Make this Easter a holiday to remember for the young ones with specially chosen religious Easter gifts for children from Creator Mundi. We carry something special to delight every little person on your list. Our online collection is rich with the sacred echoes of all that is held in reverence for a variety of Christian and Catholic faiths at Easter time.
Meaningful Easter Basket Ideas
Celebrate this Easter with thoughtful baskets made for the special children in your life. We can help you discover a host of spiritual gifts to symbolize the importance of the ultimate sacrifice to both Christians and Catholics. Some examples of kid’s Easter basket ideas include:
- The Original Catholic Prayer Cube
- Rainbow Rosary for Children
- Hand-Burnt Wood Cross Pendant
- Children & Rainbow Cross
- Paschal Lamb Pendant
Faith Centered Easter Gifts
Our popular Murano glass Cross of Hope pendant is handcrafted in Italy and hangs from a sturdy black nylon cord. This stylish, bold green cross symbolizes the hope of new life in Christ and the possibility of new beginnings every day. The Original Catholic Prayer Cube is a delight to hold and a wonderful way to teach comforting practices of prayer and gratitude.
Our Rainbow Rosary for children is made from non-toxic knotted cord and is ideal for little ones learning their prayers. Our hand-burnt wood cross pendants are a simple reminder of the beauty of leading a Christian lifestyle. Our Children and Rainbow Cross is another pendant option offering a joyful image of spring on a solid bronze cross. These gifts are the perfect way to impart a comforting Easter message of hope, optimism, and new beginnings.
Bring The Sacred Back To Easter
Help every generation remember what is sacred about Easter. At Creator Mundi, we hope our attention to the sacred is well-loved in your family’s home for years to come. We invite you to explore our vast array of gifts for this season’s Easter celebrations. You are sure to find the perfect item among our religious Easter gifts for children.
Creator Mundi is excited to offer beautiful pieces of religious art observing the sacred time of Lent and Easter. We hope you welcome this hallowed season of prayer and sacrifice with reverence in your heart and home. Our online store has procured some of the most inspiring pieces of sacred and religious art to remind you of your faith and dedication as you approach Easter Sunday.
Appreciate The Sacredness Of Lent
Though primarily observed by Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations, along with Roman Catholics, anyone can appreciate and participate in this 40-day period marked by simple living and fasting. Thoughtfully place Lent art such as wall plaques and crosses in special areas of your home as a reminder of your commitment to honoring Jesus’ 40 days of sacrifice while in the wilderness. Aimed at inspiring reverence, our Lent gifts are the perfect pieces for daily reflection or to help lead us all into prayer during this significant time.
Rejoice On Easter Sunday
Mark this day of joyous celebration with pieces of Easter religious art that beautifully convey the miracle of Jesus’ Resurrection. We aspire to help bring more reverence into this momentous day with Easter plaques and crosses honoring the crucifixion of our Savior. Using mixed media including bronze, colorful glasses, ceramic, and stained glass, we select the highest quality Easter art from artisans in Germany, France, Spain and more.
Symbols Of Reverence & Faith
We honor all avenues that enrich our connection to Spirit and are happy to bring such a varied collection of artwork that relates to prayer, religion, and worship within multiple denominations of faith including:
Helping You Create A Sacred Space
At Creative Mundi we recognize the power of experiencing simple forms of beauty and faith, and how it can bring hope to our daily lives. Join us in elevating all our lives to a higher level during this Lent and Easter season through the creation of sacred spaces through religious art. Browse our online shop for ideas and contact us with any questions you may have about selecting items that uplift during these special times.
