A blog where families who love and live the Catholic Faith can share, encourage and support each other.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Novena to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph





Written by Lucy

My husband and I had been accustomed to praying novenas for years, especially to St Joseph. After the birth of our daughter 8 yrs ago we felt called to begin a novena to the Holy Family, but after extensive searching were unable to find one that suited our needs. We wanted it to be instructive for us as well as prayerful, helping to form our hearts and minds in the God’s vision for marriage and family life. We decided to compile one ourselves, loosely based on a liturgical format with a reading, psalm, Gospel and “homily” from the teachings of the Church as well as an Introductory and Concluding Prayer. We felt drawn to pray this novena 9 times each year, for the first 9 days of the first 9 months (Jan-Sept) each year. We have experienced many blessings during this period which have been as a direct result of this. Each year we dedicate our Novena to God’s will for our family.

In the first year of praying this we were living on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane in a beautiful Queenslander which we were in the process of renovating. It was to be our permanent family home and we had poured all our time and savings into it. However, we discovered that my husband was hardly ever home, having to work so hard to pay our huge debt, commute over 3 hours each day and spend the weekends renovating as well as maintaining our block of 5 acres. We had two small children but felt it was important to keep committed to what we had begun with the house and land. I was also discovering I was very lonely as I cared for our young children and found it such a long drive to see any of my friends.

Our hearts began to change as we prayed this novena. We became freer to see God’s vision for a more cohesive family life. We began the year with no intention at all of ever moving. 6 months later we felt we should put our home on the market just to see if it would sell without any real certainty about it.

By the September and the end of the Novena we had listed our house for sale and it sold on the first day it went on the internet at $10,000 above its list price. This was a sign loud and clear to us that God was blessing our decision.

We bought a low maintenance home on 600m2 only 1 km from the train and knocking off half our mortgage, 1 hour off my husband’s commute and many hours off his weekend renovating commitments. We downshifted in a big way but couldn’t have been happier. I am so thankful that the Lord spared us years of unnecessary toil on something that was not His will. I am thankful that our children have spent countless more hours with their father than they would ever have had if we had stayed where we were.

And that was just the first year..

Each year of the past 8 we have prayed this and seen some additional clarity in how God wishes to form us as a family to “become what we are.”

I hope that this Novena assists other families in a similar way to living out our common call to universal holiness and contemplation.

God bless you through the Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.



Novena to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph


Days 1-3: Reflections on God’s Love

Days 4-6: Reflections on Married Love

Days 7-9: Reflections on Family Love

Conclude each day with the following:

Consecration of the family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
and the Immaculate Heart of Mary


Most Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, united in perfect love, as you look upon us with
mercy and caring, we consecrate our hearts, our lives, our family to you. We know the beautiful example of your home in Nazareth was meant to be a model for each of our families. We hope to have, with your help, the unity and strong, enduring love you gave to one another.
May our home be filled with joy. May sincere affection, patience, tolerance and mutual respect be freely given to all. May our prayers be filled with the needs of others, not just ourselves and may we always be close to your sacraments. Bless those who are present, as well as those who are absent, both the living and the dead; may peace be among us 

and when we are tested, grant us the Christian acceptance of God’s will. 
Keep our family close to your Hearts, may your special protection be with us always. 
Most Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, hear our prayers. Amen.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Pray for us

OR

Prayer for the Family (Pope John Paul II)

Lord God, from you every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.

Father, you are Love and Life.
Through your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman, and 
through the Holy Spirit, fountain of 
divine charity, grant that every family on earth may become for each successive 
generation a true shrine of life and love.

Grant that your grace may guide the thoughts and actions of husbands and wives for the good of their families and of all the families in the world.

Grant that the young may find in the family solid support for 
their human dignity and for their growth in truth and love.
Grant that love, strengthened by the grace of the sacrament of 

marriage, may prove mightier than all the weakness and trials through which our families sometimes pass.

Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, 
grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out her worldwide mission in the family and 
through the family.

Through Christ our Lord, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life 

forever and ever. 

Amen.+


Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Pray for us


DAY 1 God’s Love

Sign of the Cross…Father, help us to live as the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Holy Mary, Mother of God, you have given the world its true light: Jesus, your Son – 
the Son of God. You abandoned yourself completely to God’s call and thus became a wellspring of the goodness which flows forth from him. Show us Jesus. Lead us to Him. Teach us to know and love him, so that we too can become capable of true love and be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world. May the Divine Will of God be lived out in our family. Amen

READING 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8


Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end.

