Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Celebrating Feasts Days

I'm always amazed by the creativity and time spent by some of the Catholic mothers online. Amazed and awed and, sure, inspired ~ but, honestly... for a while, when I first started reading about the gorgeous feastday celebrations being staged out there, I was a little depressed! How on earth could I compare to that? It boggled the mind how many feast days I found could be celebrated in high style! Everything from St. Martin to the Ember Days and everything in-between had beautiful menus and crafts and meaningful lesson plans to be explored. But, Jimminy Cricket! I'm only one mom here. There just isn't enough time in the day and there just aren't enough grey cells in my brain to do it all. It's overwhelming!

But, then it occurred to me that none of the wonderful, inspiring ladies of the internet does every single one of the feast days. Most moms do one or two a season, I'm thinking ~ if that. (Big Sigh of Relief!) We all try to make Christmas and Easter as meaningful as we can, I think. It's such a struggle to overcome the worldliness that has crept into those holidays (read that: holy days), that it's especially important to hilight the beauty of our Faith as it retells the life of Christ at those times. But, then, after that, which feast days rise up to be occasions in our homes is a matter of each family's personal taste and time. And the number of items on each mom's calendar in a given week of the liturgical year.
Our family does have a few favorites that we almost always celebrate big. We love the Epiphany, for example, St. Valentine's Day is a big one for us, and we all have a special love for the October saints. But, we really can't "do up" all the feast days. We do try to honor them and take special note in our prayers and we read the lives of the saint-of-the-day every day. We love it when we can find a coloring page to add to our school day, and we'll occasionally pull down extra activities that coincide with a saint's feast day if we can find them.

But, we do try to take special care to remember all the feasts of Our Lady.
Of the many ways to join heaven's celebration on the feasts of the Blessed Mother, I think our favorite is the tradition of decorating our family shrine. Since we have a little niche right by our front door, we are greeted by our special statue when we come in and blessed by it when we go out. Mary is at center stage. All our family rosaries are prayed before this image of Our Lady. Many, many dandilions have been placed at her feet. I've pointed to this statue countless times to remind the children to make the Blessed Mother proud of them, and have turned to it to gain my own composure more times than I can remember.

t's a natural part of our seasonal decorating to change the look of Our Lady's niche ~ most especially in honor of her feasts. We always have a triangular (to denote the Trinity), decorated paper with a quote for the day or season. Today, for the Feast of the Annunciation, it read: I am the handmaiden of the Lord; be it done unto me according to Thy word. For St. Valentine's it said: Our Valentine -- Our Sweetness and Our Hope. At All Saints' Day, we put the title: Queen of All Saints.

We add flowers as we're able. Today we found a white orchid at the grocery store for half price and couldn't resist the fresia because it smelled so good. Then my Mom brought some daffodils and added them later (you can see them in thecorner of the above photo). Our Blessed Mother's crown of roses is white now. We'll take it off during Holy Week, and lay a homemade crown of thorns at her feet in respect for Our Lord's passion. But, we'll fashion a new crown for her for Easter and another for the month of May, then a crown of autumn leaves come September, etc. (We can't stand for her not to have a crown of some kind, so she's almost always wearing one.)

Pictured below is our holy water font and beside it you can see a bit of the garland we hung. The girls made the garland by cutting out the flowers on some printed tissue and stapling it to curling ribbon.
Here is the border/frame we cut out of scrapbooking paper with an exacto. We made it for St. Valentine's Day, but liked it enough to keep it up a while longer...

Since today was also our son, Kevin's, birthday, we had the whole family over for a celebration. There are only three reasons we bend our personal sacrifice rules during Lent: 1. St. Patrick's Day, 2. Feasts of Our Lady, 3. Birthdays. So everyone was free to enjoy cake and ice cream with particular abondon, today being both Kevvy's birthday and the Anunciation.

Here is the recipe for the cake we made tonight ~ a good, old fashioned layer cake, popular in the south. We call it a Pig-Pickin' Cake, because it's the sort of dessert one takes to impress a crowd at a barbeque back where my mother's people come from.

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, juice reserved
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (16 ounce) package frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (15 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

Mix together cake mix, canned oranges with juice, eggs, and oil. Pour batter into three greased and floured 8 inch round pans. Layers will be thin.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool layers on wire racks.
Mix together whipped topping, drained pineapple, nuts, and instant pudding mix. Fill and frost the cooled cake.

Refrigerate until ready to eat.

We decorated Kevin's cake with green icing (Kev's favorite color) in the form of a celtic knot (since Kevvy loves anything Irish).

We also served "crockpot enchiladas," a recipe we tried out for the first time tonight. It was a resounding success ~ and thank goodness for that (!) because I quadrupled the recipe to feed our gang and cooked it in a roaster. I highly recommend this for get-together where you don't want to be scrambling at the last minute to make dinner.

Thanks to Peggy at a Catholic Notebook for asking about how we celebrated the day. (Hi, Peggy!)


MightyMom said...

that cake sounds yummy! and I love the candles!!!!

Laura said...

You are an inspiration.
I need some more feast day merriment in my home.

GrandmaK said...

So this weekend it'll be Crockpot Chicken Enchiladas! YES!!! Thanx! Cathy

Gae said...

Your statue is truely beautiful. What an inspiration to walk in to from outside and vice versa.
We have a little one whose birthday(this is his first lenten birthday) is on Holy Saturday and am unsure about if or how to clebrate it. Is it legal?so to speak to celbrate this during lent and then the Triduum?
Some help would be appreciated.

Lisa said...

MM ~ aren't those twirly candles a hoot? They're our favorite ones nowadays.

Laura ~ thanks! &:o)

Cathy ~ It really is a great recipe ~ and sooo easy!

Gae ~ We have two sons birthdays that always fall in Lent. Our take is this: Except for on Sundays, we are bound (those of us between 21 and 59) to the prescribed Lenten fast, the two small meals and the one main meal, with meat at that meal. The other voluntary sacrifices we make, we may choose to suspend according to our own lights. Specifically, if someone in the family has given up sweets ~ in honor of the birthday person, they'll go ahead and have cake and ice cream. But we stick to the rules of Lent, having the cake and ice cream as dessert after our main meal.

We feel certain that God, who loves the birthday person, too, understands this. Very often, though, we'll just have our big party on Sunday, because we can then celebrate with goodies all day. And be real pigs. &:o) Then we just have a special dinner on the actual day of the birthday. And perhaps go on a special outing for the birthday boy ~ something somewhat sedate, but fun, like a trip to the museum.

Lisa said...

But, Gae ~ since your little one's birthday is on Holy Saturday, and since s/he is so young, if it were me, I might be inclined to celebrate on either Easter Sunday or, if you don't want to mix the birthday with such a big feast day, then on Easter Monday. It's not likely the birthday will often fall during Passiontide, so it's not likely something you'll have to worry much about in the future...

Gae said...

Thank you for your advice It has been very Helpful