Saint Nicholas, Pray for Us!

You may know that St. Nicholas is the inspiration for Santa Claus. But, do you know why? In a nutshell: It’s because he had such a love for the poor and for giving that it became the central point of his life! But, there is more to St. Nicholas than the inspiration behind Santa. There is a reason he is a canonized saint. 🙂 Here is a little biography to kickstart your devotion to this excellent saint.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Early Life

St. Nicholas was born in Asia Minor to pious Greek parents. Unfortunately, his parents died when he was a young man and so Nicholas was raised by his uncle, the Bishop of Patara. His parents left him a large inheritance but Nicholas chose to give much of that money to those in needs.

His Ministry

Much of the stories about Saint Nicholas are legends so it is hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction. Still, these stories are edifying and worth knowing about. For example, there is a story that Saint Nicholas helped three daughters of a man who was going to sell them into prostitution because he was too poor to provide dowries for them so they could marry. Apparently, Saint Nicholas got wind of this situation and secretly helped them out. For each of the girls, St. Nicholas would through a bag of money through the window, and they each got married in turn. When the man found out who was helping him, he was overwhelmed in gratitude.

There are other ways of giving. For St. Nicholas, it was giving of the faith. He fought various heresies, suffered persecution, and even spent time in prison on more than one occasion. He was one of the bishops who attended the First Council of Nicaea and one of the signers of the Nicene Creed.

The Lesson

The first lesson for us is his zeal. Am I zealous about my faith or lazy and lukewarm? St. Nicholas was so zealous for his faith that he was willing to suffer persecution and go to prison. He wanted to share this faith with everyone because it was the impetus for everything he did.

The second lesson was his generosity. True, he was wealthy and had resources to give away. But, he still went over and above in giving of his resources, time and talent. For us, most aren’t wealthy or have tons of resources to give. If you do, great. If you don’t, you can still give of yourself. Christmas and Easter are times when many people volunteer and go out of their way to help others. But what about the rest of the year? Can you continue to volunteer? Or, how about visiting a shut in on a regular basis? Or take a few minutes to call someone who is going through a rough time? With some creativity, it is possible to give of ourselves without spending tons of money or even our time.

Prayer to Saint Nicholas

Give me, Lord, Nicholas as my intercessor, your great confessor whom you had glorified with the name of blessed throughout the world.

Saint Nicholas, I pray to you through him who has made your name venerated throughout the world; do not refuse to help a needy suppliant.

Why, Sir, are you called upon by all men in all the world unless you are to be an advocate of all who pray to you?

Why does this sound in all ears, “My Lord, Saint Nicholas,” “My Lord, Saint Nicholas,” unless it means, “My advocate, Saint Nicholas,” “My advocate Saint Nicholas?”

Why is your name poured forth everywhere except that the world may have some great good poured into it?

Your fame calls to me, your miracles send me to your intercession, your works draw me to seek your help.

But why do I speak about your miracles, when your power now is greater than them all?

Why do I recount what you have done, when before God you now have supreme grace? Why recount the help that you gave to many when you are able to give spiritual help now that you live in heaven, of more value than the corporal help that you gave during your pilgrimage upon earth?

For it is not as if you were able to do those things then and can no longer do them. No, I say, you could not have power only in those things that come to nothing, and to be powerless in those that go on into eternity.

Indeed, you did not only accomplish the former, you did not ascend merely that you might grant them. Bestow upon us the spiritual things in which you glory, the joys of eternity in which you rejoice, pour upon us the heavenly things to which you have turned. Through you we needy ones come to know that abundance which you receive fully in a perpetual stream.

O your plenitude of goodness, and my abundance of badness!
How far they are from each other!
How vehemently the first makes you happy, how greatly does the latter make me unhappy.

The first comes down from the plenitude of God, the latter goes up from the need of myself;
The first flows from the abundance of God, the latter surges up from my poverty.

O if only that super-abundance would overflow and flood into my abundant ills!
O if only that full plenitude would fill the emptiness of my need!

