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Showing posts from December, 2006

It's An Opportunity!

I am just now catching up on my favorite blogs after Christmas activities and guests kept me from the computer for a while. Jimmy Akin has a lively discussion on why or why not we should get two-for-one credit by attending Mass on Sunday, Christmas Eve or Sunday, New Year's Eve.( The answer is we should be attending Mass twice on these weekends!) However, the comment below pushed my buttons!

Why do so many people make their best efforts to avoid going to
Mass?

And why do we (including the Church!) use terms like "obligation"
when referring to the honor and privilege and celebration of Mass, as if
it is this terrible, awful burden that we must endure?
But the fact is,regardless of whatever terms the Church uses, you are not "obligated" to do anything with respect to God. Do whatever the hell you
feel like doing. You don't "have" to go to Mass both Sunday and Monday. Sit at home watching TV and drinking beer and eggnog if you want. Nobody is forcing you to…

Traveling again

We are off to another soccer tournament. This time it is in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This is a huge college recruiting tournament so say a prayer that each girl shows her talents well. We are planning on attending St. Gregory Catholic Church Saturday evening. I'll give a full report when I return. In the meantime, enjoy the Christmas season. Remember we still have twelve days of Christmas to go!

The Gift

We attended Midnight Mass and with my parents joining us we filled up one of the pews. Having all of my children home and at Mass with me on Christmas is truly the greatest gift I received. As I looked at our clan in the pew I realized only my twelve-year-old really qualified as a kid. We are primarily a group of adults now. Some a bit on the younger side, and some a bit on the older side, but mostly grown up nonetheless. My daughter is pushing seventeen and taking on an adult perspective before my eyes. I consider it a great blessing they each still embrace our faith. I can only give credit to the Grace of God. I have done my best to share the faith but it is only through the Grace of God that they can claim this faith as their own. I’m not done yet and I know I have much time on my knees yet to go. I do pray daily that each of my children discerns God’s call and discovers his or her vocation. I also pray daily for the future spouse of any of my children who are called to the vocatio…

Christmas Eve

I was up early this morning—before sunrise. I had to get my turkey dressing into the crock pot so it will be ready for our midday Christmas dinner. We always do our big dinner on Christmas Eve. Today’s menu will be an encore presentation of Thanksgiving with the addition of a pecan pie.

With a house full of family it is hard to find a quiet moment and private space for reflection. But as I watch the sunlight creep over the horizon I can breathe deeply and remember the reason for our excitement. Christ, our Lord, became like one of us. Out of love, he humbled himself to become a man. Through his infinite love and mercy he redeemed us by the Cross and His resurrection. At the end of time He will come again to lead us into His eternal kingdom.

Therefore, today I will not fret about the consistency of the turkey dressing, the perfection of the table setting, or the decorative beauty of the wrapped presents. Food, decorations and presents do not exist as an end in themselves. They are merel…

"O Come All Ye Faithful?"

Here is an interesting response to C and E Catholics
The Christmas rush has taken on a whole new meaning at St. Maur Parish, where tickets were issued to control crowd numbers at its annual Christmas Eve children's Mass.

Last year the children's Mass in Rush, in northern Dublin County, was so crowded that one girl fainted from the heat. Many were concerned about elderly people and young children forced to stand in the aisles.

The introduction of tickets for the Mass made national headlines at the end of November after some parishioners contacted RTE radio to complain that access to the Christmas Eve Mass was being limited to regular Mass attendees. They argued that Mass should always be open to all, whether they regularly attended church or only at Christmas and Easter.

Under the ticket distribution scheme devised by the parish council, tickets were available only from the sacristy after Saturday vigil and Sunday morning Masses the first weekend in December.

One of my seventh grade…

O Christmas Tree

Don’t know how much blogging will occur over the next few weeks. Company arrives tomorrow. The tree is done. I didn’t get our entire ornament collection on its branches, but whatever didn’t make it this year will have to wait until next year’s tree. As I mentioned in the Christmas meme our tree decorations are a hodgepodge of knick knacks.

I will post again when I can. Right now it is time to restock the refrigerator. College boys will be home soon!

Our Mother

"Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything." (Blessed Mother’s words to Juan Diego)

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Being of Mexican American heritage, the vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe has always been part of my montage of Catholic images. Yet, I think it has only been in the last ten years that I have found a personal devotion to Mary under this title. Her words are so calming. Her perfect faith strengthens my own.

