Are you living a contemplative life?

File:Munier, Emile - Two Girls Praying - 19th century.jpg 
Two Girls Praying By Emil Munier

Are you a contemplative? Some people, faced with this question, would answer an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Perhaps they are saints, at a high stage of union with God. Or perhaps they practice Eastern (as in Hindu or Buddhist) forms of meditation that they equate with contemplation. Some would call themselves contemplative because they are thoughtful and quiet. The rest of us might answer, “No.” Since we are not saints, we wouldn’t dare think of ourselves as contemplatives in the proper sense.

Nevertheless, everyone, no matter his stage in the spiritual journey or his vocation, can live a contemplative life.

A contemplative life is a life ordered toward union with GodIf you have read The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila, you know Teresa divides the spiritual life into seven stages, which she called mansions.  (To be completely accurate, she says that a soul goes back and forth among these stages, rather than proceeding from one to the next in a straight line.) Supernatural contemplation begins in the third or fourth mansion. But contemplative living can begin at our first conversion, even in childhood. Contemplative living prepares us to receive God’s gift of supernatural contemplation.

Read the rest at  Contemplative Homeschool.

Appreciating Advent Through Art for the First Week on Advent

Detail of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel (1512)

Today is the start of the new liturgical year for the Roman Catholic Church. It also marks the first Sunday of Advent for the Latin Church (other Eastern Churches started a fortnight beforehand). In our secular society, we can be tricked into thinking that the Advent calendar is only a countdown for Christmas shopping.  But scripture during Advent reminds us of the dual nature of the season:  to prepare for the cyclical celebration of Our Lord’s birth as well as Parousia (the Second Coming). 

The Lectionary during Cycle A features Isaiah’s prophetic vision (IS 2:1-5) when God reigns Supreme and swords are hammered into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, a professor of liturgy at Loyola University in New Orleans, uses a detail of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel to illustrate the scripture.  

The Gospel (MT 24:37-44) alludes to the Second Coming where Jesus exhorts the faithful to be prepared as Noah was for the Flood.  This is sobering “Good News” but it should help lead us with our walk with the Lord, especially in this period of preparation.  

The Isaiah panel on the Sistine Chapel prompts a ponderous thought. Zsupan-Jerome wondered if position of Noah’s Ark about Isaiah prompted the prophet to think  of Mount Ararat, where Noah’s Ark landed, as he handed the vision of God’s Holy Mountain? This would lend the aspiration that man should seek God’s holy mountain to, borrowing a phrase from the Responsorial Psalm (PS 122), “dwell in the House of the Lord.”

The Noahide Covenant established that the Lord would not destroy humanity through a flood. The Messiah’s admonition to be prepared has some soothing subtexts rather than relying upon our own inadequate righteousness. The name Jesus can be translated to “Yahweh Saves”.  Moreover, the Lord so loved the world, He sent His only son to be born of this world in all things but sin and be an intregal part of our salvific history. 

As we come into this season of  devout and joyful expectation, it would behoove us to consider the nuances, hermaneutics and deeper meanings of Advent, as expressed through art, scripture and the easily overlooked holiday trappings.  

h/t:  Loyola Press 

Advent activites for your family

D lights the first Advent candle a few years ago.

D lights the first Advent candle a few years ago.

Advent is here and with it our six-week break from homeschooling. Instead of doing school work, we do an activity each day preparing for Christmas. Some are distinctly religious. Others are not. Here are some ideas for activities you can do with your family.

Learn and sing Advent hymns 
Sunday at Mass, D was amazed that I knew many of the verses of O Come, O Come, Emanuel by heart. Well, that was the only Advent hymn I learned in Catholic school, and I don’t recall singing any other one at Mass in the 70s and 80s. It wasn’t until I started praying the Divine Office as an adult that I learned some of the beautiful hymns I had been missing. Here are some you will want to learn along with your kids, if you don’t know them already:
People, Look East. This song by poet Eleanor Farjeon helps you to see all the preparations for Christmas–including setting a merry  table–as preparations for Christ. This is a good one to start your Advent.Wake, Awake, the Night is DyingCome, Thou Long-Expected JesusO Come, O Come Emanuel.  Sing this one beginning December 17, when the Church prays the O Antiphons.Behold, a Rose of Judah. My personal favorite for Advent, save this one for the last week or two before Christmas.
Read the rest of the ideas at Contemplative Homeschool.

Big Clicks Awards: Joy Alive, Breadbox Letter, Equipping Catholic Families and Mommy Bares All!

Welcome to the
2013 Catholic Blogger Link-Up Blitz.

Before we get to the EXCITING part of
Announcing the Big Clicks Catholic Bloggers
for NOVEMBER 2013,

please note that we need VOLUNTEERS to help publicize this Link-Up Blitz feature, along with the Catholic Bloggers Network.  This will take only 5 minutes a week…and will seriously boost the Catholic Bloggers Network, a venue that can help us all!

