Coming to God’s Grace

Andrew & CCD teacher

Andrew with his second grade CCD teacher after the First Confession ceremony.

On Saturday, Andrew and his CCD classmates made their first Sacrament of Reconciliation in preparation for his First Holy Communion in April. Our Pastor, Sister Elizabeth and the second grade teachers did a nice job putting together a little ceremony. First there was a song, than the children were brought up to Father to be “received.” Then there was a reading from the Gospel, a very nice homily and an examination of conscious followed by the actual private confessions. Each child picked out a rock out of a basket that represented the heaviness and burden of sin which he or she handed to Father after confessing. Then after giving the absolution, Father gave each child a soft heart to represent having a clean or “new” heart now that they were reconciled with God. After coming out of the confessional, the child had his or her baptismal candle lit and walked up to the front of church were they pinned a lamb with their name on it. They were the lamb being returned to the Good Shepherd.

It is hard to describe in words, but the ceremony was quite touching and sweet. What struck me the most though, had nothing to do with the ceremony. It had to do with the children themselves. All of them were so full of joy and excitement to be going to their Fflowerirst Confession. And the smiles they had after coming out of the confessional was almost brighter than the sun!

Their joy really got me thinking, especially with Lent beginning next week. (Yes, next week!) I don’t know about you, but I don’t always go to confession with joy in my heart. Okay, to be real, I pretty much never go to confession with joy in my heart. I go pretty regularly because I know it’s what we should do as Catholics but if I could avoid it, I probably would. And I get frustrated with repeating the same sins over and over again. (When oh when will I get my patience under control!!) You, too, or is it just me?

Those children remind me and exhort me to look at the beauty of the sacrament, to rediscover the joy of be made right with God, to remember and accept His love and grace which is offered to me each time I make Confession. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an amazing gift from God.

With Lent coming next week, I think I am going to try and not only go to confession a little more often, but also to try and rediscover the joy of the Sacrament.

What about you? How do you experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Is going to confession a joy to you? How do you bring joy in celebrating this sacrament?

(Photo Credit)

The Great Feast of the Assumption

The Assumption of Mary (Public Domain Image)

Today we celebrate the beautiful feast of the Assumption. It is the day we have been spiritually preparing for the last 9 days during our novena. But you may be asking yourself, “What is the Assumption about any way?” or, “Why is Assumption important?  or, maybe you are wondering, like someone who recently asked me, “What is the difference between the Assumption of Mary and the Ascension of Jesus?

What exactly is the feast of the Assumption?

The feast of the Assumption is the day where we Catholics remember and honor the singular grace given to Our Lady: being taken from earth BODY and soul into heaven.

When we die, our souls goes to heaven, hell or purgatory as we await the resurrection of the dead while our bodies decay. However, Our Blessed Mother, who was conceived without sin and lived in perfect obedience to God’s will, was assumed body and soul, into heaven. Unlike us, Mary didn’t have to wait, unlike us!

What is the difference between the Assumption and the Ascension?

The Ascension is celebrated 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead (Easter Sunday). It is the day that Jesus ascended to heaven by his own will and power. And therein lies the difference between the Assumption and the Ascension. Jesus ascends by his own power, Mary can not. It is by the power of God that Mary is assumed, of herself, Our Lady can do nothing.

Mary is assumed into heaven and Jesus ascended into heaven. Got it? 🙂

What is the significance of the Assumption?

Celebrating the Assumption reminds us of our destiny: heaven. Mary’s Assumption is a foreshadowing of what awaits us! If we live our life according to God’s will, if we die in the state of grace, we too will be with God, Our Lady, the saints and angels – forever! And, it is a reminder that at the resurrection of the dead at the end of time, we will be reunited with our bodies – our own personal assumption.  How mind-blowing and amazing!

How can we celebrate this special day?

1. The first thing you should do is go to mass. As a matter of fact, the feast of the Assumption is a Holy Day of Obligation, so technically you “have” to go. Of course, we don’t celebrate the Eucharist just because we have to, no? 😉

2. Another thing you can do is pray the glorious mysteries of the rosary, as a family if you can.

3. Traditionally, the churches would have a procession in Our Lady’s honor. If your parish is doing a procession, consider joining or put one together yourself for your family.

4. You can do crafts with your kids like this one at crafolic.com or this one at catholicmom.com.

5. You can also make a special meal or treat like I found here and here (scroll down to the Assumption) on catholiccuisine.com.

These are just a few ideas. I’m sure with a little thought you will be able to come up with your own way of honoring Our Lady. May your day be blessed!

7 Resources for Celebrating Trinity Sunday

On Sunday we will celebrate the great solemnity of the Holy Trinity. What an awesome God we serve! A couple of years ago I mentioned that I wasn’t able to find many activities for celebrating Trinity sunday, but I did find these ideas.  This year, I was able to find a few more resources and activities that I hope will help you and your family celebrate this great feast of the Church.

