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Showing posts from 2016

7 Quick Takes: Christmas Movies and Books

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1. Believe is one Christmas movie I am looking forward to viewing this year. It opens in theaters on Dec. 2. Here is a review from Variety, Here is a brief synopsis from the website. For years, the small town of Grundy, Va. has relied on the Peyton family to provide the highlight of the year—the annual Christmas pageant. When Matthew Peyton (Ryan O’Quinn) inherits the family business, the responsibility of the Christmas pageant also falls on his shoulders. But as financial hardships fall on the town, Matthew finds himself overwhelmed. As his business profits plummet and his workers begin to strike, Matthew is forced to make a decision between selling the family business and cancelling the beloved pageant or sticking out hardships despite his rapidly declining popularity in the community. Through chance events, Matthew meets Clarence (Issac Ryan Brown), a boy who believes in miracles, and his mother Sharon (Danielle Nicolet). His newfound friends impact Matthew’s life in a way he never…

Ten Fascinating Facts about Advent

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1. The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "coming" or "arrival."

2. The Advent Season always begins four Sundays before Christmas; so it is rarely four full weeks long, but only between three and four weeks, depending on what weekday Dec. 25 happens to be in a certain year.

3. The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called "Gaudete Sunday" (from Latin, meaning "Rejoice!), because the "Entrance Antiphon" of this Sunday's Mass is taken from Paul's letter to the Philippians: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near." (Phil 4:4+5b)

4. In the Roman Catholic Church, the official liturgical color for most of the Season of Advent is violet. Only on the Third Sunday of Advent is a rose (pink) colored candle lit, as a symbol of joy; the priest may also wear rose vestments on this Sunday.

5. Advent wreaths have their origins in the folk traditions of northern Europe, where in t…

Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle

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Today is the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. He is the patron of fishermen, singers, unmarried women, and women who wish to become mothers.

St. Andrew, son of Jonah, was the brother of the Apostle Peter, and like his brother, was born at Bethsaida in Galilee. He was a disciple of John the Baptist and became the first to follow Jesus. A fisherman like St. Peter, Saint Andrew first introduced Saint Peter to Christ. Both occupied the same house at Capharnaum.

At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs, but later, the Lord called them to stay with Him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets for good.

As one of the Twelve Apostles, Andrew was very close to Our Lord during His public life; he was present at the Last Supper; beheld the risen Lord; witnessed the Ascension; shared in the graces and gifts of the first Pentecost, and helped, amid threats and persecution, to establish the Faith in Pal…

St. Cecilia: Patron of Poets and Musicians

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On November 22, the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr. St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians, is one of the most famous and most venerated of Roman martyrs.

It is believed that St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown.

Tradition tells us that Cecilia was a Roman girl of a patrician family who had been brought up as a Christian. She fasted often and wore a coarse garment beneath her rich clothing. Although she had consecrated her virginity to God, her father betrothed her to a young pagan named Valerian.

When the wedding day arrived, Cecilia sat apart from her guests, repeating psalms and praying. After the ceremony, when the guests had departed and she was alone with her husband, Cecilia made known her great desire to remain a virgin, saying that she already had a lover, an angel of God who was very jealous. Valerian, shaken by fear, anger, and suspicion, said to her: “Show me this ange…

The Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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Today, November 21, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates the fact that the parents of Our Lady brought her to the Temple and handed her over to live there for a long period as a virgin consecrated to the Temple, contemplating God exclusively.  Also known as the Dedication of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the feast originated in the East, where it is called the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos Into the Temple.

The story of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary captures the essential gospel portrayal of Mary totally committed to living out the will of God in her life. Her own willing, steadfast obedience lies at the heart of her life of self-sacrifice offered in love.


History of the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Protoevangelium of James (7-8), and the writing entitled "De nativit. Mariae" (7-8), state that Joachim and Anna, faithful to a vow they had made, presented the …

Advent with St. Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations

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The word Advent comes from the Latin word advenio, which means "to come to," and denotes the coming of Christ. Advent is a time to prepare our hearts and souls for the Savior’s three comings: (1) the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love at Christmas, (2) Christ’s coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and (3) His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.

