Friday, November 28, 2014

Ten Ways to Have a Holier Advent



The liturgical season of Advent begins on the First Sunday in Advent, November 30, 2014, opening a new year in our Church's Calendar. The word Advent is from the Latin adventus, which means "coming" and is associated with the four weeks of preparation for Christmas.

Advent blends together a penitential spirit, very similar to Lent, a liturgical theme of preparation for the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and a joyful theme of getting ready for the birth of Christ.

Advent is a season of waiting, a season filled with hope. Here are ten tips for making this Advent Season a holier one for you and your family:

1. Take the entire family, as often as possible, to daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and to the sacrament of Reconciliation. On days when you are unable to attend Mass, read and reflect on the Scriptures for that day.

2. Use an Advent calendar and/or a wreath to mark this time of preparation. Pray Advent prayers with the family and the rosary when you light up the candle on the wreath. Sing 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' throughout Advent.

3. Curtail unnecessary shopping and activities focusing on the material aspects of Christmas. Instead, increase prayer and focus on serving others, such as volunteering at a soup kitchen or helping a neighbor who is elderly, unemployed, or disabled.

4. Have children write a letter to Jesus instead of Santa.

5. Let your children know that "Santa Claus" is another name for the real St. Nicholas and tell them his story. Celebrate the day. Encourage your children to leave their shoes outside their bedroom doors on Dec. 5. When they awaken, they will find small gifts like candy or fruit if they’ve been good.. 

6.  Participate in the Giving Tree at church. Have your children buy a gift to donate to others in need. 

7.  Put a Nativity set in a prominent place in your home, but only put out some of the animals. You can put the other statues out, but in another place in your home. Each week, read a little from the Christmas story in Luke's Gospel, and move the statues a little closer. Wait until Christmas to put the Baby Jesus in the manger.

8.  Have the children place a piece of straw in the manger for each good deed they do during Advent as a gift to the baby Jesus.

9. The Mary candle: Some families have the custom of decorating the Christ candle with a blue veil on December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On this great feast, others place a candle with a blue ribbon before a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin, whose “yes” to God enabled our Lord’s coming at Christmas. The candle is lit during meal times to serve as a delightful reminder of Mary’s eager expectation of the “Light of the World.” 

10. Celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe by acting it out with your children.  Pray a prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe for the unborn.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Last Call to Enter: New Books, St. Cecilia Medal, and More


Check out the great giveaway at Catholic Mom to enter! There is little time left to enter!

Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal



Today, November 27, is the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Devotion to and wearing of the Miraculous Medal is second to the Rosary in popularity among traditional Catholic devotions.



History

In 1830, the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed the design of the Miraculous Medal to St. Catherine Laboure in an apparition.

In Paris, on June 6, 1830, the Lord appeared to the young (age 24) Daughter of Charity novice Catherine at Mass, and again on the nights of July 18-19 when she was summoned to the chapel by a beautiful "child clothed in white" to converse with the Virgin Mary. Catherine was told prophecies and charged with "a mission" that manifested itself on November 27 in an early morning (5:30am) appearance of the Blessed Virgin who was "clothed in white" standing on a globe and "a serpent." Rays of light issued forth from rings on her fingers and Catherine was told to commission a medal of what she was seeing. Then, turning the letter "M surmounted by a bar and a cross" underneath which were the hearts of Jesus and Mary all surrounded by the words "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

Catherine heard the voice tell her, "Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear this medal will receive great favors. They should wear it around the neck . Favors will abound if worn with devotion." Catherine's mission was to ensure that the medal was made and to spread Mary's message of love and compassion.

Many healings, conversions and other miracles have been documented by those who have faithfully worn the 'Medal of the Immaculate Conception' as the Miraculous Medal was originally called.

There are numerous Miraculous Medal Associations throughout the world. They are united under the care of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians or Lazarists), the religious order founded by St. Vincent de Paul. Membership contributions go to spread devotion to the Virgin Mary and to support the work of the Vincentians. Each Association maintains a shrine and usually has some type of publication for members.

Obligations/Practices

Wearing the Medal

The Miraculous Medal is an approved sacramental and allows the the wearer to take advantage of Mary's promise:

"Those who wear it will receive great graces; abundant graces will be given to those who have confidence."

