How to Write a Confirmation Letter

A bishop confirms young students in Cordoba.

Have you been asked to write a letter to someone who is preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation?

Many parishes have retreats in which the Confirmation candidates are given letters from their loved ones and friends to encourage and inspire them as they prepare to receive this sacrament. These letters are special because they come from different sources: friends, loved ones, or mentors within the Church. Trying to find words of inspiration from the Bible, the Catechism, or from our own personal experience can be difficult, though.

Journeying with Joseph & Mary: Las Posadas Catholic Christmas Tradition

Las Posadas Nativity Procession

The Christmas Posadas tradition begins!

Las Posadas is a wonderful 400+ year old Advent celebration in many Latin countries. For 9 days, from December 16th-24th, the faithful prepare for Christmas by acting out and reliving the days Mary & Joseph experienced as they journeyed to Bethlehem as told in the Gospels. They traveled from place to place seeking rest, only to be rejected, causing the Baby Jesus to be born in a manger.

This Catholic Christmas tradition was brought to Mexico in the 16th century by Spanish Augustinian friars as they evangelized the New World. Today the Las Posadas continues to be a wonderful way share and celebrate our Christian faith and heritage.

The Year of Mercy, Pope Francis, and Our Lady Untier of Knots

Our Lady Untier of Knots Outdoor Statue

Devotion to Mary Untier (or Undoer) of Knots was localized to Germany. It was commissioned for a home altar in honor of Our Lady’s intercession preventing the divorce of a 17th-century German couple. Jorge Bergoglio, while studying in Germany, discovered this 300-year-old painting of Mary and its story. He was struck by the image and the story behind it, and brought the devotion back to Argentina where it spread widely. Since he became Pope Francis, this favorite devotion of his is growing in popularity around the world.

Everything You Need to Know about the Holy Year of Mercy

Pope Francis Holy Door St. Peter's

A “Holy Year” and “Jubilee” are synonymous terms. The concept goes back to the Old Testament when Moses declared every 50th year a jubilee, that is, a holy year to be observed by all of Israel which included the remission of debts, the liberation of slaves, and a rest from the cultivation of the land.

For the Catholic Church, the first Jubilee was proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300. It gradually increased in frequency from being celebrated every half century, to every 33 years, and then to every 25 years as the norm. A Jubilee is “ordinary” if it falls every 25 years, and “extraordinary” when it is proclaimed outside the usual time to commemorate some outstanding event.

After the Holy Year in 1975 under his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II called for a Holy Year in 1983 (to commemorate the 1950th anniversary of the Year of Redemption, that is, the year 33 A.D. on which Jesus died on the Cross) and again in 2000. The Jubilee of the Year 2000 was the last one celebrated by the Church.

A Few Neat Providential Things Surrounding the Synod on the Family

Synod of Bishops

After the opening Mass yesterday, today is the first day our bishops got down to business for the Ordinary Synod on the Family. Read the Holy Father’s Homily for the Sunday Opening Mass and his remarks at Monday’s opening discussions.

I noticed a few neat providential coincidences for this important event in the life of the Church that I thought I’d share with you:

Highlights from Pope Francis’ 3rd Day in the USA (NYC)

Photo: abc7.com

What a gift it has been to have our Holy Father with us for three days, and there are still two more to go!

The effect Pope Francis has had on this country has been amazing. It is quite out of the ordinary for Catholics, so used to having their faith denigrated, to be publicly celebrated and lauded as it has been these last few days. I think the coined termed for this is “The Francis Effect.”

Below are the highlights of today, all images taken from USCCB live streaming.

Highlights from Pope Francis’ 2nd Day in the USA (DC & NYC)

Pope Francis at US Congress

The highlight of today was most clearly the Holy Father’s address to a Joint Session of Congress – the first time the Vicar of Christ has ever done so.

House Speaker John Boehner, a Catholic, invited Pope Francis to make an address to a joint session of U.S. Congress. While this Pope is not the first to be invited, he is the first to accept.

First Latin American Pope in the United States: No Translation Needed

(CNS photo/Gary Cameron, Reuters)

Se ve, se siente, el Papa está presente!

This is how hundreds of Latinos standing by the White House cheered Pope Francis, eager to see their spiritual leader and to take some pictures during his parade down the streets.

Washington D.C., New York, and Pennsylvania are home to thousands of Latinos in the U.S., and the opportunity to listen to Papa Francisco speak in his native language, Spanish, is the reason why Latinos are so exited about his visit and feel so connected with the Holy Father.

Full Transcript of First Ever Papal Speech to U.S. Joint Session of Congress

pope-francis-congress

Mr. Vice-President,

Mr. Speaker,

Honorable Members of Congress,

Dear Friends,
I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Highlights from Pope Francis’ First Day in the USA (Washington, D.C.)

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What a joyful and grace-filled day!

Here are the highlights from Pope Francis’ first full day on his apostolic journey to the United States. All images taken from live streaming at the USCCB website and the lovely canonization website for St. Junipero Serra.

This trip has a few firsts . . .

This is Pope Francis’ very first time stepping foot in the United States, and the first canonization Mass on American soil. This was truly a historic and very special day for both the Catholic Church and the United States!