In her inspirational book, Advent with St. Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations, author Heidi Hess Saxton presents twenty-eight daily meditations based on the wisdom of St. Teresa of Calcutta as it relates to each day’s Scripture readings. With an Introduction written by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle and a Foreword by Bishop Robert Barron, this beautiful devotional assists us in entering into the peace, joy, and love of this liturgical season. The book is divided into six sections: each of the four weeks of Advent, the Christmas week through Epiphany, and the feasts days and ot…

Winners of the Magnificat Advent Companion Giveaway

The winners of the electronic Magnificat Advent Companion Giveaway are: Amy and Deacon John Giglio Jr. Please contact me at jean.heimann@gmail.com to claim your prize. If you do not contact me within one week, your prize will be forfeited.

Miraculous Medal Novena begins

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This novena begins on November 19 and continues through November 27.

(Recite this prayer for nine consecutive days.)

O Immaculate Virgin Mary,
Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother,
penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession, manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal,
we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this novena,
if they be beneficial to our immortal souls,
and the souls for whom we pray.

(Here mention your petition)

You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity.
Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone so that our every thought, word and deed may tend to His greater glory.

Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of …

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Princess and Bride of Christ

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We are frequently entertained and fascinated by the lifestyles of royalty and their romantic adventures in books and movies. However, St. Elizabeth was a real-life princess, who served as an exemplary model of the heroic virtues of charity and humility. Her life is not a fairy tale, but is a true story of authentic love.

Born in Bratislava, Hungary in 1207, Princess Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary and his wife Gertrude. Her aunt was St. Hedwig and her great niece was St. Elizabeth of Portugal.

Elizabeth was betrothed at the age of four to Prince Herman of Thuringia (in central Germany) and grew up in his father's court. In 1216, Hermann, who Elizabeth was to marry, died. After this, she then became engaged to Ludwig, the second son. The couple married when she was fourteen and he was twenty-one.  She loved him and bore him three children. They were very happy together and deeply devoted to one another. Ludwig was protective of his wife and the couple often pr…

Today's Saints: St. Gertrude the Great and St. Margaret of Scotland

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St. Gertrude the Great

St. Gertrude was born in Eisleben, Germany in 1256. As a five-year-old, she was received into the monastery of the Cistercian nuns in Helfta. She was an intellectually gifted student with a gentle disposition who applied herself to her studies, concentrating on literature and philosophy.

At the age of twenty-six, Gertrude had the first of many visions of Jesus which brought about a deep interior conversion, drawing her into the innermost recesses of His Sacred Heart. Her heart symbolically united in a vision to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she was a precursor of the later devotion to the Sacred Heart. She also advocated frequent reception of the Eucharist and devotion to St Joseph.

Similar to other mystics, such as St. Teresa of Avila, the Passion of Christ was her favorite devotion and when she meditated on it, or on the blessed Eucharist, she was often unable to control the torrents of tears which flowed from her eyes. She frequently went into ecstasy when she m…

St. Albert the Great

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By Jean M. Heimann

On November 15, the Church celebrates St. Albert the Great, "the light of Germany", uniquely named the “Universal Doctor” because of his vast knowledge and writings. He was the greatest German philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages. A Dominican priest and the Bishop of Regensburg, Germany, he was the first of the medieval academics to apply Aristotle’s philosophy to Christian thought.

Albert was born in Lauingen on the Danube, near Ulm, Germany in 1206 to a knight from a noble family. As a young man, he studied at the University of Padua and there he met Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican who made the rounds of the universities of Europe, attracting the best young men of the universities into the Dominicans.

At age 16, Albert entered the Dominican Order and was ordained a priest in 1228. He was then sent to teach in Cologne, where he was renown for his lectures on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. After several teaching assignments in his order, …

St. Lawrence O'Toole, Benedictine Peacemaker

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The saint of the day for November 14 is St. Lawrence (also spelled Laurence) O'Toole, a Benedictine abbot and archbishop of Dublin.