PSALM 103: 11-13


For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 

so great is God’s love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, 
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

GOSPEL John 3:14-17


As Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For this is how God loved the world: 
he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.

REFLECTION Benedict XVI Deus caritas est. 39


Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, 
gives rise to love. Love is the light-and in the end, the only light- that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible , and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world-this is the invitation.


DAY 2 God’s Love

Sign of the Cross…Father, help us to live as the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Holy Mary, Mother of God, you have given the world its true light: Jesus, your Son – the 
Son of God. You abandoned yourself completely to God’s call and thus became a wellspring of the goodness which flows forth from him. Show us Jesus. Lead us to Him. Teach us to know and love him, so that we too can become capable of true love and be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world. May the Divine Will of God be lived out in our family. Amen

READING Ephesians 3: 14-21


This, then is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every fatherhood, in heaven or on earth, takes its name. In the abundance of his glory may he, through his 
Spirit, enable you to grow firm in power with regard to your inner self, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, with all Gods holy people you will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; so that, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you may be filled with the utter fullness of God. 

PSALM 23: 1-4


The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 

He makes me lie down in green pastures, 

he leads me beside quiet waters, 
he refreshes my soul. 

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, 

for you are with me; 

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

GOSPEL Luke 1:46-55 


And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been 
mindful of the humble state of his servant. 

From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done
 great things for me- holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

REFLECTION Benedict XVI Deus caritas est. 39


Faith, hope and charity go together. Hope is practiced through the virtue of patience, 
which continues to do good even in the face of apparent failure, and through the virtue of humility, which accepts God’s mystery and trusts him even at times of darkness. Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love! It thus transforms our impatience and our doubts into the sure hope that God holds the world in his hands and that, as the dramatic imagery of the end of the Book of Revelation points out, in spite of all darkness he ultimately triumphs in glory. 


DAY 3 God’s Love

Sign of the Cross…Father, help us to live as the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Holy Mary, Mother of God, you have given the world its true light: Jesus, your Son – the 
Son of God. You abandoned yourself completely to God’s call and thus became a wellspring of the goodness which flows forth from him. Show us Jesus. Lead us to Him. Teach us to know and love him, so that we too can become capable of true love and be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world. May the Divine Will of God be lived out in our family. Amen

READING Philippians 4:6-8

Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and 
petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire – with whatever is good and praiseworthy.

PSALM 37:3-7

Trust in the LORD and do good; 

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 

Take delight in the LORD, 
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;

trust in him and he will do this: 

He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, 

your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD 

and wait patiently for him; 

do not fret when people succeed in their ways, 

when they carry out their wicked schemes.

GOSPEL Matthew 11 : 25-30

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you 
have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

REFLECTION Benedict XVI Deus caritas est. 39

In Jesus Christ, it is God himself who goes in search of the “stray sheep”, a suffering and lost humanity…His death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form. By contemplating the pierced side of Christ, we can understand the starting point (that) : “God is love.” It is there that this truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must begin.


DAY 4 Married Love

Sign of the Cross…Father, help us to live as the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. 
We pray you help our love be unselfish and complete, as we share everything with one another, without keeping anything back, without measuring how much we are going to give, each of us loving for the sake of the other, each glad to make the other happy by giving oneself. Lord, keep us faithful in our love until death. Help us to refuse our married love to everyone else as we promised on the day we were married. Amen

READING Tobit 8:4-8

(Tobias & Sarah prayed):“ You are blessed, O God of our fathers: blessed too is your 
name for ever and ever. Let the heavens bless you and all things you have made for evermore. You it was who created Adam, you who created Eve his wife to be his help and support: From these two the human race was born. You it was who said, ‘It is not right that the man should be alone ; let us make him a helper like him’. And so I take my sister not for any lustful motive, but I do it in singleness of heart. Be kind enough to have pity on her and on me and bring us to old age together.”

PSALM 128: 1-6

Blessed are all who fear the LORD,

who walk in obedience to him. 

You will eat the fruit of your labor; 

blessings and prosperity will be yours. 

