Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Lent Begins...

Lent in Austria

I thank God for the joy of having a Liturgical Calendar to walk us through life as Christians.  If I didn't take the time once a year for 40 days to discipline myself by giving up pleasures I may end up a slave to my pleasures one day.  Lent is so healthy for our soul and in this being my 7th Lent as a Catholic I'm realizing this more and more.

Lenten Traditions:

We didn't add any new traditions this year, but stayed with the ones we've been using.  
- we always fast something as a family
- we pray a station of the cross as a family daily and try to go once a week to pray them all
- we have a pretzel before supper and we say something we are thankful.  (The pretzel is an old Lenten tradition and its origin is that it was made for Lent since most folks fasted dairy products).
- we find ways to give more alms
- and this year we were able to send Becca on a spiritual retreat

Lenten Challenge:

Pick up a copy of St. Augustine's 'Confessions' and read book 10.  This is a beautiful chapter of the book that will really help you reflect on our own sinful state during Lent and leave you with thirst to go to Confession.


We celebrated Candlemas in a unique way this year.  Using our blessed candles we walked through the Scripture reading of where baby Jesus is presented in the temple.  We used food to represent each stage of the event and as the event finished - we ate that food.

We began with white chocolate.  The white represented the holiness of Mary and Joseph and Jesus.
Next we had some sausage.  The meat represented them entering the temple where animal sacrifices were being done.  The radishes represented the turtledove (it's eggs) that was given by Mary and Joseph.  The pure water of course represented Mary's purification after delivering a baby.

The pretzels represented Simeon the prophet as they are the representation of a posture of prayer (hands crossed over the chest).  The black chocolates with 'yummy' inside represented Anna.  She was a widow (the black), but spent her life in prayer (the 'yummy part).  The white cheese with the lego swords of course represented Mary and the sword piercing her soul as Simeon prophesied.  And finally the edible candles represented Jesus - the light of the world.

Becca's Spiritual Retreat

This is the Sisters of Bethlehem Carthusian contemplative convent (Kinderalm- near Salzburg) where I went away on a three and a half day spiritual retreat. It was heaven! This is a picture of the convent in summer but the convent was actually covered in about 8 feet of snow when I was there! Beautiful! I had a very small, simple "cell" where I slept, prayed and ate meals that were delivered to me in my room (in keeping with the Carthusian way).  I went to confession, attended Vespers, Laudes, daily Mass with the nuns (a 10 minute uphill climb to the church) as well as 1-2 hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament each day.  I tried to explore the great outdoors as much as I was able with 8 feet of snow outside. It was nice to be away from it all, to sleep soundly, to read and to talk with and listen to God. Even the 7 hour train adventure to get here and 7 hours to get home again was relaxing. I felt that I came away refreshed in every way and that I came away closer to Jesus. I am so thankful I was able to go. 

*While on retreat I read "Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska" and "Father Elijah" by Michael O'Brien- both highly recommended! 

Mass with the nuns

This is an icon of Mary visiting Elisabeth which I was particularly drawn to. It was at the bottom of the stairs leading to where Mass was held each day.  I spent a lot of time staring at this icon before and after Mass. I love how baby John the Baptist is bowing to Baby Jesus. I felt our baby move for the first time during this weekend too!

First family train trip: Trumau to Wiener Neustadt: Despair to Joy

We decided to try out our new familienpass where we get a family discount on the train and took a train ride to a city about 30 min. away.

Alas, our fluency in German wasn't good enough to read what was happening here, but we figured out they were grave stones of 5 Jewish Rabbai's.

We stopped for a snack and this was Benedict's pose with the apple.  Funny guy!

Many of the Turkish folk immigrate to Vienna.  Everywhere you go are Turkish Kabob stands.  Here are Tristan and Benedict chowing down on the lamb Kabob.

Of course we always visit the Cathedral.  This door, Tristan thought, was just the right size for him.

There were no statues of saints in these arches, so we figured we get a picture of future saints in these arches!

Benedict loves stories I tell about 'Sir Benedict the Brave'.  Here was a great knight on the wall of Cathedral just for him.

Our first train trip didn't end so well... we came home and that night Becca and I went out on a small date.  During dinner I asked if she had brought my camera upstairs.  There was silence.  Then Becca said that we left the camera on the train.  Now this camera was my professional camera that I bought new for $5000 a few years ago.  It was the most expensive material object we owned to our name.  My heart dropped into my stomach and my food didn't taste so good after that.

