Friday, November 30, 2012

Fishers of Men

In Matthew 4:18-22 we read that Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galillee when He met two brothers, Simon (Peter) and Andrew.

He said to them "Follow me and I will make you fish people."

They left their nets and everything else they had and followed Him.

Later on He met two other brothers, James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were mending their nets with their father. He asked them to follow Him.

They left the nets and their father and followed Jesus.

These were the first disciples of Christ.

They left everything behind and followed Jesus.

Jesus does not ask us today to leave everything, our families, friends, jobs and responsibilities to follow Him.

He asks us to trust Him, to love Him and to live life as His Father in Heaven would want us to.

He asks us to witness for Him as best we can. Through the way we live, through what we say and what we do.

Even writing the occasional Blog post is witnessing for Him.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Novena to the Immaculate Conception

Today starts the first day of the Novena to the Immaculate Conception.  It goes from November 30, 2012 to December 7, the Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  Pray this prayer once a day for nine days for your own personal intention.

Immaculate Virgin! Mary, conceived without sin! Remember, thou were miraculously preserved from even the shadow of sin, because thou were destined to become not only the Mother of God, but also the mother, the refuge, and the advocate of man; penetrated therefore, with the most lively confidence in thy never-failing intercession, we most humbly implore thee to look with favor upon the intentions of this novena, and to obtain for us the graces and the favors we request of __________. Thou know, O Mary, how often our hearts are the sanctuaries of God, Who abhors iniquity. Obtain for us, then, than angelic purity which was thy favorite virtue, that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, and that purity of intention which will consecrate every thought, word, and action to His greater glory. Obtain also for us a constant spirit of prayer and self-denial, that we many recover by penance that innocence which we have lost by sin, and at length attain safety to that blessed abode of the saints, where nothing defiled can enter.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

V. Thou are all fair, O Mary.
R. Thou art all fair, O Mary.
V. And the original stain is not in thee.
R. And the original stain is not in thee.
V. Thou art the glory of Jerusalem.
R. Thou art the joy of Israel
V. Thou art the honor of our people.
R. Thou art the advocate of sinners.
V. O Mary.
R. O Mary.
V. Virgin, most prudent.
R. Mother, most tender.
V. Pray for us.
R. Intercede for us with Jesus our Lord.
V. In thy conception, Holy Virgin, thou wast immaculate.
R. Pray for us to the Father Whose Son thou didst bring forth.
V. O Lady! aid my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us pray

Holy Mary, Queen of Heaven, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and mistress of the world, who forsakes no one, and despises no one, look upon me, O Lady! with an eye of pity, and entreat for me of thy beloved Son the forgiveness of all my sins; that, as I now celebrate, with devout affection, thy holy and immaculate conception, so, hereafter I may receive the prize of eternal blessedness, by the grace of Him whom thou, in virginity, did bring forth, Jesus Christ Our Lord: Who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, live and reign, in perfect Trinity, God, world without end. Amen.

This novena was found at Fisheaters.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quick Bytes #40: Thanksgiving in 2040

What if we opened the digital newspaper on November 22, 2040 and saw this ...

WASHINGTON DC  (AP)  Today, the President of the United States declared this would be the final Thanksgiving in United States' History.

"It is with mixed emotions that I bid farewell to a wonderful U.S. tradition," he told reporters.  "Over the past few years, Americans have finally learned to thank God every single day for what He has given them.  They do it with such passion, and dedication, that I really didn't see the need to force everyone to set aside a day in November anymore."


Monday, November 19, 2012

Flower Petal Rosary

Monica from Equipping Catholic Families who is also the owner and creative force behind Arma Dei Shoppe, had asked me to review one of her Cathletics Craft Kits called Spiritual Bouquet of Prayer Petal Flowers.  This particular kit has 3 prayer crafts in 1.  You can use the provided templates to make either a Flower Petal Rosary, Rosary Garland or Divine Mercy Chaplet.  Once you purchase her kit, Monica will send you the file to download and print off of your own computer.  You can choose to print it on colored paper or white paper for coloring. I printed the templates first on white cardstock and then used them to make color copies.

I had a chance to use the Flower Petal Rosary over the weekend with my first graders.  I decided to informally test them on their prayers using this craft.  My class size is small so I had each student take 2 Hail Mary petals and sit in a circle.  I placed down the stem with the mysteries of the rosary and explained we would pray the first decade from the Joyful Mysteries.  My instructions were that as a group, we would pray the Our Father together and then each student would lead 2 Hail Mary's as we went around the circle. They could choose whether they wanted to recite it by memory or read it off of the petal.  As each student started their prayer, they placed the petal around the Our Father circle.  Then we would all say the Glory Be and Fatima Prayer together at the end.

Here are a few photos of our prayer circle:

By using this prayer craft which also felt like a game to the children, I could easily identify in a non-threatening way, if the children knew their prayers or not.  My conclusion~ we need more practice.  It's much easier to recite them in a group than to say it out loud on your own!

This kit can be used at home, school or religious education program at any time of the year.  Even though Divine Mercy Sunday is in April every year, I think I will teach the children that prayer early now that I have a fun and hands on way of doing it.  Thank you Monica for this opportunity to review your Spiritual Bouquet of Prayer Petal Flowers! 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lighting Darkness

One candle lighting the Darkness
Two candles and then three
Many candles and then even more.

