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Showing posts from 2015

7 Catholic New Year's Resolutions

The New Year is upon us - and with its coming brings New Year's resolutions - we are all familiar with them; we have all made them; we have all broken them by January 7...The media is replete with lists of the most popular resolutions which can usually be broken down into three categories: losing, quitting, and saving - as in weight, smoking/drinking, and money. It is a rare exception that a New Year's Resolution involves our ultimate and final goal of this life - eternal happiness with the Lord in the next.  Don't get me wrong - I am not suggesting that you cease making the "losing, quitting, saving" resolutions - just that you consider adding a resolution or two that will impact your life for all eternity. Here are 7 Catholic resolutions for the New Year to consider: 1. Go to Daily Mass one extra day per week.  The  Catechism of the Catholic Church , quoting Lumen Gentium, describes the Eucharist as "the source and suumit of the Christian life"

Merry Christmas From Saints 365

I have always had a love/hate relationship with Christmas .  All the anticipation and preparation seems to be unwrapped, eaten and over in a flash and all that is left the day after Christmas is a mess of strewn gifts, bits of wrapping paper and indigestion. What should just be the beginning of the season of Christmas often leaves me with a vague sadness and a feeling that there must be something more....   The reality is that no worldly preparation for Christmas can ever exceed the meticulous preparation God the Father undertook to prepare the world for the gift of Jesus, born in the flesh.  For over two millennium the Lord prepared the hearts of the people of Israel to receive their Messiah, gradually revealing Himself, his love, and his plan for our salvation.    The gift of our Lord and Savior is not something we can unwrap in an instance.  It is not a gift that we may use for a time and wear out or discard.  It is not a gift that brings disappointment.  The gift of Jesus

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

The headlines on the news scream disaster, struggle, violence, and hatred.  The world stage is filled with uncertainty and anxiety about the future. Innocent people are slaughtered mercilessly; politicians rage at each other, and even the church seems filled with discord and division. Temptations to fear and despair close in from every side. I worry about the future. I worry about the world my children are growing up in. I wonder what type of society they will raise their own children in. I pray for our safety and our security. Most of all I pray for peace.  This Christmas, I find that it is the hauntingly beautiful ancient hymn "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" that whispers peace and comfort into my anxious heart. It's full lyrics read: Let all mortal flesh keep silence, And with fear and trembling stand; Ponder nothing earthly minded, For with blessing in His hand, Christ our God to earth descendeth, Our full homage to demand.   King of kings,

7 Simple Ways to Share Christ This Christmas

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” With these memorable words, Charles Dickens has captured the sentiment of every enthusiastic Catholic evangelist regarding Christmas. On the one hand, Christmas is an evangelist’s dream – a time of joy and hope , with an abundance of opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ with a weary world. On the other hand, Christmas can be an evangelist’s worst nightmare – a time of stress and struggle, when it seems like the world in general and the people around one’s own dining room table in particular, are indifferent or openly hostile to all things related to Christ. Here are seven simple tips for sharing Christ this Christmas with your family, friends, co-workers and even the guy who just cut you off in the parking lot on the way to Midnight Mass. 1.        Put the oxygen mask on yourself first.   In other words, don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season overwhelm you to the point that you shelve your own pra

O Holy Night

O Holy Night is my favorite Christmas Carol. The lyrics are rich in meaning and so many of them have provided much thought for meditation and spiritual journaling. Here are five facts, images and inspirations from the song. (Feel free to pin and share the images!) -1- The book, Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas  ,  provides some fascinating facts about the song, O Holy Night, including the fact that it was the very first song ever to be broadcast over the radio waves on Christmas Eve 1906, launching a completely new platform for music to be transmitted and enjoyed.  What an amazing experience it must have been to have heard this beautiful hymn on the air waves for the very first time.  Just another miracle of Christmas. Let us pray that all radio transmissions give glory to God the way the very first one did!  -2- "Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth." For many, Christmas can be a time of so

What Prayer Does Not Dare To Ask

A few Sundays ago, the opening prayer (known as the collect) really hit me between the eyes.  Ever have that experience?  It was as if the words of the prayer seemed louder and clearer than normal. They stopped me in my tracks and after Mass I googled them to read them again.  Here is what the prayer said:  So many parts of the prayer struck me, but in particular the lines "to pardon what conscience dreads and to give what prayer does not dare ask" touched my heart in a deep way. What, exactly, does my conscience dread, I asked myself?   What makes approaching the confessional so challenging sometimes?  What am I afraid of?  Shame? Vulnerability? The truth that I am fallible, fallen and, most often, frustrated?  What does my prayer dare not ask?   Why, in fact, if I place all my trust in the goodness and kindness of God the Father, am I still hesitant to ask for anything?  I watch my children confidently ask my husband for whatever they desire, no matte

7 Reasons Why I Love Gaudete Sunday

 The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete Sunday takes its name from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon at Mass which proclaims:   "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice!" which reads in Latin as "Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete." (Sounds so cool in Latin doesn't it?) Here are 7 reasons why I love Gaudete Sunday: 1. It's our family's personal feast day . Our last name is Gaudino - which derives from the Latin word gaudium which means joy, and so we feel a personal connection to Gaudete Sunday and the spirit of joy and rejoicing in the Lord which it exudes! 2. Everyone wears pink. Ok, alright, don't get huffy on me now - I know the technical, liturgical name for the color of the vestments the priest wears is rose, but pink by any other name is still pink! 3. It's a break from the penances of Advent. (Can anyone say unlimited dessert?). Advent is a penitential season, simila

