Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!


From today's Gospel
Mt 2:13-15, 19-23


When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.

***


"Scripture tells us practically nothing about the first years and the boyhood of the Child Jesus. All we know are the facts of the sojourn in Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and the incidents that occurred when the twelve-year-old boy accompanied his parents to Jerusalem. In her liturgy the Church hurries over this period of Christ's life with equal brevity. The general breakdown of the family, however, at the end of the past century and at the beginning of our own, prompted the popes, especially the far-sighted Leo XIII, to promote the observance of this feast with the hope that it might instill into Christian families something of the faithful love and the devoted attachment that characterize the family of Nazareth. The primary purpose of the Church in instituting and promoting this feast is to present the Holy Family as the model and exemplar of all Christian families."

— Excerpted from With Christ Through the Year, Rev. Bernard Strasser, O.S.B.

Catholic Mom, Lisa Hendey's exciting new development

Lisa Hendey, a Catholic wife, mother, and webmaster at CatholicMom.com, recently sent me this exciting news regarding her "Catholic Moments" podcast:

"Hey everyone, I just had to share this great news! Christmas came early for me this year!!You can check out the details at http://www.sqpn.com/?p=2489 and comment there if you are as excited as I am! This happened just in time for me to ask you to join me in supporting SQPN with any size donation you might be able to share this year. I truly believe that podcasting and new media are tremendous tools for lifting up our Catholic families and sharing our faith. If you can share a donation of any size, please visit http://www.sqpn.com/?page_id=528 - your donation will go to help SQPN continue to grow and will support the talented individuals who lead this organization and have committed their lives to this project.Thanks to all who have supported and encouraged me in this new project, and here's to many more "Catholic Moments" in 2008. Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent, Lisa"

Please take a moment to visit the site mentioned above to congratulate Lisa!

Back issues of Canticle magazine!

Good news! I just found out from Heidi's blog, "The Silent Canticle" that Canticle website has just posted some back issues which you can get to from here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Catholic Outpost

Have you been to Catholic Outpost yet?

According to their website: "Catholic Outpost is a networking tool created by Catholic groups for Catholic groups."

These are some of the things you can do there:

Sign up now and start connecting!
Share documents, pictures and events with your group members,
Connect with other groups in your area - and around the country,
Collaborate with Catholic musicians, speakers and other talent, and
Sell and buy products in the Catholic Outpost Marketplace.


Plus, I have a column there called, " Everyday Moments of Grace."

So, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!


I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful time with family and friends. I am spending time with my family and will be back soon to "catch up!"

God bless!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas version of First Corinthians 13


If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows,
strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls,
but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen,
baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime:
but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another cook.
If I work at a soup kitchen carol in the nursing home,
and give all that I have to charity;
but do not show love to my family,
it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes,
attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata
but do not focus on Christ,
I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love does not envy another's home
that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way,
but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love does not give only to those who are able to give in return;
but rejoices in giving to those who cannot.
Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails.
Video games will break,
pearl necklaces will be lost,
golf clubs will rust;
but giving the gift of love will endure
(Author unknown)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I love Saint Joseph!


I want to share a little story with you. My friend has been looking for a place to live for a while. She has been staying with friends temporarily. Certainly she was very appreciative for the place to stay with her friends. However, she wanted to give them some space so they could accomodate their visiting relatives for the holidays. I had recommended that she pray to St. Joseph, since he is the head of the Holy Family and always took care of Jesus and Mary, finding them places to live. My dear friend and spiritual director, Fr. Bill taught me about St. Joseph quite some time ago and I am so thankful that he introduced me to him! He has always been good to me!

My friend has been trying to find a home for herself and her two children. She told me the other day that stables are beginning to look good to her, referring of course, to St. Joseph and Mary ending up at the stable because there was no room at the inn. Each time I talk with this friend, I promise my prayers and try to encourage her and the other day told her that "Home is in your mother's eyes" and that wherever she ends up for Christmas, it will be home. She was planning to rent a hotel room while waiting for a home to come through and plans to get a small Christmas tree and put up her creche there and celebrate the coming of the Christ Child.

