The Immaculate Conception

Today, December 8, is the glorious solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day that all Catholics should celebrate with joy and thanksgiving because this amazing gift to Mary is also a gift for us!

Immaculate Conception

Image by Murillo (1678) via wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

What is the purpose of the Solemnity?

This solemnity celebrates the great grace given to Mary in virtue of the fact that she was to be the mother of Our Savior: She was conceived without original sin.

We are all born with original sin thanks to our first parents, Adam and Eve. At baptism original sin is washed away. But for Mary, she was freed from original sin at the moment of her conception.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in articles 490-493:

“Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.135

The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.137″

This is a wonderful mystery that we would do well to meditate upon. I encourage you to go deeper into this mystery and for more information you can go here.

********

Tweetable: The Immaculate Conception

It’s Your Last Chance!

Reminder: today is the last day to get the eBook version of the Advent Prayer Journal for $5 bucks. 🙂 Tomorrow, the price goes back up to $10.

Advent Prayer Journal for Women Cover

You can find out more about the book here. Also, if you are looking for other ideas for Advent, I have 5 ideas to help you get the most out of this Advent Season.

I pray that this Advent Season is a grace-filled, prayer-filled, and peace-filled time for you! God bless.

Saint Andrew and the Christmas Novena

Today is the feast of Saint Andrew, a wonderful and powerful saint. He was a great Apostle and missionary of the Lord. He is mentioned several times in the gospel. In fact, he brought Saint Peter to Jesus. I love that Saint Andrew told Peter, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41) after only one encounter! Of course there were ups and downs in his relationship with the Lord, but after the Resurrection and St. Andrew receives the Holy Spirit he becomes a mighty instrument for the Lord!

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

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

Saint Andrew died a martyr on a cross that was in the shape of an X. He was not nailed, but bound, to the cross and suffered for two days before finally passing to the Lord. Saint Andrew is the patron of fisherman and the countries of Russia, Scotland, and Greece. He also has the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena named after him.

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.

Resources

Here are some links to peruse and get to know Saint Andrew better.

AmericanCatholic.org

New Advent

Catholic.org

SaintAndrew.us

**************

Tweetable: Saint Andrew and the Christmas Novena

Saints and Feast Days in December 2016

Wow. Just wow. There are only a couple more days left before December. I am so NOT ready! Well, ready or not, here it comes, right?! And, of course, with a new month comes a new set of saint and feast days – the last one for the year.

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

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

Saints and Feasts

December 2: First Friday Devotions (optional)

December 3First Saturday Devotions (optional)

December 3: St. Francis Xavier, priest (obligatory memorial)

December 6: St. Nicholas, bishop (optional memorial)

December 7: St. Ambrose, bishop & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

December 8: The Immaculate Conception (solemnity, holy day of obligation)

December 9: St. Juan Diego (optional memorial)

December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe (feast)

December 13: St. Lucy, virgin and martyr (obligatory memorial)

December 14: St. John of the Cross, priest & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

December 21: St. Canisius, priest & doctor of the church (optional memorial)

December 23: St. John of Kanty, priest (optional memorial)

December 25:  Nativity of Our Lord Merry Christmas! (solemnity, holy day of obligation)

December 26: St. Stephen, the first martyr (feast)

December 27: St. John, apostle and evangelist (feast)

December 28: The Holy Innocents, martyrs (feasts)

December 29: St. Thomas Becket, bishop & martyr (optional memorial)

December 30: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph (feast)

 December 31: St. Sylvester I, pope (optional memorial)

Other Dates to Note

Every Saturday is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

December is traditionally dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

December 7: Pearl Harbor Day, 1941 (USA)

December 21: Winter Begins

December 26: Boxing Day (Canada)

You can print out a pdf version of this here (no opt-in required).

*********

Tweetable: Saints and Feast Days in December 2016

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours!

Wishing all of you and your families a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! I’ll be back to blogging on Monday, November 28.

Thanksgiving

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

Time For a Little Humor!

Okay, enough with the heavy for a bit. The level of craziness in this world is reaching to an all-high-time high and the stress for many is unbearable – especially since the election.

