Friday, November 27, 2009

Advent Resources


Advent, the 4 weeks (approximately) of spiritual preparation before Christmas is such a neglected season of the year. It sneaks up on you, hiding amidst the turkey and pie, while you watch the neighbors put up their Christmas tree indecently early.

Each year everyone is always worried about the so-called "Black Friday" and "good deals." We rush around thinking about sales, picture taking, baking, parties, and planning vacations. This year, everyone just seems worried - about jobs, empty bank accounts, those rotten politicians ruining the country... but few seem aware of the small, quiet whisper of a child coming. Grace coming expectantly. The King to literally grace us with his presence.

So, here is a reminder. STOP!!! Take the time to plan, of course, but also turn off the music, try to be silent, light a candle, set the bible on the dining room table. Actually schedule Advent time into your daily planner, and wait. Wait for the Child to be born in your heart.

Advent can be detailed or simple. Jesse Trees, O Antiphons, Advent wreaths, etc. But it can also be just the lighting of a candle and a quiet time of prayer in your heart and those of your family.

If you would like to have some more information about Advent and how to celebrate it, here are a few resources for you during the "Little Lent:"

Catholic Culture has a great deal of good information in their Advent Resources.

Well-known author Amy Welborn has given us a generous gift. Her husband, Michael Dubruiel, passed away in February, 2009 but was working on a book of Advent Meditations. She finished editing the book and is giving it away as an e-book in multiple formats. You can find it here. Thank you so much Amy.

The US Catholic Bishops have created a site, the USCCB Site for Advent & Christmas Seasons including meditations, calendars, prayers and more.

EWTN has beautiful short meditations and info in their Advent Site.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio has some wonderful downloads and information from the Church Fathers at his Crossroads Initiative Advent & Christmas Resources section.

You may also be interested in Advent: Awaiting God's Justice by Pope Benedict XVI

May your Advent be a fruitful and beautiful time for you and your family this year.

Update: Here is an article by Lisa Reinhard at CatholicMom.com that illustrates why we need to slow down during Advent - Hating Christmas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Counting the Blessings - Happy Thanksgiving!


Hi to all of my handful of faithful readers. You are faithful, right? You're not? Then sign up for my RSS feed. You can read about RSS feeds in the "Never Miss a Post" box on the upper left. Someday, I will write about my love for my iGoogle homepage but you can check it out now by going to www.google.com/ig and seeing all it has to offer, including the Google Reader for feeds.

I hope you all are doing well and will be having a great Thanksgiving with your families. I leave you with a post that I wrote in August, Thank You Lord. I was thankful then and am just as thankful today. May the Lord bless you and your family, and if you are traveling - stay safe.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

This is a great video! My parish needs one of these! Look how many guys it takes to do this. Thanks Patrick Madrid for passing it on.



Update: My pastor, Fr. Alejandro Roque, OMI has been to this Cathedral and has seen this. He says it is phenomenal. The coals inside it glow bright red and as it swings it looks like a comet going at great speed. I really would love to see it now.

A Call to Conscience


This past Friday, November 20th, a group of Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical Christians issued a document called the Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience. This document originally signed by over 125 prominent religious leaders, is a 4,700 word call to Christians to stand by their convictions and not abandon their consciences when it comes to the defining issues of our day.

Normally, I don't include any political references in this blog simply because others say it much better than me, and my forte is resources not politics. But I feel this is an important document and I have signed it. If you are interested in learning more, or in signing it (and the names are kept private) I urge you to visit The Manhattan Declaration website or their Facebook Page. The entire text and also the names of the original signers are here.



I was glad to see that several important Catholics, including bishops and cardinals have officially signed it. Their names are:

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Denver
Most Rev. Timothy Dolan, Archbishop, Diocese of New York, N.Y.
Dr. William Donohue, President, Catholic League (New York)
Fr. Joseph D. Fessio, Founder and Editor, Ignatius Press (Ft. Collins, Colo.)
Dr. Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College & Kings College (N.Y.)
Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky.
His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop Emeritus, Diocese of Detroit
Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, Bishop, Diocese of Portland, Maine
Most Rev. John J. Myers, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Newark, N.J.
Most Rev. Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop, Diocese of Kansas City, Kan.
Most Rev. John Nienstedt, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop, Diocese of Phoenix
His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Most Rev. Michael J. Sheridan, Bishop, Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colo.
George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics & Public Policy Center, Wash D.C.
Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
Most Rev. David A. Zubik, Bishop, Diocese of Pittsburgh

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Got A Message From God


A few days ago, I stepped outside my front door and looked up and there was a message from God. A skywriter was working diligently penning a message in Spanish. Dios Te Ama. God Loves You. Someone, somewhere needed to hear this and I'm glad to have benefited from it too. God Loves You too, and sometimes you need to hear it. It's that simple.

