The Baptism of the Lord

HAPPY FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD. Here is a very good article about this beautiful feast day.

Image by Juan Fernández de Navarrete (circa 1567) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

Happy Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord!

The Christmas Season is coming to a close. Tomorrow is the Baptism of the Lord and the “official” ending is the Presentation (February 2).

But today we celebrate the day the Three Wise men gave homage to our sweet baby Jesus. For information about this lovely feast, go here.

3 Wisemen

Image by elicesp (2017) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

My Goals for 2018

(Piggybacking off of yesterday’s FB live about spiritual goals, today I am sharing my other goals)

In 2017, I did an experiment and didn’t make any goals for the year. My focus was on scheduling the things I wanted to do. However, it was pretty much a bust. 🙁 Don’t get me wrong, the scheduling part was great and I did get a lot of “stuff” done. The problem was that I felt scattered most of the time and unfocused.

This past year was a bigger challenge than 2016 and I didn’t think that was possible. And, not having specific goals left me feeling unhinged a lot of the time. I need structure. Goals give me that structure and allows me to have boundaries and white space. I also missed the accountability of not posting my goals online. It gives me incentive and have been told from readers that they like reading about the goals.

2018 Goals

Image by condesign (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

This year, I am going to combine the scheduling with the goals. I have 12 goals for different aspects of my life and I will be taking some time today to schedule those goals into my calendar (in bite-sized chunks). My hope is that by combining them both, I will have a scheduled yet focused year. I am also posting them here for the accountability and will give monthly updates about how I am doing. (Any encouragement or push would be much appreciated!)

So, without further ado, here hare my goals:

PERSONAL GOALS

1. Read at least one chapter of the Bible each day

2. Cut out sugar and dairy for at least 8 weeks (fast Wednesdays & Fridays)

3. Read one personal book per month (fiction, self-help, spiritual, etc.)

MARRIAGE GOALS

4. Go on one date with Michael per month

5. Send Michael (and Andrew) at least one love/text note per week

FAMILY GOALS

6. Read one book out loud to Andrew per month

7. Go on a family vacation

8. Pray with Andrew daily (daily devotional book before or after school)

FINANCIAL GOALS

9. Rebuild emergency fund ($1,000)

10. Save at least $10 per week

BUSINESS GOALS

11. Launch two courses/programs this year

12. Do at least 2 FB lives per month (aiming for weekly!)

Have you made any goals for 2018? If so, do share in the comments! I would love to support and encourage you in any way I can!

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P.S.: In an unrelated note, I want to remind you that today is the First Friday of the Month.

Holy Name of Jesus

Today is the optional memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. As Catholics, we know that the name of Jesus is holy and powerful. But, chances are, you may not know that we have a full day just to venerate His Holy name. Well, now you do. 🙂 Here is a little information about this memorial:

Holy Name of Jesus

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

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them, ‘Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in His name this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.’ There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” Acts 4:8-12

Traditionally, in the Catholic Church, January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. The memorial has been celebrated in the church since the 15th century on a local level and was extended to the whole church in 1721. This memorial of the Holy name of Jesus is a wonderful feast that is officially celebrated on January 3rd. Sadly, especially with the conclusion of Christmas/New Year’s, it overlooked and that is why I make a point of mentioning it every year. 🙂

So many people use Jesus’ name or “God” in such a casual (and sadly as a curse) way. We have gotten away from remembering that God is all holy. His name is sacred. We must use His name with reverence and love. Let’s let today be a reminder to always use Jesus’ name with intention and purpose – not casually or without thinking.