The Twenty-fifth Day of December
From the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created the universe, 13.7 billion years,
From the formation of the first galaxies, 10 billion years,
From the formation of our galaxy, sun and solar system, five billion years,
From the formation of planet Earth, 4.6 billion years,
From the origin of life on Earth, the first living cells, 3.5 billion years,
From the time when the continents of earth stabilized, 2.5 billion years,
From the time of the first ice age, 2.3 billion years,
From the birth of sea life and fish in the ocean, 550 million years,
From the first plants and vegetation on land, 400 million years,
From the age of the dinosaurs, 230 million years,
From the age of the first apes and monkeys, 35 million years,
From the age of Homo habilis, 2.6 million years,
From the time of Homo erectus and the use of tools, 1 million years,
From the time of the first female from whom all human DNA can be traced, 160,000 years,
From the time of Homo sapiens and the use of language, 80,000 years,
From the time of the last ice age, 12,000 years,
From the time of the first cities, 10,000 years,
From the invention of phonetic writing, 3,500 years,
From the time of the flourishing of civilization in Egypt, 3,000 years,
From the time of Abraham and the Patriarchs, 1,925 years,
From Moses and the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt, 1,280 years,
From the anointing of King David,1,011 years,
From the time of the prophets Amos, Hosea and Isaiah, 750 years,
In the 194th Olympiad,
In the year 752 since the founding of the city of Rome,
From the time of the poet Homer, 700 years,
From the time of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, 450 years,
In the 42nd year of the empire of Octavian Augustus, when the Roman world was at peace,
Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father
Desirous to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
Having been conceived of the Holy Spirit,
And nine months having elapsed since his conception,
Is born in Bethlehem of Judah,
Having become human of the Virgin Mary.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to the Flesh.
Peter Schineller, S.J., America (December 15, 2008)
We do not want merely to see beauty . . . we want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.
Every form of catechesis would do well to attend to the ‘way of beauty’ (via pulchritudinis). Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow Him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties. Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus. This has nothing to do with fostering an aesthetic relativism which would downplay the inseparable bond between truth, goodness, and beauty, but rather a renewed esteem for beauty as a means of touching the human heart and enabling the truth and goodness of the Risen Christ to radiate within it.
Beauty allows us to penetrate reality through the imagination, through the capacity of the imagination to perceive the world intuitively. . . . Only beauty can incarnate truth in concrete, believable, human flesh. . . . [Beauty’s] essence is to remind us of the everyday and to transmute it into a sacrament. Beauty tutors our compassion, making us more prone to love and to see the attraction of goodness.
Beauty is our birthright:
Let us choose beauty. . .
when we smile . . .
when we talk . . .
in the way we walk . . .
At Creator Mundi, we believe in supporting artisans who work for living wages in healthy environments, those who are working with natural materials using practices that have been handed down for generations.
“We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. . . . “To stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society.”
-Pope Francis, Laudato si, 2015
Instead of buying more, let’s choose to buy quality, with a mind to supporting fair wages and healthy work environments.
In 2007, The National Labor Committee (NLC) released a report: Today Workers Bear the Cross: Crucifixes Made Under Horrific Sweatshop Conditions in China. The NLC discovered that one of the largest distributors of Christian goods in the U.S. was using a factory in China to manufacture crosses and crucifixes for the U.S. market. Junxingye Factory is located in Dongguan, China, a region which, according to the Washington Post, “lies at the center of China’s export manufacturing industry, which relies heavily on low wages to remain competitive. Factories there have been accused in the past of labor abuses, including those making products for McDonald’s, Disney, Mattel and the Beijing Olympics.”
The NLC reported on conditions at the Junxingye Factory which produced the crosses and crucifixes: “Workers are housed in primitive dorm rooms sleeping on narrow double-level metal bunk beds that line the walls. There is no other furniture, and the rooms reek of perspiration. The walls are filthy, smudged with black, while spider webs cling to the ceiling. The bathrooms are so damp and dirty that moss grows on the floor.”
One commentator has written, “It seems unlikely that the Jesus who told his followers ‘Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me also’ would countenance the use of virtual slave labor to produce the symbols of his life” (Ed Brayton).
