O Antiphon Bracelet – Celebrating the liturgical year

I like wearing accessories (jewelry scarves, colors) that are symbolic of the liturgical seasons or feast. For several years I have been thinking about making a bracelet to represent the O Antiphons – for the seven days from December 17-23. The O Antiphons are prayers that come from evening prayer of the Divine Office, during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is also called the “Golden Nights.” These antiphons address Christ with seven Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ.

Here are the titles and some possible symbols that represent each.

O Sapientia (O Wisdom) – oil lamp, all-seeing eye, scroll
O Adonai (O Lord and Ruler) – 10 commandments, burning bush
O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) – tree branch, root
O Clavis David (O Key of David) – key
O Oriens (O Rising Dawn) -sun, rooster/cock
O Rex Gentium (O King of Nations) – crown
O Emmanuel – chi rho, manger or nativity

This week, some friends and I got together for a jewelry making night and crafted an O Antiphon bracelet to wear during the seven days as a reminder of these titles. Here is a sample of our finished product. The beads added in addition to the charms for each symbol, are in gold (for the “Golden Nights”) and purple (as it is still Advent) tones.

O-Antiphon bracelet

Candlemas Crafts & Ideas

Inspired by Lacy’s great dollar store finds for liturgical year crafts, I paid a visit hoping to find some items to use for the Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas).  I was looking for small votives for candles.  We are having our support group feast day today and will be decorating votive candles with tissue paper in a torn tissue paper style similar to one at Catholic Icing. We are going with the real glass votives and using an image of Our Lady from Polish tradition – Blessed Mother of the Candles or ”Matka Boska Gromniczna,” in Polish.

I also found these miniature doves in the wedding section. They are perfect for the Feast of the Presentation. 

Luke 2:22-24
And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord: As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord: And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

They make a great accent for decorating a cupcake.

Or since they have a small hole in the underside you can stick on a toothpick. These can be used for appetizer picks, drink swizzle sticks, or sticking into a centerpiece for a Candlemas decoration.

They also can be used as counters or markers for things like BINGO games or math activities.

I was pleased with my Candlemas finds at the dollar store.  Happy Candlemas – may His light shine forth to all.

Tissue Paper Poppies

Here is a last minute craft we put together before our cemetery visit this afternoon. Today is Veteran’s Day as well as the Feast of St. Martin of Tours – fitting since he was a soldier saint.  He is a patron of soldiers.

Poppies are the flower most associated with Veteran’s Day.  Read the history here.

~red tissue paper
~black construction paper
~black brad fasteners (optional)
~glue  (optional)

These were very quick and easy.  Cut out two petal sections  from tissue paper (will upload a template later this afternoon).  Cut out a small circle from the construction paper – size to fit center of petal section. Cut slits in black circle so it is “fringed.”  Bend fringes upward around sides. Place one tissue paper petal section over the other, overlapping so there aren’t any spaces.  Place black center in middle.  Poke small hole through thecenter of the three layers. Insert brad and open flaps in back to secure.  Alternateley if you don’t have brads, you can just glue the pieces together in the middle. Crinkle and bend poppy petals up slightly to get desired look of a realy poppy.  They were easy and turned out fairly authentic looking.

Older “Poppy” from the archives: Wheat and Poppies

St. Frances Cabrini & the Sacred Heart

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the Italian born saint who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has a feast day November 13.   Though she was an Italian by birth, she became a United States citizen and is beloved here as the first American saint. Her missionary service in the United States included Denver and in the early part of the 20th century she founded a school at Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish and also the Queen of Heaven Orphanage.  The Mother Cabrini Shrine high above Denver includes a hill which she dedicated to the Sacred Heart and called  “Mount of the Sacred Heart.”  This site was once the summer house of the orphanage and still houses some Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.   To celebrate her feast day and remember her this month, I planned two local field trips – one to Mother Cabrini Shrine and one to the old church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and notary house where the sisters lived. 

From an early age, Mother Cabrini felt a deep desire to serve as a missionary sister. Due to her poor health she was denied entrance to existing orders. From the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus website:

She petitioned to join the Daughters of the Sacred Heart. Although Mother Giovanna Francesca Grassi saw in Frances a chosen soul full of virtue, she decided not to accept her fearing that her poor health would not permit her to endure the rigors of religious life. Nonetheless, perhaps to soften the blow, or perhaps out of intuition, Mother Grassi encouraged her saying “You are called to establish another Institute that will bring new glory to the Heart of Jesus.” Her words were prophetic indeed.