Enrollment in an Association Anyone, living or deceased, Catholic or not, may be enrolled as a member and obtain these graces and the spiritual benefit of Masses offered for members (for example, the Central Association in the U.S. offers 2,500 Masses a year).

Investiture

Invested membership involves these obligations:

1. Formally enroll in an approved Association and renew the membership yearly

2. Wear the Medal (around the neck is highly recommended)

3. Have the intention to sanctify oneself and others by means of the Medal

4. Investiture which may be done publicly or privately

Benefits

1. Receive the graces promised by the Blessed Virgin Mary
2. Receive the spiritual benefits of numerous Masses offered for members by the Vincentians
3. Promoters who sign up others receive spiritual benefit from additional Masses
4. Invested members receive an indulgences on the following days:~ Day of joining the Association~ August 22 (Feast of the Queenship of Mary) ~ September 27 (Feast of St. Vincent de Paul)~ November 27 (Feast of the Miraculous Medal)~ November 28 (Feast of St. Catherine Laboure)~ Anniversary date of the founding of the Association in which one is enrolled*

The indulgence is plenary under the normal conditions: confession, communion, prayer for the Pope's intentions and freedom from attachment to all sin.

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!



Thanking God today for all of you, my dear readers. May you and your loved ones have a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving!


Jean

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fr. Barron on the Parable of the Wedding Banquet


Fr. Barron interprets this parable from Matthew 22:

Pat Gohn's Among Women: Saintly Models for Charity, Diligence, and Temperance



The amazing Pat Gohn graciously invited me to her popular Among Women podcast. We discussed the saints and virtues which are profiled in my new book Seven Saints for Seven Virtues. You can listen HERE.


Seven Saints for Seven Virtues is available at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Franciscan Media, and at Catholic bookstores.

You can read my review of Pat Gohn's beautiful book Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious HERE.

Related Posts:

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious (video)

It was wonderful to be there, but it's great to be back!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, Martyrs


Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr, and companions, martyrs.

There are 117 martyrs in this group and although they died at different times, they were all canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 19, 1988. Of the group, 96 were Vietnamese, 11 were Spaniards, and 10 were French. There were 8 bishops, 50 priests and 59 lay Catholics in the group. Of the priests, 11 were Dominicans, 10 belonged to the Paris Mission Society, and the rest were diocesan priests plus one seminarian. Certain individual martyrs were mentioned by name in the process of canonization: Andrew Dung-Lac, a diocesan priest; Thomas Tran-Van-Thien, a seminarian; Emmanuel Le-Van-Pung, father of a family; the Dominican bishops Jerome Hermosilla and Valentine Berrio-Ochoa; and John Theophane Venard.

~Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi

St. Andrew Dung-Lac's name was originally Dung An Trân, and he was born about 1795 in a poor and pagan family in Bac-Ninh in North Vietnam. When he was twelve the family had to move to Hà-Nôi (Hanoi) where his parents could find work. There he met a catechist and got food and shelter from him. He also got education in the Christian faith for three years, and was baptized in Vinh-Tri with the Christian name Andrew (Andrew Dung). After learning Chinese and Latin he became a catechist, and thereafter taught catechism in the country. He was chosen to study theology, and on March 15, 1823 he was ordained a priest. As parish priest in Ke-Dâm he was tireless in his preaching. He often fasted and lived a simple and moral life, he was a good example for the people, and many were baptized. In 1835 he was imprisoned under emperor Minh-Mang's persecutions (he was called Vietnam's emperor Nero), but his freedom was purchased by donations from members of the congregation he served. To avoid persecutions he changed his name to Lac (Andrew Lac) and moved to another prefecture to continue his work. But on November 10, 1839 he was again arrested, this time with Peter Thi, another Vietnamese priest whom he was visiting so that he might go to confession.

Once again Andrew was liberated, along with Peter Thi, in exchange for money. Their freedom was brief. They were soon re-arrested and taken to Hanoi, where both suffered dreadful torture. Finally they both were beheaded December 21, 1839.

~ Excerpted from Catholic Culture.

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival



Happy Sunday! Meet Jasmine Marie, aka Jazzy, who supervises all my work, whether it be cooking or writing, she is right there beside me.

Welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival! We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. Be sure to visit RAnn at This, That and the Other Thing to check out the great posts from other bloggers participating in Sunday Snippets this week.

My best posts for this week include:

St. Cecilia: Patron of Poets and Musicians

St. Catherine of Alexandria: Patroness of Single Women

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Papal Quote of the day: Holiness










Have a wonderful week and don't forget to enter my Advent Companion Magnificat Giveaway!

Jean

Saturday, November 22, 2014

St. Cecilia: Patron of Poets and Musicians



Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr. St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians, is one of the most famous and most venerated of Roman martyrs.

It is believed that St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown.

Tradition tells us that Cecilia was a Roman girl of a patrician family who had been brought up as a Christian. She fasted often and wore a coarse garment beneath her rich clothing. Although she had consecrated her virginity to God, her father betrothed her to a young pagan named Valerian.

When the wedding day arrived, Cecilia sat apart from her guests, repeating psalms and praying. After the ceremony, when the guests had departed and she was alone with her husband, Cecilia made known her great desire to remain a virgin, saying that she already had a lover, an angel of God who was very jealous. Valerian, shaken by fear, anger, and suspicion, said to her: “Show me this angel. If he is of God, I shall refrain, as you wish, but if he is a human lover, you both must die.” Cecilia answered, “If you believe in the one true and living God and receive the water of baptism, then you shall see the angel.” Valerian assented and following his wife’s directions sought out a bishop named Urban, who was in hiding among the tombs of the martyrs, for this was a time for persecutions. Valerian made his profession of faith and the bishop baptized him.

When the young husband returned, he found an angel with flaming wings standing beside Cecilia. The angel placed chaplets of roses and lilies on their heads. The brother of Valerian, Tiburtius, was also converted, and after being baptized he too experienced many marvels.

Valerian and Tiburtius devoted themselves to good works on behalf of the Christian community, and they made it their special duty to give proper burial to those who were put to death. The two brothers were themselves soon sentenced to death for refusing to sacrifice to Jupiter. Maximus, a Roman officer charged with their execution, was converted by a vision that he saw in the hour of their death. After professing Christianity, he, too, was martyred.

The three were buried by the grieving Cecilia. Soon after, she was sentenced to death. The prefect tried to reason with her, but she remained strong in her faith. Consequently, he gave an order that she was to be suffocated in her own bathroom. Surviving this attempt on her life, a soldier was sent to behead her. He struck her neck three times, then left her lying, still alive, for it was against the law to strike a fourth time. She lingered on for three days, during which the Christians who remained in Rome flocked to her house. In dying she bequeathed all her goods to the poor, and her house to the bishop for a place of Christian worship. She was buried in the crypt of the Caecilii at the Catacomb of St. Callistus. St. Cecilia's body was found to be incorrupt in the Catacombs of Saint Callistus. Her body was later moved to St Cecilia in Trastevere.

She is praised as the most perfect model of the Christian woman because of her virginity and the martyrdom which she suffered for love of Christ.

At her wedding banquet, while the pipes were playing, St. Cecilia sang to the Lord, asking that her heart might remain immaculate, that she not be put to shame. This inspired early composers to write elaborate music for the antiphon used on her feast day, and St. Cecilia became the special patron of musicians. For this reason, she is usually shown at the organ, although a harp or lute may be used. Sometimes she wears a wreath of white and red roses.



St. Cecilia was a favorite saint of St. Therese of Lisieux, who was inspired to write this prayer:

Cecilia, lend to me thy melody most sweet:
How many souls would I convert to Jesus now.
I fain would die, like thee, to win them to His feet;
For him give all my tears, my blood. Oh, help me thou!
Pray for me that I gain, on this our pilgrim way
Perfect abandonment that sweetest fruit of love.
Saint of my heart! Oh, soon, bring me to endless day;
Obtain that I may fly, with thee, to heaven above!

April 28, 1893

Friday, November 21, 2014

St. Catherine of Alexandria: Patroness of Single Women



On November 25, we celebrate the memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria (292 - 310), virgin and martyr.

