The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

As you head off to bed, perhaps these words from our Blessed and gentle Mother will give the same peace they must have given to St. Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin

“Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightens you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing: do not let it disturb you, Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you…”

Our Lady of Guadalupe, please pray for us!

Final Jeopardy Category? Catholicism — Do you know the answer?

The final Jeopardy category last night (11/29/18) was Catholicism and the question was:

A liturgical year begins on the first Sunday of Advent, which is the Sunday closest to the feast day of this “first apostle”?

The answer was, “Who is Andrew?”

While none of the contestants got the answer right, Alex was quick to point out that Andrew’s feast would be today! Pretty neat.

Happy Feast of St. Andrew, the first apostle!

In the gospel of today we meet those first apostles mending their nets (Mt. 4:18-22). In other words, they were taking the time to do the mundane, seemingly simple work of maintenance that would ensure the success of their endeavors. They knew that if they didn’t take time to mend their nets, taking a thorough look at the tools of their trade, checking for loose spots, closing the holes and so forth, their next trip out might be a disaster.

Do we ever take time to mend our nets? Check out what we use every day to ensure the success of our labors? I am not talking about our kitchen bowls or even the tires on our car. I’m talking about the real work of our lives – knowing, loving and serving God and sharing that love with everyone around us. What tools do we have to help with that?

Perhaps our prayers need a dusting off or a switch up? Maybe attending a different Mass time? Trying a Rosary via an app or youtube? Is there a book you’ve been meaning to read but keep putting off?

In other words, if you are feeling as your nets are coming up empty, check for some holes or loose spots and Advent is the perfect time to do this. Already, I’ve got some new ideas for how we’ll be celebrating Advent in the Wonderful, World of Watkins. I am thinking of retiring some too familiar practices (we’ve used the same Advent calendar for years) and focus only on a Jesse Tree which often gets neglected at my house.

Do you have any ideas you would like to share? How are the nets at your house? I know other Behold clubs would love some suggestions or links to help their efforts to be ‘fishers of men’ to be both effective and fun!

What are you thankful for? I have such a long list!

 

There is much to be thankful here at the Wonderful World of Watkins. Since I’ve last been able to post, our life has been full of much to celebrate.  Good friends and family members had babies and my sister and a best friend even got their first grandbabies.

We’ve even had a few minor miracles including the news of a healthy baby for one of our co-op families when there were worries of the opposite, and medical tests that came back with good news for a different family.

Most importantly, we were given the gift a major miracle when a daughter walked away from a car accident which the state trooper said she shouldn’t have. No one was injured and the only car lost was her own. With mere bruises and stiffness, she has learned a difficult lesson. Our prayers of praise and thanksgiving to God for His gracious blessing on her behalf continue each day.

On a much lighter note, my daughter Kathleen and her entire NET Team will be having Thanksgiving at my home! This will be an extra 10 mouths in addition to my own large family but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

There is also you, your families, your teams and all you are doing in the garden to raise the next generation of saints one virtue at a time! Many thanks for all of you.

Be assured of our prayers this Thanksgiving! As you go around your table listing what you are thankful know that I’ll be doing the same and thinking of you and your families.

(On a much more serious note: Please be sure to talk – one more time, to even your most stubborn children – about the real dangers of distracted driving.)

 

 

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Is it dark where you are?

Darker than normal? Darker than usual? We can blame some of it on daylight savings time now that we have fallen back, but perhaps it is something more.

While I love getting that ‘extra hour’ of sleep, I do not like how dark it gets now. At my house, the darkness seems to drop like a heavy curtain on a stage; the dusty, black velvet signaling the show is over and it is time to go home or, in my mind, off to bed.

But, I can’t. The clock tells me it is only 6:00 p.m. and my family still has to clean up dinner and the kitchen, catch up with Matt and his day of work, plan the next day, evening prayer and on and on. So, we fight against the dark and keep going until our to do list is done (or mostly done).

This same is true when the darkness is inside our soul rather than just outside our windows. There can be times when we feel trapped behind heavy, musty, old, moth-eaten stage curtains. We slog on, fight against the dark but we just want to go home and hide under the covers until springtime comes. Since we can’t do that, what is the answer?

Turn on the lights!

In my house, daylight savings is when my fireplace is ready to roar with flames that both warm the house and bring it beautiful light. We dust off the light bulbs, find all the cobwebs, and switch on those lamps that were unused throughout the summer. Ah, more light in the home always lifts my spirits and makes getting the work done much easier.

