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Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross – September 14

We Adore You, O Christ, and We Praise You.

Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

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This ancient feast honors the cross, as the instrument of Christ’s redemption of the world. The cross disappeared after the Crucifixion and was discovered by St. Helena, mother of Constantine, around the year 327 while she was on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. She actually found three crosses. To determine which one was actually Christ’s cross she asked a very sick girl to touch each cross. When the girl touched the third cross she was healed instantly! That was the cross of Christ! On the site of the discovery, a beautiful church was built. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher or the Church of the Resurrection still stands today.

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St. Helen’s son, Constantine was not yet a Christian. However, when he was about to go to war he had a vision of the cross and heard the words “In this sign you shall conquer!” He had crosses drawn on all the flags and shields and he won the battle. He then believed and became a Christian.

Tradition holds that sweet basil (the herb of kings) grew all over the hill where St. Helena found the Holy Cross. In Greece, the faithful are given sprigs of basil by the priest to honor this special day. We will have sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil (from my garden) marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with dinner tonight.

We will also celebrate with a cross-shaped cake for dessert and read The Queen & the Cross: The Story of Saint Helen (Tales and Legends) by Cornelia Mary Bilinsky and The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale by Angela Elwell Hunt.

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary – September 12 (AND a new Name Day tradition in the Affleck family begins)

“O name of Mary! Joy in the heart, honey in the mouth, melody to the ear of Her devout clients!” ~ St. Anthony of Padua

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Today we celebrate the Holy Name of Mary. Eight days after the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in accordance with Jewish law, her parents, Saints Joachim and Anne, were inspired by their visions of angels to name her “Mary”.

“There is not such powerful help in any name, nor is there any other name given to men, after that of Jesus, from which so much salvation is poured forth upon men as from the name of Mary…that the devout invocation of this sweet and holy name leads to the acquisition of superabundant graces in this life, and a very high degree of glory in the next”.  ~ Richard of St. Laurence

Last year I read about the ‘red plate’ tradition–when someone deserved special praise or attention they were served dinner on ‘The Red Plate’. In our family on your birthday you choose your birthday dinner. I thought serving your birthday dinner on The Red Plate would be a nice addition to our original tradition. So, I ordered The Red Plate from Waechtersbach, “the original red plate company”.

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Then, I recently read about another tradition…”Name Day” celebrations. Back in the day it was customary for a child to be given a Christian name or the name of a Saint. And the reason you did this was so that the child would have a patron, a protector, and someone to model themselves after. A Name Day is the Feast Day of a Saint for whom one is named. So, I decided that we would also use The Red Plate to celebrate our Name Days. So, today, on this Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary we will also celebrate our Mary’s Name Day and she will get to use The Red Plate at dinner tonight!

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Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary – September 8

Today we celebrate the birth of our Holy Mother, Mary! We don’t usually celebrate the birthdays of the saints but rather we celebrate the day they died, because that is the day they were born into the joys of heaven. But the birth of Mary, our Blessed Mother, is special. We celebrate her birthday because she came into this world full of grace and because she was to be the Mother of Jesus. If we have Mary, we have Jesus. Whoever is very faithful to her is very close to the heart of Jesus. We honor Mary’s birth and life as the new Eve and co-redemptrix in our salvation history.

I found out about a great devotion to “Maria Bambina” or “Baby Mary”. In Milan there is a beautiful image of the Infant Mary referred to as “Maria Bambina”.  A Franciscan nun made the statue out of wax sometime before 1730. She later gave it to others and after passing through many hands it was finally given to the Sisters of Charity in Lovere, Italy. In 1876 they brought it to their motherhouse in Milan (where it has stayed ever since). By this time, the statue had become worn and gray.

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Back to School Schultuetes

Happy Labor Day! Well, it’s the last day of summer vacation and I am a little sad. So, I decided I wanted to start a new tradition…it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I finally got around to doing it this year!

I made the (little) kids Schultuetes!

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The tradition of the Schultuete or “school cone” dates back to 1810 and is one of the most celebrated and long-standing traditions in Germany. At the beginning of every school year, children all over Germany set off to their first day of school with their Schultuete filled with little gifts, school supplies and sweets.

They loved them! Now we are ready to start the new school year!  🙂

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