Showing posts from December, 2015

Catholic Fire's Top Ten for 2015

2015 was a memorable year for Catholic Fire, as our readership has continued to grow! This year's top posts reflect readers' interests in: the Blessed Virgin Mary, the saints, prayer, Catholic books and films for Lent, Advent tips, and Catholic theology and philosophy.

1.   Best Catholic Books for Lent
2.   Top Ten Catholic Films for Lent
3.   Prayer to the Blessed Mother for the Healing of our Country
4.   Fr. Barron on Atheism and Philosophy
5.   Conquered by Love
6.   Novena to St. Therese of Lisieux
7.   Novena to Our Lady of Fatima
8.   Ten Tips for a Peace-Filled Advent
9.   Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
10. St. Bonaventure

My top two referring sites were:

1. Spirit Daily
2. Big Pulpit

I am extremely grateful to these websites and to all who have shared my posts. My heartfelt thanks go out you. God bless you!

Thank you to all my readers who have supported and encouraged me this past year and over the years. On December 27th, I celebrated my 12th year of blogging at Catho…

The Pope's Prayer Intentions for January 2016

The Holy Father's prayer intentions for January 2016 are:

Universal:  Inter-religious Dialogue

That sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice.

Evangelization: Christian Unity

That by means of dialogue and fraternal charity and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions.

St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr

On December 29, we celebrate the feast of St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr.

St. Thomas Becket was born in London, England in 1118. His father was a Norman knight, Gilbert, who had become a prosperous merchant in London; his mother, Matilda, was also Norman, and he had at least two sisters.

Thomas was noted for his sanctity, his deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his generosity to the poor. Richly endowed by nature, he was tall, handsome, strong, and athletic, with dark hair, a pale complexion and a prominent nose. His sight and hearing were unusually keen, he had an excellent memory, and he was a gifted speaker and debater.

He enjoyed playing field sports as a boy, and as a young man, his energy, his practical ability, and his initiative exceeded his wisdom and his judgment. He was educated at the Merton Priory in Sussex and at the University of Paris.

When he returned to England at twenty-one, he was appointed as a clerk to the sheriff’s court, where he showed great a…

Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs

Today we commemorate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. All male children under the age of two in Bethlehem were massacred by King Herod the Great in an attempt to kill the child Jesus. We call these Holy Innocents, martyrs, because they died in the place of Christ. St. Augustine called them "buds, killed by the frost of persecution the moment they showed themselves."

In modern times, we have our own "holy innocents" -- those children who are killed daily in the place that should be the safest and most protective environment of all for them -- their mother's wombs. On this day, we recall the more than 57 million children in our country alone (since 1973) and the vast number of children throughout the world who have been killed under the insane laws permitting abortion. Let us pray daily for an end to this tragedy.

The Holy Innocents

"Today, dearest brethren, we celebrate the birthday of those children who were slaughtered, as the Gospel tells us, by that exc…

Imitating the Holy Family in This Jubilee Year of Mercy

Today is the feast of the Holy Family. The primary purpose of the Church in instituting and promoting this feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families. How can we emulate the Holy Family in this Jubilee Year of Mercy?

The primary way we can imitate the Holy Family in being a giver of mercy is to forgive one another of our faults and failings. Although we are not given details of forgiveness in the Holy Family, we know that there had to be forgiveness in the family in order for them to live in peace and harmony with one another. For example, when Jesus suddenly disappeared and was nowhere to be found, Joseph and Mary became anxious. Certainly, there must have been some blame-sharing that occurred and forgiveness that followed.

Pope Francis Shows us the Way

Pope Francis tells us that the family is “a large gym for training in self-giving and mutual forgiveness, without which no love can last. … Love doesn’t remain, it doesn’t last if we don’t give ourselv…

Merry Christmas!

I wish you all a blessed and a very Merry Christmas! I pray that the coming of the Infant Savior Jesus will fill your hearts with His peace, joy, and love.


Here is some beautiful music that will warm your heart and nourish your soul:

Adrianne Price -- Adeste Fideles (O Come all you Faithful):

Kitty Cleveland -- O Holy Night:

Sissel Kyrkjebø -- Pie Jesu (Merciful Lord):

Lyrics translated to English:

Merciful Lord

Merciful Lord, merciful Lord
merciful Lord, merciful Lord
who lifted the world’s sins
grant them peace,
grant them peace
Merciful Lord, merciful Lord
merciful Lord, merciful Lord
who lifted the world’s sins
grant them peace,
grant them peace
God’s Lamb, God’s Lamb,
God’s Lamb, God’s Lamb
who lifted the world’s sins
grant them peace,
grant them peace

