Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A Heartfelt Handmade (Less Expensive) Christmas

 I don't know anyone who's not feeling the financial crunch these days, but even if the economy were doing well and everyone were feeling comfortable about the future of their employment, I think that the unsureness of our times has inspired many of us to instinctively "hunker down." Things being what they are, many of us have no choice but to be home bound! 

The bright side of this? We have every reason and opportunity this Christmas to get back to the real roots of the season, to remember what we are celebrating -- or I should say WHOM --  to dial down on the commercialization, and zoom in on our loved ones in a more than usual personal way. You know where I'm going with this: HOMEMADE Christmas presents. 

Don't groan. Even if they aren't perfect, the time and effort put into a homemade gift makes it exponentially more meaningful. Certainly to us Mom-types, anyway! And, if we've raised our children outside the glitz of the mainstream, they will appreciate a homespun Christmas just as much as we do. Especially since, with access to how-tos on the internet, we can get really creative -- and make some pretty cool stuff! 

We have a month and two days until Christmas. Plenty of time! Except -- not for me, really, since I'm in Germany and will have only two weeks to get my act together once I get back to the States. And a limited budget. So, I went on a hunt looking for ideas...

 Run over and take a look at the Instructables for lots of inspiration and very whacky projects to keep kids busy. For instance, our two youngest sons and oldest grandson would get a real "bang" out of the homemade marshmallow shooter ! No rubberbands to wound one another with; only mini marshmallows all over the floor... We've seen these in catalogues, but how much more fun to make our own!

Here's an easy pattern for Toasty slippers that look easy to adapt to any size and can be a good use for our worn out blankets.

Using a tube and some old cds, you can make a keen kaleidoscope. I know our Granddaughter Littles would get a kick out of these. I'll just have to make sure they don't come apart easily...

This tutorial for
Magnetic paper dolls uses a pretty ugly example for the dolls, so please don't be put off by it. It does give a good idea of how it can be done, though. I'd be more inclined to print out pictures of my own little girls and make dresses for them. (Wouldn't that be fun?)

Though this one's not as easy, I've long wanted to make a checkerboard game table .

Get a 50% off coupon for Hoibby Lobby online and get a bub of plaster of paris,. Lots you can make with plaster of paris, but I'm thinking about a batch of
homemade sidewalk chalk . Looks fun and easy.

For the kiddos to give parents or grandparents (ahem), we can easily make these boxes and fill them with chocoloate hugs and kisses. There are tons of ideas here for "mugs of hugs."

The very crafty lady at Pretending Sanity has a great lip balm recipe I'd love to try. she's also got some links to places to get supplies, if I don't find what I want at Hobby Lobby. It actually looks like a pretty simple, one afternoon project.

And, while we're at it, we could put together little
soap and lotion combos from Teachsoap.com and maybe make little gift baskets. (They have a recipe there for Chocolate Lip gloss that we'll have to try!)

Here's a link to
 a good handful of baby toddler toys to make. And here's another. I like their idea for a really easy homemade book, and I know some grandkids who would like this "giant kerplunk can."

Over at the
Dollar Stretcher, there are tons of inexpensive gift basket ideas for all occasions! And here are more that are specifically on-a-budget Christmas Gift Basket ideas.

Let's not underrate baked goodies! Here's one exhaustive list of Christmas treats -- and here's another.

If I had money to spare this year, I would shop from the Lehman's catalogue. We've never bought anything from Lehmans that we were not 100% tickled to death with. The Amish really do build with quality and integrity. Recommended if you have a little extra money for a special gift! (World's best fly-swatter, for that one person who would really love a leather fly swatter for Christmas!)

I also love "dream shopping" in places like Treasure Box Toys, and Hearthsong. When we have spent the money on quality toys, we've never regretted it. We've had a deluxe "busy bead" set, for instance, that we bought over twenty-five eyars ago (now at Paul's house, I think) which has had constant use and still looks good as new.

Most years in our family history, I'd start early on the garage sale circuit looking for quality used toys, as well as checking out all the thrift stores for "refurbishables"... We're not shy about that. In my mind, you can't call yourself a recycler if you aren't willing to make use of thrift stores and garage sales! We got the best Melissa and Doug castle for Shelly and Ben's girls a couple years ago in this way. Books are also a great thing to find at Garage sales, thrift stores and online second-hand stores like Abebooks and Thriftbooks. Real readers don't care if a book is brand new or not! If it's a family gift, especially, no harm, no foul! If it's for someone not in your inner circle, consider making a little gift tag or sticker saying: "proudly recycled: saving the planet one book at a time." (Also saving your checking account, one gift at a time, but they don't need to know that... 😉 )

So, there. This exercise has forced me to organize myself with links to work from when I get home! I hope it might have given someone else an idea or two as well! (Hopefully the links still work, as I've purloined a good portion of this post from one I wrote several years ago -- but seeing as it's mostly for my own benefit, I'll fix links as I go!)

