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Ready for Merton

Posted by on 12-19-14

Christmas Lights

Posted by on 12-18-14

Pure Joy

Posted by on 12-17-14

The Littlest Among Us

Posted by on 12-16-14

Filipino Christmas

Posted by on 12-16-14

ASK FATHER: Will I have my pets again in heaven?

Posted by on 12-12-14

Anticipation and Advent

Posted by on 12-11-14

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Latest Pictures Posts

Just reminding erryone of my current location #rio #papafrancis #skyline #beautiful

Posted by on 7-22-13

El Jueves salgo para Puerto Rico y estare participando del JMJ en PR. Un Evento unido al JMJ de Brasil. Seran dias de mucha gracia, poder y misericordia. Contamos con sus oraciones! Para mas info porfavor visiten www.jmj2013pr.com #jmj #jmj2013pr #brasil #puertorico #unasolaiglesia #jovenes #catholic #catolico #papafrancis

Posted by on 7-22-13

“Não tenho ouro nem prata.. Vim aqui transmitir o maior presente que recebi nessa vida: Jesus Cristo” – Papa Francisco, no Palácio Guanabara, na sua chegada no Rio de Janeiro

Posted by on 7-22-13

Nada mejor que coger cosas de los hoteles y encontrartelas un tiempo mas tarde #recuerdoson #abril2013 #antequera #campeonatoespañaporescuelas #catalunya #buenequipo #genialrelevo #granada #bocadecaballo #dientesdeleon #mojopicon #bananas #pasajeros #titofrancis #papafrancis #yayofrancis #quierovolver

Posted by on 7-22-13

El papa Francisco acaba de recitar: “Necesitamos santos sin velo, sin sotana. Necesitamos santos de jeans y zapatillas. Necesitamos santos que vayan al cine, escuchen musica y paseen con sus amigos. Necesitamos santos que coloquen a Dios en primer lugar y que sobresalgan en la Universidad. Necesitamos santos que busquen tiempo cada dia para rezar y que sepan enamorar en la pureza y castidad, o que consagren su castidad. Necesitamos santos modernos, santos del siglo XXI con una espiritualidad insertada en nuestro tiempo. Necesitamos santos comprometidos con los pobres y los necesarios cambios sociales. Necesitamos santos que vivan en el mundo, se santifiquen en el mundo y que no tengan miedo de vivir en el mundo. Necesitamos santos que tomen Coca Cola y coman hot-dogs, que sean internautas, que escuchen iPod. Necesitamos santos que amen la Eucaristia y que no tengan vergüenza de tomar una cerveza o comer pizza el fin de semana con los amigos. Necesitamos santos a los que les guste el cine, el teatro, la musica, la danza, el deporte. Necesitamos santos sociables, abiertos, normales, amigos, alegres, compañeros. Necesitamos santos que esten en el mundo y que sepan saborear las cosas puras y buenas del mundo, pero sin ser mundanos”. Amen!!!!!!! (Esta parte la dije yo) :) #santidadenjeans #santidad #PapaFrancis #Iglesia #yes #holiness

Posted by on 7-21-13

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Ready for Merton...

Posted on Dec 19, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

An old saying, sometimes attributed to an anonymous Zen master, asserts, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” On the upcoming 100th anniversary of Thomas Merton’s birth (January 30, 2015), this would seem to be the case for me and his writings.

I first encountered Merton in my 20s, when I happened upon his books in the spirituality section of my college bookstore, just another offering amidst books by Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi), Carl Jung (Man and His Symbols), Ram Dass (Be Here Now), Alan Watts, and other writers representing a far-flung world of spiritual writing. I was on my own global pilgrimage at the time, via books, seeking and testing one train of thought after another. Though I tried to read Merton at the time, his writing in popular books like New Seeds of Contemplation was nearly incomprehensible to me.

In my literary wanderings of the time, I encountered Merton again in my 30s by reading The Seven Storey Mountain, the moving and light-filled story of Merton’s conversion and entrance to a Trappist monastery, the Abbey of Gethsemani. But I was still not ready to go further.

In my 40s, I found myself encountering Merton through my work at Franciscan Media. I copyedited a book entitled Thomas Merton: An Introduction by William Shannon. This introduction to all of Merton’s works was intriguing, but amidst the demands of a full-time job and two small children, my curiosity, though piqued, soon faded away.