Image by geralt (2016) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Image by geralt (2016) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Therefore, I thought I would share a little clean and pure humor. It is a joke I have heard before and it gives me a giggle every time I read it. Then, as I was poking around, I found it again on Fisheaters.com:

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: “Take only ONE. God is watching.”

Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written a note, “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.

Out of the mouth of babes! I love this and it reminds me of someone I used to know who told me that she hopes that heaven is one big, eternal, never-ending supply of chocolate! I like chocolate, for sure, but not that much!

Take some time to smile and laugh today! The future may be unsure but the power and sovereignty of God is not!

*********

Tweetable: Time for a Little Humor!

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

I purposely do not get political online (or publicly) and I don’t plan to now; however, I feel called to share my heart. The events that have transpired since election day has been alarming and heartbreaking. It is also aggravating. (Warning: mini-rant below)

What are we Teaching Our Children?

What I am referring to is the rioting and violence that has erupted since Trump was elected. I am referring to the over-dramatic response by many, especially our young people – and not-so-young people. Over the weekend, I heard about someone who was verbally attacked just because she asked someone if they were okay (because the person looked upset and as if she had been crying).  I also read about a young boy who was bullied and yelled at by an adult because he voted for Trump in a mock election. On top of all this, you can’t go on Facebook or other social media site without being bombarded by anti-Trump news, protesting and riots.

So, I can’t help but wonder what we are teaching our kids. What is going on when college classes are being canceled and counseling services are being offered for those “adversely affected” by the election? Seriously? Are we really raising a generation of infantile, indoctrinated people with an entitlement mentality?

How about teaching our children about how democracy works? Or, how about we teach them that they can’t always have what they want when they want it? How about teaching them that there is disappointment in life and give them tools for dealing with it more maturely? How about we teach them how to accept defeat graciously. I see what’s going on and it looks like a bunch of babies having temper tantrums just like my son sometimes does when he doesn’t get his way!

Now, don’t misconstrue me. The disappointments and anger of Clinton’s supporters are real. They have a right to their opinions, and feelings. They have a right to be respected and their feelings are valid. And, they have a right to express those feelings. Just like anyone else. At the same time, however, those feelings need to be expressed in better and healthier ways. How is rioting and destroying property helping anyone? How does beating up people or ridiculing people with different opinions (especially those who voted for Trump) make a difference? Those actions will not change the results of the election.

If the Republicans or conservatives did half of what is being done, there would be no media coverage. Or if there is, it would be to bash them for not accepting the results. There is a huge double standard here.  But our young people! They have witnessed some the worse anti-Christian behavior, including Christian against Christian.

What example are we giving our children and young people when we slam each other (with our words, and sometimes fists)? What are we doing by allowing our schools to indoctrinate our children with anti-democratic (and revisionist) rhetoric? Why aren’t we teaching our children to have a strong work ethic and empower them to become productive members of society who can think for themselves? Why aren’t we helping them to learn to listen to and respect perspectives and opinions different than their own?  We owe them that much. We owe ourselves and our future that much.

The world isn’t going to implode or explode because of the outcome of the election like the over-dramatic babble would like us to believe. We owe it to Trump as our new President to give him a chance, as we had to do with Obama. And guess what? Many of the events and problems which the left / Clinton and Obama supports are so afraid of have existed long before Trump ran for President. Division, discrimination, economic problems, and other issues shamefully existed before Trump and some things even got worse in Obama’s administration (Obamacare has crushed my family financially & coverage-wise). So, for our kids’ sake, we need to take a deep breath and start thinking with our heads. We can’t let fear control our lives.

Besides, we may not know what the next four years (and beyond) will bring but we know that God is control. Therefore, I have hope. I have faith in the power of God. I know that no matter what happens we are in His hands. Our children are also in His hands. So, I will continue to pray. I will pray for President-elect Trump, all our leaders, for our children, and for those with whom I differ. I will pray for those who have rioted and have caused havoc this past week and I will pray for their victims. I will even pray for the media and Hollywood elite who are so far misguided and out-of-touch with common America it isn’t funny.

So, I will pray, pray, pray. Will you pray with me?

**********

Tweetable: What Are We Teaching Our Children?

A Prayer for our Veterans

(Repost)

A Prayer for Veterans

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

God of peace, we pray for those who have served our nation and have laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom.

