Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jesus our King, the Son of the Virgin Mary

From where the sun rises, to the furthest west, let us all sing to Jesus our King, the Son of the Virgin Mary. 

The blessed Creator of the universe assumed the Body of a servant: that he might thus by Flesh deliver flesh, and save from perdition the creatures of his hands.

The heavenly grace enters into the womb of the Virgin- Mother: the young Maiden carries within her a Secret, which she knows not.

This chastest living Dwelling becomes, in that instant, God's own Temple: the purest of Virgins conceives the Son of God

She gives him birth: Him, whom Gabriel had foretold, and whom the Baptist, exulting in his mother's womb, perceived when yet unborn.

He suffered himself to be laid on the straw: he disdains not the Crib: and He who feeds the hungry birds, is fed himself on a few drops of milk!

The heavenly citizens keep glad choir, singing their angel-hymns to God: and the Shepherd, the Creator of the world, is looked at by shepherds.

Glory be to thee, O Jesus, that wast born of the Virgin! and to the Father, and to the Spirit of Love, for everlasting ages.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival

"I’m co-hosting in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, along with Tina from Truly Rich Mom and Monica from Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

Before even thinking about Christmas, as a Catholic we must first take the time to properly prepare for this wonderful Feast Day, the birth of our Savior.  Understanding Advent and it's purpose within the liturgical year and our domestic church (our homes) is vital in truly living out and preparing for His holy birth and properly keeping Christ in Christmas. It's interesting that we only think of these things during Lent, while this to the human mind is understandable as one is the birth, a joyous occasion, and the other is the death, synonymous with sadness.  Nevertheless Advent should be practiced much like Lent in many ways.  This is another excellent opportunity for us to grow in holiness.  So by keeping a Christ-centered focus this Advent, we must reflect on three things when seeking sanctification: 
1.  voluntary amendment of life,
2.  acts of penance, and
3.  works of charity.  
So what are some examples of these three things?  
By voluntary amendment of life I mean giving up those things that block you from sanctifying grace, namely the bad habits that surround us all the time and we have a hard time breaking.  The goal is to get rid of this habit for good.  I would begin by going to doing an thorough examination of conscience and then heading to Confession regarding this and if you are able to, to Communion.  The graces you receive from these beautiful Sacraments will help us in our goal to amend our lives. Here are Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession o{]:¬)  Dare I say to also replace these things with good things like participation in the rich traditions of our faith like: 

Next is acts of penance.  By this I mean to perform some kind of penance, the little things that will help strengthen your will in saying NO to some small items, like lets say giving up chocolate, or soda.  Minor acts that help you with bigger temptations.  You may or may not resume these acts after Advent but this little exercise of giving this little thing up helps you in the long run to avoid temptations.

Lastly, is works of charity.  This is really important in our Catholic faith as we must do good and holy actions for others to strengthen our relationship with the Christ Child and Holy Mother Church.  Christ gave us a prime example of the need for works by His actions while here on earth.  These are great ways to start actions that might become good habits in the future (beyond Advent and Christmas).  In our home we reinstated the daily family Rosary, going to Mass as often as possibly, spending more time focused on our children and less socializing, reading and celebrating the feasts of the saints (Advent is particularly a good time to start this in your homes as there seems to be a slew of popular saints during this time).  On a personal level, I began reading a book about deeper spirituality which will definitely carry over after this liturgical season but will help my spiritual life in the long run.  Part of this could also be to give others that are lonely during this time more of your time, and also sending Christmas cards to those that might not get as many cards as others.  (don't forget your priests at Christmas either).  Also, donating to charity, your Church or offering Mass intentions for others is a great way to do acts of charity.

The biggest focus or work of charity that our family is going to focus on as a whole is towards the priests involved in the situation in Newton, CT.  Many of the wakes, funerals and burials for both the children and adults of Newtown, CT are being held this week. While many of us are looking for ways to reach out to the this community, prayer is the most powerful way we can help to sustain the victims’ families, the Priests, and the so many loved ones involved in this very difficult time. Our family is offering different prayers for that community specifically for Saint Rose of Lima which is the Catholic Church in Newtown, Conneticut.   So I'm participating this activity as well:

Today, I caught a post going around on Facebook that was written by Father Suarez's (the pastor there) sister.:
My friends,
All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since. The picture I have included was taken at the school.
Father Suarez has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now, and there is very little leadership and assistance from above. Monsignor is older, went through a serious surgery recently, and is personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large, and parishioners tend to be wealthy and somewhat ill-catechized. The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Suarez has not even been ordained two years.
My large family has been trying to send Father Suarez our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.
I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Suarez, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you, please consider sending one of your family's Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement.