Friday, November 12, 2021

Martinmas in Bavaria

Originally a Catholic country, Germany, like many other European nations, has retained many of its ancient liturgical year traditions.

On the feast of St. Martin, towns all over the country celebrate the Feast of St. Martin (Martinmas) with processions like the one we got to attend here in Reit im Winkl, Bavaria, yesterday evening.
The celebration began at about 5:30, just as the sun slipped over the rim of the surrounding hills. In a park on the edge of town, near the church, families gathered on the grass near the bandstand, home made lanterns in hand.
The belltower of St. Pancratius 
After the Church bells finished bonging the half hour, the MC (who, it turns out was the conciliar parish priest), called the proceedings to order with a few words and a prayer. The school children sang, recited, and performed in a short play about the life of St. Martin. The primary school band played, the officiant blessed several baskets of the 'bread of St. Martin,' (which was distributed afterward), then the children, candle-lit lanterns in hand (with Moms guiding the smallest), walked in procession around the perimeter of the park following a torch-bearer leading St. Martin on his horse.
Holy St. Martin was played by a boy about twelve years old, who knew how to ride, and had an authentic-looking cloak and helmet. The entire procession was geared toward the primary grades; I didn't see any children over 10 or 12 -- but there were a slew of them -- probably 50 or 60 -- and all their parents and grandparents! 😊

Such a unique and wonderful event to witness! It was beautiful! I couldn't understand a word anyone said, but I didn't need to! As Catholics, we enjoy a shared understanding that transcends barriers of time and space. Not only in the timeless ageless Mass (those of us who are blessed to have found it again), but in the continuity of the stories of the saints that belong to all of us all over the world -- and the unchanging meaning behind them.
I didn't have to understand the German dialogue of the children's play to know the significance of St. Martin's slitting his cloak in two and giving half to a beggar. There's no translation needed to appreciate the proud little grins of children showing off their lanterns to one another. And, let me tell you, a piece of St. Martin bread shared with my granddaughter on a chilly November night lit by lantern light is delicious in any language. ❤
Happy Blessed Martinmas, friends, wherever you are!

Sophia Philomena!

Tweety -- Because...

Check the date today. If you know... you know!

Five years old.  Time sure flies!!

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Leben in dieser Ecke

 November day

Half -past three

A gypsy cloud

Stopped in for tea

Above photo: Outside my window in Reit im Winkl, Bavaria a day or two ago. It's a funny name to an American ear, and you can be sure I asked about it. Winkl, I am told means "corner." No random choosing this town's name, of course, and, in case you wondered, it has nothing to do with Rip Van Winkle. This little ski town was purposely named Reit im Winkl, because it is truly "right in the corner" of south eastern Germany, a hop, skip, and jump from Austria. 

The altitude here is 2,549' (777 m) above sea level, and it is situated in a bowl between mountains, so clouds are an almost permanent part of the landscape here -- not just in the sky above us, but very often right in the yard, slipping around corners and in out of the dips of trees in the hills around us. The most awesome, almost alive-seeming clouds you've ever seen, they sneak around spying in windows, I tell you. I never get tired of them! 

Check it out, though. Yesterday they threw veils over the bright autumn leaves... Today, they laid fluffy white shawls over the shoulders of the western-most mountain range.

* Leben in dieser Ecke = Life in this Corner. No telling when I'll get to come back, so I'm soaking it all in and recording as much as I can. You think you'll never forget -- when you're young. When you get into your fifties, you know you will -- so you write everything down and take lots of pictures!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

St. Hubert --- and Cocktails?

On the feast day of a saint conspicuous here in Bavaria! You see him all over the place -- even on the door of Kevvy and Ina's wood stove! Seeing as we are a family with six sons who like anything and everything manly, St Hubert is one of our family favorites. But, before I get into the nutshell story of his life, I have to clear up something up that I had wondered about. 

This beverage:

Have you ever seen a bottle of Jaegermeister?  It bears the symbol of a cross suspended between the antlers of a deer on the label.  The symbol of St. Hubert! Curious, huh?