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine 

within your house; 

your children will be like olive shoots 

around your table. 

Yes, this will be the blessing 

for the man who fears the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion; 
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem 
all the days of your life. 

May you live to see your children’s children— 

peace be on Israel.

GOSPEL Matthew 19:4-6

Jesus answered: “Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning ‘made them 
male and female’ and that he said: ‘that is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh’. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide.”

REFLECTION Tertullian cf Familiaris Consortio 13

How can I ever express the happiness of a marriage joined by the Church, strengthened 
by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels, and ratified by the Father?... How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service! They are both children of one Father and servants of the same Master, undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit.


DAY 5 Married Love

Sign of the Cross…Father, help us to live as the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. 
We pray you help our love be unselfish and complete, as we share everything with one another, without keeping anything back, without measuring how much we are going to give, each of us loving for the sake of the other, each glad to make the other happy by giving oneself. Lord, keep us faithful in our love until death. Help us to refuse our married love to everyone else as we promised on the day we were married. Amen

READING Ephesians 5:25-33

Husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is for him to love himself. A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church, because we are parts of his Body. This is 
why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh. This mystery has great significance , but I am applying it to Christ and the Church. To sum up: you also, each one of you, must love his wife as he loves himself; and let every wife respect her husband.

Psalm 127: 1-5

Unless the LORD builds the house, 

the builders labor in vain. 

Unless the LORD watches over the city, 

the guards stand watch 
in vain. 
In vain you rise early 

and stay up late, 

toiling for food to eat— 

for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Children are a heritage from the LORD, 

offspring a reward from him. 

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior 

are children born in one’s youth. 

Blessed is the man 

whose quiver is full of them. 

They will not be put to shame 

when they contend with their opponents in court.

GOSPEL Matthew 2:13-15

Suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, 
because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.” So Joseph got up and taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. 

REFLECTION John Paul II: Familiaris Consortio 25

Love for his wife as mother of their children and love for the children themselves are for 
the man the natural way of understanding and fulfilling his own fatherhood. ..In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task which he shares with his wife, by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church. 


DAY 6 Married Love

Sign of the Cross…Father, help us to live as the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. 
We pray you help our love be unselfish and complete, as we share everything with one another, without keeping anything back, without measuring how much we are going to give, each of us loving for the sake of the other, each glad to make the other happy by giving oneself. Lord, keep us faithful in our love until death. Help us to refuse our married love to everyone else as we promised on the day we were married. Amen

READING Proverbs 31: 10-12, 25-31

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her 
husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life...She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

PSALM 131: 1-3

My heart is not proud, LORD, 

my eyes are not haughty; 

I do not concern myself with great matters 

or things too wonderful for me. 

But I have calmed and quieted myself, 

I am like a weaned child with its mother; 

like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD 

both now and forevermore

GOSPEL John 2:1-5

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. And they ran out of wine, since the 
wine provided for the feast had all been used, and the mother of Jesus said to him, “they have no wine”. Jesus said, “Woman what do you want from me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants “Do whatever He tells you.”

REFLECTION Catechism of the Catholic Church 1613

On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign- at his mother’s request- during a wedding feast. The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence.


DAY 7 Family Love

Sign of the Cross…Father, help us to live as the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Heavenly Father, from whom all parenthood comes, help us to grow in gratitude, love and respect towards our parents, whom by the gift of life, have brought us into the world and enabled us to grow. Teach us to understand our children so that they may grow in your wisdom and love according to your holy will: to be the best parents that we can, to model our parenthood on the parenthood of God, and to follow the example of Mary and Joseph. Amen

READING Jeremiah 1: 4-8

The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the LORD 
said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

PSALM 139: 13 – 16

For you created my inmost being; 

you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 

your works are wonderful, 

I know that full well. 

My frame was not hidden from you 

when I was made in the secret place, 

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 

Your eyes saw my unformed body; 

all the days ordained for me were written in your book
 
before one of them came to be.

