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!
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.
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).
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
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
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.
Including log wrestling ...
The log run ... Here I am competing against Sean.
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.
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
All of Austria celebrates Advent. Hundreds of Advent Markets are spread throughout the country and all of us tour the booths, sip glühwein, 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.
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.
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!!
Love, Kenton, Rebecca, Winter, Tristan, Benedict, Kate, Tavi and the new one on the way