I love to find little ways to weave our Catholic faith, so rich in tradition and rhythm, into our everyday life. There's just so much to explore and embrace, the mind boggles to think of all we could do between January and December.
But there is no need to over-extend. Just the daily prayers and devotions, the real learning and time spent together at home, the recognition of the beautiful feasts here and there ... this is all we need.
Certainly some days warrant a bit more merriment than usual - a Mass to attend, a party to throw, an elaborate craft to create. But our Church has prepared a whole calendar's worth of days to celebrate our Lord. Blessed are we, to find so many reasons to show and share our praise.
I truly believe these little actions - humble, certainly, but nourishing all the same - are weaving a strong, beautiful fabric in our life - a mantle to wrap around my children's hearts. Someday these precious hearts will be bared to the ways of the world. How fervently I pray they will be well prepared to meet those ways - to go forth and show the world their own ways first and foremost, to always be in the world and not of it. So while they are in my charge, I will do my best to prepare them - to help them always know the love of their family, their faith and their God.
(This is my bumbling introduction to a post of small projects from our day. Please see my dear friend Alice's beautiful post for a much more eloquent message - one that inspired me to take a step back and consider why it is I do what I do here at home with my boys.)
So let me get on with my post, then. As you already know (or guessed from my title) today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I had nothing big planned as of last evening and then slowly a few things came together. Not the least of which was my generous friend Katherine's lovely coloring page - which I quickly printed out for today. It was so much nicer than the picture I had planned to use from Art 1 for Young Catholics.
Over breakfast we read today's Gospel ... and directly afterward we read a chapter from Crackerjack's CCD book. Last week CJ's class read about the sacrament of baptism and they even held a pretend baptism at the holy water font! Everyone was assigned a name tag - cousins, aunts, godparents, priest - our very own Crackerjack got to be the father and hold the baby doll (the "mother" wanted no part of it, lol). When asked what name he gave the child, how my heart swelled when he said with a shy smile, "Dawn." So this experience was fresh in his mind as we began our talk today on baptism.
I thought it was neat when I asked the boys "How is water important to us?" and Bookworm responded, "We need it for life. Life begins with water." We immediately connected this to how, with the water of baptism, we begin our life with God.
Next thing the boys knew I was at the stove, and had begun making a candle. You can imagine how quickly they joined me! In our faith, one of the symbols of baptism is the seashell, so when I came across a walnut shell candle idea in All Year Round (looking forward to Candlemas) I immediately thought of this variation. It's not really candlemaking - but it comes as close as I ever have!
I gathered up a few tea light stubs and placed them in a can, which then sat in simmering water. Once the candle wax had melted, I poured it into the waiting (clean, dry) scallop shell. Just a few minutes later, while the wax was still quite soft, I pushed a white birthday candle into the center. There the candle stood, while the wax solidified around it.
And here is the finished product:
I think a few of these would make a nice summertime birthday gift! We floated our lighted candle in a small dish of water while we set about our morning work. Here you see the boys coloring in Katherine's beautiful pictures ...
In the background of the picture is the Tomie de Paola Book of Bible Stories, one of our favorite resources, from which I read aloud as they worked.
For an afternoon treat we had shell-shaped cookies with tea. These are eggnog clamshells, a local specialty, and Pepperidge Farm Rialto's - chocolate cookie sandwiches filled with raspberry jam and dusted with powdered sugar. (Y-U-M.) After we ate, we worked on maps of the Bible lands (from Uncle Josh's Outine Map Book), locating and drawing in the Jordan River.
Earlybird and I stopped at the grocer on the way home from speech and I was inspired to pick up some seafood for supper - scallops, cocktail shrimp, and Annie's Shells-and-Cheese. Easy but memorable.
Finally, if I may, please let me share with you my boys' narrations from today (also seen attached to the pictures above). I found a neat exercise in Saints And Feast Days; the instructions were to describe an eye-witness account of the Baptism of our Lord. The boys pretended they were passers-by taking in the scene that unfolded on that day:
"Something strange happened this day although at first it seemed like nothing could have possibly been so peculiar. As I was walking by the River Jordan, I noticed someone in the river doing strange activities with other people. Upon closer investigation, it appeared to be that he was baptizing them. I had found out about this by overhearing some people talking about it earlier today in town. Well, anyways, now they were asking him if he was the Christ, and he said, “No.” Then when another man came towards the river, he began talking about how he was not worthy to tie the thongs on this man’s sandals. Pretty soon I caught on to the idea that this was the Christ that everyone was talking about and that he was asking the man who was baptizing the others to baptize him. Then in the middle of all this activity the sky opened up and a dove came own to him and then, as I learned afterward, he had the Holy spirit inside of him. After I saw this I immediately headed back to the village and told everyone what had happened. They said they didn’t believe me and I told them that maybe they should go and ask John the Baptist. I’m not sure if they did but I am sure of one thing - the Son of God now has the Holy Spirit within him. I felt amazed."
"I was walking along the river Jordan with my brother when all of a sudden I saw tons of people watching someone in the water with another person. I thought they were playing a game in the water and then I realized he was pouring water over that person. The others were all watching. I noticed on the hill there was a group of more people coming and I wondered why. I thought to myself, is this some sort of magic trick or something? Then I realized someone was being baptized but I didn’t know what it really meant. I heard my mom say it before but I never knew what it really meant. I wanted to go ask my mom but it was a long ways back since I’d been walking with my brother for a long, long time. I asked somebody and they said that he was being baptized because he wanted to, but the baptist said at first he didn’t need to be baptized. I knew that he was being baptized for a reason but I didn’t know what reason. And then I saw a dove coming down and I wondered why a dove would be here. It is sort of a rainy day today ... But then I realized the dove was not using the wind it was using golden fire. It flew right into him and I wondered was this some sort of magic trick they’re doing? But then I looked all around and realized it wasn’t magic - it was really going right into his body! I felt like I was trying to make my mind up if it was a magic trick or if it was a celebration and I finally decided it was a celebration."
Well, that was our day in a nut, er, seashell!
Thanks for bearing with another long post. :) Until tomorrow, Good Night and God Bless!