As for my soul, I need to bring more light there as well. “I am the light of the world”, Jesus tells us in John 8:12. So, when my soul seems a bit dark, weighed down by my sins or the sins of the world, I know it is time to get more Jesus in there. Confession is first on my list to remove the dust and cobwebs. I turn to sources of light set aside during the summer such as daily reading of the Bible and recommitting to prayer with Matt before falling asleep. These small actions lift my soul and remind me that the darkness runs when confronted by the light of the world.

 

“the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

“But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” John 3:21

It is the week of All Souls – Nov. 1-8

 

I was feeling a bit low as I did not find time to post anything over the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, two of my favorite feast days (admittedly, I have a lot of favorite feast days) so I was very happy to read this article from Patti Armstrong which reminds us that we can celebrate this for a whole WEEK!

Help Free to Souls from Purgatory

My own family makes a practice of visiting the five cemeteries around my town (4 of which are actually Catholic!) and we’ve got Confession scheduled. It’s not too late for yours!

Did you know there is Live Adoration available on-line?

And you thought the internet was only good for bingeing (or binging) and on-line shopping!

While clearly not as wonderful as sitting with Jesus in the monstrance or tabernacle face to face, seeing it on-line has brought me real comfort in the past few weeks. I’ve ended my night giving Him so time, during the evening or whenever I feel lonely or need a reminder that He has a better plan than mine. My local parish is not always open or I’m not at a time when I can leave my house when I need a Jesus fix, so these have become a necessity for my prayer life (I keep one of them open on my bookmark bar to make it really easy!)

Some sites to visit:

Adorecast

Marytown

EWTN – Great Britain

 

Happy Feast of St. Crispian – What battle are you fighting?

 

We all have one – a battle, or two, or three or more that we are fighting. We fight against ourselves, our sin, the world, and always the wiles, the tricks and the temptations of the evil one. Often, we can feel we are alone in fighting these battles. Where are our band of brothers?

But, we are not alone – EVER. We have each other here on earth and the saints in heaven; such as Crispin and his twin Crispian, whose feast we celebrate today. When you get discouraged during the battles you are fighting, and worry you do not have enough, remember that God is at your side: Phil. 4:13 – ‘I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.’

And, if that is not enough watch Kenneth Branaugh rally the troops in Henry the V, where he inspires his troops waning faith by calling down the twins as inspiration:

The Original Band of Brothers

A Psalm for everything and everything is in a Psalm

 

No one’s life is perfect; we are all broken and fallen. In the grand scheme of things, all of our problems are due to our fallen nature; original sin. However, in the minute details of our lives, it is the mistakes we make both large and small that fill us with dread, embarrassment, anger and, sadly, even shame. It is those things we forget: the lost keys, the embarrassing words we say, actions we take. We are so hard on ourselves when we are only human, after all.

But God never feels this way about us. God is never ashamed of us, we never embarrass Him, as we are made in His image and likeness; we are good, very good in His eyes. Of course our sins cause Him sorrow but that quickly turns to joy at our own sorrow and repentance. So much joy, in fact, that He forgets these same sins the moment we say we are sorry. We, however, are rarely that kind to ourselves.

Our days and our nights can be filled with self-recrimination. We are so good at remembering our mistakes and not so good at remembering what we do right. Here’s where the Psalms come in; they are full of words of comfort and affirmation reminding us that God loves us – even when we have accidents, make mistakes and, yes, even when we sin.

Finding a psalm to give us comfort and reassurance is essential in these moments when we feel we are stupid or are embarrassed and angry with ourselves for what we did or what we didn’t do.

Here’s a few of my favorites psalms. You might highlight them in your Bible, keep them posted on your bathroom mirror or tucked in your prayer book for Mass. Regardless of where you keep them, keep them handy because you are guaranteed to make another mistake soon and I don’t want you listening to the whispers of the snake any longer. I want you to hear the words of God reminding you of His love, forgiveness and comfort:

Psalm 55 – when you are so embarrassed that you want to run away or have been betrayed by friends: “I say, “If only I had wings like a dove that I might fly away and find rest.”

Psalm 62 – when you feeling a bit abandoned by the world: “God alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not fall. My deliverance and honor are with God, my strong rock; my refuge is with God.”

Psalm 73 – when you are feeling as if all of your efforts to be holy is for nothing, have reassurance that God is there: “Is it in vain that I have kept my heart pure, washed my hands in innocence? For I am afflicted day after day, chastised every morning.”

Psalm 103 – when you need to be reminded of God’s deep love and mercy for you (and all of your sins and mistakes): “For as the heavens tower over the earth, so his mercy towers over those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.”

Please take a minute and share some of your favorite Psalms so others might be encouraged and feel their hearts mended by His love!