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We call this one “Remnant Shrimp From Last Night’s Dinner” by an unknown artist.

If you’ve done a better job keeping up with our novena than I have at updating the website, you’ll remember that the last couple of days was devoted to praying for kindness and faithfulness. Today, we pray for gentleness.

Novena to the Holy Spirit Day 7

Gentleness

Let us bow down in humility at the power and grandeur of the Holy Spirit. Let us worship the Holy Trinity and give glory today to the Paraclete, our Advocate.

Oh Holy Spirit, by Your power, Christ was raised from the dead to save us all. By Your grace, miracles are performed in Jesus’ name. By Your love, we are protected from evil. And so, we ask with humility and a beggar’s heart for Your gift of Gentleness within us.

Despite the gravity of our sins, oh Lord you treat us with Gentleness. Dear Holy Spirit, give us your power to treat all in our lives with the Gentleness of the Saints.

Amen.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ Our Lord,

Amen.

Find the Original Here: http://www.praymorenovenas.com/novena-to-the-holy-spirit/#ixzz3an6OKDDz

As a young parent, I often find myself trying to maneuver between strict and lax, punitive and rewarding – something like an unstable pendulum, unwise and fearful. After all, the stakes seem high and the cautionary tales plentiful. Somehow (praise God) I’m slowly learning that affection, warmth and gentleness are things that can be fearlessly poured out onto a child in as large a dose as we can muster from within us, and the results seem to always be good. One can say no and enforce boundaries and dole out consequences without the harsh words and disdain that can colour our parenting on those tough days. We’re human and it’s an ongoing struggle. God knows where we are at and pours out his graces as required. Come, Holy Spirit!

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Novena to the Holy Spirit Day 4

Patience

Let us bow down in humility at the power and grandeur of the Holy Spirit. Let us worship the Holy Trinity and give glory today to the Paraclete, our Advocate.

Oh Holy Spirit, by Your power, Christ was raised from the dead to save us all. By Your grace, miracles are performed in Jesus’ name. By Your love, we are protected from evil. And so, we ask with humility and a beggar’s heart for Your gift of patience within us.

Oh Holy Spirit, you give lavishly to those who ask. Please give us the patience of the Saints who are now with you in heaven. Help us to endure everything with an eternal patience that is only possible with your help.

Amen.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ Our Lord,

Amen.

(Find the original here: http://www.praymorenovenas.com/novena-to-the-holy-spirit/#ixzz3aXRknvn1)

And so, we ask with humility and a beggar’s heart for Your gift of patience within us. I think this might be my favourite part of this entire novena, so far. At least the part that resonated with me the most. Nothing like parenting to bring one to one’s knees begging for patience.

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I’m surprised that it’s been three years since it occured to us to start our day with the Hail Mary and a few petitions (“God bless Daddy at work.”). Three years is so big in our young family’s lifetime. For some of us, it’s been forever.

Since that day, I’ve tried to add a few things randomly here and there. One thing that seems to have stuck is the reminder of the commandment to love. We’re there, we’re sitting, we’re already praying, might as well remember the most important thing: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

These days, it seems appropriate to sing our mini Holy Spirit song in the days leading up to Pentecost.

If that has given you some sort of impression of a picturesque group of angelic children, still and quiet and looking fondly at me as I lead our little morning prayer, let me just gently smush that mistaken thought now before it takes root. It’s kind of like hearding cats. I daily beg for the patience to not loose it on my well-meaning darlings who think that morning prayer is the perfect time to bop a sibling on the head, or kick a sibling on the shin. Or continue reading Narnia and then look me in the eye and say, “What?”

[Sigh] Come, Holy Spirit!

If you’re still with us for the novena, today is day 3:

Day 3

Joy

Let us bow down in humility at the power and grandeur of the Holy Spirit. Let us worship the Holy Trinity and give glory today to the Paraclete, our Advocate.

Oh Holy Spirit, by Your power, Christ was raised from the dead to save us all. By Your grace, miracles are performed in Jesus’ name. By Your love, we are protected from evil. And so, we ask with humility and a beggar’s heart for Your gift of Peace within us.

The Saints were tempted, attacked and accused by the devil who is the destroyer of peace. When we are accused by the devil, come to our aid as our Advocate and give us Peace that lasts through all trials!

