Life

Announcing the Year of Eucharist
Hello and welcome! Earlier this week, we announced that beginning on Holy Thursday of next year and running through Corpus Christi 2021, we will be observing a Year of the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Boston. I want to share with you the letter that I issued with the announcement this week: December 10, 2019 Feast of Our Lady of Loreto Friends, A recent Pew Study entitled “What Americans Know About Religion” reported that only 31 percent of Catholics believe that the bread and the wine consecrated during the Mass actually become the body and blood of Jesus, and that only half of Catholics know of the Church’s teaching concerning the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In order to help people gain a better understanding of the Eucharist, on Holy Thursday 2020, the Archdiocese of Boston will begin a Year of the Eucharist. It is my hope and prayer that through this spiritual initiative we can invite and encourage our brothers and sisters to find the consolation of the Lord through participation in the celebration of the Eucharist and in times of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. When my parents were married, my uncle Father Jerry Reidy gave them as a wedding gift Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic painting of the Last Supper. That painting hung in our dining room, and one of my earliest memories was my parents explaining to us that this painting depicted the first Mass, the first Eucharist. They made clear that is the reason we go to Mass, to partake in the same Eucharist that Christ shared with his closest followers at the Last Supper before he would suffer and die for us. My mother and father held the evening meal as a priority for our family; attendance was not optional. It was an institution in our house to gather around the table and it was there that we bonded with one another. We shared our experiences of the day. We would laugh together, would even argue with each other. The evening family meal was essential to our formation and it was where we discovered our identity. The same can be said of the celebration of the Eucharist. As Catholics, it is in the Eucharist that we learn our identity. At the table of the Lord, Jesus makes a gift of Himself to us because God loves us so much. Just as we discover our identity at the family table, it is in the Eucharist that we discover who we are, why we are here, and what is our mission as disciples of Christ. Growing up I remember many wonderful devotions that kept the Eucharist at the center of our lives as Catholics: the Forty Hours Adoration, Corpus Christi processions, and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. From an early age I knew the Eucharist is what distinguishes us from most other Christian churches, that the Body and Blood of Christ was actually, sacramentally, present in our Church. At the Last Supper, Christ gave us the priesthood so He could be present everywhere in the world, not just in Jerusalem, in every time and age. Through the Eucharist, we have direct contact with the Lord at the celebration of Mass and in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. When we visit our churches at times other than the celebration of Mass, we can see the red glow of the sanctuary lamp and know that Jesus is there for us. He is always waiting silently and lovingly, ready to receive us and console us. The Capuchin Friars have a commitment to make two periods of meditation a day and I always do mine in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. For me, as Archbishop of Boston, my holy hour is late at night when the phones stop ringing. It is a time when I am renewed by the assurance of the Lord’s presence and His love for me, knowing He will guide me and give me the strength I need. Praying in the presence of the Eucharist, in adoration of the Lord, is a very important part of my daily existence; it is essential to perseverance in the vocation I have embraced. Before I became a bishop, I served as a priest in Spanish and Portuguese ministry where I learned many of the hymns I sing to the Eucharistic Lord during my Holy Hour. I also love the Latin hymns I learned in the seminary, the “Pange Lingua,” and the English hymn, “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All.” I memorized these hymns, and it is my hope that they can become a regular part of devotional practice at all our parishes, hymns that everyone learns by heart and sings together. As St. Augustine told us, singing is praying twice, because singing lifts our hearts to God and provides us with a glimpse of His beauty in the beauty of the music. Recent times have been very difficult for the Church and her people. In the Year of the Eucharist, we all have the opportunity to renew and strengthen our faith and our closeness to the Lord. If we center ourselves in the Real Presence of Jesus, in His friendship, then everything else will make sense. At the celebration of Mass, Jesus is there, waiting for us, inviting us to the table where He is making a gift of Himself to us so that we may have the strength to make a gift of ourselves to others. That is what human fulfillment is about. It is about love and giving of ourselves on behalf of others. That is the meaning of the Eucharist, it is love taken to the extreme. The more we understand that, the more we will want to be present to the Eucharist and the more the Eucharist will transform us. Discipleship is not a solo flight. Jesus sent people out two by two, not one by one, and spoke of the importance of “two or three are gathered in my name.” The Eucharist is where we gather as Christ’s family, where we can witness our faith to one another and grow in our capacity to love. The Eucharist gives us the strength to carry out our mission to transform the world, to work for justice, to serve the poor, to bring healing and reconciliation. But we can’t do these things unless we have the strength that comes from the intimate contact with God’s love that is given to us in the Eucharist. Discipleship also requires a plan. We need to ask ourselves what we can do, individually and with our families and friends, to prepare for the Year of the Eucharist. We can find the answer to these questions in times of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in our churches. We can read and reflect on the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. We can invite family, friends, and colleagues to join us at Mass and times of Adoration. We can reflect on the importance of receiving the Lord in the Eucharist, the difference that makes in our lives, and share that insight with those who are close to us. We don’t exist by accident. Our lives are a gift of God’s gratuitous love, and the Eucharist is the most profound symbol of His love for us. Jesus comes to us in humility, in littleness, so that no one need be afraid or unsure of His acceptance. He makes Himself present to us so that we can have the strength we need to live our mission in the Church as disciples of Christ. God created us and entered into creation in Jesus Christ so we could be close to Him, hear Him, know and love Him. The sacraments not only touch our lives, they mold our very being, and the Eucharist is the center of our sacramental life. That is why I am a Catholic. That is why I am a priest. Without the Eucharist, I would ask myself, “Is it worth it?” I know it is worth it, because Christ really is present in the Eucharist. May God bless you all abundantly with this assurance that Jesus will be with us always, even to the end of time. That is Jesus’ promise and He keeps that promise in the gift of the Eucharist. With the assurance of my prayers for you and all whom you hold dear, I am, Sincerely yours in Christ, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, O.F.M., Cap Archbishop of Boston Each year, Msgr. Francis Kelley invites priests throughout the archdiocese for an Advent celebration at his parish, Sacred Heart in Roslindale. This year, it was held, appropriately enough, on the feast of St. Nicholas. There was quite a cross-section of priests gathered for the occasion and it was wonderful to see so many were able to be a part of the celebration. Saturday, I went to Emmanuel College to celebrate the Mass marking the closing of the college’s Centennial Year celebrations. Emmanuel was the first Catholic women’s college in New England, founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur one year before the 19th amendment was enacted, granting women’s suffrage. In recent years, it has become coed but, for most of its history, it was a Catholic women’s college. Many of the sisters, students and alumni were there, and the faculty were dressed for the occasion in their academic robes. The Mass was held in the gymnasium to accommodate the large crowd. It was a very beautiful celebration in thanksgiving for the 100 years of Catholic education at Emmanuel College. After many years of excellent service in the Vocation Office, Father Daniel Hennessey has now become pastor of two parishes in the archdiocese: St. Rose of Lima in Topsfield and St. Agnes in Middleton. He was installed as pastor in Topsfield on Saturday by Bishop Robert Hennessey, and it was my joy to go to St. Agnes to install him as pastor there on Sunday. There was a great crowd, and it was wonderful to see the whole community so excited to welcome their new pastor. That afternoon, I went to St. John the Baptist Parish in Quincy for the Mass of the Profession of Perpetual Vows of two Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, Sister Guadalupe and Sister Faustina. The celebration of the vows ceremony is very beautiful. The sisters were given various symbols including a cross, a ring and a lamp; and a crown of thorns was placed on their head. The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth were founded several years ago by Mother Olga Yaqob to promote consecrated life for women in the archdiocese, following the spirituality of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, the spirituality of Nazareth. Father Robert McCreary has been their spiritual director and he was with us for the Mass, along with a number of our other friars, as well. Of course, we are very pleased that the sisters have arrived at this important moment in the life of their ministry, where they have two perpetually professed sisters in the community. We pray that the Lord will continue to bless them with vocations to this wonderful charism. That evening, I had dinner with another group working in the archdiocese, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo at St. Clement’s in Medford. Their ministry includes teaching at local Catholic schools and, of course, running St. Clement’s Church.  