Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Find Your 2014 Patron Saint



 Craving a little extra support and spiritual direction this coming year?  Try this Saints Name Generator that's making the rounds online.  You simply offer a prayer for the most beneficial Saint to be chosen for you, and then just click the button.  Instantly...your 2014 Patron Saint appears!

I cheated and clicked twice... really seeking extra help and guidance this year!  My first Saint to pop up was St. Thomas....a doubter at first, but he did come around eventually and became very devoted....."my Lord and my God!".

My second click brought up St Hedwig.....St. Hedwig???  I will have to do some research on him/her.  St. Hedwig does sound like a female,  since 'she' is the Patron of Brides and Marriage!   

 Uh-oh! 

 Anyway, 2014 looks to be an exciting and  possibly growth-filled New Year!

So go ahead and try the Saint Generator, and see which Saint will volunteer and pop up to be your Patron Saint this year.

Be Blessed!


Saints Name Generator

Monday, December 30, 2013

God's Creation and Definition of Marriage and Family

One of the best homilies I have ever heard! About God's creation and definition of marriage and family, and the fate of all former societies who tried to form their own definition.

Skip to 10:00 minute mark on video for start of Homily. Share with everyone!


Be Clothed in the Beauty of Holiness





From Msgr. Charles Pope:


Here then is the text for our reflection, and then a kind of line by line commentary:

Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17)


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Feast of the Holy Family



"The Sunday that falls in the Octave of the Solemnity of Christmas is dedicated to celebrating the Holy Family.  The Readings for this Sunday focus on the rights and responsibilities of family members toward each other, and the Gospel focuses on the role of the “most forgotten” member of the Holy Family, St. Joseph, who cared for and protected the Blessed Mother and infant Jesus through the dangerous early years of Jesus’ childhood."

 Feast of the Holy Family






The Last Days of December




 "How like the Christmas Season, so adroitly arranged by an ironical God, to set us straight.  Who forces each moment, as it were, to a crisis; a judgment concerning the whole of our existence, not merely as creatures obliged to die, but as Christians destined to follow Jesus into death, and so to rise and rejoice with him in Paradise.  This is the logic implicit in the sequence of feasts that seem so incongruously to follow upon the laughter and mirth of Christmas morn." ~ Regis Martin

The Last Days of December | Crisis Magazine

Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Lady, Bridge Between Divine and Human




"Our Lord had only a foster father, but He had a real mother. It was she who gave to Him His human life - gave Him Hands with which to bless children; Feet with which to go in search of stray sheep; eyes with which to weep over dead friends and a corrupt civilization; and a Body with which He might suffer. It was through this Mother that He became the Bridge between the Divine and the human. If we take her away, then either God does not become Man, or he that is born of her is a man, and not God. Without her we would no longer have Our Lord." 

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Christmas Inspirations)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Too Introverted to Evangelize?


...."So there are ways and ways to evangelize. The question is how to find out what way is yours, and what your apostolate is.
And here’s the good news: grace perfects nature. Whatever your way of evangelizing is, it will be natural to you. It will use your talents, and your skills, and your spiritual gifts. When you begin to do it, it will seem the most natural thing in the world."...

Read the entire article here:

Too Introverted to Evangelize?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Pope Francis' Christmas Message

"Peace calls for daily commitment, starting from God’s gift, from the grace which he has given us in Jesus Christ."


"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors (Lk 2:14)

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Christmas!

I take up the song of the angels who appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem on the night when Jesus was born. It is a song which unites heaven and earth, giving praise and glory to heaven, and the promise of peace to earth and all its people.

I ask everyone to share in this song: it is a song for every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty.

Glory to God!

Above all else, this is what Christmas bids us to do: give glory to God, for he is good, he is faithful, he is merciful. Today I voice my hope that everyone will come to know the true face of God, the Father who has given us Jesus. My hope is that everyone will feel God’s closeness, live in his presence, love him and adore him.

May each of us give glory to God above all by our lives, by lives spent for love of him and of all our brothers and sisters.

Peace to mankind

True peace is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely “façade” which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment, starting from God’s gift, from the grace which he has given us in Jesus Christ.

Looking at the Child in the manger, our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think too of the elderly, to battered women, to the sick… Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!

Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling hatred and vengeance. Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid. We have seen how powerful prayer is! And I am happy today too, that the followers of different religious confessions are joining us in our prayer for peace in Syria. Let us never lose the courage of prayer! The courage to say: Lord, grant your peace to Syria and to the whole world.

