Liturgical Living for Beginners

LiturgicalLiving

Liturgical living. Its something I have been thinking about starting for a while, but I have never quite known where to start. As I pause to ponder liturgical living in our small family, I realise its something we have already begun; the Advent wreath on the kitchen table, lit every night, shoes outside the bedroom door on the 6th December for the feast of St Nicholas, pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, celebrating name days… These are things that we learned from our parents. They may not have called it liturgical living- these things were simply family traditions.

Today, Christianity is counter-cultural. Against the backdrop of today’s post-Christian culture, liturgical living is an important witness to our children, families and community.

This weekend, a new liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. I plan to begin anew, being intentional about liturgical living. While websites, blog posts and Pinterest boards are full of inspiring ideas, they can be a little overwhelming to a newbie like me. Here are 7 simple ideas for liturgical living for beginners, to get the liturgical living ball rolling!

  1. Mark your feast days on your calendar
    • Here in Ireland, the Dominicans produce a fantastic free calandar, with all feast days etc. printed on. Pick a calander up from your parish, and hang it where you will look at it every day!
    • Use the Universalis app, or add Universalis to you Google Calander (that’s what I did, its easy! Click the link at the bottom of the page)
  2. Choose a few feast days to celebrate each month
    • We began with our own name days, and pick a few of our favourite saints too. I also wish a happy name day to friends and family members, and use the occasion to send them a text, email or card.
    • Do you have a family patron saint? What about your parish patron saint? Celebrate them too!
    • Choose a novena to pray every month or so. Pray More Novenas offer a great, free, service, delivering the novena prayer to your inbox every day.
  3. Create an altar, or prayer focus
    • Don’t put it off, waiting to create the perfect space. Rather than wait, I put a statue of Mary, a few candles. a picture of St Therese and the bible on our mantelpiece- its a perfect prayer focus, and focal point for the room.
  4. Keep holy the Sabbath Day
    • Growing up, shops were closed on Sunday, there was no vigil Mass in my parish and Sunday was a day for worship, Sunday lunch, family outings and activities together. After I left home, things began to slip and, until recently, Sunday was a day for chores, shopping and finishing off work. We recently re-evaluated how we spend out Sundays, and have decided to be more intentional; to make Mass the focal point of the day, to cook something special, to avoid chores and shopping and to spend time together as a family.
  5. Pinterest
    • I already mentioned how Pinterest can be overwhelming! Don’t be put off! Start your own Pinterest boards for each month (I find searching by month narrows the search, making it less overwhelming and more relevant!)
    • Pick a few recipes, craft activities or colouring pages to do each month
  6. Don’t just go to Mass on Sunday…
    • How about making a regular weekday Mass, on your own or as a family? First Friday, Saturday morning, or a weekday Mass? Perhaps your parish has a weekday evening Mass you could attend together.
    • Pick a Saturday of the month e.g. 1st Saturday, to go to confession together. Mark it on your calendar- create an event if you have to! Celebrate your absolution by going for hot chocolate together afterwards!
    • Make sure you observe Holy Days of Obligation. There are slight variations depending which country you live in. In Ireland, there are 6 Holy Days of Obligation:
      • Immaculate Conception (8th December)
      • Christmas Day (25th December)
      • Epiphany (6th January )
      • St Patrick (17th March)
      • Assumption of Our Lady (15th August)
      • All Saints (1st November)
  7. Books
    • Read a book related to the liturgical season. As I write, we are coming to the end of November, and I have been reading Holy Women by Pope Benedict XVI, and learning about some amazing female saints. Hopefully I will be able to share some of this stories with my daughter when she is older
    • Read the autobiography or biography of a saint who has an upcoming feast day
    • Buy a book for Advent or Lent. Magnificat Magazine publish excellent Advent and Lent companions
    • Don’t keep your bible tucked away! Leave it somewhere you see it, so you will pick it up more often

What tips do you have for liturgical living? I would love to hear your ideas and inspiration!

Thank you Kelly for hosting 7 Quick Takes! Head on over to This Aint the Lyceum for more quick takes

 

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The Beat of the Heart

The Beat of the Heart #BISsisterhood

I will never forget hearing my baby’s heart for the first time. It was at my first pregnancy appointment with my doctor, around 10 weeks. “Let’s see if we can hear the heartbeat”, the doctor said, reaching for her doppler. Huh? I hadn’t expected to be able to hear my baby’s heartbeat so soon. I lay down nervously and anxiously. What if there was no heartbeat? The doctor searched for a few moments, which seemed like ages, with her listening device. Dumdumdum. A flicker of a heartbeat was amplified by the doppler. The doctor put the doppler back on that spot. Dumdumdumdumdum. That was it. That was my daughter. Dumdumdumdumdum. Throughout the pregnancy, that became a familiar sound at check-ups with my doctor. As the months went by, my nerves subsided and I looked forward to hearing our baby’s heart beat away, getting stronger and louder each visit.