It was a very nice opportunity to spend some time with them and to hear about the ministries that they are carrying out in the archdiocese. Monday, I attended the wake of Daniel Kennedy, Sr. at St. Joseph’s Parish in Needham, the parish from which we buried his son, Father Daniel Kennedy, Jr. Many of the family, friends and loved ones of Mr. Kennedy were present with us for the prayer service at the start of the wake. Dan Kennedy was a very active parishioner at St. Joseph’s and a great supporter of St. John’s Seminary — he would come to every ordination of deacons or priests. He also published a beautiful biography of his son, Father Dan, who, although was a priest for such a short time, made a great impact on the entire faith community of the archdiocese. Tuesday, I gathered with our recently ordained priests for ongoing formation at the Pastoral Center. As I have noted, the group has greatly expanded this year with the ordination of 14 new priests. In fact, this was the first meeting for Father Francis Pham, who was just ordained less than two weeks ago. So, we had a cake to welcome him. It was also the first time we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Loreto in the calendar of the Church. So, after our lunch and a long discussion about the Year of the Eucharist and other aspects of ministry, we began our Holy Hour with the Litany of Loreto. Then, later that afternoon, we had our meeting of the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities. Of course, there were many reports about the different activities being carried out by Catholic Charities, and it is always very encouraging to see the great impact their service is making in our community. We are very grateful to Kevin MacKenzie, the chairman of the board, who is acting as interim president as the search for a new president continues. We are also very grateful to Debbie Rambo for continuing to serve part-time to assist Kevin in his new role. Wednesday, I went to South Boston to join the priests of the Central Region of the archdiocese for a morning of Advent recollection organized by the Episcopal Vicar of the region, Father Brian McHugh and hosted by Father Robert Casey at Gate of Heaven Parish. Father Ross, a Franciscan Friar from the Arch Street Shrine, preached for us, followed by a time adoration. We concluded our gathering with a nice luncheon together. Thursday afternoon, we had one of our regular meetings of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Church in the Commonwealth. As always, it was an opportunity to discuss different issues facing the Church in Massachusetts and hear reports from different committees as well as the director, Jim Driscoll. In the early evening, I went to our Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Brookline for the annual meeting of the Board of Directors there. It was wonderful to hear reports of the seminary’s continued progress, and we are so grateful to the rector, Father Tony Medeiros, for all his fine work. Because the board meeting concluded around dinner time, I joined the board and the seminarians for a lovely meal, after which the seminarians regaled us with their musical talents. I was also very happy to bless the seminary’s lovely crèche during my visit. After the dinner, I returned to the cathedral in time to greet the parishioners who were holding a very elaborate celebration for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Finally, my good friends Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, who through their creative work have done so much to help people throughout the world experience the power of prayer, are now providing us a groundbreaking perspective of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. On Jan. 1, 2020 Netflix will debut Roma and Mark’s latest production, “Messiah.” I highly recommend you view the following trailer and the film itself following its release. In a time when so many people seek to connect the circumstances of the world today with their search for faith, this film offers a gateway to understanding the truth of Jesus’ promise to be with us always, to the ends of the earth. Until next week, Cardinal Seán
Lectio Divina: Grow Closer to God This Advent Through Divine Reading
Catholics get a bad rap when it comes to reading and knowing their Bible. It’s a shame, really, because not only is nearly every line from the Mass and sacraments imbued with biblical references and tradition, but there is so much grace, healing, and strength to be gained from spiritual reading. Recently, I’ve been happy […] The post Lectio Divina: Grow Closer to God This Advent Through Divine Reading appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
A thrill of hope
4 minute readWalking to the back of the Church, I am completely exhausted though we’ve only made it to the homily. My one-and-a-half-year-old is pulling incessantly at my shirt demanding milk. I tuck myself inside the dark confessional making every attempt to disguise my presence from the outside. Despite my intended anonymity, the toddler repeatedly knocks her feet against the wooden wall. After a minute of nursing, she claws her way loose, pulling back the velvet curtain and sprinting forward. Feeling awkwardly exposed, I fumble to button my shirt. In the midst of the commotion, an older lady spritely pops out of the back pew and stands in front of my daughter. Without saying a word, she starts to pick up scattered leaves on the ground and sweetly directs my daughter to come and assist her. To my surprise, my child watches and eagerly complies. It became a silent game. I stare in wonder while the two work diligently together to clear the floor. As they finish, I approach the lady and offer to throw the leaves away. Pouring the leaves into my palms, the image of her hands imprints in my memory. They are wrinkled, worn and covered in dirt. I realize I’ve seen her at Mass several times before carrying her belongings in garbage bags. After Mass, I go up to her expressing my gratitude for her act of kindness in helping my daughter to stay quiet. In response, she gives me the biggest smile. She tells me she loves children, older people and dogs because they are often neglected. Introducing myself, she shares her name in a thick accent, “Esperanza”. Hope. It is entirely appropriate. I offer her a ride, but she refuses. I later find out that the Church regularly provides food and a place for her to wash up. But other than that, she refuses any assistance. During the season of Advent, the Church invites us to stay alert. Jesus says to his disciples, “Be vigilant at all times and pray” (Lk 21:36). Preparing for the celebration of Christ’s incarnation involves looking at our daily encounters with the eyes of faith. He seeks to reveal his presence to us often through a humble exchange of mercy and compassion. The Word has the potential to become flesh through an unexpected conversation, a simple act of kindness or the wisdom of the elderly. Christ gathers his people, proclaims good news to the poor, and transforms our lives through the vulnerability of a mother and child. So many people lack hope right now. It’s underscored by the season when we are told to be “merry and bright” and cannot quite get there. It seems that our longing for something better is just a little more poignant now. Our focus shifts from a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes to filtered images we find on Instagram. Yet, hope does not originate from within us. We can only accept it as a pure gift. Hope involves letting go of the perfectionism that often creeps in during mid-December. It opens our hearts to purify our desire for heaven, trusting entirely on God and not relying on our own strength. I imagine Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem involved plenty of embarrassment, laughter and acceptance. While these realities don’t appear as embossed images on Christmas cards, I’m sure Mary found plenty of room in her heart to treasure them. Mary’s surrender to the Holy Spirit gave her the confidence to fix her eyes on the final outcome rather than her specific circumstances. She was full of grace and full of steadfast hope. Despite the storms we may face in our lives, we can also trust, like Mary, with our anchor firmly secure in God’s will. In the words of the beloved Christmas carol, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.” My soul experienced a sense of worth in its meeting of Esperanza. I felt the love of Christ working through her and in me. The next line of the song speaks volumes, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” May we rejoice in the hope of heaven this Christmas, which is made possible by our sweet savior. Prayer for hope “Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church 1821, quoting St. Teresa of Avila   Katie Almon is a wife and mother raising rambunctious saints (and Saints fans) in New Orleans. Katie spent 8 years working in Catholic education as both a high school teacher and campus minister. She now prays more than ever, begging for the grace to get through each day as a homeschooling mom. She is a contributor to “Spirit and Life: The Holy Sacraments of the Catholic Church” by Rose Rea. The post A thrill of hope appeared first on RADIANT.