Quotes From St. Francis Xavier

On December 3, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of missionaries. St. Francis Xavier was a Jesuit missionary best known for the thousands of people he brought to conversion and Baptism in India and Japan. In a letter he wrote from the missionary fields in India, he described the amount of people he Baptized in vivid language: "As to the numbers who become Christians, you may understand them from this, that it often happens to me to be hardly able to use my hands from the fatigue of baptizing: often in a single day I have baptized whole villages. Sometimes I have lost my voice and strength altogether with repeating again and again the Credo and the other forms." Here's an interesting fact about St. Francis Xavier that I found in Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 2: July-December  : Pope Gregory XV canonized St. Francis Xavier in 1622 along with Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, Philip Neri and Isidore the Farmer.  W

Thanksgiving Top Ten!

     Top ten things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving: 1. Our Lord Jesus Christ, for calling me out of darkness and into his marvelous light! (1 Peter 2:9) 2. The freedoms we enjoy in this country, especially the freedom to worship our God in peace and security. 3. My husband who works tirelessly to support, protect and care for us!  He is truly a reflection of God the Father to me and our children and I know I don't express my gratitude often enough. 4. My children whose presence brings me the greatest joy and reminds me every day of God's love, goodness and mercy. 5. My parents, grandparents, and my brother and sister who have taught me the meaning of family and have dealt with me during the good, the bad and the ugly.  6. Books, books and more books. Oh how I love books!  Thank you Lord for the gift of books (and progressive eye-glasses which enable me to read all those books.) 7. Wine - one of the greatest pleasures God has ever created and the pe

7 Ways to Celebrate Advent With Your Family

Patient waiting. These two little words most accurately describe the tone and theme of the season of Advent. Patient waiting. No two words in the English language are more incompatible with young children. How do those of us with young children help them to celebrate the beautiful season of Advent without being overrun by the mad rush to Christmas morning?  Here are 7 ideas that our family has used to  make the celebration of the season of Advent a Christ-centered, prayerful and fun-filled family affair. 1. Advent Prayer Chain As a child I loved making paper chains - I think they appealed to the independent streak in me as I liked the idea that I could assemble what I considered to be a beautiful garland all on my own. That appeal has crossed over into my adult life and one of my favorite Advent family traditions is the paper-prayer chain. The kids and I assemble our chain together. As we create the purple and pink chain links, we write the name of a person (living or decea

Our Advent Book List

Years ago, Jessica at Shower of Roses  inspired me with her gorgeous Advent book basket -I imagined the joy my children would experience seeing a big basket of beautifully wrapped purple and pink books. The book basket did not disappoint and when my daughter saw this year's books all wrapped and ready to go - she jumped up and down and said "Mommy I can't wait for Advent!"  We unwrap the book of the day, snuggle on the couch and read it together every morning. Each year we add new books and weed out the ones that the kids have outgrown. Here's a picture our book basket:     Although Advent begins on November 29 - we begin reading from our book list on December 1:   December 1: While not an overt Christmas book, Neal Lozano's beautiful book Will You Bless Me?  recounts the story of the Annunciation through the Epiphany as told by the Blessed Mother to the Child Jesus. It is a beautiful introduction to the gift of blessing your children.    Dec

Home to Me

Memories of my Grandmother's house powerfully evoke all five of my senses . I can still hear the creak of the linoleum steps beneath my feet as I would ascend to her second floor apartment, the smell of simmering marinara sauce or some other Italian comfort food wafting to meet my nose.  Her greeting was always the same: a tight, warm embrace in her sturdy Sicilian arms followed by the lilt of her broken English: "Deborina...how's my beautiful granddaughter".   And the tastes... Dinner at Grandma's was always a feast for the palate.  She could transform a head of iceburg lettuce, a slab of mozzarella and a dash of oil and vinegar into the most magically delicious salad I have ever eaten.  This hung above my Grandmother's stove and now hangs above mine . I have the greatest memories of the days and nights spent as a child at her home: from sleepovers when I was allowed to stay up late and watch episodes of the Love Boat and Fantasy Island while she s

Inviting Christ to Be King of Our Hearts

This article originally appeared on Catholic 365. In 1925, in an encyclical entitled Quas Primas , Pope Pius XI instituted the Solemnity of Christ the King and decreed that it should be celebrated as an annual feast by the entire church on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, as “the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ.” In the encyclical Pope Pius XI stated his hopes that the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King would serve as an “excellent remedy for the plaque which now infects society.”  He goes on to list the various ills that had befallen society in the early 20 th century: …”the insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of th

7 Lessons from Max Lucado's "You Are Special"

Max Lucado's children's book You Are Special is a favorite of mine and a beautiful story with many facets to it and much to be learned from it. It is a sad story of judgment; of pride and slavery; of sin and brokenness.  It is also a beautiful story of witness and hope - a story of intercession and prayer. Ultimately it is a story of love and the heart of God. Below are 7 lessons from the story that I shared a few years back with a women's group at our parish. Please note that I will include the main plot line as I go, so you should be able to follow along even if you have not read the book.  I do highly recommend that you pick up a copy for yourself  - it is a story whose message is ageless and timeless. --- 1 --- This is a story of judgement. The story opens with us witnessing a typical day in the life of  the wooden Wemmicks. These gangly wooden people spend all their time furiously giving each other grey dots or golden stars. The grey dots are placed on Wemmick