Now, on this centenary of Merton’s birth, with a host of new Merton publications surrounding me, I feel the time is ripe to absorb some of his brilliance. Franciscan Media has recently released Simply Merton (Linus Mundy), The Spiritual Genius of Thomas Merton (Anthony T. Padovano), audio versions of New Seeds of Contemplation and Thoughts in Solitude (Thomas Merton), as well an audio version of The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton (Daniel P. Horan, OFM).

Why is Merton so appealing to someone like me? Linus Mundy gets it, noting in Simply Merton, “It is this searching, wandering, wondering Merton that appeals to so many of us today. We see ourselves in him; we see ourselves and our deepest yearnings and wonderings in the topics he wrote and talked and obsessed about.”

I feel ready now to join Merton on this wandering, wondering journey.

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Christmas Lights...

Posted on Dec 18, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Anybody who knows me well knows that I love Christmas. I love the parties, the trees, the presents, Santa Claus, and the Christmas lights. (OK—I confess that I have a Santa Claus sculpture done in lights out on my lawn, but that is another story.) I’ve been taking the long route around my neighborhood lately because many of my neighbors share my love for the glitter and the whole area is bright with lights.

One thing I find interesting is that all these lights appear at the time when the earth is at its darkest. Where I live in southern Michigan, the sun is rising a few minutes before 8:00 in the morning and is setting just after 5:00 p.m. The early darkness is so lit up by the festive displays that I hardly notice how short the day is. By the time all the lights are shut off in early January we have ten more minutes of daylight than we do today, and things grow a little brighter every day.

All this brings me back to what I love most about Christmas. The light of Christ shines in the darkness of our world and the darkness can never overcome his light. Just as these dark December nights are conquered by the light displays, so the darkness in the world around me and in my own life is overcome by Christ’s light shining in me.  How beautiful that light is!

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Featured image: Freelart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Pure Joy...

Posted on Dec 17, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

A few weeks ago, I went to New York to see Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at the Museum of Modern Art. Although I had visited a similar exhibition some years ago at another museum, these stunning works bear revisiting as often as one has the chance.

Matisse started working in the medium of paper cut-outs after surgery for cancer in his later years. His recovery brought an unexpected joy into his life, and a renewed sense of vigor about his work.

The cut-outs are testimony to this exuberance and joy, with bright bold colors, large seemingly random patterns, and organic compositions. Confined to a wheelchair at this point, he maneuvered through the complex process of creating the cut-outs with the help of a team of assistants.

One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was the work he did for the Chapelle du Rosaire, a small chapel on the grounds of a Dominican convent in Vence, France. The stained glass windows dance with light and vibrancy; Matisse’s designs for three vestments would wake up any sleepy congregation should reproductions ever become popular among our clerics.

I thought about this exhibit a few days ago, on Gaudete Sunday, our call to joy during the Advent season. The second reading for that day calls us to “rejoice,” and to rejoice always, words that, as Pope Francis reminds us, should be embedded in every human heart.

Whatever it is that brings us joy, whether music or art, our families or our friends, our work or our leisure –most likely all of these, at any given time – may this joy renew our sense of life in Christ as we await the celebration of Jesus’s birth.

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Photo credit: Dasha Petrenko, shutterstock.com

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The Littlest Among Us...

Posted on Dec 16, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Over the weekend, my husband’s parents took our three children to church. When we returned home, my mother-in-law stated that “Father had to stop Mass.”

I said, “I hope not for one of MY children.”

She excitedly replied, “Yes!” and went on to tell me the story. They had wanted to sit in the back of church, but my children wouldn’t sit there because they couldn’t see. So, up to the front row they went. As Father held up the Body of Christ and said “Behold the Lamb of God,” Becky (my two-year-old) stood up on the pew, pulled her cup out of her mouth, raised her hands in the air, and said “Behold the Lamb of God.”

Poor Father could not stop laughing! He had to pause for a moment to regain his composure. My son told me he even started that part over because he had been laughing so hard.

On the way out, my in-laws apologized to the priest. He told them not to worry. He was just glad that even the littlest among us was listening!

I thought that was a great response to what had happened at Mass that evening. I think Pope Francis would agree, if I can extrapolate on the comment he made just yesterday:

Babies cry, make noise, go here and there. But it annoys me when a baby cries in church and there are those who say he needs to go out. The cry of a baby is God’s voice: never drive them away from the church!

