Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

This is a bit late in the writing…. But in October of last year we decided to attend the World meeting of Families in Milan in June this year. God works in strange ways in our marriage. As soon as we knew World Youth Day was going to be hosted by Sydney, there was no doubt in our hearts that we were going to attend. We didn’t even consider the number or ages of children we would have by then…and we wouldn’t have known anyway!

A sense of calm and purpose came to Derek and I when we first considered attending the meeting of Families. There was no doubt in our minds that it was doable. We assessed the finances by googling airlines and finding rough prices and even though we knew we were cutting things very slim, it seemed so right. We discerned this trip for a weekend… Holding in the excitement of a possibility of taking our kids to see the wonders of Italy. We asked Derek’s parents to attend with us, a dream of ours since before we got married. They said yes. This is a trip that is to serve something beyond ourselves. I still feel it….a sense of being church and family…a time to plant and grow those seeds. A time to be Australian. A time to be in communion with others, in a way so profound we will carry it and share it with others for the rest of our lives. There is no better catechesis for our children than to give them a real, true, live experience of being Catholic, celebrating the Eucharist with 1 million other families. I pray that it sets their hearts on fire. That others can see that fire within them as they mature into faith filled adults.

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A friend of mine posted her 11 goals…. so I thought I’d follow in  her footsteps:-)

1.  Increase my fitness and lose weight in the meantime.  I would like to do the 5 km run in the City to Surf in August… well Derek would like to do it with me!!

2.  Keep up with my homeschooling responsibilities (which is another post in itself 🙂 )

3.  Begin prayer journaling again.

4.  Pray the rosary every day/second day (to begin with… this may change as the year goes on)

5.  Keep up with my bible study

6.  Develop more emotional self control with the kids.  This is something I am constantly struggling with.  I am finding it changing as the kids get older.  E is growing up so fast… and we are occasionally having arguments where I am losing my control… not a good model :-(.

7.  Have J reading by the end of the year so that we can embrace my homeschooling dream of studying together in 2012.

8.  Travel to Darwin (and back) as a family.

9.  Being happy and content in our current home.  It really is a good home with heaps of space and meets our needs perfectly, even if I do have a moving itch!!!

10.  Play enough piano to keep up with E.

11.  Be more organized in my work and use it as a place of ministry in my life.

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The Catholic Church is often viewed as a bit of an ogre when it comes to it’s teachings on sex.  Pope John Paul II gave a series of homilies (sermons) in the 1970’s on what is now coined ‘The Theology of the Body’.  Truly a revolutionary and refreshing gift to the church and to the world…  Here’s an article written by Christopher West who is a public speaker on Theology of the body.  He brings to light the Church’s teaching on contraception.  The wisdom and depth of how the Church views sex is always a reminder of why I trust the Church to lead me in my faith.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Church has always taught, teaches now, and always will teach that the only method of “birth control” that respects the language of divine love is “self-control.”

People will often retort, “C’mon! That’s splitting hairs! What’s the big difference between rendering the union sterile yourself and just waiting until it’s naturally infertile? End result’s the same thing.” To which I respond, what’s the big difference between a miscarriage and an abortion? End result’s the same thing. One, however, is an “act of God.” In the other man takes the powers of life into his own hands and makes himself like God (see Gn 3:5).

It truly is a Church for life, right from the very beginnings of a couple’s union in marriage….

For the full article


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Holy Week 2009

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and ends at the Easter Vigil mass.  For us, it is a week when we can immerse ourselves in the passion of Jesus, grow deeper in relationship with Christ and begin to heal ourselves through His resurrection.  Having been privileged to visit the Holy Land and actually see where these events would have occurred, this week is the highlight of my faith year.

Palm Sunday

Jesus enters Jerusalem with the greeting and splendour of a king.  People lay palms and cloaks on the road as Jesus rides a donkey through the gates of Jerusalem.  We attended mass and the kids enjoyed getting palms (folded into crosses) and olive branches.  they then proceeded to play ‘Palm Sunday’ during the week, waving palm branches and singing!

Holy Thursday

This is the beginning of the Easter Triduum – a three part liturgy- that takes place over Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.  We had a Seder meal as a family.  This year we introduced a bit more structure into it.  We began with the reading from Exodus 12:1-20.  Then Eli asked the traditional Jewish Passover questions which explains why we eat the food presented.  We then ate dinner and Derek read the account of the last supper from Matthew 26:17-30.  We then broke bread and shared wine.  After dinner and dessert, we read about the washing of the feet and talked about the meaning of this action.  We then proceeded to wash each other’s feet (which was actually heaps of fun!).

