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Showing posts from December, 2014

Catholic Fire's Top Ten Posts for 2014

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2014 was a memorable year for Catholic Fire, as our readership has continued to increase! The year’s ten most read blog posts reflect our Catholic readers' interests in: miracles, spirituality and holiness, evangelization, the Eucharist, prayer, the culture of life, the saints, and the Blessed Mother. This year marked the release of my new book from Servant Books, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues, on the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, October 7, 2014. Seven Saints for Seven Virtues is available from Franciscan Media, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

1.  The Miraculous Visions of Fatima on October 13, 1917
2.  The Miraculous Power of the Eucharist and Prayer in our Fight Against Evil
3.  Catholic Church Grows at a Faster Rate Than the Global Population
4.  Fr. Barron: What Helps Convert Protestants to Catholicism?
5.  Pope Francis Condemns "Throw-Away" Culture
6.  New Movie: Mary's Land
7.  Pope Francis: The Beatitudes are a Program for Holiness
8.  Seven Great Sai…

Eleven Easy Ways to Evangelize at Christmas

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By Jean M. Heimann

Christmas is the origin of Christian evangelization in the world because the primary Eucharistic event of our faith is the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s Living Word made flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and it is He offers Himself to us Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.

As we gaze upon the Babe in the manger and as we receive Him in Holy Communion, let us be ever aware of our mission to be witnesses to God’s life-giving love in the world.

How do we evangelize at Christmas as Catholics? There are thousands of little ways we can share our faith and draw others to the Good News. Here are some of the ways I like to evangelize.

Continue Reading.

Brief Blogging Break

I will be taking a brief blogging break following my book interviews and signing, to catch up on the rest of my life and to celebrate the Christmas Season with family, but will return soon. Don't go away now!

Feast of St. John, Apostle of Love

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Today is the feast day of my Community -- the feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist. St. John is also my patron saint and the saint I try most to emulate in my daily life.

St. John, a fisherman, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of St. James the Great, was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry, and he travelled everywhere with Him.

St. John is known as the Beloved Disciple, the Apostle of Love. Why was he identified in this way? John loved Jesus greatly, and he demonstrated a meek, mild, tender, humble, and peaceable disposition that made him very much like Our Lord himself. Also, his singular privilege of chastity, his virginal purity rendered him worthy of this more particular love.

As St. Augustine explains, "He was chosen by our Lord, a virgin, and he always remained such. Christ was pleased to choose a virgin for his mother, a virgin for his precursor, and a virgin for his favorite disciple. His church suffers only those who live…

O Holy Night! A Savior Has Been Born for Us!

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"For today in the city of David  a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you:  you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes  and lying in a manger.” -- Luke 2: 11-12

 An Incredible Voice and One of the Most Amazing Tenors of all Times Singing "O Holy Night":

The mystery of Christmas through art

The Birth of Jesus is one of the favorite themes for artists of all times. Geniuses like El Greco, Rubens and Murillo have tried to represent the Holy Family.



- Via Rome Reports.

St. John of Kanty: Hero of Charity, Kindness, and Humility

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Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of St. John of Kanty, priest.

St. John was born at Kanty, in the Diocese of Krakow, Poland in 1390 to Stanislaus and Anne who were pious country people. He was educated at the Academy of Krakow, where he impressed his professors and colleagues with his pleasant and friendly disposition; always happy, but serious, humble, and holy, he won the hearts of all who came in contact with him. He earned his doctorate in theology and philosophy, was ordained priest and was then appointed professor of theology at the Academy of Krakow. Shortly afterwards, he was reassigned to the Diocese of Krakow, to be a parish priest.

He was then re-appointed professor of Sacred Scripture at the Academy of Krakow, a position he held for the rest of his life. John taught his students this philosophy again and again, "Fight all error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause."…

Christmas Spirit Alive Around the World in 2014

From Vatican City to the streets of La Paz, Bolivia, the Christmas spirit is on display around the globe.

Unique Nativity Scenes on display in Rome

The tradition of setting up nativity scenes was actually born in Italy, thanks to St. Francis of Assisi. So, it doesn't get more Italian than this: A nativity scene, shepherds and all, made out of pasta.

