Showing posts from December, 2014

New Year's Resolutions; Catholic Style

The New Year is upon us - and with its coming brings New Year's resolutions - we are all familiar with them; we have all made them; we have all broken them by January 7...The media is replete with lists of the most popular resolutions which can usually be broken down into three categories: losing, quitting, and saving - as in weight, smoking/drinking, and money. 

It is a rare exception that a New Year's Resolution involves our ultimate and final goal of this life - eternal happiness with the Lord in the next.  Don't get me wrong - I am not suggesting that you cease making the "losing, quitting, saving" resolutions - just that you consider adding a resolution or two that will impact your life for all eternity. 

Click here for 7 New Year's Resolutions; Catholic Style

A Vision of the Holy Family

Husband-Wife-Child the Family as God intended it. From the beginning, when God first made man, He knew man was not meant to survive alone. Man was meant to have a partner, someone to walk through life with, someone to share laughter and love with, someone to reflect a fraction of the Love God felt for man. Even in the Garden of Eden where nothing ever hurt man, the Lord knew loneliness might be an issue. God, in His infinite Wisdom, knew man would need a partner to physically be by his side daily and so God gave Adam Eve.
Thousands of years later, the Lord produced His Son, Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The God, the one God, omnipotent, omniscient, God, Father of All could have given Mary the strength to bear that child alone. He could have given her an awesome job and set her up in a sweet little palace on the outskirts of town. He could have given her servants for her beck and call. He could have provided her with armed guards and angle armies.
But He didn't.

Gold from Kings, Gold from Us

In keeping with the Christmas season, I’m continuing to share excerpts from my book Voices: Messages in Gospel Symbols. Chapter 2 is a meditation on gold: First among the three gifts the kings from the east present to Jesus is gold. Gold is the best they can offer. This most precious metal is a gift for a king, fitting tribute to the newborn king of heaven and earth. The infant is himself God’s gift to us—the Son, the Father’s treasure, not only precious but priceless (though he would someday be valued at only thirty pieces of silver). And this unparalleled gift is the culmination of a world full of golden gifts: sunbeams, dandelions, autumn leaves golden agers, and smiles. God is never outdone when it comes to gift-giving.Click to continue

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Happy New Year!

The Granduca Madonna, Raphael (Raffaello), 1504 Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence [Web Gallery of Art]
St Luke 2:16-21 So the shepherds went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.Full post here.

I am Beginning to Recover From Christmas

and that's why I'm writing today.  The boy child has gone home.  He had a safe trip.  Praise God!  He's back at home living his life again.  The interruption is over for him for now.

The girl child is still here, recovering from her cold.  I do think she's feeling a little bit better, even though she's still very pale.  Cancer really sucks!  (Talk about interruptions in life!)

 Christmas was a HUGE interruption in my life, and I loved EVERY MINUTE of that INTERRUPTION!

Advent: trial and error, growth, and change. 

Christmas: the fulfillment of God's promises to His People.

Now, that  the secular Christmas is over, I have to discern that growth. (We are still celebrating the season of Christmas in the church.)   I have to discern where God wants me to go.  I have to discern how God wants me to grow.  I have to discern in what way God wants me to serve.  The new year will mean change.  The key is now, "Prayerful Discernment."

Read more at:: His…

Looking back at the year 2014

Are you glad 2014 is over?

You can read the rest at Being Catholic ... Really.

A New Year's Resolution

Here is the resolution to end all resolutions. The theory is simple. We're all weak, so even if we do manage to keep an odd resolution here and there throughout our lives, we will never manage to keep them all, never mind conquer the sins that continually topple us. So make just one resolution, and that is to turn and open yourself to receive ‘Love Unlimited’ each day, and then your life, and the life of your family will be irrevocably changed for the better. The reason is simply this: - All things are possible with love that are quite impossible without it. So – here is the principle - don't give up anything you like or enjoy unless it prevents you from giving quality space and time each day for God in prayer. There's nothing more important than resolving to surcharge your own limited love with ‘Love Unlimited’. Prayer is but the traditional word used to describe how we go about doing this.... read on
 Happy New Year!

