Friday, December 30, 2011


I just wanted to thank all you wonderful people who follow me.  Opening Blogger this afternoon and seeing that I've made it to thirty followers was just such a lovely surprise!   I really appreciate so many people taking an interest in my insignificant little postings.

Poster made by me, via Picnik

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Feast of the Holy Innocents

I'm aware that posting about feast days when they're almost over rather defeats the purpose - I do apologize, my dear patient readers.  I was so entirely absorbed in reading North and South that I forgot...  *sigh*

Since it's so late, I'll just give you a couple links and a song.  You can read about today's feast at my usual sources, if you'd like - here and here.

The relatively obscure Coventry Carol is about today's feast.  It was first used in medieval mystery plays, sung by the mothers of the children murdered by the soldiers of King Herod.  Just thinking about it makes me tear up...those poor, poor mothers.  But these innocent children, killed because of Our Lord, merit the title of the first martyrs even though they knew not what they died for.  (If you don't believe me, read the second link.)  They were rewarded in Heaven.
I'm sure I can't be the first one to have thought of this, but the Holy Innocents must be special protectors of unborn children in danger of abortion.  We could invoke their prayers for all the babies threatened by a death worse than theirs because unsanctified by martyrdom or baptism.

This is the version of the carol that I own.

Holy Innocents, pray for us and for all children, born and unborn.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Giveaway at Shealynn's Faerie Shoppe!

Hello, darling followers and friends and random readers and..... well, you get the idea.

Shealynn of the ah-mazing Shealynn's Faerie Shoppe is hosting a Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway, which means that there will be a new giveaway every day for the twelve days after Christmas Day.  What a lovely reminder that Christmas isn't just one day!
Go check it out - you never know, you might win something awesome! :)

Note: this post gained me an extra entry in the first giveaway.  Nevertheless, it is entirely sincere, and you REALLY REALLY REALLY should enter.  Just because.

Journaling Page - Music and Rainclouds

I'm in a journaling page mood right now, so I thought I'd write one up.

Outside my window... The sky is a flat, pale shade of gray, and there's a sprinkle of rain coming down - the sort of weather that makes you want to curl up with a favorite novel, a cup of tea (preferably Earl Grey), and a pretty quilt.  Goodness, I just love rain.  Growing up in Germany, it was cloudy or raining nearly all the time, so to me it just feels like home.  The only trouble with this particular type of weather is that it is unfortunately not very ideal for bicycle riding, especially bicycle riding done by a certain young person (whom we shall not name) who is getting over a cold and is, incidentally, very out of shape indeed.  If I were the sort of person to tell such things, I might mention the difficulties this particular young lady had in just pedaling around the block last time she went bicycling - and she was in perfect health that time, too.  But of course I never say such things about anybody.

I'm listening to... a lovely piano cover of the song Innocent by Taylor Swift.  I love it when musicians take a modern song and turn it into an instrumental piece, thereby making it timeless.  By the way, if anybody knows of any other good ones, pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top tell me about it!
This song completely fits the quiet, rainy feeling of this particular afternoon... other lovely "rainy songs" would be Orla Fallon's ethereal Siuil a Run, the heartbreakingly beautiful North & South soundtrack, and various Enya songs, particularly Only Time

I'm thinking about... why, music, of course.  North & South music, to be exact.  It's just SO beautiful, I can hardly believe it's real. *drifts off into dreamland*  ......  Oh, hullo, are you still here?  Sorry about that.  *cough*

A picture thought I'm sharing...

And that's all for now, m'dear!  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The O Antiphons - O Emmanuel

English translation: O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Hope and Salvation of the nations! Come and save us, O Lord our God.

This is the last O Antiphon.  I hope you enjoyed learning about these beautiful prayers for the week before Christmas!  (Oh, and sorry I couldn't find a better image of the Infant Jesus.  Everything was so cutesy-pie...)

Now for all the "acknowledgements".  I made the posters on Picnik with images from Google Images.  The Latin translations of the antiphons are from Fish Eaters and the English translations are from TIA.  

 May you all have a blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The O Antiphons - O Rex Gentium

English translation:  O King of the Gentile, the Awaited One of all! Thou are the cornerstone that binds two into one. Come, and save man whom Thou fashioned out of clay.

