Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!

From today's Gospel
Mt 2:13-15, 19-23

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.


"Scripture tells us practically nothing about the first years and the boyhood of the Child Jesus. All we know are the facts of the sojourn in Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and the incidents that occurred when the twelve-year-old boy accompanied his parents to Jerusalem. In her liturgy the Church hurries over this period of Christ's life with equal brevity. The general breakdown of the family, however, at the end of the past century and at the beginning of our own, prompted the popes, especially the far-sighted Leo XIII, to promote the observance of this feast with the hope that it might instill into Christian families something of the faithful love and the devoted attachment that characterize the family of Nazareth. The primary purpose of the Church in instituting and promoting this feast is to present the Holy Family as the model and exemplar of all Christian families."

— Excerpted from With Christ Through the Year, Rev. Bernard Strasser, O.S.B.

Fr. James's Sunday Homily

The Christmas Love Story and Family Life

When Mother Teresa came to this country for the first time, she said:

“I suppose that some of you are feeling that you would have to buy a plane ticket and travel to India if you were to give effective help to the poor. There is no need. The poor are right here in your own country. In the third world, there is often a famine of the stomach due to the lack of food, but the people are rich in love. They share what little they have with one another. In developed nations like yours, there is an abundance of food. But there is often a famine of the heart due to a lack of love. The victims of this famine of love are the new poor. And who are these poor people? They are the people sitting next to you”.

Why is their a famine of love in developed countries? The answer is simple and clear: we have become so selfish.

Today, Americans tend to be so isolated and self-centered. Many talk feverishly on cell phones, but never stop to say hello to the person next to them. Many are consumed with Internet chat rooms, but they have never say a word to the person living next door to them. Many are living in a narcissistic fantasy world, never having time for the children that they brought into this world. Many married people recklessly do all that they can to limit the number of children that God may be calling them to bring into this world, selfishly closing themselves off to the gift of life.

Jesus gave us the solution to selfishness: “Love one another as I have loved you”.

Here is what Mother Teresa had to say: “Let us bring peace into the world by love and compassion, by respecting life, the most beautiful gift of God. Let us love each person – the unborn, the young, the old, the sick and the poor – with the same love with which God loves each one of us, a tender and personal love”.

Christmas is the celebration of God’s unconditional love for you and for me. “God so loved the world, that he gave us his only Son; not to condemn the world, but to save it” (John 3: 16)... (Continued here.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful time with family and friends. I am spending time with my family and will be back soon to "catch up!"

God bless!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Will you help me adopt this family?

The other day I posted about a family who is in need right now for prayers and also for food and money to keep a roof over their heads. Many of us have the luxury of a home, food, and necessities and will have a very Merry Christmas! I just learned about this family the other day. They live in my town and I plan to try to get them whatever help I can. This woman who wrote the note was a friend of my dear friend and spiritual director, Fr. Bill who recently passed away. She wrote him a Christmas card not knowing that he had passed away. She was asking for his help with prayer and I know she would greatly benefit from some financial help, as well. I will include her personal note in this post again and I am asking if you would like to contribute ANYTHING to help this woman who doesn't even have a refrigerator. If you would like to send a donation, you may write to me at DMCooperOboyle(at)aol(dot)com. I will also try to set up a Paypal account to raise money for this family and will let you know as soon as I do. You may also send a donation to me to: Donna Cooper O'Boyle, P.O. Box 773, New Milford, CT 06776. Please enclose a note explaining that it is a donation for this family.

Here's the note from the woman:

"Dear Father,

Everyone I’m sure has always looked to you and ask for prayers! I am first wondering how you are doing and I hope that you are well? I sure wish you were around
(she must mean that he is no longer at our parish because he retired several years ago).