Grant peace to the Central African Republic, often forgotten and overlooked. Yet you, Lord, forget no one! And you also want to bring peace to that land, torn apart by a spiral of violence and poverty, where so many people are homeless, lacking water, food and the bare necessities of life. Foster social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused numerous victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state.

Prince of Peace, in every place turn hearts aside from violence and inspire them to lay down arms and undertake the path of dialogue. Look upon Nigeria, rent by constant attacks which do not spare the innocent and defenseless. Bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favorable outcome to the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Heal the wounds of the beloved country of Iraq, once more struck by frequent acts of violence.

Lord of life, protect all who are persecuted for your name. Grant hope and consolation to the displaced and refugees, especially in the Horn of Africa and in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Grant that migrants in search of a dignified life may find acceptance and assistance. May tragedies like those we have witnessed this year, with so many deaths at Lampedusa, never occur again!

Child of Bethlehem, touch the hearts of all those engaged in human trafficking, that they may realize the gravity of this crime against humanity. Look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers.

Lord of heaven and earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity. Help and protect all the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines, gravely affected by the recent typhoon.

Dear brothers and sisters, today, in this world, in this humanity, is born the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Let us pause before the Child of Bethlehem. Let us allow our hearts to be touched, let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God; we need his caress. God is full of love: to him be praise and glory forever! God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Music, the Mass and the Liturgy


The Primacy of Singing   From Pope Benedict
 
THE IMPORTANCE of music in biblical religion is shown very simply by the fact that the verb “to sing” (with related words such as “song”, and. so forth) is one of the most commonly used words in the Bible. It occurs 309 times in the Old Testament and thirty-six in the New. When man comes into contact with God, mere speech is not enough. Areas of his existence are awakened that spontaneously turn into song. Indeed, man’s own being is insufficient for what he has to express, and so he in­vites the whole of creation to become a song with him: “Awake, my soul! Awake, 0 harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, 0 Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithful­ness to the clouds” (Ps 57:8f.). We find the first mention of singing in the Bible after the crossing of the Red Sea. Israel has now been definitively delivered from slavery. In a desperate situation, it has had an overwhelming experi­ence of God’s saving power. Just as Moses as a baby was taken from the Nile and only then really received the gift of life, so Israel now feels as if it has been, so to speak, taken out of the water: it is free, newly endowed with the gift of itself from God’s own hands. In the biblical ac­count, the people’s reaction to the foundational event of salvation is described in this sentence: “[T]hey believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses” (Ex 14:31). But then follows a second reaction, which soars up from the first with elemental force: "Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord” (i 5: i). Year by year, at the Easter Vigil, Christians join in the singing of this song. They sing it in a new way as their song, because they know that they have been “taken out of the water” by God’s power, set free by God for authentic life. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 136]
The singing of the Church comes ultimately out of love. It is the utter depth of love that produces the singing. “Cantare amantis est”, says St. Augustine, singing is a lover’s thing. In so saying, we come again to the trinitarian interpretation of Church music. The Holy Spirit is love, and it is he who produces the singing. He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit who draws us into love for Christ and so leads to the Father. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 142]
In liturgical music, based as it is on biblical faith, there is, therefore, a clear dominance of the Word; this music is a higher form of proclama­tion. Ultimately, it rises up out of the love that responds to God’s love made flesh in Christ, the love that for us went unto death. After the Resurrection, the Cross is by no means a thing of the past, and so this love is always marked by pain at the hiddenness of God, by the cry that rises up from the depths of anguish, Kyrie eleison, by hope and by supplication. But it also has the privilege, by anticipation, of experiencing the reality of the Resur­rection, and so it brings with it the joy of being loved, that gladness of heart that Haydn said came upon him when he set liturgical texts to music. Thus the relation of liturgical music to logos means, first of all, simply its relation to words. That is why singing in the liturgy has priority over instrumental music, though it does not in any way exclude it. It goes without saying that the biblical and liturgical texts are the normative words from which liturgical music has to take its bearings. This does not rule out the continuing creation of “new songs”, but in­stead inspires them and assures them of a firm grounding in God’s love for mankind and his work of redemption. [The Spirit of Liturgy [SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000], p. 149]