Catherine was beautiful, brilliant, and extremely wealthy at the age of eighteen when she debated the Emperor Maximin (311-313) and harshly criticized him for his persecution of Christians who refused to worship pagan gods. Astounded by her wisdom, Maximin ordered her to be kept confined, and summoned fifty of his most learned philosophers, promising them great rewards if they could get Catherine to abandon her Christian faith. However, her arguments were so convincing that all fifty of the philosophers were converted to Christianity. Outraged by this, Maximin ordered all of them to be burned alive.

Then the Emperor attempted to win Catherine by flattery and by promises, but his efforts proved equally fruitless. Next, he had her thrown into a dungeon, without food and water. He ordered her whipped with rods, scourged with leaden nodules, and then left to languish eleven days without food in prison.

In the Emperor's absence, his wife and Porphyrius, general of the army, visited Catherine in prison and both were converted to Christianity. Porphyrius then converted 200 soldiers. When the Emperor returned, he had them all executed, including his wife, and offered to make Catherine his new wife.When she refused, he designed a new means of torture.

Catherine's next torture consisted of being placed upon a wheel with sharp and pointed knives, which was designed to tear her body into pieces, but when she was bound to it, a heavenly fire destroyed it. Finally, on November 25, Catherine was beheaded. By the hands of angels her body was carried to Mt. Sinai, where it was interred in the convent which bears her name.

Ranked with St. Margaret of Antioch and St. Barbara as one of the fourteen most helpful saints in heaven, (that group of saints notable for answering prayers especially for cures from disease and at the hour of death) she was unceasingly praised by preachers and sung by poets. In several dioceses in France, her feast day was observed as a Holy Day of obligation up to the beginning of the seventeenth century. Saint Catherine became the patroness of young maidens and female students. Looked upon as the holiest and most illustrious of the virgins of Christ, it was but natural that she, of all others, should be worthy to watch over the virgins of the cloister and the young women of the world.

Her feast on Nov. 25 falls immediately before the beginning of Advent during which no weddings could take place during the Middle Ages and for years afterward. So it was a custom for unmarried women of that time to pray to St. Catherine saying,
“A husband, Saint Catherine,
A good one, Saint Catherine,
A handsome one, Saint Catherine,
A rich one, Saint Catherine –
And soon, Saint Catherine!

Patronage: Apologists; craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters; spinners; etc.); archivists; attorneys; barristers; dying people; educators; girls; jurists; knife grinders; knife sharpeners; lawyers; librarians; libraries; mechanics; millers; nurses; philosophers; potters; preachers; scholars; schoolchildren; scribes; secretaries; spinners; spinsters; stenographers; students; tanners; teachers; theologians; single women; wheelwrights.

Symbols: Wheel set with sharp knives; broken wheel; sword; crown at her feet; hailstones; bridal veil and ring; dove; scourge; book; spiked wheel; woman strapped to the spiked wheel on which she was martyred; woman arguing with pagan philosophers.


A Prayer to Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Glorious Saint Catherine, virgin and martyr, help me to imitate your love of purity. Give me strength and courage in fighting off the temptations of the world and evil desires.

Help me to love God with my whole heart and serve Him faithfully.

O Saint Catherine, through your glorious martyrdom for the love of Christ, help me to be loyal to my faith and my God as long as I live.

Giving Away THREE Advent Magnificats



Advent is only one week away! Are you ready? Have you purchased your Advent Magnificat Companion? Starting today and running through next Thursday-Thanksgiving Day- I will be running a drawing for a giveaway of three electronic Magnificats for use on your computer, cell phone,or Ipad. To enter, just send your name and address to jean.heimann@gmail.com with the subject title Advent Magnificat Companion. Winners will be notified on Friday, November 28.

Description
A perfect way to live Advent to the full this year.
This Companion features original meditations on the Gospel reading of each day by nineteen gifted authors.
Each issue of the Advent Companion is never the same as the last and contains these one-of-a-kind extras that you won’t find anywhere else:
- a variety of beautiful blessings and essays
- an Advent Penance Service
- specially-commissioned poetry
- a unique feature: the Advent Stations

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Today, November 21, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates the fact that the parents of Our Lady brought her to the Temple and handed her over to live there for a long period as a virgin consecrated to the Temple, contemplating God exclusively.  Also known as the Dedication of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the feast originated in the East, where it is called the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos Into the Temple.