Pentatonix -- Joy to the World

Seven Quick Takes: Christ is Coming

1. Christmas is coming soon. Are you ready? It seems like Advent has flown by. I was on a really good schedule of going to Mass daily, praying my Rosary, and going to Confession weekly. I was caught up with my writing, my housework, and working out daily at the gym when all of a sudden I had an accident. I carelessly tripped over the cord to my laptop and landed on my knees on the floor. My system was jolted -- I threw my back out, ended up with bruised knees, neck pain, headaches, and more. It's not something you want to experience at any time, but especially not right before Christmas. I have been in a lot of pain, but have been offering it up. Of course I went to the chiropractor and have been icing myself down, but I believe that God can use my pain to bring souls to Him during this Christmas season. This pain can be used for good purposes. Perhaps he also wants me to slow down, to do less, and pray more. Drawing nearer to him and preparing our hearts for his coming is what h…

St. Adelaide of Burgundy, princess and patron of abuse victims

The saint of the day for December 16th is St. Adelaide of Burgundy, patron of abuse victims, second marriages, and widows. St. Adelaide was a picture 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 became not only the Queen of Italy, but the Empress of Italy. More importantly, this woman of grace lived a holy life, which wasn't an easy endeavor, 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 eventually became king of Italy. She was widowed in 950 while still a teenager. Lothair 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; she refused, and was imprisoned.

It is believed that a priest came and dug a tunnel to where she was being kept and helped her escape.…

Christmas Novena: December 16 - 25

Opening Prayer (for each day)
Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold
At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires
(Mention your intentions here).
Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.
December 16:
O Shepherd that rulest Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep, come to guide and comfort us.
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
December 17:
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
December 18:
O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory …

St. John of the Cross, a "Master of Faith" for St. John Paul II

By Jean M. Heimann

Today, December 14, is the feast of St. John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church. He is the patron saint of mystics, contemplatives, mystical theology, and poets. He was, in fact, one of Pope St. John Paul II's favorite saints and spiritual mentors in the faith. St. John Paul II revealed: “I got to know St. John of the Cross in my youth and was able to dialogue with this master of faith.  I wrote my Doctoral thesis on ‘Faith in St. John of the Cross.” I have found him a friend and master who has shown me that light shines in darkness.”

St. John of the Cross (along with St. Teresa of Avila) is one of the founders of the Discalced Carmelites and today is one of their major feast days. Among the Church's contemplatives, St. John is one of the recognized masters of mystical theology. Indeed, perhaps no other writer has had greater influence on Catholic spirituality.

In 1542, John (Juan de Yepes y Álvarez) was born into a family of Jewish converts in a…

7QT: Mother Mary, Mercy, and Christmas

1. Saturday is 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. She is the Mother of Mercy. Here is a beautiful reflection for this Feast Day from Father Stephen Morris with some intercessions to help us during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Here is a story of my family's personal miracle through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

2. On December 8, we celebrated two significant events in the Catholic Church on the same day – the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy and the Solemnity of the Immaculat…

Catholic Books for Christmas

Here are five great gifts for Christmas:

1. The Kiss of Jesus: How Mother Teresa and the Saints Helped Me to Discover the Beauty of the Cross by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

In this candid, astonishing autobiographical account, this soft-spoken, delicate, and devout Catholic media celebrity reveals the shocking struggles she has tackled in life. She became engaged to a drug addict who held her against her will, threatening harm to her family. She faced miscarriages, abuse, serious illness, divorce, financial difficulties, custody battles, and single motherhood – all with great inner strength and tremendous courage. Through God’s providence, she met Mother Teresa, the spiritual guide who shepherded her through some of these trials and helped her heal.

2.True Radiance Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life by Lisa Mladinich

True Radiance is a beautiful book written for women  in the second half of their lives, which is intended to: guide them to gratitude, help them appreciate thei…

Our Lady of Loreto: Feast of the Flying House

By Jean M. Heimann

December 10 is the feast day of Our Lady of Loreto, which commemorates the house in which Mary was born and where the Annunciation occurred. Tradition tells us that in 1291 this house was transported from the Holy Land to Dalmatia (present day Yugoslavia) by a band of angels!

In Dalmatia, shepherds discovered the sudden appearance of a little house in a field. They informed the local priest, a cripple, who visited the house. While there, he received a vision about the house and was healed of his physical handicap. He was informed that St. Peter put the altar in the house and the figure of Mary (now known as Our Lady of Loreto) was carved by St. Luke.  A commission sent to the Holy Land learned that the house of Mary had, indeed, vanished, and the foundation left behind measured exactly the length and width of the house in Dalmatia which had miraculously appeared out of nowhere.  

Angels moved the house two other times to protect it from plunderers. The house stands…

St. Juan Diego and the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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 Franci…

Two Amazing Events on the Same Day

By Jean M. Heimann

On December 8, we celebrate two significant events in the Catholic Church on the same day – the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

Earlier this year, during Lent, Pope Francis announced that the Church would celebrate an extraordinary jubilee year devoted to God’s mercy. On April 11, 2015, he published a letter entitled Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy), stating that the Extraordinary  Jubilee Year of Mercy would take place from December 8, 2015 – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – through November 20, 2016 – the Solemnity of Christ the King.

We begin the Jubilee Year focusing on Mary, the Mother of God, who is also the Mother of Mercy.  We look at the face of our Lord Jesus Christ to see God’s mercy for us. He is the one who opens up the gates of salvation for us.  However, mercy begins with Mary, who is the Immaculate Conception.

What is the dogma of the Immaculate Conception?

The Immaculate Conc…

The Bizarre Life of St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church

By Jean M. Heimann

Today is the memorial of St. Ambrose, one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church. He was one of the four original Doctors of the Latin Church and the bishop who baptized St. Augustine.  His life story is fascinating and even a bit bizarre.

Ambrose was born into a noble family around 340 in Trier, Germany. As a young man, he went to Rome and began a career in law and politics. He later became the Imperial governor of Northern Italy. He was a man who seemingly had it all – a fruitful career as a lawyer, an influential position as governor of Milan, and a large estate. What more could a man ask for?

God had something else in mind for Ambrose. When the bishop of Milan died in 374, a fierce fight erupted between the Catholics and the Arians over his replacement. Ambrose intervened and the people were so impressed with the way he handled the situation that they demanded that be made their bishop, although he was only a catechumen and had not even been b…

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

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…

Seven Sensational Christmas CD's


7 Quick Takes on Advent

The Advent season seems to go by so quickly that sometimes we don't have a chance to celebrate it the way we would like. In this Seven Quick Takes, I want to focus on ways to keep the Advent season a holy and peaceful one, while we wait patiently and contemplatively in joyful hope and anticipation for the coming of Our Lord, Jesus, at Christmas.

1. To start off, here are Ten Tips for a Peace-Filled Advent.

2. Are you falling in love this Advent?

3. This Advent is a very special one, as it takes place during the Extraordinary Jubilee of  Mercy. How can we make it a season of mercy?

4. Prayer is important during Advent. Here are two novenas to pray: one to Our Lady of Guadalupe and a Christmas novena.

5. Here are 15 Advent Prayers for you.

6. This Friday is the First Friday of the month and the feast of St. John Damascene, Patristic Father and Doctor of Christian Art.

7. Can you relate to this one? My mom made beautiful gingerbread houses from scratch and I have yet to make one. If…

St. Francis Xavier: A Missionary on Fire for the Faith

Today is the feast of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), one of the greatest missionaries of all times. He was a marvelous evangelizer, who was on fire for the faith, filled with zeal.

The great missionary St. Francis Xavier was from a Basque noble family, like his beloved mentor St. Ignatius Loyola. When Francis met Ignatius in Paris, he was a proud, autocratic, ambitious man wanting to accomplish great deeds in the world. For three years Ignatius patiently encouraged Francis to look at his life differently. “What profits a man,” Ignatius asked Francis, “if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”

Francis joined Peter Faber as the first of Ignatius’s companions. Francis Xavier was ordained in 1537.
In 1541 King John of Portugal asked Ignatius for priests to send to the missions in India. Despite knowing he would never see his beloved companion again, Ignatius chose Francis Xavier for the mission. Francis left for India, arriving at the city of Goa in 1542.

For the next ten years t…

Pope calls for a “Revolution of Tenderness”

Pope Francis has given an interview to a Catholic weekly magazine, saying he hopes the forthcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy will enable people to discover an alternative to the atrocities, cruelty and exploitation of our world today. The Pope also talks about his personal discovery of God’s mercy in his own life and calls for a “revolution of tenderness” to encourage more just, tolerant and patient relationships between individuals and nations.

In the interview with the official Jubilee publication ‘Credere’,  Pope Francis recalls that he dedicated his first Angelus address and his first homily in the Vatican parish of St Anna to the theme of mercy, noting that he’s following the teachings of his predecessors, especially Pope John Paul II who instituted Divine Mercy Sunday.

We have become so used to bad news of cruelty and atrocities, the Pope says, but the world needs to discover that God is our Father, that mercy exists and that cruelty and condemnations are not the way forward. The C…