GOSPEL Matthew 18:5-6,10

At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said “ Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” So he called a little child to him whom he set among them. Then he said, “In 
truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. ‘Anyone who welcomes one little child like this in my name welcomes me. But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone round his neck. …See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

REFLECTION John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 92

As the domestic church, the family is summoned to proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life. This is a responsibility which first concerns married couples, called to be givers of life, on the basis of an ever greater awareness of the meaning of procreation as a unique event which clearly reveals that human life is a gift received in order then to be 
given as a gift. In giving origin to a new life, parents recognize that the child, "as the fruit of their mutual gift of love, is, in turn, a gift for both of them, a gift which flows from them". It is above all in raising children that the family fulfils its mission to proclaim the Gospel of life. 


DAY 8 Family Love

Sign of the Cross…Father, help us to live as the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Heavenly Father, from whom all parenthood comes, help us to grow in gratitude, love and respect towards our parents, whom by the gift of life, have brought us into the world and enabled us to grow. Teach us to understand our children so that they may grow in your wisdom and love according to your holy will: to be the best parents that we can, to model our parenthood on the parenthood of God, and to follow the example of Mary and Joseph. Amen

READING Colossians 3: 12-15

You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on 
love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.

PSALM 112: 1-5

Blessed are those who fear the LORD, 

who find great delight in his commands.
Their children will be mighty in the land; 

the generation of the upright will be blessed. 

Wealth and riches are in their houses, 

and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, 

for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, 

who conduct their affairs with justice.

GOSPEL Luke 2:51-52

He went down with them then and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people.

REFLECTION Vatican II, Gravissimum Educationis 3

As it is the parents who have given life to their children, on them lies the gravest obligation of educating their family. They must therefore be recognized as being primarily and principally responsible for their education. The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.


DAY 9 Family Love

Sign of the Cross…Father, help us to live as the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Heavenly Father, from whom all parenthood comes, help us to grow in gratitude, love and respect towards our parents, whom by the gift of life, have brought us into the world and enabled us to grow. Teach us to understand our children so that they may grow in your wisdom and love according to your holy will: to be the best parents that we can, to model our parenthood on the parenthood of God, and to follow the example of Mary and Joseph. Amen

READING Colossians 3: 16-21

Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord 
Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.

PSALM 25: 1-10

In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, 

nor let my enemies triumph over me. 

No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, 

but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. 

Guide me in your truth and teach me, 

for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. 

Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, 

for they are from of old. 

Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; 

according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good.
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. 

All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful 
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

GOSPEL Mark 3: 31-35

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s 
will is my brother and sister and mother.”

REFLECTION John Paul II: Familiaris Consortio 17

The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it 
is, but also its mission, what it can and should do. The role that God calls the family to perform in history derives from what the family is…Each family finds within itself a summons that cannot be ignored, and that specifies both its dignity and responsibility: family, become what you are.



Books we love:

Holy Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Devotions to St Joseph by Brian Moore www.stpauls.com.au
Only Heroic Catholic Families will Survive by Fr Robert J. Fox www.fatimafamily.org
Character Building by David Isaacs www.bookdepository.co.uk
Catholic Education: Homeward Bound by Kimberley Hahn
Be A Man! by Fr Larry Richards
Happy are you poor: The simple life and spiritual freedom by Thomas Dubay, S.M


For more info: ozfamilyrobbo@gmail.com

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The joy of learning!

Learning is fun! And if learning isn't fun for you or your children, then it should be! Think back to your school days (I know, it hurts!) Think of what you most enjoyed learning. Then think of what you least enjoyed learning. When I do this I come up with: favourite - Art. Least favourite- Mathematics.

When I think of Maths at school I think of monotone men in dorky shirts and ties. I think of a class I could easily sleep through if allowed. I think of how little attention I payed. It was mind numbingly boring and I understood very little of it.

Move over to Art. I think of a teacher who was a bit of an outsider and a little unstable. Who sometimes did "art theory" with us when the inspiration overtook or when he felt guilty - about once a year. And the rest of the time? He was, well, not there for most of the class. This was the great part! I could grab a camera and go take photos for 2 hours. Or I could spend that time in the dark room, which I frequently did. Sometime I stayed at the long table and worked on drawing murals with other students. Sometimes I painted.

Can you see the difference? One was formal instruction in a completely non passionate format. The other was free reign, and ultimately, bliss for a creative person.

So what is it I'm saying? Children, young adults, and adults alike need time to figure stuff out for themselves. They need time to follow passions and interests, even if they don't seem to lead anywhere. And if someone is not learning effectively, then the format may need to change.

