Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Father Weiser explains the origin of the Solemnity and some of the traditions related to this day.
Nine months before Christmas Day, December 25, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord.
This is another Solemnity that ordinarily falls during Lent. The Gloria and Nicene Creed are prayed during the Liturgy of the Mass. During the creed at the words "By the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man" we kneel. This day celebrates the actual Incarnation of Christ, the day the Son of God became man when Mary spoke her Fiat, or "yes" to God. St. Luke records the events:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."
And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no husband?"
And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)
In central Europe the popular name for this feast is the "Feast of Swallows" since the swallows return on or around this day from their migration. In Austria the ancient saying refers to this:
When Gabriel does the message bring Return the swallows, comes the spring.
Perhaps because of this Europeans in the Middle Ages viewed swallows as holy birds, calling them "God's birds" in Hungary, "Mary's birds" in Austria and Germany. No one would destroy the swallows or their nests.
Father Francis Weiser explains more traditions on this feast day:
It was an ancient custom of the papal Curia (executive office) to start the year on March 25 in all their communications and documents, thus calling it the "Year of the Incarnation." This practice was also adopted by most civil governments for the legal dating of documents.
In fact, the Feast of the Annunciation, called "Lady Day," marked the beginning of the legal year in England even after the Reformation, up to 1752.... In Russia priests would bless large wafers of wheat flour and present them to the faithful after the service. Returning home, the father would hand a small piece of the wafer to each member of his family and to the servants. They received it with a deep bow and ate it in silence.
Later on in the day they took the remaining crumbs of the "Annunciation bread" out into the fields and buried them in the ground as a protection against blight, hail, frost, and drought.
In central Europe the farmers put a picture representing the Annunciation in the barrel that holds the seed grain. While doing so they pronounce some ancient prayer rhyme like this one from upper Austria:
O Mary, Mother, we pray to you; Your life today with fruit was blessed: Give us the happy promise, too, That our harvest will be of the best. If you protect and bless the field, A hundredfold each grain must yield.
Having thus implored the help of Mary, they start sowing their summer grains on the following day, assured that no inclement weather will threaten their crops, for, as the ancient saying goes,
Saint Gabriel to Mary flies: This is the end of snow and ice.
Here are our swallows! The girls colored their birds with chalk and we hung them from the fan. When the fan is on low, they actually dip and flit about - very similar to how swallows behave! Even the teens were impressed and don't want to take them down!
Activity Source: Holyday Book, The by Francis X. Weiser, S.J., Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc., New York, 1956
What a goof girl! She made this amazing stack of blocks that she wanted me to take a picture of. When I got the camera out, she stood in front of her blocks like a soldier - grim, serious face like a mug shot! I kept trying to tell her to smile - indicated with my hand on my mouth to show her - so she thought I was asking her to put her hand on her mouth! What a silly willy!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Well, she sure leaps high enough to qualify for flying in my book! This is Lady Sonora, or Soni for short. She was my dear hubby's attempt to remedy my empty lap syndrome a few years ago. She is a sweet rat terrier and alot of fun, but she didn't really do the job that hubby was thinking she would do - since we have since added two daughters to our family since Soni joined us!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Soft Pretzel Recipe:
• 1 package yeast
• 1 1/2 cups warm water
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 4 cups flour
Mix the yeast, water, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the flour, and knead until the dough is smooth. Let the dough rise until doubled. Divide the dough into about 12 pieces, roll into a "snake" and shape into the form of arms crossed in prayer. Combine the 2 cups warm water and baking soda in a shallow dish and dip each pretzel briefly into the mixture and place it on a greased baking sheet. Let rest about 20 minutes. You can sprinkle the top with salt (or bake them naked and just before you eat it, spritz it with water and dip it in a little salt. Or garlic salt. Or cinnamon sugar!), and bake in an oven preheated to 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
￼You might be a little more successful in shaping your pretzels. A couple of mine looked ok, but more than a few kind of looked like something that should be scooped out of the dog kennel! Fortunately, they still taste good!
Lent is a period of fasting, self-denial and prayer, in imitation of our Lord's fasting, forty days and forty nights, and in preparation for the feast of Easter. It comprises forty days, not including Sundays, from Ash Wednesday to the end of Holy Saturday. The term "penance" means a "change of heart," a victory over sin and a striving for holiness. The sacrifices of fasting and self-denial are only means and signs of this spiritual penance.
Thus the pretzel is the most appropriate food symbol in Lent. It still shows the form of arms crossed in prayer, reminding us that Lent is a time of prayer. It consists only of water and flour, thus proclaiming Lent as a time of fasting. The earliest picture and description of a pretzel (from the fifth century) may be found in the manuscript-codex No. 3867, Vatican Library.
That many people eat pretzels today all through the year, that they take them together with beer in taverns and restaurants, is only an accidental habit. In many places of Europe, pretzels are served only from Ash Wednesday to Easter, thus keeping the ancient symbolism alive.
There seems to be no reason why our Christian families should not return to this beautiful custom of our ancient Roman fellow- Christian, especially since we still have these breads everywhere. The children will be delighted and greatly impressed when they hear the true story of the pretzel!
From The Year of the Lord in the Christian Home by Rev. Francis X. Weiser, S.J. (Collegeville, Minnesota, The Liturgical Press, ©1964) p. 89, pp. 93-94.
Not really - but it was such an unusual vehicle, we had to stop and take a picture! What on earth????