The O Antiphons - O Oriens

I'm ever so sorry that I didn't get this up yesterday!  You see, I was quite sick, and posting antiphon posters was the last thing I was thinking about.  (I was too busy moaning internally about how my throat hurt.  I always did feel for Mary Musgrove from Persuasion - sometimes I too feel that "my sore throats are always worse than anybody's".)

Ahem.  Where were we? Oh yes -  O Oriens.

English translation: O Rising Dawn, Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice! Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The O Antiphons - O Clavis David

click to enlarge

English translation:  O Key of David, Scepter of the House of Israel! Thou doth open and no man closes; Thou doth close and no man opens. Come, and deliver from the chains of prison those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The O Antiphons - O Radix Jesse

I almost completely forgot about today's antiphon!  So sorry, dear readers.
Today is O Root of Jesse.  

English translation: O Root of Jesse! Thou stand as a sign for all peoples; before Thee kings shall keep silence and to Thee all nations shall have recourse. Come, save us, and do not delay.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The O Antiphons - O Adonai

English translation: O Adonai, Ruler of the House of Israel! Thou appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and on Mount Sinai gave him Thy law. Come to redeem us with the strength of Thy arm.

The O Antiphons - Explanation and O Sapientia

I was so very determined to post about this little-remembered part of Advent, and I still completely forgot until today.  I guess the phrase "little-remembered" is all too apt for my own good.

First let me explain a little about the O Antiphons, also called the Greater Antiphons or Major Antiphons.  Antiphons are short prayers from Vespers, and the "greatest" of them are the antiphons for the octave before Christmas Eve - in other words, they start on the 17th of December and end on the 23rd.  They all being with "O" (hence the name), and they each address Our Lord by a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Micheas and Isaias.  Even if you've never heard of them, they should sound a bit familiar: the verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel are based on them.

The titles form an acrostic which, read backward, form the Latin words "Ero Cras", which means "Tomorrow I Come":

Radix Jesse
Clavis David
Rex Gentium


Isn't that cool?

Now.  Yesterday's antiphon was "O Sapientia":

Click to enlarge

English translation:  O Wisdom! Thou came forth from the mouth of the Most High and, reaching from beginning to end, Thou ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On Not Dating

I came across this article from The Catholic Young Woman - one of my favorite blogs -  and I thought I'd repost it here for those of you who don't read it.  (Is there anyone here who doesn't read it?)

Clare gives a no-nonsense, convincing post about her particular reasons for not dating.  I find it so sad that nowadays young people seem to think dating is an absolutely necessary part of growing  up - what's even sadder is the amount of really young kids who think they're old enough to take on a relationship like that.  Seriously?  I'm unready (not to mention unwilling) to date, and I'm in my mid-teens.

You know, I also feel like dating really isn't that romantic, after all.  It seems so....I don't know....sort of insipid and fake.  Can you imagine Pride and Prejudice ending with Darcy asking Elizabeth to go out with him?  It would be horrible, wouldn't it?

Enough of my blabbing now.

Why I Don't Date
It still surprises me a bit when some preteen girl casually mentions her boyfriend to me. Boyfriend, sweetie? Aren't you a little young? Of course, I do know that little childish crushes have been around for at least a century. One only has to read L.M. Montgomery's books to hear young Davy confiding to Anne his plans to marry a girl at his school, or see baby Rilla watching young Ken with big adoring eyes.

But it's strange to me to see little boys and girls caught up in the world of casually dating and casually breaking up. Why would they date? It's just a fact that they're going to be getting married no time soon.

Maybe they date because they see their olders and presumably wisers doing it. I find it no less surprising that adult people are dating with no thought of marrying the person they're in a relationship with. The life of casually dating seems to be a setup for unnecessary confusion and heartache.

The only reason I've heard for dating that even sounds good is the reason: you have to learn how to relate to members of the opposite sex. Sounds good, I say, because I grew up without a single date and ended up better at relating to men than to women. I had friends who were men, and I spent time with them in group and family situations where they really acted like themselves... not dressed up to impress me.

The reasons I've had for not dating, however, been many.

Why would I get involved with a man if the relationship were only 'casual' and not seriously determined to explore the possibility of marriage? It would be dishonest of me to go into such a relationship without letting him know that I wasn't that serious. But even if I were honest about it upfront, a relationship of that nature invites attachment and because of that, heartache.