Mother Cabrini’s devotion to the sacred heart is reflected in the name she chose for the order of sisters she did indeed found in 1880.  On her final visit to Denver in 1912, Mother Cabrini took some sisters and some of the girls from the orphanage to the top of a hill outside Denver. They gathered white stones and placed them in the shape of the sacred heart. This little memorial, built with her own hands is preserved at the shrine on the top of the hill, under plexiglass for protection.  It is a visible reminder to visitors of her devotion to the Sacred heart of Jesus.  Our group will be making miniature versions of this Sacred Heart made of stones to take home as a reminder to seek this holy saint’s intercession through the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Mini Stone Sacred Heart Craft
card stock
white aquarium stones (or other small craft stone or gravel)
white school or craft glue

Cut cardstock in half so you have a sheet 1 5 1/2 X 8 1/2 inches.  Squeeze out glue in the shape of a heart with a cross in the upper dipped area of heart. Make it thick enough that it will hold the stones. With younger children you may want to encourage drawing an outline in pencil first to serve as a guide for glue placement.Place the small stones in the glue around the outline. Keep stones close together (touching each other) all the way around. 

Write a prayer on the side of the heart. Example “Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. St. Frances Cabrini, pray for us.”  Let project dry completely. While it is still wet the stones can easily be dislodged if moved quickly.

Almighty and Eternal Father,
Giver of all Gifts,
show us Thy mercy,
and grant, we beseech Thee,
through the merits of Thy faithful Servant,
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini,
that all who invoke her intercession
may obtain what they desire
according to the good pleasure of Thy Holy Will.

(here name your request)

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini,
beloved spouse of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
intercede for us
that the favor we now ask may be granted.

St. Martin Feast Day Crafts & Activities

Here is a compilation fo the activies we did this week to celebrate St. Martin of Tours (Martinmas) with our homeschool support group.


Martinmas Paper Lanterns – Simple Version 

This “faux” lantern is a nice option for the younger children.  I created a template that can be downloaded and printed here – St. MartinPaperLantern. It is decorated with the coat of arms incorporating St. Martin, from World of Heraldry website. 

Materials needed: downloaded pattern, scissors, construction paper, stapler

Fold lantern pattern in half length-wise. Make cuts in paper from folded edge to line, approximately every 3/4 inch. 

Open paper, curl opposite sides together, staple together operlapping edges. Cut strip of  contruction paper for handle. Staple handle in place (making sure that St. Martin banners are upright).



St Martin Coat-of-Arms String Banner

This is an easy and decorative idea for St. Martin’s feast day. Copy several different images of St. Martin themed coat-of-arms from the World of Heraldry website.  I sized them all to approximately 3 1/2 in height.  Cut them out leaving about 1/2 inch flap on top edge to fold over the string.  When all are cut out, fold flap, place over string, tape or glue the flap down on back.  Place them along string at desired spacing. Your string banner is finished and ready to hang.


St. Martin Stained-glass Votive Cover

~construction paper, black (18 X 12 in.)
~cardboard template (4 3/4 X 3 1/4 iin.)
~St.MartinVotive template printed on vellum or other opaque paper
~crayons or Sharpie markers
~clear tape

Cut contruction paper in half length-wise so you you get a piece 18 X 6 inches.  Fold in half to 9 X 6 inches.  Open and fold each side in to center crease.  Now you have a strip of construction paper creased into 4 sections.  Take the cardboard template, place in middle of 2nd section and trace around all sides.  Do the same on 4th section.  Cut out those areas leaving a window in sections 2 and 4.  Take vellum picture. Fold in half and half again so you have four sections (equal quarters).  Cut out sections. Color the stained glass templates.  Crayon adheres well to the vellum and does not smear.  If you use a marker, it should be a permanent (not waterbased) marker, like Sharpie brand, so it won’t smear.

On inside of construction paper strip, put a stip of glue around each of the “window” openings.  Glue vellum sections in place, facing out.  Glue stained glass section in one window and “St. Martin, Pray for us” section in other.   Tape side together with clear tape.  Crease edges if needed to make sure it forms a well defined box.  Electric tealight can be placed inside or if using a real tealight candle make sure it is in a  glass votive tall enough so flame is well contained.


