Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Feast of St. Andrew

Reviving Advent: The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

By Scott P. Richert, Guide
ADVENT can start anywhere from November 27 through December 3 , but one popular Advent devotion always begins on November 30, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle. On this day, we begin the   Saint Andrew Christmas Novena also known as the Christmas Anticipation Prayer or simply the Christmas Novena. 
While a NOVENA is technically a nine-day prayer (the word comes from the Latin word for nine, novem), the name is sometimes applied to any prayer that we say repeatedly over a series of days.
In this case, Catholics pray the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena prayer 15 times each day from the Feast of Saint Andrew untilChristmas. The prayer is addressed to God the Father and asks Him to grant us our request in honor of the birth of His Son on Christmas. It's an excellent prayer to pray with children, because it heightens their anticipation of Christmas, while keeping them focused on the fact that Advent is a time of preparation, and not an extension of the Christmas season.
·         You can pray the text of the prayer 15 times all at once, or you can spread it out throughout the day. One convenient way to pray it is to recite it five times at each meal, or five times during your morning prayers, five times during your evening prayers, and five times at supper. Be sure, when you begin the novena, to have a particular intention or request in mind, and recall it each time you say the prayer.

Here is the novena prayer:
Hail and blessed be 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 prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Did you know Squanto, the Native American hero of Thanksgiving, was Catholic!  
   As a young man, Squanto was kidnapped by a rogue British officer, Lt. Thomas Hunt. Hunt lured Squanto and other Patuxet natives onto his ship, put them in irons and set sail for Malaga off the coast of Spain. Hunt's plan was to sell the Native Americans as slaves. His plan went awry, however, because Spain was a Catholic country and intent on adhering to the teachings of Pope Paul III, put forth in his Papal Bull, "Sublimis Dei." In it, the Pope prohibited Catholic governments from  becoming involved in mistreating or enslaving Indians from the New World. The Pope stated that the native peoples of the Americas were "true men...who could not be lawfully deprived of liberty." 

When Hunt came ashore, a group of Friars rescued Squanto and several of the others. These Friars looked after their needs, both physical and spiritual. Squanto was declared a free man, educated in the Faith and baptized while remaining with these holy priests. Squanto's Baptism also gave additional weight to his status as a free man. His dream to return home never wavered and the Friars secured passage for him on a ship bound for England, the first step in returning to the New World. Six years after his kidnapping, Squanto sailed back into Cape Cod Bay, likely guided by the prominent landmark known today as Plymouth Rock. On coming ashore, he found no trace of his fellow Patuxet natives. Squanto learned from the neighboring tribe that his entire village had been wiped out by a "great sickness."  Squanto was living with the Wampanoag tribe when the Pilgrims arrived a short time later. Massosoit, the leader of the Wampanoags, was upset by  the Pilgrims' presence and sent Squanto, who spoke English, to check out the situation. Squanto calmed Massosoit's fears and concerns about the Pilgrims and negotiated a peace between them which lasted 50 years.

 Governor William Bradford, a leader of the Pilgrims, wrote that Squanto was viewed by the them as "a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectations." Squanto taught the first settlers how to build houses to withstand the cold and to use fish as fertilizer to increase plant yield. Many historians now acknowledge that the Pilgrims' survival was due in large measure to Squanto's presence among them. Governor Bradford recorded that "he never left us till he died." On his deathbed, Squanto asked his friends to pray for him and then handed on his goods to them. Governor Bradford described these gifts to them as "remembrances of his love."

      Squanto's story is an inspiration for all of us to infuse our Catholic faith into our celebration of Thanksgiving. Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC, suggests that the most effective way to do this is to make a special effort to attend Mass together as a family on Thanksgiving Day.  And while at Mass, don't forget to remind the "little pilgrims" in your family that Eucharistia is Greek for Thanksgiving---how very Catholic!
This is a brief retelling of his fascinating story, for more information, go to:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bananas Foster Upside-Down Cake starts off the Thanksgiving Week

Cake cooking over the coals in the Big Green Egg
Bob, the Cast Iron Skillet, the Southern Living Magazine and real thing !
In the November issue of Southern Living, pg 126 there is a great looking Bananas Foster Upside-Down Cake. But why just look at the picture? 

Tonight while watching the Notre Dame and FSU games, Bob made the cake on the Big Green Egg outside (think charcoal burning stove.) The Big Green Egg was already hot because Bob had made home made, hand tossed pizza and garlic bread on it for dinner. So why not cook dessert while the big games are on? This is no week to go on a diet, but it is a huge week to be Thankful. Thank God for Bob!

Southern Living Photo by Jennifer Davick
Click HERE for the recipe!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Noah Thomas Hughes

During November the scriptures at mass are all about the end. They remind us to use our talents well, to have our oil jars filled and to be prepared when the Master returns. November is the month we remember those who have died.

Today all that talk hit home. A friend of our oldest son died today. His motorcycle crashed into a tree. When my husband called to tell me the news, I was devastated. I sobbed.

I had never met Noah. I didn't even know his last name until today. But my loss is so great. Because Noah life was cut short, just 22 years.And he was a friend of my son.

My son's sadness made me sob too. I can't take that sorrow away from him or shield him from it.
So, I will try to show him how to walk through it, to rely on God, to pray, to hope and to trust. And to be prepared.

For we do not know the day nor the hour.  Matt 24:36

Please tell everyone you know that you love them. Tell them today.
Forgive those you don't love.
Forgive them today.