I do not doubt, Sir, that you can do this for me, if you are willing to ask that much for me of my judge who is your beloved friend.

—Saint. Anselm (hat-tip to stnicholascenter)

Other Resources to Learn More about St. Nicholas

Stnicholascenter.com

Catholic.org

Wikipedia.org

Thoughtco.com

Biography.com

St. Andrew Christmas Novena Reminder

Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

The Saint Andrew Christmas novena starts today, November 30, and continues until Christmas day. The prayer is very short and simple. All you have to do is say the following prayer 15 times a day, every day from now until Christmas. (I promise you, it only takes a few minutes.)

“Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of his Blessed Mother. Amen.”

By the way, you don’t have to say the prayer 15 times all at once. Some years I do, but some years, I break it up and say the prayer five times in a row, three times a day. I just added it to my prayers before meals. Some years, I break it up and say the prayer two times a day (7 times and then 8 times). Also, don’t be scrupulous if you miss a day or two, I’ve done that, too!

You can get a printable version of the prayer here. No opt-in required.

Image by unknown author (13th Century) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

Virtual Advent Retreat Starts Tommorow

HEADS UP: Tomorrow we will begin our first ever (free) Virtual Advent Retreat. I will go live on Facebook about 1:15 or thereabouts; therefore, if you aren’t a member of the Catholic Woman’s Prayer and Encouragement Group yet, go over to the group and request membership now.

During the session tomorrow, I will do a little introduction, some housekeeping, and end with a short meditation. Then, during the following three weeks, I will do a short meditation on one of the scriptures from Mass and we will pray together.

Each session will be short, sweet, and to the point. 🙂

I hope to see you there!

God bless!

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND YOURS!

I wish you a truly blessed and wonderful day. Thank you for reading this blog, connecting with me, and for just being you. You are truly a gift.

 

Thanksgiving

Image by johnhain (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Jumpstart Your Prayer Life

Are you interested in getting back into a consistent prayer life? Do you want prayer to be something to look forward to, rather than just routine or “one more thing to do? If so, this is your official heads up that later this week, I will be releasing a Black Friday opportunity for you designed to help you get control of your prayer life once and for all. It is a brand new course entitled “Jumpstart Your Prayer Life: 14 Days to a Consistent Prayer Life.”

Image by Free-Photos (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

In this course you will learn…
** Why you should make prayer a priority
** How to make time for prayer, even when it feels impossible
**How to create a relaxing and inviting prayer space
** ‘Strategies for maximizing your prayer time
** And so much more!

As we enter into Advent, Christmas, and the New Year, it is the perfect time to rejuvenate our relationship with God. Jesus isn’t just the “reason for the season.” He is the reason for our very existence!

And, to make the course an even more of a no-brainer, I will be offering an insane sale for the Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend. Including an extra special sale for those on the waitlist.

So, if you are interested in being the FIRST to know about the Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend sale (and cash in on the extra special pricing), join the wait list here.

Hope to see you there!

5 Ways to Make Advent Meaningful

(Advent is only a couple of weeks away so I thought I would get a head start and give you some ideas to think about before it officially begins.)

Do you ever take on too much during the Advent/Christmas season and then feel overburdened? If so, I can totally relate. I wanted to make Advent so special for my family that I would get completely overzealous about it. It was “go big or go home” for me! I would make all sorts of resolutions and added all these prayers and activities; however, instead of making Advent meaningful, they left me drained or guilty for not fitting in all the things I had planned. Indeed, these activities became ‘just one more thing to do’ before Christmas.

Image by hansjoergrichter50 (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Over the last few years, I started learning my lesson and I’ve scaled way back in how I celebrated Advent. It has become a time for revisiting the basics. Therefore, rather than  adding on tons of prayers or activities, I am only adding on a couple of things and doing them as well as possible. My goal is to spend Advent in a way that truly prepares my heart for the coming of Christ. And I want that for you, too. If you are looking to making Advent meaningful this year, consider trying a tip or two from this list.