Amen.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ Our Lord,

Amen.

Find the Original Here: http://www.praymorenovenas.com/novena-to-the-holy-spirit/#ixzz3aOVygiyK

After the 9:00 a.m. Saturday Mass, while the Rosary is being recited and as the Confession line slowly grows then shrinks, I’ve noticed that there is always someone carefully going through the entire church, dusting.

It’s not a trivial task.

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It isn’t a small church.

Now, if you are the sort of person that has always existed in a dust-free house, dusting all the corners as often as needed like breathing (i.e. automatically and without fuss), then this might not be that big a deal. You might think, Of course someone dusts all of St. Clements! But to me, dusting is a recent discovery. The realization that it is possible to have a home that does not have a thick layer of dust on all of the infrequently-used surfaces (and some of the frequently-used ones) is new new new.

It was exciting to do it the first few times. Look at me! I’m dusting! Look at my house! It’s dust-free! But the 27th time? The 38th time? It was losing its excitement. (Isn’t that what housekeeping is all about? Excitement? Haha.)

As I watched that anonymous St. Clement parishoner carefully run the duster through the Stations, St. Michael, the Tabernacle, carefully, carefully working through all the nooks and crannies, I was inspired to take up my duster again, even without the initial enthusiasm. I suppose some of the more humble tasks associated with loving those placed in our care get to this point – where there is no more excitement. I am usually surprised that, when it fades, a different sort of fuel takes its place, allowing me to keep on keeping on. I have a sneaky suspicion that it is Grace.

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His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins, at the ordination of Deacon Neiman D’Souza at St. Clement Parish, October 2013.

During his homily at Deacon Neiman D’Souza’s ordination in October of last year, Cardinal Collins presented an image that has stuck with me. He spoke of being a feather on the breath of God. I don’t remember who he attributed it to, but I remember thinking That is SO COOL! A feather! Imagine being so light that you can just go where God wants you to go, when he wants you to go there.

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At every moment, with great ease, doing God’s will.

The thing is, most of the time, I feel more like this:

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A sack of potatoes.

If you sometimes feel the same way, take heart, my fellow sacks of potatoes. God’s breath is capable of sending even the most sluggish of us into graceful aerobatics, if that is his will. We just need to ask for help. Ask and ask and ask. God, please help. Please help, please help, please help.

baby
Ya think you’re loud? I’ll show you loud…

After the Palm Sunday Mass, a lovely lady in front of us turned around and proclaimed our son A Very Well Behaved Boy. I was unable to respond graciously right away since I was busy picking up my jaw from the kneeler. Was she serious? He must have poked the back of her head with his seventeen palm leaves hundreds of times. Maybe thousands. And that was in the three seconds before I had to confiscate them. This boy? The one who treated his allotted four square foot of pew real estate as a jungle gym? Unless of course I was firmly holding him on my lap, in my role as the Most Grumpy Child Restraint Ever In the Whole World? Whose goal in life is to balance the Gather book on the pew in front of us (like the big people do), only to have it invariably slam down to the floor? We quickly exchanged stories about our challenges with squirmy kids, exchanged encouraging smiles and parted ways. I looked at my son’s toothy grin and sighed.

Today as I joined the usual suspects who hang with me in the foyer at the back of the church, each parent-kid pair engaged in their own shushing strategies, I didn’t feel as stressed as I usually do. When it was time to exchange peace, I gathered up the courage to give the others an encouraging smile and nod – a bit tense, a bit stressed, but encouraging – as if to say, hang in there. I know what you’re going through. No worries. Everyone smiled and nodded back.

I tend to be so preoccupied with my kids and their invariable antics that I forget that many, many other parents are going through the same thing. It’s SUCH a relief when someone says something encouraging and I’m trying to share the love and give my own little smiles of encouragement.

Having an eight-year old that I haven’t had to take to the foyer in years also gives me some hope that things will turn out ok. Maybe one day I won’t be intimately familiar with the selection of flyers at the back and those lovely deep turquoise radiators. And who can forget St. Clement and St. Joseph?

See you in the foyer!