At this time I am totally and permanently disabled. I do not quality for SSDs due to 2 injuries. I don’t get Social Security, too young and have no income. I’m using the little bit I have to try to save my home, no health insurance, meds are $6,500.00 and more per year. Car broke down, now no refrigerator. Problem with my son, I have a workers compensation case and injury but they maybe too late coming to save me and my home and my animals and son. I need a St. Jude Novena and am too ill in bed to get to Church to meet the requirements. Would you please pray to St. Jude and baby Jesus to get God’s help. I want to live out my life with peace of mind and own roof over my head and better health for us. So sorry to have to ask you for help. I have no family left. Love, ****"(I have left her name out).

Thank you in advance for your help!

Merry Christmas!


The Blessings of Faith

I found this very nice reflection at Catholic Exchange. I recommend you read the entire article. :)

"Ahaz, king of Judah, did not exercise his leadership over the southern kingdom in a way that was pleasing to the Lord. Isaiah, the prophet, attempted on numerous occasions to call him back from his wandering ways, that is, to be faithful to the covenant and to seek guidance from the Lord as he ruled over God's people.

This Sunday's first reading includes Isaiah's invitation to the king to ask for a sign, a blessing from the Lord, as proof of God's willingness to shepherd his people. Ahaz responds in anger, masking his lack of faith, by saying "I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!" Isaiah responds with the famous prophecy: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name Him Emmanuel." Ahaz's lack of faith in God prompted a prophetic word that will echo in the hearts of Christians for the rest of eternity.

The king's response to God is sharply contrasted with St. Joseph's in this week's Gospel. Joseph faces a heart wrenching predicament: he is married to a uniquely wonderful woman who is pregnant, and he knows that he is not the biological father. Since he is a "righteous man," he chooses to... (Continued here at Catholic Exchange)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Jesus in the "distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor" as Mother Teresa always said

My dear friend and spiritual director, Fr. Bill, as some of you know, passed away a couple of months ago. According to his niece, he is still receiving Christmas cards at his house. She emailed me this morning and told me of a person who sent Fr. Bill a card and hand wrote this note inside:

"Dear Father,

Everyone I’m sure has always looked to you and ask for prayers! I am first wondering how you are doing and I hope that you are well? I sure wish you were around
(she must mean that he is no longer at our parish because he retired several years ago).

At this time I am totally and permanently disabled. I do not quality for SSDs due to 2 injuries. I don’t get Social Security, too young and have no income. I’m using the little bit I have to try to save my home, no health insurance, meds are $6,500.00 and more per year. Car broke down, now no refrigerator. Problem with my son, I have a workers compensation case and injury but they maybe too late coming to save me and my home and my animals and son. I need a St. Jude Novena and am too ill in bed to get to Church to meet the requirements. Would you please pray to St. Jude and baby Jesus to get God’s help. I want to live out my life with peace of mind and own roof over my head and better health for us. So sorry to have to ask you for help. I have no family left. Love, ****"(I have left her name out).

This woman apparently did not know that dear Fr. Bill had died. But, now we have before us "Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor" as Mother Teresa has always said. I have this woman's address from the card and I will find her and go over to see her. I have also alerted my pastor so that we can arrange meals and help. PLEASE pray for this woman and of course, all of those who are in difficult situations right now at Christmas time. Pray also for the mother I told you about that is planning to abort her baby today. PLEASE, please pray for all of the poorest of the poor who surround us and have so many needs. Calcutta is in our midst. We have to open our eyes and ears to see and hear their pleas. We need to respond in love, especially when we are so busy. They are JESUS living in one another. Will we go to greet HIM? Will we show HIM our love?

God bless you!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pope Benedict and Advent

"Advent means to bring to life within ourselves the hidden Presence of God. It takes place to the extent that we travel the path of conversion and change our cast of mind by turning from the visible to the invisible. As we travel this path, we learn to see the miracle of grace; we learn that there can be no more luminous source of joy for human beings and the world than the grace that has appeared in Christ."--Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pope Benedict and Christmas

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2007 / 10:25 am (CNA).- As Christmas draws nearer, Pope Benedict departed from his tradition of reflecting on an Early Church Father on Wednesdays so that he could point to the impact of Jesus’ birth upon the world.

That God’s son became a man means that mankind is able to become truly human, that this message of salvation must be shared and that peace will come to the world, Benedict XVI explained... (Continued here.)

Mother and unborn baby need prayers!

I received this today from a Pro-life friend. Please take a moment to read about this expectant mother who feels that she has to abort (kill) her unborn baby a few days before Christmas!


Dear Friends of the Unborn,
I am copying this email below to ask for urgent prayers for this little soul who is in danger of abortion on Friday. A good woman from my church sent it to me. She received it from one of her family members I believe who is good friends with the woman who is contemplating abortion. This is NOT one of those bulk email chain letters but is from a very reputable source that I know personally. For those of you who can fast along with pray please do. And for those who can go before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to plead for this soul thank you!
God bless,
Mike and Kerry

Dear Family and Friends,

Please take a minute to read this email and pray for my friend. I won’t give you her name for her sake, but she is having an abortion on Friday the 21st. PLEASE pray that she won’t go through with it. She found out last week that her baby will be born with Down syndrome and apparently the doctors and her family have led her to believe that “terminating” her pregnancy is the right thing to do. Not only am I sad for the child, but sad for her b/c the psychological ramifications will haunt her for years. I’ve put her in touch with a woman we found yesterday who founded ‘Reece’s Rainbow’ which is a Georgia-based ministry for saving Down syndrome children- they have 200 families, paper-ready, to adopt Downs children.

Below is my friend’s email, which she sent out yesterday to over 100 of us who have taken her exercise class:

“To my pregnancy:

In my age group I had a 1:86 chance for Trisomie 21(Down Syndrom) and this time we were the unlucky ones..I'll have the DNE(similar to DNC)done Friday afternoon. It's sad and I wish I could change it, but hopefully the next time I won't be the 'unlucky winner'. It makes us appreciate even more what we've got with Andy, family and friends!”

Please pray today and tomorrow for her and for the soul that is about to be killed. Please pray for our efforts to interrupt her decision, and please pray for our culture that seems to think it is okay to broadcast a decision to kill a life so casually.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My newest book, "Catholic Saints Prayer Book"

My newest book, Catholic Saints Prayer Book is now listed with its cover image on Amazon.Com. This book will be released in March 2008 by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Company and can be pre-ordered through my website or Amazon.Com.

My latest segment on "Catholic Connection"

Well, here's the link to my latest segment with Teresa Tomeo. I was on the air with her yesterday morning on my "Mom's Corner" segment discussing Christmas traditions. I also shared a couple of experiences I just had recently. One of them, I call, "Jesus in the Post Office." The other little story is about a woman I met in the grocery store a couple of years ago around Christmas. You can hear the whole segment by clicking here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Overnight Christmas Blueberry-Pecan French Toast

This morning I spoke about this recipe when I was on the air with Teresa Tomeo on "Catholic Connection" discussing Christmas reflections. I promised that I would post the recipe for all of you. I will also post the segment soon so that if you didn't get a chance to tune in this morning, you'll be able to listen to it from my blog. I'll also tell you the story behind this recipe - but FIRST the recipe for all of you eager chefs out there! Here it is!

Overnight Christmas Blueberry-Pecan French Toast


nonstick spray
1 baguette, cut into 20 one inch slices
6 eggs
3 cups of milk
1 cup brown sugar
vanilla to taste
nutmeg to taste
1 cup pecans, toasted
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen


Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with the nonstick spray and arrange the baguette slices in a single layer in the dish. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, three-fourths of the brown sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread.

Cover and chill the mixture overnight. There will appear to be a lot of moisture when the mixture goes into the refrigerator, but it will all soak into the bread by morning.

Just before baking, sprinkle the remaining one-quarter cup brown sugar, pecans and blueberries over the bread. Bake the dish in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to one hour (the recipe says 30 minutes, but I found that it takes longer, so check at 30 and be sure to have allowed for 45 minutes to 1 hour) or until golden and bubbling. Serve with maple syrup. For an added treat, heat the syrup with blueberries and have blueberry-flavored syrup.


I love this recipe because you do the preparation beforehand and only need to pop in into the oven on Christmas morning 45 minutes to an hour before you'd like to serve it. I like to also serve fresh fruit with this "french toast," which can be washed and prepared on a dish in advance to save you the trouble on Christmas morning. I also like to serve fresh muffins - various kinds along with the fruit and "french toast." You may also use a whole grain type baguette in this recipe for added nutrition. You can put this dish in the oven Christmas morning, set the timer and go open your presents! So EASY - that's the idea - keep it simple and enjoy your loved ones!

Let me know how you like it if you decide to make it. :)

Christmas Breakfast Bread!

Hello Everyone,

This morning when I was on the air with Teresa Tomeo on "Catholic Connection," I mentioned a Christmas bread that I make and told a story about it. Some of you have been writing to ask for the recipe that I said I would post for you. Don't worry! I will post it for you. I have to run out now to do some errands and to Christmas shop and perhaps I'll bump into "JESUS in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor" as Mother Teresa always said.

I'll try to post the recipe by tonight or tomorrow. Please be patient with me! :)

Thanks for joining me this morning!

God bless you!


JOY fills our hearts...

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI told us that JOY enters hearts of those who seek to minister to the poor. This Advent season, are we focusing on the BIRTH OF CHRIST? Are we getting caught up in the busyness of running around and trying to have everything (superficially) perfect? Are we giving our hearts to the poor?

I'll be back a little later on to post about the radio show this morning with Teresa Tomeo on "Catholic Connection," as well as speak about some family Advent and Christmas ideas.

God bless you!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fr. James's Sunday Homily: Third Week of Advent

Rejoice Always!

The lighting of the pink candle of the Advent Wreath reminds us that Christmas is almost here. The theme of this Sunday’s liturgy is joy and St. Paul tells us to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near” (Philippians 4: 4, 5).

What is joy? The dictionary defines joy as an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. It is also defined as a state of happiness or felicity. In Catholicism, joy is a state of soul equated with happiness and it is also defined as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Joy is not to be understood as something superficial or immature. The person who is filled with Christian joy possesses an immense treasure because the true Christian can smile and laugh even in the middle of the most terrible adversities and sufferings. St. Lawrence, when he was being cooked alive by his torturers, joked and told them to turn him over.

Over the years I have noticed that the one main thing that our modern world is missing is joy. I see a lot of people walking around without a smile on their face. I have often asked myself what the cause of this problem might be. It seems to me that a lot of people are selfish, self-absorbed and even some are narcissistic.

Christianity is completely opposite to selfishness, self-absorption and narcissism. Christianity demands a radical reorientation of our personal lives. We must be empty of all self-seeking. “His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross” (Philippians 2: 6-8). All throughout the Gospels Jesus tells us that we must die to self in order to be his disciples and he shows us over and over again how we must live our lives for others.

My dear friends, selfishness, self-absorption and narcissism are totally incompatible with Christianity. There are many things in our modern society that are causing... (Continued here.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pour a cup of coffee or tea and join us!

I hope you'll join me on Monday morning! Brew yourself a cup of tea or coffee and sit down for 15 minutes to visit with Teresa Tomeo and me. We'll be doing our "Mom's Corner" segment on "Catholic Connection," Ave Maria Radio at 9:15 AM Eastern Standard Time. Perhaps you can also tune in from your vehicle on your way out for morning Mass or to do some last minute Christmas shopping! Either way, I hope you'll join us for a few minutes of some Christmas inspiration for Moms and families. Maybe we'll throw in something for the Dads, too!

I'll look forward to spending some time with you on Monday morning! In the mean time, watch out for the black ice and slippery conditions in some places out there. Try not to get flustered over the harried shoppers running around! Keep it simple if you can, so you can enjoy this beautiful season of Advent - of preparing our hearts for the Christ Child!

God be with you!

Yours in Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,

If you want to know...

If you want to know what I am doing today, just go to my Embracing Motherhood blog to find out!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I hope that it was worth the wait!

I decided that I couldn't possibly pick this winner from a hat...

Every one's entry was so compelling...

So, I decided that the winner is...

EVERYONE who entered!! SURPRISE!! After all, it is ADVENT and CHRISTMAS is coming! I know who you all are, so just email me again and this time give me your mailing address and please tell me who you want me to inscribe the book to (yourself or the person you were thinking of).

Have a BLESSED day!

The winner is.....

I chose a winner for the book contest yesterday on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn.

Drum roll, please...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Winner will be picked today!

Well, I told you I would pick the winner today on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe for my "Prayerfully Expecting" contest. I will have my daughter pick an entry out of a hat shortly! "Stay tuned!" Be back soon!

Our Lady of Guadalupe - pray for us!

"Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."

— Our Lady to Juan Diego

"In the winter of 1531, a poor, 57-year-old Aztec Indian living five miles outside of Mexico City encountered a miraculous happening on his way to morning Mass. First he heard strange music coming from Tepeyac Hill, and then he heard a woman's voice calling his name. Juan Diego climbed the hill and encountered a young woman, appearing to be of his own people in physical appearance and dress. The woman identified herself as the Virgin Mary, and told Juan Diego to ask the bishop of Mexico City to build a church on the hill to assist in the conversion of the nation and be a source of consolation to the people.

Juan Diego obeyed the request, but the bishop was skeptical regarding the message, even though he perceived that Juan was a humble, and well meaning Catholic. Juan reported the bishop's doubt to Our Lady at Tepeyac Hill, and she asked him to return to the bishop once again, bearing the same message. The bishop once again heard the story, and told Juan Diego to ask Our Lady for a sign that it was indeed herself that wished for the church to be built.

When he returned to the hill, Mary gave Juan Diego such a sign. Miraculously, roses appeared on the hill in the middle of winter, and Juan gathered them in his tilma, or cloak. Our Lady arranged the roses in his tilma with her own hands, and Juan returned to the bishop's presence. When Juan released the tilma, allowing the flowers to fall to the floor, it was revealed that a miraculous image of Our Lady had imprinted itself on his tilma (see above).

The bishop immediately fell to his knees, and came to believe in Juan Diego's message. A church was built on the spot of the apparition, as Mary had requested, and 8 million people converted to Catholicism in a short period of time upon hearing of or viewing the miraculous image of Our Lady.

The tilma of Juan Diego has been the subject of much modern research. The tilma, woven out of coarse cactus fiber, should have disintegrated after 20 years, but although over 500 years have passed the tilma is still in perfect condition. The pupils of Mary in the picture reflect the Indians and clergy present at the time of the first revelation of the image. No paint was used, and chemical analysis has not been able to identify the color imprint. Additionally, studies have revealed that the stars on Mary's mantle match exactly what a Mexican would have seen in the sky in December of 1531." (from Catholic Culture)

Happy feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

God of power and mercy,
you blessed the Americas at Tepeyac
with the presence of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe.
May her prayers help all men and women
to accept each other as brothers and sisters.
Through your justice present in our hearts
may your peace reign in the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

(opening Mass prayer, feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe)



I will be back later to post more about this beautiful feast

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Fr. James's Sunday Homily: Second Sunday of Advent

The Witness

Why is an obscure figure of the Bible relevant for us today? Why does the Catholic Church, on the Second Sunday of Advent, present John the Baptist for our reflection?

St. John the Baptist commands our interest because he is a witness. By his witness, he reminds us that we are called to be witnesses. And in any age, to be a witness is challenging.

The witness of John the Baptist begins with his birth. The miraculous circumstances of his conception and birth direct our attention to the mysterious and transcendent. An angel announces his birth to a woman well beyond childbearing years. His father is struck dumb for his disbelief. As an infant, John, leaps in his mother's womb when he is in the presence of the Messiah's mother. Upon his birth, he is given not his father's name, but rather the name, John, which translates "Yahweh is gracious". With the giving of this name spoken by the angel, John's father, Zechariah, recovers his power of speech. Thus the miraculous circumstances surrounding his beginnings give witness to a sacred world, a world reaching beyond time and space.

As an adult, his chosen surroundings bear witness to a different reality. John is a man of the desert. He totally separates himself from the world in order to give testimony of another world. Within his solitude he is able to hear the voice of God. Between the center of Judea and the Dead Sea exists one of the most austere deserts of the world. John the Baptist made this place his home. His home is a testimony of what our souls must be in order to listen to God and to possess him. Our journey during this Advent should bring about a deeper detachment from earthly creatures so that we may come closer to God... (Continued here.)


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Who is that Santa guy AKA St. Nicholas?

"Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver." (See more here.)

(Illustration by Elisabeth Jvanovsky from Saint Nicholas by Henri Gheon, Sheed and Ward, 1936)

St. Nicholas's feast day!

This is from Catholic Culture today:

"St. Nicholas was born in Lycia, Asia Minor, and died as Bishop of Myra in 352. He performed many miracles and exercised a special power over flames. He practiced both the spiritual and temporal works of mercy, and fasted twice a week. When he heard that a father who had fallen into poverty was about to expose his three daughters to a life of sin, Nicholas took a bag of gold and secretly flung it through the window into the room of the sleeping father. In this way, the three girls were dowered and saved from mortal sin and hell."

Happy St. Nicholas day!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Advent: A beautiful time to get ready...

Our new liturgical year begins. Advent is upon us! It's time to get our hearts and homes ready to greet the Christ Child! Are we getting caught up in the worldly hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas? Let's be sure that we take the time to pause each day in prayer to prepare our hearts as we also set the example and guide our household in prayer.

Did you get a chance to set up your Advent wreath? It's not too late, of course. It can be simple or elaborate. A prayer said together as a family each evening at the dinner table after the first candle on the wreath is lit is in keeping with a wonderful tradition of our Catholic Church (of course, always use caution with a flame and candles with children and also pets).

In Hope We are Saved: our holy father, Pope Benedict XVI's new encyclical, Spe Salvi was just released and is extremely beautiful. I encourage everyone to read and reflect upon this document that is so beautifully written and came at an absolutely perfect time immediately before Advent. You can get the encyclical here. I plan to bring it with me before the Blessed Sacrament and prayerfully read it and reflect upon it.

God bless you this first week of Advent!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fr. James's Sunday Homily

Preparing For Christmas

The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year. It is interesting to note how the liturgical year ends with the theme of the Second Coming, while at the same time, the new liturgical year also focuses on the same theme. Since we are about to celebrate Christmas, we would suppose that the new liturgical year would begin chronologically with a reflection on the Incarnation. However, that is not the case. The reason why the liturgical year ends and begins with the same theme is clear: if we have already embraced Jesus in His first coming, we will have no fear of His second coming.

It is also interesting to note that the new liturgical year begins with a penitential season; i.e. the season of Advent. The priest and deacon now use purple colored vestments. As the world around us prepares for Christmas with an ever increasing emphasis on material things, the Church directs our gaze toward the spiritual. The liturgical calendar begins differently from the secular calendar precisely because the Church, while in the world, is not of the world. Advent is a penitential season because Christmas is about our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not about external celebrations. In this Sunday’s reading St. Paul exhorts us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”. The external celebrations should be seen as a visible manifestation of our joy of being disciples of Jesus Christ.

Advent, as a penitential season, prepares us to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's... (Continued here.)

First Sunday of Advent!