I really struggle at this time year. I can easily let the preparations for Christmas overwhelm the spirituality of the season. I need to throw myself into Blessed Mother’s arms and let her tell me, “There, there, it will be okay. My Son is with you. You don’t have to do Christmas cards, garlands, wreaths, and…

Back from Memphis

I’ve just returned from a wonderful soccer weekend spent outside of Memphis. For you soccer parents out there, I highly recommend this tournament especially if your team is of the college recruiting age. The soccer complex was spectacular and we a great turnout of college coaches. For those of you not in the soccer world, colleges do not recruit soccer players from their high school teams as happens in other sports. The best soccer players play on club teams and travel to showcase tournaments. The college coaches attend these tournaments and recruit players there. Our girls won the tournament championship this weekend and got lots of looks from colleges so it was a very successful weekend.

As always, we found a local church and attended Mass on Sunday. Church of the Incarnation looked to be very close when I checked the online map. When we got to the hotel we found the hotel parking lot and the church parking lot were separated by only a thin strip of grass. Convenient indeed!

The paris…

Blessed Feast Day to All!

A blessed Feast of the Immaculate Conception to all!

I won't be blogging much for the next few days. I am off to Memphis for a soccer tournament. I haven't been to Mass in that diocese before. I will be attending Church of the Incarnation in Collierville. I'll tell you about it when I return.

Enjoy your weekend!

Christmas Meme

Argent tagged me for this Christmas meme:

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Okay, the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte is not a choice. In that case how about egg nog in my coffee?

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa’s are unwrapped. They are placed in a nice little pile with the stocking taken down from the mantle and placed on top. Since iPods etc. are getting so small, that pile is looking pretty tiny as they kids get older.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White lights on the house, colored lights on the tree

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Advent wreath and nativity scene are up by the first Sunday of Advent. The rest continue through the next few weeks. But anything not done by one week before Christmas is not going to get done and we leave it at that.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Turkey dressing!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
Going to Midnight Mass then going out to Denny's for …

Big Families are not just for Catholics

Argent offers this link that illustrates being open to God’s gift of children is not just a Catholic issue.

Many of our friends, for the most part Orthodox Jews like us, have similarly chosen to raise large families, sometimes with six, seven, even 10 or more children. To others, we must seem at best unbalanced, at worst irresponsible, for our choices - choices we regarded, and still regard, as entirely wise and proper.

The disapprovers are entitled to their opinion, of course. But it can become irksome when strangers, confronted with the sight of my beloved family, offer unsolicited judgments.

The smiles and even the pointing fingers don't bother me; I try to follow the Talmud's dictum to judge others favorably, to assume the best: here, that the smilers and pointers are happy for us.

But commentators like the fellow in the airport who snidely query-editorialized, "Catholic or careless?" leave very little room for good will. ("Jewish and caring," I responded; …

We Can Make You Talk!

Sarah at Another Day of Catholic Pondering has a cute post on rhetorical questions we ask our children. It made me think about the more serious questions I ask my teens to keep the lines of communication open. Sometimes the questions act like keys to open the doors to their thoughts, fears, and dreams.

I pick my kids up from school every day. They could ride the bus but they are the last stop on a very long bus route along a very winding road. Since they are prone to car sickness I spare them the unpleasant ride on most afternoons and have them home about twenty minutes earlier. This also gives me the opportunity to see them while the school experience is still at the forefront of their consciousness. This is the perfect time for getting them to talk. The first hour or so after school is prime time for finding out how things are really going. After that, the kids have shifted gears and information about school is less readily revealed. Even when I worked outside the home I tried to arr…

Christmas books for snuggling

We are a family of bibliophiles. I am always on a quest to increase the bookshelf space in our home. Our Christmas decorations reflect this. I have put a red metal sleigh in front of the living room fireplace and filled it with children’s Christmas books. This didn’t actually start out as a Christmas decoration. When my children were small there were picture books we would read together during Advent. I kept them in a decorative container in the family room. A few years ago I realized my kids had outgrown Christmas picture books but I couldn’t bear to leave these favorites packed away. So now they are out reminding us of happy times spent snuggling on the couch and listening to stories. But don’t think they will stay in that sleigh for long should I happen to have a young visitor who would enjoy them. ‘Tis the season for reading.