St. Hubert, as it turns out, merited the title of one of the four holy Marshals of the Rhineland (a German subset, so to speak of the 14 Holy Helpers),  and so, as  Jaegermeister was developed  and manufactured
in  WolfenbüttelLower Saxony, the symbol  of St. Hubert's stag was natural for a logo in a nation that has traditionally valued heroic and pious men. At least in the early 1930s when this herbal liqueur first hit the market, it was a good marketing strategy. Hopefully, it still is

 I've tasted Jaegermeister, and maybe it's because I'm not a hunter or I'm too far from my German roots, or I'm female (?) but ... well, let's just say it's kinda weird tasting stuff. It's one of those tastes, you either like it or you don't. Ingredients include 56 herbs, fruits, roots, and spices, including citrus peel, *licorice*, anise, poppy seeds, saffron, ginger, juniper berries, and ginseng. It's , uh... unique. The story behind the symbol, I have to say, is my favorite thing about this alcoholic drink. 

This antlers and cross motif originates in the story of St. Hubert’s conversion. Hubert, a nobleman of Aquitaine, was a very worldly youth who was inordinately attached to the sport of hunting. One day, while Hubert was on the hunt in pursuit of an elusive stag, his target suddenly turned around and revealed, between its antlers, a brilliantly shining cross. 

The incident led to the conversion of the yet unbaptized Hubert, who became a catechumen and disciple of the bishop, St. Lambert, whom he ended up succeeding as bishop.

 Appropriately, St. Hubert is the patron of Christian huntsmen. Happy Feastday, hunters!!

The Church celebrates St. Hubert's feast on November third. Two orders of knighthood were established under his patronage, one of which had as its Grand-Masters the kings of Bavaria. A

With that in mind, cheers from beautiful Bavaria! Today would be the day to crack open some liquid licorice! 

A few fun things to do with Jaegermeister  if you are legal drinking age-- a couple I think I might actually like :

*German Vacation* 
(just like a real German vacation, this one needs advanced prep for unusual ingredients, but I couldn't resist the moniker

1 ounce Jägermeister
1 ounce gold rum (Flor de Caña 4-Year)
3/4 ounce ginger syrup
3/4 ounce orgeat syrup
3/4 ounce lemon juice (fresh)
3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

Steps to Make It

Gather the ingredients. In a cocktail shaker filled with crushed ice, pour the Jägermeister, gold rum, ginger and orgeat syrups, and lemon juice.
Shake well.
Strain over fresh pebble ice in a swizzle glass.

*The Inside Scoop/ Kicked-up Rootbeer Float*

1 spray Yellow Chartreuse
2 ounces Jägermeister (chilled)
4 ounces root beer (chilled)
1 scoop ice cream (vanilla)
3 dashes root beer bitters
Garnish: orange peel

Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients. Spritz an old-fashioned glass with Chartreuse. Add chilled Jägermeister and root beer.
Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
Dash the ice cream with root beer bitters.
Zest an orange peel over top of the drink

(Alternatively, skip the chartreuse and orange -- and just add a dash of jaegermeister to a rootbeer float!)

Serve and enjoy!

*Winter Warmer Mulled Sangria* (A twist on a holiday treat!)

Note that you will need to plan ahead when making this mulled sangria. The first step requires 3-7 days for the booze and fruit to marry and it is worth the wait!

1 bottle red wine
1 cup​​ Jagermeister Spice Liqueur
2 cups​ PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 bag/12 ounces​ cranberries (fresh)
2 cups​ ​ ​pomegranate arils (about 2 pomegranates)
1 1/2 cups cranberry pomegranate juice
1 cup​ club soda
1​ sachet ​mulling spices

Steps to Make It

One Week Ahead: Mix the wine and liqueurs in a pitcher.Add the fruit, cover and let sit for 3-7 days.

When It's Time for the Party: Boil cranberry juice and club soda in a small saucepan.

Add a sachet of mulling spices and allow to sit hot for 15-30 minutes. If that isn't enough spiciness for you, you can also add a sachet to the finished pitcher for extra flavor.

Pour cooled, mulled juice mix into the original pitcher and stir to combine. Serve warmed or room temperature, being sure to include some of the boozy fruit!

* For really really enquiring minds that might wonder about this symbol -- and how it relates to both St. Hubert and St. Eustace, here is a thoughtful piece on the subject that I found interesting.