Let me give an example. My 8 year old finds lessons from a writing or English textbook decidedly dull. But, left to her own devices, she is an avid story writer. One of her favourite past times currently is writing to pen friends. In essence, she can write for hours each day without opening a single textbook.




This is where the wonder of learning at home comes in. A child is not restricted by grades or timetables. If one of the children is immersed in an activity they love and they're learning from it, why on earth would I stop them right in the middle of it and tell them they need to do something more important, more academic. 

It is so important to me to not fall into the trap of holding "school at home". Yes, I think it's important that the children learn certain things but in the quest for knowledge we must never crush the joy of learning.

Post written by Kelly, please visit her at her blog.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Easy coconut rice pudding in the slow cooker.



5 handfuls of arborio rice
1/3 cup sugar (optional for sweetness)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
250ml cup coconut milk
700ml milk
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Sultanas (optional)

Place all ingredients except sultanas in the slow cooker, stir and turn on low. Check every half hour or so and give it a stir. If it seems to have absorbed a lot of liquid, stir in a little more milk at a time. I didn't need to do this, but it's possible your slow cooker is different to mine. Leave it cook, testing the rice for doneness (I think mine took about 2 hours). When it seems nearly done, add the sultanas.
Serve warm to hot with ice-cream.

So easy!

Posted by Kelly of The Handmaden. Visit me for many more recipes, crafty tutorials, frugal Godly living and home education!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Catholic Homeschool Camp 2013 - Only Four Places Left



We warmly extend an invitation to all Australian Catholic Home Educating families to join us for our 13th annual Catholic homeschool camp!!.

When: 9-13th September
Where: The Lismore Diocese.  Camp Drewe, Lennox Head, NSW
Two hours south of Brisbane, nine hours north of Sydney.


Only three more months until our annual Catholic homeschool camp!!  Excitement is building and preparations are gaining monumentum.  Our annual camp is an integral part of our family life and the lives of many of our participating families.  A time to develop and renew friendships, to gain support and to participate in the wider Catholic homeschooling community.

At the core of our week is our shared Catholic Faith, our day begins with Mass (Extraordinary Rite), ends with the Rosary and Benediction and includes Spiritual Talks and the opportunity for Confession. This year Fr Terence Mary Naughtin is Camp Chaplain.

Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett of the Lismore diocese celebrates Mass(Novus Ordo Rite) on Tuesday offering the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion.



The camp is in walking distance to the beach and every day we enjoy swimming at one of the beautiful nearby North Coast's beaches. Activities often enjoyed include icebreaker games, impromptu games of soccer, dancing, a sports day, sand castle building contest, a concert, and on the final night a bonfire.


Each family is accommodated in their own dormitory and meals are fully catered.


Please consider joining us and contact me with any further questions or for a brochure with more details at
aussiethreads@gmail.com

We warmly invite you to join us:) 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Get Moving!

Do you have little ones and think you can't exercise. Read the following post and be inspired!


Written by Shannan

I don't wear bikinis. My dear husband thinks I'm beautiful. My cholesterol levels are normal as is my BMI. I am, by medical standards, a pretty healthy person. Running, as everyone knows, is the height of torture! The times in my life when one coach or another forced me to run I thought that I might suffer a stroke. So why in the world would I choose to start running at the age of 33?

My biggest motivations are my girls. Ronan is 20 months and Brighid is 6 years old and they keep me on my toes! I want to be around with them for a long time. I want to be able to keep up with them for a long time. I want for them to be able to say that their mom has been active for as long as they can remember. Should I be blessed with grandchildren someday, I'd like to be able to keep up with them too. I'd like to instill a love of activity in my girls so that being healthy is as natural as breathing!

My second biggest motivation to start running was cost, both of money and time. I could have started running the very moment that I decided to be a runner. I didn't, but the point is, I didn't need anything special. I don't need fancy gear. I could run in my pajamas if the mood struck me. I don't, but I could! Before children, I enjoyed taking fitness classes but they are not cheap and they are not flexible. I NEED flexibility as a mother. I need to work out on my time when it works for me. I can not commit to a regular breakfast let alone kickboxing 4 times a week on their schedule. I run at any given opportunity. I plug it in whenever I can because life happens and I don't know what my "everyday at 9:30" might look like... a teething toddler doesn't care how much you paid for that spin class or even if it is the instructor that plays the best songs.

