband of Rahab, and one of the spies under Moses and later Joshua).  Some interpreters say this painting connects Moses and the salvation of the Hebrews from slavery, with David (Salmon's descendant), and ultimately with Jesus.  (I love the well-fed and content baby Obed sleeping on Ruth's breast.)

    So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.   Ruth 4

    "He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age" can obviously be applied to Christ, the Bread of Life.  But how wonderful that God met Naomi's need for a son,  even while He was preparing his people for their Savior!  Thank God that he provides your needs for this life, even as he prepares you for Eternal Life.

    Great gallery of art depicting Ruth (browse bible-art.info/index.htm)