Monday, November 1, 2021

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

These are the three days of the year when we see a fucused criss-cross over the barriers among the Church Militant (us), the Church Suffering (The Souls in Purgatory), and the Church Triumphant (The Souls in Heaven). On the Vigil of All Souls, October 31st, we're given a special opportunity (especially as our cultural celebrations have evolved) to consider our place among these three. As the Church Militant, preparing to honor the Church Triumphant(on All Saints Day), saecular Halloween tests us every year, doesn't it? Do we celebrate it in a wholesome, Godly way that points us in the direction of the Church Triumphant (the saints), or do we fall to the common, expected, worldly way and point ourselves in the direction of the Church Suffering (Purgatory), where expiation for sin can only be relieved through the prayers of others? Lots of ways we can go on Halloween, day one of the Triduum: choose well! 

Today, though, is All Saints' Day, the second day of the triduum of All Hallowtide. On this day we remember  and honor those souls who have already won the crown of sanctity -- not a thing that was handed to them, not a participation trophy as some sects would like to believe. This is a crown the saints worked for, prayed for, and sacrificed to win. Not only do we get to honor the success of the saints in heaven today, but the Church hopes we are paying close attention to how the saints got to where they are!

Tomorrow, the Feast of All Souls, we remember those many many souls still working their way to heaven in the cleansing fires of Purgatory. They've passed the particular judgement and avoided damnation, Deo Gratias! -- but they racked up too many low marks in the grade book of life and/or failed to do the make-up work in their lifetimes to merit the passing grade to heaven. No person, other than the Blessed Mother, is perfect -- not even the greatest of the saints, but we can all bring up our grades! We all have plenty of chances to pray and sacrifice away the punishment due to sin. It is such a grace to be Catholic and know this! Not only can we work away our own punishment, but -- stop and absorb this for a minute -- we can get others "out of detention," too! We can post their bond, so to speak -- and shorten their stays -- or even send them right in to heaven. How cool is that?? Then, those souls we get to heaven will certainly pray for us while we are still on earth -- and when we are serving our time in detention after our death -- to get us quickly to heaven. Why wouldn't everyone want to do this? Talk about a deal! (Get lots of toties quoties in this week! It behooves everyone!)

We are so so blessed to have our Catholic Faith! Do we even realize it? While most of the world (or at least America) is recovering from candy-induced comas today, and cleaning fake cobwebs off their porches, smart Catholics are participating in heroic measures of cosmic importance -- the truest philanthropy in the universe, the only thing we can do that has real eternal benefit: getting souls to heaven. And, God willing, paying attention and learning how to get our own souls there, too.

About the Toties Quoties
(Pronounced: ˈtōtēˌāˈskwōtēˌās)
For November 1 and November 2: a special plenary indulgence may be received when one fulfills the
"Toties Quoties" prayers. From noon on All Saints Day through midnight of All Souls Day, the Catholic faithful, as often as they visit a Catholic church to pray for the dead, reciting six times during each visit the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for the intentions of Holy Mother Church may gain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, under the usual conditions of making a good Confession within a week before or after, worthily receiving Holy Communion within the week and having the right intention of heart.
This is called the Toties Quoties Indulgence -- mispronounced lovingly, especially by our teenagers as the "Toe-teez Quoe-teez." It doesn't matter how you say it, though, so long as you take advantage of the opportunity! I absolutely love being over at the church and school during this time, where I can bump in to all the school children who are getting in as many Toties Quoties as they can. It becomes a badge of honor to do fifty or more! The kind of competition amongst the children that heaven must just love!
If you have a few minutes even, do please try to get some Souls into heaven this week!! Note that each set of prayers must be " bracketed" by leaving the church -- only momentarily, if you like, by going out the doors and coming right back in before another set and another soul released.
What amazing power of charity the good God gives us!! Let's take advantage and hope someone does the same for us some day!


“Toties Quoties” Indulgences
From noon on November 1st to midnight on November 2nd (a span of 36 hours), the Catholic faithful, as often as they visit a church to pray for the faithful departed, and recite six times during each visit the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intentions of the Church, may gain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, under the usual conditions of:
Confession (within a week before or after)
Holy Communion (within the day before or up to a week after)
(This plenary indulgence may also be gained from noon on the following Saturday to midnight on the following Sunday, but only by those who did not gain it on the preceding November 1st and 2nd.)

Friday, October 29, 2021

Five Minute Friday, October 28th

 Morning is Broken

Sunrise from my balcony at about 9 a.m.