I have been able to keep up with it because I found a way to make it fun! I know, I know... What could possibly be fun about torture? I started slow. I did not want to injure myself or set my sites too high at first. I ran for 2 minutes and then walked for 2 for a total of 16 minutes. Once I could do that comfortably I upped my run time to 5 minutes but kept my walking at 2 minutes. Then running for 15 minutes straight. I did not concern myself with distance at first and I knew I was slow, but I didn't care! I was out there! I made a point to smile the whole run. 

I wave at every car that drives past. I wave or give high fives to all people out for a walk. I cheer for other runners that I run past. Most of the time I am pushing my girls in a stroller, I use my bike trailer with a stroller attachment, and I ask them to cheer for me. Now the mere sight of my running shoes gets my toddler hooting and hollering! I downloaded the Nike+ app for my phone which will alert you in your headphones at each mile or kilometre and I celebrate EVERY mile with obnoxious gusto! People stare, but they also smile. So my work out lifts more than my mood! It warms my heart to see how many people not only smile, but cheer me on when they see me enjoying my work out.

I never thought, not in a bazillion years, that I'd ever look forward to my next run. But I do! Now turn off this computer and go move your body!

Shannan is a guest writer from the USA. She's also a dear friend. Thank you, Shannan for contributing to our blog.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Big Hearted Excitement

Written by Sue Elvis


While my daughters and I were outside in the back garden the other morning, hanging clothes on the washing line in the bitterly cold wind, we were unaware that something exciting was happening at our front door. The mail man had arrived with a mysterious looking parcel. When we came back inside, rubbing our cold-numbed fingers together, there it was sitting on the kitchen bench. 

We were all eager to find out what the parcel contained. Sophie was quick to point out the ‘open’ tag to one side of the address label. I grabbed the tag and pulled and the cardboard unwound revealing another layer of wrappings. I pulled again and the parcel rolled over and over, and more cardboard came away.

“It’s like pass the parcel,” said Gemma-Rose with delight. “Loads and loads of wrappings. Do you think it’s all cardboard and nothing else?”

But by this time, I had an idea of what we’d find inside: “I bet it’s books.”

And it was. Multiple copies of a book, with a red and white cover, were finally revealed:

Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families by Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas.

About a year ago, I received an email from Patti:

Dear Sue,

My co-author, Theresa Thomas, and I are compiling a book titled Big Hearted Families, for Scepter Publishers.   We are looking for contributions that will entertain and inspire readers to grow their family's heart and soul…

And so I wrote a story, and Patti and Theresa very kindly included it in their new book. That book arrived on my doorstep last week.

I have quickly flipped through the book and discovered there are 22 stories in this volume. My own chapter is there close to the end of the book. It’s called Moving in the Spirit. Did Patti have to do much editing of my story?  Did it need many changes? Does it fit in with all the other contributions? So far I haven’t had the courage to reread it and find out.

It’s strange seeing one of my stories in someone else’s book. I never worry about my stories when I publish them on my blogs. But to see one in print in someone’s book…  that’s totally different. I hope it's good enough.

Fortunately my story is only one of many. Here’s the Amazon description of this book:

Big Hearted gives you an inside look into the triumphs, struggles, joys and sorrows of ordinary families with generous hearts. It invites you to witness extraordinary love in ordinary moments like the simple cooking of a meal or the hug between a teenaged brother and his baby sister. Just like your family, these families experience pain, setbacks, and challenges. And just like your family, they also experience love and immeasurable blessing through their commitment and care for each other.

In this book, you will learn the story of:

• A father of seven healthy boys who struggled to love his Down syndrome baby girl

• A mother of twelve who learned an important lesson about Christmas from her children

• A special relationship between a teenaged brother and his infant sister

• Two grandparents in their final days who inspired their grandchildren in simple ways

• Two orphan children from Kenya who prayed for adoption by an American family and got what they asked for!

It has been said that God cannot be outdone in generosity. The stories in these pages will show you how big hearted families experience this truth in a myriad of ways, sometimes miraculously.

I can’t wait for a quiet moment to sit and enjoy the book. I am sure the other contributors have written some amazing and inspiring stories.