There are so many Christmas books published for children. Many have merchandise tie-ins. Of course I always found versions of the story of Jesus’ birth. But w…

Signs of Advent

Christmas decorations at our house do not change too much from year to year. I am not one to pick a different theme or color every year then decorate accordingly. Rather, our Christmas decorations are like old friends. We greet them during Advent and say good-bye after Epiphany. Every year we eagerly anticipate their arrival and the warm memories they carry.



The first thing to be displayed is our primary Nativity scene. I hesitate to call it part of the Christmas décor because it is so much more than an adornment for the season. It is our family catechesis of the Incarnation of Christ. I purchased the stable and Holy Family figures when my oldest was three. My criteria were it had to be durable enough to be around children, pretty to look at, and the baby Jesus had to come out of the manger since he would be absent from the scene until Christmas morning. I found this lovely set at the local Christian bookstore. I paid no attention to the brand name. Well, lo and behold, several years l…

Celebrate December!

image source





Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Nicholas. I am reminding you today in case you would like to have your children leave out their shoes tonight and find a little treat in them tomorrow morning. We started doing that about five years ago and it has become a treasured tradition. Read more about St. Nicholas here.



December is a treasure trove of feast days. Don’t forget that Friday, December 8, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation.




December 12 is one of my favorites, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Enjoy some Mexican Food and read the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.


The Feast of St. Lucy on December 13 is traditionally celebrated by sharing sweets with friends and family so this is a good day to concentrate on holiday baking.

Make the effort to mark these feasts with your family and keep the Church as the center of this season of Advent. You will make many wonderful memories. The spiritual gifts you give your children by keeping them centered on Chri…

Our Christmas Purple Cow

As I gradually bring out our Christmas decorations I am reminded of so many family memories. One tree ornament in particular brings back an episode in our family lore. When my daughter was around four years old we were scouring the Christmas tree farm for the perfect tree. She could not see much difference between one tree and another. So she piped up with the question, “What are we looking for?” My husband, not understanding that she was asking for the properties of a proper Christmas tree, thought it was too silly a question to respond with the obvious answer, “A Christmas tree” and answered instead, “A purple cow”. Well, she then went about dutifully checking each tree for a purple cow, thinking that once she found it we could wrap up this expedition and get back home to the warmth of a fire and hot chocolate. We did eventually settle on a tree and had a perfectly wonderful Christmas. The next year when we were again trying to pick out a tree and I noticed my daughter carefully pe…

Providential Advent Reading

Have you ever noticed that once learn a new word, you hear it everywhere? Or perhaps you become aware of a new model of car and you suddenly see it all over the roads. This also works with facts and ideas. When I was practicing medicine I was amazed how often I saw a patient with a medical condition I had just read about in a new journal. I know some of this is my consciousness of this condition had been raised by my reading so I was more sensitive to its presence. However, in some cases, I also think that Divine Providence was at work. My newly acquired knowledge was the answer to someone’s prayers.

I also see this phenomenon in my spiritual studies. Guy Selvester has a wonderful post on Advent at Shouts in the Piazza.


The word “Advent” means the arrival and we should use this all too brief four weeks to prepare not only for the commemoration of the Lord’s first arrival but for His continued arrival in our lives and in our hearts. In the Western Church it is separated into two stages. …

Keeping Your Kids Catholic, Chapter Ten

Chapter nine is here.

The last chapter of Keeping Your Kids Catholic by Bert Ghezzi is tough. After everything we have done for nearly two decades, our children may still leave the faith. Our fledglings leave the nest and test their wings. Some fly straight and true and keep the vibrant fire of their faith ever burning. Others bob and weave a bit before they find their way. Unfortunately, some take off, head the wrong way, and never look back.

What do you do when children leave the faith?

After investing your heart and soul into building a Catholic family it can come as a devastating blow when one of your children says, “No Thanks”. But this faith we long to share with our children must be their faith. They must hear the call and respond “Yes, Lord”. We may have done everything within our power to point this child in the right direction, but in the end, it is his choice. God gave each of us free will. If each of us is capable of turning away from God who is all-knowing and all-loving, th…