St. Lawrence O'Toole was born around 1128 in County Kildare, Ireland.  His father was the chief of Hy Murray, and his mother one of the Clan O'Byrne.

At the age of 10, Lawrence was taken hostage by King Mac Murehad of Leinster, who treated him with such cruelty that his father convinced the King to turn him over to the Bishop of Glendalough.

In 1140, Lawrence obtained permission to enter the monastic school of Glendalough; he studied there for thirteen years and became known for his piety and learning. So great was his reputation in the eyes of the community that on the death of Abbot Dunlaing, at the young age of 25, he was unanimously chosen to supervise the Abbey of St. Kevin.

In 1161, Lawrence was chosen as Archbishop of Dublin. In his new position, he reformed much of the administration and clerical life in his diocese, worked to restore…

Ornamental Graces: Book Review

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Today is Day 1 of the Virtual Book Tour for Ornamental Gracesby Carolyn Astfalk.

Brief Summary

After his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend.

Emily’s the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of—sweet, smart, and sincere. But he’s made a mess of his life and ruined his chances for earning the love and trust of a woman like her.

Could Dan be the man Emily’s been waiting for? How could he be when every time they get close he pulls away? And will he ever be free from his shady past and the ex-girlfriend who refuses to stay there?

My Review

Carolyn Astfalk is a gifted writer who had me hooked from page one in Ornamental Graces. This is not just a good love story, but it is a great one! It is hard for me to believe that this is only Carolyn’s second novel! While her first book,Stay with Me wa…

7QT: Veteran's Day, Soldier Saints, and Giveaway

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 We salute you! Thank you for your service!

1. Happy Veteran's Day, USA!

What is Veteran's Day?

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month of the year 1918, an armistice was signed, ending the "war to end all wars." November 11 was set aside as Armistice Day in the United States to remember the sacrifices that men and women made during the war in order to ensure a lasting peace. In 1938 Congress voted Armistice Day as a legal holiday, but World War II began the following year. Armistice Day was still observed after the end of the Second World War. In 1953 townspeople in Emporia, Kansas called the holiday Veterans' Day in gratitude to the veterans in their town. Soon after, Congress passed a bill renaming the national holiday to Veterans' Day. Today, we remember those who have served for our country in the armed forces in our prayers.



2. Today we honor a great soldier saint -- St. Martin of Tours , who was a soldier in the Army of God. Some of…

Pope St. Leo the Great

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Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor. He is regarded as one of the most important of the Western Fathers of the Church.

St. Leo the Great (d. 461) was born in Rome of Italian nobility. As a deacon of the Church, he opposed the heresy of Pelagianism, which taught that grace was not necessary for salvation, but was rather a bonus that God granted to those who earned it by their good works. He was elevated to the office of Pope in 440 and reigned as pope for twenty-one years. As pope, St. Leo labored strenuously to safeguard the integrity of the faith and vigorously defended the unity of the Church. He affirmed the full divinity and humanity of Christ. His most famous writing, commonly known as the Tome of St. Leo (449), was the basis of the Council of Chalcedon's dogmatic definition of Christ as one Divine Person possessing two complete natures, human and divine.

When Attila the Hun marched on Rome, Leo went out to meet him and pleaded for …

ELECTION THANKSGIVING NOVENA ​

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Day 1: St. Jude, Patron of​ Impossible ​C​auses, ​​we thank you for your intercession with our elections.

Day 2: St. Frances Cabrini, you who tirelessly built the Kingdom of God in America,​ thank you for your intercession with our elections.

Day 3: St. Thomas More, martyred for your uncompromising faith, ​thank you for your intercession with our elections.

​Day 4: St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, martyred for your child-like, yet fearless faith in Christ the King, ​thank you for your intercession for our elections.

Day 5: St. Kateri Tekakwitha, who fled to Canada in order to freely practice your faith, ​thank you for your intercession with our elections.

Day 6: St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, selfless servant of the lepers of Hawaii, ​thank you for your intercession for our elections.