The Darkness is lit
And the Word is read.

One candle goes out in the Darkness
Sadly missed and not replaced.
More candles give up their brightness
Darkness steals the Word away.

Every Christian Blog must shine brightly.
What is yours doing now?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Quick Bytes #39: The Only Thing

Everything good we have - and do - is because of God.

The only thing we can claim as our own is sin.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Worry and Doubt. Peace and Certainty.

It was a lovely Spring evening, quite bright and warm for this time of year, when Steven Milliner, the Youth Club leader, decided to take the children to the park opposite St Vincent Catholic Church for some fresh air and exercise.

Most of the boys had gathered with two Club Leaders at the far end of the park to play football. The rest of the children stayed in the playground area and played on the swings, the slides, round-abouts and seesaws; supervised by a couple of Leaders and Father Ignatius who’d turned up to help.

The priest sat on a bench and kept a watchful eye when he was joined by Tony a young volunteer who helped at the Youth Club every now and then.

“Could I ask you something Father?” he said hesitantly as he sat down.

“Fire away …” replied the priest.

“How is it that you priests can be so strong and steadfast in your Faith. You and Father Donald are so saintly and you preach on Sunday so well … I mean, do you ever have doubts?”

Father Ignatius smiled. “If only you knew …” he thought silently.

After a moment or two Father Ignatius spoke gently.

“Well … Father Donald may well be saintly I suppose … as for me … hmmm … what makes you think I’m saintly?”

“You’re always so calm Father. Nothing seems to rattle you. And your Faith is so strong …”

“Well Tony …” Father Ignatius said after a short pause, “priests are human beings just like everyone else. Just because we wear a white collar, or have been ordained as priests, does not make us Saints. Of course we have doubts every now and then … perhaps not as much or as often as other people, but we are no less immune to the attacks and temptations of the devil.

“A person’s Faith depends on a lot of factors. We all have different levels of Faith … if I can put it this way. Some people have a strong Faith in the Good Lord and can withstand no end of suffering and hardship … others fold at the first stumble …”

“So, if you do have moments of doubts Father, how do you fight it?” asked Tony.

“Prayer … constant prayer,” the priest answered, “one of my favorite prayers is what the man in the Bible said to Jesus. ‘I believe Lord; help my unbelief’. Look it up in Mark 9:24.”

“Yes Father … I remember reading that …” Tony replied.

“Priests are no different to anyone else,” continued Father Ignatius, “some have strong Faith indeed, living Saints as you call them … whilst others do struggle sometime, just like anyone else.

“Anyway … why do you ask? Having any problems?”

Tony hesitated a little before replying.

“Well … sometimes I have doubts …” he said, “… and yet at other times I feel totally certain about my Faith. I believe and totally trust in God, especially when all is going well in my life.

“I suppose the problem is that I don’t trust myself to believe enough. It’s as if I should believe and trust more … yet it does not seem or feel enough. I doubt myself in what I believe. Do you understand what I mean?”

Father Ignatius said nothing for a while as he cleaned his glasses.

“Look at that seesaw over there …” he said finally, “Do you see how one child at one end is up in the air one moment and then down again the next, whilst the other child in turn is up in the air? And then the first child is up again … and down again …

“Life is a bit like that sometimes. You have at one end of the seesaw Worry and Doubt; and at the other end Peace and Certainty.

“Sometimes Worry and Doubt are in the ascendant and together what powerful adversaries they make! We start questioning our Faith. We ask ourselves ‘What if I got it all wrong? What if there is no God at all!’. We worry about our family, our friends, our finances and worldly goods. I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like.”

Tony nodded silently.

“But at other times, especially after prayers or Bible readings, the seesaw tips the other way and Peace and Certainty are up in the air. We remember the many times God was there for us when we needed Him. And the many situations He saved us from and helped us through.

“It’s at these times that we know for certain that He exists alright, despite what others might lead us to believe.”

“That’s a good analogy,” said Tony quietly.

“I suppose we can’t control the up and down movement of the seesaw,” continued Father Ignatius in his calm voice, “that’s what it was designed to do. But with constant prayers we can ensure that Peace and Certainty are there high up for all to see in our lives for as long as possible.”

More Father Ignatius stories HERE.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Home in God

I have not been myself since my husband was seriously ill this past summer. He is doing very well now, but I have been feeling a little out of sorts. My prayer life is in disarray. It is as if I have lost my balance.

Recently, during my prayer time, I found myself remembering the three weeks I spent with my grandparents many years ago. I was sick with mono. It was winter in New England and my doctor hoped that I would heal in the warm Florida sun.

I remember being amused to discover that my grandparents had a set routine every day. They ate at the same time. They took walks at the same time. They even napped at the same time.

I was only 21 years old and I remember thinking it would be boring to live like that. But within a few days, without even realizing it, I found myself happily following their routine, with only a few changes to fit my own needs.

And in that routine, in the stability and peace of my grandparents' loving home, I found comfort and warmth and healing. And a new sense of what it means to be home.

Today I am reminded of the lesson of those days. As I try to regain my equilibrium, I find comfort and balance in my ordinary routine.

As I held onto God during the crisis of my husband's illness, I now hold onto God in the everyday moments of my life.

I do not need to go in search of peace or healing. God is present in my here and now. God is present in my ordinary everyday life.

And in God, I find my home.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

More priests

Here are some more priests with something important to say.