Christmas Novena

I had a dear friend from the US enlighten me to the true meaning of the Christmas Novena - a 9 day service leading up to Christmas Day that a Father Charles Vachetta developed back in 1721.

Father Charles Vachetta, pastor of the Church of the Immaculate in Turin, Italy, wanted to give his parishioners something special for the Advent of 1721. He wanted them to understand the intertwining of the Old and New Testaments so they could see for themselves the love of God unfold from the beginning of time and for all eternity. Father Vachetta decided to give them the gift of a novena--a prayer going deep into the spirit of Advent, leaving one inspired with inexpressible joy. So Father Vachetta began to write his nine-day prayer, to stir the hearts of his parishioners to eagerly await the coming of Christ.

This is an excellent reading the way he wove the Old and New Testament together to point to the coming of Christ.

What saddens my heart is my Filipino friends being told that if they
do this 9 day prayer their wish, whatever it is, will come true.
I do not believe this was Father Vachetta's intent. His was to point his parishioners to Christ.

From the website: http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/prayers/chrnovena.html

Father Vachetta was a poet and scholar, steeped in Biblical theology. Using the Latin Vulgate, he wove the novena from the psalms and prophecies of the Old Testament which foretold the coming of the Messiah and crowned his masterpiece by retelling the birth of John the Baptist. Then, taking some of Scripture's lesser known prophecies, he composed a canticle, or prayer- song of incomparable beauty called "Let the Heavens Be Glad." The canticle is sung after the seven major prophecies and makes a fitting antiphon for the Scripture readings of the day. The Christmas novena, as it is now known, begins on December 16, nine days before Christmas, and ends on Christmas Eve. Father Vachetta left us the heritage of a lovely Advent tradition and his work continues to prepare hearts for the coming of Christ through the prophecies, psalms and Gospels. His Christmas novena will inspire people for ages to come.

Christmas Happenings 2010


Cinnamon Rolls and Stollen baked for gifts and eating.


Mikayla making a RedWall recipe for Christmas Eve Dinner.


Flowers that were delivered to us for Christmas!


Christmas Eve Dinner


Jerard sleeping through the Christmas morning festivities!


Mikayla, Kirsten, Ben and James


Optimus Prime and BumbleBee Transformer masks


Being silly in the kitchen.


Kurt buried in wrapping paper by James and Ben

Christmas Morning 2010

The neighbors behind us played and sang karaoke all night til the sun came up. They had games and food and drinking going on.
Catholics attend a 3am mass each morning for 9 mornings in order to be guaranteed receiving their wish....the true meaning of the birth of Christ in the stable seems a bit lost.
The Muslim call to prayer sounds at 4:45am.........

Luke 2:12 This will be a sign to you
you shall find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

"Is there anyone in our midst who pretends to understand the awesome love in the heart of the Abba of Jesus that inspired, motivated, and brought about Christmas?....
God entered into our world not with the crushing impact of unbearable glory, but in the way of weakness, vulnerability, and need. On a wintry night in an obscure cave, the infant Jesus was a humble, naked, helpless God who allowed us to get close to him." (Brennan Manning)

Blessings on your holiday celebrations. May each of us remember the TRUE meaning of Christmas - Christ has come - He is here.

May our zeal to reach the lost with the true gospel be increased.

German Christmas Bread (Stollen)

My mom used to make stollen each year for the holiday. I haven't made it in a long time, but this year, being a bit more homesick for family and friends in the USA, I decided to make it again.

I found a great recipe at allrecipes.com. (Old Fashiioned Stollen) Below is my rendition of this recipe. This recipe calls for three risings, but it is excellent and well worth the effort! I put frosting on top, too!!! YUM!!!!!!


Ingredients

* 1 1/2 cups milk (or 1 1/2 cups water and 6 T milk powder) * 1/2 cup sugar * 1 1/2 teaspoons salt * 2 teaspoons lemon flavouring or pineapple flavouring * 3/4 cup butter * 1 (.25 ounce) envelope active dry yeast (or 1 T yeast) * 1 teaspoon white sugar * 1/4 cup warm water * 2 eggs * 2 egg yolks * 5 2/3 cups all-purpose flour * 1 cup raisins I've been adding one cup candied fruit like my mom used to add, along with one cup of raisins. I've been leaving out the nuts - they are expensive here) * 1/2 cup chopped nuts * 1 egg, beaten

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, heat milk until hot, but not boiling; mix in 1/2 cup sugar, salt, lemon zest, and butter. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. In a small bowl, mix together yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 cup water; stir into milk. Beat in 2 eggs and egg yolks. Mix in 3 cups flour. Cover, and let rise in a warm place. 2. Mix in the raisins and nuts. Gradually mix in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover, and set aside to rise. 3. Divide dough into 3 balls. Roll each ball out into a thick log, braid, and tuck the ends under. Place on a large cookie sheet, and set aside to rise one more time. 4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Brush beaten egg over the dough. It gives a shine to it. 5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Reflections on Books

I am currently reading several excellent books!


Randy Alcorn's book "Money, Possessions and Eternity" has me rethinking how I use what God has provided for us; how best to build for eternity by helping those in need here on earth; how to be better in showing hospitality to others; and how to raise my kids to realize that each deed done here on earth is building for eternity - whether good or bad. This is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.


"Conformed To His Image" by Kenneth Boa is about 12 facets of spiritual formation. This book is actually a college text book but not dry or boring in any way. This book helps develop a fuller, holistic Biblical foundation for our lives.


I just also started reading "Intimate Allies" by Dan Allendar and Tremper Longman III. It's a book about God's design for marriage and becoming soul-mates for life. It seems to me that marriages have seasons they go through. And some seasons require more committed work to keep the friendship, love and passion going than other seasons. (But don't worry - thought Kurt and I have walked rough paths in our marriage, we are doing well - there is always room for improvement and we are working toward that end. Another great book is "Hold Me Tight" by Dr. Sue Johnson!) [ I want to learn all I can about being a better wife and friend to Kurt - - especially when reflecting that marriage is a type and shadow of Christ's relationship to us, His church!]

So, if you need a book to read this holiday season, I recommend these!