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8 Things I AM Doing This Advent

Today I hope to detail a few things that our family will be doing this Advent, which officially begins this afternoon after the praying of Nones, which precedes Vespers.

I want you to remember, however, when reading this list, that this is just what works for our family. Your Advent may look a bit differently, and that’s ok!

8 Things I AM Doing This Advent

  1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This one should be obvious, except that it isn’t in our current deplorable state of affairs… Of course we’ll be attending Mass on all Sundays and Our Lady’s feast day December 8th, but we’ll also be attending Mass on December 12th, which is Our Lady of Guadalupe. There may be other days too, but these are the For Sures.

2. Confession. Again, I shouldn’t have to mention confession, except that I do because I think people aren’t going. Look, if you’re not going to confession at least every month, you’re risking your soul. We’re talking about eternal life here. I don’t care about any potential health concerns. Go to confession!

This stuff is important. It’s basic catechism. Most of you know that if you should happen to die in Mortal Sin, you’re going to Hell. But venial sins and imperfections need to be confessed regularly too, as there’s a tremendous of amount of grace given in this Sacrament. So, go to confession!

Really, there’s no excuse, unless you can’t find a priest willing to do his God-Given Duty. In that case, say an Act of Contrition, make reparation for your sins, and keep looking for a priest. There are good priests out there.

3. Fasting. While Advent isn’t as penitential as Lent, it is still meant to be a time of fasting. In our household, everyone old enough to receive Holy Communion eats plain bread for breakfast every Friday throughout the year, including Advent. During Advent we step it up a bit–no candy, sweets, or desserts. My husband–no stranger to year ’round fasting–adds an additional day of fasting from food. He normally fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays, and this year for Advent, he’s adding Mondays. I only mention this to inspire you. If you want more, watch Dr. Marshall’s short, 15-minute video on fasting and Advent.*

Me? If I’m pregnant or nursing, fasting is out. As it is, I’m not pregnant or nursing, so I’ll be fasting, but only on Fridays, which I find incredibly difficult, probably because I need more practice.

Lastly, my husband and I are accustomed to drinking a glass of wine maybe three nights a week with dinner. During Advent? We’re cutting it back to only one night.

4. I am doing additional penance. Look, I need to. Not just for my sins, but look around. The world needs Christians willing to do penance. I wasn’t going to mention it, but then I thought, hey? Sometimes it’s encouraging to hear that others are doing extra penance. So, I’m taking cold showers every Friday, which I will continue even when Advent ends. (Again, I wouldn’t do this if I was pregnant or nursing, but I’m not.)

5. Our family will be observing a traditional meatless Christmas Eve. When I was a little girl, I thought it funny that my dad’s family always ate Oyster Stew on Christmas Eve. Now I wonder, was it intentional? I don’t know, and I can’t ask my grandma because she died years ago. In any case, we’re bringing it back.

6. Advent Wreath. Who doesn’t love lighting candles in the dark? Every evening, as we gather at the dinner table to pray before eating, the children run around and shut off every light in the house. Then, they light the candles according to the week.

7. O Come, O Come Emmanuel. After lighting the Advent Wreath, we all sing at least two verses of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” in the dark. Maybe this year in Latin? We’ll see tonight.

8. Setting up the Nativity Set. Naturally we’ll be setting up the Nativity Set today. In fact, I’m going to cut this post short–to do just that. Maybe I’ll post a few shots of it later on. The children do so enjoy playing with all the animals and the stable. They usually can’t reach Mary and Joseph, however, as I place them high up on shelves to travel around the house.

Lastly, if you have any questions, be sure to ask. Sometimes I assume something is clear, when it isn’t…

I hope you all have a blessed Advent!

*Want another family’s take on Advent? Dr. Marshall and his wife, Joy, discuss what they do HERE.

UPDATE: A few hours later…the nativity set is out!

And where are Mary and Joseph?

In a different room, making their way to Bethlehem…

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Confirmation with Raymond Cardinal Burke

Yesterday five of our seven children had the great privilege of receiving the Rite of the Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form by Raymond Cardinal Burke.

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Here we are afterwards, meeting His Eminence.  Just about to kneel for his blessing.

The whole day was one marked by great beauty.  We were surrounded by our family and friends.  The weather, albeit a bit hot and sticky, was clear of thunderstorms.  And we were able to pray in the magnificent Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI.

The Traditional Rite of Confirmation began with the priests and Cardinal Burke chanting the Veni Creator Spiritus and then moved on to an Exhortation.

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Cardinal Burke, seated on the faldstool, about to give his Exhortation.  Fr. Altman is seated to the right.

At one point, during his Exhortation, Cardinal Burke said, “Do not give way to cowardly fear, for you will face opposition and persecution.”  This being one of the reasons why one needs the Sacrament of Confirmation, as it increases sanctifying grace and gives us the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.  (It also leaves an indelible mark upon one’s soul.)

He also repeatedly encouraged all the confirmandi to, “Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your particular vocation, as your vocation is the way to happiness in this life and in the life to come.”  And again, with strength, “Pray to know your vocation and respond to it with your whole heart.”