“I think we have to take that step back from just rushing in to make a purchase somewhere just because it’s cheap and easy and quick, and saying, “What does this purchase really mean? Who is it affecting? You know, how is it affecting my life, my community, the world at large? Who made this product?” And we don’t do that enough.”
– Morgan Spurlock, producer, What Would Jesus Buy
At Creator Mundi, you will find holy symbols made of highest-quality materials by those who work in safe and healthy environments: crosses and crucifixes made of solid bronze in artisan workshops and foundries in Germany, statues fashioned of dolomite and resin in a monastery in France, Christmas ornaments created from brass, tin and copper in a rural village in Thailand. We carry glass crosses, wooden prayer cubes, bronze cross pendants.
Even as I continue to search for answers I become more certain the radical call is to our humanity.
I like Walter Brueggeman’s concept of “calling” which he articulates in the dedication (to his new grandson) of his collection Prayers for a Privileged People:
“We are born into some privilege, and invited (called) to a life of reflection, yielding, and glad obedience.”
Reflection on the ultimate questions… Who am I/who are we… Why am I here/why are we here.
Yielding… to the reality that we are not our own… we are the Creator’s people.
Glad obedience… to the Creator’s large, deep oaths and purposes…
Thank you to Stewart Meagher for sharing his thoughts. What does it mean for each of us to be gladly obedient, to yield to the reality of our givenness? We are not our own…
The tree of life is a powerful Christian symbol, representing both our pristine pre-fall condition and Christ’s cross.
Pope Francis has said: “What counts is being permeated with Christ’s love, allowing oneself to be led by the Holy Spirit, and grafting one’s own existence onto the tree of life, which is the Cross of the Lord. . . .”
Recent discoveries and insights are leading scientists to envision life on earth as a tree with several trunks and all the varied life-forms growing as limbs from these trunks. This vision began with Charles Darwin, who wrote that the “great Tree of Life fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.” (For more, click to read “Scientists Unveil a New ‘Tree of Life'” in The New York Times.)
So the tree of life may be seen as a symbol for all life; it is also an archetypal symbol appearing throughout the world’s religions; and, for Christians, of course, it is a testament to the ever-growing, timeless love of God. Christ’s cross is the tree our hope hangs on.
The tree of life is the love of God.
-St. Isaac the Syrian
Glass is a miraculous substance: a liquid turns to a solid but in its solid state can be as transparent as the clearest water. Made of silica, the primary component of sand, glass is manipulated in its viscous molten stage—it may become a window, a graceful bowl, a piece of art.
Glass, highly fragile, and beautiful, might be seen as a symbol for the fragility and beauty of human nature. When our fragility rests with God, though, it rests in God’s nature, and reflects strength, not weakness. We are fragile beings, but we’re not alone in our fragility.
If we toughen ourselves and cannot admit our fragility, our beauty may be hidden from others, for fragility is intertwined with human beauty. Allowing ourselves to be fragile, too, can open us more fully to God; when we admit to our powerlessness, we invite God’s healing, saving power.
The Gospels are full of stories of our fragility: Jesus shepherds the wandering and weak sheep, he takes pity on the suffering and on the sinner. The strong, the wealthy, the winners among us are not motivators for his compassionate action. The truth is, we are all fragile, we only imagine sometimes that we are not. Ironically, it takes strength to admit it.
“When Jesus heard this, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’” (Mark 2:17)
“Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
“When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’” (Matthew 9:11-13)
“Your fragility is also your strength.”
– Pina Bausch, German dancer
The ephemeral beauty of a delicate flower, of a tiny bird, of a humble man or woman imbued with God’s peace inspire wonder and admiration. A stained glass window gracing a church is beautiful in part because of its fragile nature.
Creator Mundi’s new glass pieces bring together beauty and fragility, reminding us of our reliance on God.
Let their love be a seal upon their hearts,
a mantle about their shoulders.
Bless them each morning, each noon, each night!