We then got dressed in white (liturgical colours) and went to mass. For us this mass is quite a big celebration as it commemorates the first institution of the Eucharist and priesthood.  The priest washes the feet of twelve of the parishioners and then they in turn wash the hands/feet of the congregation.  It is a beautiful ritual and celebration of Christ’s actual mission for us, to become servants to others.  After mass is celebrated, the altar is stripped and Jesus (present in the blessed sacrament) is taken out of the church to an altar outside (called the altar of repose) where we are invited to pray with Him as the disciples did in the garden of Gethsemane.  Derek and I didn’t attend the prayer at the altar of repose this year, though it has been an incredible experience in previous years.

Good Friday

We woke up to Jordy throwing up and Zeek with diarrhoea- yay Gastro hit our family!  At first I was frustrated and annoyed.  I had planned for a very reflective day, fasting, Stations of the cross and then having ‘Jesus food’ (nuts, figs, grapes, cheese, dates, bread) for lunch before heading to Veneration of the cross (the Good Friday part of the Easter Triduum).  We were then going to have some homemade hot cross buns and complete Easter presents for the rest of the day… you can see why I got upset and frustrated!!!!  Well, I stayed home while Derek took Eli to Stations, then Derek, Eli and I had some lunch, then Eli and I went to Veneration.  We (well those who were participating in food – if you know what I mean!)had hot cross buns for dinner and then we went to bed.  It turned out to be a lovely day (except for the continual cleaning side of things!).  Derek and I both got to go to services with no little kids, so we actually got to focus on prayer rather than trying to juggle family members!  Eli and I sat right up the front of the church and I could answer all the questions that arose.  Oh yes, and the hot cross buns were delicious!

Easter Saturday Vigil Mass

I have to say, that if you ever get the chance to go to the Easter Vigil mass at New Norcia – then do it.  It is beautiful, perfect, the way that mass is meant to be celebrated.  It is so rich in symbolism and celebration.  It begins at 4am, in the dark .  It ends 2 1/2 hours later, in the new morning light.  A real experience of coming from darkness into a new Easter light.  This year we attended the vigil mass at our parish, which began at 7:30pm and ended at about 9pm.  Eli and Gubbs were both baptised at this mass (in different years of course) and it is always nice to reflect back to those times when our family was still small in size!  Jordy was still not 100%, though holding liquids successfully, so she slept through the mass.  She did wake up bright and cheery at the end when our priest mentioned easter eggs (and then ate hers when she got it!).  Zeek was quite freaked out by the whole easter egg thing.  The egg he got was cold and he kept touching it then turning and hiding from it!  By Easter Sunday, he knew what to do though!

Easter Sunday

The kids woke up early and did the traditional hunt for eggs.  They were most impressed by the footprints the bunny had left behind (we forgot one year and have paid for it since!).  We then had icecream for breakfast which has become a family tradition over the last few years.  This year, though because of the gastro, we had pancakes as well!!  Derek then took the older boys to the park for lunch with his family and then we had dinner with my family.  I got to stay at home with two sleepy children and enjoy a very peaceful day!

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I have been reflecting a lot on sin during the last few weeks.  The reason? Because Eli is going to do his first reconciliation/penance/confession (whatever you wish to call it :-)) and because it is the season of lent.  I want him to understand what sin is and the effect it has on his relationship with God and others.

Derek gave Eli a explanation  which has become a real teaching point in our lives.  It is about the origins of the word ‘sin’.  Apparently  ‘sin’ was used as an archery term meaning ‘to miss the target’.  Such a beautiful description.  That God wants our arrows to hit the target every time, but that sometimes we miss.  It is not the end of the world though, because we can always go and pick it up and look for the target and aim again. We can always pick ourselves up, ask for forgiveness, look to God (the target) and try again.

The kids and I extended the description to explain the root of sin.  Where does sin begin? With us of course, with our attitude, our heart.  It begins with the person holding the arrow.  I have been asking the kids to ‘change their attitude’ a lot lately.  I knew this phrase didn’t really mean anything  to them and so I explained it to them as I was helping them to aim better toward their target so that they may be more likely to hit it.  If their ‘attitude’ had continued along the same path, then they were going to miss the target.  They had to choose to change it though, so that they could aim better and not miss (sin), Mummy can only remind them!

And so how do we learn to aim better???  By being in relationship with God and Jesus, by participating in the sacraments (especially reconciliation), by reading God’s word, by letting the Spirit live in us and through us, through communion with the target.  The lives of the Saints give us an example of how to aim and hit the target.

