Sunday, October 5, 2014

First week of October Feasts

The first week of October is filled with wonderful Feast Days.  The celebratory gauntlet begins on September 29th with the Feast of the Archangels, followed by the Feast of St. Jerome (who translated the Bible into Latin), the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Feast of the Guardian Angels, and the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.   Thank goodness, because I have been feeling ready for a Feast Day.  Church holidays seem like a distant memory this time of year, and Advent still feels a long way off.  What is more, discouraging news and tragic happenings seem to be everywhere in the news.  Thank goodness for the ministry of the Church: although we are called to daily sacrifice and cross-bearing, we can almost always find a good feast to celebrate.
I am a big fan of both St. Therese and St. Francis, but because I couldn't make special celebrations happen everyday during our busy week, we planned to celebrate the Feast of the Archangels and Feast of the Guardian Angels on Saturday at home together as a family.   Below are five reasons and five ways to consider celebrating these Angelic Feasts, either sometime this week or in the years to come.
Five Reasons to Celebrate the Feasts of the Arch and Guardian Angels:
Number 5:  Who doesn’t love a celebration?   Like I said, I feel ready for a little celebrating.  Around Oct 1st, the newness of school has worn off, dark Halloween decorations seem to be popping up everywhere, major liturgical holidays feel far away and I could use a little boost of positive energy to face daily discouraging news.  Plus, my kids don’t need much convincing to join in a celebration, and Feast Days are a wonderful way to teach them truths about our Faith.
Number 4:  Begin a season of celebrating the Heavenly Hosts.  At the end of the month, we’ll celebrate All Saints and All Souls days.  The feasts celebrating the Arch and Guardian Angels help set the stage for acknowledging and thanking God for the Heavenly Hosts, the great Cloud of Witnesses.  As we plunge through the last few weeks of Ordinary Time, we have these chances to direct our attention Heavenward and gain strength to carry our daily crosses.
Number 3:  There is real evil in the world.  As much as our society  may mock this idea at times, let’s not forget that the Devil is real and so is evil.  Our Holy Father recently called on the Faithful to weep over the tragedies in Iraq and Syria. On the Feast of the Archangels, the Holy Father spoke of the ongoing battle between the Devil and mankind and called on us to pray to the angels charged to defend us.  Even secular author Camille Paglia wrote in Time this week about the failure of American campuses to comprehend the existence of real evil.  When Camille Paglia’s message begins to echo Pope Francis, something is afoot.  I want to help my young children appreciate that the Devil and evil are real, even though the world around them may seem safe.  Celebrating our celestial defenders gives me an opportunity to do just that.

Number 2: We have real heroes to celebrate. All of my kids love a good superhero.  Plus, with the Halloween season fast approaching, characters of all kinds are receiving increased scrutiny and attention as my kids search for the perfect costume.  The Angelic Feasts are a great way to bring angels to the forefront of my kid’s attention and imagination, for they are, as this great article pointed out, the real superheroes of our Universe.  Already this week, after my husband and I described the Archangels to our children, my sons have been running around with capes and swords, declaring themselves the “Angel Protectors” of our family.  These feasts, along with the approaching Feast of All Saints, give us the opportunity to teach our kids the truth about super-powers, heroism, and real heroes that we can look up to and pray to for protection.
Number 1:  God’s love for us is Great.  The heavenly host of angels points to the majesty and awesomeness of our God. The fact that He would send any of these celestial beings to our aid points to his boundless love for us. The angels serve Christ by serving us, always pointing us toward Him.

Five Ways to Make the Celebration Special:
I used rainbow carrots for our glazed carrot recipe.  Delicious.
Number 5: Treats make a party.  Angelfood cake, a traditional Scottish St. Micheal Bannock for breakfast, or cookies cut with that Christmas angel cookie cutter would all suffice.  We hosted a big breakfast with MoMo and Papa.  Our menu included a St. Michael Bannock with whipped cream, Angelfood smoothie (T's favorite from our days near SmoothieKing in Alabama), bacon and eggs, and glazed carrots, a traditional Scottish food for this feast day.

Number 4: Heavenly host decorations.  Our dress-up swords and shields on the table along with printed classical artwork of archangels and guardian angels made great, simple decorations.  My hope over the course of the month is to make a “Heavenly Hosts” wall in our dining room, beginning with angel artwork this week, adding artwork depicting the saints leading up to All Saints Day and pictures of our deceased loved ones in time for All Souls day.  Over the course of the next month, the decorations will hopefully draw our hearts heavenward and inspire some additional prayers.
Our Heavenly Host wall for the months of October and November.  We'll add saints for All Saints Day and family members throughout the month of November in honor of All Souls Day.

Number 3: Prayers for the long haul.  Speaking of prayers, I am thankful that these feast days give me the opportunity to learn a few new prayers, specifically the Prayer to St. Michael and the Prayer to the Guardian Angel.  G-Bear learned a Guardian Angel prayer herself and taught it to the rest of us at breakfast, which was a real treat.  These are prayers we need in our daily arsenal.
St. Michael carrot spears for the kids, and cards with our Angel prayers.  

Number 2: Stories of victory.  The Bible is filled with stories of angels visiting and aiding God’s people.  These feasts are a great time to get out these stories and share them together.  An angel was with Daniel in the lions den and with Shadrach, Meshach and Abendnego in the fiery furnace.  Angels announced Christ’s birth, were at the empty tomb to tell the women that Jesus was risen, attended to Jesus after his forty days in the desert, and of course, Gabriel appeared to Mary at the Annunciation and later to Joseph in a dream.
Our place cards at breakfast, from Catholic Icing

Number 1: An activity for the day: For our younger children, a craft was our big activity of the day.  We made this angel craft from Catholic Icing together, something my kids can hang on their wall as a reminder for the day.  We also made the above angel cut-outs from here at Catholic Icing to serve as place cards at our feast table.  In future years, I may challenge myself and my kids to find another way to remember our Guardian Angel throughout the day.  Saint Jose Maria Escriva was especially known for his recourse to Guardian Angels and I have heard it said that he would often pause in doorways and briefly gesture as a way of acknowledging and inviting his Guardian Angel to go first through the door.  Whether we pause to thank God for our Guardian Angel in a doorway, pray the Angelus three times during the day, or choose some other special remembrance, these activities are all intended to draw our hearts closer to our Lord.

My greatest prayer, as we celebrate feast days like this together, is that God might bless us with a deeper love and trust in Him.  Jesus, may your angels draw us ever closer to you!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

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