Please kindly PIN, tweet and share Catholic Bloggers Link-Up Blitz on Facebook and other social media to help us promote YOUR links….AS SOON AS you add your link…and any time you remember throughout the month.

and now…for the Big Clicks Catholic Bloggers !!

In the category of…

Readings and Reflections,
the Big Clicks Catholic Blogger is:

Joy Alive for the post Joy Stories: The First Call
Catechism and Apologetics,
the Big Clicks Catholic Blogger is

The Breadbox Letters for the post And There Are Books

Liturgical Calendar Crafts and Homeschooling,
the Big Clicks Catholic Blogger is:

Equipping Catholic Families for the post on New Saints Scripts Craft Kits

Catholic Family Journal and Random Ramblings,

the Big Clicks Catholic Blogger is

Mommy Bares All for the post My Letter to the Old Man at Church…

Spread the word!! Let your friends know about these popular posts on the Catholic Bloggers Network
and help promote Catholic Bloggers!

The new Monthly Round-Up for DECEMBER is
Make sure that you add your posts and visit often!!
You can also always revisit our Archives!

…You could also sign up to our Catholic Bloggers Mailing List to receive the INFREQUENT Catholic Bloggers Network News Flash for current events, link-ups and features at Catholic Bloggers Network.

There is STILL TIME to join the MEET and GREET
Catholic Bloggers Directory!
Fill out the MEET and GREET form before we finish compiling it…for awesome promotion of your Catholic blog and media links!

Tell your subscribers about the Catholic Bloggers Network and help us increase traffic and promote all these awesome blogs! We have 606 awesome Catholic blogs linked up so far!

Monica is a wife, Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter who thinks it’s cool to be Catholic! Check out the Arma Dei Shoppe for solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith and subscribe to Equipping Catholic Families for family-building and Faith-centered crafts!

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Keep Christ in Christmas Blog Link-Up!

small Keep Christ in Christmas

Check out this growing list of awesome reflections and activities!
Visit often as this list will be updated frequently and will include over 50 Catholic Blog links!
Visit the linked-up posts and comment! We’d love to hear how YOU
Keep Christ in Christmas too!

Equipping Catholic Families: Keep Christ in Christmas

Coffee Moments with Sam     The Light of Hope

Faith Filled Freebies: Keep Christ in

Written by the Finger of
God: Not Christmas as Usual

On the Way Home:  Keep Christ in Christmas

Sue Elvis Writes: Bring Christ to


Canadian Catholic Mom 
       Keeping The Little
Ones Focused: An Advent Link-Up

Mountain of Grace Homeschooling   Keep Christ in

Home to 4 Kiddos        Keep Christ in

Embedded Faith          Boldly Be the Christ in Christmas

City Girl, Country Home         Emmanuel Is With
Us. Are we WITH HIM?

Journey to Wisdom: Trusting in your
Awkward Fiats


Training Happy Hearts            10 Ways to
Celebrate the New Liturgical Year

Designs by Birgit: Elf on a Shelf and
Santa Claus

A Slice of Smith Life: How we keep Christ
in Christmas

Catholic All Year: Three Reasons I love Advent

Mary the Defender: Christmas The
Battle Begins

Truly Rich Mom: Keep Christ in

Diapers and Drivel: Keeping Christ in


Raising Soldiers 4 Christ: Keeping Christ in

Campfires and Cleats How We Keep Christ
in Christmas

Homeschooling With Joy        Keeping Christ in

Mrs Domestic Bliss     Gingerbread

The Chic Traveller      Keeping Christ in

California to Korea     Keeping Christ in Christmas

Dominique’s Desk       Keeping Christ in

Our ABC Life: An Advent Update

Journey Living: Anno

Life of Fortunate Chances: Keeping
Christ in Christmas

Quidquid Est, Est!: Reblog: Advent
Blessings in Brelinskyville:  Advent Traditions Old and New

Ave Momma: Advent: New Year’s Resolutions


Meditation for kids: the thankful leper

File:CodexAureus Cleansing of the ten lepers.jpg  Instructions for Parents I recommend that you meditate on Luke 17:11-19 in your own prayer time before presenting it to your kids. If you’re not sure how to do this, look at last Thanksgiving’s meditation. Talk to the Lord about it from your heart. Ask Him to teach you to be truly grateful, and to lead your children towards thankfulness.

Next, read and discuss the passage with your children. Use your favorite children’s Bible. Define any words they may not know. (I have highlighted some words in the meditation you may want to define before praying with them.)

Choose one or two of the optional activities at the end of this post to help them dig deeper into the meaning of the passage.