Walk with them and send Your angel before them.
The Covenant Cross, above, can be found here.
We set stock by the steps we take between life’s seasons. Kids graduate from preschool and move on to kindergarten. Teens graduate from high school and go on to college or career. Adults might graduate from childlessness to parenthood. We graduate from one job to another and then many of us graduate into retirement.
In our spiritual lives, we hope to graduate from infant’s milk to solid food (Hebrews 5:12-14 and 1 Corinthians 3:2). We graduate by the grace of God and our own yearning and cooperation. Father Thomas Keating tells us “The chief act of the will is not effort but consent.” Let us consent to each of our graduations as we walk the journey of transformation.
Do we need to graduate from fear to trust?
How about graduating from lack of confidence to confidence in God and God’s purpose for us?
Maybe we yearn to graduate from an ankle-deep religion to a life-changing, loving commitment?
Keating tells us God wants “our consent to his love of us.” This is the key to our transformation.
Graduation is a movement forward, even when accompanied by uncertainty (let us consent to trust!).
We love to mark life’s transitional moments. Let’s celebrate life’s graduations, big and small. It’s been said that we do not ask enough of God. Let’s ask God for a lot. Pope Francis has said, “Dear young people, do not bury your talents, the gifts that God has given you! Do not be afraid to dream of great things!” Dream big, dream with God.
– – – – – – – –
The Grace Presbyterian Church logo was designed by Rev. Matthew Syrdal in the spirit of the Celtic tradition. Matthew’s desire was to capture the power of the icon, what is known in many traditions world-wide as a mandala (a quadrated circle)–a symbol of wholeness and a pedagogical tool for a Celtic and Reformed theology of creation.
The cross inside the circle is a symbol of Christ as the archetypal self, the soul of the cosmos. The four cardinal directions represent the four seasons of spring, summer, fall, winter, as do the four “leaves” emanating from the central “tree of life.” The four directions also represent the life cycle of human development through childhood, adolescence, adulthood and elderhood. The four leaves contain within them an ichthus or “fish,” symbolizing the four gospels and the feeding of the four-thousand, bringing spiritual sustenance to the four corners of the world.
The tree is also the chalice of the sacramental life of communion, the body and cup of the mystical Christ at the heart of creation, forming a labyrinth to the center of the Godhead. On the right hand side, between the leaf and the chalice is a “mistake,” an open area signifying the beauty of imperfection.
This logo is in the center of the cross above the chancel in the sanctuary at Grace Presbyterian Church in Highland’s Ranch, Colorado, as a witness to the fullness and wholeness of the journey of discipleship on which we are called.
Last week some of our Creator Mundi staff attended the Los Angeles Religious Congress, an annual gathering of Catholics from all continents and many countries. As in years past, we had been asked to exhibit our symbols of faith, anticipating that some of the 40,000+ attendees would find us in the large convention exhibit space.
People came in droves, complementing us, thanking us for continuing to offer authentic symbols of our Christian faith made by artisans who receive just compensation for their work and who work in safe environments. Some have visited us for many years. I commented that we had grown older (old) together. We received many gestures of love and respect, hugs and kisses, blessings and encouragement, dinner invitations and more.
Along the way, some of our customers performed miracles:
We invited Father Chris for dinner. He and some of his guests joined us for the evening. We were totally surprised when we found out that he had arranged with our waiter beforehand to treat us.
After an intimate conversation, Ray, a Professor of Theology, left saying: “You are so good to me.” Later in the afternoon he returned: “This is my favorite candy, please accept this.”
One mid-morning I noticed among our displays what I thought did not belong there. “Whose bananas are these?” I asked. Guia, our longtime friend and helper, beamed. “Fr. Pat brought them . . . and coffee.”