Ordaining Father Francis Pham
Hello and welcome! There has been a long-standing tradition in Boston of the archdiocese and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis exchanging delegations on our patronal feasts, mirroring the practice of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Father. Each year, the Holy Father sends a representative to Constantinople to be with the Ecumenical Patriarch for the Feast of St. Andrew in November, and the Patriarch reciprocates on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in June. Last Friday evening was the vigil of the Feast of St. Andrew, so I went to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis to join their Vespers Service for the feast. The five loaves are a symbol of St. Andrew because it was St. Andrew who pointed out the boy with “five barley loaves and two fish” at the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. It was a very uplifting celebration and I always look forward to these opportunities to pray together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. Then, on Saturday, I had the joy of ordaining Father Francis Pham to the priesthood at Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Parish in Waltham. He was serving his pastoral year in Nova Scotia and was unable to be ordained with the rest of his class earlier this year. We were so glad that many of Father Francis’ siblings, aunts and uncles were able to be there with us, but the Mass was also live-streamed so that his mother in Vietnam would be able to share the day with us, as well. There was also a very large contingent from the local Vietnamese Catholic community as well as many people from the different parishes where Father Francis had served, including a busload of people who came down from St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish in Sydney, Nova Scotia with their pastor, Father Bill Burke. It was a very beautiful bilingual celebration with readings and songs both in English and Vietnamese. It was a joyous day, and we are very blessed to have a new priest to help us in ministering to the large Vietnamese Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Boston. We are so grateful to Father Jim DiPerri and parishioners from Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted for their gracious hospitality. Following the Mass, I returned to Rome for meetings with the Holy Father and the Council of Cardinals. Of course, it is the first week of Advent, so I was very happy to see the Vatican crèche as well as the Christmas tree, which is a gift of the people of the city of Trent. It was a very beautiful sight. I have never seen St. Peter’s Square as lit up as it was this year. And, on Sunday evening, I got together with our Boston priests and seminarians who are in Rome. Our meetings with the Holy Father began on Monday, and we continued our discussions on the draft of the new Apostolic Constitution, particularly the relationship between the curia and the various bishops’ conferences, as well as the importance of having laypeople in decision making roles in the Church. We also heard from Cardinal Michael Czerny, who addressed us about the post-synodal document coming out of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon. I offered some remarks on the Synod, as well. They were very much along the lines of what I shared with the U.S. Bishops Conference at our fall meeting and with the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston at our convocation. On Thursday, we also had a meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors on “Promoting and Protecting the dignity of persons in allegations of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults: Balancing confidentiality, transparency and accountability.” This evening, Brother Nicholas Koss, OSB visited me with a delegation of five bishops from China. The bishops were: Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of the Kunming Diocese, Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu of the Mindong Diocese, Bishop Paul He Zeqing of the Wanzhou Diocese, Bishop John Wang Renlei of the Xuzhou Diocese, and Bishop John the Baptist Li Suguang of the Jiangxi Diocese. The bishops are spending a few days among us and, earlier in the day, they visited St. John’s Seminary. They were very anxious to share with me the latest events in the life of the Church in China, and they are very hopeful and desirous of a closer relationship with the Universal Church. Fittingly enough, the visit was on the feast of St. Nicholas and they brought many gifts. (When I was in the seminary, St. Nicholas Day was the time of putting up the Christmas trees, exchanging gifts and singing German Christmas carols.) Until next week, Cardinal Seán
Of Note–December 2019
We are nearly a week into Advent 2019 here is what we've found worth reading in the world of Catholic blogging. The post Of Note–December 2019 appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF ST. NICHOLAS WITH CHILDREN
Falling during the liturgical season of Advent, the feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated on December 6 every year.  Catholics all over the world celebrate this special feast day.  St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived during the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey.)  His wealthy parents died when he was young and left him a large sum of money.  St. Nicholas was a very kind man with a generous heart.  He  had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people in need.    It is said that there were three poor girls who were sisters and they were unable to marry because they had no dowry (A dowry is a sum of money paid to the bridegroom by the brides parents on the wedding day.)  One night St. Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of coins down the chimney for the oldest girl. It was enough money to pay her dowry to get married.   St. Nicholas subsequently did this for each of the other two sisters.  The coins landed each time in stockings that were hung by the fireplace to dry.  From this inspirational story the tradition of leaving shoes out the eve before the feast of St. Nicholas was born.    This is one of my children’s favorite traditions during Advent.  They love to set their best pair of shoes out in anticipation of St. Nicholas’s arrival to our home.  Due to their symbolism, St. Nicholas usually leaves chocolate coins in their shoes (which can be purchased at most stores during this time of year.)  In addition to the coins, a small gift and a holy card for each child is also often found in their shoes.   How do you celebrate this feast in your home?  What does St. Nicholas leave in your shoes?  Please share!   The post CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF ST. NICHOLAS WITH CHILDREN appeared first on Seasons of the Heart and Home.
