Did I have a relationship with Our Lady when I was growing up? If you had asked me, I would have said yes. After all, I recited the rosary. I prayed the Angelus. One year in high school I even memorized the “Litany of Loreto” as my Lenten resolution. But as I came to know […]
The Monday after Pentecost is a Marian feast day. Didn’t you know? It’s alright if you didn’t. After all, Pope Francis only just declared the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, to be a permanent memorial this past March. Why Mary, Mother of the Church? Since the earliest days of Christian history, Catholics have referred […]
Holy Week is the most solemn and glorious week of the church year—even more so than Christmas. Beginning with Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered triumphantly into Jerusalem, and ending with Easter Sunday, Holy Week progresses to its final days with great solemnity. Sundown on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Sunday is referred to as […]
Why does it always seem that as soon as we put away the last of the ornaments and decorations, Lent comes upon us faster than we can work off that last batch of Christmas cookies we ate? We generally have no problem knowing when Easter and Christmas are coming, because we have weeks of preparation […]
Candles are lit, the petite white gown has been donned by a squirming infant, and now the celebrant turns to the parents holding the child and solemnly asks: “What name do you give your child?” In reply, you might hear: Ashley Elizabeth… David Joseph… Mary Joy… Justin Michael… There’s nothing that says “Catholic” quite like […]
There are many beautiful and ancient traditions that come to us from the East in the form of special blessings that the Church performs on Epiphany: the blessing of water, chalk, and homes.
Next to Easter, Christmas is the holiest day of the year. Just as we celebrate Easter as a Triduum of liturgies (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil), so at Christmas we have something like a triduum of Masses. There are three Masses celebrated on Christmas Day: at midnight, dawn, and during the day. Each Mass is distinct and highlights a different aspect of the Christmas story.
Walk into any Catholic Church, and it’s impossible to miss seeing candles. There are candles on the altar, a special candle near the tabernacle, and candles in front of images or statues of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady, St. Joseph, or various other patron saints. And these examples are just the bare minimum!
Advent is given to us as a time to prepare our souls for the coming of the Lord. Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter. In modern times we are tempted to skip over the penitential aspects of Advent and focus on the joy of Christmas. This is a great tragedy. Focusing only on the joy denies the truth: the Christ Child is our Lord and Savior who will suffer and die for our salvation.
Just as Jasper has been used to cut away and bring out the best in other stones, so do we need to cut away what is unnecessary and ugly in our souls to be prepared to receive Christ at Christmas. When He comes, He skillfully and lovingly carves away everything in our hearts that keeps us from living fully and freely in His love.