I've been so busy lately, but while I have not posted, I have been working on adding lots of stuff to the resource lists on the right. Good news organizations, podcasts and helpful multimedia. One resource I found just yesterday is a little shop called Gardens of Grace that sells handmade rosaries, parts, directions etc. While they don't have any rosaries at this time, they do have parts to make your own, and the pictures are absolutely beautiful. I have truly never seen such beautiful rosaries and chaplets. I worked in a Catholic store for about a year and saw just about every rosary you could purchase. That was nothing. These are phenomenal and I urge you to check them out and bookmark it. I don't get paid for saying that, I just love them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Protect Yourself From the Holy Water!


This is cute, and I'm going to share it with you because I love it and it should be in every church. Italian Invents Anti-Swine Flu Holy Water Dispenser. I hate entering a church and putting my hand in the holy water font only to find it is full of swill - yuck!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Update Your (Family) Calendars

This has been "Calendar day" here at my house today. A few days ago I bought Mom's Family Calendar, which is a cute yearly wall calendar to keep track of each person in the family. It is very helpful when everyone has a different schedule. I happened to buy it at Sam's Club, but it is available everywhere. I did find this website, Families With Purpose while looking it up online. It seems to have a great deal of organizational helps for families.

I've had this calendar before and liked it. I think I wanted a change though, and chose a calendar with Monet a few years ago, but now need more organization. So today is the day that I transfer all existing appointments, birthdays, school schedules, work schedules, etc. onto the new year's calendar. This seems to take forever but will save me time all year.

The calendar has 17 months that began in August, so I can use it now. The only drawback would be for families with more than three children. There are only columns for 5 people, so you might have to combine children for a column. I wish it was not so "cutesy" (I would prefer flowers or Impressionism) but I will live with it.

As I was trying to get everything on the calendar, I realized I needed a liturgical calendar and thought I would share with you what I found. The US Bishops Website (USCCB) has the 2010 Liturgical Calendar, which actually begins the first Sunday of Advent in 2009, November 29th. I happen to prefer the Women For Faith & Family 2010 Liturgical Calendar, which has everything in a more easy to use format and with links for more information about the saints, fasting and abstinence, holy days, etc.

You might however prefer a daily planner, and a few of my friends really like the Catholic Woman's Daily Planner. They have some planners with sections for meal planning, homeschool planning or a combination of both. They are very nice. You can also find some other resources by the same people at the Family Centered Life blog.

In my travels today, I also discovered a great website called ChurchYear.net which has not only church calendars but also explanations of liturgical events, prayers that can be used during certain parts of the year, and many resources you will find helpful throughout the year.

You might also like a great book The Catholic Parent Book of Feasts which takes you through the liturgical year with recipes, crafts and other helps to help celebrate the year with your family. I find it to be very informative and helpful.

I now need to update Outlook, sync my phone and iPod to it, and sync my husband's phone to his Outlook. It's a calendar type day. If you have any other resources you find helpful, I would love to hear about them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Are There Really Ghosts?

Ghosts seem to be a popular topic on television recently, especially with the popular Discovery Channel show Ghost Lab. If you are Catholic, you may wonder what the Church teaches about Ghosts. Are they real? I stumbled upon this today at Catholic Answers and thought you might be as interested as I was.

Here is another good article about this topic at Catholic Exchange.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm a "Bad Catholic" This Week

I'm sorry to have been away for so long but duty called. Parental duties and work of various sorts have been taking me away from the computer, which is pretty much a good thing. Of course, there has been Halloween. My 1st grader had to do a book report this week on a book he can actually read, and also about Fall, Halloween or a mystery. The rub was that he also had to go to school on October 30th as a character in the book. Sigh.

Let me tell you right off. I'm not one of those creative moms. I don't do two dozen cupcakes for the birthday in ice cream cones decorated to look like ice cream. There are no clowns, ponies or massive themes. No "treasure hunts" or "mystery theme" parties. Not that that is bad. On the contrary, I have massive respect and awe for those who love their kids so much as to plan it six months ahead of time.

The birthday parties I plan are usually an afterthought and an "Oh my gosh, what are we going to do for so-and-so's birthday!" Said in mild panic. It usually is a bunch of kids from the child's class, in the backyard with ice cream cake bought at the supermarket and decorated in the bakery department, pizza, chips, soda and goody bags. I have boys, which means they are happy with this arrangement.