For more information, here are some resources about and devotions to the Holy Name of Jesus for the month of January:

Catholic Encyclopedia

Wikipedia

Prayers in honor of the Holy Name

Fisheaters

About.com

Devotion to the Holy Childhood of Jesus

Today is the memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen but I don’t think they will mind if I usurp their feast day to talk about the Holy Childhood of Jesus. 🙂

Infant of Prague

Image by Vassil (2008) via Wikipedia, the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

One of the things I like to do each year is grow in my understanding and appreciation for the many traditions (with both the “big T” and “little t”) that are held dear in our Catholic Faith. I know for myself, I can take for granted all riches and graces and beauty of our faith. So in that vein, I want to share a little about the devotion to the Child Jesus.

January has always been dedicated to the Holy Childhood of Jesus. It is a devotion that dates back to the 300’s AD – and even earlier.

I confess that I never had any particular devotion to the Childhood of Jesus; however, I do remember my Aunt Pat giving me a statue of the Infant of Prague. She always said that if I kept a dollar bill under the statue I’d always have money. (Is that because there’s always a dollar under the statue or because the Lord is watching over me, or a little bit of both?!) I still have that statue and it sits on the dresser in my bedroom. I see it every time I enter the room and it makes me think about my Aunt – and this devotion.

As I searched for information about this devotion to the Holy Childhood, I didn’t find tons; nevertheless, if you’d like to explore the history and practices of devotion to the Childhood of Jesus (and the Infant of Prague), you can check out the sites here, here and here.

I also found a prayer that I sometimes use as a novena. If you would like to do the same, here it is:

O Jesus, Prince of Peace and King of the Universe, you chose to humble yourself and come into the world, not as a powerful ruler, but as a helpless infant; grant us the grace of humility and gentleness before you and our brothers and sisters. Grant, too, O Lord, that we may always strive to achieve the virtue and innocence of your own Holy Childhood. Instill in us a growing faith you, O Lord, and the strength to resist temptation in a world which so widely rejects you. Look upon us with compassion and forgive us our sins. Fill our hearts with kindness and understanding, especially for children, the aged and those we dislike or who dislike us.

O Jesus, who so loved children that you admonished us, “Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven,” grant us a child-like faith and purity of heart. Give us the grace not only to pray fervently, but to help spread your Gospel by deed as well as word. Amen. (from Franciscan Mission Associates pamphlet)

(Found the prayer here.)

Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us (And a Little New Year Gift)

I want to wish all of you a truly Blessed and grace-filled New Year. Whatever this new year may bring, I pray that you be filled with all peace and joy and comfort in our Blessed Lord.

Image by Jan van Eyck (1425) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Today isn’t only the first day of the New Year but also the beautiful Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Churchyear.net explains this  lovely feast this way,

When Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God we are not only honoring Mary, who was chosen among all women throughout history to bear God incarnate, but we are also honoring our Lord, who is fully God and fully human. Calling Mary “mother of God” is the highest honor we can give Mary. Just as Christmas honors Jesus as the “Prince of Peace,” the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God honors Mary as the “Queen of Peace” This solemnity, falling on New Year’s Day, is also designated the World Day of Peace.”

For more information about this lovely feast go here and here.

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As we begin the New Year, and make resolutions and such, I would like to encourage you to make a priority this year. To help you pray in union with our Catholic faith, I put together a list of all the major (and not-so-major) saint and feast days. It is in pdf form so you can print it out and keep it somewhere handy. Then each month, week or day, you can see what feasts and devotons are being celebrated at any given day. There is no opt-in required so go ahead and download the pdf here: http://www.simplecatholicliving.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Saints-and-Feasts-in-2018.pdf

Annual Christmas Blogging Break is Here

Hey, today starts my annual Christmas blogging break. I will be back on January 3rd, raring to go! I have a lot of great things planned for the new year and I can’t wait to share them with you. 🙂

I will still be active on Facebook, however, and would love to connect with you there in my Woman’s Catholic Prayer and Encouragement Facebook Group. So come on over and say hello – and join in on the free virtual Advent Retreat (it’s free).

In the meantime, I wish you and your family a truly blessed and excellent and wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Christmas manger

Image by publicdomainpictures (2012) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

 

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!