Baby T was born last spring. Happy, healthy, tiny. So tiny. I look at her. I think of her beating heart. Did you know that your heart is about the same size as your fist? Her fist must have been the size of a small strawberry… Life is truly a miracle.

Recently we celebrated the solemnity of the Sacred Heart. I regularly listen to Catholic radio and on this day, there was an interview with three medical doctors who had recently visited Lanciano and had viewed the Eucharistic miracle.

I had never heard of the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano before. The miracle dates back to the year 750. A monk, who doubted the real presence of Jesus, was saying Mass. During the consecration, the host miraculously changed into heart muscle, and the wine turned to blood. The heart can be seen to this day in the cathedral in Lanciano. Studies have confirmed that the flesh and blood is of human origin. The blood type is AB, which matches the blood type on the Turin Shroud. Of course, believers should not need proof. This miracle is a reminder of what happens every time Mass is celebrated.

The host elevated at the consecration. I have a new perspective. I see Jesus Christ’s Sacred Heart. I hear the dumdumdum of a human heartbeat. I look up. Jesus I love you. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross for our salvation.

This post is part of the Blessed Is She link-up on the theme of heart.

7QTs: Praying, thrifting and books!

7QT: Praying Thrifting and Books Talking about family

Another week has gone by and its time for the seven quick takes on the week that was, hosted at This Aint the Lyceum!

1.parish talking about family Daily Mass: There are so many excuses not to go to daily Mass, a toddler and a to do list being two of them. I read somewhere recently that if you make time for God, He makes time for you. Well, God definitely made time for me this week. Thank you, Lord!

2. Prayer alarm: My husband and I are yet to nail couple prayer. We started a renewed effort this week, as we agreed on a set time of 7:30pm to pray together and I set a daily alarm for this time. However, the way the cookie has crumbled, we have only been together once when the alarm has gone off and at 7:30pm every other day of the week at the most inopportune times… in the middle of Pilates, while reverse hill start parking on a busy street… we must pick a new time!

3. Praying and running: Continuing on the theme of prayer, I am currently doing a couch 2 5k programme. My podcast tells me when to run and when to walk, as well as playing ‘running music’ for the duration. This week, I turned the volume of my podcast down and prayed a rosary each time I ran. Bonus extra prayer time!

4. benedict xvi mother teresa talking about familyThrifting: I went into an SVP charity shop to look for a wooden chair to upcycle. Instead (and much to my husband’s relief!) I came out with two books about Blessed Mother Teresa, and one about Pope Emeritus Benedict. €2 each, and they were three for the price of two! Win!

5. Shopping my wardrobe: When I became pregnant two years ago, I stashed away a blue Ikea bag full of clothes that I knew I wouldn’t wear for a while. Well, I retrieved said back from the attic this week. It was like going shopping, for free! And with all the running I’ve been doing, the clothes fit me better than before!

6. Essay writing: I have an essay due for my course next month and I am on a new study schedule, trying to write a few hours a night every night, instead of spending one day a week on it. So far, things have worked out well. I hope it continues…

7. extra virgin kitchen talking about familyBook loan: Another free perk this week, a friend lent me a copy of The Extra Virgin Kitchen. At the moment, I am simply savoring the recipes of the delicious wheat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free treats, before I decide what to try first.Praline cupcakes and 6am toddler cookies are top of my list!

Thanks Kelly for hosting the 7QTs link up! For more quick takes, visit http://thisaintthelyceum.org/

7QTs: Early Mornings, Journaling and a 1st Birthday

7qts talking about family

Another week has flown by! I’m linking up again with Kelly from This Aint the Lyceum for 7 quick takes on the week that was!

  1. Marriage Referendum – Next month, there will be a referendum in Ireland to redefine marriage. If the ‘yes’ side win, then Ireland will become the first country to introduce same sex marriage following a referendum. Last Friday saw the launch of the ‘no’ campaign. Its going to be an interesting few weeks.
  2. Sleeping Baby T

    I can’t believe this little girl is one!