Capitalizing on the goose being a symbol for St. Martin we adapted two games for the preschoolers.

Duck, Duck, Goose – used a stuffed “goose” to go around and touch the player’s heads.

Pass the Goose – a variation of hot potato.  Pass the stuffed “goose” around the circle while music is playing. When music stops, whoever is holding the goose steps out of the circle until only one is left.

For the elementary aged group I came up with a relay.

St. Martin Cloak Cutting Relay
Divide children into two (or more) eaqual teams. Each team needs a stick horse and a toy sword (we used these nice styrofoam ones so no one can get hurt).  At the opposite end of the room is a helper with a stack of large newsprint sheets representing cloaks.  There is a hole cut in the sheet so that the sword can be inserted and pulle ddown to rip the paper easily. When the race starts, each runner rides the stick horse to the opposite line, cuts the cloak in half (like St. Martin did for the beggar) and races back to starting point.  Next racer takes horse and repeats.  This was a big hit!

Make Your Own Paper Calacas – Dia de los Muertos Activity

In addition to the sugar skulls which are commonly seen as part of the Dia de los Muertos celebrations, calacas (skeletons) are a common decoration as well.  They are depicted as joyous rather than sad and are often shown wearing festive clothing, dancing, and playing musical instruments.  We have made paper calacas and decorated them with paper accessories during our own Dia de los Muertos festivities with our support group.   

I have uploaded a template for a calaca that you can cut out and assemble for moveable limbs. Decorate and dress as you like and add to your home or group Dia de los Muertos activities. 

Click here to download Calacas Template.  Print the template on white cardstock. Cut out each piece of the skeleton from the template, making sure to leave tabs at shoulders, elbows, and knees.

When I first made them I used paper craft eyelets. If you have eyelet setting supplies, you can use those to make a nice moveable skeleton.  Overlap bone on paper tab at shoulders, elbows, and knees.  Punch hole at those locations. Insert small white eyelet and set eyelet using setting tool.

A festive parade of paper calacas.

If you don’t have eyelet setting materials you can assemble the skeletons easily using mini white brads (paper fasteners) available from most craft or scrapbooking stores.  To assemble using the brads, overlap bones on paper tab at shoulders, elbows, and knees.  Poke hole at those locations. Insert the mini brads and fold back the prongs to secure.  This is a good option when having children make the calacas.

Either method of assembly gives you a moveable skeleton that you can dress and decorate with accessories for the Dia de los Muertos festivities.

Great Science & Baseball Fun – and a world record to boot!

Yesterday we had a wonderful time at the first annual Weather and Science Day sponsored by the local MLB team.  Since we have baseball fans and science finas here, this was a wonderful combination of activities.  We were very excited to attend.  Just how enthusiastic were we? …well let’s just say, we were the first ones into the stadium and the first to be seated – right up front by the stage.


It was a great deal for the price – in addition to the presentation and the game tickets (Rockies vs. Giants)  we received a packet with some science experiment products. All to be part of what they anticipated to set a Guinness World Record for the largest physics lecture and demonstration.


An official Guinness World Records adjudicator was on hand to verify the record attampt.


Before the science presentation, we saw Dinger, the Rockies mascot, up close and personal as he threw balled up t-shirts into the audience (we got one!).


…and players walking through, like Manny Corpas.


Then the show began presented by our local weather anchor, Kathy Sabine and the amazing science guy, Steve Spangler.

There were Mentos geysers…IMG_4969


And liquid nitrogen explosions…




(This one “snowed” down on us, since we were in the front row!)

And we watched as Rockies’ pitcher, Jeff Francis, demonstrated how an air pressure potato canon works – HOME RUN!


And of course the large group demo/experiment – 5,401 people, all armed with Windbags, to set a new world record for the the Largest Physics Lesson.



Followed by the presentation for our new World Record!


But that wasn’t the end of the day…there was the baseball game,



Made even more special, because we shared it with friends.



We even made the local news – see video here (we can be seen right next to the mentos fountain – to the left – front row) and Owlboy is in this picture posted on Steve Spangler’s website (lower right corner wearing baseball cap, clouded by mist)


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