It's just one of hundreds of original designs, on display at a yearly Christmas exhibit titled "100 Nativity Sets.”

MARIA MENAGLIA
100 Presepi (Rome)
"This year we have 212 of them on display. They are all new and they came from 42 different countries. From Italy alone, we have some from 14 regions. They represent all the culture of the world.”

Even though the exhibit is based in Europe, Latin American has a strong presence. Countries like Mexico, Colombia and Peru put forth their best work for the show.

Displays like these prove that a tradition that started centuries ago, is still very much alive today on a global scale.

MARIA MENAGLIA
100 Presepi (Rome)
"In the 60's this tradition was dying in Italy. The Christmas tree was more fashionable back then. So …

Catholic Fire's 11th Blogiversary!!!

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Today is the 11th anniversary of my first post on Catholic Fire! Thank you for reading Catholic Fire and for your comments here. This is the busy time of the year when people aren't visiting here too often because they are off preparing to celebrate Christmas, but if you do happen to drop by, I would love it if you would leave a comment. Yes, I do like feedback, preferably the positive kind. I will probably be blogging right up to Christmas, so keep on stopping by. I appreciate you so much!  God bless you!

Catholic Christmas Gifts for The Five Senses

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Blessed Pope Urban V: Humble Peacemaker

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A native of France, Pope Urban V was born Guillaume de Grimoard at Grisac in Languedoc in 1310. Born of a knightly family, he was educated at Montpellier and Toulouse. He studied canon law and theology and became a Benedictine monk. He was one of the greatest canonists of his day; was professor of canon law at Montpellier, and also taught at Toulouse, Paris, and Avignon.

He was named abbot of his monastery in 1352, served as a papal diplomat, and was sent as an ambassador to various locations. He also served as a bishop.

He was elected pope in 1362 while on diplomatic business, even though he was not a cardinal. Guillaume de Grimoard was chosen for his virtue and learning, and for his skill in practical affairs of government and diplomacy. In spite of his great intellect, he was a humble man who lived simply and modestly in contrast to other clergymen of that time who preferred comfort and luxury. He was a great lover of peace and his papacy was blessed by his peacekeeping activity b…

Dominican Sisters: Singing the Rosary

The Dominican Sisters of Mary in Ann Arbor, Mich., have released a new music album centered on the rosary. These Sisters have such heavenly voices!

Blessed Anthony Grassi

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Anthony Grassi was born in 1592, in Fermo, Italy. Anthony was the oldest child of five born to a devout middle class family. He was a congenial and clever boy, who was well-liked by his teachers and peers. Anthony’s father died when he was only ten and afterwards, Anthony suffered a long illness. When he recovered, he began frequenting the local church of the Oratorian Fathers (founded by St. Philip Neri), joining the religious order when he was 17.

Anthony's love of learning made his studies for the priesthood a pleasurable time in his life. His excellent memory made it possible for him to acquire an extensive knowledge of the Bible, the Fathers of the Church, and the teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. He was a like a “walking encyclopedia” of Catholic information.

Each year, Anthony made a pilgrimage to the holy house of Loreto, which was only twenty miles away. On one such visit in 1621 at age 29, he was struck by lightning and knocked unconscious. He received the anointing of…

Enter to Win The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living

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This week, Catholic Mom is giving away five copies of The Grace of Yes : Eight Virtues for Generous Livingby Lisa Hendey along with a signed copy for one lucky winner. Go HERE to enter!

Pope gets surprised on his 78th birthday!

Getting a good spot in St. Peter's Square isn't always easy. But, a group of seminarians managed to not only get front row seats-they also managed to bring in a cake for the Pope's birthday, candles and all....

JOSUÉ MARÍA HERNÁNDEZ
Seminarian
"We thought about it yesterday. So, we quickly made the cake and brought it here to the audience this morning. We don't know a lot about cooking, but we wanted to make the Pope feel special. The cake was made of apricot jam and whipped cream with blue icing. We wrote, Happy 78th birthday Pope Francis!.”

The celebration didn't stop there. The Pope also greeted a large group of about 300 seminarians and took a few sips of Argentinian maté tea.