Christmas: A Hole Nutha Level

One of my favorite recurring characters on the long-gone Mad TV show was Keegan-Michael Key's "Eugene Struthers." Eugene, an overly enthusiastic delivery man, would catch Hollywood celebrities in random moments and gush about how they take their craft to "a hole notha level."

On this sixth day of Christmas, I am thinking of Eugene. I imagine Eugene interviewing Christians throughout the world and marveling at how they take Christmas to, as he would say, a Hole. Notha. Level!

Keep Christmas with us! At Praying with Grace.

New on the Blogroll: Tony Agnesi's Finding God's Grace Radio Program

There's a new item on the blogroll, Tony Agnesi's Finding Grace Radio Program:
Tony Agnesi
"Finding God's Grace in Every Day Life"Finding God's Grace Radio ProgramMy Blog More accurately, the new item is that link to a description of Tony Agnesi's new radio program:
Finding God's Grace Radio Program
(December 29, 2014)

"We are pleased to announce the debut of Finding God’s Grace beginning the January 7th on the Living Bread Radio Network, WILB 1060AM in Canton, Ohio and WILB-FM 89.5 in Boardman/Youngstown, Ohio. The program will also be available from Itunes, Stitcher, Tune-in Radio and Podbean, and here at

Finding God's Grace is a one hour weekly interview program featuring Catholic guests from around the globe with interesting, compelling stories....
" That's the entire post. If you want to see it on A Catholic Citizen in America (, it's there, too: "Ne…

A Holy Family (@ Melody's Harmonies)

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. Today's mass readings are all about the family. The first and second readings instruct the faithful family to honour and love one another, to respect and care for one another. And the gospel tells the story of the presentation of the Christ Child in the temple, the prophecies of Simeon and Anna and the early life of the Holy Family. Christmas time drives home the importance of family: it's probably the time of the year when we appreciate the gift of family the most. But this Christmas I am really struggling to see my family in the light of the Holy Family. It's really hard to remember my husband and I are a family and our family is just as important, sacred and holy in the eyes of God as the family that has been blessed with children.\ Read the rest here.

Tis the Season of Christmas! Yet Do You Hear What I Hear?

"Twas the night after Christmas, and all through the airwaves, not a Christmas song to be heard!  Oh so silent upon December 26th... No longer with any outside sources feeding us such joyful tunes.  Silent night now, indeed… When, what to my wandering eyes [& ears] should appear? ...but EWTN!" ...I really wasn't planning on this post—but had found myself "hungry" the day after Christmas... Only then to be unexpectedly gratified [thanks to the gift of EWTN], for which I am grateful.... So much so that I wanted to share it with you; just in case you, too, may find yourself feeling hungry as well... After-all, Christmas is here... Still!  Not just a Day… but Season!   Not beginning at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in November... >>Click Here to Read More at: The Way to Nourish for Life>>

Thanks Be To God

Arthur Hughes, The Nativity shared from The Cloistered Heart

Standing in the Centre of the Universe

I am living in a fantasy when I see myself as the centre of the universe, viewing everything as it circles around me. As believers, we sing and recite prayers that proclaim that God is the centre of all but our psychological make-up screams the exact opposite.I view people, events, history and yes even God through my eyes, judging what is right, trusting my thoughts and my feelings as the final judge of what is real. For example imagine you are sitting on the top of a hill admiring a beautiful sunrise. You think you are glorifying God, however you are very much aware of yourself. There is a world of difference between a man who is aware of himself, sitting on a hill and looking at a beautiful sunrise and a man so enthralled with that very same sunrise that he forgets himself and becomes  absorbed in the scene. In the first instance, the man is egocentric; he is at the centre of his world, not God.
When I see beauty everywhere, I experience joy and a sense of connection because my eyes a…

Holy Family, Not '50s Family

This morning's readings — Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-3; Colossians 3:12-21 or Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; and Luke 2:22-40 — have one thing in common: marriage and family.