We went home and called the train station, emailed and filled out the Lost and Found forms.  We were told three days and an items from this train that were left would be brought to Vienna to the main station.  Three days past - no camera.  I had folks praying everywhere.  5 days past - no camera.  A week passes and I'm beginning to lose hope.  Finally in desperation I begin a novena to St. Anthony (the patron saint of lost things).  On day five of my novena we get a call from the train station and someone had returned my camera!  This was a miracle!!!  We were flabbergasted and thankful and dumbfounded.  Thanks be to God!

Kenton's Course List for the 2nd Semester

Moral Theology: Virtue and Vice
Ethics I: Ancient Moral Theology
Natural Philosophy II: Motion and Order
Introduction to Theology: Man before God
Mysterium Salutis II
Deutsch Theatre 

Kenton's February Reading List

The Wife of Pilate, Gertrud von le Fort
The Judgment of the Sea, Gertrud von le Fort
The Tidings brought to Mary, Paul Claudel
Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle
Summa Theologica II Q.23 and on, St. Thomas Aquinas
Physics, Aristotle
Genesis and Exodus, Moses
Confessions, St. Augustine

Sermon from the Vineyard:

I've learned so much I think I'll do a couple sermons here.  The first one is quite personal.  When I lost the camera that I used for my photography business I, of course, began running through a number of 'why' questions.  Why didn't my guardian angel remind us?  Why didn't the Holy Spirit tell me to turn my head?  Why did I take it off my shoulder and put on an empty seat when I'm never that careless with it?  Why? Why?  My reflections led me to the topic of humility.  One thing I would have to do is go back to my friends here on campus and tell them I lost my camera.  I realized then that having this expensive camera made me feel good about myself.  Then I asked myself why on earth I need a physical, material object to feel good about myself?  How ridiculous.  But there it was.  I was proud to have this camera.  I liked the attention I got when I took out and folks 'ooo'd and awww'd' over it.  I liked that I had one of the best cameras out of all of us guys.  I was proud.  I realized that if God had to take away my possessions to make realize my own pride - then it was worth it.  I didn't want this vice.  It was an expensive lesson to learn, but a few $1000's was a small price to pay to move one step closer to being a more virtuous man.  After about a week and half of thought and prayer, I told Becca that I had a peace about losing the camera and that I've learned a lesson in humility.  I prayed the novena to St. Anthony (as I mentioned above) as an act of faith as I'm learning to believe and trust, but I was at peace if it wasn't returned.  And low and behold - God returned it.  My mind is still spinning...

Sermon from the vineyard #2:

We've been reading and studying St. Augustine's 'Confessions' in class.  One of the elements that has really hit home for me is this idea of distraction.  Now one may ask where I'm getting the word distraction from the book - and actually I'm not.  St. Augustine rather uses the word 'continent'.  I need to be a continent man.  What does this mean?  "For by continence we are collected and bound up into unity within ourself, whereas we had been scattered abroad in multiplicity."(Ch.XXIX)  A continent man is one who is at peace, not disturbed by the turbulence of life, not moved to excessive passions, not moved to excessive sorrow, unified in thought and goal and purpose.  The more I meditated on this image of a man I began to realize how things in life seem to want the opposite for me.  Life moves so fast and there is so much to engage in and so much information to be had  and so many opportunities to employ that we spread ourselves out in "multiplicity".  The CCC states "It is important for a person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of conscience.  This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection," (1779).  So first of all this all brought me to a place of self-reflection.  What was it like to be 'sufficiently present to myself'? Am I unified enough that I can hear the voice of my conscience?  The voice of God?  I found that as I got back into a routine of Eucharistic Adoration after the Christmas holidays were done this peace came back.  Pride distracts me.  Any attachment to a physical pleasure to the point that I have to think about because I miss it becomes a distraction to me.  

Finally, I'm taking this further and looking now at my family.  Am I raising continent children or are they running from distraction to distraction?  Am I teaching them to be at peace, to be content, to take time to reflect and to take time for themselves?  Continence is a virtue and we know that virtues don't come naturally.  Virtues are habits.  So Becca and I need to look at the habits we are generating in our children's lives.  Continence: one step closer to the virtuous life and to holiness and thus to happiness.

Here is our sponsorship video.  

This is our video to played at St. Mary's for those who wish to support us on this journey.  We are believing God for the $8,000 to come to cover the tuition cost each year as this over and above our budget.  

Pictures for the Grandparents:

Benedict (and his pirate hair) treating Winter as a Lady.

This is Anna and Winter helping Benedict learn to skate.

Benedict learning to skate by pushing a large blue jerry can!

Love, Kenton, Rebecca, Winter, Tristan, Benedict, Kate and the new baby

Mailing Address:
Schloss Trumau
Schlossgasse 21
2521 Trumau, Austria

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