Finally, read the meditation aloud to them, pausing for several seconds to a couple of minutes after each of the first two paragraphs. Ask them to repeat the final prayer after you, sentence by sentence.
This meditation works best with children ages seven to ten. For younger or older children, see the variations. It is especially appropriate for those making their First Confession this year.

 Read the meditation at Contemplative Homeschool.

Keep Christ in Christmas Catholic Bloggers Link-Up!

small Keep Christ in Christmas

Want to launch your Advent, focused on JESUS?
Want to share your ideas for keeping CHRIST in CHRISTMAS?
A couple of bloggers from the Catholic Bloggers Network are hosting
the 2nd Annual Keep Christ in Christmas Blog Link-Up!
The Link-Up will begin December 1, in time to share our favorite Advent traditions, in anticipation of Christmas!
Register here on the Keep Christ in Christmas Link-Up FORM before November 28!
Further instructions will be sent by email to those who sign up!
Please spread the word…for other bloggers who might like to join in
…and for readers once the links go live!

A blog link-up is where we each write a blog post on the same theme. Everyone will get links to other bloggers’ posts to multiply your reach, and to help spread the message of Keeping Christ in Christmas! We’re also going to incorporate a totally optional Follow Frenzy feature (Dec 1-9) for those who want to be inspired by other people’s posts, with the added benefit of getting meaningful comments and new followers to their own blog. This was a big success last Lent! Come and join the fun!


Monica is a wife, Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter who thinks it’s cool to be Catholic! Check out the Arma Dei Shoppe for solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith and subscribe to Equipping Catholic Families for family-building and Faith-centered crafts!

USCCB Reaffirms Steadfast Commitment to Religious Liberty

As the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops concluded their semi-annual meeting in Baltimore, the USCCB issued a special message on the H.H.S. Mandate.  The Bishops have been steadfast and vocal in their opposition to having the government force Catholics and other believers to violate their religious precepts in the pursuit of universal coverage. 
During his tenure as President of the USCCB, New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan lead the faithful to conduct Fortnight for Freedom in 2012 and 2013 to celebrate, educate and advocate maintaining America’s Fundamental Freedom–the First Amendment freedom: the freedom of exercise of religion.
As Cardinal Dolan passed the helm of the USCCB to Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz,  Dolan urged his brother bishops to make the protection of religious liberty around the world a priority as he believes that it is a central social issue of our times. Dolan recalled the words of Pope Blessed John Paul II that we are living in a new age of martyrs.  Dolan stated:

We as bishops, as shepherds of one of the most richly blessed communities of faith on the planet, as pastors who have spoken with enthusiastic unity in defense of our own religious freedom, must become advocates and champions for these Christians whose lives literally hang in the balance, as we dare not allow our laudable battles over religious freedom at home to obscure the actual violence being inflicted on Christians elsewhere.

It seems incredible that the USCCB needs to again issue such a pronouncement, but useful idiots arguing for Obamacare are still convicted that Catholics just want to push their beliefs on non-Catholics, rather than protection that unalienable right.
The USCCB’s special message fleshed out this fidelity to religious freedom to practice one’s faith in America.

Do you know these Carmelite saints and blesseds?

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, Edith Stein circa 1920, and St. Raphael Kalinowski. (All photos from Wikipedia.)

November 13 is the first anniversary of Contemplative Homeschool. The 14th is the Feast of All Carmelite Saints. To celebrate, I’d like to introduce you to a few Carmelite saints and blesseds  you may not know. In the future, I hope to delve deeper into the spiritual insights of more Carmelite saints on my blog.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity Elizabeth Catez was born in 1880 in France. Her father was in the army. He died when Elizabeth was seven. She, her mother, and sister moved to a home in Dijon that overlooked a Carmelite monastery.

When Elizabeth made her first Communion, the mother superior told her that Elizabeth meant “House of God.” That impressed the young girl. It became the central idea of her spirituality–the realization that the Holy Trinity lived in her soul. She made a private promise of virginity at age 14 and entered Carmel at 20. She spent only five years in the cloister before her death from a prolonged illness in 1906.

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

The 2013 Homeschool Blog Awards

2013 Homeschool Blog Awards Voting Now

Congratulations to the Catholic Bloggers who have been nominated for
The 2013 Homeschool Blog Awards!

VOTE for your Favorite Homeschool Blogs in 20 different categories
and consider supporting our own Catholic Bloggers:

~Here are your Catholic blogger nominees for 2013~

To visit any of the blogs, just click its name.
 Click the category to visit the voting link and 
don’t forget to scroll down a bit to click “vote.”
Shower of Roses ~ Jessica

Sorry if I have missed any Catholic Blogger nominees. Please leave a comment with your name, your blog name and your nomination category. Thanks!