There are so many beautiful images of the Annunciation but this is one of my favorites:
It’s an icon our friend Marianna gave to us of an Annunciation scene by Fra Angelico.
On March 25th (9 months before Christmas) we celebrate the moment when the Angel Gabriel came to Our Lady with the announcement that she would bear the Son of God to which she gave her “Fiat” or “Let it be done.”
In Sacred Feasts, one of the dishes for this day is a tarte aux champignons (mushroom tart). It was delicious.
While we’re on the subject of food, Little Bear has decided that perhaps he does want to start using a spoon. I wouldn’t say he’s really mastered it though.
Yesterday, Daniel had to work a double shift so Little Bear and I had a special day just the two of us. I think it has to go down as one of the sweetest and best of days together. We laughed, read, played, napped, and snuggled. It was really quite perfect up until around 7pm when he presented me with a handful of poop that had miraculously exploded out of his diaper and shorts and down his leg. Thanks, Bear. I laughed until my tummy hurt. Then I spent about 20 minutes cleaning it out of the carpet while the adorable exploding toddler laughed at me.
We also visited our friends the cows today. The wind blew Little Bear’s hair and made it look hilariously nerdy.
I didn’t know much about St. Patrick until college. My studies started to focus on medieval French literature influenced by Celtic legend and suddenly St. Patrick was everywhere. My first real introduction to him was The Tales of the Elders of Ireland, a 12th century text about ancient Irish heroes framed by St. Patrick’s return to Ireland to evangelize and being told the old legends as he traveled around the Emerald Isle. In this tale, St. Patrick’s guardian angel tells him to have his scribe record all these ancient pagan tales so that they will not be lost. This story demonstrates St. Patrick’s interest in the Celtic culture already present. What I particularly like about St. Patrick is his ability to reveal truths about Christianity to a people by adding new meaning to their own practices. Druid festivals already being celebrated, such as the spring fires lit at Easter, St Patrick imbued with new meaning—a celebration of Christ as the light of the world.
So I like St. Patrick a lot and I was excited to be celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day with good friends.
As for the feast, I made Irish Soda Bread:
And Nigella’s Guinness Chocolate Cake:
Daniel made Corned Beef and Cabbage and John made Cheese soup.
Irish beverages were consumed.
Fellowship was enjoyed.
Daniel read St. Patrick’s Breastplate, a beautiful prayer attributed to the patron saint of Ireland:
I arise today in power and might.
I call upon the Trinity with faith in the threeness
And trust in the oneness of the great world’s maker.
I arise today in the power and might
Of Christ’s birth and baptism, his crucifixion and burial,
His resurrection and ascension, his coming anew to judge mankind.
I arise today in love of cherubim,
in duty of angels, in fealty of archangels,
in hope of uprising, to gain Christ’s reward
I set my trust
In prayers of patriarchs, in foretelling of prophets,
In preaching of apostles in witness of martyrs,
In faith of confessors, in purity of virgins, in good works of the just.
I arise today with the powers of heaven,
The sun in brightness, the moon in splendour,
The flashing of fire, the swift stroke of lightning,
The rushing of storm-wind, the deepness of ocean,
the firmness of earth, the hardness of bed-rock.
Christ save me today
From bane and from burning,
From drowning, from wounding
That grace abounding may be my portion.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ in my headway, Christ in my wake,
Christ alow and Christ aloft,
Christ at my right hand, Christ on my left,
Christ with me waking, waking and sleeping.
Christ in every heart thinks of me,
Christ in every tongue speaks to me,
Christ in every eye beholding,
Christ in every listening ear.
St. Patrick is one of my very favorite saints. So, I’m very excited about his feast day tomorrow. It will also be good to celebrate a feast after a few weeks of Lent. More on the menu and the saint tomorrow or Thursday.
In other news, our third ewe had twins so we have five little lambs skipping around in our back pasture. As we’re moving in May across several states and into the city, anybody want to buy some sheep? Our flock is impressively fertile.
