December 23, 2014

12 Days of Christmas Calendar

Here it is, just in time!  The 12 Days of Christmas coloring calendar!  You can click this link to access the file as a .jpg to print and color.  Merry Christmas!  Enjoy!

December 17, 2014

Figgy Pudding, Stollen, and Tamales

Knowledge Quest generously has shared a free, 30+ page, recipe booklet, download with Christmas recipes from around the world to augment your holiday table next week.  Here's the link.  Enjoy!

Figgy Pudding, Stollen, and Tamales: Gathering the World Around Your Christmas Table

O Antiphons...for Your 'Fridge!

Here is a lovely, one-page sheet on the O Antiphons by Michelle Quigley, perfect for taping up on your 'fridge, kitchen pantry door, bathroom mirror, or wherever you will see it most often to read the brief meditation thereon.

O Antiphons - In Brief

Beginning on December 17th, as the final phase of preparation for Christmas, the Church recites or chants the O Antiphons preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. The O Antiphons express the Church's longing and expectation for the Messiah, her startled wonderment at the fullness of grace which the Christ-Child is about to bestow on the world. Their theme is the majesty of the Savior, His wisdom, His faithfulness and sanctity, His justice and mercy, His covenant with His chosen people, who in their ingratitude broke faith with Him. They are concerned with His power and love as King and Redeemer of the world, His relation to every soul as Emmanuel, God-with-us. (source: With Christ Through the Year by Bernard Strasser)

According to Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one — Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia — the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion. (source: Fr. William Saunders, the Catholic Education Resource Center [CERC})

There also is a nice meditation and explanation of the O Antiphons over at the CERC by Fr. Roger J. Landry.  You can find it here.

Lastly, the book pictured above, The O Antiphons: Poetry, Reflection, and Song to Being the Season of Advent, is from Grace Episcopal Church, but much of its content is gleaned from the aforementioned Fr. William Saunders at the Catholic Education Resource Center!  It's a really beautiful PDF that you can download for your private prayer.  It's only 18 pages and that's including the full hymns -- an easy devotion nightly! Enjoy!

O Antiphons Bible Study

(This post is from an invitation to read about the "O Antiphons," which began today, during Advent with Thomas Smith as part of The Great Adventure, a Bible study for Catholics!)

The titles of Christ in the O Antiphons have been invoked by the Church for at least 1,300 years. The Medieval monasteries would ring their largest bell as the choirs of monks intoned Mary’s Magnificat and these Advent antiphons. All seven can be found in the oracles of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, who gives us many memorable images of the Messiah. They are rich meditations on the One who is to come.

Although there are seven titles in the O Antiphons, only one has remained firmly in popular Christian culture, thanks to an Advent hymn: O Come, O Come Emmanuel. This Messianic title is the final of the seven O Antiphons. To help us pray and even SING these beautiful prayers, Thomas Smith uses a translation that matches that familiar Advent melody. The other titles are O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Light, and O King of the Nations.

Join us for What's in a Name? Reflections on the O Antiphons with Thomas Smith as we prepare for Christ’s coming and kinship by meditating on his names. This free 10 Minute Study began December 16th and ends December 23. Enjoy!

December 2, 2014

Little Sisters of the Poor and the HHS Mandate

The government abortion/contraception mandate (the so-called, "HHS mandate,") has receded from the forefront of news headlines.  But, once again, it is about to rear its ugly head in threat to the good conscience of Catholics everywhere, this time against the Little Sisters of the Poor.

    Three federal appeals courts have heard cases brought by religious non-profit organizations, challenging the so-called "accommodation" (see my blog, explaining this "accommodation":  Unfortunately, all three courts have ruled against the religious organizations (which included the University of Notre Dame, the Michigan Catholic Conference, Priests for Life, and the Archdiocese of Washington DC).  While there have been many lower court rulings against the HHS mandate and accommodation, these rulings by appellate courts (which are just one step below the Supreme Court) are very troubling.
    The next major court battle is just around the corner.  On December 8th  the Little Sisters of the Poor will have their day in court in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.  This is a critical moment.  The Little Sisters present perhaps the best and clearest example of a religious organization that is faced with an existential threat by the HHS mandate (see my explanation here:  A victory by the Little Sisters will send a clear message to the Supreme Court, and will increase the chances that other religious non-profits will be protected from the ruinous fines that would be imposed under the HHS mandate.  A defeat could subject the Little Sisters to as much as $50 million in fines for following their conscience -- that would put them out of business, and also send an ominous message about the future of religious liberty in America.
    Sincerely in Christ,
    Director of Public Policy

And here is some encouragement from the Respect Life Coordinator for the Archdiocese of New York:

    I would urge you to spread word of this via all social media outlets (e.g. Facebook and Twitter).  It is vitally important that we show our support for the Little Sisters of the Poor and pray for the attorneys who will be representing them at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty  and also pray for wisdom for the three judges who will be hearing their case.   If you are able to offer some form of fast/sacrifice for this intention that would be great.
    Finally, since December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, let us ask our Lady, Patroness of the United States of America, to powerfully intercede to protect our nation and its God given freedoms.  For prayer resources see 
    Thank you and God bless you.
    Sr. Lucy Marie
    Archdiocese of New York
    1011 First Ave, 7th floor
    New York, NY  10022
    Mon-Thurs 9:45am-4:45pm

The Anticipation of Advent

Catholic Sistas has posted here a wide variety of articles, lists, tips, and simple ideas for making your Advent less focused on materialism and more focused on the coming of the Christ Child, Our Savior!  There's something here for everyone, without overwhelming your life and your Advent season with, "one more thing to do."

Take a deep breath, turn a blind eye to the visual, decorative cacophony in the stores, and quiet your soul in the peaceful presence of the Prince of Peace Himself.  Focus on Our Lord, the Infant Jesus.  Let Our Lady gently guide you to the Manger, drawing you ever closer to the Sacred Heart of her Son, Jesus!

Vive Jesu!

Your Handy-Dandy List to an Intentional Advent

Kerry Baunach over at Catholic Sistas has posted a lovely list of, "Your Handy-Dandy List to an Intentional Advent," filled with both easy and more intensive ways to make your Advent a spiritually enriching time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child.  Enjoy!

Vouchsafe, OMG

Allison H. over at, "Catholic Sistas," wrote a beautiful, succinct blog post last year about the St. Andrew's Christmas Novena, "where the theological truths of our Holy Faith crash like waves upon the rocky shores of our real lives."  You can read it quickly here:

Are you still praying your novena?  Remember, 15 times a day can seem overwhelming, so you always can break it up into five recitations, three different times throughout the day, etc.

Blessed Advent to you and those whom you love!

Hail and blessed by the hour and moment
in which the Son of God was born
of the most pure Virgin Mary,
at midnight,
in Bethlehem,
in piercing cold.
In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God,
to hear my prayers
and grant my desires,
through the merits of our Savior,
Jesus Christ,
and of His Blessed Mother.