Please join me in praying for the repose of Noah's soul. Please pray for his family and my family.

"Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace."

youtube video by Kate Cillian

Monday, November 7, 2011

Marie Bellet, a Catholic singer, songwriter, wife, and mother

What great encouragement for Moms! 

I first heard of Marie Bellet maybe 10 years ago, probably between our fourth and fifth children. At that time, our family had "crossed the line" and become a "big family." Marie and her husband Bill had a bigger family and loved it. Her first CD "What I Wanted to Say" had songs about the difference a mother can make, the ability to do nothing without God, and the heroic virtues developed in a family. I played that CD over and over and over again and found so much inspiration and encouragement. 

Through the years, she released 3 more CDs. A week or two ago, I found my copy of the fourth CD "A New Springtime." It brought back so many happy memories of the years when it first came out, but again brought encouragement for today as well.

Then I heard she had just released her 5th CD, "Everything Changes." Here's how she describes the CD "This is not Marriage and Family 101 anymore! A few years further along, these songs reflect the changes wrought by launching kids out into the culture wars, learning not to take troubles personally, rolling with reality and resting in the rhythm of perseverance. Authentic and organic, this collection is an essential companion for those beginning to suspect that, in this grand adventure, everything changes."

Well, I was not prepared for the emotional state this put me in. It traced so many of the changes that our family has gone through. Their oldest son is off to the Army, our oldest off to college. Both our "babies" are now in school and Marie and I have both noticed a few more wrinkles. From the title track the words jumped out at me about how when the kids are little we put them in car seats and make them wear helmets and now they are going hunting and using power tools! But as she concludes "Your rhythm and rhyme has it's own perfect time and everything changes" I knew that all things were in God's plans.

Get her CDs for yourself and for any Mom, but especially Moms with Young Children, who are open to life and trying to live our beautiful Catholic Faith. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Plenary Indulgence and other prayers for the Poor Souls in Purgatory

Plenary indulgences for the Poor Souls in Purgatory are  granted to the faithful who:

On All Souls Day, November 2:

piously visit a church or a public oratory

recite one Our Father, the Creed, and one Hail Mary for the Pope’s intentions.

receive Holy Communion

go to Confession within 7 days; and,

have no attachment to sin, even venial sin.

Besides the indulgence which is specific to November 2, you can always say a short prayer for the dead. A simple prayer that our family adds to the end of the blessing before meals is "May the souls of the Faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace, Amen." This can be done especially in November, but throughout the year as well. 

 And another well known devotion and prayer would be this, dictated by Our Lord to St. Gertrude the Great to release 1,000 Souls from Purgatory each time it is said:
"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen."

November the Month to Pray for ALL SOULS

Aladar Korosfoi-Kriesch, All Souls' Day 1910
November 2 we celebrate the Feast of All Souls. But did you know the entire month of November is designated to pray for dead?

This has become such a special feast day and month for our family since the death of two of our parents in 2006 and 2007.  From the beginning, Christians have prayed for the dead and have undertaken works of penance on their behalf. There is scriptural basis for this intercessory prayer for the sins of others and for the dead in the Old Testament. Job's sacrifices purified his sons (Job 1:5); and Judas Maccabeus "made atonement for the dead that they be delivered from their sin" (II Macc 12:46). 
As the church militant, we are privileged to pray for those who have gone before us. We don't know the state of their souls at the time of death. Many will go through a period of purgation so that they will have all stain of sin burned off and can then enter Heaven to see God face to face. 

Today is a great day to go to a cemetery along with your children or other members of your family and visit the graves of your family members. My parents often visited the graves at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio when I was a child. They would pull weeds, edge around the tomb stones, plant flowers and say prayers. 

It is also a great day to go to mass, see separate posting on gaining the indulgence for your loved ones or for those who have no one to pray for them.

One of the things we do every November is to cluster all the photographs of our deceased friends and families on a big poster board. You can also use a shelf or small table. We take time to teach the younger children who these people are; Nana Kavanaugh, Grandpa "JoJo",  and our relatives and grandparents that they never met. 

I highly recommend Susan Tassone's books about praying  for the Holy Souls, see 
Susan has done a great deal of writing and praying on this topic.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints Day

All Saints by Fra Angelica
Today is the best feast day ever~ ALL SAINTS DAY. I love the saints. I love learning about the saints. I love reading their lives. I love their diversity and I love how each became totally untied to Christ and therefore, A Saint.

I got a great quote from the Una Fides e-letter this week. Pope Benedict XVI said "Often we are led to believe that sainthood is reserved to a few chosen ones." He goes on to say, "saintliness, the fullness of Christian life, does not consist in the achievement of extraordinary feats, but in uniting oneself with Christ. Indeed, a Christian is already holy because Baptism unites him to Jesus and His paschal mystery, but he also has to become holy by conforming himself ever more closely to Christ. Every Christian is called to be a saint, as is every human being!"

YouCat, the newly released Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, explains
this teaching in a very understandable way.

   "Only in holiness does man become that for which God created him. Only
   in holiness does man find real harmony between himself and his Creator.
   Holiness, however, is not some sort of self-made perfection; rather, it is
   union with the Incarnate Love that is Christ. Anyone who gains new life
   in this way finds himself and becomes holy."

Spend time today in mass, it is a holy day of obligation. And if your choir doesn't sing the litany of the saints, click on Matt Maher's version from YouTube. This video is done with all Monastery Icons which are just beautiful.