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The Light of Christ — The True Light — Beckons Us to Burn For Love!

The Light of Christ — The True Light — Beckons Us to Burn For Love!

“The True Light
…was coming into the world.
…to all who received him, who believed in his name,
he gave power to become children of God…”

(John 1: 9, 12)

We are to burn, to be consumed, as hot wax closest to the candlelight.

For four weeks in Advent we burn down the violet and rose candles. We read the Scriptures beside them. The candles mark time. They illuminate. They burn down.

We observe the wax next to the flame being slowly transformed by the heat and light. It is liquefying. It is giving up its original form, and changed into something new. It is drawn up and consumed when it is one with the light and flame… only then does it become energy and pure light. Only then do we understand the deep cry of the Advent herald, John the Baptist. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:33).

A more recent messenger described this holy tempering of candles and Christians…

“There is a peaceful, reticent, but constant shining. This is giving light at the cost of one’s own substance, so that one is consumed in the process. Anyone who wants to comprehend Christ’s message of light… must comprehend this one thing: the mission, the duty to shine, to draw others, to seek, to heal, to do good at the cost of one’s own substance…” — Fr. Alfred Delp, SJ.

(This is from Fr. Delp’s sermon from Candlemas, Feb. 2, 1941. He was a Catholic priest and martyr imprisoned and executed by the Nazi regime in 1944.)

Jesus is the light of the world. We are called to imitate him. (See John 8:12, Matthew 5: 14.)

As you enjoy the candlelight around your Christmas table, let its witness call out to you: The True Light beckons! Be drawn to the light and the flame! The time for transformation is while the flame is lit! Don’t be afraid to be aflame for Jesus’ sake – his is the eternal light we seek and desire!

Let us become malleable and molten before the light of Christ!

“… the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.”

(Isaiah 60: 19)

Merry Christmas!

 

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You’ll find this reflection and more, captured in my latest Among Women podcast, Espresso Shot #4.

AW CHRISTMAS BANNER

 

 

Books for the Catholics on Your List: 5 Keepsakes, 5 Classics, & 5 Good Stories + Bonus suggestions

Books for the Catholics on Your List: 5 Keepsakes, 5 Classics, & 5 Good Stories + Bonus suggestions

What kinds of books do I like to read, and what makes a good Christmas present?

I like keepsake kinds of books, I like spiritual classics, and I like a good story…

I’m offering this list to see if there’s something on it that might be of interest for your Christmas shopping needs.

(I also mention this with full disclosure, as stated in my sidebar, that any purchases made via the links on my blog will directly benefit this apostolate and keep Among Women up and running.)

Keepsake books

The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament

Great Bible Study aids in this volume… love it!

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Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life  

A book to pray with. Powerful meditations.

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Queen of Apostles Prayer Book

Another good book to pray with, great prayers from the saints in here alongside classic prayers.

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Jesus, Present Before Me – Fr Peter James Cameron, OP

The perfect companion to bring to adoration, or to use before or after Mass.

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Benedictus – Day by day Meditations by Pope Benedict XVI

A good primer on the mind and heart of this Pope.

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Spiritual Classics

The Reed of God  -Caryll Houselander

One of the best books on Mary, ever!

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Introduction to the Devout Life – St Francis de Sales

If you’ve never read a spiritual classic, De Sales is the place to start!

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Story of a Soul – St Thérèse of Lisieux (study edition)

Here’s the book that turned a young 24 year old woman into a Doctor of the Church.

It didn’t hurt that she was a saint either!

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Divine Mercy in My Soul – The Diary of St Maria Faustian Kowalski

Get to know the Divine Mercy in the Year of Mercy!

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God Alone – A collection of the writing of St Louis de Montfort.

(This includes The Love of Eternal Wisdom, True Devotion to Mary, and Secrets of the Rosary, among others.)

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Good Stories 

The Screwtape Letters – by C.S. Lewis

Many have heard of this book, but how many have read it. Anything by C.S. Lewis is a gift!

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Witness to Hope – The autobiography of John Paul II – By George Weigel

Powerful chronicle of the life of this new saint!

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The Greatest Salesman in the World – Og Mandino

I read this when I was a teenager. I still love it. There are tangential Christmas themes too!

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In This House of Brede – Rumer Godden

A great novel. Timeless.