Word Prompt this Friday: Morning

Funny that this should be the topic for Five-Minute Friday this week. It so happens that Dan and I were just talking about sunrises. See, I recently moved up from a shaded downstairs room to my own little studio on the sunrise side of the third floor of our son's "Gast Haus" in southeastern Germany (Thank-you, guys! I love it!), and I had been bragging on the sunlight up here. Dan had cause to ask, given some of the beautiful places we've gotten to live, which sunrises I liked best: the beautiful Bavarian ones over Reit im Winkl (where I am now); the grand, Rocky Mountain ones near the San Juans in Western Colorado (where we lived some years ago); or the gentle little sunrises over our rolling hills and gardens at home in Iowa right now. My answer? I didn't even have to think about it! My hands-down favorite is the sunrise from my balcony here in Germany right now. Why, you ask? Not because it's more beautiful or more meaningful, but because the Gast Haus is so close to the foothills, the sun doesn't come up over the trees until about 9:00! 😊The first time I can honestly say I've truly enjoyed sunrises! No bleary-eyed cranky impression of the sun rising here!

And there you have it. I'm not ashamed to say it: I am not a morning person. I chiefly get up for the coffee. I have to wait for the caffeine to start lubricating my brain in order to have enough function do decide if there's anything else worth having gotten up for. There's usually something, just in spite of the early hour, not because of it. Don't get me wrong, though; I do go through the motions: I'm a slug, but I get the morning things done. Sluggishly, but done. After prayers and my first cuppa and a quick scan of the news and mail, I get dressed, regardless of whether I'm going anywhere or not, I usually put on a little make-up and comb my hair. Unless I'm sick or the world is coming to an end, I make my bed and tidy things a bit. Don't be impressed by this -- these are all things that require no thought. There's no twittering around like a happy morning bird while I go about these chores. In fact, you really might want to just smile and wave when I pass. Or bring me coffee. (Ask my kids; big brownie points for this!)

On the flip side, I have to admit that I'm not a night person, either. You know those night owls who "wake up" around dinner time and then buzz around until the wee hours of the morning? Not me. Along about sundown, I'm thinking about bedtime. Not necessarily to go sleep, but to put up my sore feet (from hiking everywhere here in Germany, like they do, God bless 'em!). My usual plan is to read a book at this time. (Last night, though, I watched Hold that Ghost on my phone!) Regardless, I don't usually fall asleep before about 11 p.m or midnight. As you can see, I'm useless for anything meaningful after about 8 p.m., too, so everything that requires a brain and adrenals has to be accomplished between the hours of roughly 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., Iowa Standard Time -- which span of hours, in this part of the world, falls between 4 in the afternoon and 3 a.m. So, you can see, the overlapping conscious hours for Lisa fall between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., German time. If you want brownie points for this end of the day, brink me a nice Cabernet. I'm an equal opportunity rewarder for both early bird and night owl brown nosers. (No, really. I would love one. Anybody out there in this zipcode...)

And, so, here we are. What time is it? I have to keep an eye out, since this exercise is supposed to take me just five minutes. At this word, it is 6:20 p.m. in Reit im Winkl and I started writing at 6:16 -- but by the time I find some fun pictures  and get this posted, it'll still be only around noon at home in the Midwest. If y'all didn't know better, you'd think I was tapping this out, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, like a morning person, wouldn't you? But, HA!  Nope. More like a mostly awake, but getting a little sleepy -- after dinner loiterer. Wishing someone would bring me that glassa.

Here's a thought, though: When I get back home to Iowa in December, my morning wake-up call (usually between 7 and 8 a.m.) will actually be between 2 and 3 p.m., body-time. 😮 Right? So much easier, jetlag-wise, going in that direction! Just might set me up to get those morning chores done bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! (😬 Or not.)

(For the record, ran over on the time -- by the time I went back and edited my typos -- and then a few more minutes to add memes and the photo! So, hmmm... I'm far from melancholic about this, just so y'all know!)

Run over to Five-minute Friday, Christian Writers Blog, to get in on the fun! 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

On the Feasts of Saints Simon and Jude


From The Liturgical Year (by Abbot Gueranger O.S.B)

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Simon and Jude whose names occur together in the Canon of the Mass and are also celebrated on the same day. Possibly this is because they both preached the Gospel in Mesopotamia and Persia where it is said they had both been sent, but in actual fact we know nothing for certain about them beyond what is told us of their being called as Apostles in the New Testament. St. Jude is the author of a short Epistle which forms part of the New Testament.