Having faith like Eve during Advent
4 minute readHave you ever thought about what it must have been like for Eve after the Fall? She’d blown it, for sure. All because of that apple, and the desire that rose up inside her to have that one forbidden thing. Where had that come from? And why did she listen to that serpent? Well, what was done was done. And now life was hard. She and Adam had lost the one-ness they had before, and now he kept telling her what to do, as if he had to make up for when she offered him the fruit. There was one good thing, though. The serpent was going to get his due. After all, God promised: “I will put enmity between you [serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel” (Gn 3:15). In other words, while the serpent (or devil) and his offspring would be busy striking out at humankind, they (the “offspring” or in some versions, the “seed” of the woman) would deal the devil a death blow. Right away, Adam and Eve have a son “with the help of the Lord” (Gn 4:1). Into that one short phrase is packed all their hope for the child God said would make things right. Then she has another, Abel. Two boys! Maybe Cain would surprise that snake in the garden, or Abel while watching his sheep. Surely one of them will get the better of it! Imagine Eve’s pain when Cain turns out to be another “bad apple,” a murderer who cuts his brother down in his prime. So much for being fruitful and overcoming the devil. But now we see that seeds of faith are growing in Eve. She doesn’t give up. She has another son and calls him Seth, saying “God has granted me another offspring in place of Abel” (Gn 4:25). And by the time Seth has a son of his own, “people began to invoke the Lord by name” (Gn 4:26). The story that began in tragedy continues on in hope. I can’t help thinking of Eve as we head into Advent. After all, now is the time we gather all our longing and aim it at the mother and child who undo the damage caused by Eve. Mary and Jesus are the woman and her seed who definitively crush the head of the serpent. And even though we live long after Jesus dealt that crushing blow on the Cross, we still stand here with Eve, “mourning and weeping in this valley of tears” (as we pray in the Hail, Holy Queen). In spite of her failure and loss, Eve was able to stand on God’s promise of victory and walk on in faith. In the same way, we can stand on that victory and walk on in certain hope toward the day when Jesus comes again to finally make things right. On Dec. 9, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the story of Eve is proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word. The whole Church hears God’s promise that the seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head, and Eve will be declared mother of all of the living. In the Psalm Response, we praise God for his faithfulness in remembering Israel and bringing salvation. The second reading reminds us that we are chosen. And then in the Gospel, the angel announces to Mary the coming of the Son of the Most High God. This is the good news of the Gospel. We may be, like Eve, bowed down by failure. Like her, we may have trouble conceiving something good. We might be plagued by the many ways Satan, that dread serpent, strikes at our heels. But the woman and her seed — Mary and Jesus — have crushed the serpent’s head. That work is finished. Satan’s power is limited. Christ rules and will come again in glory. Take time in the “little Lent” of Advent to live consciously in the gap between what has already happened and what still is to come. Prepare your heart for the coming of the Lord. Receive the seed of his word. Repent of your sin, offer your burdens up to Christ and ask him to be born in you as you await his coming again. Let us pray in the words of the Collect for Dec. 9: O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son, grant, we pray, that, as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. Sarah Christmyer Sarah Christmyer writes about Eve and ten other Old Testament women who paved the way for Mary in “Becoming Women of the Word: How to Answer God’s Call with Purpose and Joy” (Ave Maria Press). She teaches a class on Scripture at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia and is co-developer and founding editor of “The Great Adventure Catholic Bible” study program. You can follow her blog and find information about the guided prayer journals, Bible studies, and other books she has written at her website, ComeIntotheWord.com. The post Having faith like Eve during Advent appeared first on RADIANT.
Being the Living Crib
This Advent, many families will prepare a crib scene to prepare for Christmas and celebrate the coming of Our Lord. It’s a great Advent task for families of all ages and sizes, and can be made to any size and budget – I encourage you to give it a go! The post Being the Living Crib appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Confirmation Prep
Our middle child, Simon, was confirmed a few weeks ago. He’s been in confirmation preparation for the past year with his classmates. Lucy, just a year behind him, is beginning her own preparation, and will be confirmed next fall. So we’re all about confirmation these days in the Noem home. A friend from back home … More → The post Confirmation Prep appeared first on For Your Marriage.
Interview with Author Kevin Wells: The Priests We Need to Save the Church
When his uncle, Monsignor Tom Wells, was brutally murdered in his rectory in 2000 former sports writer, Kevin Wells, turned to writing to pour out his grief. His first article devoted to his beloved uncle appeared in the Washington Post just before his family celebrated their first Christmas without “Tommy”. The post Interview with Author Kevin Wells: The Priests We Need to Save the Church appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
6 WAYS TO CELEBRATE ADVENT WITH CHILDREN
Thanksgiving is over and Advent is upon us.  Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year.   There are a variety of activities that our family has engaged in over the years as a way to enter into the spirit of this season in a deep and meaningful way.  Here are a few of our family’s favorite Advent traditions:    1.  Is the Manger Soft for Baby Jesus to Lay his Head?    At the beginning of Advent we set up our family creche and leave the manger empty.  We put together a medium size zip-lock bag of hay or straw.  Each day of Advent, during our family prayer time, we have our children share some of the good and purposeful deeds that they have engaged in throughout that day and/or sacrifices that they have made.  For each good deed they have done or sacrifice made,  they place a piece of straw in the manager to prepare the bed for baby Jesus to lay his head upon.    When Christmas Eve arrives, we have a candlelight family procession throughout our home to bring baby Jesus to the manger that has been lovingly prepared for him throughout the Advent season.       2. CLICK HERE** Celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas With Children     3.   Candy Canes!!! Since candy canes are a big part of the Christmas season, we teach our children about the spiritual meaning behind this delightful treat by reading the book:  The Legend of the Candy Cane.   4.   Advent Wreath An Advent Wreath  is probably one of the most popular and common Advent activities to do as a family. In scripture Jesus is referred to as “the light of the world.” As the  Advent or “coming” of Jesus draws nearer – a candle is lit.  The Advent wreath has four candles- which are lit, one at a time, on each of  the four Sunday’s of Advent.  With each candle that it lit,  symbolically the darkness of the world  is dispelled as Christ’s light penetrates the hearts of His people through His birth or re-birth into our lives. Without beginning or end, the circular shape of the wreath symbolizes God’s complete and unending love for us.  There are 4 purple candles and one pink.  Purple is a liturgical color that is used to signify a time of prayer, penance and sacrifice.   Advent is a time of waiting and hopeful anticipation of the birth of Our Lord. It is often called a “little Lent.”  A purple candle is lit the first, second and fourth week of Advent.  The third week of Advent, called Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday, we light a pink candle.  Pink is a liturgical color that is used to signify joy.  On this Sunday we celebrate that the birth of Jesus is drawing very near and our wait is almost over. There are many Advent prayer books that include prayers to bless the Advent wreath and also to accompany the candle lighting to make it a special ceremony. You can purchase an Advent wreath or you can make your own. Having an Advent wreath in your home and using it as a way to prepare your heart and the hearts of each of your family members for the birth of Christ – is a wonderful way to enter into the true meaning of this blessed time of year! 5.  A Christmas Tree!! Probably one of the most common and bonding traditions that many households participate in during the Advent season is setting up and decorating a real or artificial Christmas tree.   Do you know why we do this though?  There is a spiritual significance and a treasured history of deep meaning that goes with this popular activity. You can read more about it in the book The Legend of the Christmas Tree. In our home we read this book the day we chop down and set up our tree as a reminder of the deeper meaning of what we are doing.   6.  The Jesse Tree The Jesse tree helps us connect the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the events leading to Jesus’ birth.  The title Jesse Tree comes from Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”  A Jesse Tree is a way to symbolically tell the story of God in the Old Testament and have a deeper understanding and appreciation for Jesus’s family lineage.    We make our Jesse Tree out a few dead branches that we  put together in a pot  (we secure our branches with play-dough.) We then make ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus.  If you google “Jesse Tree ” – you will find a plethora of ornaments you can purchase or that are in printable form for your children to color and place on the tree.  Make the most of this Advent season to deepen your relationship with Christ by preparing your heart to more fully receive Him at Christmas.     Have a blessed Advent! The post 6 WAYS TO CELEBRATE ADVENT WITH CHILDREN appeared first on Seasons of the Heart and Home.
What are you Thankful for in Your Spouse?