I. Take Care of Most of the Material things early.

Every year I say I am going to get everything done early so that I can focus on the spirit of the Season but I never actually follow through. This year, I am actually using the Christmas Planner I created last year and it is already making a difference.

Of course, you don’t have to use my Christmas planner. You probably know what you have/want to do. Why not start now and put a dent in your to-do list? Can you order your Christmas cards now? How about getting started with your Christmas shopping? Maybe you can create your cooking/baking shopping list now and start buying any needed ingredients?

The point is, do as much preplanning and doing now so that once Advent/Christmas really goes into high gear you will be ahead of the game.

2. Go to Daily Mass Twice a Week (or more).

In years past, I would commit to going to daily mass and would fail every year. As much as I would love to make daily Mass, it just isn’t realistic for this time in my life. Therefore, I have decided to commit to going to daily Mass twice a week. That is definitely doable.

Seriously, if you don’t do anything else for Advent, do your best to make it to Mass – even if it is only one extra day a week. I have said it before and I will say it again because, as Catholics, there is no greater thing we can do than to receive our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The Holy Mass is the summit and center of our faith.

3. Go to Confession.

I won’t lie. I love going to Confession. 🙂 I know that sounds crazy but I feel for light and free after going to Confession. But, as much as I try to go regularly, life happens and I don’t make it as often as I could. Truly, Confession is good for the soul, so even if you don’t love it like I do, please try to make Confession at least once during the Advent season. I promise, you won’t regret it!

I am not sure about your area but there should be several Advent penance services going on during the Advent season. If you can, why not try to attend? The services are usually beautiful and knowing others are making Confession as well can be an incentive. If you can’t make a penance service, check your Church’s bulletin for their regular Confession  schedule. If that doesn’t work, most priest offer confession by special appointment. Cleansing and strengthening your soul is a wonderful way for preparing for Christmas! (Need a little help going to Confession? Here are some tips on How to Make a Good Confession.)

4. Use an Advent Calendar and Advent Wreathe.

If you have young children, they usually love the Advent calendar because they get to eat a piece of candy every day! Believe it or not, though, they have Advent Calendars for adults too. What is nice about these calendars is that they usually include a little scripture verse to reflect on and they don’t take up a lot of time. A minute or two at most.

The same goes for the Advent Wreathe. It is only a matter of lighting a candle and maybe adding a little prayer. It is a no-brainer. it is a small thing but it can make a big difference in appreciating the reason for the season.

5. Journal.

If you know me, you know writing is in my blood and I journal regularly. In fact, that is one of the reasons I started creating journals in the first place. It may sound crazy, like my love for Confession, but having my own little space to write out my thoughts, dreams, and struggles is important to my spiritual welfare. In fact, writing is my preferred way of communication and it is how I best “talk” to God. Can you relate or is it just me?!

That’s why I created an Advent journal a while back. Once can never have too many journals and I like having a separate journal for Advent. Unlike my regular prayer journal, which I use as a “regular” journal too, I use the Advent Prayer Journal strictly for prayer and reflections about the scripture readings throughout Advent. It helps me to go deeper into the mysteries we are celebrating during this holy season.

Whether you use my journal, or creat your own, or just use loose-leaf paper, journaling is a wonderful way to make Advent meaningful. There is something therapeutic and special about handwriting your thoughts and prayers out on physical paper. Who knows, maybe the habit of journaling will extend long after the Advent season and that would be wonderful, too!

Bonus Idea!

If you have some extra time to spare, why not join in on a virtual Advent retreat? I will be “conducting” the retreat via Facebook Live and doing weekly short meditations on one of the readings from the week. It may be from the Sunday readings or the daily readings, depending on where the Holy Spirit leads. I will also be including a complimentary copy of the pdf version of the Advent Prayer Journal (normally $10) and other guides and goodies. Best of all, it is free. The only “cost” is being a member of my Facebook Group where the retreat will be held. 🙂

I pray that this Advent/Christmas season is the most magical, beautiful, prayerful, and wonderful season you have ever had. May God bless you and bring you ever closer to His merciful heart. And may our dear Blessed Mother intercede for you and all your intentions!