    1st Birthday My baby is now a toddler! We had a lovely day, a walk to see some deer, a small family lunch, presents, coffee cake (homemade!). I was worried the excitement would be too much, but even though she’s only one, I think baby T had a lovely day!

  3. Early Mornings As baby is only napping once a day at the moment, I’m trying to find more time in the day to get things on my wishlist (things I would like to do but aren’t important enough to make the to do list) done. Husband suggested I get up an hour earlier… now, this seems like an obvious, fair suggestion but since becoming a mum, I have learned that I take the sleep where I can, so this was a painful suggestion. Anyway, Tuesday and Friday mornings I woke up an hour early, bright eyed and bushy tailed and crossed off a few things on my to do list and my wishlist, which gave me a great start to the day. I might try and make a habit of it!
  4. Spiritual Journal I used to keep a spiritual, or a prayer journal, and I found it really helped my faith develop. Somewhere along the way, the practice ceased, until this Lent, when I started journaling again in the Blessed Is She Lenten Journal. I vowed I would continue but there was a slight delay between finishing the old one and starting the new. I am glad to say before the delay became prolonged, I have started journaling again!
  5. Toddler Book On the subject of journaling, poor baby’s baby book has gaping holes in it and the idea of going back to fill in the gaps is, at the moment, a daunting prospect. So, while I was shopping for a spiritual journal, I also bought a toddler book, to mark the start of a new era!
  6. sewing seedsGardening Lots of seeds to be sown in April, and time is running out! I planted tomatoes and beetroot in seed trays, and put some rocket and garlic in containers.
  7. Studying and blogging Did I ever mention I am doing a part-time distance learning MA in Applied Theology? I’m currently doing a module in the socio-political context of the family. It’s incredibly interesting and challenging, and there is a lot of reading and information to take on board. I have decided a good way to process my thoughts would be to write some short blog posts about key aspects of the subject. Watch this space!

Thank you Kelly for hosting! For more quick takes, visit This Aint the Lyceum!

7QTs: Surviving My First Year of Motherhood

7qts surviving my first year of motherhood talking about family blogWhile my baby will always be my baby, she will turn one and officially become a toddler tomorrow. Where does the time go? Here are seven quick takes on a few things that have helped get me through this first year as a new mum!

  1. Spiritual Life

Since I became pregnant, I turn to Mother Mary a lot more. She’s my role model in a whole new way.  When my little one was born, taking her to Mass seemed like a big deal. It was huge. And stressful! But, we’ve never had a huge drama and have only had to leave the pew a few times! Deo Gratias! Phew!

  1. Post-natal Pilates

After pregnancy and giving birth, I wondered if my body would ever be the same. Thanks to post-natal Pilates, my body feels a lot stronger. I would definitely recommend it to any new mum!

  1. Couch 2 5k

NHS Choices Couch to 5k

My couck 2 5k programme

Baby weight falls off some women. Not me. I had to work. Very hard. I decided to do a couch 2 5k programme, because it’s easy to get up and out, and I could do it with baby. I bought a second hand jogger buggy, so I wouldn’t have to wait until my husband came home, and wouldn’t be able to use ‘it’s dark/ cold/ wet’ as an excuse. It’s worked really well and I am hoping to do my first race this summer!

  1. Not stressing

As a FTM (first time mom), there is a lot to learn, and a lot to worry about. In addition, people like to chime in with their opinions and unsolicited advice, often conflicting the books / the professionals / the internet / each other. It can be so confusing! I am learning to not worry about things to the nth degree, and am learning to trust myself!

  1. Meal planning and batch cooking

Even having a huge bowl of salad or prepared veggies in the fridge is a big help!

Even having a huge bowl of salad or prepared veggies in the fridge is a big help!

Motherhood has made me be more organised. Time is a luxury! I am learning to meal plan and have started experimenting with batch cooking. It’s definitely the way forward!

  1. Cheating

Take shortcuts! For example, if time is of the essence at meal time, don’t worry about cooking something fresh or defrosting something pronto. Use store-bought baby food. It’s not the end of the world!

  1. Groups

It took me a while to get connected to some local toddler groups. Some mums swear by them, and go to a group every day of the week. I am not one of those mums, but I do know which group is on which day, and that I can drop in whenever I like.  That works for us.

I could have made a longer, better thought-out list, but these are my quick takes! Do you have any tips for new mums? What would be top of your list?

Thanks to Kelly for hosting 7QTs! For more quick takes, hop on over to This Aint the Lyceum!