Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve with the Angel Choir

Christmas Eve is always special for families and especially children. It is very special for me. I love it! My angelic choir of students sang at the 6:00pm Christmas Eve service at Our Lady of the Mountains Parish.

Many of the other students acted out the Gospel story as Father Ariel Lustan read it.

It was perfect even though the shepherds were a little impatient at times or fought a little before the Gospel with their sticks. I thought to myself-this probably happened in real life on the hillsides in those days at the time of Jesus birth-kids are kids.

Before Mass began the angelic choir sang, "Like A Violet in the Snow."  The church was filled with extra chairs up and down all the aisles. My angels sat in the sanctuary to give room in the inn,(church) for more visitors.
Students from All Saints Catholic School did the 1st and 2nd readings and sang the responsorial psalm and alleluia. They are not shy at the microphone but are quite good at public speaking. (future lectors at our parish).

At the Gospel, Father A, as the children call him, came to the altar to read the Gospel Story of the Birth of Jesus Christ.
Caesar Augustus gave the proclamation with the snap of the scroll as Father A instructed him.

Mary and Joseph came down the road, (right on cue) and gave birth to Baby Jesus and laid him in the manger.

Later, Father A received the Baby Jesus from Mary and Joseph at the Presentation of Gifts and laid him peacefully into the manger-a gift to all of us always!

After Jesus was born, a multitude of angels filled the sky and woke up the sleepy shepherds on the hillside. They were shocked to see angels singing to them. They quickly found their way to Bethlehem to adore the Baby Jesus and the angels followed in the sky to sing to the newborn King!

The liturgy continued with the angels singing away. I found it easier to direct them by sitting with them instead of afar from the pew. They weren't use to being in the sanctuary and separated by a Christmas tree in the middle of all of them. We had to work around the beautiful Christmas decorations.

Father A for his homily called all the children to sit on the floor up front by him and he had a power point presentation for his Gospel.
God the Father spoke to us from the sky with his voice only, telling us a Savior would be coming to us here on earth.
Mary gave birth to Baby Jesus and Joseph was the proud foster father.
Father Ariel's vestment shows the Holy Family.

At the Christmas Eve Mass one of our 5th grade students who was baptized at a school Mass earlier this year received his First Holy Communion. He had been begging me to make it sooner than May. I had been asking Fr. Ariel for his permission but he kept saying he had to wait till May with the 2nd graders. Well, lo and behold, at the sign of peace, Jaime motions to me and points to his mouth and then to himself. I mouthed back-First Holy Communion???? He nodded yes. So at the time of communion Father A announces that "one of our school children who was recently baptized has been begging to receive communion and at the sign of peace asked again, "Father, when can I make my First Holy Communion" and how can I refuse him on Christmas Eve. So Jaime your Christmas gift is to receive the  Body of Christ." So his parents who sat in the back, as Jaime was serving, (he wasn't scheduled but volunteered way before Mass started to fill in) came out front and Jaime to his delight received his First Holy Communion!

After Mass there was lots of picture taking. This was a beautiful way for families to begin their Christmas celebration!

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Novenas

Maligayang Pasko!      Feliz Navidad! 
Las Posadas and Simbang Gabi-two Christmas traditions/novenas from two different cultures. At Our Lady of the Mountains Parish we had both of them going on at the same time. I chose to attend the Filipino Simbang Gabi novena but did take part in the final day of the Hispanic Las Posasdas.

For the nine days before Christmas the Filipinos gathered in our church for a 5:30pm Mass. The Simbang Gabi Prayer was prayed at every Mass and Advent songs sung in Tagalog. I joined the choir and was able to learn most of these songs. I wasn't quite sure what I was always singing but at least I was getting the pronunciation down. Several times during the novena we had a visiting priest, usually Filipino, to celebrate the Mass. We had a wide range of homilies this way. After each Mass was a meal sponsored by two different families each night. On Saturday, we had the Mass at 8:00am with breakfast after. It was in the morning because that night was the annual Filipino Christmas party held at Fort Huachuca, our Army post.

The party began with the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner followed by Lupang Hinirang-the Filipino national anthem.
At the Christmas party the new officers were installed for the FilAm Club and recognition was given to Ms. Dorothy who assumed the helm of the club for five years to get it back on its feet. It is definitely very much alive.