Would You Spend $5 for a Healthier You?

Need some extra help to get out of the habit of putting yourself on the bottom of your to-do list? Believe me. I get it. Prioritizing your health in the day-to-day busyness of life can be really difficult.

But it doesn’t have to be!

If you’re looking for some help with prioritizing your health so you can live a happier, healthier, more joy-filled life, I highly recommend checking out Crystal Paine’s new course, 15 Days to a Healthier You.  If you know me, you know I am a big fan of Crystal and her blog, Money Saving Mom. I bought several of her books and products and I went through the original version of this course at the beginning of the year. The course was amazing and made a huge difference for me and that is why I am sharing this course with you even though the focus of Simple Catholic Living isn’t heath. (Athough, being Catholic does, and should, affect all aspects of our lives, so it is technically related. LOL!)

Crystal Paine Products

In this course, Crystal shares all of her proven strategies that have helped her rebuild her own health! After making some life-altering changes in her self-care regimen, Crystal found herself recharged and refueled in a way she never thought possible.

And because these changes made such an enormous impact on her personal life, she decided to compile all of her tips and strategies into a full-length 15-day course to help those of us who want to overhaul our health and grab ahold of that vibrant, healthy life we’re all dreaming of.

When you purchase this 15-day course, you’ll get immediate access to …

  • 15 daily videos lessons — one for each day of the course.
  • Daily projects to help you on your own journey to live a healthier life.
  • Some of her favorite recommended resources (links, books, podcasts) to go along with each day’s lesson.
  • A PDF workbook including the entire course lessons that you can download and print.
  • Access to the 15 Days to a Healthier You Facebook group!
  • BONUS access to the original 15 Days to a Healthier You video series!

Get the help you need to live a stronger, healthier, more joy-filled life today by signing up for 15 Days to a Healthier You today! And guess what?

To kick off the launch of the program, FOR TODAY ONLY (Wednesday, November 8)  Crystal is offering the program for only $5 (that’s $0.33 per day!). Tomorrow (Thursday, November 9) the price goes up to $10 (that’s $0.67 per day). Finally, on Friday, November 10, the price goes to it’s regular price, $15. That’s only $1.00 a day which is still a great deal but why pay full price when you can pay only $5 buck? Personally, I loved the original version of the course and I am purchasing this version as well!

Sign up here —> https://products.crystalpaine.com/15dhy/ref/120/?campaign=HealthierYou

Here’s to your health!

Prayer Resources for All Souls Day

As you probably know, today is All Souls Day. It is the day that the Church dedicates to praying for the souls in Purgatory. In keeping with that intention, I thought I would share some links to very beautiful prayers for the Holy Souls.

What is All Souls Day?

Chaplet for the Poor Souls in Purgatory

Prayer for the Deceased

May God bless you and always keep you in His loving arms.

Prayer Resources for the Holy Souls

Why All Saints Day is Important

November 1 is All Saints Day and a Holy Day of Obligation. It is a glorious day and one of my favorite Solemnities. Unfortunately, it is basically overshadowed by Halloween (which is technically “All Hallow’s Eve,” the vigil of All Saint’s day). However, All Saint’s day is a solemnity and a holy day of obligation for a reason: it is a very important feast for us Catholics.

Image by Fra Angelico (1445-1455) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

Some Background: History of All Saints Day

All Saints Day is a very OLD feast day, dating back to the beginning of Christianity. Think back to the catacombs. They were created to bury and honor the martyrs who were killed during the persecutions. As more and more people were martyred for the faith, the celebration expanded to include everyone, known and unknown. Urban IV included the feast to “to supply any deficiencies in the faithful’s celebration of saints’ feasts during the year” (New Advent).

Later, Pope Gregory IV extended the celebration to all saints, martyred or no. He also enjoined the clergy to celebrate the feast every year on November 1. It has been celebrated on that day every since.

Why All Saint’s Day is Important to You

All Saint’s Day reminds us that the journey of our lives lead to heaven! All those saints who have “fought the good fight,” canonized  or not, inspire us and encourage us to keep up the fight ourselves. Life certainly is a fight at times.