Day 7: St. John Neumann, Founder of the ​D​iocesan Catholic ​S​chool system in America, ​thank you for your intercession with our elections.

Day 8: St. Rita, Patroness of ​H​opeless ​C​auses, ​thank you for your in…

Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica

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Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, the Mother Church of Catholicism. The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of Rome. This is not St. Peter's, but it is the Pope's cathedral. Also called the Church of Holy Savior or the Church of St. John Baptist, it was the baptism church of ancient Rome. It was built in the time of Constantine and was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324. This feast became a universal celebration in honor of the basilica called "the mother and mistress of all churches of Rome and the world" (omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput) as a sign of love for and union with the See of Peter.

The foundation of the Lateran Basilica goes back to the time of Constantine, the time of the last persecutions. The palace of the Laterani, on the Coelian Hill, belonged then to Constantine's wife Fausta. After his conversion, the Emperor gave it to the Pope as his private residence and fou…

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

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By Jean M. Heimann

 November 8 is the feast of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, a French discalced Carmelite nun, a mystic, a spiritual director, and a spiritual writer. She is the patron saint of sick people and of the loss of parents.

Elizabeth was born on July 18, 1880 in a military camp in the diocese of Bourges, France to Captain Joseph Catez and Marie Catez. Her father died when she was just seven, leaving her mother to raise Elizabeth and her sister.

Elizabeth was a determined, energetic, and popular young lady. She had a great love for God, and practiced a beautiful, but simple prayer life. At the same time, she had a bad temper as a child. However, this changed when she made her First Holy Communion just prior to her eleventh birthday. Thereafter, she eventually developed self-discipline and attained a deeper knowledge of God. She grew in her love for God and acquired an intense awareness of the Holy Trinity.

Elizabeth was blessed with many gifts. She was a talented pianist and …

St. Engelbert of Cologne

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Today's saint of the day is St. Engelbert of Cologne. He was born in Berg around the year 1185 to Engelbert, Count of Berg and Margaret, daughter of the Count of Gelderland. He studied at the cathedral school of Cologne and, while still a boy, was made provost of the churches of St. George and St. Severin at Cologne and of St. Mary's at Aachen, as it was a common abuse in the Church at the time to appoint the children of nobles to such positions.

In 1199 he was elected provost of the cathedral at Cologne. He led a worldly life, and in the conflict between  two Archbishops, Adolf and Bruno, he sided with his cousin Adolf, and waged war for him. Consequently, he was excommunicated by the pope along with his cousin. After his submission he was reinstated in 1208 and, to atone for his sin, joined the crusade against the Albigenses in 1212. On Feb. 29, 1216, the chapter of the cathedral elected him archbishop by a unanimous vote.

The mendicant orders of the Franciscans and the Dom…

At Play in God’s Creation: An Illuminating Coloring Book

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I enjoy adult coloring books. As a psychologist, I am keenly aware of the healing power of art therapy and how it can help reduce stress and tension and allow the person to focus and to express their emotions and their creativity. When I color, I feel relaxed and youthful again in the sense that I am allowing myself to play, to have fun, and to be like a child again. It is a wonderful escape from the everyday stresses of work, home, and family life.

At Play in God’s Creation:An Illuminating Coloring Book  (written by Tara M. Owens and illustrated by Daniel W. Sorenson) is a beautiful coloring book that contains intriguing illustrations of flowers, trees, mountains, valleys, shells, butterflies, animals, oceans, and many scenes from nature. It guides you through arched pathways, intricate mazes, and open fields, providing spiritual direction along the way, with each drawing containing a quote from scripture, the saints, or mystics who guide you on the contemplative journey.

Spiritual c…

St. Charles Borromeo: Patron of Catechists and Spiritual Directors

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November 4 is the memorial of St. Charles Borromeo (1538 - 15840), Bishop of Milan and one of the great reformers of the sixteenth century. He is is the patron of catechists, catechumens, spiritual directors, and spiritual leaders.