This past weekend my husband arrived home after a week-long business trip to Lima, Peru. As a mother of five with a very active household, I was exhausted, ready for a break, and longing to be in his arms. Needless to say, I was excited for Troy to be home. Whenever he travels, I find myself more keenly aware of all that I am thankful for in him. I notice the countless little things that he does each day because he is not here to do them and there is a void. The old adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” rings so true.  Not only do I miss my husband’s physical presence when he is gone, but I become more conscientious of the depth of our emotional and spiritual connection as a married couple, which enables us to remain close when miles separate us.In the hustle of day-to-day living it can be easy to take your spouse for granted, yet it is so important to slow down and take time to recognize the value your spouse brings to your marriage and your family. For me, the physical absence of my husband due to his frequent work-related travel provides regular opportunities for me to reflect on what my spouse means to me. What opportunities allow you to reflect on the blessing your spouse is in your life? A Thanksgiving tradition that Troy and I began the first year of our marriage and have continued ever since, is to write an actual list of things we are thankful for in each other. We share our lists with one another on Thanksgiving Day. It is an incredible blessing to not only reflect on what I am grateful for in my husband, but to also experience the joy of hearing him share the list he has written about me. Throughout the year, especially during challenging times, the lists are a perfect reminder for both of us to focus on the blessing of one another and not dwell on the hardship of the moment. Prayerfully consider beginning this tradition to honor your own marriage. Your expression of sincere gratitude can bless your spouse and fuel their desire to continue to develop those same endearing behaviors that you appreciate in them. Putting in writing what you are grateful for is a fabulous start to being mindful of the gift of your spouse, but a daily attitude of gratitude for them in your life will do wonders for your marriage. A thankful heart is a happy heart. Saint Paul says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) There is always something to be thankful for in your spouse and some days that might just be the fact that you have an opportunity to love them and practice patience despite how difficult it may be, and in doing so, you are strengthening your character and growing your marriage. The words thank you are two of the most powerful words you can say to your spouse. But for thankfulness to be effective, it must be specific. Instead of saying, “Thank you for being a great spouse,” say “Thank you honey for taking the garbage out.” Also, make sure your spouse knows what you value in them. Use words of affirmation to acknowledge your spouse’s character qualities. Is your spouse creative, honest, kind, courageous? Tell them. God has placed a desire in each one of us to be loved for who we are and to be known for who God created us to be. You can reach this level of intimacy in your marriage through the daily recognition and appreciation of Christ’s presence alive in your spouse. What are you thankful for in your spouse?   (-Originally published on the “For Your Marriage” section of the USCCB Website) The post What are you Thankful for in Your Spouse? appeared first on Seasons of the Heart and Home.
Presenting our annual Cheverus Awards
Hello and welcome! As I do every year during the week of Thanksgiving, I am posting my blog a few days earlier than usual. Thursday evening, I went to the Harvard Club in Boston for a dinner in honor of Dr. Lorenzo Berra, who has been appointed to the Reginald Jenney Associate Professorship at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital in recognition of his achievements in the research and practice of anesthesia. The award ceremony was directed by Dr. Jeanine Wiener-Kronish, Chief of Anesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Berra is from Milan and a member of the Memores Domini, the lay association of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation. The members of Memores live in community with the vocation to practice the Evangelical Counsels together and in their daily life, with a particular commitment to provide an example of Christian charity and love in and through their work. The appointment was an honor for Dr. Berra and a source of great joy for his friends and colleagues and who hold his professional expertise, friendship and Christian integrity as among their most valued gifts. It was very encouraging to see a young Catholic doctor who is so talented and has done so much in the area of research recognized with this very important post. Of course, Harvard Medical School is one of the most important medical schools in the world and so having someone there with the ethical standards, passion for healthcare, and care for people that Dr. Berra possesses, I think is wonderful. Friday, I went to dedicate and bless the new offices of the Irish Pastoral Centre in Dorchester. They had been at St. Brendan’s Parish, and now they are located in nearby Adams Village. It was a wonderful celebration with Irish music, and I was so impressed by the large number of people who were there for the dedication. With us, of course, was Executive Director Peggy Davis-Mullen and their chaplain, Father Daniel Finn. We were also very happy to be joined by Mayor Walsh’s mother, Mrs. Mary Walsh. We are so grateful for the work that the Pastoral Centre performs. The Irish are still one of the largest groups of immigrants coming to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the center’s work has been a very important contribution to serving that population as well as other immigrant groups. It was a great event, and I was happy to be a part of it. That evening, I hosted one of our regular gatherings with seminarians at the cathedral. As always, it was a chance to pray together, share a meal and discuss issues related to the life of the Church. During the evening, the seminarians shared with me much of what is happening in their ministries and their lives, and we discussed the situation of the Church in the world today. Each year, Catholic Charities, in conjunction with The United Way, distributes thousands of Thanksgiving meals to needy families throughout the area. I was very happy to join them for the distribution this year at the Yawkey Center on Saturday morning. Those from New England know that, at this time of year, there is always the risk of freezing temperatures, rain or snow (or all three!), but we were blessed this year with a crisp, sunny day. I was so happy to be able to join the many volunteers, including students from our Catholic schools, in this annual tradition. That afternoon, I went to Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton to celebrate the wedding of Luca and Erica Hickman. They are members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and are both very active in the pro-life movement. Erica is originally from St. Brendan Parish in Bellingham, so we were very happy to have Father David Mullen, the pastor of St. Brendan’s, concelebrate with us. It is always a joy to be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony. We wish Luca and Erica every happiness and many blessings on their families and their life together. Saturday evening, I went to Lombardo’s in Randolph to attend the annual Bishop James Augustine Healy Award Dinner held by the Archdiocese’s Black Catholic Ministries. Of course, Meyer Chambers and the Archdiocesan Black Catholic Choir provided wonderful music throughout the event. There was also a group of children from St. Andrew Parish in Worcester who performed for us. Each year at the dinner, they present two awards: The Healy Award for leadership and service in the Black Catholic Community, and the Ruffin Award for those who serve the Black Catholic Community and foster educational and mentorship opportunities. This year’s Healy Award winner was Marie Louise Greenidge from St. Mary Parish in Randolph, who has worked for many years in Catholic education and is currently director of advancement at St. John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester. The Ruffin Award was given to Debbie Rambo, who will soon be stepping down as president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston, but has served in different capacities at Catholic Charities for over 40 years. Both of them have given many, many years of service to the community and are very deserving of the awards. The evening’s keynote speaker was Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, a well-known speaker and evangelist from Oregon, who gave a very stirring address. Sunday morning, I went to St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Jamaica Plain to celebrate a Mass to mark the parish’s 150th anniversary. Because I knew I couldn’t stay long following the Mass, I came a bit early so I could meet with some of the parish leadership beforehand. It was a wonderful bilingual Mass. Were joined by many Sisters of St. Joseph who have a long history in the parish and, at one point, ran the parish school. We were also