Why would I want to waste time in a series of casual relationships when I could be working hard and preparing myself to serve God? It may be true that youth is a unique time of being free with time and energy to have fun, but it's also true that youth is the best time to serve and build character. I don't like to think of what kind of habits I would be forming in pursuing a series of casual dates.

I don't date because the young men I like and appreciate I like and appreciate too much to toy around with their hearts... and the young men I don't like, I wouldn't date. I don't date because love doesn't signify just 'fun' to me, but commitment and sacrifice. I don't date because I'd rather use that time learning to serve God better. I don't date because I believe both he and I are worth the commitment of a relationship that looks towards marriage.

Visit The Catholic Young Woman to see the original post (it has a nice picture) and to read more amazing articles by Clare and the other wonderful contributors!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Carols!

In honor of Gaudete Sunday, I decided to post some of my favorite Christmas carols.  I know you may be groaning right now, thinking, "For heaven's sake, I've had all the Christmas music I can bear from the stores!"  Well, I promise you that my kind of Christmas music is NOT like the kind in the stores.  I have a strong dislike for department-store Christmas music, actually.

Of course, the first carol absolutely must be Gaudete.  I'm afraid I couldn't find a YouTube version that I liked as well as I like the CD version that I have, but I did my best.  This one seems to be sung by all girls.  If you'd like to try a mostly male version, try Anuna.  Theirs is pretty good too, but I don't like the solo parts much.

Next is Chanticleer's Riu, Riu Chiu.  This is one of my mom's favorites, and I think she was going to post it on her blog as well.  Whatever, I know all of you don't look at her blog.  Anyway, this is a Spanish medieval hymn.  I believe the lyrics are about the Immaculate Conception, but don't quote me on that - I'm not quite sure.

Now, for a bit of a change of pace, here is Orla Fallon's enchanting version of God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings, both of which have long been among my favorite carols.  (I'm sorry about how it cuts off at the end...)

While we're on the subject of Orla Fallon, I have to post another song from that CD which I really like.  I don't consider it exactly a Christmas carol, but it's about Christmas-y things, and it's called The Bells of Christmas, so I think it's all right.  And hey, this is supposed to be about unique Christmas songs, anyway.

This next song is an instrumental - Circle of Joy from the CD Celtic Christmas III by...Wyndham Hill, I think.  The artist is Lisa Lynne.  I have a soft spot for this song because to me it does sound full of a quiet, peaceful joy, which is the feeling that Christmas ought to have.

Okay, are you going to come and murder me if I finish off with yet another Orla Fallon song?  I'm sorry if it bores you, my dear, but I can't help it.  It's my favorite Christmas CD.  *makes puppydog eyes*
I don't see how one could not like Orla Fallon, anyway.  Especially if she's singing What Child is This.

Ooh, here's some trivia about the song.  We all know that What Child is This shares a tune with Greensleeves, but did you know that Greensleeves actually came first?  I don't know who turned it into a Christmas carol, actually.  It's popularly believed that King Henry VIII of England wrote Greensleeves, but that is not proved, and I don't want to believe that one of my lovely Christmas carols is based on something written by that horrible monarch.

Well, happy Gaudete Sunday, and be good until Christmas!

PS - I'm labeling this Song Saturday.  Just pretend today was yesterday.
PPS - If you're confused about the whole "Gaudete" thing, or if you want to hear Anuna's version of the song by that name, visit my mom's post for today.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Today is the feast of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception.  I haven't much time today, so I shall simply post an excerpt of the reading from Fish Eater's article for today's feast.

The Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin
by Dom Gueranger, O.S.B.
At length, on the distant horizon, rises, with a soft and radiant light, the aurora of the Sun which has been so long desired. The happy Mother of the Messias was to be born before the Messias Himself; and this is the day of the Conception of Mary. The earth already possesses a first pledge of the divine mercy; the Son of Man is near at hand. Two true Israelites, Joachim and Anne, noble branches of the family of David, find their union, after a long barrenness, made fruitful by the divine omnipotence. Glory be to God, who has been mindful of His promises, and who deigns to announce, from the high heavens, the end of the deluge of iniquity, by sending upon the earth the sweet white dove that bears the tidings of peace!

