Monday, February 27, 2012

Song at the Scaffold

In encouraging my students to beef up their Lenten spiritual reading, I recently picked up Song at the Scaffold by Gertrud Von la Fort. It is an exciting novel about a convent of Carmelite nuns who are martyred with the guillotine during the French Revolution and go singing to the scaffold.

This book peaked my interest after recently spending a "Vocations Week" with my students. We studied the history of various religious orders and wrote to different convents from around the world! It was exciting to see what would come in the mail next. As well as hearing from Franciscans, we even were sent a coloring book of Benedictine life in a French convent! Each little picture was drawn by the Sisters there. We received letters from Dominican Sisters in New Zealand and from some Carmelite Sisters in Wyoming, who simply signed their letter "The Carmelites" and never once used the word "I." 

In the letter from the Carmelites, we received a beautiful holy card I'd never seen before: the Carmelite Sisters  on their way to the guillotine.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

St. Lucia Craft

St. Lucy's feast day is December 13th, and we are planning exciting things in class! 

The oldest girl in class will be our "Lucia Queen" and will wear the garland (made by cutting down decorative garland from Hobby Lobby and adding some wired ribbon). Traditionally, all of the girls wear white robes with a long red sash and carry candles, but as white robes are scarce here, we're resorting to a plan B. The students will simply carry white candles trimmed with red ribbon.
We will be caroling through the school singing part of the traditional Santa Lucia song to the smaller kids. Traditionally, the girls hand out Lussekatter (saffron buns), but we will be using candy canes with my teacher's budget! I've been having lots of fun researching different St. Lucy traditions. Have you ever seen a traditional St. Lucy procession? There's not much more exciting than having fire on your head!! 

The girls wear white to symbolize her virginity with a red martyr's sash. The name Lucy means “light,” which comes from the root for lucid and understanding.  For this reason her holy day celebration was celebrated on the darkest day of the year.  One legend has it that Lucy’s eyes were put out because of the Romans or a spurned suitor, but then her sight was restored by God.  You will often see her depicted holding a plate with her eyes on it, and is also a patron saint of the blind. From here    

Although there are several versions of the song, we will be simplifying it and singing just one stanza:

Song to St. Lucy

Nightly, go heavy hearts
Round farm and steading
On earth, where sun departs,
shadows are spreading.
Then on our darkest night,
Comes with her shining light
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!
Then on our darkest night,
Comes with her shining light
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia

Happy St. Lucy Day!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

St. Martin and the Beggar

I know this is late, but I just stumbled across this poem penned by WWI chaplain and former Notre Dame president, Fr. Charles O'Donnell. The poem is about St. Martin of Tours giving his cloak to the beggar who turns out to be Christ! The poem is interesting because it is written from the perspective of the Beggar. Thought this would be appropriate as St. Martin's feast day fell on Veteran's day this year (Nov. 11th). Enjoy!

“As I today was wayfaring”—
Holy, Holy, Holy!—low—
Said Christ in heaven’s evening—
The Holies yet more hushed and slow—
“I met a knight upon the road;
A plumed charger he bestrode.
“He saw the beggar that was I—
Holy, Holy, Holy I—long—
Head and foot one beggary—
Holy, Holy, Holy!—song—
One that shivered in the cold
While his horse trailed cloth of gold.
“Down he leaped, his sword outdrawn—
Holy, Holy, Holy!—swells—
Cleaved his cloak, laid half upon—
Holy! now a peal of bells—
Shoulders that the cross had spanned;
And I think he kissed my hand.
“Then he passed the road along,
Holy, Holy, Holy!—laud—
Caroling a knightly song—
Holy! in the face of God.
Yea, Father, by Thy sovereign name,
Begging is a goodly game.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Crown of Heavenly Roses

Since October is the month of the Holy Rosary, and today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I recently have started reading little excerpts from St. Louis de Montfort's The Secret of the Rosary.  During one of my "late night wanderings" at 1am, (pregnancy seems to throw all idea of sleep out of the window for me!) I decided to pick up the book and found a wonderful illustration of just how much Our Lady loves when we pray her Rosary:

"Our Lady has shown her thorough approval of the name Rosary: she has revealed to several people that each time they say the Rosary, they are giving her a beautiful rose and that each complete Rosary makes her a crown of roses.  The well-known Jesuit, Brother Alphonsus Rodriquez, used to say his Rosary with such fervor that he often saw a red rose come out of his mouth for the Our Father, and a white rose for the Hail Mary, equal in value, the only difference being in their color."

Our Lady made 15 promises to the children of Fatima for those who would recite the Rosary daily:

  1. Whoever shall faithfully serve Me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
  2. I promise My special protection and the greatest graces to all who shall recite the Rosary.
  3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
  4. It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. The soul which recommends itself to Me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
  6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
  7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful in reciting the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
  9. I shall deliver from purgatory, those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
  10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
  11. You shall obtain all you ask of Me by the recitation of the Rosary.
  12. All those who propagate the holy Rosary shall be aided by Me in their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from My Divine Son, that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors, the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
  14. All who recite the Rosary are My sons, and brothers of My only son Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion to My Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hands and Sweat and Saints

"Let us love God; but at the price of our hands and sweat of our face." St. Vincent de Paul

Born a French peasant in the 1600s, St. Vincent de Paul founded an order of priests known as the Vincentians. Later he and Louise de Marillac founded the Daughters of Charity.

When he was first exhumed, only his nose and eyes had decomposed. When he was exhumed a second time for his canonization in the 1700s, it was discovered that an underground flood had caused his body to decompose. His bones are encased in wax and on display in Paris for veneration. Fittingly, the only organ to stay incorrupt is his heart. His feast day is September 27th.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In the Garden with Sister

"The best place to seek God is in a garden. 
You can dig for Him there."
 ~ George Bernard Shaw

This week we went on our first field trip. My students had been studying leaf identification with Sister in science class, so we went to some botanical gardens nearby to identify some of the trees. After lunch, we sang some "nature" songs (ie- Kookaburra, There Was a Man in Jericho Named Zaccheus, etc...)

 Father pointed out the sycamore tree in the gardens, which he said was the kind of tree that Zaccheus climbed so he could see Our Lord pass by.

We also found some hungry fish, which Father appeased by throwing in a grasshopper to the horror of the girls!

We concluded our trip, tired and sweaty, with a refreshing ice cream break-- a surprise from Father!

The girls got many compliments on their behavior-- with an older woman telling the girls that she remembered when she went to Catholic school and wore a little uniform. There's something amazing about being in public with these kinds of people and watching the public's reaction to black robes, habits, and modest uniforms! What a treat it was to spend the day examining God's creation with brides of Christ, an alter Christus, and my girls!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Nativity of Our Blessed Mother

"The birth of Jesus excepted, no other was so important in God's eyes or so fruitful for the good of humanity, as was the birth of Mary. Yet it has remained in complete obscurity...Our Lady's origin is wrapped in silence, as was her whole life. Thus, her birth speaks to us of humility....Mary's life is lost in the life of Jesus, truly she lived "hidden with Christ in God." (Divine Intimacy; Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Happy Birthday to our Most Blessed Mother!