Holy Trinity Image(Photo Credit)

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Reflection by Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.:

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eHow: Trinity Crafts for Children.

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Crafolic.com: Trinity is like a Shamrock craft.

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Catholic Cuisine: Tres Leche Cake for Trinity Sunday.

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Churchyear.net: All About Trinity Sunday.

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Happy Catholic: The Mystery of the Holy Trinity.

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Catholicculture.org: Feast of the Holy Trinity.

Do you have a favorite resource or activity for celebrating Trinity Sunday? Let us know in the comments!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Our Catholic Traditions: Weekly and Monthly Devotions

In order to help us grow in our faith, the Church encourages many different types of devotions and dedications. Our Mother Church also encourages us to use these devotions to delve deeper into our faith. One way She does this is by encouraging weekly and monthly devotions dedicated to a particular saint or article of faith.

Our Catholic Devotions: Weekly & Monthly Devotions

I first learned of many of these devotions when I was discerning a religious vocation with the Little Sisters of the Poor. They had (and I assume still do) special prayers and practices for each day of the week or month of the year. After leaving that religious congregation, I discovered that it was universally practiced in the Catholic Church and not just their order.

Here are the weekly devotions:

Sunday: The Holy Trinity

Monday: The Souls in Purgatory

Tuesday: Our Guardian Angels

Wednesday: Saint Joseph

Thursday: The Eucharist

Friday: The Passion of Jesus (Divine Mercy) and/or The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Saturday: The Immaculate Heart of Mary

And the Monthly Devotions:

January: The Holy Childhood of Jesus

February: The Holy Family

March: Saint Joseph

April: The Blessed Sacrament

May: Our Lady

June: Sacred Heart of Jesus

July: The Precious Blood of Jesus

August: The Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Assumption of Mary)

September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary

October: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary

November: The Poor Souls in Purgatory

December: The Immaculate Conception

Over the coming weeks and months, I will do my best to expound a little on the history and particulars of each devotion. In the meantime, in case you missed it, here’s a little primer on Why Honoring the Lord’s Day is Important and Ten Ways to Honor the Lord’s Day.

One more thing: for those of you who may want to know (or can’t ever remember) what days each of the Rosary Mysteries are prayed here they are:

Sunday: The Glorious Mysteries

Monday: The Joyful Mysteries

Tuesday: The Sorrowful Mysteries

Wednesday: The Glorious Mysteries

Thursday: The Luminous or Joyful Mysteries

Friday: The Sorrowful Mysteries

Saturday: The Joyful Mysteries (or Glorious Mysteries after 3pm)

A suggestion: This isn’t traditional, but over the years I have developed a habit of focusing on one Mystery over the seasons. For example: During Advent and Christmas I prayed the Joyful Mysteries every day. During Lent I pray the Sorrowful Mysteries everyday. During the Easter season I pray the Glorious Mysteries every day. And during Ordinary time I rotate the Mysteries as listed above.

Doing this has helped me enter deeper into the season and mystery that is being celebrated. You may want to give it a try to see if it helps you. 🙂

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Tweetable: Weekly & Monthly Devotions

Advent Meditation, Week Four: Come Lord Jesus!

Advent Wreath

You can check out week one, week two and week three if you missed them before and here is the final snippet from Anne’s Advent Meditations:

“At the announcement that she would give birth to “the Son of the Most High” without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that “with God nothing will be impossible”: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word,“ (cf. Lk 1: 28-38; Rom 1:5).

Thus, giving her consent to God’s word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with Him and dependent on Him, by God’s grace:

As St. Irenaeus says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.”

Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert . . .: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary “the Mother of the living” and frequently claim: “Death through Eve, life through Mary…” read more.

Advent Meditation, Week Three: Continuing Mary’s Journey

Advent Wreath

If you missed them week one and two can be found here and here.

Here’s a snippet of this week’s Advent Meditation that you can find over at Living in the Two Hearts:

“In other words, Mary participated with the sufferings that would be her Son’s, joining herself to the redemptive graces of her Son just as Paul would do long after Christ’s ascension into heaven. At the same time, we can say in all honesty, Mary’s Son followed in her footsteps as He went through the 40 days in the desert and then the complete abandonment in the garden at Gethsemane. What did Jesus do, what were is responses? Did He react in the similar way that Mary did? If so, couldn’t that suggest His mother’s instruction in prayer was definite?”

Advent Meditation, Week Two: Mission of Mary

Advent Wreath

In this week’s Advent Meditation, my friend Anne is expounding on the life and mission of Mary, the Blessed Mother. Here’s a snippet:

“What Mary does, who Mary is, how Mary is obedient and LOVES God is the model for us, the the REAL HUMAN EXAMPLE of how we can LOVE God, be OBEDIENT to God, LISTEN to God and accept His commands…just as her Son would ALSO DO during His lifetime on earth.

Did Christ endure trials during His life, or was it all a ‘bed of roses’? Did Satan try to tempt Christ or did he just leave the Son of God alone? Did Jesus come to live among His creation because He LOVES us or…not?