Following his brief words, Cardinal Burke outstretched his hands in prayer over the confirmandi, invoking the Holy Spirit.  Then the Cardinal confirmed them individually as he or she knelt before him with the sponsor standing behind.  This was the Second Laying on of Hands and the Anointing.  The confirmandi then received the acclaimed “Slap.”

The Slap, intended to be a reminder that one must be ready at all times to suffer for the faith, was our children’s favorite part.  It’s more like a “tap” and was given with the words, “Pax tecum.”  Or, “Peace be with you.”  One of my son’s remarked with a twinkle in his eye, “I was hoping for good whack.  He didn’t smack me hard enough!”

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Here we are again.

In the end, we feel very blessed and are so very thankful for Cardinal Burke’s willingness to administer this most holy Sacrament, for it was just that–holy.

As an aside…one my my girls remarked, “Mom, he’s got a pretty hat.”  Yes, he does!*

 

*It’s called a mitre.
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Our Trip and a Few Advent Ideas

We are finally back from our tri-state tour.  It began with some medical appointments in Rochester, MN.  Although Paul is experiencing daily headaches, these are very minor, compared to what he went through earlier this year.  He is, in fact, doing well.  His doctors are pleased, and so are we.

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Paul, during an EEG, wherein doctors look for potential seizure activity.  (They found none.)

After Paul’s medical appointments, we traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe again.  (See HERE for our first trip.)  Our family has a particular devotion to her.  Her feast day, by the way, is coming up on December 12th.

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Here are the children outside the main church.

And here’s the interior:

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The lovely thing about the Shrine is that they celebrate the TLM every Sunday.

This time we were able to explore the outdoor Way of the Cross and the Rosary Walk.  These are paved trails dotted with reflections and benches.

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This is the entrance to the Way of the Cross.

And because she’s so cute, here’s Child #6 up close:

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Her shoes are on the wrong feet.  It’s amazing how that always happens.  (And doesn’t seem to bother her.)

After the Shrine, we checked out St. James the Less Catholic Church, also in La Crosse.

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This is a stunning church.  And hey!  Look, no table altar.

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Now that is how one builds an altar.

This parish offers both the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass.  Both are obviously celebrated Ad Orientem, as again, there’s no table altar.

Here’s a look at the ambo.

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That is a statue of St. Michael the Archangel next to it.

I could only dream of worshiping at a church like this.  I hope the parishioners of St. James know what a treasure they have!

After Wisconsin, we traveled to South Dakota and celebrated Thanksgiving with my extended family.  We had about 51 people gathered together at my sister’s house.  My aunt, Karen, led us in prayer, we sang America the Beautiful, and we ate and visited and laughed.  I am so thankful for my family!

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Here we all are, Thanksgiving Day morning

Anyone Need Advent Ideas?

And lastly, if anyone is in need of Advent ideas, I strongly recommend Dr. Taylor Marshall’s Advent video, which is mostly directly towards men and fathers of families.  In this short, 15-minute video, he offers 5 challenges for Advent:

  1. Attend the TLM 4 times during Advent.
  2. Read all of 2 Maccabees.
  3. Pray the rosary every day.
  4. Fast 2 days of the week.
  5. And celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as you would Thanksgiving.

Click HERE for it.  Seriously, he’s right.  These are great ideas for Advent and worthwhile trying to do, if you don’t already do them.  Our family has never done #5, and we’re going to try to step it up this year.

And if that isn’t enough, watch his video on Advent traditions that he does with his family.  This video is interesting because his wife, Joy, joins him.  Click HERE for that video and enjoy!

 

Life is Worth Living

Update From Rochester

I want to begin by soberly thanking every one of you who has offered a prayer or a sacrifice for Paul and our family.  Again we are deeply thankful for all the kind words, meals, money, and most especially, the prayers and sacrifices.  God works in mysterious ways, and please know that we feel His love through you all.

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Unfortunately after another shunt revision surgery last Friday, Paul is still hurting.  His head is aching, in an ebb and flow manner, and he isn’t eating well.

Because we were able to secure a house within walking distance of the hospital, however, Paul was allowed to join us.  This has been a great blessing for our family.  It cheers him to be around all his brothers and sisters.

Yesterday we took the whole family and attended a Latin Mass at the shrine in La Crosse, WI, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  During his brief homily the priest paused and said quietly, “One of two things happen, when one begins to pray the rosary every day.  He either quits sinning, or he quits praying the rosary.”

Put so starkly, those words gave me great hope.

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Interior of the Church

Incidentally, we were able to make this pilgrimage to the Shrine through the generosity of some friends.  But also, on a practical level, we were able to take Paul because the Shrine offers rides on a golf cart to those individuals who are unable to make the ten minute hike up the wooded hill to the church.  Our Lady was surely interceding for us!

We prayed for Paul, but also for a friend of ours suffering from cancer and for the Amazon Synod.  We lit a candle in this small chapel on the hillside:

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It was a beautiful day, even if our hearts were aching for our son.

Tomorrow Paul has more appointments, to determine what should or should not be done.  Every day we live in uncertainty as to whether he’ll get better or not.  It is agonizing.  But we continue to trust in God.  We want to be loyal to His will, no matter the cost.

Tomorrow is also Paul’s 11th birthday, which he of course shares with his twin brother, Michael.  (I wrote about their birth HERE.)

But today…today we thank God for his most lovely and fair mother.  Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!