So, the other day we spoke and things still didn't look promising at all. After I got off the phone with her, I pleaded with St. Joseph, whom I love and who has helped me so much in the past. St. Joseph, can you PLEASE help ****? Please, St, Joseph, she needs a place to have Christmas with her children. Please help her according to God's holy will." I then thought about a place that could possibly work out. I called a friend whom I knew had a guest house to see if something could be arranged there. No room at that inn either, because they generously had taken in a family who was already staying there.

The phone rang last night and it was my friend calling to tell me her news. She had called a few more places looking into rentals. She told me that one of her inquiries was answered by a gentleman. He left her a phone message about the house that he had for rent, telling her that he was impressed with the manner in which she had inquired. He wanted to meet with her to discuss things. At the end of the message he said, "This is Joseph, the carpenter."

How do you like that?!

Update on "The Golden Compass"

Please visit Kate to find out new information about "The Golden Compass" Movie and that the Vatican disapproves of it. Just click here.

Five days until Christmas!

What? Five days until Christmas?! I had better go out and finish shopping! I will be back later on to post some things. I hope that your day will be BLESSED and that you will see Jesus in all you meet!

God bless and hugs!


PS Please also pray for a woman who is scheduled to abort her baby tomorrow. PLEASE storm Heaven so that she won't do it as well as so many other women contemplating abortion, or who have had abortions and are wounded in so many ways. Please pray at least one Hail Mary for this woman. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lisa Hendey's Christmas Podcast!

Go on over to hear Catholic Mom.Com, Lisa Hendey's podcast by clicking here.

Please pray for this mother and unborn baby!

I received this today from a Pro-life friend. Please take a moment to read about this expectant mother who feels that she has to abort (kill) her unborn baby a few days before Christmas!

***


Dear Friends of the Unborn,
I am copying this email below to ask for urgent prayers for this little soul who is in danger of abortion on Friday. A good woman from my church sent it to me. She received it from one of her family members I believe who is good friends with the woman who is contemplating abortion. This is NOT one of those bulk email chain letters but is from a very reputable source that I know personally. For those of you who can fast along with pray please do. And for those who can go before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to plead for this soul thank you!
God bless,
Mike and Kerry




Dear Family and Friends,



Please take a minute to read this email and pray for my friend. I won’t give you her name for her sake, but she is having an abortion on Friday the 21st. PLEASE pray that she won’t go through with it. She found out last week that her baby will be born with Down syndrome and apparently the doctors and her family have led her to believe that “terminating” her pregnancy is the right thing to do. Not only am I sad for the child, but sad for her b/c the psychological ramifications will haunt her for years. I’ve put her in touch with a woman we found yesterday who founded ‘Reece’s Rainbow’ which is a Georgia-based ministry for saving Down syndrome children- they have 200 families, paper-ready, to adopt Downs children.



Below is my friend’s email, which she sent out yesterday to over 100 of us who have taken her exercise class:



“To my pregnancy:

In my age group I had a 1:86 chance for Trisomie 21(Down Syndrom) and this time we were the unlucky ones..I'll have the DNE(similar to DNC)done Friday afternoon. It's sad and I wish I could change it, but hopefully the next time I won't be the 'unlucky winner'. It makes us appreciate even more what we've got with Andy, family and friends!”



Please pray today and tomorrow for her and for the soul that is about to be killed. Please pray for our efforts to interrupt her decision, and please pray for our culture that seems to think it is okay to broadcast a decision to kill a life so casually.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My forthcoming book, "Catholic Saints Prayer Book"


My newest book, Catholic Saints Prayer Book is now listed with its cover image on Amazon.Com. This book will be released in March 2008 by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Company and can be pre-ordered through my website or Amazon.Com.

My radio segment about Christmas

Well, here's the link to my latest segment with Teresa Tomeo. I was on the air with her yesterday morning on my "Mom's Corner" segment discussing Christmas traditions. I also shared a couple of experiences I just had recently. One of them, I call, "Jesus in the Post Office." The other little story is about a woman I met in the grocery store a couple of years ago around Christmas. You can hear the whole segment by clicking here.

Prayer for the morning...