Sts. Simon and Jude
However meagre in details is the history of these glorious apostles, we learn from their brief legend how amply they contributed to this great work of generating sons of God. Without any repose, and even to the shedding of their blood, they "edified the body of Christ"; and the grateful Church thus prays to our Lord today: "O God, through the work of the apostles you have spoken your Word of love, your Son, into our world's deafness. Open our ears to hear; open our hearts to heed; open our will to obey, that we may proclaim the good news with our lives."
St. Simon is represented in art with a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom. St. Jude's square points him out as an architect of the house of God. St. Paul called himself by this name; and St. Jude, by his Catholic Epistle, has also a special right to be reckoned among our Lord's principal workmen. But our apostle had another nobility, far surpassing all earthly titles: being nephew, by his father Cleophas or Alpheus, to St. Joseph, and legal cousin to the Man-God, Jude was one of those called by their compatriots the brethren of the carpenter's Son. We may gather from St. John's Gospel another precious detail concerning him. In the admirable discourse at the close of the last Supper, our Lord said: "He that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him." Then Jude asked Him: "Lord, how is it, that Thou wilt manifest Thyself to us, and not to the world?" And he received from Jesus this reply: "If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him. He that loveth Me not keepeth not My word. And the word which you have heard is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me."
The churches of St. Peter in Rome and Saint-Sernin at Toulouse dispute the honor of possessing the greater part of their holy remains.
St. Jude
Patron: Desperate situations; forgotten causes; hospital workers; hospitals; impossible causes; lost causes; diocese of Saint Petersburg, Florida.
Symbols: Bearded man holding an oar, a boat, boat hook, a club, an axe or a book; nearly every image depicts him wearing a medallion with a profile of Jesus, and usually with a small flame above his head; often carries a pen or sits at a writing location to make reference to the canonical Epistle; sailboat; inverted cross; square; halbert; club; loaves and fish; long cross; knotted club; boat hook; fuller's bat; lance; saw; flail; closed book; shield: red with sailboat with a cross on the mast.
St. Simon
Patron: Curriers; sawmen; sawyers; tanners.
Symbols: Boat; fish; man being sawn in two longitudinally; fish and book; oar; saw; two fishes; lance; fuller's bat; axe; cross; saw and oar saltire; fish on a boat hood; sword; shield: red background with two oars and a hatchet.

Some Ideas for Honoring the Day With the Children
+  Recipes for Apostle Cookies can be found here, at Catholic Culture.
+  The charming and talented City Wife at City Wife, Country Life, shares a coloring page for St. Jude here.  Coloring pages for St. Simon, however, are basically impossible to find. (Hmmm...  Maybe I should appeal to St. Jude for one??)    It is possible, however to use one of the two above black and white prints of both saints, for the children to color and craft into bookmarks or use as illustrations on copy pages. (Unfortunately they'll pixilate something awful if you enlarge them.)  It's also possible to take the colorful icon above and print it out in black and white for the children to tint.  I do this often, using a lighter shade on the grey scale on my copier.
+  Remembering the piety and zeal of  Saints Jude and Simon, and their service and love for Christ and His Church -- to the sacrifice of their lives in imitation of Our Lord: Discuss what service to Christ means in the children's station in life.  How can they serve others in love of Jesus?  Theirs is not likely a calling to martyrdom, but how can they make small sacrifices for the happiness and "smooth-running" of their own worlds?  Can they give specific examples of how they can help in the home or at school?  Can they remember to serve without complaint as the apostles did?  Can they work together toward a common good as Simon and Jude did?
+ St. Jude is well-known as the "saint of impossible causes."  What would the children consider an "impossible cause?"  Can they determine the difference between a worthy petition for a difficult situation  and a "pie-in-the-sky" request for something frivolous (i.e: the curing of a terminal cancer patient vs. a trip to Disneyland for a family that is financially strapped)?   Are there times when St. Jude's intercession would result in a "no" answer from Our Heavenly Father?  Why would this sometimes be the case?  Do we always know?  But does God know best?  Together, make a list of impossible -- or difficult -- causes that are worthy to place at the feet of St. Jude today.
My personal prayer:  Saints Jude and Simon, please intercede to save our world from the slippery slope it's sliding down, mentally, physically, economically, but mostly spiritually.  Guide our country -- and our world -- back to habits of morality, integrity, and Faith, but whatever the future holds for us, if a miraculous worldwide conversion is not God's Will, impress upon our individual hearts the courage and fidelity to Truth and the love of Christ that gave you the strength to persevere, even to martyrdom. Amen.

*Repost from 2014