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.

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.)

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

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Tomorrow (August 6) is the feast of the Transfiguration our Lord. In reading the mass readings for today, these verses particularly stand out:

Transfiguration of Our Lord

Image by dimitrisvetsikas1969 (2017) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.”

Therefore, I am going to pray for the grace to be able to hear the voice of Jesus. I am praying for the grace to not let the many cares of daily life from getting in the way of listening to His voice and paying attention to Him. I don’t know about you, but I can easily get into the habit of letting the craziness of life take over me and I don’t take the time for prayer and spending time with God. How about you? Am I alone in this?

That’s why I need the grace to make time for prayer and reading His Word. In essence, am praying for a deepening of my relationship with the Lord.

I am also praying for this grace for each of you, as well. I pray that you have a deepening of your relationship with Jesus and that you grow ever closer to Him with each new day. May all our minds and hearts be transfigured unto Jesus.

How about you? What is your prayer for this beautiful feast?

The Presentation of Jesus

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,”and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.” Luke 2:22-24

Image by Collinson (1878) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

February 2 is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, formally known as “Candlemas.” In many cultures, the Presentation the Lord used to be the official ending of Christmas, therefore one of the traditions for this feast is to light lots of candles and decorate with greenery.

It is a lovely feast. We hear the words of Simeon who rejoices in seeing the Lord before he died. We hear the words of Anna who “spoke about the child.” These are glimpses of what is to come when Jesus begins his earthly ministry of our redemption. It is worth spending some time today, if you can, to reflect on the meaning of today’s feast.

To help you, here are some explanations and  meditations on this feast to check out:

Fisheaters

Churchyear.net

New Advent

celebrating candlemas

catholicculture.org

americancatholic.org

about.com

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Today’s feast is also a good lead in for this month’s devotion: The Holy Family. It is good for us, as Catholics, to strive to imitate our families after the Holy Family. It is good for us to pray to the Holy Family, asking them to bless our family and help us in our needs. I encourage you to go here for some prayers to the Holy Family to get you started.

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Tweetable: The Presentation of Jesus

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

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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).

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Tweetable: Saints and Feast Days in December 2016

Prayer for the Deceased

Yes, today is Halloween but it was originally celebrated as “All Hallow’s Eve.” All Hallow’s Eve was (is) the day before All Saint’s Day which is the day we remember all the “unsung Saints” who are now in Heaven.

Something not so mentioned (or popular) nowadays is All Soul’s Day. It is a day that we pray in a special way for the souls in Purgatory. The official day All Soul’s Day is November 2 but we can (and should) pray anytime for those dear souls. So, let us do so today:

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

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

Receive in tranquility and peace, O Lord, the souls of your servants who have departed this present life to come to you. Grant them rest and place them in the habitations of light, the abodes of blessed spirits. Give them the life that will not age, good things that will not pass away, delights that have no end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”St. Ignatius of Antioch

May all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace!

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Tweetable: Prayer for the Deceased

Hat tip to MyCatholicSource.com which is where I found this prayer.

31 Days Writing Challenge

31 Days of Prayer – Prayer for Vocations

Praying for vocations are near and dear to my heart. As some of you may know, I spent a number of years discerning a religious vocation with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Even though I do not have a vocation, spending time with those sisters was one the best things I’ve ever done. I learned so much about my faith, myself and others. Seriously, sometimes I think everyone should go through a noviate!

31 Days of Prayer - Prayer for Vocations

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

Thus, as our month of prayer comes to a close, I think it is fitting and proper to pray for vocations. We need holy priests, brothers, and sisters in the Church!

This prayer for vocations comes from the USCCB website:

Loving God, you call all who believe in you to grow perfect in love by following in the footsteps of Christ your Son. Call from among us more men and women who will serve you as religious. By their way of life, may they provide a convincing sign of your Kingdom for the Church and the whole world. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

In your prayers for vocations, don’t forget that marriage is a vocation, and so is the single life. We need to pray for holy and faithful marriages. We also need single lay faithful who are called to serve the church in various capacities! May the Lord send workers into His harvest!

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Tweetable: 31 Days of Prayer – Prayer for Vocations

31 Days Writing Challenge