"We are seminarians here in Rome.”
"On Saturday, 35 priests from the Legion of Christ were ordained.”

Among the seminarians was Raúl, who brought the Pope an image of Our Lady.

RAUL LANSING
Seminarian
"This little statue of Our Lady is from Germany, close to where Ben…

Best Catholic Books for Christmas Gifts 2014

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1. Mary of Nazareth: The Life of Our Lady in Pictures by Fr. Donald Calloway -- Ignatius Press, 2014
I have this book and love it! It is one of the most inspirational books I have read! Beautiful photos, uplifting quotes from the saints about Mary, all make this an ideal Christmas gift.


2. Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does) by Scott Hahn -- Image, 2014


3. Practical Theology: 350+ Ways Your Mind Can Help you Become a SaintbyPeter Kreeft -- Ignatius 2014 

4. St. John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Everett -- Totus Tuus Press and Lighthouse Media, 2014


5. Bringing Lent Home with St. John Paul II: Prayers, Reflections, and Activities for Families by Donna-Marie Cooper-O'Boyle -- Ave Maria Press, 2014
This is the perfect book for family communication and reflection! It is power-packed with great stories on Pope St. John Paul II that you will love reading!


6.Prayer Works: Getting a Grip on Catholic Spiritualityby Matthew Leonard -- Our…

St. Adelaide: Patron of Abuse Victims

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The Saint of the day for December 16th is St. Adelaide of Burgundy, a marvel of grace and beauty, according to her spiritual director and biographer, St. Odilon of Cluny. She was born a princess in 1931 and was to become not only the Queen of Italy, but the Empress of Italy. More importantly, Adelaide lived a holy life, which wasn't an easy task, given her circumstances in life, and was later canonized a saint.

The daughter of King Rupert II of Burgundy, France, at age 16, she married Lothar of Italy, who became king of Italy. She was widowed in 950 while still a teenager. Lothar was thought to be poisoned by his successor to the throne, Berengarius. As part of his attempt to solidify his grip on power, Berengarius ordered Adelaide to marry his son; but she refused, and was imprisoned.

A priest came and dug a tunnel to where she was being kept and helped her escape from prison. She remained hidden in the woods until the Duke of Canossa carried her to his castle. During this time …

Christmas Novena starts December 16

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The following Christmas Novena begins December 16 and is prayed for nine consecutive days. It  is suggested for private use with the family. The three leader parts, Father, Eldest Child and Mother may be adjusted to fit your family situation or to use in a classroom, parish or prayer group.

The Christmas Novena
All: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

Our Father... Hail Mary...

Father: O Lord, Open my lips.

All: And my mouth shall proclaim Your praise.

Father: O God, come to my assistance.

All: O Lord, make haste to help us. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

Father: The Lord our Coming King, hasten to adore.

All: The Lord our Coming King, hasten to adore.

Eldest child: Rejoice, O Daughter of Sion, and exult, O Daughter of Jerusalem.

All: The Lord our Coming King, hasten to adore.

Eldest child: Behold, He that is God and man shall com…

St. Maria Crocifissa Di Rosa: Hero of Charity and Courage

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Today's saint was born Paolina (Paula) Francesca Maria at Brescia, Italy on Nov. 6, 1813. She was the sixth of nine children of a wealthy noble landowner and industrialist, Clement de Rosa and his wife Countess Camilla Albani. At the age of eleven, Paula’s mother died and she was educated by the Visitandines. At the age of seventeen, she returned home to care for her father's household.

As was common in noble families, her father found a proper husband for her. However, Paula had taken a vow of celibacy. With the help of her spiritual director, Msgr. Faustino Pinzoni, she persuaded her father to respect her wishes. She remained at home and spent all her free time performing good works in the community. She organized a women’s guild, for which she planned retreats and special missions. She also tended to the spiritual needs of young women employed at her father's textile mill in Acquafredda.

During a cholera epidemic, she and Gabriela Echenos-Bornati cared for the sick wit…

7 QT's: Three Marian Feast Days, My Book, and a Giveaway!

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This is going to be very quick, as it is almost Saturday.



1.  Lisa Hendey interviewed me for my new book, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues, on Friday, December 12.  You can read her interview HERE.



2.Happy Belated Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

3. This weekend, I will be putting up our Christmas tree and indoor decorations. I usually wait until the third Sunday of Advent or Gaudete Sunday to put it up.



4. Happy Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe!




5. Happy St. Lucy's Day!



6. Enter to win! I'm giving away 2 CD's of "O Day of Resurrection! Liturgy of the Hours for Sunday."



7.  Happy belated Feast of Our Lady of Loreto!

Have a great weekend and a joyful Gaudete Sunday!

For more Quick Takes,link up with our lovely new hostess, Kelly, of This Ain't the Lyceum!


Feast of St. Lucy and Traditional Celebrations

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December 13th is the feast of St. Lucy (283-304), a noblewoman who was born in Syracuse, Italy, during the Diocletian persecution. She made a vow of virginity and distributed her wealth to the poor. This generosity angered the pagan youth to whom she had been unwillingly betrothed and who denounced her to Paschasius, the governor of Sicily. When it was decided to violate her virginity in a place of shame, Lucy, with the help of the Holy Spirit, stood immovable. A fire was then built around her, but again God protected her. She was finally executed by a sword.

As the name, Lucy, derives from 'lux' or 'light', she has become associated with festivals of light and with invocations against afflictions of the sight. Legend has it that she was blinded by her persecutors. The church of San Giovanni Maggiore at Naples even claims to possess her eyes.

In the old Julian calendar, Lucy's feast fell on the shortest day of the year. She continues to be associated with the comi…

Our Lady of Guadalupe: Miracles of Yesterday and Today

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Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe -- one of my favorite Marian feast days. Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, brings hope into our lives. She covers us in the folds of her heavenly mantle and cradles us. She is the Mother who tenderly consoles us and protects us from evil. She is the one who carries Divine Life within her and crushed the head of the wicked serpent. She brings us life and love; hope and healing. She brought conversion to Mexico and will renew the Americas again if we pray for her intercession.

History

Five centuries ago, in the country now known as Mexico, senseless human sacrifices were performed. Between 20,000 and 50,000 human beings were murdered a year in the Aztec empire. Most of them were slaves and included men, as well as women, and children. An early Mexican historian estimated that one out of every five children in Mexico was sacrificed to the gods.

The climax of these ritualistic killings came in 1487 when a new temple (or…

Great Giveaway and Music Review: O Day of Resurrection!

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Audio CD from New Camaldoli Hermitage (Jade Records, 2014)
O Day of Resurrection! Liturgy of the Hours for Sunday (Jade Music) is a 27- track recording of the Liturgy of the Hours beautifully chanted by the monks from the New Camaldoi Hermitage in Big Sur, California. The album was recorded in the chapel at their hermitage.

To listen to this album is to get a taste of the contemplative spirituality of the The Camaldolese Benedictine monks. We share in their prayers throughout the day when we listen to this album. The album is divided into four parts, which correspond to the order of the Liturgy of the Hours, as they are prayed throughout the day: Vigils, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline. The Liturgy of the Hours is a celebration in praise of God, which helps to sanctify the day. When we hear the monks chanting the hymns, we share in the community’s praise and worship of God and develop a deeper spiritual meaning and beauty of the Psalms. Listening to this community album, I was drawn int…

Pope St. Damasus I: A Great Devotee of the Saints

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Today Catholics commemorate Pope St. Damasus I, who led the Church through a critical part of the fourth-century Arian controversy over Jesus' divinity.

Pope Damasus I made decisions that shaped the future of Western Catholicism and the universal Church. During his pontificate, Latin became the official liturgical language of the Roman Church, which had used Greek extensively in the past.

The same Pope authorized St. Jerome to revise the Latin translation of the Bible into what became the widely-used “Vulgate” edition. Pope Damasus also authorized the decrees of the Second Ecumenical Council, which expanded the Nicene Creed's profession of faith in the Holy Spirit and added portions on the Church, baptism, and the resurrection of the dead.