Thank you Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas for including my story in your new book, Big Hearted. I hope the book is a huge success.


I blog at Sue Elvis Writes and Stories of an Unschooling Family. Please feel welcome to visit!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Cocktail Queen


Father Ignatius was washing his car in the church’s car park one afternoon when he was approached by a young lady wearing a low-cut T-shirt, a short skirt, and knee-length boots.

“Are you the priest that works in this church?” she asked.

He was still wearing his white collar and replied, “I am the Parish priest. How may I help you?”

“Can we speak privately please?” she asked again.

Father Ignatius put down the bucket of water and invited her into the Parish house. He sat at his desk in his office and she made herself comfortable in the armchair by the window.

After a short silence she said, “This isn’t easy for me …”

“Take your time,” replied Father Ignatius gently.

“Don’t know where to start …”

“Start at the beginning … what can I do to help …”

“I serve drinks at the Bitten Apple Night Club … I’m a barmaid … they call me Cocktail Queen …” she interrupted.

The priest nodded and said nothing, encouraging her to go on.

“Have you been there? The Bitten Apple … just by the cinema?”

“No, I’ve never been there …” he answered calmly, and wondering where all this is leading to.

“If you ever want to go let me know … I can let you in without paying the entrance fee … get in at the back …”

“Well … that won’t be necessary …” hesitated Father Ignatius, still wondering what this young lady wanted.

“I’m not a bad person you know … people look at me and think I’m a bad person …”

“I’m not here to judge you,” he answered, still remaining calm to help her say what she had on her mind.

“This is very difficult, but I have to tell you because I believe in God and all that …” she stopped for a few seconds and sighed. He let her pause for a while until she continued, “I’m pregnant … there I said it!”

“That’s good news … isn’t it?” he said with a smile.

“A nuisance more like … it’ll interfere with my work … and my boy-friend is mad about it. It’ll be Christmas soon … and a right present he’s given me …”

“I see …”

“Well he said we should get rid of it … he is willing to pay and all … I was wondering whether God would forgive me if I got rid of it … because I can’t give up work you see …”

“You’re asking me to condone the killing of a living human being; because that’s what it is you intend to do,” said Father Ignatius sternly.

“I’m asking for forgiveness” she said, “I was brought up Catholic years ago as a child, although I don’t go to church now … I’m too busy you see … I was told if you confess your sins the priest has to forgive you …”

“It doesn’t work quite like that …” he said hiding his temporary loss of patience.

“You can’t ask for forgiveness for something you’re about to do. Something which you know is wrong; and yet you intend to do it all the same.”

“It's either that or I lose my job and lose my boy-friend. Then where will I be?”

“You do realize what abortion is Miss, do you not?” he asked gently trying to calm down the situation before it got out of hand. “It is the ending of a life. It is not a matter to be considered lightly and in a cavalier way as you and your boy friend seem to think. I do not believe that it is right, and I must advise you against it in the strongest way possible. I urge you to re-consider what you’re intending to do …”

She looked at her watch and interrupted him once again, “Do you think if I go to another church the vicar there would forgive me?”

It was obvious that she was not listening and that her mind was made up. All she needed was re-assurance from the church, or any representative of a Deity she happened to vaguely believe in, that what she was doing was right.

“I doubt that you will find any vicar or priest who would …”

“I’ll have to go now,” she said looking at her watch again, “I’m on at the Bitten Apple in half-an-hour …”

“Before you go, just wait a second … I’d like you to get in contact with these people if you can. They may be able to help you. They will talk to you about your pregnancy, but I must tell you, they will never agree to you having an abortion. On the contrary, they will help you see what a gift you have living within you right now …”

“Whatever … I’ll think about it … I don’t think they’ll help … I just have to get rid of it … I’m not into having babies and all that …” she said taking the card from his hand and making her way out.

As he saw her leave Father Ignatius prayed silently for that living human being threatened with death before breathing his first breath.

All that happened some months ago and the priest never met the young lady again … until yesterday.

He was at the supermarket and about to pay for his purchases when the cashier recognized him. She told him that the baby is six months old now, and that she gave up work at the night club and was now working at the supermarket and living with her boy-friend, the baby’s father.

As he drove away the priest praised God for saving the unborn-child and prayed that maybe … one day … this young family may get to know and love the Lord.