Charles was born at the Castle of Arona in northern Italy to wealthy and powerful parents. His father, Count Gilbert Borromeo, was a man of virtue and skill, and his mother was a member of the famous Medici family of Milan, sister of Angelo de Medici, who was to become Pope Pius IV.

Raised in a pious family, Charles was deeply devoted to the Passion of Christ and to the Blessed Mother. He received the clerical tonsure at age twelve and was educated at the Benedict Abbey of Saints Gratian and Felinus. He earned a doctorate in civil and canon law at the University of Pavia.

When his uncle, Cardinal de Medici, was elected pope in 1559, as Pius IV, Charles was made cardinal-deacon and administrator to the archdiocese of Milan while still a lay person and a stu…

St. Martin de Porres: Patron of Racial Harmony

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On November 3, we celebrate the feast of St Martin de Porres, a Peruvian Dominican Brother whose life of charity and devotion led to his canonization as the first black saint of the Americas.

Martin was born in Lima, Peru in 1579, the son of a Spanish knight, Don Juan de Porres and the former Panamanian slave Ana Velazquez. His father initially refused to acknowledge the boy publicly as his own, because Martin, like his mother, was black. Though Martin's father later helped to provide for his education, his son faced difficulties because of his family background.

At age 12, Martin studied to be a barber, which at that time meant he was also a druggist, a physician and a surgeon. Once trained, he began to use his skills to serve the poor. He became very well known for his compassion and skill as a barber, and cared for many people as well as animals.

Martin was a pious child, who began praying at a young age. He had a deep devotion to our Lord’s Passion, and prayed for discernment…

All Souls' Day

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November 2 is All Souls' Day. Today Roman Catholics commemorate and pray for the holy souls in Purgatory, undergoing purification of their sins before entering heaven.

The theological basis for this feast is the doctrine that the souls which, on departing from the body, are not perfectly cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for past transgressions, cannot not yet attain the Beatific Vision, and that the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, alms, deeds and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass.

In the early days of Christianity the names of the departed were recorded on tablets. Later, in the sixth century, the Benedictine monasteries commemorated their deceased during Pentecost. In Spain, there was such a day on Saturday before before Pentecost, at the time of St. Isidore (d. 636). In Germany there existed a ceremony of praying to the dead on 1 October. St. Odilo of Cluny (d. 1048) ordered the commemoration of all the faithful departed to he held annually …

All Saints Day

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On November 1, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, also known as Hallowmas and All Hallows. Today's feast honors all the saints of the Church, known and unknown, whose virtues and efforts in this life are considered to have earned them an eternal reward with God. On this day, Catholics are asked to reflect on holiness and sainthood and to celebrate the holiness of men and women who gave their lives in faithfulness and service to God, and whose witness continues to inspire us today.

Christians have been honoring saints and martyrs since at least the second century AD. Initially, the calendars of saints and martyrs varied by location, with churches honoring local saints. However, gradually feast days became more universal. The first reference to a general feast celebrating all saints occurred with St Ephrem the Syrian (d. AD 373). St. John Chrysostom (d. AD 407) assigned a day to the feast, the first Sunday after Pentecost, where in the Eastern Churches the feast is celebrate…

All Hallows' Eve and its Catholic Roots

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On October 31, we celebrate the eve of All Saints. Pope Sixtus IV in 1484 established November 1, the feast of All Saints, as a holy day of obligation and gave it both a vigil (known today as "All Hallows' Eve" or "Hallowe'en") and an eight-day period or octave to celebrate the feast. By 1955, the octave of All Saints was removed.

All Hallows' Eve

Halloween or All Hallows' Eve is not a liturgical feast on the Catholic calendar, but the celebration has deep ties to the Liturgical Year. These three consecutive days — Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day — illustrate the Communion of Saints. The Church Militant (those on earth, striving to get to heaven) pray for the Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory) especially on All Souls Day and the month of November. We also rejoice and honor the Church Triumphant (the saints, canonized and uncanonized) in heaven. We also ask the Saints to intercede for us, and for the souls in Purgatory.

Since Vat…