History of the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Protoevangelium of James (7-8), and the writing entitled "De nativit. Mariae" (7-8), state that Joachim and Anna, faithful to a vow they had made, presented the child Mary in the Temple when she was three years old; that the child herself mounted the Temple steps, and that she made her vow of virginity on this occasion. St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Germanus of Constantinople adopt this report; it is also followed by pseudo-Gregory of Nazianzus in his "Christus patiens". Moreover, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation, though it does not specify at what age the child Mary was presented in the Temple, when she made her vow of virginity, and what were the special natural and supernatural gifts with which God endowed her. The feast is mentioned for the first time in a document of Manuel Commenus, in 1166; from Constantinople the feast must have been introduced into the western Church, where we find it at the papal court at Avignon in 1371; about a century later, Pope Sixtus IV introduced the Office of the Presentation, and in 1585 Pope Sixtus V extended the Feast of the Presentation to the whole Church.

~ Catholic Encyclopedia

Saint Quote for the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"There never was, and never will be, an offering on the part of a creature greater or more perfect than that which Mary made to God when, at the age of three, she presented herself in the Temple. She offered him not aromatic spices, nor calves, nor gold, but her entire self, consecrating herself as a perpetual victim in his honor."

~ St. Alphonsus Liguori

Prayer

As we venerate the glorious memory of the most holy Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, O Lord, through her intercession, that we, too, may merit to receive from the fullness of your grace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why do children need a mother and father?




Read the related story.

Papal Quote of the day: Holiness



"The call to holiness is not just for bishops, priests or religious ... No. We are all called to become saints! So often, we are tempted to think that holiness is granted only to those who have the opportunity to break away from the ordinary tasks, to devote themselves to prayer. But it is not so! Some people think that holiness is closing your eyes and putting on a pious face... No! That is not holiness! Holiness is something greater, more profound that God gifts us. Indeed, it is by living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks that we are called to become saints."

~ Pope Francis speaking in his General Audience on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Brief Tour of St. Benedict's Abbey (video)


Br. Joseph Ryan takes you on a brief tour of St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, KS. For more information, see their website: http://www.kansasmonks.org

Who was St. Bernward?



The saint of the day for November 20 is St. Bernward, who was the thirteenth Bishop of Hildesheim, Germany. He was also an architect, painter, sculptor, and metal smith. Born in 1022, he came from a noble Saxon family. His grandfather was Athelbero, Count Palatine of Saxony. Having lost his parents at a young age, he was entrusted to the care of his uncle, Bishop Volkmar of Utrecht. He was educated at the cathedral school at Heidelberg, where he made rapid progress in Christian piety as well as in the sciences and in the liberal and mechanical arts. He became very proficient in mathematics, painting, architecture, and primarily in the manufacture of ecclesiastical vessels and ornaments of silver and gold.

He completed his studies at Mainz, where he was ordained as a priest by Archbishop Willigis, Chancellor of the Empire (975-1011).  In 987, he was appointed as chaplain of the imperial court, and was shortly afterwards selected by the Empress-Regent Theophano to tutor her six-year-old son, Otto III. The youthful emperor is known to have been an erudite and religious prince due to the diligent work of his tutor.

Bernward remained at the imperial court until 993, when he was chosen to be Bishop of Hildesheim. He became a wise, gifted, and enthusiastic pastor who remained bishop for nearly thirty years. He organized a system of deaneries for the diocese, held an annual synod, and is known to have built castles to use as defenses against the invading Danes or Slavs.  With his own hands, he made gold and silver vessels for the altars. Under his direction, numerous churches were built. Attesting to his skill as a painter and metal worker, there are still preserved in Hildesheim his works which include: a cross of rich and exquisite workmanship, known as the "Bernward Cross", the famous Bernward column, with winding reliefs representing scenes from the life of Christ, two bronze doors of the Cathedral of Hildesheim, showing Scriptural scenes, and two candlesticks symbolic of Christ, the light of the world.

A man of extraordinary piety, he was much given to prayer and the practice of mortification. Around 1020, he retired to a Benedictine monastery to spend his remaining days in prayer. He died in 1022 and was canonized by Pope Celestine III in 1193. St. Bernward is the patron of goldsmiths, architects, painters, and sculptors.