Sunday, 5 May 2013

50 Days of Easter!

Celebrating Easter!

What a joy it is to celebrate Easter!  After 40 days of Lent it just doesn't seem right to celebrate Christ's resurrection for just one day.  So the Church has Eastertide: 50 days of Easter with special liturgical songs and mighty "Alleluias!"

This is our first year celebrating Eastertide and you will see lots of pictures of food.  Man, I have an amazing wife!!  Folks who think that being Catholic is stoic and depressing aren't living the liturgical calendar.  There is always a reason to feast!

2nd Sunday of Easter: Divine Mercy Sunday

This was a special Sunday for us as we just came back from Poland where Jesus revealed Himself to St. Faustina and gave us the Divine Mercy Icon and commissioned us to pray the chaplet for the salvation of the world.  So we, of course, went to the chapel and prayed the chaplet at 3pm (the time Christ died) and begged Christ for His mercy on us and on the whole world.

And then we celebrated his mercy with a Divine Mercy cake that Becca made.

The cake was delicious!  It was a cheese cake.  The red represents the blood of Christ (the Holy Eucharist) and the blue (yeah - it turned out green) represents the water from the side of Christ (symbolizing our baptism).

3rd Sunday of Easter: Good Shepherd Tea Party

Now Good Shepherd Sunday actually was last Sunday, but we moved it to this Sunday to focus more on the Divine Mercy.  Becca, inspired by the Catholic Cuisine website, made us a Shepherd's meal.

The bread is a shepherd's staff, the popcorn are sheep, the cupcake is actually shepherd's pie, the tea is Lamb's wool tea, and the cracker is the gate that holds sheep in the pen.  We read Psalm 23 and discussed how Jesus is our Shepherd and we are His sheep.

Oh yeah - and the strudel was the wolf that tries to get in and eat the sheep.  Can you picture the claw marks below?

4th Sunday of Easter: Knights Dinner

We have been reading illustrated classics to the kids at bedtime and came across 'King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.' We loved the book and especially where the knights took their vow to their queen.  We decided as a family that us males need to be knighted and to hold each other accountable.  So Becca and Winter drew up the Knight's Creed we would vow as seen below:

Then Winter led Benedict, Tristan and myself (with our weapons) in the vow of knighthood.

(and yes, they gave daddy the smallest weapon! Arg!)

Then Winter knighted Benedict as Sir Benedict of the House of Biffert

Then Winter knighted Tristan as Sir Tristan of the House of Biffert

Then Winter knighted daddy as Sir Daddy of the House of Biffert

And then we had a Medieval Feast.  

Becca wanted to make the feast as Medieval as we could.  So we decided it would be in the Medieval Knight spirit to have a dinner we ate with our hands.

Roast Duck
Dates, figs, raisins, nuts
Sparkling Grape Juice with grapes
Raisin Easter Bread with honey butter

Note the cool weapons as our table decorations!
And triple layer ice cream for dessert!

5th Sunday of Easter: Ember Days Picnic

We are actually too late to celebrate Lenten Ember days and too early to celebrate Whit Ember days.  But, it worked with the change of the season here in Austria.  Ember days is the time of the year (in the old liturgical calendar) where we celebrate the change of the season.  We talk about what happens in nature and that is reflected in our faith journey.  

On this day we took a bike ride to Tattondorf (a few towns away from Trumau) and had an Ember Days Easter Sunday picnic.  

Here are my two cuties fast asleep in our chariot.

 Here they are the swing at the park - Tristan looks far too calm!

Becca made us another symbolic picnic.  Today it all represented nature.  Below are our lightning drinks.

Here is the Thunder and Hail pasta.  Chickpeas were the hail and the pasta was thunder.  The cupcake is a lemon cupcake with a sun drawn on the top.  The whip cream is a cloud.

 We had a great discussion about the changes in nature from winter to spring and what it could mean for us spiritually.  The kids thought the rain was like the waters of baptism making us clean and helping us to grow and the sun was like the Eucharist.

6th Week of Easter: Breakfast with Jesus

This week we did a small outing to the nearby river to go for a swim.  Then we broke bread and ate sausage (symbolizing fish) and recounted the story of where Jesus break bread with his disciples on the beach and asked Peter 3x (corresponding to his 3 denials) if he loved him.  Peter emphatically states that he does.  And Jesus commissions him to 'feed his sheep' and 'tend his sheep'.  

 Here they have the broken bread and 'fish'.  We discussed how Peter was to feed the people - through the Eucharist of course!  And was he to look after the people? Well, this one was tougher to answer - but essentially by being our first Pope.

Other April Goings On...

The Pirate hair is gone! 

(as you probably noticed in the pictures)

Benedict sat down at the dinner table and said "Daddy, I want my hair cut short.  I don't like it all messy anymore."  So - we cut his hair.

 This was the daddy speciality!  This was the first time we cut his locks (minus the bangs) - ever.  No more baby curls for Benedict.