joined by some priests who were formerly from the parish. The pastor, Father Carlos Flor and the vicar, Father Andrea Povero, have organized many special activities to mark the parish’s sesquicentennial year. For example, they had a basketball tournament for the young people, but they wanted to do something with the older people of the parish, as well. So, they made this video, which they showed me. It is just fabulous! Watch it through to the end; you will not be disappointed! As I say, unfortunately, I was unable to stay very long at St. Thomas because I had to leave immediately for our annual Cheverus Awards celebration at the cathedral. It was a terribly rainy day, and we were very concerned that the weather would dampen the spirit of the celebration, but happily, we were proven wrong. There was a great outpouring of support for the awardees. The cathedral was filled to capacity with the award recipients, representatives from their parishes and their families. We present these awards each year as a way of recognizing all of the unsung heroes and heroines in the archdiocese, whose generosity and sacrifices allow our parishes, schools and organizations to function. This year we also highlighted two religious communities: The Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, who minister to the Cape Verdean community, and the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s sisters. In my homily, I spoke a little about the cathedral, because many of the attendees were seeing it for the first time since the renovations. I also spoke about the man for whom the award is named, Bishop Cheverus, the founding Bishop of Boston. I explained to them that the medal that they receive bears his motto, “Let us love one another.” That is certainly the spirit of our awardees, who express their love for members of the community through the generous service that they give in areas such as religious education, social justice, parish boards, and so many other aspects of the life of the Church. Finally, I want to wish everyone a very blessed Thanksgiving! It is a great tradition of our nation that each year we set aside a day to join together with our families and loved ones to recall that all that we have, and all that we are, is a gift from our loving God. We gather around the table with our loved ones to give thanks for the great blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon us — blessings that we many times take for granted. As we celebrate this time together with those closest to us and prepare to enter the season of Advent, let us all consider how we can share the great blessings we have received with others. Happy Thanksgiving! – Cardinal Seán
Visio Divina: What Mary’s first Advent teaches us
4 minute readAs the winds sweep away the last traces of autumn, we gaze upon the flickering flame of a purple candle and turn within ourselves. Advent is a time of bare-hay creches and interior renewal. It is a time not of idle waiting but of zealous preparation. We are called to fashion our souls into dwellings fit for Christ. Perhaps the greatest model for this time is the virgin whose very womb sheltered our savior. Contemplating Mary’s Advent, aided by reflection on a beautiful and inspired classical work of art, can better enable us to receive the Christ child into our own lives. There is not a great deal written about Mary’s pregnancy, but prayer and art may serve to illuminate that which seems hidden. Matthew and Luke alone offer infancy narratives. The latter gives the most detailed account, even devoting 13 verses to the Annunciation. Many artists — including the 15th century Dominican friar, Fra Angelico — have depicted this most holy occurrence in which the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bring salvation into the world. Fra Angelico’s fresco, painted in the mid-1400s, still commands its wall in the Convent of San Marco in Florence. The spare but magnificently beautiful painting was intended for meditation. Uninhibited by overwhelming symbolism and embellishment, one can be drawn into the simple setting that echoes the architecture of the Florentine cloister. The pillars seem to protrude into the viewer’s space, beckoning one forward to kneel before the haloed figures and become witness to this most significant event. Silent and watchful among virgin and angel, we may come to better know our mother who extends her loving, guiding hand to us during these days of Advent. Annunciation. Fra Angelico/Public domain One of the most striking aspects of this painting is Mary’s serenity. Though Luke records her initial apprehension at the sight of the angel, we know that Mary ultimately responds, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). Fra Angelico beautifully conveys her humble fiat through bowed posture and untroubled countenance. This complete surrender to God’s will enabled peace to reign within her. Mary feared nothing because she knew that she had nothing; she had given all to him. Our mother invites us to emulate this surrender, abandoning our egoism and partaking in this meek yielding to the one who created all. The Lord asks much of every single person. Only our own closed hearts prevent an encounter akin to the Annunciation. A winged messenger may not descend to greet us, and we will not be asked to physically carry redemption within our womb, but God does desire that we become his home. He seeks to dwell in our innermost being. Recall the words of Jesus: “Remain in me, as I remain in you” (Jn 15:4). Our humanity often makes it difficult to discern what form this divine call is to take in our life. We know only that a life in Christ involves much uncertainty, immense trust, and — at times — suffering. It is only natural that our response be marked by fear and hesitation. With the faith of our mother, though, we can respond in a far different manner. Mary, too, understood the implications of God’s request to her. There would be judgment of her premarital pregnancy, possible scorn from Joseph, and a life of raising the one who would be sacrificed for the sins of the world. She could have run from this seemingly unfathomable task and chosen a quiet, obscure life. Instead, she chose to become a vessel, emptying herself of all that she possessed — including her doubts and angst. Without questions and stipulations, she allowed God to perform the greatest miracle in and through her. The Lord received her fiat and her all, and he gave her peace, a peace that carried throughout her life, even into her most painful Advent — the days of her son’s agony and death. This is what Fra Angelico painted upon the wall of San Marco. Through color and form, he shows us the calm that God bestows upon the ones who answer yes to his summons. During this season of waiting, we can, through his grace, attain this peace for ourselves. Mary holds the lamp, illuminating the way. There are many ways in which we can turn to her throughout these anticipatory days, such as praying the Rosary (reflecting in particular on the First Joyful Mystery) and the Angelus (which proclaims Mary’s fiat). Another simple and beautiful way to draw closer to our mother and the peace that her son gives is to consecrate each day to her with the following prayer: My Queen, my mother, I give myself entirely to you, and to show my devotion to you I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being, without reserve. Wherefore, good mother, as I am your own, keep me and guard me as your property and possession. Amen. Receiving our prayer, our mother will purify our hearts throughout each day, enabling us to, as she did, to say yes to the Lord. Saint Augustine wrote, “The world being unworthy to receive the son of God directly from the hands of the Father, he gave his son to Mary for the world to receive him from her.” In doing so, he gave us not only the chance for eternal life, but also the gift of a mother whose fiat shows us the path to her son. During the four weeks of Advent, we can look to her, lean on her and, through his grace, become more like her. Molly Farinholt recently graduated from the College of William & Mary, where she studied English and art history and ran cross country and track. She and her husband recently moved from Virginia to Colorado. She spends her days pursuing truth, beauty and goodness through nannying, writing and making her house a home. The post Visio Divina: What Mary’s first Advent teaches us appeared first on RADIANT.
THANKSGIVING BLESSING BASKET
Our family has a special tradition that we do around Thanksgiving time.  Every year we select 3-4 friends and/or families that God has brought into our lives or that we have been blessed to know better in the past year, –  and we make what we call a “BLESSING BASKET” for them. The basket is filled with a variety of items, including some homemade goodies. It is our way of honoring their friendship and letting them know in a unique and special way, –  how truly grateful we are for them in our lives. Friends are a gift from the Lord.    “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter:  he that has found one has found a treasure.” – Sirach 6:14 ‪ Start a new tradition this year and thank God for the blessing of friends!   “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” – Proverbs 27:17 The post THANKSGIVING BLESSING BASKET appeared first on Seasons of the Heart and Home.