We live in a world where wrong is right and right is wrong. Faith in God and in the divine is all but lost and we face so many struggles and obstacles we wonder if it is all worth it. IT IS!

We can look to the saints who have come before us and be strengthened knowing that others have made it before us and we can make it too! Keep up the faith and trust in God.

Celebration Suggestions

Besides Mass, which is obligatory, All Saint’s Day is a great day to pray the Litany of the Saints. This is such a beautiful prayer. The sung version of the prayer is so lovely, too.

Another way to celebrate this solemnity is to learn about some saints you aren’t familiar with. There have been many newly canonized saints over the last few years, so why not start with one of those?

If you have little ones, have an All Saint’s Party! My son’s homeschool co-op has an All Saint’s Party every year and it is so much fun! Each child gives three clues about the saint he or she is dressed up as and the other children have to guess. You can even offer prizes to the winners if you wanted.

I hope and pray that you take some time to go deeper in your understanding of his most wonderful solemnity!

God bless,

 

More Resources

thoughtCo

New Advent

Use These 5 Strategies When Life Gets Overwhelming

Life isn’t easy. It just isn’t. It is stressful. It is messy. Relationships can be trying. We all have our cross to bear. However, there are days, weeks, and even months when it feels like so much “stuff” is being dumped on us we start to feel like we can’t take it anymore. There is an expression that came from somewhere that says that God doesn’t give us anymore than we can handle. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, there have been times when it feels like He brings me pretty close!

When Life is Overwhelming

Image by talibabdulla (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

In the past, when  hardships  and struggles and “life” happened, I would get so overwhelmed – almost unfunctionable. Depression would set in and I would feel like I am stuck in the muck forever. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen any more. I still struggle but I am able to use these strategies to help me cope. Now, you may not get overwhelmed with life, but if you struggle or have to deal with long-term challenges, I encourage you to try out some of these pointers and see if they help.

1. Know You Are Not Alone

Everyone struggles and goes through rough patches. Again, everyone has her cross (or crosses) to bear. So, even if other people don’t “get” your situation completely, all of us can all relate to having to deal with difficult circumstances.

Now, knowing this doesn’t change your personal situation, of course. However, knowing you aren’t alone can be comforting. Growing up, and having mild cerebral palsy, I was bullied a lot. I still remember how alone and lost I felt. I didn’t think anyone would understand what I was going through and yet, I wasn’t alone. So many young people were bullied in my youth, and sadly, there are many people (young and old) who are still bullied today.

So, believe me: No matter what you are going through you are NOT alone.

2. Step Away From The Situation

It is extremely difficult to be objective when you are so close to a situation. If you can, even for five minutes, walk away. If you can’t walk way, take a minute or two to close your eyes, say a prayer and/or count to 10. BREATHE. BREATHE. BREATHE. BREATHE.

Even better, if at all possible, get away for a couple of days. Everyone needs time to recharge and re-center themselves. It is a great way to get a new perspective on the situation.

Realistically, though, that’s probably not going to happen, especially if you are a caregiver to someone. Still, there are other ways to “get away.” Can you get up earlier for some quiet time or steal some quiet time in the evenings? Can you use some downtime to journal or pray?

For me, as an introvert, I need a certain amount of quiet and alone time. When I am going through a difficult time or when life gets extra busy and noisy. It is critical for me to take some time to sit in silence and process everything that is going on. This is particularly true when I am going through stressful times.

3. Beware of the Comparison Trap

Comparing ourselves is not only a waste of time, it is a waste of our emotional and mental space. It is also very misleading. When we compare ourselves to other people, it is tempting to think that someone’s life is better than ours. We read what people post online and assume that they have such a great life. Or, we talk to acquaintances and hear all about the good things they are doing and we fantasize about having their life.

Well, guess what? What we don’t see is the “behind the scenes” of their lives. Or the reality of their lives. People are selective of what they post online and will not normally post the ugly. Even when they do, it is usually “packaged” in a way that makes them look good. No one wants to look bad in front of people, online or otherwise.