Latin in Liturgy

I would be in favor of a new openness toward the use of Latin. Latin in the Mass has come meanwhile to look to us like a fall from grace. So that, in any case, communication is ruled out that is very necessary in areas of mixed culture... Let's think of tourist centers, where it would be lovely for people to recognize each other in something they have in common. So we ought to keep such things alive and present. If even in the great liturgical celebrations in Rome, no one can sing the Kyrie or the Sanctus any more, no one knows what Gloria means, then a cultural loss has become a loss of what we share in common. To that extent I should say that the Liturgy of the Word should always be in the mother tongue, but there ought nonetheless to be a basic stock of Latin elements that would bind us together. [God and the World, SF, CA: Ignatius, 2002, pp. 417-18] 

Trent and Music
 
In the West, in the form of Gregorian chant, the inherited tradition of psalm-singing was developed to a new sublimity and purity, which set a permanent standard for sacred music, music for the liturgy of the Church. Polyphony developed in the late Middle Ages, and then instruments came back into divine worship—quite rightly, too, because, as we have seen, the Church not only continues the synagogue, but also takes up, in the light of Christ’s Pasch, the reality represented by the Temple. Two new factors are thus at work in Church music. Artistic freedom increasingly asserts its rights, even in the liturgy. Church music and secular music are now each influenced by the other. This is particularly clear in the case of the so-called “parody Masses”, in which the text of the Mass was set to a theme or melody that came from secular music, with the result that anyone hearing it might think he was listening to the latest “hit”. It is clear that these opportunities for artistic creativity and the adoption of secular tunes brought dan­ger with them. Music was no longer developing out of prayer, but, with the new demand for artistic autonomy, was now heading away from the liturgy; it was becoming an end in itself, opening the door to new, very different. ways of feeling and of experiencing the world. Music was alienating the liturgy from its true nature. At this point the Council of Trent intervened in the culture war that had broken out. It was made a norm that liturgical music should be at the service of the Word; the use of instruments was substantially reduced; and the difference between secular and sacred music was clearly affirmed. [The Spirit of the Liturgy (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), pp. 146-47] 

Sacred vs. Performance 

Whether it is Bach or Mozart that we hear in church, we have a sense in either case of what Gloria Dei, the glory of God, means. The mystery of infinite beauty is there and enables us to ex­perience the presence of God more truly and vividly than in many sermons. But there are already signs of danger to come. Subjective experience and passion are still held in check by the order of the musical universe, reflecting as it does the order of the divine creation itself. But there is already the threat of invasion by the virtuoso mentality, the vanity of technique, which is no longer the servant of the whole but wants to push itself to the fore. During the nineteenth century, the century of self-emancipating subjectivity, this led in many places to the obscuring of the sacred by the operatic. The dangers that had forced the Council of Trent to intervene were back again. In similar fashion, Pope Pius X tried to remove the operatic element from the liturgy and declared Gregorian chant and the great polyphony of the age of the Catholic Reformation (of which Palestrina was the outstanding representative) to be the standard for liturgical music. A clear distinction was made between liturgical music and religious music in general, just as visual art in the liturgy has to conform to different standards from those employed in religious art in general. Art in the liturgy has a very specific responsibility, and precisely as such does it serve as a wellspring of culture, which in the final analysis owes its existence to cult. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), pp. 148]
Not every kind of music can have a place in Christian worship. It has its standards, and that standard is the Lo­gos. If we want to know whom we are dealing with, the Holy Spirit or the unholy spirit, we have to remember that it is the Holy Spirit who moves us to say, “Jesus is Lord” (~Cor 12:3). The Holy Spirit leads us to the Logos, and he leads us to a music that serves the Logos as a sign of the sursum corda, the lifting up of the human heart. Does it integrate man by drawing him to what is above, or does it cause his disintegration into formless intoxication or mere sensuality? That is the criterion for a music in harmony with logos, a form of that logike latreia (reasonable, logos-worthy worship)… [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 151]




Friday, December 20, 2013

The Great Catholic Principle of the Incarnation




"As we near the Christmas celebration, we ask ourselves, why is the Incarnation so important? What truths does it reveal to us? How does it touch all aspects of the Church including her books, art, music, and liturgy? Fr. Barron explores these questions in today's post, which is an excerpt from his latest book, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith."

  Read Father Barron's article here:

Incarnation: The Heart of the Catholic Thing

Christmas Gratitude


Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas.  As we remember Christmas past, we are grateful for those times  and people through which we are brought closer to the Church and closer to God.  The Lord often uses another to open our hearts. Forty-three years ago  I was brought back to the Church by a Catholic friend who loved the Church and was a good example of Christ-like love. It felt so good  to be back Home in Our Lord's  Holy Catholic Church again!  