That figures, since this is Holy Family Sunday.

Taking a cue from our Lord, Catholics see family as a big deal. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1601-1658, particularly 1655; 2210)

That's not the same as holding up Happy Days or All In the Family as an ideal toward which all must strive.

So why is this in one of today's readings?
8 Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord."
(Colossians 3:18) More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

'The parents of Jesus brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.' Sunday Reflections, Feast of the Holy Family

Presentation in the Temple, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout,1671 Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest[Web Gallery of Art]
Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA)  Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)  GospelLuke 2:22-40 [or Luke 2:22, 39-40]  (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord [(as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”),and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him.It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he woul…

Christmas Musing: Preti's "The Visitiation" and Our Search for the Infinite

When we turned rounded the corner to the left and into the Baroque room at theVirginia Fine Arts Museumthis morning, my eyes welled with tears. There it was; the painting I had visited the museum for, a painting called "The Visitation" by 17th century Baroque masterMattia Preti, a Calabrian and a protege of Caravaggian naturalism.

How fitting the painting first went on display here on Christmas Eve.

Keep reading:

The Meaning of the Manger

To celebrate Christmas, here are excerpts from the chapter “Manger” in my first published (and now out of print, alas) book Voices: Messages in Gospel Symbols.
Jesus could have been born at home in Nazareth and placed in a wooden crib fashioned by his carpenter-father, Joseph. Instead, because he makes his appearance while his mother and father are en route, he has no suitable place to lay his head. This circumstance is prophetic, for over thirty years later, as an itinerant preacher, he will claim, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).Click to continue

Tis the Season to Meet & Greet... for Wellness Sake

This Holiday Season (Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day 2015) has been my very first with a real “Diet” in my life... A diet that I really must stick with... and never forget about, even while in the company of others, of course; others who may have the potential to tempt me away from my commitment... a challenge we all come to face, for one reason or another... The challenge of people! Yes, in addition to our Challenge 1 [Opportunity], we will naturally meet many different people: from family members & friends to co-workers or even strangers; who may come to challenge our commitment to this diet of ours throughout the holiday season and beyond—challenging our commitment to have & to hold onto this new way of life that we've grown to actually need... >>Click Here to Read More at: The Way to Nourish for Life>>

Found: Genes for Fins, Paws, and Hands

Scientists found the genetic code mice use for growing paws — in spotted gar, after they thought about what happened to fish 300,000,000 years back.

An amateur fossil hunter found a complete ichthyosaur skeleton in Wales, professional fossil hunters found parts of a critter that isn't quite an ichthyosaur in China, and other paleontologists described a cat-size dinosaur that lived in what's now Montana.

Still other scientists named a Cambrian — thing — after an esteemed colleague. Quite a few Cambrian critters are just like nothing that lives on today's Earth.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

The Simple Story of Christmas…

The best Merry Christmas I can give you is to repeat the simple, unvarnished story of the first Christmas. Luke 2And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child continue

Materialistic Christmas

They say that Christmas has become materialistic. And how true this is.
But surely it is right that Christmas is materialistic – in the proper sense of the word!
Let’s consider this: God – A spirit somewhere out there in the universe He created, decided to materialise and come down to earth.
He materialised, assumed a physical form, as the human Jesus, born by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
God materialised to be amongst us, so that we may see Him, speak to Him, listen to Him and hopefully learn from Him.
And most important of all, to be saved by Him. God – Jesus. The Spirit materialising for us.
Now how wonderful is that?
Do we ever stop and wonder about the real miracle of Christmas and the true meaning of materialism?