The feast of the blessed Virgin's Immaculate Conception is the most solemn of all those which the Church celebrates during the holy time of Advent; and if the first part of the cycle had to offer us the commemoration of some one of the mysteries of Mary, there was none whose object could better harmonize with the spirit of the Church in this mystic season of expectation. Let us, then, celebrate this solemnity with joy; for the Conception of Mary tells us that the Birth of Jesus is not far off.

The intention of the Church, in this feast, is not only to celebrate the anniversary of the happy moment in which began, in the womb of the pious Anne, the life of the ever-glorious Virgin Mary; but also to honour the sublime privilege, by which Mary was preserved from the original stain, which, by a sovereign and universal decree, is contracted by all the children of Adam the very moment they are conceived in their mother's womb. The faith of the Catholic Church on the subject of the Conception of Mary is this: that at the very instant when God united the soul of Mary, which He had created, to the body which it was to animate, this ever-blessed soul did not only not contract the stain, which at that same instant defiles every human soul, but was filled with an immeasurable grace which rendered her, from that moment, the mirror of the sanctity of God Himself, as far as this is possible to a creature. The Church with her infallible authority, declared, by the lips of Pius IX., that this article of her faith had been revealed by God Himself. The Definition was received with enthusiasm by the whole of Christendom, and the eighth of December of the year 1854: was thus made one of the most memorable days of the Church's history.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra

Today, December 6th, is the long-awaited Feast of St. Nicholas.  The children all rushed downstairs this morning and found their shoes full of chocolate coins and surrounded by gifts - Playmobil Advent Calendars for the boys, a Playmobil fairy for Cecilia, a truck for the baby, and books for the elder children (including me!).  Elisabeth and I also got embroidery kits...mine is to embroider a pillow, and it's mostly ribbon embroidery, which I've never done before.

Anyway.  I'm supposed to be talking about St. Nicholas, not myself and my family.  He's rather well-known, so I don't think I need to give the whole story.  Suffice it to say that Nicholas was bishop of the city of Myra in Asia Minor in the third century A.D.  As with most saints, his feast is the anniversary of his death - St. Nicholas died today some 1,970-something years ago.

In case you're thinking that it's rather morbid to celebrate the day of someone's death, let me remind you that for the saints, it was definitely a joyous time!  Their deaths were just the beginning, and the Church has us celebrate them because the days on which they died were days when pure, unspotted souls rose straight to heaven.  If that's not something to celebrate, I don't know what is.

For more on St. Nicholas, here's a great article from Fisheaters on him.  They tell it better than I can, but for those of you who are too lazy to go clicking links (yes, I know you're out there!),  I'll quote the most famous tale here.  (This is from the 16th century book The Golden Legend):

And it was so that one, his neighbour, had then three daughters, virgins, and he was a nobleman: but for the poverty of them together, they were constrained, and in very purpose to abandon them to the sin of lechery, so that by the gain and winning of their infamy they might be sustained. And when the holy man Nicholas knew hereof he had great horror of this villainy, and threw by night secretly into the house of the man a mass of gold wrapped in a cloth. And when the man arose in the morning, he found this mass of gold, and rendered to God therefor great thankings, and therewith he married his oldest daughter.

And a little while after this holy servant of God threw in another mass of gold, which the man found, and thanked God, and purposed to wake, for to know him that so had aided him in his poverty. And after a few days Nicholas doubled the mass of gold, and cast it into the house of this man. He awoke by the sound of the gold, and followed Nicholas, which fled from him, and he said to him: Sir, flee not away so but that I may see and know thee.

Then he ran after him more hastily, and knew that it was Nicholas; and anon he kneeled down, and would have kissed his feet, but the holy man would not, but required him not to tell nor discover this thing as long as he lived.

I guess the man broke his promise and told, after all, because if he didn't, we wouldn't have this story. 

Well, happy feast of St. Nicholas, my dear readers!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tutorial: St. Nicholas Shoes

In my family, the feast of St. Nicholas (December 6th) is an important part of Advent.  On December 5, Black Peter, St. Nicholas' helper, sneaks into the house and distributes packages of cookies and such in random places for the children to find.  Then, the next day everyone wakes up and rushes downstairs to find the books and candy and small trinkets left by St. Nicholas in their little felt shoes.  I shall now proceed to enlighten my dear readers on the manner of constructing these shoes.