"The promised One shall come and rule over us in peace: come, let us adore him!

Glory to the Father...Alleluia!"

Today, on December 18th, we also think about dear St. Joseph and how the Angel came to him in his sleep bringing him a beautiful message of hope and consolation - that Mary, his beloved has conceived by the Holy Spirit and will give birth to the Son of God.

***


God bless your day today surely filled to the brim with busyness! Pause and reflect, though, on Jesus coming to us. Let's prepare our hearts no matter how busy we are. Stop for a moment to pray and thank God for His many blessings!

I will be back later with a few things to share!

God bless you and keep you!

Hugs,

Monday, December 17, 2007

Overnight Christmas Blueberry-Pecan French Toast

This morning I spoke about this recipe when I was on the air with Teresa Tomeo on "Catholic Connection" discussing Christmas reflections. I promised that I would post the recipe for all of you. I will also post the segment soon so that if you didn't get a chance to tune in this morning, you'll be able to listen to it from my blog. I'll also tell you the story behind this recipe - but FIRST the recipe for all of you eager chefs out there! Here it is!

Overnight Christmas Blueberry-Pecan French Toast

Ingredients:

nonstick spray
1 baguette, cut into 20 one inch slices
6 eggs
3 cups of milk
1 cup brown sugar
vanilla to taste
nutmeg to taste
1 cup pecans, toasted
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preparation:

Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with the nonstick spray and arrange the baguette slices in a single layer in the dish. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, three-fourths of the brown sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread.

Cover and chill the mixture overnight. There will appear to be a lot of moisture when the mixture goes into the refrigerator, but it will all soak into the bread by morning.

Just before baking, sprinkle the remaining one-quarter cup brown sugar, pecans and blueberries over the bread. Bake the dish in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to one hour (the recipe says 30 minutes, but I found that it takes longer, so check at 30 and be sure to have allowed for 45 minutes to 1 hour) or until golden and bubbling. Serve with maple syrup. For an added treat, heat the syrup with blueberries and have blueberry-flavored syrup.

Enjoy!

I love this recipe because you do the preparation beforehand and only need to pop in into the oven on Christmas morning 45 minutes to an hour before you'd like to serve it. I like to also serve fresh fruit with this "french toast," which can be washed and prepared on a dish in advance to save you the trouble on Christmas morning. I also like to serve fresh muffins - various kinds along with the fruit and "french toast." You may also use a whole grain type baguette in this recipe for added nutrition. You can put this dish in the oven Christmas morning, set the timer and go open your presents! So EASY - that's the idea - keep it simple and enjoy your loved ones!

Let me know how you like it if you decide to make it. :)

Christmas breakfast bread

Hello Everyone,

This morning when I was on the air with Teresa Tomeo on "Catholic Connection," I mentioned a Christmas bread that I make and told a story about it. Some of you have been writing to ask for the recipe that I said I would post for you. Don't worry! I will post it for you. I have to run out now to do some errands and to Christmas shop and perhaps I'll bump into "JESUS in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor" as Mother Teresa always said.

I'll try to post the recipe by tonight or tomorrow. Please be patient with me! :)

Thanks for joining me this morning!

God bless you!

Hugs,

JOY enters our hearts...

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI told us that JOY enters hearts of those who seek to minister to the poor. This Advent season, are we focusing on the BIRTH OF CHRIST? Are we getting caught up in the busyness of running around and trying to have everything (superficially) perfect? Are we giving our hearts to the poor?

I'll be back a little later on to post about the radio show this morning with Teresa Tomeo on "Catholic Connection," as well as speak about some family Advent and Christmas ideas.

God bless you!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Grab your cup of tea or coffee on Monday morning and join us!


I hope you'll join me on Monday morning! Brew yourself a cup of tea or coffee and sit down for 15 minutes to visit with Teresa Tomeo and me. We'll be doing our "Mom's Corner" segment on "Catholic Connection," Ave Maria Radio at 9:15 AM Eastern Standard Time. Perhaps you can also tune in from your vehicle on your way out for morning Mass or to do some last minute Christmas shopping! Either way, I hope you'll join us for a few minutes of some Christmas inspiration for Moms and families. Maybe we'll throw in something for the Dads, too!