The St. John’s Seminary Report
Hello and welcome, Earlier today, we released the final report resulting from a more than year-long independent inquiry into St. John’s Seminary conducted by former U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern, with the assistance of Attorney Doug Salvesen and others at the firm Yurko, Salvesen & Remz. The seminary review has been a long and arduous process and has brought to light serious deficiencies that needed correcting. In truth, I believe we have a much stronger seminary as a result of the review and the changes that have already been made. The report does not indicate that any illegal activities, sexual abuse or harassment have occurred, and we are relieved that the report clearly states that the problems it did find have been episodic and not systemic. Problems around the use of alcohol, clear policies concerning fraternization and how the staff should accompany our seminarians during their formation are in the process of being developed, as well as a stronger oversight role for the Board of Directors. Unfortunately, what the report cannot communicate are all the good things that are taking place at St. John’s. There is a very high level of satisfaction among the students who are glad to be doing their formation at the seminary. This year, the archdiocese ordained 14 fine priests, the largest class in 20 years. Even the criticism leveled against certain priests on the faculty cannot gainsay the fact that those same men have made many positive contributions to St. John’s and the life of the Church. They are faith-filled priests who have dedicated their lives to the Church, and they are beloved by the parishioners they serve and by many in the seminary community. There have been serious mistakes, there have been flaws, but we must not demonize anyone. At the same time, we are all very grateful to Interim Rector Father Stephen Salocks, Interim Vice Rector Father Tom Macdonald, and all of the staff and faculty whose dedication and commitment have earned them the gratitude and respect of all. On my way back from last week’s meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I stopped in New York to celebrate the Mass of Investiture for the Order of Malta on Friday. Our Boston members of the Order of Malta are part of the American Association, which is based in New York. Though I usually do not attend the investiture, Cardinal Dolan was in Rome, so he asked me to celebrate the Mass in his place. I was very happy to celebrate the Mass in the newly refurbished St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In my remarks, I reminded everyone that the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is also newly refurbished but is larger than St. Patrick’s. (That certainly got a rise out of the New Yorkers!) But St. Patrick’s certainly is an iconic landmark, and it was wonderful to celebrate Mass there with the Knights and Dames of Malta and to be present for the investiture of our new Boston members of the Order. Sunday morning, we celebrated our annual Red Mass for members of the legal profession at the Seaport Chapel. The tradition of celebrating a Red Mass dates back to the Middle Ages and is a Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated to open the court’s term. The Mass takes its name from the red vestments worn by the clergy for the liturgy. Here in Boston, as in many places around the country, we continue to observe this ancient custom. It is organized by the Catholic Lawyers Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston and is attended by judges, lawyers, law students and others involved in the practice of law. We were very pleased to be joined by about 25 law students from a number of universities who joined us for the Mass. With Father George Salzman and a number of students from Harvard Law school Following the Mass, the members of the Lawyers Guild hold a brunch at which they present the Honorable Joseph R. Nolan Award. This year’s honoree was Dwight Duncan who is a professor at the University of Massachusetts Law School. As the keynote speaker, Dwight offered a very nice reflection on the vocation of those in the legal profession. Then, Sunday afternoon, I joined the Vietnamese community of the archdiocese for a Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in honor of the Feast of the Vietnamese Martyrs. Before the Mass, they presented a small play depicting the martyrdom of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, which was followed by a beautiful procession with the relics of the saints. It was the first time that we have had this Mass since the cathedral has been refurbished, and all the people seemed very excited to be there for it. Monday, I went to Charlestown to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Good Shepherd School. I was there with Father Jim Ronan for the opening of the school, so it was very nice to be back to join the children, teachers and parents to celebrate the school’s first 10 years. The school has been very successful and is a great blessing for Charlestown. We had a prayer service at which Father Ronan, the principal and the head of the Board of Directors all addressed the people. Afterwards, there was a lovely reception. Tuesday, I went to Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton to celebrate the Catholic Schools Foundation’s annual Peter Lynch Scholars Mass. This is an extraordinary program that helps families to be able to have the advantages of a Catholic education. Many of the children were accompanied by their principals and family members for this happy occasion. Also with us for the Mass were Peter Lynch, our Superintendent of Catholic Schools Tom Carroll, and Michael Reardon, president of the Catholic Schools Foundation. It is always a wonderful event, and seeing all those young people there really brought home what an impact the Catholic Schools Foundation is making on our Catholic schools. Then, that evening, I went to St. Michael Parish in North Andover to celebrate a Mass to mark their 150th anniversary. A number of priests who had served in the parish returned to join us for the Mass. I believe the church holds about a thousand people, and it was just packed. St. Michael’s is certainly a very vibrant community with a wonderful school, and it was a joy to be a part of this important event in their anniversary commemorations. Thursday, we held our annual Fall Presbyteral Convocation at St. Julia’s Parish in Weston. It was an opportunity for us to brief the priests on the St. John’s Seminary report. We also heard from Father Paul Soper on plans for an upcoming Eucharistic year. I also shared with the priests some of my reflections on the Synod for the Amazon. Until next week, Cardinal Seán
The Prodigal Son’s Older Brother? That’s Me.
“To err is human; to forgive, divine.” -Alexander Pope When I was thirteen, my parents got divorced and then, in a surprising turn of events, remarried each other again six years later. Everyone expected my younger sisters and I to be overjoyed, but instead we were conflicted. After enduring a second marriage, a subsequent divorce, […] The post The Prodigal Son’s Older Brother? That’s Me. appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
‘Tis the season: The Radiant Christmas gift guide is here!
8 minute readThis year, winter caught me by surprise. One day I was out hiking in the leaves; the next I was scraping ice off my car (welcome to the Midwest). In the same way, the holiday season can catch us off guard. Maybe you are like me and have been saving Instagram posts all year long, just waiting to start your Christmas list. Or maybe you are at a loss of where to look first. Have no fear: We have selected some of the best products for you to make 2020 fruitful and beautiful — Catholic planners, journals, literature, art, home items, etc. — and have partnered with many Catholic companies to give you a little treat through exclusive Radiant discounts. Browse through our selection and check out all of the featured shops to find the perfect gifts for yourself or for other Catholic women in your life. (***Don’t forget: Radiant newsletter subscribers always get 25% off on OSV books and free standard shipping! Subscribe now or check your most recent email for the discount code!) Planners, journals and calendars Monk manual Monk Manual is a 90-day planner meant to provide a monastic structure to your everyday life. Broken up into monthly, weekly and daily opportunities to plan and reflect on your life, this planner hits all the marks. Not only does it help organize your schedule and encourage productivity, but it also provides thoughtful questions and prompts, such as your biggest accomplishments from the month, what God taught you this week, meaningful moments you don’t want to forget, and ways you can improve tomorrow. If you are looking for a planner that not only motivates you to get things done but also helps you become a better version of yourself, Monk Manual might be for you. Price: $38.00 Discount code: “Radiant” for 10% off (expires Dec. 31, 2019) ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Blessed is She Liturgical Calendar Year Planner 2020 Another planner option is the Blessed is She Planner, which combines your busy schedule with the liturgical calendar set by the Church. With daily saints, frequent novena reminders and liturgical colors all year long, your faith and schedule will naturally unfold together. The monthly, weekly and hourly layout is perfect for the busy woman, and it even has pages to fill with your lists — grocery, to-do, prayer intentions and goals galore! Price: $58.00 (8×10) or $48.00* (6.25×8.25) — *Does not have the weekly or daily schedule Discount code: “RADIANTMAG” for 10% off (expires Dec. 31, 2019) ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Every Sacred Sunday It doesn’t matter whether you are single girl in the pews or a mom of littles — it can be difficult to feel prepared for Mass. With the Every Sacred Sunday journal, you will feel ready to