Did you know that Confessions are available at St. Clement Parish after the 9am Saturday Mass? This was the kind of day that would have greeted you while walking out of the church afterwards:


Photo posted today by Diana Zlamalik (Oakville, Ontario) on The Weather Network

Kind of like a big hug from God. If I was the singing in public type, I would’ve broken out in a dramatic rendition of I Can See Clearly Now while walking down our hill towards the parking lot, hands outstretched in joy. Fortunately for all the passersby, I am more of the singing quietly under my breath type.


I Can See Clearly Now
by Johnny Nash

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

If that ain’t a I Just Went To Confession song, I don’t know what is.


Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The other day, an old prayer card with a version of Our Lady of Perpetual Help surfaced from somewhere (likely a bookmark found by a toddler “reading” through the big people books). This was the prayer at the back of it:

Marie, ma chère Mère, j’aime cette photo de vous et de Jésus. J’aime la façon que vous tenez Jésus dans vos bras, car en même temps vous me regardez aussi. Je vous demande de me protéger ainsi que ma famille. Aidez-moi à être aimable avec les autres, à répondre généreusement aux demandes d’aide, et à toujours apprécier toutes les bonnes choses que je possède. Amen

French! How cool is that? According to our friends at translate.google.com, it means:

Mary, dear Mother, I love this picture of you and Jesus. I like the way you hold Jesus in your arms, at the same time as you look at me too. I ask you to protect me and my family. Help me to be nice to others, to respond generously to calls for help, and still enjoy all the good things I have. Amen

Isn’t that a simple and sweet prayer? I’m thinking of giving it to my seven-year old, who will be receiving her First Communion in the coming Easter season – a little gift from Our Lady for a very exciting occassion.

Another version
When searching for an image to share with you, I found this cute version from a seller at Etsy:


Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Flor Larios

Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Mother of Perpetual Help, you have been blessed and favored by God. You became not only the Mother of the Redeemer, but the Mother of the redeemed as well. We come to you today as you loving children. Watch over us and take care of us. As you held the child Jesus in your loving arms, so take us in your arms. Be a mother ready at every moment to help us. For God who is mighty has done great things for you, and his mercy is from age to age on those who love him. Our greatest fear is that in time of temptation, we may fail to call out to you, and become lost children. Intercede for us, dear Mother, in obtaining pardon for our sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to call upon you, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Trying to keep by Mary’s side as we face the Holy days ahead. These images of her and the child Jesus seem so far away from those of pain and suffering that we have been seeing during Lent. Keeping you and your family in my prayers during Holy Week.

The new Summer routine seems to involve less blog posts and more walks to the park. I hope you are enjoying your summer break as well. We’ll pick up again in September. God bless!

There has been a firestorm of news about the proposed sex education curriculum that the province of Ontario was poised to roll-out in September but has since shelved. Since our kids are really little, this topic was not foremost in my mind before. But the hullaballoo has been an effective (and humbling) wake-up call for me.

A while back, someone in my daughter’s schoolbus came home with a not age-appropriate story. I had a chat with an older and wiser individual, worried about what all this schoolbus talk meant for my then four-year-old. Was there something more that I should be doing? I asked her. That conversation ended with her reassuring me that our daughter is surrounded by healthy expressions of love and life (mommy, daddy, uncles, aunts, grandparents and lots of babies) that will serve her well as a context for all the schoolbus talk.

Dem years, they keep a-comin’ and I’m sure that my husband and I need to prepare ourselves soon (now?) for what is coming. Our children are getting older and the time is coming to present what the Church has to offer in terms of love and life — which means that we have to be fully versed and comfortable with what the Church has to offer in terms of love and life. Which means reading. And praying.

Stay tuned for more on this topic (as I learn more about this topic).

I recently tried to do a simple version of an examination of conscience with our kids. I thought it was a good idea: it would get them started in thinking back over their day to the times when they did something that they maybe shouldn’t have.

Me: So, think of one thing that happened today that you can tell Jesus that you’re sorry for.
Child: [after much thought] I’m sorry that Marie hit me…
Me: Ok, well, no. Think of something that you did that you’re sorry for.
Child: I’m sorry that I fell down and I hurt my knee…
Me: Ah, well… nevermind.

The Church, in her wisdom, places the first sacrament of Reconciliation (or sacrament of confession) at around the age of seven, when children begin to reason. It took many, many similar episodes to learn this the hard way: my children are too young. Lesson learned.