 

***Photo: Martin Podzorny / Shutterstock.com

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Filipino Christmas...

Posted on Dec 16, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Every culture develops special ways for celebrating Christmas. The Christmas crèche, Christmas trees, Christmas carols, and so forth are found in various forms wherever there are Christians. In the Philippines Catholics celebrate the Christmas Novena from December 16 until the Christmas mid-night Mass.
During the novena, church bells ring around 3 a.m. to awaken folks and call them to the Simbang Gabi, or night Mass, at 4:00 a.m.

Churches or chapels are decorated in keeping with the means of the people. Available forms of light—candles or kerosene pressure lanterns in rural areas—illuminate places of worship. Christmas carols and hymns are sung. Priests and ministers vest in white because the Christmas celebration has begun and Advent is over in the eyes of the faithful.

Also called the Misa de Gallo—literally, rooster’s Mass—the celebration of the Christmas Novena is a custom brought by Spanish missionaries and adapted to the life of Filipino people. If you think eight o’clock Mass is too early, try rising for 4:00 a.m. Mass.

Today, the custom may be adapted to a late night vigil Mass—say at 8:30 or 9 p.m.—because urban schedules move in accord with clocks. The “real celebration” has to be around 4 a.m. Bottle rockets and aerial bombs might be used to awaken the area’s residents. After Mass, people drink sweet ginger tea called salabat. Traditional foods after Mass are bibingka and puto, types of cakes made from rice, sugar, and coconut milk.

This past Sunday evening (Dec 14) I celebrated the Sunday liturgy with a large Filipino community. Organized by the Filipino Society of Southern Ohio, we celebrated at St. John Neumann Parish in a northern suburb. Here in the Cincinnati area there are many Filipinos. They have adopted the U.S.A. as their new homeland, but they also love to celebrate the Filipino Simbang Gabi on at least one Sunday during Advent, even if it is before the day when the Christmas Novena begins on December 16.

At this year’s Mass about fifty youngsters (from pre-school to high school) led the entrance procession. All wore formal Filipino garb. They carried Christmas lanterns in the shape of colorful stars assembled by local families for the occasion. The choir sang and led congregational singing of beautiful liturgical music, English and Filipino traditional hymns.

After the Eucharist and a festive meal with homemade Filipino foods, the youngsters performed a variety of Filipino dances and songs which had been carefully rehearsed over the past months. The adult choir and the cultural dances brought great joy to the celebration. Watching the variety of beautifully choreographed performances was a treat for a priest who lived for years in the Philippines.

Praying with this Filipino community was an inspiring liturgical celebration.

I think it embodies what Pope Francis calls “The Joy of the Gospel.”

Photo: PhotoXpress

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ASK FATHER: Will I have my pets again in heaven?...

Posted on Dec 12, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

halo dog

QUAERITUR:

People have been asking me: Are there animal in heaven?  Will I have my pets in heaven?

This has probably been stirred up by something Pope Francis said recently in the press:

“One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”

First and foremost, this was not – good grief… do I have to write this? – a definitive statement.

The Roman Pontiff does not teach definitively, or even seriously, through interviews with journalists of any country, much less with the Italian media.

So, we can and should simply draw a line through this whole thing.

That said, animals, “brute beasts”, do not have immortal souls in the way human beings do. Do they have souls? Yes. They have their animal souls. Can they feel fear, etc? Of course they can. That doesn’t make their souls immortal. They are not proportioned to the consideration of eternal things, as human souls are.  We have our souls directly from God with no intermediary.  As St. Thomas Aquinas explains, and I think he is right, God must somehow be involved with the creation of animal souls, but they seems to have their souls through their bodies rather than directly from God.

Could there be critters in heaven?

I suppose one way to look at it is this: If, for some reason, our eternal happiness were somehow dependent on the presence of critters in life the come, then I suppose there could be critters.

However, in the Beatific Vision, in seeing God, we will not need any created thing for our happiness. That’s pretty clear. So, there is no need for critters in heaven.  That leads me to think that there will not be critters around us as we contemplate the Holy Trinity in communion with the Holy Angels and each other.  Why would we?

