Christmas lights and Nativity scenes, these are a few of my favorite things

I love Nativity scenes. I currently have only a simple set, inexpensive. But I set it up every Christmas during Advent sans the manger and Christ Child which I place in the scene on Christmas Eve after dinner and sometimes at midnight. Depends on whether or not I’m attending Midnight Mass. This year I was ill (sarcoidosis, not the flu or anything contagious) during most of Advent and I didn’t get to go to Mass for the 2nd, 3rd or 4th Sundays of Advent and not for Midnight Mass either. I also lost my voice so I couldn’t even sing Christmas carols at home. Oy!

But I did manage to decorate the house last Saturday just a few days before Christmas. I’ve got stringing lights and garland on the front porch down to an art and this year I even threw a few lights on the shrubs in the flower bed. A small artificial tree on the table in the breakfast nook and a few other things here and there completed the look.

Then on Christmas Eve after the family dinner was over (and a very fine dinner it was, too, thanks to my sister and her husband!) and everyone had left or had gone to bed, I said a blessing for the Nativity scene and placed the Christ Child in the center. The three wise men are in the den, making their way on their journey to Bethlehem. They’re due to arrive on the feast of the Epiphany and then I’ll take the decorations down until next year.

But I may leave the lights in my room a bit longer. My older dog Abby hates those lights (or any lights when she’s trying to sleep) but I like ’em so I’m gonna keep ’em. For a little while. In the bleak midwinter a few little lights can bring a big smile. And I have a photo of my Nativity set to keep me company until Advent next year. Who knows? Maybe this coming year I’ll get an outdoor set for the yard.

Hope your Christmas season is a happy and blessed one wherever you are. Peace be with you now and throughout the coming year.

My Nativity scene, Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

Merry Christmas!May the Lord grant you grace upon grace on this silent, holy night and all through the coming year. Peace be with you and thank you for visiting the blog. Drop in any time, the door is always open. :)

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

Hope you have had a very Happy Thanksgiving Day!

I hope you’ve been having a very happy Thanksgiving Day. In between all the shopping and football and parades and eating, I hope you spent some time being truly thankful, even if you’ve had a hard year and being thankful is maybe the last thing on your mind any day lately, least of all today. I know a lot of people were badly effected by storms and are still effected. I wish I could make all of that go away. I wish I had enough money and power to help everybody. And while I’m wishing for superpowers, I also wish I could make things like dementia go away and nobody’s loved ones would have it and they would be the way they used to be instead of like someone you don’t know any more. I wish my best pal, my cute and very funny dog and constant companion lo these nine years, didn’t have to be lifted up to and down from the bed, or into and out of the car all the time now. I wish other things, too, but you get the idea.

Most of all I wish that we could all stop buying and selling and cooking and decorating, and griping about buying and selling and cooking and decorating, and remember what this holiday is about. Not just a day off from work, not just the busiest day of the year at work (or day before the busiest day), but a Holy Day.

Yes, a Holy Day. This year I didn’t get to Mass for Thanksgiving and my whole day has been weird because of it. The day lost its entire aspect of holiness. A lesson learned: Mass comes first, no excuses! And not only did I not get to Mass, but I forgot to write a special post or put up a little special graphic on the blog. But I have been getting my writing done for the novel and NaNoWriMo, so that’s something. The goal is 50,000 words and my current word count is 42,057, a hefty chunk of which I managed to write in just these last four days. So that’s definitely something I’m thankful for.

Well, the dogs are asleep on the bed now and computers have finished backing up–what did I do before Dropbox, huh?–so I’m going to see how much work I can do on the novel before bedtime. Happy Thanksgiving Day, everybody! Hope yours was good. May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, now and every day. Amen.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever!

Reflections on the Gospel Readings for Sundays during Lent from Fr. Robert Barron

If you haven’t discovered Fr. Robert Barron yet, you’re in for a treat. If you are familiar with his Word On Fire ministry or his Catholicism series*, then you know this set of reflections on the Gospel readings for the Sundays during Lent, compiled from the series, is going to be good. (These are free — along with a lot of other great things —  on his blog, by the way. Or watch the videos below.)

Week One, Part One and Part Two

Week Two

From the description on the Word On Fire blog:

With the ashes having faded from our foreheads and the penitential season of Lent now underway, we offer you some spiritual food-for-thought from the CATHOLICISM series. Matt Leonard, Director and Editor of the series, compiled a collection of weekly clips that relate to each Lenten Sunday’s Gospel reading.

For your initial study and reflection, the readings for this upcoming First Sunday of Lent are available here.

Father Barron’s sermon for Sunday can be accessed here.

Finally, watch the compiled Catholicism footage relating to the week’s Gospel and answer the corresponding questions [at Word On Fire].

Reflections for the Gospel Reading for the Sundays during Lent:
First Sunday of Lent
Second Sunday of Lent

*If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch the Catholicism series, I highly recommend that you get hold of a set or watch episodes on EWTN in March. Watch with friends and family. Discover (or re-discover) the beauty that is Catholicism. Buy from Word On Fire. From Amazon.

Words on the Word from Word on Fire: Fr Robert Barron comments on Christmas

Nativity Icon, larger image at end of this postIn the beginning was the Word. And below is a video from Fr. Robert Barron’s Word on Fire ministry wherein he speaks about Christmas and the Prologue of the Gospel of John. I love Fr. Barron. He’s prolific and eloquent and my laptop, external drives and iPods are filled with hundreds of his podcasts and videos. (A note about the icon below the video and a larger view.)