enter into the Liturgy of the Word every week or have a resource to reflect on the readings after Mass. The journal includes the Mass readings for Sundays and Holy Days, and it provides space to journal through Scripture, beautiful watercolor images to encourage prayer, and important prayers in the inside covers. It covers the liturgical calendar — starting in Advent on Dec. 1 — so grab yours now or have a loved one buy it so you can start the new year on the right foot. Price: $44.95 Discount code: “RADIANT19” for 10% off ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… The Catholic Scripture Calendar 2020 Make Scripture a priority this year with the Catholic Scripture Calendar. With designs by Blessed is She and Erica Tighe Campbell, this 2020 calendar is elegant, modern and inspiring. Each month has a hand lettered Scripture verse on which to reflect, and the readings for every Sunday are listed to help you prepare for Mass or for Lectio Divina. Price: $14.95*** ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Journaling Through the Gospels and Psalms If reading the entire Bible seems intimidating, start with the Gospels and Psalms — the stories of Jesus and the poems about God’s goodness and fidelity. This journaling Bible of the Gospels and Psalms from OSV is made of thick paper — none of those flimsy pages you might be used to from typical Bibles — with wide margins to allow you to slow down with Scripture and record how the Word of God moves your heart. It even comes in two colors, rose and navy! Price: $34.95*** ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Art & Music   The Saints Project If you are looking for modern artwork of the saints, look no further. The Saints Project by Kristyn Brown produces images of saints using people like you and me in their photos. Newest to the collection are images of St. Maximillian Kolbe and the hemorrhaging woman from Scripture, but don’t miss some favorite saints, including John the Beloved, Padre Pio, Teresa of Avila, Maria Goretti and numerous versions of Our Lady and the Holy Family! Price: $35-105 (depending on size) Discount code: “RADIANT” for 20% off ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Blair Barlow Art I recently have fallen in love with the gorgeous sacred art produced Blair Barlow Art. While any of the pieces in this shop will make a great addition to your mantlepiece or wall, the “Agnus Dei” print is especially timely for Christ’s nativity. While you are looking around, don’t miss the beautiful images of “The Marriage of Mary and Joseph.” Stunning Price: $45 (9×12), $65 (11×14) Discount code: “RADIANT” for 20% off ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… “Awakening” CD Maybe you’re like me and rarely listen to CDs anymore, but hear me out — this one is worth it. Taylor Tripodi is an emerging Catholic musician and singer, and her newest album, “Awakening,” released earlier this fall includes seven new songs that speak to the brokenness of our hearts, the ache in the waiting, the struggle to trust, and hope in God’s goodness and fidelity. I received a copy of the CD back in September, and I’ve been listening to the songs nearly nonstop whenever in my car. If you are searching for good Catholic music that you don’t hear on the radio, look no further — “Awakening” is the album for you. Price: $15 Discount code: “RADIANT25” for 25% off ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….   Literature   “Becoming Women of the Word” Sometimes I forget or mitigate the important role the women of the Old Testament had in leading to the Messiah’s coming. In fact, besides the story of Ruth, I never truly took the time to know these matriarchs. In her newest book, Sarah Christmyer dives into the stories of 11 women from the Old Testament, sharing unique insights on how we can relate to them over 2,000 years later. Price: $16.95 Discount code: “RADIANT” for 20% off and free shipping (expires Jan. 31, 2020) ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Ever Eden As Amy O’Connell shared in her recent article for Radiant, good literature is incarnational, revealing the human person. If you or someone you know is looking to be challenged by stories and poems written from a Catholic perspective, Ever Eden is the perfect gift. Each piece of creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry is written by Catholic women just like you, and if my experience is any proof, you are sure to find at least one piece that resonates with you. Buy the full year subscription for the best price and get four beautifully designed issues of Ever Eden shipped directly to your door in 2020. Price: $48.00 (yearly subscription), $16.50 (single copy of the winter issue) Discount code: “RADIANTDEC19” for free shipping, through Dec. 31 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. “Created for Love” First of all, I’m in love with this design and wish I was engaged myself so I could use it! Secondly, and more seriously, we know that it takes much more than finding the ideal dress to prepare your heart and soul for marriage. “Created for Love” is the perfect reflection journal to guide any bride-to-be along her journey to the altar, allowing her to capture these moments of anticipation and reflect on what it means to be a woman. Add this hardbound book to your list if you or someone close is preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage this upcoming year. Price: $29.95*** …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. “Encountering Mother Teresa” Even your non-Catholic friends will be poring over this book of previously unpublished photos of Mother Teresa. Perfect to display on your coffee table, “Encountering Mother Teresa” contains interviews with people who knew the saint of Calcutta best and over 200 photos by Linda Schaefer, a well-respected photographer who had the rare opportunity to document the work of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. Fall in love with this modern saint and let her legacy seep into your home this year. Price: $39.95*** …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… More books of interest If you want some spiritual reading by a popular saint, don’t miss this hardbound Noll Classic edition of “The Dialogue” by Catherine of Siena. “Praying the Rosary with John Paul II” uses reflections based on JPII to change up your Rosary game. “Stay Connected” journals for Catholic women are perfect for individual or group study, addressing Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ invitation to a life of grace, and Catholic classics from seven inspiring men and women. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Home items   Stella Maris candles This year, don’t just buy any candle to make your house smell cozy. Stella Maris Candles & Co. has three Catholic themed candles — Guadalupe, Baptism and Victory — made from natural soy in small batches, and they are scented with smells such as rose, lily, myrrh and frankincense (the last one is meant to smell like holy chrism — who can refuse having your house smell like a newly baptized baby?). Each candle burns for about 40 hours, and they are perfect for prayer time or daily use. Price: $36-38 Discount code: “RADIANT100” (free shipping on purchases of $100 or more) ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Just Love Prints Just Love Prints has you covered for stocking stuffers with their collection of vinyl stickers. Newest to the shop is their “Courage, dear heart” sticker (any Narnia fans?) and a quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen (coffee lovers will especially appreciate this one). If you are looking for a different gift but like the print, many are also featured on mugs! Price: $25 (10 pack of stickers or one mug) Discount: All purchases get automatic free shipping ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Be A Heart Seasonal party goods and accessories are just fine and dandy, but what if you gave them a Catholic spin? Be A Heart is the perfect place to look for these goodies. While I encourage you to explore the shop, their Holy Friends collection is a great place to start. Because, really, who doesn’t need an apron with your favorite saints? Also, for those of you with littles, check out their Baby and Child selection of Catholic-themed headpieces and swaddles. Price: $6-20 (depending on item) Discount code: “RADIANT” for 10% off …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. I hope some of these items caught your eye, for either yourself or a dear friend. And if you are looking for a more extensive list, Our Sunday Visitor’s Christmas gift guide has suggestions for the entire family! Ava Lalor is editor for Radiant magazine and assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor. She is a midwestern girl with a heart for supporting people’s stories. She also is a Jane Austen enthusiast, chai tea addict, grammar activist, amateur painter and gal pal to St. Thérèse. Follow her on Instagram @avalalor. The post ‘Tis the season: The Radiant Christmas gift guide is here! appeared first on RADIANT.
2019 Advent Photo Journey
Where as this year gone? We’re about to celebrate Thanksgiving and then just a few days later it’s the beginning of Advent, on December 1!  One of the things we have been doing for six years now at Catholics Sistas for Advent and Lent are Photo Challenges. It’s a great way to journey through the […] The post 2019 Advent Photo Journey appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Finding the One Thing that Slows Me Down
Stress and overwhelm seem to be part and parcel to the gig of motherhood. Add to that, if you are a stay at home mom, there is less opportunity to break away for much needed self care. As a former working mom, from wedding photographer, to working in the same industry as my husband, and teaching kindergarten before returning home to care for our endless stream of kiddos since the early 2000s, The post Finding the One Thing that Slows Me Down appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck