Tuesday, 5 January 2016

In the World, but not of the World

What a Joy it is to be Catholic!

We never knew there was so much in life to celebrate until we converted to the Catholic Church almost 10 years ago. Wow! Time has flown by. It seems like yesterday I was standing at the altar at St. Mary's making the profession that I believed everything the Catholic Church held to be true.  Back then we didn't really get the 'Liturgical Calendar'. The idea of 'sacred time' (and even sacred spaces) was a foreign concept to us. What was sacred? What was a liturgical season? Why have one? It took us a few years, but now I wouldn't live without it! 

The world has a rhythm that is fast-paced and runs itself and all of us into the ground. The Church calendar has a rhythm that follows the life of Christ. We walk in His shoes, fast with him in Lent, anticipate Him in Advent, die with Him on Good Friday, Ascend with Him on Ascension Thursday and so forth. The rhythm, in the Church's wisdom, fits our human nature like a glove. We work, we fast, we pray and we celebrate. We are in the world, but not of it.

It is really is a true JOY to be Catholic.  Here is a bit our liturgical and family photo journey from the fall to Advent. 

Benedict turns 6!: Aug. 31st 

The fall always begins with a joy celebration of my second son Benedict. We decided to head off to the oldest zoo in the world in Vienna to celebrate.

Here is the butterfly conservatory:

And of course a special 'lolly' cake made by mommy.

followed by a split head after a temper tantrum.  Oh Tavi ... the two's have hit!

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross: Sept. 14th.

We headed off for our yearly 24km pilgrimage to Heiligenkreuz (Holy Cross). This 1000 yr old monastery has a piece of the cross of Christ to venerate and be blessed with.

This was the first time Benedict was to walk the trip on his own. He did excellent of course!

We hike the trail through the vineyards where many vine growers have setups to taste their wine.

At the 12km mark, Katie made her debut and joined to walk with us with her friends Elizabeth and Magdalena.

Katie did really well. 12km is a long walk for a little girl. It took a bit of motivating, and her feet hurt by the end, but she did it!

Benedict helped her along too.

Then Benedict wanted to catch up his friends. His friends, in this picture below, they were already by the house. He took off running like a long distance runner and caught up with them. I was impressed as they were not sitting and stopping but were walking as well.

We made it! Just in time for Holy Mass!

Harvest and Baking

This year, we had a great harvest from our garden. As well, we paired Winter up with a student who was a great cook and was giving her cooking/baking lessons. Here below is her first jelly roll.

And Daddy pickled carrots (after washing them in the washing machine).

Winter turns 10!

Now it felt as if our Paris Daddy/Daughter date was a big enough birthday party, but I guess not. So we continued to celebrate Winter well into September.

Rebecca's Spiritual Retreat: Sisters of Bethlehem in St. Veit

It is our goal every year to do a retreat. Mine this year was in St. Patrick's Purgatory in Ireland. Becca took hers in western Austria.

Here, with the Sisters, she rested, prayed, read, and enjoyed the beautiful outdoors.  A much needed break from the kids (and dad).

Each room has its own prayer closet. An excellent idea if we ever build a home in the future.

It was a 35 year anniversary so the convent was opened to the public to see where the sisters did their art work and where they lived. This area is always closed off to the guests so it was a special privilege to take the tour.

Above: where the sisters live.
Below: the chapel

The pottery workshop:

Wood work and icon writing:

Candle making:

Altar Boy Benedict

Benedict has begun to prepare for his first Confession and in doing so has also finished his training as an altar boy. He's been serving every Thurs. at noon. We are very proud of him!  Here he is with Ben, a seminarian and 5th year student here at ITI.


This is my third year running Dragonslayers. We learn virtues through outdoor skills. One great project this past term was our deadfall trap. We were hoping to catch a squirrel to eat, but alas, we had to shop at Hoffer.

All Souls Day: Nov. 2nd

All Souls Day is celebrated with an octave. For 8 days we go to the cemeteries and pray for the faithful departed in purgatory. In actually praying in the cemetery, we receive an indulgence for those in purgatory (as long as the usual conditions are met).