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The Well – by Stephanie Landsem

One of the newer writers out there, with a great read that gets behind the eyes of the Samaritan woman.

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BONUS: Books that I have contribute to (mostly for women readers), plus a link to my book, Blessed, Beautiful, & Bodacious.

BONUS 2: My favorite journals are the larger sized (7 1/4″ x 9″) hardcover bound journals by Peter Pauper Press

BONUS 3: I recommend Catholic Digest Magazine – yes I write for them, but a great periodical for the home!

BONUS 4: I recommend the Magnificat – this daily devotional for Mass, plus meditations, articles, and morning and evening prayer.

Sheer Grace: A Savior Who Enters Our Dust So That He May Be Our Glory

Sheer Grace: A Savior Who Enters Our Dust So That He May Be Our Glory

A few of my close friends know that I am immersed in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius and much of my recent meditation and reflection has been around the my own need for God, and my need for a savior. The word that keeps coming up for me  is what God said to Adam and Eve after they were banished from Eden:

“You are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
Gen 3:19

As a wife and mother… dustiness is daily life. I’ve been chasing down dust and dirt and grime all my life. It comes with the territory. The goal is to eliminate dust, right? But no matter how we try, we simply can’t shake it. Dust we are. Dust we have. Dust we remain!

IMG_4017This Advent, I’ve really come to know and understand that God loves me so much that He enters into our dust. (Last year, it was all about Jesus entering into my chaos.)

That dustiness represents our sin and death, our frailty, our being lost and confused and broken. It is a grace to know one’s sins so we can turn from them.

It is a grace to know we are dust.

But the greater grace is know that God became man… and entered our humanity — on purpose!

The Lord of Glory took on the dustiness of our life. He was born of Mary into a dusty stable, and visited by dusty animals and shepherds who brought their own brand of dust to his bedside. Jesus is well acquainted with dust. He knows and sees and love the dust of me. And you.

St Paul knew this well. He contrasts the dusty man of Genesis, Adam, with the God-man of the Gospel, Jesus Christ who, though born into this dust, was destined to redeem it…

“The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
1 Corinthians 15: 47-49

I love that this dusty Jesus cared to entered into my dust and will raise it.

As the Church prayed the O Antiphons this week, I was deeply consoled by this prayer…

O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creatures you fashioned from the dust.

This is Christmas… it is the coming of the savior who is our redemption, God made man. One of the greatest sermons on this truth comes from the mighty pen of St Augustine. I’ll leave you with his wisdom

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of a virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. 

Truth has arisen from the earth: flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from heaven: for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

Justified by faith, let us be at peace with God: for justice and peace have embraced one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ: for Truth has arisen from the earth. Through whom we have access to that grace in which we stand, and our boast is in our hope of God’s glory. He does not say: “of our glory,” but of God’s glory: for justice has not proceeded from us but has looked down from heaven. Therefore he who glories, let him glory, not in himself, but in the Lord.

For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angelic voices was: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

For how could there be peace on earth unless Truth has arisen from the earth, that is, unless Christ, were born of our flesh? And he is our peace who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity.

Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says: He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head.For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become the son of God?

Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.

From the Office of Readings, Sermon from St Augustine, (Sermo 185: PL 38, 997-999)

This Christmas, I pray you and I will know this sheer grace…

From our house to yours…. Merry Christmas!

God Became Man – my latest article at Catholic Digest

God Became Man – my latest article at Catholic Digest

Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God is the distinctive sign of Christian faith.” (CCC, 463)

As Catholics, we profess our belief in the Incarnation in the Nicene Creed: Jesus Christ “came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

The Incarnation is a unique and singular event. Its truth informs the way we view God and ourselves.

Divine condescension

When Jesus arrived on the earth, he changed the way humanity viewed God. In Jesus, God came down from heaven to earth, without compromising his divinity.

The Incarnation of Christ crowned centuries of divine revelation, God’s slow revealing of himself, making himself known to humanity over time. God’s divine communication was now to be known through the Person of his Son. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the Incarnation as “the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it” (CCC, 461).

This is the deepest meaning behind our Christmas celebrations.