We have at times gone to a park, or had a baseball themed party at the neighborhood ball park. A bounce house was the feature, with water balloons one year. This year, I was forced to have my little one's party at Chuck-e-Cheese. It was very easy for me personally - all I had to do was show up - but it was very impersonal and I detest the place with every fiber of my being. There is a reason I don't go to casinos and this is just like one. The birthday boy enjoyed it, so it was a success.

I have great guilt about my lack of party planning, but my laziness and lack of creativity win out usually. But lately people say, "Oh that is soooo much more frugal," so I'm OK with it.

With this costume thing, the first thing in my mind was, "What character could he be that would be the least work for me?" Yes...I know....bad mom. My first thought was Shaggy from Scooby Doo and he loved the idea. YES!!!! So, we bought a Scooby Doo book, and he took a few days to read it through, and I shopped all over town for a "Shaggy green" shirt, which is a type of chartreuse.

Now, for years the "Color Police" have determined that we should have the most hideous greens. Chartreuse, and generally putrid colors we refer to as "barf green." I have been waiting for lovely greens for years. And now that I need one of those disgustingly putrid greens...none to be found. Lovely emerald or forest greens... but no ugly ones. Finally, I found one on clearance at Tar-Jay. That's Target with a French accent, in case you are so uncultured as to not know that.

So, "Shaggy green" shirt, brown pants, black shoes, a little mascara on the chin for whiskers and he was all set. Whew...I hate costumes. One of the rules was "no bought costumes" so we did ok. But Shaggy was not good enough for Halloween, so #2 son went as Spiderman with last year's costume. #1 son is too old and sophisticated for trick-or-treating and he spent the evening at a friend's house.

So that is some of what has occupied me this week, but one thing that has been in my life lately, albeit in small doses, has been books. I, of course, am a bookworm - or at least I used to be when I was childless, but now I take it when I can get it.

After the last book club meeting that my friends and I had, we decided to read Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic for the next meeting.

This is not a new book. Patrick Madrid has written what seem like scads of books since this one, but the first Surprised by Truth is excellent and I love conversion stories. I have in fact read this book twice before and also read the two sequels to it Surprised By Truth 2: 15 Men and Women Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons For Becoming Catholic. (v. 2) which actually is my favorite, and Surprised by Truth 3: 10 More Converts Explain the Biblical and Historical Reason for Becoming Catholic (v. 3)

Why this book? Because I think convert stories are fascinating and you learn so much about the Catholic faith from them.

Now, for some of the other books I'm reading. Well, for meditation I'm reading four different books as the spirit moves me. First, The Letters of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque because I know nothing about the Sacred Heart devotion.

Then, Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay. A former spiritual director recommended this, and I read part of it but stopped midway when I got busy. It is truly excellent and really has opened my eyes to the nature of God. I'm going to start it all over again, and then start reading some books by St. Teresa of Avila, one by one.

I'm almost finished reading 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn. It has really helped me understand and be more reverential toward the Eucharist. I may suggest this as a book club book, since it is really fantastic. This book explains so much of how the Eucharist enriches your life with graces.

The last book for meditations I've been using is Listening at Prayer by Fr. Benedict Groeschel. I've just started it and have learned a few things already.

I do think that I am going to stop using several books at one time, and concentrate on one at a time for meditations because it takes me too long to get through them. In other words, it slows my download to have too many going at one time.

Now, for the other books in my life right now. I just finished reading The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, & Song: A Spirited Look at Catholic Life & Lore from the Apocalypse to Zinfandel (Bad Catholic's guides) and I feel so naughty. (sly smile) I have seen this book before but was reminded of it at a blog I was reading. So I ordered it from Interlibrary Loan through my public library.

I also ordered its companion book The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living: A Loving Look at the Lighter Side of Catholic Faith, with Recipes for Feast and Fun (Bad Catholic's guides). I have been very impressed with them because they are fun, extremely informative and yet totally true to the faith. No pope bashing, etc.

These books are pretty much bathroom material and I am having so much fun people are banging on the door - "Mom! What are you doing in there?!" (smirk) I have a few other books floating around too like SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance that I ordered on loan from the library and it came a lot earlier then I thought it would.

And Father, Forgive Me for I Am Frustrated: Growing in Your Faith Even When It Isn't Easy Being Catholic by the wonderful Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ. So, with all these books I have to steal every free moment and hope no one notices too much.