A Visual Christmas Gift from Generations of Artists

Merry Christmas to all our writer and readers.I present a for your enjoyment, a visual gift from generations of artists as they recreate the Nativity Scene to the glory of God. Art depicting the Nativity of Jesus began in the 4th century, based on the narratives in the Gospels and embellished by written, oral and artistic tradition. The Nativity has been depicted in every possible form, from huge murals, panel paintings, minute manuscript illuminations, stained glass windows, oil paintings and altarpieces. Sculptural representations of the Nativity include ivory miniatures, carved stone sarcophagi, architectural features such as capitals and door lintels, and free-standing sculptures like “Creches”, ranging from miniature to life-size.        continue here Michel Anguier, Nativity 1665/ 1668 Marble, height 160 cm St Roch, Paris Nativity with the Torch – Le Nain brothers -

Tis the Season to... Be Not Afraid! By Way of St. Joseph

"Matthew’s gospel reveals to us the greatness of St. Joseph’s heart and soul." Pope Francis goes on to explain... "He was following a good plan for his life, but God was reserving another plan for him, a greater mission.  Joseph always listened to God’s voice, was deeply sensitive to God’s secret will, attentive to the messages that came to him from the depths of his heart and from on high.  He did not persist in following his own plan for life or allow bitterness to poison his soul.  Rather, he was ready to make himself available to the news that, in such a bewildering way, was being presented to him.  And thus, he was a good man.  He did not hate or allow bitterness to poison his soul.  Yet how many times does hatred, or even dislike and bitterness poison our souls!  And this is harmful... >>Click Here to Read More at: The Way to Nourish for Life>> [which shall include a prayer by Pope Francis; as well as the song: "Our God is With Us" by Steven Cu…

'And the Word became flesh and lived among us.'

The Census at Bethlehem, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1566 Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels [Web Gallery of Art]
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child (Luke 2: 1-5, NRSVACE).
Adoration of the Shepherds, Rembrandt, 1646 National Gallery, London [Web Gallery of Art]
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger (Luke 2:15-16, N…

An Advent podcast for Christmas

A happy Christmas to all bloggers. As I was encouraged to record my Advent talks at SS Anselm & Cecilia, Lincoln's Inn , London, there is now a podcast available of the third talk. It speaks of the Christmas season, St Francis of Assisi, and above all, the importance of the prayer that Jesus taught us. I hope you will find time in your busy schedule to listen. It is available on my website as the 3rd Advent talk, SS Cecilia and Anselm.

Let's Hear It from the Children!

Last week Pope Francis visited the Roman parish of St. Joseph. One of his remarks there was eagerly snatched up by social media: "Babies cry, make noise, go here and there. But it annoys me when a baby cries in church and there are those who say he needs to go out. The cry of a baby is God's voice: never drive them away from the church!"

Considering how much I crave silence, it is with great wonder and gratitude I realize how much I love to hear crying babies and noisy toddlers at church. And I don't mean I just love to hear other people's children cry, making my rambunctious brood seem comparatively docile. No, I mean squalling children help me pray.

Please continue the reflection with me at Praying with Grace. . . .

Catholic Vitamins

Deacon Tom Fox invited Laura Pearl to talk about Erin's Ring on Catholic Vitamins Podcast eXtra 10.

We love Deacon's work at Catholic Vitamins and know you will, too!

If you haven't yet become a fan of Catholic Vitamins, this is the perfect time. Merry Christmas!

An Open Christmas Letter to Grief

Dear Grief, You have found me despite my hopes to escape you. You have become a travelling companion through this journey of life, but never a friend.
You are the proverbial glass of spilled milk, happening when most inconvenient, spilling all over me and my home. You splash and roll into unexpected places, hiding for me to find as I go about my every day work, clinging to ordinary items and ringing them with painful recollection. Left unaddressed, your spill begins to smell and turn the stomach, causing disorientation, upset, and regret. Crying over you changes nothing, but in tears I can wash you away, I can shine the marred surfaces and begin anew. In tears I may respond but I am not vanquished, you have not won
Read more at Veils and Vocations.

Christmas: The Invasion of Time

“Christmas is not an event within history but is rather the invasion of time by eternity.” Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Burn This Straw and Change It

'My soul is poor and bare of virtues,
the straws of so many imperfections
will prick You and make You weep;
but O, my Lord, what can You expect?
This little is all I have.
I am touched by Your poverty...
Jesus, honor my soul with Your presence,
adorn it with Your graces.
Burn this straw and change it
into a soft couch for Your most holy body....'
(continue here)

(quote from St. Pope John XXIII)

Secret Cynics

Advent is a time of waiting. But how do I wait? Do I wait stoically or with joy? Do I wait like a child, a child who trusts that his daddy will keep His promises or has life’s disappointments left me jaded and closed off to any spiritual surprises?

Come to think of it, how many of us actually expect to receive any joy on Christmas morning? When we are secretly cynical, we will not receive a thing, not a crumb of Light because we lock the door to our hearts. Then, we will cement our cynicism in place for another year. As we wait, secretly longing for the dark, empty places within us to be flooded with His light, we should look to our children to teach us how to wait for the Christ Child to be born anew in our hearts. They trust and believe the words of both their earthly and heavenly Fathers. Think of a young child, eyes twinkling, barely able to sit still and contain his excitement because he knows that his dad will never give him a stone instead of a loaf of bread. No wonder Jesus te…

Gideon, Gabriel, Mary, and Guts

(From John William Waterhouse, via, used w/o permission.)

This morning's Gospel reading is Luke 1:26-38. That's the bit that starts with....

...This comes a little after an account of Gabriel's interview with Zachariah, Luke 1:10-20. That's when Gabriel personally delivers God's response to Zachariah's prayer: and Zachariah demands proof.

Zachariah got proof, all right. He wasn't able to talk for for months. That didn't stop until he agreed with his wife about his son's name: in writing. Elizabeth's name for the boy was John, the same name Gabriel had specified

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Review of St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton

"It may be an excellent thing that cracks should be filled up, but preferably not by somebody who is himself cracked." -G.K. Chesterton

This quote comes from a description of when St. Francis, so full of indignation about his father, Pietro Bernardone's business, completely strips his clothing and goes begging in the streets for building materials for an obsession he has with mending the wall in the city.

It is not just any wall. It was the ruins of the Church of St. Damian, an altar and a place he had become accustomed to praying at. He worked, collecting stones and food along the way, until it was finished.

Is it any wonder that my understanding of St. Francis of Assisi was skewed by the watching of "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" in high school? As I began reading this work by Chesterton, I kept thinking to myself.. wait, wait, wait... I thought St. Francis was the guy who was really into Donovan? After throwing things out the window, he prances around all emoti…

Where do you Meet Jesus Each Day?

Starbucks?  Mass?  The Park?  On a Walk?  At the Adoration Chapel?

We each need a place, a physical place, to meet Him.  As Catholics, we should meet Him and see Him in everything we do and in every word we say, thus we are evangelists, and we serve Him.  Yet, even Jesus went up to the mountain or to a quiet place to pray to the Father.

I have a special place where I meet Jesus daily.  Yes, I go to Mass daily, except, like today, when I couldn't get out of my drive way because of yesterday's storm, but it's not there that I meet Jesus in "Our Place." I am an adorer at Church when Jesus gazes at His children from the Monstrance, but that's not where I meet Jesus.

The place I meet Jesus daily is in my living room, on the love seat, across from the couch that my dog occupies.  I meet Jesus in this spot everyday.  Even if I'm sick, I seem to find my way down to this love seat.  It's here that I open my heart to have a conversation with Jesus, our brother…

'Let it be with me according to your word. ' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday of Advent, Year B

The Annunciation, El Greco, 1595-1600 Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest, Hungary  Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)  GospelLuke 1:26-38  (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.He will re…