Animals don’t have immortal souls. They don’t do things that are meritorious in the way we can. They don’t sin in the way we do. They don’t need a Savior. That said, at the end of things Christ will submit all of creation to the Father so that God might be all in all. I have no idea what that means in regard to critters. I suppose we will see in that moment how critters fit into God’s plan for us. In our Judgment we shall certainly be judged according to how well we carried out our role as stewards of creation. We were given all of material creation for our proper use. We mustn’t abuse critters. We can use them, but properly. If we consciously misuse them, we sin, either venially or mortally.

That said, I hope we will still be able to have steak and Cabernet.

But, let’s settle down about this and not get excited or put reason aside in favor of sentimentality. It isn’t that important.

Finally… think about this for while:

If pets can go to heaven, they can also go to hell.

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Anticipation and Advent...

Posted on Dec 11, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

As a child, I remember anticipating Christmas as Advent began. Each week as my parents brought me and my siblings to Mass and we witnessed the lighting of the community’s Advent wreath, the flame of anticipation was stoked in my heart. Of course, part of that was looking forward to the toys I would receive, along with the engagement and fun these would bring. But somehow, through the liturgy’s symbols and actions, something beyond material gifts was being portended, and the seed of anticipation was placed in my heart.

The wonderful tradition of the Nativity crèche fostered by St. Francis and his followers solidified my reason for excitement. I knew, beyond the materialistic overtones of the culture, that there was something more, and Advent pointed to it—or I should say, to him: Jesus.

Today, my anticipation is no less during this time. I’m preparing my heart as a crèche and inviting Jesus to enter there. I invite you to do the same. There is something more—his name is Jesus.

This blog post is taken from Franciscan Media Productions FREE e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Click here to learn more about American Catholic Radio.

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Photo: Alexander Hoffmann/Shutterstock

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Anticipation and Advent...

Posted on Dec 11, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

As a child, I remember anticipating Christmas as Advent began. Each week as my parents brought me and my siblings to Mass and we witnessed the lighting of the community’s Advent wreath, the flame of anticipation was stoked in my heart. Of course, part of that was looking forward to the toys I would receive, along with the engagement and fun these would bring. But somehow, through the liturgy’s symbols and actions, something beyond material gifts was being portended, and the seed of anticipation was placed in my heart.

The wonderful tradition of the Nativity crèche fostered by St. Francis and his followers solidified my reason for excitement. I knew, beyond the materialistic overtones of the culture, that there was something more, and Advent pointed to it—or I should say, to him: Jesus.

Today, my anticipation is no less during this time. I’m preparing my heart as a crèche and inviting Jesus to enter there. I invite you to do the same. There is something more—his name is Jesus.

This blog post is taken from Franciscan Media Productions FREE e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Click here to learn more about American Catholic Radio.

*****
Photo: Alexander Hoffmann/Shutterstock

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Advent-plus...

Posted on Dec 10, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Last weekend I got out the ladder and joined my neighbors in our annual campaign to dress up our street for Christmas. Our Jewish neighbors understandably abstain from Christmas decorations, but they’ll certainly bring refreshments to the neighborhood party. We’ve got a great sense of community here in Finneytown.

Climbing the ladder it occured to me that people are hanging lights for lots of reasons. Yeah, sure, Christmas is coming. It’s what some of us did as kids, and we still do it. Some of us might just want the place to look festive for our own kids home from college, or neighbors, or whoever. (Some might even be trying to outdo another neighbor!)

I’ve taken to riding my bicycle to work, even in this cool weather, and I’m really in touch with how dark it is, morning and evening, these days close to winter solstice. For me, and lots of us, the Christmas lights are blues busters!

IMAG0126For those of us on the more active side of the faith, the lights are, of course, about something all the richer. Jesus, light of the world, is among us. He is the light in the darkness, as John tells us (1:5). What better time than our longest nights to understand that message? Our Christmas lights remind us what light can do. Kind of sacramental, isn’t it? Come, Lord Jesus!

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Photos: John Feister

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Do They Know It’s Eid al-Fitr?...

Posted on Dec 9, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Feed the World! You’ve heard this song a thousand times…today. It is ubiquitous at this time of year and, while as saccharine as many of its musical cohort, at least has the silver lining of having contributed in some positive way toward global well being.