I'll look forward to spending some time with you on Monday morning! In the mean time, watch out for the black ice and slippery conditions in some places out there. Try not to get flustered over the harried shoppers running around! Keep it simple if you can, so you can enjoy this beautiful season of Advent - of preparing our hearts for the Christ Child!

God be with you!

Yours in Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,

I'll be back later...


I'll be back later on today to share a little story about Jesus in the Post Office, perhaps share a photo or two with you from our little snowstorm yesterday, as well as to give you details about my Christmas radio show on Monday at 9:15 Eastern Standard Time with Teresa Tomeo for our "Mom's Corner" segment. I am running out to Christmas shop! I just finished the book I was writing (Yippee!!) and have to get ready for Christmas now. We've only had our Advent wreath out so far and just started with our decorations yesterday! It's been busy around here. I've been doing a lot of talks and book signings and I've also have Lyme disease and haven't felt well. I hope that you are enjoying your Advent and your family at this BLESSED time of year!

God bless!
See you later!
Hugs,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I hope it was worth the wait...

I decided that I couldn't possibly pick this winner from a hat...

Every one's entry was so compelling...

So, I decided that the winner is...

EVERYONE who entered!! SURPRISE!! After all, it is ADVENT and CHRISTMAS is coming! I know who you all are, so just email me again and this time give me your mailing address and please tell me who you want me to inscribe the book to (yourself or the person you were thinking of).

Have a BLESSED day!

The winner is...


I have picked the winner in this latest book contest! The winner was chosen yesterday on our Blessed Mother's beautiful feast day under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn.

Drum roll, please...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I told you that I would pick the winner today!

Well, I told you I would pick the winner today on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe for my "Prayerfully Expecting" contest. I will have my daughter pick an entry out of a hat shortly! "Stay tuned!" Be back soon!

Our Lady of Guadalupe


"Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."

— Our Lady to Juan Diego


"In the winter of 1531, a poor, 57-year-old Aztec Indian living five miles outside of Mexico City encountered a miraculous happening on his way to morning Mass. First he heard strange music coming from Tepeyac Hill, and then he heard a woman's voice calling his name. Juan Diego climbed the hill and encountered a young woman, appearing to be of his own people in physical appearance and dress. The woman identified herself as the Virgin Mary, and told Juan Diego to ask the bishop of Mexico City to build a church on the hill to assist in the conversion of the nation and be a source of consolation to the people.

Juan Diego obeyed the request, but the bishop was skeptical regarding the message, even though he perceived that Juan was a humble, and well meaning Catholic. Juan reported the bishop's doubt to Our Lady at Tepeyac Hill, and she asked him to return to the bishop once again, bearing the same message. The bishop once again heard the story, and told Juan Diego to ask Our Lady for a sign that it was indeed herself that wished for the church to be built.

When he returned to the hill, Mary gave Juan Diego such a sign. Miraculously, roses appeared on the hill in the middle of winter, and Juan gathered them in his tilma, or cloak. Our Lady arranged the roses in his tilma with her own hands, and Juan returned to the bishop's presence. When Juan released the tilma, allowing the flowers to fall to the floor, it was revealed that a miraculous image of Our Lady had imprinted itself on his tilma (see above).

The bishop immediately fell to his knees, and came to believe in Juan Diego's message. A church was built on the spot of the apparition, as Mary had requested, and 8 million people converted to Catholicism in a short period of time upon hearing of or viewing the miraculous image of Our Lady.

The tilma of Juan Diego has been the subject of much modern research. The tilma, woven out of coarse cactus fiber, should have disintegrated after 20 years, but although over 500 years have passed the tilma is still in perfect condition. The pupils of Mary in the picture reflect the Indians and clergy present at the time of the first revelation of the image. No paint was used, and chemical analysis has not been able to identify the color imprint. Additionally, studies have revealed that the stars on Mary's mantle match exactly what a Mexican would have seen in the sky in December of 1531." (from Catholic Culture)

Happy Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe!


God of power and mercy,
you blessed the Americas at Tepeyac
with the presence of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe.
May her prayers help all men and women
to accept each other as brothers and sisters.
Through your justice present in our hearts
may your peace reign in the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

(opening Mass prayer, feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

PLEASE PRAY TODAY FOR THE UNBORN AND FOR THE MOTHERS WHO ARE TODAY CONTEMPLATING ABORTION.

PLEASE DEAR LORD HELP US! PLEASE DEAR LADY OF GUADALUPE, SPARE THESE INNOCENT CHILDREN FROM MURDER! HELP THEIR MOTHERS TO UNDERSTAND THAT THEY ARE HOLDING WITHIN THEIR BODIES A PRECIOUS LIFE! AMEN.


I will be back later to post more about this beautiful feast!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Advent: A Pilgrimage Blessed by Hope

As we begin our new Liturgical year, lighting our first Advent candle, we embark on a pilgrimage once again towards the Christ Child, a pilgrimage blessed with hope. Advent is the perfect time to rediscover the beauty and depth of Christmas hope. We are so fortunate and truly blessed that the Holy Spirit has inspired our holy father, Pope Benedict XVI to gift us with his new encyclical, Spe Salvi, Saved by Hope, at this moment in time to a world that is for the most part without God — a world seemingly depleted of hope.

Catholics are given this time of preparation by our Church to prepare our hearts, our families and our homes. We can succumb to the hustling and bustling that our material-oriented culture would have us participate in. After all, the newest toys, gadgets, electronics, and fashions are exploding from the television set, radio, the Internet, store window displays, and sales pages of the newspaper, each store boasting of the absolute best sale ever. Children know exactly what they want for Christmas and where it can be gotten! It's a difficult task for parents to teach the true meaning of the Advent season in an era when Christians are even prohibited to some extent from publicly expressing their faith-filled sentiments of this holy season.

It's almost impossible to escape the chaos to find some peace with the craze of materialism enveloping us. However, we can decide to stay away from the commercialism and materialism as best as we can and use this holy season wisely and prayerfully. Time can be put aside each day for essential personal prayer and family prayer, seeking a bit of stillness in which to retreat to the heart for reflection.

The Catechism tells us, "When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: 'He must increase, but I must decrease'" (CCC no. 524 and John 3:30).

Parents should make use of the Advent wreath tradition within their own homes — their domestic Churches. Each evening at the family dinner table... (my article is continued here at Catholic Exchange.)

Last chance to enter the contest!


Tomorrow, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I will be picking the winner in the "Prayerfully Expecting" contest. The winner will receive a signed copy of my book, Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine Month Novena for Mothers-To-Be.

You still have time to enter if you do it right away!

Here's what you do:

Tell me why you are wishing for this book for yourself or someone else. Do this in a paragraph or less and please send it to me by email to: DMCooperOBoyle(at)aol(dot)com. You may enter only once for this contest. But, be sure to tell others about this contest and perhaps you can link to this from your own blogs to spread the word. :)

God bless you!

Monday, December 10, 2007

My new book cover!

I'm so excited! I was just shown my new book cover for my book, Catholic Saints Prayer Book which will be released in March 2008! I will show it to you very soon. I have to wait for the high resolution image to be sent to me before I can post it.

The Golden Compass again!

Kate at Rosemary Sauce offers a comprehensive look at The Golden Compass. Go check it out!

My Advent article

Here is an Advent article I have over at Catholic Mom.Com.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary


Happy feast day! What a beautiful one it is. I haven't been home. I was out of town giving a talk this morning to a wonderful Pro-Life group called, The "Gospel of Life Society."

I pray that you are all invoking our beautiful Mother Mary for all of your needs today and always. As Mother Teresa has told me, you may pray these simple but succinct words, "Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now." She wants to be our mother and wants us to come to her often. She will bring us to Her Son, Jesus.

Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Who is St. Nicholas anyway!


"The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in Patara, a village in what is now Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of... (Continued here.)

The Golden Compass

Check out Jean Marie's fabulous post at Catholic Fire about "The Golden Compass" movie here.