 He IS God and He IS man, and because His mother said, ‘YES’, to God’s plan we are redeemed. Her participation LEAD TO our REDEMPTION!”

You can read the rest here

(photo credit)

Advent Meditation

Advent Wreath

My friend Anne is starting an in-depth Advent meditation series that I thought you all may like to check out. Here’s a snippet from her first post:

What is Advent?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us:

[It’s the] Liturgical Season of four weeks devoted to the preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. ~Glossary Terms

When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming (cf. Rev22:17). By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to His desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease,”(cf. Jn 3:30) ~CCC§524

To me it seems more than adequate to say, this Advent is unlike any other we have experienced in that so much is going on in our world today, that I feel it very necessary to pack as much ‘spiritual meat’ into the upcoming reflections as I can. Time being of the essence I will republish writings I did called “As Seen Through Mary’s Eyes”, and add to them as much reference as I can to the Catechism and Sacred Scripture.

So many people have missed the significance of God’s decision to come among us, first as an infant and then as a child and so forth, through His chosen vessel – that is Mary”… Continue here.

(photo credit)

Why Honoring the Lord’s Day Each Sunday is Important

For a long time now, I have felt called to make a greater effort in honoring the Lord’s day. All of us are busy, I’m no exception. School (homeschooling or not), work, and obligations crowd our days and often our evenings. We make the effort to pray, to keep our hearts and minds for God, but it’s not always easy. Well, it’s not easy for me at least.

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

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

As I was praying about this,  I was reminded of the three months I spent in France when I was discerning a religious vocation. One of the things that struck me the first few weeks I was there was that almost everything shut down on Sundays. The churches were open, of course; but, aside from an occasional grocery store everything was closed (except for hospitals, the police, etc.).

As I reflected upon that custom in France, it wasn’t the act itself I was impressed with; but the meaning behind the custom. It was a reminder that Sundays are important. Remembering God, dedicating a day to Him is important. God IS important. Honoring the Lord’s Day IS important.

Scriptural Reasons:

Honoring the Lord’s day is important because God Himself said so. 🙂 Here are a few scriptures to reflect upon in regards to the Lord’s BibleDay. There are several more so I encourage you to do your own scriptural study on the meaning of the Lord’s Day.

Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the seventh day He rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. ”

Exodus 31:15 “Six days there for doing work, but the seventh is the sabbath of complete rest, sacred to the Lord.”

Acts 20:7 “On the first day of the week, when we gathered to to break bread…”

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

You can find what the church teaches about the Lord’s day in the Catechism in numbers 2168-2195, which you can read here. I will just quote the “In Brief” that comes at the end of each chapter of the Catechism:

2189 “Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Deut 5:12). “The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord” (Ex 31:15).

2190 The sabbath, which represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.

 2191 The Church celebrates the day of Christ’s Resurrection on the “eighth day,” Sunday, which is rightly called the Lord’s Day (cf. SC 106).

 2192 “Sunday… is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church” (CIC, can. 1246 § 1). “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass” (CIC, can. 1247).

2193 “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound… to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body” (CIC, can. 1247).

2194 The institution of Sunday helps all “to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives” (GS 67 § 3).

 2195 Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day.

Other Reasons:

Praise
Now that we have laid the foundation of why the Lord’s Day is important; I want to mention a few other reasons celebrating the Lord’s Day is important.

It’s a “mini Easter”. Sundays are a reminder of Jesus’ victory over death and our re-birth. They are a reminder of the first Easter and although they aren’t quite as big as the “official” Easter we celebrate, they are no less a day to remember that great victory won by Christ.

 It’s a day of rest. Well, it’s supposed to be! How many of spend our Sundays doing errands, cleaning, or car pooling to sports?! But the Lord has given us a day of rest because He knows we need it! We need a day to recharge our mental and physical batteries, so we can do the work He has called us.

It’s a day to give thanks and glory to God. Again, the Lord knows we are busy so He wants us to spend one day remembering HIM. It is a reminder that He is in charge. That He is God. That He loves us and wants us to grow in our relationship with Him. He doesn’t need our thanks and praise, but WE need to give Him the glory that is His. Praising HIM lifts US up, renews our spirits and helps us grow in our love for Him.

It is a day to grow in Charity. Honoring the Lord’s day helps us open our hearts and eyes to others around us, so that that we can love them with Christ’s love. Sundays are a good day to reach out to those who need us.

Tomorrow I’ll offer some things you can do to honor the Lord’s Day.

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Tweetable: Why Honoring the Lord’s Day Each Sunday is Important

(Scripture verses come from the Saint Joseph Personal size edition of the New American bible, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York 1970, 1986)

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we celebrate the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Go here to read about the history and devotion of this special feast. I didn’t have time to plan a huge celebration for this feast, but we will definitely be going to mass and praying the rosary. We also will be coloring this page, which we found here. I will also be making a cake for dessert.

What are your plans for celebrating this great feast?

(photo credit.)