Karmel Convent

As a part of my Deutsch theatre class we went to visit a Carmelite convent to receive more teaching on the life of Edith Stein as we will be doing some scenes about her martyrdom.  This was my first visit to a convent.  There are around 58 convents/monasteries in Austria.  Their profession is prayer.  The pray all day.  I'd be afraid for a world without the consecrated life - what would happen to us without these nuns and monks constantly interceding to God on our behalf for his mercy?

The Convent

 Our Lady of 7 Sorrows.  The seven swords represent the seven sorrows she endured.

The town where the convent is in is called: Maria Jeutendorf.

Daddy and Winter dressed Austrian for Sunday Holy Mass

The Maibaum (May tree)

On May 1st Austria has a national holiday to celebrate the coming of spring.  All over Austria trees are cut down, stripped of bark, painted, a wreath hung on them and they are stuck in a hole in the town.  This signifies the beginning of spring.  There is a huge party well into the wee hours of the morning.  The state pays for the beer and there is singing and dancing.  I mentioned that we don't have a holiday to celebrate winter ending and spring coming in Canada - the response was that 'of any country you'd think we'd have one being that winter is so long!' Good point.  Austria has many holidays and it is wonderful!  For example: ski week in Feb., Easter week (or two), holy days like Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Monday.  In May we get 3 long weekends in addition to May 1st! This place rocks!

Here they are erecting the Maibaum.

 Winter, who should be in bed, was still awake and joined in the fun in her pyjamas.

I'm told that the Maibaum also a symbol of love.  Traditionally, men would show their love to a woman in May by erecting a Maibaum for them on their property at night.  In the morning the woman wakes up and knows she is loved by someone.  If we were to drive through Burgenland I'm told we'd see a lot of this.  What a great tradition!

Kenton's Reading List

Aristotle Physics: Books 5-8
Epictetus: The Encheiridion (the ethics of the stoic's)
The Holy Mass by Dom Prosper Gueranger
Pensees by Blaise Pascal (selected readings)

Sermon from the Vineyard

I am always learning so much and it is hard to choose what to share in a few thoughts ... but today you'll hear about Blaise Pascal.  Pascal was a genius who lived in the mid 1600's.  Brilliant in math and physics, highly acclaimed and courted by royalty.  After much thought into the nature of humans and their behaviour and much research he converted to Catholicism.  As he wrote and studied more on philosophy and theology (rather than physics) he sold his possessions and gave his money to the poor.  In the publication of his diverse writings called 'Pensees' there is a striking chapter called 'Diversion'.  It is so worth taking the time to read.  It is here he lays human nature for us to look at plainly.  Here are a couple of his quotes: (follow his logic through the sequence)

"Being unable to cure death, wretchedness and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things."

"The sole cause of man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room."

"The only good thing for men therefore is to be diverted from thinking of what they are, either  by some occupation which takes their mind off it, or by some novel and agreeable passion which keeps them busy, like gambling, hunting, some absorbing show, in short by what is called Diversion."

"All our life passes in this way: we seek rest by struggling against certain obstacles, and once they are overcome, rest proves intolerable because of the boredom it produces.  We must get away from it and crave excitement."

Is this not so true?  When we look at ourselves honestly?  When we look at society?  We can't be bored for a second or we go crazy - like little kids who have out-played their toys.  We seek distraction and diversions.  Long gone are the days where we sit quietly and think, reminisce, contemplate, wonder.  Not only is hard not to be distracted when there is so much to distract, we live in a capitalist society that would have us work and work and work.  I'm seeing life lived differently here in Austria.  There is a natural rhythm of work and rest.  If you bike on Sunday, for example, the town streets are quiet.  People are in their backyards cooking, laughing, relaxing ... almost nothing is open on Sundays - including trams- and people relax.  Further, Austria still lives out the Catholic calendar.  We continue to celebrate regular state holidays (like Maibaum) and many holy days.  The result is a rested, relaxed culture.  

Pascal is challenging us from the 1600's to learn to be quietly by ourselves.  Silence.  I find this difficult, but have found success in going to Eucharistic Adoration.  Here is sit for 45 min. twice a week in silence and I pray and listen and contemplate in the real presence of Christ.  All of our diversions are finite and produce only bordem when they are done.  Our soul pants for the Source - the only source that we will find happiness in.


Interview with the Vienna Diocese: 

I had posted this link on facebook, but probably most of you haven't seen it.  The bishop had many folks interviewed to share their testimony on 'Why they believe'.  We were chosen to be interviewed.  Becca isn't in the video as she was at convent on a spiritual retreat when the interviewers came by.

Prayer Needs:

1. Pray for a healthy mommy and baby and a great delivery in July.
2. Pray for wisdom and prudence as we try to balance sticking to our budget, being able to experience a bit, and really learning to be content with our needs being met (it is a constant battle to suppress our insatiable desire to always want more).
3. Prayer for Tristan as he is learning to be a leader amoung his friends and that he'll be true knight.

Pictures and Videos for the Grandparents

Have a wonderful spring!
Pax Vobiscum,

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

Mailing Address:
Schloss Trumau
Schlossgasse 21
2521 Trumau, Austria

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