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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The Visitation - 5 things Women Today Can Learn from Mary and Elizabeth

1.  Pregnancy presents challenges throughout the entire 9 months and postpartum period. Even early pregnancy saps mom's strength and endurance.

Yet it is in the early months of her pregnancy that Mary undertakes a journey to visit and help her cousin Elizabeth.

It's easy to become a little too self-centered when one is growing a new life within. From Mary's example we can witness the beauty of reaching outside of our selves to acknowledge and help another - especially another mom-to-be!

The Visitation
Father Lawrence Lew, OP via Flickr, licensed cc.

2.  Some say that the miracle of the Visitation is that one pregnant woman was able to reach out to another. But I think it is also miraculous that a younger woman reached out to visit an older woman. Our society does not value old age and the wisdom that comes with it. The retired and elderly are the only other group (besides the pre-K through 12 set) that we segregate out of society because of age. Mary shows us the value of spending time to live, laugh and love with an older woman that she calls cousin and friend.

3.  Elizabeth teaches us some lessons as well.  She treats Mary as a welcomed guest and as a peer. She doesn't patronize her and she greets her warmly, with love and hospitality. I think it can be so easy to treat our younger women friends as girls and children instead of the young adults they have be come. Elizabeth shows us that there can be joy and happiness in welcoming friendships with the younger women in our lives!

The Visitation

Father Lawrence Lew, OP via flickr, licensed cc

4.  Of course the silent exchange between Baby Jesus and Baby John is precious. John exuberantly jumps in his mother's womb in the presence of his Lord, an exuberance and enthusiasm we see later as John preaches and baptizes in the desert. Babies are little people, and their personalities are evident early, even in the womb!

5.  Mary does not say a whole lot in the scriptures, but her thoughts and feelings burst forth in the presence of her beloved cousin. Like the Lord's Prayer, Mary's Magnificat is another example of the things we should include in our own prayers - simple adoration and thankfulness:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.

Benedicta tu in mulieribus!

Father Lawrence Lew, OP, via Flickr, licensed CC
In the book The Year and Our Children, Mary Reed Newland talks about the little shrines she made throughout her house for the Blessed Mother. Today might be a good day to do that. (Check out this lovely homemade Marian shrine!) If you live near a Marian shrine today or tomorrow might be good days to visit.

It might also be a good day to plant some flowers around your Mary Statue and clean her up a bit, which is what we are going to do today.
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