Pope Damasus' letters testify to the origin of the papacy as a office instituted by Christ. The need to articulate this doctrine grew during the fourth century, after the Emperor Constantine and his successors increased the profile of C…

Feast of Our Lady of Loreto

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By Jean M. Heimann

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Loreto. The title Our Lady of Loreto refers to the Holy House of Loreto, the house in which Mary was born, and where the Annunciation occurred, and to an ancient statue of Our Lady which is found there.

Mary's home in Nazareth was viewed as a holy place and the Apostles used the residence as a church.
After the fall of the Latin Church in Jerusalem in 1291, tradition tells us that a band of angels scooped up the little house from the Holy Land, and transported it first to what is now Croatia. They later carried the home to Italy, where it finally landed in Loreto on December 2, 1295. It was this flight that led to her patronage of people involved in aviation, and the long life of the house that has led to the patronage of builders and construction workers.

Loreto is the first shrine of international renown dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and has been known as a Marian center for centuries. Popes have always held the Shrine of L…

St. Juan Diego: Hero of Humility

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Today is the optional memorial of St. Juan Diego. Juan Diego was born in 1474 with the name "Cuauhtlatoatzin" ("the talking eagle") in Cuauhtitlan, which was located in what now is part of Mexico City.  He was a member of the macehualli, or “poor Indian" class, the lowest (just above slave status) and largest group in the Aztec Empire.

As an adult, he lived a simple life, farming the fields and weaving mats. He owned a piece of land with a small house on it. He and his wife were happily married but had no children. Around 1525, both converted and were baptized.  At that time, he received the Christian name of Juan Diego and his wife received the name of Maria Lucia. After his wife's death in 1529, Juan Diego withdrew to Tolpetlac, to the home of his uncle, Juan Bernardino, who had also become a Christian.

On December 9, 1531, as was his custom every Saturday, he left before dawn, to walk to the Mass celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin, at the Franc…

Prayer of Pope Francis on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2014

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Every year on December 8, Pope Francis goes to Piazza di Spagna in Rome and prays to Our Lady at the statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception located on top of an ancient column, in honor of the doctrine which declares that she was conceived without original sin. Here is his prayer this year:

Mary our Mother, today the People of God celebrate you and venerate you as Immaculate, preserved forever from the stain of sin.

Accept the homage I offer you in the name of the Church in Rome and throughout the world.

Knowing that you, who are our Mother, are totally free from sin, is of great comfort to us.

Knowing that evil has no power over you, fills us with hope and strength in the daily struggle we have to face against the threats of the evil one.

But we are not alone in this struggle, we are not orphans because Jesus, before dying on the Cross, gave you to us as our Mother.

Even though we are sinners, we are still your children, children of the Immaculate, called to that holiness t…

A Girl from Nazareth

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." Catechism of the Catholic Church

Gospel: Luke 1:26-38


From a 2013 homily by Pope Francis on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

The Gospel of St Luke presents us with Mary, a girl from Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, in the outskirts of the Roman Empire and on the outskirts of Israel as well. A village. Yet the Lord’s gaze rested on her, on this little girl from that distant village, on the one he had chosen to be the mother of his Son. In view of this motherhood, Mary was preserved from original sin, from that fracture in communion with God, with others and with creation, which deeply wounds every human being. But this fracture was healed in advance in the Mother of the One who came to free us …

God's Existence and The Argument from Desire

Fr. Barron: If every innate or natural desire we have points to some objective state of affairs that fulfills it, then our innate desire for ultimate joy points to a supernatural source of fulfillment. In other words, if your desire is for the properly unconditioned good, true, and beautiful, then it necessarily orients you toward "God." 

St. Nicholas: Model of Charity

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Saint Nicholas was born in the village of Patara in Asia Minor (now the southern coast of Turkey) about the middle of the third century. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young.

Later he was ordained a priest, and when the bishop of his district died, he was made Bishop of Myra. Saint Nicholas is distinguished for his great faith. His faith was so great, that with his prayer he calmed a stormy sea while on a trip to the Holy Lands. For this reason sailors pay homage to him as their protector.

He is particularly well known for his charity and his love for children. He used his great wealth to assist all who were in need: poor families, widows, and especially orphans and poor children. As Bishop, he established a poorhouse and a hospital.


Perhaps the best-known story about Nicholas concerns his charity toward a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters, who were all hoping to be married. R…