Gubbs held the door open for me today.  As I walked through  he said “Mummy I hit the target didn’t I”.  Yes Gubbs, by using kindness and consideration for others, you did hit the target – bulls eye!!!

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A lovely Act of Contrition

I read and I liked.  Possible choice for Eli to memorise.

My God, 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 firmly intend, with Your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Your Son, Jesus Christ, suffered and died for us.
In His name, my God, have mercy. Amen

This is the one Derek and I were given…

Oh My God, I am very sorry that I have sinned against you.
Because you are so good, and with your help,
I will try not to sin again.

This is the traditional Catholic one….

O my God,
I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins
because I dread the loss of heaven
and the pains of hell,
but most of all because they offend Thee, my God,
Who are all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace
to confess my sins, to do penance,
and to amend my life.

And in Latin…

Deus meus, ex toto corde poenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum,
eaque detestor, quia peccando,
non solum poenas a te iuste statutas promeritus sum,
sed praesertim quia offendi te,
summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris.
Ideo firmiter propono,
adiuvante gratia tua,
de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum.

Thanks to Wikipedia!

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Thanks to a wonderful friend, I have had the opportunity to read Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss.  I just wanted to jot down some inspirations before I have to return the book (or pass it on to the next enthusiastic reader!).

  • create an atmosphere of learning in your home – this is what I am going to call my mess every time I get overwhelmed with the craft supplies, toys and books strewn all over my living spaces: our learning atmosphere!
  • 15-20 minutes of concentrated attention for each lesson.
  • Home education is a lifestyle – so true.  That’s our standard answer when people ask us why we homeschool – it is a lifestyle choice.
  • Narration – something that we have always incorporated into our informal read alouds, maybe something I will carry through and use more of, though not solely in developing writing skills.
  • Living Books – something that has always spoken to my heart.  I would like to base our history, science and geography on the living books we read (it probably means we have to buy more books – yay!)
  • Nature Study – something I would like to do more regularly… maybe we should start with drawing things we find in our backyard.  This would be much more achievable than actually making an excursion of it every week.
  • Tea – we have started having formal afternoon teas where we sit at the table and actually have a cup of tea (herbal or normal) and share about our day, what we have learned and discussed a particular virtue of the day.  This would be nice to do a few times a week, though I will aim for once a week when mainstream school goes back.  It would also be nice to invite Godparents for a special afternoon tea for their Godchild’s Baptism anniversary.
  • I loved the chapter on burnout. I learned to
  1. Take care of me personally, as I have done while I am pregnant.
  2. Nurture my emotional health by spending time alone and give myself permission to do so.
  3. Begin the day asking God for His graces and end it with gratitude.  I love journalling (prayer journalling that is!) and so writing down four things I am grateful for at the end of each day would be a joy to do.
  4. Be a friend to my children – ahhh so simple, so wise and so much fun!
  5. As a homemaker, decide what I can reasonably do and then get help for the rest (either paid or husband or decide to abandon that task until it seems easier to achieve – yes I am talking about the ironing!)
  6. Look for opportunities to serve from home with my children beside me.  This for me often means reaching out to other mums, doubling my evening meal and sending the other half to someone who needs it, babysitting nieces and nephews and friends…)

All in all, this was a lovely book to read.  I really enjoyed that it was applicable to large families, very practical and so easy to read.

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Hopefully here are my beginnings of a regular weekly post about what we are achieving in our week.  This is probably going to be a good thing for me to reflect on what we do during our weeks.  I am hoping it will give me that sense of accomplishment I so yearn for!


This week the focus was on Jordy and the toilet, which in hindsight didn’t need as much focus or attention as I was planning (success!!!!).  I am focusing on reading out loud to the kids more often and in a more thought out fashion than I previously have.  I have written a new schedule (which we are extremely loosely bound to!) and that always makes me feel better about everything, somehow.  We have three ‘scheduled’ read aloud times.  One for picture books (aimed at Jordy and Gubbs), one for non fiction books (which will cover whatever rabbit trail/unit study we are on) and one for chapter books (aimed at Eli and Zi).  This helps me to make sure the kids actually get read to each day and also allows me to say ‘no’ or ‘later’ to books when I am feeding Zeek and want to spend some time with him.

We have also introduced an afternoon tea time twice this week.  We have had a cup of tea (normal and chamomile) and have sat down and talked about a different virtue each time.  Maybe we should call this are ‘virtues tea’!  This was enjoyed by us all, a definite keeper in our schedule!