We pray for those who have fought, whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war,
whose nights are haunted by memories too painful for the light of day.

We pray for those who serve us now, especially for those in harm’s way.
Shield them from danger and bring them home.

Turn the hearts and minds of our leaders and our enemies to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.

Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!

May the peace you left us, the peace you gave us, be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.

Christ Jesus, hear us!
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!

Amen.

**************

Tweetable: Prayer for Veterans

(Prayer written by Concord Pastor)

Here is a video tribute to our soldiers:

Get Out There and Vote!

I don’t get political on this blog or on social media and that is on purpose. So, I am not going to tell you for whom you should (or must) vote. I do, however, want to encourage you to get out there and vote today!

It is your God-given privilege and right to vote. And for us women, who didn’t get the right to vote until 1920, it is especially important that we take full advantage of this right. So please, vote, vote, vote!

Get Out There and Vote

5 Ideas for Advent

Can  you believe that Advent begins on Sunday, November 27?? That is only 2 1/2 weeks away! That’s not a lot of time to think about how you want prepare spiritually for Christmas.

In the past, I would get so caught up with the material preparations of Christmas that I would get overwhelmed and lose focus on the the meaning of Christmas. I would get stressed, lose sleep, and generally just wish that the whole season would be done and over. (Sound familiar?)

Image by geralt (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Image by geralt (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Then, a couple of years ago, I decided it was time to take stock and make some decisions to help me focus on the purpose of Advent which, of course, is to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The changes made a huge difference for me and so I will follow the same plan.

Now, for me, preparing for Advent (or Lent) isn’t necessarily about adding more things to my schedule. It is about making the most of my current schedule…So here are the 5 things I plan to do this year:

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

Yes, I am one of those ober-organized people who like to do things in advance. 🙂 For Instance, I already have my shopping list and my card list written. I also hope to have my cards ready to send out by the time Advent starts and some of the gifts purchased. If all goes well, I should be done with all my Christmas shopping before the second week of Advent!

As for baking, I plan to do some baking early and freeze it all. Most baking goods, especially cookies, freeze really well. However, for some items, I will have to wait to last-minute so they are baked fresh. 🙂

II. Go to Daily Mass Twice a Week.

In the past, I would commit to go to daily mass and fail every year. It just isn’t realistic for this time in my life. Therefore, for this year, I am going to commit to going to daily Mass twice a week. That is definitely doable.

III. Fast Twice a Week.

Fasting isn’t just for Lent! Technically, Advent is a penitential season and this was especially true pre-Vatican II. In fact, the Church still encourages us to fast regularly all throughout the year even though it is not an official precept of the Church.

There are many benefits of fasting and I have wanted to get into this practice for a while. Therefore, I figure Advent would be a great time to finally get started. I will be fasting Wednesdays and Fridays.

IV. Use an Advent Calendar and Advent Wreathe.

Of course, the Advent Calendar and Advent Wreathe are perfect activities to do with children. I will do the Advent Calendar with Andrew each morning and light the Advent Wreathe candle during each meal as a family.

V. 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 but having my own little space to write out my thoughts, dreams, and struggles is important to my spiritual welfare. Writing is my preferred way of communication and it is how I best “talk” to God. Can you relate or is it just me?!

Last year, I created an Advent journal but it was too late to actually use for the Advent season. So, for this year, I will actually be using the journal I created. What I like most about the journal is that it is simple and has a lot of lines and writing space. Each page has a scripture verse that (sometimes loosely) correlates to the daily Mass readings and then lines for writing. It is not a guided journal but some days I will use the scripture as a starting point for prayer and some days I will just write for the heart. It also includes blank pages for drawing and/or pasting and has a section for prayer requests.

If you are interested, you can find more about the journal and purchase it here. Also, for a limited time, I am offering the PDF version of the journal for only $5 bucks! It is regularly $10 so it is half-price but it won’t last long. The sale ends on Friday, December 2, 2016.

**

For more ideas for Advent, here are 10 Ways to Make Advent Meaningful and an Advent Meditation.

********

Tweetable: 5 Ideas for Advent

Advent Prayer Journal for Women Cover