In Austria, the cemeteries are still attached to the churches and on All Souls Day the grave yard is lit with lanterns and flowers and candles. It is very beautiful and pious.

Katie turns 4!: Nov. 7th

She was so excited it was her birthday that she made cards and presents for herself the night before and wrapped them up so she could open them. It was pretty cute!

And then a party in the leaves!

St. Martin of Tours: Nov. 3rd.

St. Martin's feast day is big feast day in the old Hungarian Austrian empire. The children process with lamps at Holy Mass, goose is eaten and his story acted out.

Benedict was one of the soldiers in the skit.

St. Margaret of Scotts: Nov. 16th.

Our tradition is here at ITI to have a highland games afternoon to celebrate this wonderful feast day.

Including log wrestling ...

The log run ...  Here I am competing against Sean.

Log toss, face painting, whiskey, ...

and wrestling ...

and relays ...

and an all out tug-o-war!

All Saints Day: Nov. 1st.

This feast day was celebrated a bit late as it landed in the middle of fall break. We had a saints dress-up party and dance. Can you guess who we are?

Tristan and Benedict: St. Damian
Kate and Winter: St. Lucy
Daddy: St. Coloman

Christ the King Feast Day: Nov. 22nd

This feast day is the last Sunday of the liturgical year. 

We toasted our Lord and Saviour and I made a spice cake to help us celebrate. The symbol in the middle is one of the many symbols for Jesus: It is the Greek letters Chi (Ch) and Roe (R) standing for Christ.


As every culture has  a thanksgiving date based on the harvest we could either celebrate the Austrian day earlier in Oct. or the US date in November. At ITI, half the students come from the US, so we opt with that date and have a wonderful traditional thanksgiving dinner and dance.

A song from some of the male students:

St. Nick's Feast Day: Dec. 6th

Right on time, St. Nick showed up again on the 6th of Dec. with a wealth of Dutch treats!

Advent Markets:

All of Austria celebrates Advent. Hundreds of Advent Markets are spread throughout the country and all of us tour the booths, sip gl├╝hwein, eat roasted chestnuts, and look for that special gift.

Here is one of the many markets in Vienna: Karls Platz in the plaza of the Karls Kirche.

This market is known for its kid area where they fill the fountain area with hay for the kids to play in.

Everyone claims a spot and works to build a house out of hay.

Then the kids went for a self-powered little ride.

Enjoying some roasted chestnuts!

And then some Austrian Advent dessert!

Katie's Baptism Day: Dec. 11th

We decided to add to our calendar of celebrations each of the kids baptism dates. If we celebrate the birth of our body/soul, why shouldn't we also celebrate our rebirth through baptism? Katie received a book about St. Brigit. 

St. Lucy's Feast Day: Dec. 13th

The tradition is for the oldest girl to dress up as St. Lucy in white and to make breakfast for the whole family. This year, for the first time, Winter took initiative and did it completely on her own. We began with an appetizer of blueberries and orange juice in the boys bedroom.

Then we moved to the kitchen where the table was set with blueberry pancakes and yogurt.

And we finished off the day bringing cookies to the others on campus and telling the story of St. Lucy.

Ember Days: Last week of Advent

For Ember Days we headed out into the woods and looked for signs of nature shutting for winter. Then we also built a crib for baby Jesus. For each good deed done during Advent, the kids were able to put a piece of straw in the crib to make it nice and cozy.

The fall is a wonderful time and it seems to have no end of celebrating, which, admittedly, makes it hard to keep Advent a penitential season.  This is something we're going to have to work on.

We wish all of you a wonderful Christmas Season (this ends on Candlemas) for us Catholics, and we wish all of you who are not Catholic we hope you had a wonderful Christmas season.

6 months left to flying home and counting!!

God bless,

Love, Kenton, Rebecca, Winter, Tristan, Benedict, Kate, Tavi and the new one on the way

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