Eli is zooming ahead in Rightstart level B.  I wanted it completed by the end of the year (2008), but wasn’t as consistent with lessons as I should have been.  We have about 15 lessons to go with only 2 of them being particularly challenging.  I am amazed at the mental maths Eli can preform now.  He can add double digit numbers in his head into the hundreds with no support, but sometimes a little time.  I love the flow of Rightstart, how Eli’s thinking processes naturally head towards a particular concept and then it is presented within the next couple of lessons.  I love how his interest in that concept is already piqued so that he absorbs it so readily when it is presented to him.

Zi has also begun Level B this year.  Eli and I took two years to get through it and so we will probably do the same with Zi, though it may be faster as Eli can play the games with him – yay the joys of siblings!  I often overhear him singing the ‘yellow is the sun’ song that teaches him the abacus bead combinations!


Zi has read up to Fitzroy reader 7 and 3x and 4x this week.  he is getting much better at blending the sounds, though he does get frustrated when he can’t just read it and I prompt him to sound it out!  He loves re reading the readers he has already read.  A great sense of accomplishment is felt when a difficult reader is suddenly deemed – easy mummy!

I haven’t done anything formal with Eli this week.  He has been writing a lot of letters and putting in the letter box for me to read.  Eli goes through real times of intense study in areas and at the moment literacy isn’t one of them.  He is really enjoying free play with music this week.


Eli – learning Minuet 2 (half done)

Zi – playing first line of twinkles and rhythms.

Me – Practicing Go tell Aunt Rhody on piano (I’m amazed at how far 15 mins on the piano a day can get you!)

Lots of informal experiment with the Lion King soundtrack.  The kids are loving the parts in Hakuna Matata and I just can’t wait to be king.  They are also loving the drum playing, especially with the bongos Gubbs got for Christmas.


I hate to put faith as a category.  I don’t like to have to teach faith by formal means.  We try to live our faith, we challenge each other to be more like Jesus, we discuss aspects of our faith as they come up.  This week however, we did the Epiphany, the day we celebrate the visit of the three wise men.  We talked about kings ( and camels!) and read the relevant parts of the bible. We added the wise men to the nativity.  We have also packed away our Christmas tree and decorations, but left the nativity out so that the three kings could visit with us a bit longer.  Derek and I decided that we would like Eli to prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation this year.  I have to talk to our priest to find out how to do it through the parish.  We also have to think about how to prepare him at home.

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Advent 2008

The things we do to prepare for Christmas…..

Advent Calendar

My wonderful Mother in law made us this calendar a few years back and it is terrific.

  • We have a puzzle that we stick onto the wall.  Each day we add a piece to the puzzle until it is completed with Mary and baby Jesus on Christamas day.  We have also had a poster with stickers on it (with a sticker in each pocket).
  • Each day I have a excerpt of the Christmas story up until the birth of Jesus.  In years gone by we have done it until the Epiphany (visit of the three wise men), but this year we plan to do the twelve days of Christmas and so we will do the wise men then.
  • We also have a beautiful knitted nativity set that we set out as a lead up to Christmas.  This year we are only going to include Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the animals before Christmas and then Shepherds and wise men after.
  • This year we are doing a program called advent rainbows.  I bought ribbons of different colours and we have put the colour of the day into each pocket.  Each day at dinner we read the reading that goes with the colour and then tie the ribbon onto the Christmas tree.  Something different and fun!
  • Craft activities and special events are scattered through the calendar on appropriate days.  We make decorations, go for a drive to look at the lights, read certain books, make cards/presents, cook etc.
  • Treats are included along the way.  These are usually chocolate frog, lollies, fruit bars, anything special.

Advent Candles

We have a set of advent candles and a wreath (that we make as a craft) on our table.  The church prepares for the Four Sundays leading to advent. Three candles are purple, one pink and the Christmas candle is white and decorative.  There is lots to reflect on using these candles as a centre point. As a young family, we basically light the candles, that we are up to, during dinner and say a prayer specific to that week.  As the kids get older, we will reflect on the people of advent and possibly more into the virtues of advent using the candles as a focus point.

Crib for Jesus

This year, about a week before Christmas, we will try to make a crib for him.  I’m undecided if we are going to make it this year (like with wood!) or use the same cane wahing basket we have used in the past, but I am going to fill it with a bit of straw.  The kids then have to pratice their virtues and do good deeds for others to ‘earn’ straw to make Jesus’ crib more comfy.  Jesus (the doll!) will arrive after the Christams eve mass.  We’ll see how this goes!

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