Or so we thought. The song’s latest reboot has many asking why the eponymous “they” of the tune would give the least hoot whether it’s Christmas, since it’s a holiday “they” don’t celebrate. Fair point. For those of us of Western cultural extraction, we might recall a metaphor about looking a gift horse in the mouth. But how might we feel if some international Muslim charity (Islamic Relief, say) were to send our impoverished children food packages in late July so they’d know Ramadan had ended?

Mother Teresa advised us:

There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people.

It can be difficult to worry about helping other people achieve new heights in their faith, since we’re so often digging out of the depths of our own. But it may be worth considering that doing a good turn for other human beings might be something we do just because we should, no matter what our religious tradition. Perhaps we should feed the world, not because it’s Christmas, but because they’re hungry.

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Discontinuity and coverage of pontificates of Pope...

Posted on Dec 8, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

At Monday Vatican Andrea Galiarducci, has an interesting piece.  It is worth reading, but be prepared for a clunky translation, some rambling, and a buried lead.  To be sure this writer is smart, well-informed, and solid.  He could benefit from a better translator and an editor.

What Galiarducci does in this piece is talk about how Francis’ pontificate builds on and contrasts from Benedict’s.  He underscores an important point in most coverage of Francis: It is as if the Church was never interested in “the poor” before Francis came along, which is patently absurd.  The absurdity about that discontinuity just scratches the surface of what is absurd about some coverage of Popes Francis and Benedict.

Galiarducci goes into the weeds a bit with information about the reform of Vatican finances, but wade through them.

I was struck by a couple paragraphs which come toward the end of the longish article.  Samples:

Media need to understand that between one Pope and another there is a series of reforms that need to be carried out to ber effective, and that Francis cannot carry anything forward without appreciating and valuing the work of his predecessor. For instance, as Francis, Benedict XVI had spoken of a poor Church for poor. He did during his 2011 trip to Germany, when he outlined a Church that had to be less worldy, less appeased on its own structure. [We can, and must, read Francis through Benedict, but with a difference.]

It was a slap on the face, for the wealthy German Church. Benedict XVI revoked the latae sententiae commination of excommunication for those who do not pay the “Kirchensteuer,” the Church tax. The excommunication was an outcome of the fact that when one declared he was not going to pay the tax because he was not Catholic anymore, this declaration was considered the equivalent of an act of apostasy. The German bishops responded with a document which stated that not paying the Kirchensteuer was equivalent to a “grave public sin,” which bore in the end the same consequences of an excommunication. Until now, this is the only “grave public sin” German bishops have listed, while for every other “grave public sin,” included that of being divorced and civilly remarried (which also has a social impact), German bishops (including reformer Cardinals Marx, Kasper and Lehmann) ask to act with mercy.

How Benedict’s pontificate fares or fared is – now – the least of our problems.  There’s an awful lot going on and we had better keep our heads on a swivel.  But some sobriety needs to be applied to assessments of the present pontificate.  Much of what we read these days is sycophantic slop.

 

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A Living Church...

Posted on Dec 8, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

The Friars Minor staff 50 shrines in Israel, the Palestinian Territory, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Egypt. They staff or help sponsor 16 schools with approximately 10,000 students of various religions. Friar parishes are in Akko, Beit Hanina, Bethany, Bethlehem, Cana, Jaffa, Jericho, Jerusalem (St. Saviour’s and Terra Sancta College), Migdal Haemeq, Nazareth, Ramleh, and Tiberias. They also serve as chaplains and sponsor clinics and other pastoral initiatives. The Custody has one house each in Argentina and the United States, plus several houses in Italy.

Friar-led pilgrimages to the Holy Land often offer a chance to meet local Catholics. Most friars belong to the Latin (Western) rite, but some belong to Eastern Catholic Churches. During Mass in Bethlehem on May 25, Pope Francis said: “Wherever children are accepted, loved, cared for, and protected, the family is healthy, society is more healthy, and the world is more human.”

May all of us welcome the child Jesus again this year!

This blog was taken from Pat McCloskey’s “Dear Reader” column in St. Anthony Messenger. To subscribe to this award-winning publication, click here.

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Photo: CedarchisCociredeF/Shutterstock

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Pope sacks Swiss Guard Commandant...