May your Christmas be a blessed, holy and joyful one. Peace be with you and with your loved ones throughout the year. Merry Christmas!

About the Church in the East: Light of the East on Catholic Radio International. About the Nativity Icon, Show #378: The Nativity. Download. RSS. I recorded the show yesterday on EWTN about the Christmas customs of the Church in the East and watched it this morning. They talked about the icon in this post or one similar to it. Fascinating stuff. Or it may have been Fr. Jacob Restrick, OP, and his series, Icons: Windows Onto Heaven. I recorded them both and watched them back to back. Of course, I can’t find any links to Fr. Restrick’s show. Argh.

Nativity Icon

An underground ditty for a time that was none too pretty

Looking through various posts on the web about the season of Advent, I stumbled across  the story of the well-known Twelve Days of Christmas, which, as it turns out, is not the simple song I took it to be. Composed as a “catechism song”, the Twelve Days of Christmas taught young Catholics their faith at a time when merely to be Catholic was a crime punishable by being drawn and quartered. Being Catholic was against the law in England “from 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics” there. The practice of Catholicism was illegal there, whether public or private.

Twelve Days of Christmas, an underground Catholic catechism song

I thank God daily that I live in a country where I can openly practice my beautiful Catholic faith.

At least, for now.

And with your spirit: the new, beautiful, English translation of the Roman Missal

Update, Mar 14, 2020: We’ve been using the “new” (then) translation of the Missal for years now. I haven’t made any kind of formal study of it by any means. But in recent years I’ve become aware of so many troublesome things, including in the liturgy itself or with changes that have been foisted upon it, that I almost winced when I came across this post today. My mind is in flux about many things, not about the Church or the Faith, but about things I used to take for granted. So forgive or ignore this post and chalk it up to a period of exuberance past. I don’t even know what I think about it (the post or the translation, either) anymore.

Update, Dec 6, 2011: At the end of this post I listed some related posts from around the web. Update, Dec 8, 2011: I’m making this a featured post since we’re still getting used to the new translation of the Mass. See the comments at the end for a discussion that represents two very different reactions to the translation.] I went to Mass this morning [Note: This post was originally written on the First Sunday of Advent.] at the chapel at EWTN. The first day of the liturgical season of Advent, the first day using the new English translation of the Roman Missal, and the first day using the new Mass cards showing the changes in the responses of the congregation. (See notes at the end for more resources.) Thank goodness we had these cards.

Continue reading “And with your spirit: the new, beautiful, English translation of the Roman Missal”

Thanksgiving and no shopping

Yesterday I spent the holiday with my best friend and her boyfriend and their parents. We enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal in my friend’s new apartment and hours later I was home with enough food to last me a couple of days. One of the best Thanksgiving holidays I’ve ever had. I usually go to Mass on Thanksgiving, but this year I didn’t. I felt like something was missing in the midst of all the good food and good company, and I think next year I’ll have to plan my time better so that I can attend Mass at the start of the day.

I haven’t even thought about shopping so far this weekend and I’m pretty sure I won’t go anywhere near a mall. No Black Friday for me. No stampeding horde of shoppers doing bodily harm to each other while buying Christmas presents, the ultimate lunacy. Advent begins this Sunday and I’m looking forward to focusing on the real meaning of the season, preparing for the celebration of the birth of Christ, looking ahead to His return at the end of time. I’m also looking forward to discovering what the new translation will be like since the new missal goes into effect this Sunday too. Yay! It’s about time!

May your own Thanksgiving holiday be filled with warmth and joy and may you remember to thank Him through Whom all things were made. May the peace of Christ be with you, now and always. Amen.

Remember, O, man, that thou art dust

Remember, O, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return“Remember, O, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.”

With these words the priest made the Sign of the Cross on my forehead with the ashes of last Palm Sunday’s palm fronds. A few minutes later I received Holy Communion with the Sign of Christ’s Redemptive Act marking me as His. A few minutes after that I was once again out in the world, still bearing His Mark on my forehead, still bearing His Presence within.

So began the Lenten season marking my fifteenth year as a child of Holy Mother Church. May I become ever more faithful, ever more devout, ever more aware of what it truly means to be His disciple. May I truly be filled with the spirit of Christ. And I pray all of these things for you, too. For the Greater Glory of God. In the name of Christ, His Son. In the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lenten Workshop at CatholicCulture.org.
Meditations on the Stations of the Cross, Belmont Abbey

Remember, O, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return

In this bleak early winter, a Christmas reminder

In the Bleak Midwinter...Amidst all the the mad dashing and rushing, the pushing and shoving, the shopping, the wrapping, the sorely missed napping—it’s easy to forget that Christmas is a time of celebration of the birth of a tiny child on a cold winter’s night in the long long ago. And a time of preparation for the day when our King will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. To help us both, you and me, keep the true meaning of Christmas in mind, here’s a poem (see below) that was also written long ago by one of my favorite poets. Gustav Holst set the poem to music and the result is one of the most beautiful Christmas carols ever.

Have a very Merry Christmas, dear Reader, whoever and wherever you are! May your heart be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ Who is the Source and Summit of all love and all truth and all goodness, all beauty and all joy, forever and ever. Amen. (Poem follows.) Continue reading “In this bleak early winter, a Christmas reminder”