Bishop Barnes in the booth next to us greeted us warmly every morning with a solid handshake, which became a hug before long. This L.A. Archdiocese, its people and guests, is awesome, one big family–all races and nationalities together. Everybody is invited to participate in journeying along with the presenters, the bishops, the clergy, exploring fresh ways of being church, of receiving God’s love. Our customers were from Ireland, Taiwan, South Korea, Canada, Brazil, France, Greenland, Japan
. . . will you come next year?
P.S. Father Pat’s Twitter address is @mythguidedlife.com
Hildegard established Creator Mundi in 1987 and continues to find joy in discovering distinctive sacred art and gifts for Creator Mundi’s followers.
Pope Francis has declared this a year of mercy. We all need mercy. And we need images of mercy and comfort that remind us of God’s constant forgiveness, love and presence.
“Etymologically, ‘mercy’ derives from misericordis, which means opening one’s heart to wretchedness. And immediately we go to the Lord: mercy is the divine attitude which embraces, it is God’s giving himself to us, accepting us, and bowing to forgive. Jesus said he came not for those who were good but for the sinners. He did not come for the healthy, who do not need the doctor, but for the sick. For this reason, we can say that mercy is God’s identity card. God of Mercy, merciful God.”
“The most important thing in the life of every man and every woman is not that they should never fall along the way. The important thing is always to get back up, not to stay on the ground licking your wounds. The Lord of mercy always forgives me; he always offers me the possibility of starting over. He loves me for what I am, he wants to raise me up, and he extends his hand to me…. For as long as we are alive it is always possible to start over, all we have to do is let Jesus embrace us and forgive us.”
Just as He extends his hand to us, we extend a hand to others, we embrace and forgive others.
“Jesus sends forth his disciples not as holders of power or as masters of a law. He sends them forth into the world asking them to live in the logic of love and selflessness.”
- Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy
At times, we find ourselves in the presence of a Burning Bush in the middle of daily life. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Perhaps you’ve encountered a person with awe, who transformed the moment you met, the here and then, into a sacred space. Perhaps you witnessed the beauty of spring, the loveliness of fall, the rising sun, the star-spangled night sky and you instantly knew that you had been invited to be in the presence of the Divine.
In my home country of Germany, every Saturday evening at 7:00, Catholic and Protestant churches, cathedrals and chapels ring their bells–usually in harmony with each other. To me, it seems that every corner of the country that these beautiful sounds touch becomes sacred space. The land and its people are reminded of the presence of the divine.
The locals say THE BELLS ANNOUNCE THE SUNDAY. The bells guide the nation into God’s embrace.
Creating Our Own Sacred Space
Perhaps you have decided to remake your home as a sacred space. You may choose to set aside a room for a house chapel, your Sanctuary, where you will rest and strengthen body, mind and soul, where you will find silence, beauty and comfort. Or you may dedicate a special corner for times of prayer and contemplation.
Perhaps each room in your home will become sacred space, displaying symbols of the divine throughout, complementing these symbols with compositions of musical masters, creating an ambiance of heaven?
Hildegard established Creator Mundi in 1987 and continues to find joy in discovering distinctive sacred art and gifts for Creator Mundi’s followers.
Quotes on Love from Hildegard
The heart is like that: grace-filled and trembling
once it has known
You will find yourself knee-deep in ecstasy
when all your talents to love
have reached their heights.
Go running through this world
giving love, giving love.
We all need union with love or we die prematurely.
Love can endure the silence.
To love we need to leave the love-seat of fear.
Our hearts are lovers.
I see myself reflected in your tender loving eyes.
We carry all the ingredients
to choose love.
May we suffer with tenderness the daily wounds that accompany love.
May our crooked hearts love all who are crooked.
Let us decide to welcome the challenging stages of love.
Hildegard established Creator Mundi in 1987 and continues to find joy in discovering distinctive sacred art and gifts for Creator Mundi’s followers.
A Poet’s Thoughts on Love
What is this precious love and laughter
Budding in our hearts?
It is the glorious sound
Of a soul waking up!