My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.
But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?
On a hopeful note, Father Suarez did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Father Suarez was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.
Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry--impossible on their own, but possible with God.
I am so grateful to live in this community. We are all so blessed with one another. Every day, I see you all loving one another as Christ loved. Thank you for letting me reach out to you now
With humble appreciation,
{name deleted on purpose by me}

As members of the Body of Christ, we join our hearts and prayers to remember our brothers and sisters in Newtown, CT.  In addition, my children will be making snow flakes for the children of Sandy Hook Elementary, the PTSA there will be collecting them until the 12th of January, they want to surprise the children when they get back to school with them.

Please join us in keeping Christ in Christmas by taking the next five days and the week ahead in keeping this focus, remember Christmas ends on January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany, so there is still time to put these ideas to practice.  God bless you and keep you in this Advent season.


Here are the links to the other blog carnival participants. I hope you'll take the time to visit them and leave a comment on their posts! :) The list will be updated throughout the day, so please do come back and check on them. God bless us all!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Join the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival!

Are you feeling stressed over the "busy-ness" and "to-do lists" of our modern-day, mainstream Christmas? Do you feel like there's a need to reconnect to the true Reason for the season? Do you want to share about how you and your family are preparing for the birthday of Someone very special? Then join us, Tina of Truly Rich Mom, Erika of Raising (& Teaching) Little Saints, and Monica of Equipping Catholic Families in the "Keeping Christ in Christmas" Carnival for 2012! 

This is a blog carnival that aims to share that — beyond the decor, the parties and the gifts — Christmas is a time for us to celebrate the birth of Jesus. A blog carnival is where we each write a blog post on the same theme. Everyone will get links to other bloggers’ posts to multiply your reach, and to help spread the message of keeping Christ in Christmas!

The carnival is open to all bloggers who agree with the carnival's goal, particularly Catholics and Christians of all denominations. You may write about anything that pertains to the blog theme, e.g. share tips on how you and your family keep Christ in Christmas; stories to encourage others to do so; books and activities (even recipes!) that help keep Christ in Christmas, etc. 

To participate, please follow these steps:

1. Register by filling up the form at the end of this post or clicking here. (ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 13)

2. Write your blog post on the theme, "Keeping Christ in Christmas." (ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 18, i.e. the post should be LIVE by December 18)

3. At the beginning of your blog carnival post, write the following as your introduction. 

"I’m participating in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, hosted by Arma Dei/Equipping Catholic FamiliesRaising (& Teaching) Little Saints, Truly Rich Mom. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

The deadline for registration for the carnival is on December 13, 2012 (Thurs). Posting instructions and carnival rules will be e-mailed to all participants on December 14 (Fri) and the carnival will go live on December 18, 2012 (Tues). PLEASE POST YOUR CARNIVAL ENTRIES ON December 18, 2012, beginning 12MN (IMPORTANT: Please note that all dates/times are based on PHT or Philippine Time, i.e. UTC/GMT +8 hours).


Kindly write about the theme provided. We do not moderate or screen posts but we do reserve the right to exclude your entry from the list of carnival participants should your post be offensive, irrelevant to the carnival theme, contain personal attacks, off-topic articles, articles that are anti-Christ or are articles aimed to market products or services.

Kindly note the deadlines and post your entries (i.e. make sure they are live online) on December 18. Please do not forget the deadline for registration, which is December 13.

Thank you very much! We're excited to read your entries and help spread the word on how to keep Christ in Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Colossal Set of Resources for Advent

Advent is the (roughly) 4 week season before Christmas when Catholic and other Christians commemorate the first coming of Christ and anticipate his second coming.  The first Sunday of Advent can fall on any date between (and including) November 27 and December 3 of each year. This year Advent begins on December 2nd.  These are the start dates for the next four years:
December 1; 2014:  November 30; 2015: November 29; and 2016:  November 27

Liturgical Facts on Advent:
Liturgical Color(s): Violet (optional: Rose for 3rd Advent)