I had told my three year old the Palm Sunday story before last Sunday. We were talking about how the happy crowd was waving palm leaves and singing “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Boy was she ever excited to vigorously wave her tiny little palm leaf back and forth, whipping unsuspecting (and thankfully, understanding) parishoners.

Meanwhile in Rome
A friend is currently living in Rome and took these great photos of Palm Sunday celebrations there. Now, those are big palms.

Palm Sunday in Rome

Palm Sunday in Rome

By the way
Mass and last minute confessions tonight at St. Clements. Mass starts at 7:00 p.m. and confession is directly after. Nice way to get ready for Easter!

Fr. LeBlanc’s homily last Sunday served as good advertising for the upcoming Parish Lenten Mission (Mon-Wed, 7pm). He had a way of presenting ideas in a fresh way that really stuck. His metaphor of God as a GPS system (something that never insults you or gives up on you despite multiple wrong turns) is still making me smile. Now the trick will be to find babysitters for three nights in a row…

Palm Sunday Heads-Up!
Next weekend we will celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem in the days before His Passion. Time to practice weaving a palm leaf into a cross.

Sometimes parenting is just crazy. There are times when I feel like I’m going to go stark raving bananas. When all my inner strength goes towards not losing my temper. Thanks to the lovely people in the St. Clement music ministry, I have this Psalm stuck in repeat in my head during those difficult moments. It’s even better than counting to ten.

Psalm 91

Refrain:
Be with me, Lord, when I am trouble,
Be with me, Lord, I pray.

I
You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord most high,
Who abide in the shadow of our God,
Say to the Lord: “My refuge and fortress, the God in whom I trust.”

II
No evil shall befall you, no pain come near,
For the angels stand close by your side,
Guarding you always and bearing you gently, watching over your life.

III
Those who cling to the Lord live secure in God’s love,
Lifted high, those who trust in God’s name,
Call in the Lord, who will never forsake you.
God will bring you salvation and joy.

Good Friday for Kids
The St. Clement Time With God childrens’ program will be available on Good Friday at the 3:00 p.m. service only. Please register by phone: Lois Walsh (416-621-7564) or the Parish Office (416-621-4060). You may register your children in person on Palm Sunday.

My husband gets to do bedtime tonight. And I get to go to a quiet Thursday night Mass. And St. Clement has extra confession times. I found a thorough examination of conscience for just this occasion. Maybe I’ll swing by Timmy’s for a decaf, too.

Pray the Rosary Daily pamphlet

There’s a blue pamphlet floating around church foyers these days that says “Pray the Rosary Daily” on the front. We’ve picked up quite a few of these in our attempts to distract toddlers at the back of the church and they have been a surprisingly popular item at our house. Inside the four panel pamphlet there are twenty tiny paintings depicting each of the mysteries. I haven’t put my finger on what the attraction is. I suspect it’s the tiny pictures. But it may be the annotated schematic of the Rosary on the cover (likely not, eh?). In any case, I’m sure the folks at the Ave Maria Centre of Peace (who distribute the pamphlet) wouldn’t have guessed how young their audience actually can get.

Welcome to the St. Clement Parish blog! This is primarily for the young families in our parish: we hope to provide resources to inspire you in your day to day faith life with your little ones.

Children’s Liturgy: JK to Gr. 3
St. Clement has a Time With God programme is geared to children from JK to Grade 3. There is a child-centered Liturgy of the Word in the parish hall during the 10:00 a.m. Mass on Sunday mornings. The kids always leave with all sorts of stories and neat activities to continue at home.

Getting Started
I’ve been thinking of what sorts of things we do with our really little ones (that’s right: terrible twos!) and having crucifix in their rooms comes to mind. We’ve placed a crucifix above their door and it is a constant source of fascination, as well as a useful way to initiate a simple bedtime prayer of sorts (“Blow a kiss to Jesus!”).

Send in your ideas!
I would love to hear about the things you do in your family! Email me at blogger@stclementparish.com with any activities, events or resources that might be of interest to our other parishoners with little kids.

What is this?

Here a volunteer parishoner at St. Clement shares her personal experiences as her young family tries to keep the Catholic faith alive in their homes, living out the promises of their Baptism. Thank you for stopping in and be sure to share some of your stories as well!

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