Posted on Dec 4, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

From The Telegraph:

Pope sacks the head of his Swiss Guard for being ‘too strict’
Daniel Anrig will no longer serve as commandant of Pontiff’s private army after Pope Francis is rumoured to prefer a ‘less military’ approach to security

He has dismissed and demoted cardinals, bishops and the Vatican secretary of state, and now Pope Francis’s reformist zeal has claimed a new scalp – the head of his own private army, the Swiss Guard.
In a dispassionate one-sentence notice, the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, announced on Wednesday that Daniel Anrig will no longer serve as the commandant of the 500-year-old corps after the end of next month.
No official explanation was given for the decision, but it was widely rumoured that the Argentinean Pope, who has established a warmer, more inclusive style of governance since being appointed pontiff in March last year, found the commander’s manner overly strict and “Teutonic”.
The 77-year-old pope is said to have been appalled recently to have emerged one morning from his private suite of rooms to find that a Swiss Guard had been standing guard all night.
“Sit down,” he told the young guardsman, to which the soldier said: “I can’t, it’s against orders.”
The Pope replied: “I give the orders around here,” and promptly went off to buy a cappuccino for the exhausted soldier.
[...]

Yeah… right. That last thing I would want from my security detail made up of military personnel is commitment, discipline and professionalism.

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St. Nicholas: The Original Santa Claus...

Posted on Dec 4, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

St. Nicholas lived in Myra, a city in the province of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) during the fourth century. His parents died when he was a teenager and left him with quite a bit of money. Nicholas then went to live with his uncle, who was a priest.

At some point, Nicholas became aware of a man who had three daughters, but no money to pay their dowries so they could be married. On three separate occasions, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold into the girls’ stockings hanging by the fire, thus providing them their dowries. On the third night, the father caught Nicholas delivering the gold. Nicholas asked the father not to tell anyone about what he had done.

Eventually, Nicholas became the bishop of Myra. He continued performing generous acts, and had a special affinity for children, sailors and those who were falsely accused.

What about those traditions always associated with St. Nick, such as oranges and candy canes? Well, the oranges are an adaptation of the bag of gold that Nicholas threw into the young women’s stockings. And, according to many stories, candy canes are supposed to represent crosiers, or bishop’s staffs, as bishops are the shepherds for God’s people.

Santa’s Predecessor

As word of St. Nicholas’s charity and giving spread, the concept of secretly giving gifts to others grew and took on a life of its own. As people traveled to new lands, they took the concept of the saintly gift-giver with them. Over time, St. Nicholas transformed into our modern-day Santa Claus.

The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated annually on December 6.

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Photo courtesy of www.Photoxpress.com

(This blog is an excerpt from an article in St. Anthony Messenger. To view the entire article, please click here. To subscribe to this award-winning publication, click here.)

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A Eucharistic Christmas...

Posted on Dec 2, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

It seemed to hit earlier than ever this year. The Christmas shopping frenzy is in full swing and has been for several weeks. Thanksgiving family time is being squeezed out as stores open earlier and earlier in the day, promising those unbelievable bargains to early shoppers. I like the Christmas season as much as anybody—and more than a lot of people—but I’m already tired of bells jingling and announcers yelling at me to drop everything else and get shopping.

In the midst of all this I’d like to recommend a book that will help quiet our spirits and focus us on the real “reason for the season.” The book is A Eucharistic Christmas: Advent Meditations on the Presence of Christ. During Advent we sing again and again “O come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This book focuses on the fact that Emmanuel has already come and is with us in a tangible reality in the Eucharist. The little child whose birth we anticipate on Christmas is close at hand.

This book is meant to be used every day from December 1st through the 12 days of Christmas. Every day a short meditation is included taken from a well-known Catholic writer such as Archbishop Charles Chaput, Mike Aquilina, Johnnette Benkovic, Fr. Andrew Apostoli, and many others. Each meditation is followed by a short reflecton and prayer.

Because this is such a busy season, each day’s reading is short and able to be read in a few minutes. The focus is always on Jesus with us. How can we know him better? How can we prepare for Mass so that our encounter with him becomes a life-enriching encounter with his great love? How can we grow in our knowledge of him?

St Augustine said that the one thing God could not do is give us a gift greater than himself. In this season of gift-giving, open your heart to receive this gift of Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament, in a deeper way.

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"And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will."

-Papa Francis quote

He does not know you, yet he prays for you.
He will most likely never meet you, yet he loves you.

This is your chance to show your love, for as the Bible teaches, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."