But life changes... distractions, pain, and heartbreak intrude.  Unfortunately, over time I fell away again.

 A few years ago, God's 'relentless Love' found me,  I was once again drawn back to the Church, this time totally and with an all encompassing passion!  This was no doubt due to the prayers of many angels!  And, Fr. Barron's "Catholicism" series spoke tenderly and deeply to my heart. Also, I was evangelized by good Catholic books, especially one about Vatican II.  And the EWTN  Catholic programming played a big part in my return..  

 I have been so blessed and I am so grateful. 

 This holy Christmas I gratefully give my whole self to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


"This Christmas may we be consistent in living the Gospel, welcoming Jesus into the center of our lives."
- Pope Francis

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our Lady's Joy





"Mary’s joy was to form Christ in her own body; her joy now is to form Christ in our souls."
~ Venerable Fulton J. Sheen


Monday, December 16, 2013

Making New Catholics





A most meaningful Christmas gift, for yourself and for your loved ones.....


"How can we transmit a living, personal Catholic faith to future generations? By coming to know Jesus Christ, and following him as his disciples.These are times of immense challenge and immense opportunity for the Catholic Church.
Consider these statistics for the United States.
  • Only 30 percent of Americans who were raised Catholic are still practicing.
  • Fully 10 percent of all adults in America are ex-Catholics.
  • The number of marriages celebrated in the Church decreased dramatically, by nearly 60 percent, between 1972 and 2010.
  • Only 60 percent of Catholics believe in a personal God.
If the Church is to reverse these trends, the evangelizers must first be evangelized-in other words, Catholics-in-the-pew must make a conscious choice to know and follow Jesus before they can draw others to him. This work of discipleship lies at the heart of Forming Intentional Disciples, a book designed to help Church leaders, parish staff and all Catholics transform parish life from within.
Drawing upon her fifteen years of experience with the Catherine of Siena Institute, Sherry Weddell leads readers through steps that will help Catholics enter more deeply into a relationship with God and the river of apostolic creativity, charisms, and vocation that flow from that relationship for the sake of the Church and the world.


Learn about the five thresholds of postmodern conversion, how to open a conversation about faith and belief, how to ask thought-provoking questions and establish an atmosphere of trust, when to tell the Great Story of Jesus, how to help someone respond to God's call to intentional discipleship, and much more.

And be prepared for conversion because when life at the parish level changes, the life of the whole Church will change."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Preparing for Advent for Adults


Advent and Christmas aren’t meant to be only for children. 

 Here are some ways adults can participate in the season of preparation.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Blessed Virgin Mary, Example of Peace and Purity

"Mary shows “the interior peace which we ought to have amid the sometimes tumultuous and confusing events of history, events whose meaning we often do not grasp and which disconcert us.”
 ~ Pope Benedict XVI 


 On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception...

"Mother most pure, pray for all those in need of purity of heart, that we may will always what God wills. 
Mother of divine grace, pray for all those who seek God, that we may find Him in the approaching celebration of Christmas."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What Does Advent Mean to You?


I would love to be a member of this Church. (but it's 1500 miles away!)

Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, Michigan is a growing Catholic community.

 The Pastor and Assistant Pastors, in the video below, talk about the Advent season, what it means to them, and how they approach it and prepare for it.  They speak in a happy, fun way of practical and spiritual preparations that will bring Joy at this season of Advent.  Increased time of prayer,  giving to the less fortunate and donating to good causes, are ways to prepare to welcome Christ the newborn King. 

And they demonstrate just enjoying one another is a part of sharing the Joy of Christmas.

The Lord Wants to Be Known, Do You Know the Lord?



Take 30 minutes out of the Advent season and listen to this powerful talk by Fr. John Riccardo.
You will be blessed beyond measure!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Reasons for Hope




Advent is a time for reflection, hope and preparation.

"Reasons for Hope: Meditations for the Advent Season offers 23 days of reflection to guide you and your family towards the celebration of the birth of our Lord. Enjoy a combination of Scripture, quotes from saints and spiritual leaders, prayers and questions for reflection each day of the Advent season. 
You will find that God comes in a special way to the people who steadfastly hope for His coming."

Bookmark HERE and return daily during Advent for a new meditation.
or
Download HERE