Happiness is the great work,
Though every heart must first become
Who really knows
people who need to love, because
Love is the soul’s life,
Creations greatest joy.
Our separation from God,
is the hardest work
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly.
The Heart is
The thousand-stringed instrument
That can only be tuned with
One cannot master love, one can only serve as a vessel of love…
You were brave in that holy war.
You have all the honorable wounds
Of one who has tried to find love.
The true matter of spirituality is love…
I will turn myself into an
if you will
apply me to your wounds.
So God will think,
I got kin in that body!
Quotes from Daniel Ladinsky’s The Gift: Poems by Hafiz.
Hafiz was a 14th century Persian mystic. His poetry sings of God’s love.
It’s easy to hit the right notes,
but hard to make music…
Last week we were honored to accept an invitation to Spiritual Direction Colorado’s annual conference.
When Terry Hershey spoke on sanctuaries my mind immediately focused on liturgical spaces, churches and chapels, temples, mosques and synagogues, prayer gardens and cemeteries, house chapels and prayer corners: our traditional spaces for worship and prayer. Hershey had something more in mind.
I had never thought of the possibility of ‘being sanctuary’ or being an ‘ad hoc sanctuary.’
Hershey cradled a holding cross crafted out of plum wood in hand. “This is a portal into a sanctuary, a sanctuary perhaps without any words, just tender presence to each other….”
I ask myself: Can I be a portal to someone’s sanctuary, or even: Whose sanctuary will I or may I be?
Terry Hershey’s Book is Creating a Space for Grace in your life.
By Father Pat Dolan
Even as we hear singers proclaim “and heaven and nature sing,” we are mindful that this has been a year marked by more tragedy than festivity. Most of us have watched this year as we see prejudice continue to tear apart our world and devastate countless lives. We have witnessed Islamic extremists twisting real religion into a thin disguise for political ambition and raw bigotry, as well as the continued individual acts of terror visited upon young black men in our own country by systems that continue to rationalize and justify our own racism. We have seen the shame of our own country’s political process, once the purview of diplomats and statesmen, reduced to a reality-TV style spectacle that leaves all involved with too little dignity to represent our people among the world’s nations.
In the midst of all this mess, our Pope has called us to a year of mercy, and true to form, within days, voices from within and outside of our Church have begun their attempts to quickly massage the meaning of the word to their own agendas. Still the standard definitions of this word continue to move us toward kind and forgiving behavior toward someone when harsher treatment is a possibility. Mercy comes from the very sense of compassion we celebrate this season.
God, who could do away with creation, could simply ignore it or could hold it in some sort of condemnation, chooses to bond with it. He comes to walk alongside those whom he could rightly judge as being beneath his notice. This mercy comes not only from a place of deep compassion but one of lofty vision. God sees the world as it could be. Our own vision is too often more earthbound.
In our affluent culture it is not an uncommon practice for children to be invited to make a “Christmas list.” It is not even that uncommon for many to see their lists realized by busy, behind the scene forces. And while I have often wondered at the wisdom of annually nurturing such an entitlement mentality in young minds still in the process of formation, I wonder even more at the smallness of the results and ensuing visions. Given the belief that some magical being will bring them what they desire, it’s actually quite amazing that young children’s “asks” stay in the area of video games or hover-boards (regardless of the lithium laden dangers).
Even the most confused and nervous of beauty pageant participants would be able to mutter something about “world peace” when asked what they want. Do our children simply want less? Are they that short sighted and self-centered? Or, as I suspect, do they pick up from those around them an unspoken, self-evident understanding of the limits of their Christmas lists and what hopes remain beyond the expectations of elves and sleigh rides? The sadness in this last thought is that we have all been raised to hope for too little. We have not had Christmas overrun by commercialism, but belittled by it. We hear the story of the Creator of all things, the Supreme Being, God, or any other title lofty enough to convey what is beyond expression, coming to be among us as one of us and to bring us into an eternal place of light . . . and from this fantastical event, we have learned to hope for a new drone or an Apple watch.
