Wednesday, November 25, 2015

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Portrait of Geo.Washington
by Rembrandt Peale, c. 1846
During the time of the founding fathers Thanksgiving was a day set aside more for prayer and fasting than for revelry and feasting. Though the ethic was a Protestant one in colonial America, there was no shyness regarding religion, no hesitation in acknowledging Christ as the king and ruler of all nations, no question to Whom Americans owed their many blessings.

This is the first Presidential (instead of state or congressional) Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, issued by George Washington in 1789.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be

– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks

– for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation

– for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war

– for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed

– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions

– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually

– to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed

– to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord

– To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us

– and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.


Monday, November 23, 2015

A Catholic Mom's Trying-To-Remember-It-All Advent Calendar

Can you believe it? 

THREE days until Thanksgiving, which means only SIX days 'til Advent! Are you ready?  I'm sure not! It seems like we only just got through All Saints and All Souls Day, took a breath, and here we are!  We've been working this past week to deep clean the garage and barn, so I at least know where the Advent wreath is, which is an improvement over some years, anyway! But I can't say I've wrapped my brain around the season quite yet.  So, in an effort to get myself organized, I came over to the old blog to dig out my Advent spirit. Here  is the listing of Advent prayers and activities I posted many moons ago for anyone else looking to corral ideas and devotions.


*We'll set up the Advent Wreath to be ready for the first Sunday of Advent . 

Note to self: Print out the Advent prayers and have handy to pray on Sunday.

* On the Feast of St. Andrew, which is on a Monday this year, we begin:

 The Christmas Novena
The most common Christmas novenas
in a nutshel. 

“Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment
 when 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 petitions,

through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen"

We'll repeat this prayer 15 times a day until Christmas for our various special intentions, ending on Christmas Eve. It doesn't matter how it's done; you can say all fifteen repetitions at once, or split them up during the day, whichever is easiest for you. We tend to do a little of both methods, intending to split them up at mealtimes, five prayers three times a day -- but often enough, missing out and having to bunch them all together at bedtime prayers.  It doesn't matter, though, so long as you get them all in there!  Many many intentions, personal, and general to include in our Christmas novena this year so we don't want to blow it!

A beautiful "click and print" card to post somewhere obvious where we won't forget!

* During the first week of Advent (beginning Monday!), we'll start building our Nativity Scene -- though we're not sure where we'll build it this year in the new "forever"house! The process will continue all the way up until Christmas.  We're going to try to observe more closely the traditional manner and order of constructing the creche than we usually do, adding the traditional prayers and ceremonies you can find at the link.

Note to self:  Find the littlest critters first this year (the ones that don't specifically belong to the Nativity set) and have the children add only one critter a day, then make a bigger production out of the placing of the "official" animals (the sheep, dogs, donkey, and cow) and shepherds on the 18th, and the Holy Family and Shepherds when everyone is together the week before Christmas.  Perhaps have Father over to bless the Creche?
Here's Dominic next to last year's Nativity Scene. He's been the Creche
mastermind for several years now, and not like we're helpless without him...
but w
e're grateful that he'll be here this weekend to consult with us!
* In addition to the Christmas Novena, we'll start the daily Christmas Crib Prayers on Tuesday, the 1st.

We found copies of this sweet little devotion when our big grown up boys were tots and prayed it for years until we lost the prayers during some move or another.  But we found it again a couple years ago, reprinted by the lovely lady at House and Hold ! We were all so pleased; we love this simple devotion. It's especially good for families with little ones.
* See below for the entire read-out.

Note to self: Make some more copies and have available for everyone

* On Saturday, begin Novena to St. Lucy (see below)! St. Lucy is the patroness of: the blind or those with eye problems, martyrs, epidemics, salesmen, throat infections and writers!

*  On the second Sunday of Advent this year, we come to the Feast of St. Nicholas, which  of course we'll celebrate with goodies in the children's shoes in the morning (but no nibbling on any of it until we get back from morning Mass!) and  then a big batch of crockpot peppermint mocha in the afternoon.

(Note to self: Order holy cards and patron saint medals from Aquinas and More or now, in order to get them in time for St. Nick's Day!)