Type of Holiday:
Season; Fast

Time of Year:
Roughly 4 weeks before Christmas

4 Sundays and their weeks ending at Christmas Eve

Jesus' first and second comings

Alternate Names:

Scriptural References:
Isaiah 2:1-5,7:10-14, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Zephaniah 3:14-18, Micah 5:2-5a, Matthew 24:37-44, Romans 13:11-14

Catholic Encyclopedia:

Awesome Ideas Around the Web for Advent

Jesse Trees & Ornaments:


Books & Book Baskets:
(THANK YOU FRIENDS:  I want to thank all of you on our Facebook page that contributed to this list of Advent/Christmas movies):  (shout outs for those who suggested these)
General Posts:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure

This excerpt comes from the book Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure & St. Claude de la Colombiere

"Nothing happens in the the universe without God willing and allowing it. This statement must he taken absolutely of everything with the exception of sin. 'Nothing occurs by chance in the whole course of our lives' is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, 'and God intervenes everywhere.'

I am the Lord, He tells us Himself by the mouth of the prophet Isaias, and there is none else. I form light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these things.1 It is I who bring both death and life, I who inflict wounds and heal them, He said to Moses.2 'The Lord killeth and maketh alive, it is written in the Canticle of Anna, the mother of Samuel, He bringeth down to the tomb and He bringeth back again; the Lord maketh poor and maketh rich, he humbleth and he exalteth.3 Shall there be evil (disaster, affliction) in a city which the Lord hath not done? 4 asks the prophet Amos: Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches are from God Solomon proclaims. 5 And so on in numerous other passages of Scripture.

Perhaps you will say that while this is true of certain necessary effects, like sickness, death, cold and heat, and other accidents due to natural causes which have no liberty of action, the same cannot be said in the case of things that result from the free will of man. For if, you will object, someone slanders me, robs me, strikes me, persecutes me, how can I attribute his conduct to the will of God who far from wishing me to be treated in such a manner, expressly forbids it? So the blame, you will conclude, can only be laid on the will of man, on his ignorance or malice. This is the defense behind which we try to shelter from God and excuse our lack of courage and submission.

It is quite useless for us to try and take advantage of this way of reasoning as an excuse for not surrendering to Providence. God Himself has refuted it and we must believe on His word that in events of this kind as in all others, nothing occurs except by His order and permission."

Blessings and protection to you all,

Viva Cristo Rey y la Virgen de Guadalupe!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Reconciliation Challenge

What does your Confession look like? How are you teaching your children to go through their own Sacraments of Reconciliation as time goes by? What do your habits on this particular sacrament say about you? Have you grown in your faith, but forgotten this corner of it?

Does your Confession look like a checklist? I’ll freely confess I had planned on taking this format when I did my First Reconciliation a little less than a year ago. “Bless me Father for I have sinned. This is my first Confession. I've a, b, c, e, g, h, j, k, l, m, o, p, r, s, t, v, x, and y’d. For these and for all my other sins I am sorry.” Hold my breath until we get to the Act of Contrition and read that off a little card. Run for the door. Try to avoid ever having to do it again. Repeat as seldom as humanly possible.

I remembered sitting in the room with other parents of the children in my son’s Confirmation class the year before. We were preparing the children for their First Reconciliation and the teacher, Dianne, would for a portion of the class split us from the children and while they worked on a project without us, we would learn about the Sacraments, their origin, and all kinds of other amazing things. I loved the class. I was new to the Faith and like a sponge. I would stay after class and ask a million questions to Dianne who had the patience of a saint. She let me take home the videos we watched in class so I could review my notes and make certain I’d gotten everything out of them. I loved her. I still do.

The other parents and sponsors loathed it, deeply. They wanted to get in, get out, and get it over with.
One Monday when Dianne left us adults to our own devices after explaining to us what to expect on the day the children did their First Reconciliation, encouraging all the families and sponsors to participate as well. I was ecstatic. I was nervous. I was a wreck.

The other adults were terrified. Most started talking and comparing how long since they’d been to Confession. None had gone since their grade school years, high school at best. I was stunned. I’d just spent 8 weeks teaching my son that this was a beautiful Sacrament and that he should participate in it for the rest of his life! I mean, *I* didn't want to go…but he should! He must! What on God’s green earth were we there for if he wasn't going to participate in the Faith as soon as he got the excuse to stop?!?!