[T]he Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. (CCC, 464)

This holy condescension of God means that we can never accuse God of being absent or lofty or unreachable or inaccessible. The Incarnation—the taking on of flesh in the Virgin’s womb—is the moment whereby the inexhaustible, inexpressible, invisible, omnipotent, and almighty Holy One takes on human visage. The divinity of God shines through a human person now.

At the time appointed by God, the only Son of the Father, the eternal Word, that is, the Word and substantial Image of the Father, became incarnate; without losing his divine nature he has assumed human nature. (CCC, 479)

Divine dignity

Jesus, coming as a human person, changed the way we view ourselves. The Second Vatican Council declared that the Incarnation raises our own human dignity.

He who is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) is himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam he restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as he assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. (Gaudium et Spes, 22)

Humanity now counts the face of God among its own.

Never again may I look at another person, or myself, with disdain or disrespect, for there is an inherent dignity in all.

Read the rest at Catholic Digest.

I’m pleased to be a regular columnist there writing about the beauty and inspiration that comes from the Catechism of the Church. Click here to subscribe to Catholic Digest. 

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I write for Catholic Digest; Make this your easiest-to-give Christmas present…

I write for Catholic Digest; Make this your easiest-to-give Christmas present…

imageFor a few years now, I’ve been privileged to be a columnist in the Catholic Digest. My space is “From the Catechism”. (I always thought it should be called “The Pat in the Cat” — but I’m grateful to my editor, not only for the work each month, but for her good taste in not posting every title I recommend to her.)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is not on everyone’s reading list, I know this. That’s why I love to introduce it in snippets. Often I highlight themes from the liturgical year or from the themes captured in each issue. It’s a page or two of faith and Catholic doctrine served in easy digestible bites. Each column I write offers something positive and inspiring from the book I’ve grown to love since it first came out in English is 1994.

Now and then, I’ll write a feature besides the column. Last year I shared about my book and spiritual motherhood. In a coming issue, I’m writing about healing.

I not only write for Catholic Digest, I also subscribe!

Sure, I totally love the seasonal gift guides, and the books it recommends. But there’s more! This past year, there was a special issue commemorating the canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II.
photoFor me, it’s the family-friendly Catholic content that wins me over. And it’s beautiful shot and laid out with photos and lovely fonts that make reading it nicer than ever. Once in a while I try one of the recipes…

This new issue has Mary Ellen Barrett, my recent guest on Among Women, talking about thoughtful gift giving, Daria Sockey writing about purgatory, Sean Patrick describing about growing up Catholic in America, and Tom Hoopes with his take on the ice bucket challenge with an amazing story of his Mom and her legacy despite her battle with ALS. And who knew that actor Ray Liotta, from the movie The Identical was a faithful guy? Susie Lloyd’s got that interview.

Some of Catholic Digest’s content is online after the magazine publishes, but not as much as you’d like. So its best to just subscribe. You can even get a free trial.

Think Christmas, good people! This is a gift that keeps giving. And it helps to add salt and light to the culture around us!

This is the gift to send to your distant relatives — think of the shipping you’ll save and the smiles you’ll bring!

imageThis is the gift to give that religion teacher your children are so fond of, or your auntie in Florida and your Godmother in Tucson, or that young family down the block. This is the gift you could send to all the Catholic newlyweds you know. Or your dear old Mom and Dad.

Really. Subscribe for yourself and for someone you love. 

People ask me all the time for Catholic Resources and I tell them what I like. Catholic Digest is something I like so much that I work for them. If you like the work I do, as a writer and a speaker, or as a podcaster, here’s one way you can support that. Really. Thank a Catholic writer today.

 

A White Christmas in New England…

A White Christmas in New England…

Snowfall came last week...

Snowfall came last week…

 

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St Francis

 

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“Jesus, Lord, at thy birth!”

 

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Merry Christmas, from our home to yours!

 

Taking a little blogging break! See you in the New Year!

This makes me think…. about the magnitude of Christ’s gift to us

“O Deity eternal, O high eternal Deity, O sovereign, eternal Father, O ever-burning fire!… What do Your bounty and Your grandeur show? The gift You have given to man. And what gift have You given? Your whole self, O eternal Trinity. And where did You give Yourself? In the stable of our humanity, which had become a shelter for animals, that is, mortal sins.” 

-St Catherine of Siena-
as found in Divine Intimacy
by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD