Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Review: Dear Pope Francis



If you had the opportunity to ask Pope Francis anything, what would you ask? 259 children from 26 countries, writing in 14 languages, had that opportunity. They sent Pope Francis letters containing questions, comments, and corresponding drawings. The Pope answered 30 of these letters, sharing his responses with Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., who then turned them over to Loyola Press, a Jesuit ministry. The questions, drawings, photos of the children, and Pope Francis’ responses are all included in Dear Pope Francis, a book made to be shared with children and adults throughout the world. 
 
While some of the questions are sweet and innocent, such as a six-year-old girl asking, “When you were a child, did you like dancing,” many were not so easy. Children wonder about complex issues, problems, and ideas. Questions such as “What did God do before the world was made?” and “If God loves us so much and didn’t want us to suffer, why didn’t he defeat the devil?” and “How can you settle conflicts in the world?” have no simple answers. 

Pope Francis loves children. He views them as the future of the Church and the world and knows that treating them with kindness and respect is of the utmost importance. The Pope’s answers to these questions are honest and wise. He truly wants to speak with these children, and by extension, to all of us. As Fr. Spadaro states, “I realize that the language of Pope Francis is simple and that he lives in simple words. . . Pope Francis’s responses to these questions will do good for all, and especially for those who refuse to become simple like children.” 

The question that spoke most to me is one that I wonder about even as an adult. Maximus, a ten-year-old  boy from Singapore, inquired, “Why did God create us even though he knew we would sin against him?” Pope Francis replied, “Because God has created us to be like himself. God created us to be free. Freedom is the greatest gift he has given us. Do you know that? . . . Freedom can scare people because it can’t be programmed like a machine. And exactly for this reason, freedom is beautiful and God’s greatest gift.”

A copy of Dear Pope Francis should be in every Catholic school and parish library. It also makes a great gift. It is a beautiful book, enjoyable to read and ponder for children, teens, and adults. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Novena begins November 30th

It is time once again for the Christmas Novena which begins on the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30th) and goes through Christmas Eve. Some say to pray the following prayer 15 times a day each day; others have it once a day. However you decide to pray, humbly ask God for whatever your heart desires most this Christmas.


The Christmas Novena

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold.
At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires.
(Mention your request here.)
Through Jesus Christ and his most Blessed Mother. Amen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Prayer

This prayer was sent in a card to Catholics in the Diocese of Springfield, MA from Bishop Mitch Rosanski. I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

O Gracious God,

We give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. 
Thank you for our home and family and friends,
especially for those gathered here today. 
Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat  
and especially for this feast today.
Thank you for our health, our work, and our play.

Open our hearts to your love so we may help those who are hungry, alone, sick, and suffering war and violence. We gratefully remember too, our family members and loved ones who are not here with us physically and celebrate the gift which they have been and continue to be for us.
May we live this and every day grateful for all that has been given to us.

We make this prayer as we do all things through Christ our Lord,

Amen.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Creches of Germany: Tradition of Faith Exhibit

The Knights of Columbus Museum’s 12th annual Christmas exhibition, Crèches of Germany: Tradition & Faith, opens November 19, 2016, and continues until January 29, 2017.

As in the past, many of the objects on display hail from the internationally renowned Museo del Presepio of Rome, Italian Friends of the Crèche Association and the Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania.

Although its German origins are uncertain, the crèche or Nativity scene presumably was introduced by Franciscan friars. The oldest recorded German crèche was housed in the Monastery of Füssen in Bavaria and dates to 1252, shortly after the arrival of the followers of St. Francis, the “poor man of Assisi,” who developed the custom of a Nativity scene some 30 years earlier.
From the 16th century on, the Society of Jesus (or Jesuits) is credited with spreading the tradition of the Nativity scene. Records from this period reveal that German monasteries, abbeys and churches added elaborate Nativity. In response to increasing requests for crèche accessories, markets known as Christkindlesmärkte (Christ Child Markets) began to flourish in cities such as Munich and Nuremberg.

Read more:  http://www.kofcmuseum.org/km/en/exhibits/2016/germany-creche/index.html

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Review: The Wedding Shop

Some books are a pure delight to read. The Wedding Shop by New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hauck is one of those books.

In The Wedding Shop, Hauck tells the story of two women whose lives are connected by this bridal storefront. Miss Cora Scott inherited the shop from her great-aunt and has made a life for herself taking care of the local brides at Heart's Bend Tennessee in the midst of the Great Depression, but she herself has not walked down the aisle. She has promised her heart to Rufus, a riverboat captain who she sees only on rare occasions.

Eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart's Bend after a disastrous relationship bit the dust and her childhood best friend died. She discovers the wedding shop is about to be turned into a parking lot and she decides she is going to save it.

Hauck is a skillful writer, seamlessly intertwining these two beautiful stories about strong women, second chances, true love, and forgiveness.

If you are a fan of Christian romance, this is one book that you definitely want to add to your to-be-read list. It is actually the middle book of a trilogy. The other books are The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel, neither of which I have read although now I certainly plan to. While the stories are connected, each can stand alone.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Prayer for After An Election

From the USCCB

God of all nations,
Father of the human family,
we give you thanks for the freedom we exercise
and the many blessings of democracy we enjoy
in these United States of America.
We ask for your protection and guidance
for all who devote themselves to the common good,
working for justice and peace at home and around the world.
We lift up all our duly elected leaders and public servants,
those who will serve us as president, as legislators and judges,
those in the military and law enforcement.
Heal us from our differences and unite us, O Lord,
with a common purpose, dedication, and commitment to achieve liberty and justice
in the years ahead for all people,
and especially those who are most vulnerable in our midst. Amen.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Advent with St. Teresa of Calcutta

In celebration of the canonization of one of the Church’s newest saints, Servant Books is proud to present this small book of meditations for the seasons of Advent and Christmas, including special feast days associated with those seasons. Mother Teresa’s life and writings, marked by a spirit of humility, simplicity and love, encourage readers to quiet their hearts as they prepare to receive the Lord. 

Heidi Hess Saxton’s Advent with St. Teresa of Calcutta captures the humble yet faith-filled spirit of this great lady of Calcutta. Each day of the Advent seasons, readers are invited to pray, and to consider what they might offer the Lord as their gift to him during this Christmas season. St. Teresa’s example calls readers to consider how they might love more deeply, surrender more completely, and let go of all the things they do not need, so there is more room to receive from the Lord all he wishes them to have.

For those who wander in darkness, St. Teresa of Calcutta is a true
patron of joy yet to be discovered.