Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Free Lenten Tree and Activities Book

Free Lenten Tree and Activities Book available for download.

Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday (February 25 th 2009) is the 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter (April 12 th 2009). For many families, Easter just happens. Don't let that occur this year. Have a meaningful Lent by doing a special activity each day of Lent. Then fill in the fruit on the Lenten Tree Chart and countdown to Easter.

Friday, February 20, 2009

St Patrick

Who Was St. Patrick?
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.
Taken Prisoner By Irish Raiders
It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.) During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)
Guided By Visions
After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice-which he believed to be God's-spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.
To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation-an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than fifteen years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission-to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. (Interestingly, this mission contradicts the widely held notion that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.)
Bonfires and Crosses

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. (Although there were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived, most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick's life became exaggerated over the centuries-spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A saint from this week's calendar

Blessed Giovanni da Fiesole (Fra Angelico) was commemorated on February 18. Born as Guido di Pietro in 1386 or 1387 in Vicchio, Tuscany. He entered the Dominican Order in 1407 taking the name Brother John of the Angels.
Fra Angelico (Angelico meaning 'Angelic' in Italian) was a Dominican friar renowned for his artwork.The artwork of Fra Angelico continuously shows the goodness of creation, and this is exemplified in his many representations of the Annunciation.

Fra Angelico's greatest complete work was his "Life of Christ," a series of thirty five paintings in Fiesole. They began with the vision of the Prophet Ezechiel and ended with the lovely "Coronation of the Virgin". These pictures hint to us that Brother John of the Angels was a capable theologian and a Scripture scholar.

He was also a devoted son of St Dominic, whom he loved dearly and never tired of painting.Fra Angelico was beatified 3 October 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and in 1984 the Pope declared him patron of Catholic artists.

See more prints and more information at The Artcyclopedia.