Pre-Holiday Links and Resources -Advent 2018 and Christmas

With Thanksgiving this week, Advent is following quickly behind it!

But besides the busy preparation for Christmas, there are a lot of things we can do to really observe the season of Advent! Over the years I have collected links and resources for the holidays that I thought would help me and my family prepare our hearts and spirits to celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus.  I haven't done everything on this list.  Some of it is a wish list, but there was something in every link that I thought was worthwhile.

Perhaps first on the list is actually getting our homes ready for the holidays:
Holiday Grand Plan or join their Yahoo Group E-mail List Declutter and Clean!
Also DeClutter and Organize on Facebook. 

and get your planner ready~  Advent and Christmas Planner from Catholic Icing or Advent Planner from Wildflower and Marbles. 

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In the midst of Holy Week.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday  - another Lent almost gone.

It seems like every year, while I haven't done everything I had hoped to for Lent, I think our home successfully had a Lenten feel to it, and the three younger children were taking their Lenten Sacrifice to heart.

Although we still had discussions like this:

"I feel like something sweet. Why don't we go make brownies!?"

"We can't. It's Lent."

somewhere they figured out that higher holy days (St. Joseph's Feast Day, St. Patrick's Day,  and the Feast of the Annunciation) could get them a little more leeway.

It seemed that giving up meat on Friday was a lot more tricky this year.  When you are already on a very restricted diet for a medical condition, restricting it even more is tough!  And it wasn't as if I could use my fall back positions of pancakes, mac and cheese or even Campbell's tomato soup- because all of those things contain wheat.  So that was very different this year.

I have much to be grateful for, that's true.  Yet knowing about Aunt Grace's decline reminds me of losing my own mother only five years ago, and that my own life is more than half way gone. Am I making the most of the time that is left?  I think I worry about that the most.

The biggest revelation to me this Lent is that I have kept Jesus at arms length  - Jesus as someone to honor, worship, and respect, but from afar - not really "know."  I have a tendency to be very deferential of people in authority anyway, and to keep a obeisant  distance, but this Lent has taught me that I need to really dive into the gospel this year and actually take to heart the words of Jesus Christ and to not to think of it as being impious to strive for a closer relationship and deeper understanding.

I remember the words from the stations of the cross by  St. Alphonsus Liguori,:

I embrace all the sufferings You have destined for me until death.

Having seen the suffering my mother went through as she died from ovarian cancer, I'm not sure I can totally embrace those words yet - but my experiences this year have taught me that I can do things I didn't think I could before, so maybe I'm making steps in the right direction.

But there are some more things that I would like to accomplish before and during Holy Week.

  • Get Morning Prayers and the Office of Readings done in the morning before any one else is up. 
  • Try to get to one or two daily masses. If not, for sure go to Holy Thursday and Good Friday services. 
  • Read some of the book, Pray the Gospels, by Father Lovasick. 
  • Get out to the cemetery and do the Stations of the Cross for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. 
  • While there, decorate Raphael's and mom's graves for Easter.
  • Do a family rosary - with the teens too if I can catch them!
  • Read something inspirational from the Lenten Links I saved. 
  • Make sure to read some of Father Lovasik's children's books with Rosie.