And for an update on the cloth wipes: I love them. They’re easy to use and easy to wash and they smell really clean after being washed. The one problem I’ve encountered is that even in air-tight containers, they start to smell moldy after a couple of days of sitting in the tea tree/lavender solution. I know that some people use a spray bottle of solution and just spray it directly on the wipe or the little bottom. Little bear is just so squirmy during diaper changes that one more step isn’t appealing. Thoughts from any cloth-using mamas?
As for Little Bear, he is still enjoying his swing.
He’s also still trying to eat flowers.
Filed under: Farm Life
So, I lied. I said I would post pictures of our new little fluffy baby lamb on Saturday. I didn’t. Oops.
As you may know, my husband bought 4 young St. Croix sheep several months ago, one ram and three ewes. I named the ewes Madame Rosmerta, Bathilda Bagshot, and Hepsibah Smith.
The ram is the one with the mane.
We were hoping for some spring lambs but hadn’t seen the ram taking his job very seriously so we weren’t sure we would get any. All of the sudden, a couple of weeks ago the ewes started to look HUGE and we got more hopeful. But we weren’t expecting lambs so soon because the ewes had JUST STARTED to look pregnant (notice how I’m discussing lamb gestation as if I have any idea what I’m talking about). Then lo and behold! We looked outside Friday and there was a sweet little boy lamb frolicking around the back pasture with a proud first time sheep mama.
Then yesterday morning as Benjamin and I were eating breakfast, the sun came up and illuminated the sight of TWO more baby lambs snuggling with the proud sheep mama of TWINS. One was bigger than the other with black spots over his eyes like glasses (named him Harry Potter, yes, I’m a little obsessed) and the other was half the size and trying to keep up.
We tried to get the sheep in the barn early that morning because there were severe thunderstorms in the forecast but our sheep are very skittish and we weren’t able to corral all of them in. One of the twins got separated from mama and for the rest of the morning she ignored it in favor of the other lamb. In an effort to get her to bond with twin number two and to get them out of the bad weather, Daniel, TJ, and Kris were able to get all of them into the barn and constructed a makeshift ‘lambing jug’ for bonding. This did the trick and mama #2 started nursing both new lambs beautifully. I’m so glad they were able to get all of them inside because the storms in the afternoon and late evening were terrible and little lambs can get hypothermia from being in the rain too soon after birth.
We let them all out this morning to graze and frolick in the beautiful spring weather and all are doing wonderfully.
Little Bear is loving the new arrivals, of course.
John and Luke took him out to see them in the pasture a couple of days ago and then he got to see them up close in the barn this morning.
I think the third ewe is going to lamb anytime now.
In case you wanted to see some good pictures, my friend Holly brought her sweet little girls, Margot and Stella, over to play and took and some beautiful shots of the first little newborn lamb. Here’s a couple:
Go to her beautiful photoblog, Times Two to see more photos of the little one.
Filed under: Penance
My first confession turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. I awaited it with dread, but discovered it to be a gift of grace.
For those of you who aren’t very familiar with the sacrament of penance, I’ll give some detail about the order of events. I chose to confess in a confessional (you’re on one side of a screen, the priest is on the other). So, you enter, kneel, make the sign of the cross, and say “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been…years since my last confession,” (in my case, I said “This is my first confession). Then you begin confessing your sins. Afterwards the priest gives you advice and encouragement on how to overcome sins in your life and explains your penance (prayers in most cases). The priest then absolves you of your sin with a prayer of absolution. You then pray the prayer of contrition:
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.
I fully intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In his name, My God, have mercy.
As you leave the confessional the priest says “Go in peace.”