Unfortunately I don't have the pattern to give's quite simple, though, and since my mom originally got it off the internet somewhere, I'm sure you could find it if you searched.

So, first you draw the sole shape onto your first piece of felt.  If you have sharp scissors to cut it with, I recommend that you fold your felt in half, thereby cutting two soles at once

The cut soles:

Now cut the uppers.  I pinned the pattern to the felt for this part.

Yes, the pieces are sitting on top of my laptop. :p

Here I just put the felt pieces together so you can see how they go, though I think it's pretty self-explanatory:

Now comes the harder part: sewing them together.  In the past we've tried to glue them, but it's pretty difficult to get it to stick correctly, so this time we sewed them.  It took a while, seeing as only my mom and sister and I can sew, and there were seven pairs of shoes.

Here's a closeup showing how I sewed the back and the bottoms.  If you can't tell what's going on in the picture, the black part that looks like it's just empty space is actually the sole, and the stitches are holding it to the upper.  I used some sort of whipstitch/basting method.

All hail my epic hand-sewing skills!

The shoe all sewn together:

And, for your entertainment, a picture of my dad's glasses (his extra pair)  which I was wearing during the process.  My mom said I looked like a diligent Puritan-ish girl, bending over my sewing with my hair pulled into a severe bun and my dorky glasses perched on the edge of my nose.  And she put a (rather unflattering) picture of me wearing them on her blog.  Love ya, Mom.

Ahem.  As I was saying....

At this point, your shoes are basically finished.  If you're feeling simplistic (read: lazy), you can technically leave them like this.  But decorations are the spice of life, so go ahead and decorate!  Glitter glue is the medium of choice in my family, but you could also use those little plastic gems, or, if you really want your shoes to look just knockout lovely, you could embroider them.  Just make sure that you have enough time to finish before the feast day, if you choose that route.

I used glitter glue, and I'm actually fairly happy with the way my shoes came out.

Happy crafting!

Friday, December 2, 2011


The candle picture is from Google Images, added to and improved by me with Picnik.

It's that time of year again.  Not the Winter Holidays, not crazy-shopping-time, not even Christmas just yet.  It's Advent.  It's the time to prepare for the birth of Our Lord.

The Church uses the preparation for the feast of Christ's birth as a time to think about Our Lord's Second Coming as well.  We may not have been there to help Joseph and Mary find an inn, we may not have been able to offer them our home or even to come with the shepherds to see the new-born King, but we can prepare for when He comes again, not as a frail babe, but as the Lord of the World. (Incidentally, the book by this name is highly thought-provoking....a very interesting read for those who want something Catholic and a bit deeper than the usual post-apocalyptic-type fare.)

Now, you may be thinking, "why in the world would I have to prepare now for Christ's Second Coming?  It's not like the world's going to end tomorrow or anything.  Gosh."  Well, maybe the world won't end tomorrow (then again...hmm...), but we should always be prepared because as Our Lord said, no man knows the day or the hour when the world will end - or when we will end.  The world could end for us at any time, which is a very important thing to remember.  We humans spend a lot of time worrying about the end of the world: we make (dumb) movies about it, we write books about it, and some of us make false prophecies about it (which an unfortunately large amount of people believe and which get all over the media).  But we spend very little time thinking of our own personal end - perhaps because it is our own end, and it happens to everyone.  Now, may I ask if you're ready to die today? Tomorrow? Even next month?  I didn't think so.  I'm not either.

If we only thought more about our last end, we'd be ever so much better than we are.  Realizing that you have no guarantee on the continuation of your life has a tendency to make you want to reform it.  This is what the Church wants us to think about during Advent - not just buying presents and listening to Christmas music - though those things are all right in themselves - but seeing where we're going wrong, and fixing it. 

Let us spend this Advent bettering ourselves, and then when Christmas comes, we can offer all our work to the newborn Jesus and tell him that we tried very hard to be ready for Him, and that we'll keep trying until we die.  He's sure to bless us abundantly for our efforts.

I shall leave you with one of the only two true Advent carols, beautifully performed by Orla Fallon on my favorite Christmas CD Winter, Fire, and Snow.

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