The same is true about our “in real life” friends and acquaintances. We can’t see what is behind closed doors of their lives. We don’t see the arguments or the craziness that may go on.  Unless they share their ugly with us, we don’t know about it.

Here is the deal with comparison: It only adds to your problems. It causes discontent in your mind and in your heart. It can cause bitterness and jealously. It robs us of our peace. Comparing ourselves to others sows the seeds of discord. Believe me, it is not worth the time and effort to compare ourselves with other people.

Going back to my younger days, it was so easy to fall into the comparison mode. My parents, and my family, did not treat me any different than anyone else because of my cerebral palsy. But, there were still some things I couldn’t do because of it and there were things that I had to do because of it (such as special exercises). I would so easily fall into comparison mode and feeling like life wasn’t fair! In my eyes, everyone else was smarter, prettier, or better than I was. How silly of me! It wasn’t true, of course, but because I was too busy comparing myself, I didn’t realize that. So, with some tough (but much) love, I say to you: STOP IT. 🙂

4. Talk to Someone

Whatever you are going through, talk to someone you can trust. It can be your spouse, a priest or nun, a friend, or even a life coach. If the situation is serious, or long-term, consider getting some professional counseling. If it is appropriate, get involved in a support group. There is no shame in taking steps to change your life or to find healing. Getting the help you need is brave and courageous.

I am not going to lie. This is a difficult step for me. Like my mother always told me, I have a tendency to hold things in. Sometimes it is because I don’t want to be a “bother” or sometimes it is because I’m afraid of being misunderstood or rejected. It is scary and hard to be vulnerable. BUT, there is also power and grace in opening up and talking to someone. When you talk to someone, that ‘thing” that guilt or fear or shame or whatever it is, loses its power over you. When you open up to the right person, it is freeing!

Anxiety is something that I have dealt with most of my life. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to get some anxiety counseling. I wish I had gone sooner! I got some greater understanding about myself and the disorder and I got some practical tools to help me face the anxiety when it comes.

Word of caution: Be specific and honest about what you need and are looking for. If you are just looking for someone to listen and let you unload, tell her. If you are looking for advice and/or a solution to your problem, tell her. Let your confidant know ahead of time what you want and need from her. it will save time and help avoid misunderstanding. You will get the most out of your time together if your mutual expectations are clear.

5. Get Some Practical Help

If you can afford it, consider hiring someone to handle the many little things that crop up so you can focus on the important stuff.  You can pay someone to clean your house, to run errands or to babysit your kids. Seemingly small things can build and build until they become overwhelming big things; therefore, if you have someone do some of those tasks for you, it can bring some margin and breathing room into your life.

What can you do if you can’t afford to hire someone? Do a swap with a friend or neighbor. Barter. My son has to do a certain amount of hours of community service for his Confirmation prep. Maybe there is a preteen  in your area who also needs do some community service and would be willing to rake your leaves or mow the lawn or do little jobs for you for free. Get creative.

Oh, and if you have kids, don’t forget to put them to work!. Remember: It may be your responsibility to get things done but that doesn’t mean it’s your responsibility to actually do the work. Kids of all ages can, and should, be doing some amount of chores. And most of them will do extra in exchange for a little cash or treat. Again, be creative in coming up with ideas.

Now, I realize this suggestion seems a little silly or out of place. HOWEVER, when you are going through a difficult time – be it physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or any combination of those – anything else adding to your stress or compromised mental state can feel insurmountable or overwhelming. Therefore, if you are going through a stressful situation or you are burdened in any way, please give this suggestion a fair consideration. It may make a huge difference for you as it has for me.

In fact, all of these strategies have made a difference for me. They still make a difference for me. It doesn’t matter if I am going through a big difficulty, like the death of my cousin, or something small, like my son being uncooperative during his school time, I always fall back on these strategies to get me through. And my prayer is that you, too, will use these pointers and that they make a difference in your life.

Know that you are in my prayers! God bless.