December 8th
* The Eighth of December,  which falls on Tuesday, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. (And our grandson, Gavin's, birthday, lucky guy!) It's not a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States, but is a great feast of the Blessed Mother, and we wouldn't miss greeting her on this day for anything!  We'll get flowers to decorate our Blesed Mother shrine, and along with Mass that day, we'll decorate and light a Mary Candle:

"The Mary candle: Some families have the custom of decorating a Christ candle with a blue veil on December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On this great feast, others place a candle with a blue ribbon before a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin, whose “yes” to God enabled our Lord’s coming at Christmas. The candle is lit during meal times to serve as a delightful reminder of Mary’s eager expectation of the “Light of the World.” It can also serve as a reminder to each family member to keep their own light of grace burning as a preparation for Christ’s coming."
(From CERC)

(Note to self: Get Hobby Lobby coupon to bring with me to offset cost of pillar candle.)

* The feast of Our Lady of Loreto. This feast commemorates the miraculous translation of Our Blessed Mother's home in Nazareth to Loreto, Italy, almost 1300 years after her assumption into heaven.  Read the wondrous story here!  In honor of Our Blessed Mother who is the glory of home life, and the perfect example of holy homemaking, we'll be giving the house some good "spit and polish" today.  We'll also take special care to dust and care for all of our holy images: statues, crucifixes, and hanging pictures. And we'll pray the Litany of Loreto in addition to our rosary in Our Lady's honor.

* On Sunday, the thirteenth of December and the third Sunday of Advent, we get to celebrate The Feast of St. Lucy, with all of its special traditions .  The novena to St. Lucy may be begun on Monday, December 5th, if you like, to finish on her feast day.

Novena to St. Lucy

St. Lucy, Your beautiful name signifies light.  By the light of faith which God bestowed upon you, preserve and increase this light in my soul, so that I may avoid evil, be zealous in the performance of good works, and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and the darkness of evil and of sin.  By your intercession with God, obtain for me perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use them for God's greater honor and glory and the salvation of all men.  St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions.  Amen.

(Note to self: Get copy of Lucia, Saint of Light!)

* We won't make our oldest daughter (or the oldest daughter still at home, which would be Theresa...)  bring everyone breakfast while balancing lit candles on her head. She'd do it, mind you!  But I'd be a nervous wreck.  (I'm still a little traumatized by her First Holy Communion Day eleven years ago, when she caught her hair on fire) I think instead, we'll  let her be the one to decorate and hang up the Mistletoe on this day, though. (History and customs of  mistletoe, here.)

December 16th, 18th, and 19th
* Advent Embertide comes around again, on Wednesday, Friday in the third week of Advent (December December 16th, 18th, and 19th). Adults between the ages of 21 and 59 must fast on all three days, abstain completely on Friday (as usual), and partially abstain on Wednesday and Saturday. Ember days are a particular time to pray for our priests, and are traditionally set aside as well, for prayers for safety from natural disaster, and expecting mothers. These are also days when the Church remembers the poor and suffering.  This would be a good time to make Christmas donations to the needy! 

* Today, Ember Wednesday, we can begin the Christmas Novena to finish on Christmas Eve. To finish on Christmas day, start on December 17th. There are several novenas from which to choose:  One here, which is lengthy, involves the entire family and corresponds with the O Antiphons; and another one here, which is shorter and less complicated. (And certainly many more upon a google search!)

* This day marks the feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, exactly an octave until the birth of Our Lord.   Originating as early as the 7th century and widely celebrated in the Spanish Church, this feast was called the feast of "St. Maria de la O," because on this day the clerics in the choir after Vespers used to utter a loud and protracted "O," to express the longing of the universe for the coming of the Redeemer.  As a mother, myself, I love this day for contemplating  Mary, the Mother of God, herself: her faith, her hope, her love -- the Christ Child kicking in her womb -- the wonder and joy of it. The expectation!  

Today, as we have since the beginning of the month, we pray our St. Andrew Novena, and meditate on our little Christmas Crib devotion. If we choose to do a nine day novena for Christmas, we will have started that already, too -- But now we ramp things up a bit more even as we approach the big day, adding the O antiphons to our bedtime prayers.  

(Incidentally, today is also the day we introduce the sheep, shepherds, cows and donkey to the stable in our Nativity scene -- a big day for the children.)