First Reconciliation for the children came. They were all nervous and rather intimidated. I was too! I’d planned my list (as stated above) and was ready to go in, just like the children, and do my First Reconciliation on the same day as my son. The children slowly went, one by one. I kept waiting for an adult or older sibling to go to the back of the aisle, but no one went. If I stood up I would look like an absolute fool. My son went last and held the door to the Confessional open for Father Joe afterward and they came forward. It was mixed emotions. Pride in my son, relief that I didn't have to go, and sadness that I’d missed the opportunity.

After transferring to a new parish for a host of reasons, Father Dan assured me that everything was “all good” and offered to take care of my First Reconciliation at the first available opportunity when we came to worship at Mass the next time.

I got there late. On purpose. I figured if Confession ended at 4:30 and Mass started at 5:00 I should be good to squeak in at about 4:45. Or not. Father Dan was leaving the Confessional when he saw me sitting in the pew. He walked right over, smiled at those sitting next to me and said, “Susan, would you watch her son for a minute?” and marched my happy butt back to the Confessional. I’d been called out. Now I was a complete wreck. I wasn't ready. I didn't have my list. I didn't have my Act of Contrition card. If I hadn't left my purse and car keys with my son I might have booked it for the exit.

As I walked through the door, he asked me if I wanted to sit face to face with him (oh the horror) or kneel on the other side. Seemed rather ridiculous to kneel and “hide” at that point, plus the chair looked infinitely more comfortable to a 5 month pregnant woman than the kneeler. Face to face it was.

I had nothing with me, but since he knew it was my first time he walked me through it. I started the way I knew I was supposed to, but when I got to the “listing my sins” part, my mind started to go blank. Where do you start when you were baptized at 1 month old and are in your (we won’t go there.)? I started to go backwards from the most recent issues I’d had with my struggles. Tears started rolling down my cheeks as I revealed things I wouldn't even tell my closest friends. I just laid it all out there. No pretty words, no hiding. Just me spewing all the horrible things I’d done that I could remember in one sitting.

At the end I felt amazing. Truly, it was unbelievable.

Today I went to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in months. I’d found a million excuses before, but I was at the end of my rope and knew I needed to do it. I’d only gone to Confession that one time before. I’d planned that this would be different. I would be anonymous. I would kneel. I would go through my list and get out of there at the speed of light. And then I fell in the door of the Confessional and went sprawling with the baby onto the floor and he came running to help me up…and it was useless to try and hide again. So I began my second Confession while nursing a 6 month old in front of a priest who could see me. I’d planned on just getting it over and getting out of there. Instead I ended up a pile of tears again, and then cracking jokes as we talked about the fact that I’m not crazy. I left relieved. I was a normal mom with normal fears…who knew?

After getting the exact same feeling as the first time I couldn't help but think how impossible it would be to feel the same way if I’d hidden and used my x, y, z list of pretty words as a checklist. I wouldn't have had that unmistakable personal connection with Father Dan. I certainly wouldn't have been laughing.
What about you? Has your Confession life grown or are you like those adults in the Confirmation class – too scared or too busy to be bothered? Have you seen the inside of a Confessional in the past month? How about the past year? The past decade? Are your children learning to follow you in the Faith? What does your fear or nonchalance teach them?

We’re about to start a new Church year and are just around the corner from Advent. I’m reaching out to you. I’m asking you let’s make this a new start together. In case you didn't know, you don’t have to break one of the 10 Commandments to go to Confession. While it is a requirement to confess any mortal sins there is nothing wrong with confessing your other sins, especially if it is something you are struggling with and could use the value of spiritual guidance. Can’t we all use God’s hand more in our lives?

I’m going to ask you to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available to your family at least once every other week. I don’t believe in nagging to Confession. I do believe in making the option available to those you love. It’s very hard for a child under the age of 16 to get to Confession without your help and summoning the courage to say “Mom, I need to go to Confession” might be too much for your children, no matter how much they know you love them no matter what. Make sure you make that option available as often as you can.

Since you’re already going to be there for your family, I’m asking you to join me. Until Easter I am going to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once every other week. Join me. Take the plunge. The Sacrament of Reconciliation takes less than 15 minutes out of your week. Take the time. Go to Confession with me. Then come back and tell me how much better you feel. Tell me how much your life is changing…and I’ll tell you about mine.

USCCB Resources for the Sacrament of Reconciliation: http://usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments/penance/