Personally, I found the idea of having to tell another person all of my sins (or all that I could remember from the past 24 years) absolutely terrifying. And I’ll admit that it was scary, awkward, and uncomfortable. Before participating in this sacrament I viewed it merely as a very unpleasant rite necessary to complete in order to partake in the Eucharist. I found it to be a great blessing. Unconfessed sin leads to guilt which sickens the soul. That is not to say that we should not be ashamed of our sins, I don’t think I have ever been more ashamed than when contemplating what I was going to have to say in confession. But when the confession is over it is done. You are not bound anymore. You are free. You start anew and the guilt is gone. You truly Go in Peace. I think I also used to have a false conception of penance. Penance is not an attempt to pay the debt of your sins. We cannot do this. When the priest told me my penance, my first reaction was shock at how mild it was. “Did you hear what I just told you? That isn’t nearly enough penance!” But Our Lord paid our debt on the cross. We are not able to pay it. Our penance is merely a way of reconciling with God and helping us to sin no more. Praying for God’s help, for example, might be a penance but that’s not a punishment, right? Or a penance of certain prayers like the Our Father or the Hail Mary, those bring us closer to God, so even our penance is a gift. I have never been more struck by my gravity of my sin and the unsurpassed mercy and grace of God.
Here’s some excerpts from the chapter on Confession in Signs of Life, the book Daniel and I are reading during Lent this year:
“Confession is the way God’s people have always gone about repenting, healing, and reconciling. Read the first pages of the Bible, and you’ll find God asking Adam, ‘Where are you?’ Later, God asks the murderer Cain, “Where is your brother?” The Almighty isn’t looking for information. He already knows everything. He’s looking for the one thing Adam and Cain should have given him, but didn’t—and that’s a full confession. He wanted it for their sake, so that they might live again in the truth.”
“Only Jesus could say with authority: ‘My son, your sins are forgiven’ (Mk 2:5). Jesus had the authority to share that power with his chosen clergy, the apostles. And that’s precisely what he did, on the day of his resurrection: ‘He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”’(Jn 20:22-23).”
On another front, our Little Bear is growing and learning every day.
He loves to read books and can now flip the pages of regular books (not just board books) pretty well.
This is him pointing to the Pig and saying “Piggy” which is one of his favorite words.
He has also discovered that there are many fun things to do with blocks. He has always enjoyed knocking them down but now he likes banging them together to make a joyful noise.
Or handing them to Mama.
Or sitting and playing.
He can stack them five-high now, too but when I asked him to do it for the camera he just made this face.
Tune in tomorrow for some exciting news on the sheep! Here’s a hint: LITTLE FLUFFY BABY LAMB! Ok, not a hint, but I’m too excited. Pictures tomorrow.
Filed under: Saints
I have had so much trouble choosing a confirmation saint. I agonized over the decision and literally lost sleep over it. There are so many options! I wanted to chose a saint that was a wife and mother. I finally chose St. Gwen of Brittany. She was a 6th century princess, daughter of King Budic of Brittany, married St. Fracan and had several children, some of whom also were saints. They moved from Roman Britain to Brittany due to pagan invasion and possibly disease. After the death of St. Fracan, she married Eneas Ledewig with whom she bore St. Cadfan. She was kidnapped by pirates twice and taken back to Britain but escaped by walking across the Channel back to Brittany. Eventually, she was murdered by Saxons. Her name in English is St. Wite (Gwen is the Welsh name) and her shrine is one of two in Britain that survived the Reformation. She is sometimes known as St. Gwen Teirbron (Triple-breasted). It is unclear whether she received this appellation due to the large number of children she bore or if she actually had a third breast. Sources differ. Hmm.
Daniel chose St. John of God.
I love being at home with our little bear. After working 40 hours a week during his first year of life, being able to stay at home with him every day is blissful. I go into town maybe three times a week because there is too much fun to be had playing at our house. We read book after book and build with blocks and generally make a huge mess. It is a little bit exhausting, just as working is, but I feel like I am just where I am supposed to be instead of constantly distracted and wishing I was with my little boy. He is so full of delight and sweetness and he looked particularly adorable in his farm boy outfit today.
He loves going to the back pasture and watching the sheep.
He also gets really excited about the treasures he finds on the ground. Particularly sticks. He gets a little marching thing going when he’s got a stick.
Daniel and I have our first confession on Thursday night. Pretty daunting as I’m considering 24 ½ years of sins. I wonder if there’s a time limit. “How long have you got, Father?” Can’t say I’m looking forward to it but I think it will be a great feeling when it’s over.