Rorate Coeli ~ Advent Music Review

Advent has always been one of my favorite liturgical seasons. The music, in particular, is something I look forward to each year. I love how mindful our Church has been throughout the centuries to safeguard and celebrate certain passages, melodies and refrains that hold special significance for the various liturgical seasons. I was so happy to be able to receive a copy of Rorate Cœli: Marian Sounds of Advent from The Monks of Clear Creek

This CD was recorded at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma. It is a series of chants that come from different liturgical moments throughout Advent and the Mass the Vigil of Christmas, that being Mass in the morning on Dec. 24. The “Rotate Cœli” which the CD is named after, is heard during the Saturday Mass of the Blessed Virgin in Advent. The text is taken from Isaiah’s lament over the destruction of Jerusalem while keeping our eyes fixed on the promise of God’s salvation. The refrain is specifically Isaiah 45:8:

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.

I found this image to be striking. The introduction to the CD, written by Abbot Philip Anderson, reflects that, “It is through Our Lady that the Dew of God in Person finally came down from Heave to fulfill the longings of the prophets of old.” Jesus, the gentle Dew of God. It reminded me of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 where God passes by the cave. Not in the mighty wind, not in the earthquake and not in the fire. It was at the lightest wisp of breeze that brought Elijah to his knees before his Lord and God. Jesus didn’t come to earth on the backs of wild horses or flaming chariots. He wasn’t born in a palace or a cultural center. He came, meek and mild, as the dew we often don’t even remark upon or notice. The simplicity of chant mingles with the complexity of what is sung about. It never ceases to cause me to pull away from the demands of my day and to rest in those few moments of peace and prayer. 

As someone who loves to learn, I was so happy to find the booklet that came in the CD to be full of information. Not only are all the chants written out in Latin, but it also includes English and French translations. Additionally, the majority of the translations are also accompanied with an explanation of when the chant is typically sung, a few comments about key notes, chords, or phrases to listen for and how this chant connects to the others in the set. While these chants are beautiful and mediative on their own, their richness comes alive when you journey through them with the booklet to guide you and inform your ear to the subtleties built into the music.

Though Advent isn’t upon us just yet, still a few days to go, I am already making plans to be listening to this CD as part of our daily drive to school. My kids and I have listened through it as I prepared to write this review and there is a definite difference in the overall tone of the car from when we listened to chant and when we did not. Adding chant to our usual day may become a permanent thing. I will definitely be looking to the monks at Clear Creek for more peaceful and thoughtful chants to expand our collection.

If you haven’t yet, this is a great time to visit my previous blog post which has the Advent Journals for this year. Again, these are totally free to you and anyone whom you choose to share them with. I hope they bring you blessings and peace this Advent season.

Book Review: Becoming Mrs. Lewis

One of the most beloved authors of our time is C.S. Lewis. Millions of us, as children and adults, have been transported to the wondrous land of Narnia. We have been challenged by Uncle Screwtape and inspired by works such as Mere Christianity and Till We Have Faces. Lewis was a prolific author whose works continue to touch the souls of his readers.

Throughout his life, Lewis maintained a robust correspondence. However, there was one correspondent who would change his life. Patti Callahan Henry’s recent novel, Becoming Mrs. Lewis,chronicles the unlikely relationship between Joy Davidman and C.S. “Jack” Lewis. While much has been written about Lewis, Joy has enjoyed less notoriety. Henry’s novel illuminates their deep friendship and marriage that would transform both of their lives.

Continue reading at Catholicmom.com

Review: Scripture Stackers

There is something wonderful about the ability to build, to create. Day after day I listen my children craft wondrous stories, tales of adventure and rescue, of Batman, the Joker and Rapunzel all rolled into one. They create castles, tunnels, airports and now, even the Nativity scene! Our family was so blessed by the generous people at Our Picnic Tree with a set of Scripture Stackers.

Scripture Stackers are a work of genius. In their words:

Scripture Stackers are building block sets (compatible with all major brands, by the way) that bring your favorite Scripture Heroes and stories to life! Engage, play and teach your family about their lives, their triumphs and their faith! Our Premier Collection includes assorted Mini-Figures from the Bible & a 140 Piece Nativity Set!

These stackers are great! The kids jumped on them as soon as they came out of the box. The stackers are the same size and scale to Legos, of which we have many. Though the individual mini-figures (like Moses and the burning bush, King Solomon and his throne, Noah and his sheep etc.) do not come with specific directions, there are only a few pieces for each figure and their completed pictures are on the bags they come in. It was a nice challenge for John. He saw the finished product and had to figure out how to build it with the pieces available to him. The Nativity scene, which is much larger, has step-by-step instructions.

It has been fun to have the kids recreate the Bible stories of the figures, and even expand upon them. Since Goliath is on his own, frequently Joseph is standing in for David when they tell the story. Then, Goliath serves as Potiphar and Pharaoh when they tell Joseph’s story. All the animals from the Nativity always end up surrounding Noah and King Solomon is typically found at the foot of the manger.

With Advent fast approaching (yikes!) what better way to celebrate the season but with a new Nativity scene that the kids can build, customize and and create. The Nativity scene is constructed in 23 steps, plus constructing the people. You could build the Nativity one day at a time starting Dec. 1 so that come Christmas everything is ready for Jesus!

As I said, Betsy and Melissa at Our Picnic Tree are so generous with their Scripture Stackers. They have even provided a coupon code just for my blog readers.

Be sure to use FAITH25 when you checkout to receive a 25% discount on your whole order!

We love our set. Here are some pictures of the kids when we first got them.

0AD7F574-D81E-493F-A266-1F9E77C701FE26CCF389-06F6-4985-8931-5FD3521074F305AE1B94-6F09-4C6B-A78F-509BCCE92E1F158D1485-D3E5-4A22-8E1F-64323699076F36156CD8-F3A4-45DE-BAD1-76916E81C7B1B607CD0E-2A84-4240-BD1A-E3E0F5CD1475