Over the past few weeks I have tried to reframe the winter darkness as a sacred space within which we can begin to dream. The most tragic victim of our holiday “rush” is the possibility for quiet reflection. Given time to sit in the dark and envision the world we cannot see, what images might we paint? Can we even list the vast number of more pointless gifts throughout our lives which have been received, trifled with, set aside and soon forgotten without any real enrichment having taken place?
What are the true gifts of this amazing season that we might seek out, discover and begin using to intentionally live in the story of heaven and earthly nature coming together? Whom might we forgive? Who might we seek to better understand? What internal beliefs about others could we begin to challenge, not that we ever get rid of our prejudices, but so that we stop living out of them? How do we look at all that has happened in the past year and begin to offer mercy and hope?
What do we need to begin the work envisioned by the Child for whom “heaven and nature” both sing? Maybe the answers to such questions should top our Christmas list as we begin this year of mercy. I believe there is no greater witness to our faith in God than our mercy for one another. There is likewise no greater gift. I am reminded this season of young Malala Yousafzai who after all she has been through says, “I believe in peace. I believe in mercy.” I believe that such are the visions and dreams that may once again bring heaven and earth into joyful song.
– Fr. Pat Dolan, Most Precious Blood Church, Denver, Colorado (click here to read about Father Pat)
by Jan Hass
Saint Nicholas lived during the fourth century and was bishop of Myra in Lycia which is now part of Turkey. According to one story, in the secret of night, he dropped gold coins through windows and into the stockings of families with young girls who were poor and didn’t have money for a dowry. St. Nick was the original Santa Claus and many miracles were attributed to him (click to see an artist’s representation of the saint in bronze). Travelers love to collect St. Nicholas mementos on their journeys. St. Nick is the patron saint of children and my husband would say he might also be the patron saint of parents, who do countless acts of service for their children, all without counting the cost.
When our girls were young, we wanted to celebrate the real Santa Claus so we began the tradition over 25 years ago of leaving our shoes by the front door on the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas, December 6th. In the morning, our girls would find their shoes overflowing with gold coins, St. Nicholas shaped cookies, candy canes for the tree, and a new Christmas book to read throughout the month of December. Extra cookies were left so we could play St. Nicholas and leave them on the doorsteps of friends and neighbors, all done without letting on who the deliverer was.
Celebrating this holy feast day with our daughters became one of the highlights of the season. When our oldest asked about the real Santa Claus, Tony answered that while he may not fly with reindeer, he did in fact do good deeds for others, and now that she knew the truth, it was her job to become St. Nicholas in spirit, keeping the secret, and doing for others with a true spirit of giving.
Today, I want to share with you the recipe for St. Nicholas cookies, also called Speculatius, which we have made each advent for the past 26 years, sometimes at 2:00 in the morning, just to keep the secret safe. The recipe comes from the book To Dance with God, by Getrud Mueller Nelson. Become St. Nicholas and make up a batch to share secretly with your family and friends. It is a great way to enjoy the spirit of giving this season of Advent.
Mix in order:
1 cup shortening
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs whole
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tsp. baking powder
4 cups flour
4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cloves
Turn out onto a floured board. Knead in about one cup additional flour or as much as you need until dough is no longer sticky and is easy to handle.
Put into a plastic bag and refrigerate until chilled and stiff. Then you are ready to roll out and cut the cookies. Cut off a manageable piece and keep the rest cool until you are read for more.
For many little cut-out shapes, roll out the dough thinly. Thin cookies are tastiest.
For the larger, decorated St. Nicholas cookies, roll the dough to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut the cookie around paper pattern. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 6-8 minutes.
Jan Haas is a self-care coach, author and artist. She enjoys walking with others, sharing tools to help them illuminate their brilliant selves.