 O Antiphons
* And, last, but not least, we begin the  O Antiphons on Friday, the 18th. These are the prayers taken from the Breviary's Vespers during the last octave before the Birth of the Savior, wherein each "stanza" begins with "O." It's this fact that names the O Antiphons. They are correctly prayed in the evening and can also be sung.

* A Spiritual Christmas Crib

The following directions show you how to build a spiritual crib in your heart for Christ. Use it to put Christ into your Christmas in a real, living way.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

--Dear Mother 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.


Also 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.

Prepare these for the Divine Infant by folding your hands when you pray, and praying slowly and thoughtfully.

--Jesus, help me love you more and more.

Provide the manger of your crib 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, help me do Your will in all things.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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

--Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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."

**From: Devotions in Preparation for the Coming of the Christchild, and at the Crib, from Christmas to Purification" by Rev. Frederic Nelson, published by Marian House, Powers Lake, ND 58773

Monday, October 26, 2015

How it's Done

And there you have it.  ;)
(I love being a homeschooling Mom!  I couldn't bear to miss all this kind of fun if I weren't!)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

On the Feast off St. Raphael

Prayed today to St. Raphael the Archangel, who besides being the patron saint of apothecaries; blind people; bodily ills; the diocese of Madison, WI, druggists; the archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa; eye problems; guardian angels, in general; happy meetings; insanity; lovers; mental illness; nightmares, nurses; pharmacists; physicians; the archdiocese of Seattle, Washington; shepherds; sick people; young people, and people who seek spouses...

is also the patron saint of travelers

So, yes, indeed we prayed to St. Raphael.  And to the good St. Thomas Aquinas, who has always been our automotive go-to saint...  because, we need a new car!

The Durango has an inoperable transmission illness and is no longer a dependable family vehicle. Doggonit, anyway. But, to be perfectly honest, we didn't really expect that it would be a long-term solution.  The Durango was rather a "stop-gap" car between Vegas and real life (when the a/c on the old Honda Odyssey died)  We have been expecting to replace it -- and, it seems that "sooner or later" is suddenly "now."

 So, after some looking around and researching, we found what looked like a good car for what looked like a good deal in (of all places) Overland Park, Kansas.  Which, though it sounds like an extreme commute to go car shopping (considering we live in Iowa) is only three hours away. 

So, it was just a little road trip today with Dan, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Raphael, and me along.

And, though we went specifically to look at another Honda Odyssey, we came home with this:

A Toyota Sienna

Isn't it purty? It's a used car -- actually a 2004 -- but it's got a reasonable number of miles on it for the years and was meticulously cared for by its owner (unlike the Odyssey that was parked right next to it); it looks brand spanking new, inside and out (unlike the Odyssey) and drives like a dream (unlike... etc.).  And we got it for a song!  So, we're all very pleased.  An easy-to drive car for me (she's mine!), with good gas mileage (for Dan), and plenty of cup holders (to make the children happy!) Perfect!  Just what we prayed for.

Thank-you, St. Thomas and St. Raphael!

Friday, October 23, 2015


Watching an excellent Ken Burns documentary about the Roosevelts this afternoon. (We love Ken Burns' documentaries!) Hearing of Teddy Roosevelt's Portsmouth Treaty (where he corralled the Russians and Japanese and for which he received the Nobel peace prize), William, in indignation, fixes me with an accusing eye and demands to know, "And why have I never heard of these disputes?!"

And why have I never heard of these disputes?

Uh, yeah... sorry about that, William. (Smirk) I guess it just never came up over tea and toast. (Sheesh. Too much pressure for a mom of just barely average IQ here... And, man oh man, do you remind me of TR!)

Thursday, October 22, 2015


The little boys found out about this game by finding *just* the board at a thrift store... But couldn't find the whole game or replacement pieces for sale anywhere (we don't think they make them any more!). So, being the enterprising little Tolkien fans that they are, Gabe and William researched it, found the best price on eBay, bid on it, won the bid, paid for it (trading cash for Dad's cc) -- and it arrived today in the mail!

No more school this day!

And I'm good with that. Just one more beauty of being home schoolers! Real life education at its best + some good old-fashioned reading and understanding of instructions ( these are intricate!) + strategy and scoring -- and classic literature thrown in, to boot! Who needs text books!?