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.
” Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain’; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that'” (James 4:13-15).
This passage from James the Apostle can almost seem silly. Should we really preface every statement of intent with “God willing?” I used to ask myself this question. That changed in the summer of 2002.
I was a new mom, struggling to adjust to sleepless nights and no time to myself, when it became clear that I would have to return to work. Never in my life had I considered being a working mother. In fact, I’d had many discussions in which I had said, “There is absolutely no way I would work when I had small kids.” But circumstances were against me. I had no other choice, if my family were not to starve or otherwise fall apart.
Eating my words
Going back to work was perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever done. What would people think? Would they call me a hypocrite? Would they think I was a closet feminist?
As I read Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, I had to face the fact that God’s will–at least His permissive will–could be different from mine on such a major issue. I had to let go of my will. When I did, I found a measure of peace.
Cindy Montanaro is a Secular Carmelite and former homeschooler. She is also the mother of Tim, a boy she and her husband adopted as an infant. Tim had Tourette Syndrome, phobias, and other mental health issues. In 2005 he died tragically. Their story was published recently by Roman Catholic Books. Dairy of a Country Mother–so named by Tim when no one dreamed he was soon to pass away–is a gem to share with any mother this May.
“Five years ago today I picked up my pen and started a year-long journey of prayer, meditation, and writing. I envisioned an extended period of time in which to record, before memory failed me, all the little humorous and profound incidents that made up my son Tim’s short life. ” So begins this beautiful memoir of a boy who loved people. It is a story of the joy he brought to everyone he met. It is a record of his mother’s faith and acceptance. It is an exploration of the meaning of Tim’s life, which Cindy generously shares with us. She would probably say her generosity is one lesson she learned from Tim.
A tale of joy, not grief
Diary of a Country Mother: a Year Remembering Tim is not A Grief Observed. It is not a book about how Cindy and her husband and remaining sons struggled to accept Tim’s death. Instead, it is the celebration of his life.