St Nicholas's feast day today


Did your children put their shoes out last night? If you forgot, you can do it tonight. :)

"In many places St. Nicholas is the main gift giver. His feast day, St. Nicholas Day, is December 6, which falls early in the Advent season. Some places he arrives in the middle of November and moves about the countryside, visiting schools and homes to find out if children have been good. Other places he comes in the night and finds carrots and hay for his horse or donkey along with children's wish lists. Small treats are left in shoes or stockings so the children will know he has come.

Where St. Nicholas is prominent, his day, not Christmas, is the primary gift giving day. Parties may be held on the eve, December 5th, and shoes or stockings left for St. Nicholas to fill during the night. Children will find treats of small gifts, fruit or nuts, and special Nicholas candies and cookies. St. Nicholas gifts are meant to be shared, not hoarded for oneself." (More here including how this day is celebrated all over the world!)


This is from Catholic Culture today:

"St. Nicholas was born in Lycia, Asia Minor, and died as Bishop of Myra in 352. He performed many miracles and exercised a special power over flames. He practiced both the spiritual and temporal works of mercy, and fasted twice a week. When he heard that a father who had fallen into poverty was about to expose his three daughters to a life of sin, Nicholas took a bag of gold and secretly flung it through the window into the room of the sleeping father. In this way, the three girls were dowered and saved from mortal sin and hell."

Happy St. Nicholas day!

Advent activities for kids

Here is a nice selection of activity ideas for CCD (Religious Education) classes throughout Advent. Some of activities will work well with your children at home too. Just click here.

And some more Advent wreath ideas here.

Here is a St. Nicholas activity here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The blessing of the Advent Wreath

Have you blessed your Advent wreath? It's not too late. Here is a suggested prayer.

1. Make the Sign of the Cross
2. Pray the Responsory

The father of the family (or other leader) recites the verse, and the family (or group) responds. If you are alone, recite both the verse and the response

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made Heaven and earth.

Optional: Read Isaiah 9:1-2, 5-6

The father (or other leader) reads this passage from the Prophet Isaiah, familiar to many from Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, which reminds us that Christ is our light, and that His Birth brought us out of the darkness of sin and saved us.

Isaiah 9:1-2, 5-6

The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.

Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils.

For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)


Pray the Prayer of Blessing

The father (or other leader) prays the following prayer over the Advent wreath, and the family (or group) replies "Amen."


O God, by whose word all things are sanctified, pour forth thy blessing upon this wreath, and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from Thee abundant graces. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sprinkle the Advent Wreath With Holy Water
The father (or other leader) sprinkles the Advent wreath with holy water.

Optional: Pray the Advent Wreath Prayer for the First Week and Light the First Candle

While the blessing ceremony can take place at any time, if you are ready to light the first candle, the father (or other leader) leads the family (or group) in the Advent Wreath Prayer for the First Week of Advent and lights the first candle.

We begin this first week of Advent by asking Christ to come, to set us free from our sins and from the punishment that we deserve. He is our salvation.


Advent Wreath Prayer for the First Week of Advent

Bestir, O Lord, Thy might, we pray thee and come; that, defended by Thee, we may deserve rescue from approaching dangers brought on by our sins, and being set free by Thee, obtain our salvation. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.


End With the Sign of the Cross

Monday, December 3, 2007

Advent: Time to get ready...


Our new liturgical year begins. Advent is upon us! It's time to get our hearts and homes ready to greet the Christ Child! Are we getting caught up in the worldly hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas? Let's be sure that we take the time to pause each day in prayer to prepare our hearts as we also set the example and guide our household in prayer.

Did you get a chance to set up your Advent wreath? It's not too late, of course. It can be simple or elaborate. A prayer said together as a family each evening at the dinner table after the first candle on the wreath is lit is in keeping with a wonderful tradition of our Catholic Church (of course, always use caution with a flame and candles with children and also pets).

In Hope We are Saved: our holy father, Pope Benedict XVI's new encyclical, Spe Salvi was just released and is extremely beautiful. I encourage everyone to read and reflect upon this document that is so beautifully written and came at an absolutely perfect time immediately before Advent. You can get the encyclical here. I plan to bring it with me before the Blessed Sacrament and prayerfully read it and reflect upon it.

God bless you this first week of Advent!