Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

Christmas Candle & Tree

Brother to Simon Peter, Saint Andrew was a fisherman who heroically died --- martyred on a saltire, or x-shaped cross, where he is said to have preached from for two days. For this reason, the x-shaped cross is often called the Saint Andrew cross and is featured on the flag of Scotland of which he is the patron saint. An Advent tradition for many is to begin praying the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena on November 30, the day the Catholic church celebrates the feast of Saint Andrew. The novena … [Read more...]

Hundreds of Nativities on Display at Annual No Room at the Inn

One of many Nativity scenes at No Room at the Inn

Inspiring others to join in efforts to reduce poverty   More than 300 nativity scenes from around the world will be on display Sunday, December 4 from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. in downtown Des Moines. The exhibition of nativities is the centerpiece of events hosted by Catholic Charities of Des Moines intended to inspire others to join in efforts to help lift people out of poverty with dignity. In addition to an array of traditional and unique nativity displays from around the world, local choirs … [Read more...]

Get in Shape


I set several deadlines this year to lose a few pounds, but I kept putting it off. I kept saying, “I’ll do that later.” And then the next holiday or special event arrived and the new outfit I bought got left hanging in the closet, tags still on, because it didn’t look quite the way I envisioned it looking on me when I bought it. A new liturgical year began Sunday with readings that reminded me that it’s time to get in shape. Blessed Pope John Paul II said in a 1996 homily, “Advent is the … [Read more...]

The Advent Wreath


Traditionally, Advent wreaths are constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which four candles are inserted, representing the four weeks of Advent. Ideally, three candles are purple and one is rose, but white candles can also be used. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass. Gaudete … [Read more...]

Thanksgiving Day Prayer


Start Your Thanksgiving Day Feast With This Prayer Lord, we thank you for the goodness of our people and for the spirit of justice that fills this nation. We thank you for the beauty and fullness of the land and the challenge of the cities. We thank you for our work and our rest, for one another, and for our homes. We thank you, Lord: accept our thanksgiving on this day. We pray and give thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord. R: Amen. From: Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers For … [Read more...]

Occupy Advent

The Nativity

Take back Christmas by preparing your heart to receive Christ. Like homecoming weekend in a college town, there are currently no vacancies. Everything, it seems, is occupied. Occupy Wall Street. Occupy San Francisco. Occupy DC. Begun as Occupy Dataran in Kuala Lumpur in late July, the Occupy movement has spread around globe like wildfire in just over three months. “The 99%” seem intent on taking back financial and government institutions that have apparently been corrupted by the minority … [Read more...]

Less Turkey, More Thanksgiving

The first Catholic Mass held in St. Augustine on Sept. 8, 1565

Did the first Thanksgiving feast in America include a Mass? Last week I attended preschool with my three-year-old for a “bring your mom to school” day. At one point, the students were instructed to grab a book from the classroom library and take it to their moms and read together as a pair. Upon selecting her book, Lucy was quite excited to show me the book she selected, “If You Were at the First Thanksgiving,” a typical children’s book about the historic harvest festival celebrated at … [Read more...]

Catholicism 101: The History of Christ the King


How the Rise of Secularism Initiated the Feast Pope Pius XI universally instituted the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King in 1925 in his encyclical Quas Primas. At the time, secularism was on the rise, and many Christians, even Catholics, were doubting Christ’s authority, as well as the Church’s, and even doubting Christ’s existence. Pius XI, and the rest of the Christian world, witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe, and saw Catholics being taken in by these earthly … [Read more...]

Catholics with Disabilities: Part of the Fabric or on the Fringe?

Kathleen & Julianna

Creating a Culture of Life that Values Everyone Shortly after my daughter was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome, I learned something that made me physically ill. 80-93% of all children diagnosed prenatally with Down’s are aborted. The secular world doesn’t find this statistic shocking, and as I’ve grown accustomed to it, frankly, neither do I. As prolifers, we’d like to blame the “culture of death,” and that certainly plays a part. But I think there’s more to it than that. I was a … [Read more...]

Clip Out, Photocopy & Pass-On Advent Guides


The National Catholic Register's 2011 Advent Guides I enjoy receiving our printed copy of the National Catholic Register this time of the year for the clip out, photocopy, and pass-on Advent guides. Previous years' clip-outs still remain in my prayer journal, and I refer to them often (e.g., the How (and Why) of Daily Prayer and Praying the Rosary). This Advent the National Catholic Register challenges each reader to invite someone back to Mass, and they have provided a helpful guide titled … [Read more...]