Games were played after a delicious meal. I learned some new ones to do with the students at All Saints Catholic School. You might want to try these two at your next party. 1st) A box race-who can get the ball moving quickly across the floor by fanning it with a box! That's right-it can only move by the wind movement from the box that you are quickly moving up and down to create the wind but at the same time directing it to your partner across the room, who will take the box and fan it back to you. It was hilarious!

I took part in game 2-sit in a chair and put a small gingerbread cookie on your forehead. Using only your facial muscles move the cookie down into your mouth and eat it. If it falls off your face, pick it up and start over. Once you successfully get it into your mouth, switch places with your partner and he/she then has to do the same thing. The duo that finishes first is the winner. I never got to try it because my partner could not get the cookie into her mouth. I was slightly relieved.

Another part of the entertainment was "mob carols". Different groups of people at the party spontaneously broke into carols and before we knew it they were on stage welcoming the newborn king.
Go Tell It On Mountain was sung from the top of a ladder.
Away in a Manger was sung.
Merry Christmas in Tagalog

Sunday, December 16, 2012


 Advent is a season of waiting and prepariong for the birthday of Jesus! Sometimes you get a week during Advent when each day/night is filled with the preparations. We just finished such a week. Tuesday was the Advent Reconcilation Service for our parish -Our Lady of the Mountains-at which some of the students made their First Reconciliation. The church was packed and there were seven priests hearing Confessions. It was great to see families coming together to celebrate this sacrament as part of their preparation for Christmas.

 3rd Sunday of Advent! REJOICE!

Wednesday was our school's Christmas program. We did a performance at 1:30pm for parishioners and at 6:00pm for parents and grandparents. There was standing room only and each time the students performed it was better than before. Here are some parts of our Christmas program:

 Kings came to celebrate the birthday of Baby Jesus the Newborn King!
All the animals came alive in Bethlehem in the stable.
The sheep that came to see Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

The Angels came to tell the Shepherds of the newborn King!

"Do the camel walk! Do the camel walk!"

 These camels really could dance-and the audience loved it.  

Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through the Town of Bethlehem ..........

C is for the Christ Child born on Christmas morning and H is for .........

Grs. Kindergaraten-2nd did Rockin Around the Christmas Tree. They really got into it and they "brought the house down." This was the hit of the whole program.

After the program on Wednesday night all hurried home to sleep as our Bishop was arriving the next morning for 8:15am Mass with all the school children and parents.
The students in Grades 3 and 4 wrote him a letter asking him many questions. He decided to come in person to answer them.

Feast of  St. Lucy, this is why they are wearing red and not Advent purple.
The choir singing the parish's song-"Our Lady of the Mountains" in their blue blasers.

 Our beautiful mountains provide a prayerful reflection always while at Mass.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Sr. Carol Seidl, Principal, Fr. Ariel Lustan, Pastor

The Bishop visited each classroom and answered all questions, even from our class of three year olds.

And now on to the Simbang Gabi-the Filipino novena before Christmas. 6:00pm Mass each evening followed by a meal together.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sisters Celebrate Advent and the Packers

I was at the Motherhouse last week for  four days of meetings for our upcoming Chapter in June 2013. That Sunday the Advent season began-one of my favorite seasons as it is so peaceful and filled with Hope!

I had a chance to visit with our Sisters at St. Francis Convent where many of our retired Sisters live. Their Advent wreathe is so beautiful and large. It sits on one of the dining room tables for all to see and admire and to put them into the Advent spirit of "waiting".
Waiting for our Savior to be born as a tiny Baby. Our Savior came in history, mystery and majesty!

The Sisters were also waiting for the Packer game on Sunday and they receive and A+ as Green Bay Packer fans. Check out what else they have in their dining room. :):):)

The Sisters are also watching and waiting to see the new music performing arts center going up at our college-Silver Lake College of the Holy Family which is right next to St. Francis Convent.

At our Motherhouse, Holy Family Convent,the Advent Season is there in full force with Advent wreathes popping out throughout the house.

In St. Mary's Chapel we are reminded of the quote from Isaiah ... A Shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse.........
This tree was cut down from our woods and it is just perfect to rest the Advent wreathe on
as the stump of Jesse!

Even purple poinsettias for the Advent Season!

Come, Lord Jesus, come into our hearts this Advent Season!