Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Advent Wreath
When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 524; see Revelation 22:17; John 3:30

The Church year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. During this four-week season, we wait in great expectation to celebrate the birth of Jesus and look forward to his second coming. The Advent wreath is a popular sacramental that feeds our devotion to the Lord during this season.

As with many of the older customs of the Church, not much is known about the history of the Advent wreath. Most people agree that a wreath similar to what we use today originated in the sixteenth century in Germany, among the Lutherans. The tradition was brought to America with the German immigrants and became popular in the Catholic faith around the 1920s.

The Advent wreath is a symbol of the Light overcoming spiritual darkness. As the laurel wreath was symbolic of victory, so the wreath of evergreens represents the One who is to come and win over death. The circular shape represents the eternity he secures for us. Many people use holly in their wreaths to signify the crown of thorns, the red berries reminding us of the blood that Jesus shed for our salvation.

The three purple candles in the wreath symbolize preparation, penance, and sacrifice. We light the one pink candle on the third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete Sunday, meaning “rejoice.” The Entrance Antiphon for this day is “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:4–5).

Some people include a white candle in the center of the wreath. This is the Christ candle, to be lit on Christmas Day. The purple and pink candles can be replaced with all white candles and can continue to be lit throughout the Christmas season . The gradual increase of light throughout the Advent season illuminates into Light for the World, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Advent wreath in the home calls up many different traditions. Whether we make one from a Styrofoam ring or buy one that matches our other Christmas decorations, the wreath is meant to bring us to prayer, to lead us to the Light, and to renew our desire for him in our daily lives. Families seem to develop their own ways of gathering together during this hectic time of year, to read and to pray and to light candles. This sacramental reminds us to slow down, to remember why we give one another gifts, to think about whom we are celebrating.

Another favorite family sacramental during the Advent season is the Advent calendar. Also originating in Germany, the cardboard calendars generally have a Christmas scene on the front, with twenty-five cut-out doors that can be opened, one each day from December 1 until Christmas Day. Each door reveals a scene or a Scripture verse or both that lead us through the season to the birth of Jesus.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Help! I Was Asked to be a Godparent...What's a Good Gift?

First and foremost, let me just say, what an honor! You've been asked to stand up and witness to someone's Baptism and to support the parents in raising their child in the faith. You may want to mark the day on your calendar, just like some people mark birthdays, and encourage your godchild by sending a little note each year just to say you're continuing to pray for them on their journey.

One really nice suggestion for a Baptism gift is to start your godchild with a nativity set. We carry the Fontanini collection which can be bought piece by piece and is a nice way to eventually own a beautiful nativity if you decide to add to the set each Baptismal remembrance day or each Christmas. The pieces are made of PVC (nonbreakable) so they are safe for all ages.

Also, along the idea of keepsakes, a sterling silver or gold medal of the child's patron Saint or the Guardian Angel with the date of their Baptism engraved on the back makes a nice gift. A rosary is a beautiful, personal gift. A cross or crucifix for their room can also have a plate put on the back with the date of Baptism engraved on it. A nightlight, a music box, a holy water font or anything with the Guardian Angel or a Lamb or Noah's Ark makes a nice gift. You may even want to give a statue of Mary or St. Joseph or the Holy Family. There are many wonderful ideas for Baptism at the store and we're always happy to gift wrap. Oh, and remember a Baptism card!

Whatever you decide on for a gift, ask the priest or deacon at the ceremony to bless it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hounds of the Lord Book Review

I cannot help but love the title of this book as well as the beautiful cover depicting many of the great Dominican Saints who by their preaching and their teaching and their example "enlighten and enflame the world". "For eight hundred years, the 'hounds of the Lord' have barked out Christ's message, saving countless souls and showing us how to live in the glory of God."

Author Kevin Vost tells a little of the life of each Saint but most importantly examines them as "thinkers, doers and lovers". I think the format of his writing is important, in that, many of the extreme penances of these Saints are difficult for us to relate to but their reasoning, their actions toward others and their intentions are things for which we can strive in our own lives. We are each made in the image and likeness of God and each called to "put on the mind of Christ" and to "go out to all the world" and preach the Good News of Salvation and to love one another. These Dominican Saints truly loved and their lives teach us how we too can love. These Dominican Saints were truly joyful as they served the Lord by serving others. The Hounds of the Lord is a beautiful glimpse inside the lives of souls on fire with the Spirit, of souls willing to carry that flame out and ignite the world, of souls whose energy and zeal for life is contagious. Consider reading this a little at a time on your own or, as I did, with a book club. Regardless, as you enjoy these Dominican Saints, "Let their example serve as inspiration, and (dare to) let loose the hound of the Lord within you."

Friday, October 21, 2016

Metal Artwork from Haiti

This angel is a great example of the use of drum barrels to create fabulous artwork we carry in the bookstore. It is easy to see that the head and near the bottom of the skirt are the large and small spouts in the top of the barrels. Crosses, nativity plaques, St. Francis plaques, angels and scripture verse plaques are included in the beautiful display of artwork from Haiti. "In the 1950s, DeWitt Peters, a patron of Haitian arts, was intrigued by the iron crosses marking many of the above-ground tombs. Peters discovered the blacksmith who had fashioned the crosses, soon to be renowned Haitian artist Georges Liautaud…and so began Haitian metal art. The original raw material was iron, but with many goods shipped to Haiti in 55-gallon steel oil drums, there was a ready supply of discarded drums for the artisans.
Over the years the number of Haitian metal artists has multiplied via families and mentor / students embracing the craft. The center of Haitian metal arts is the village of Croix-des-Bouquets, where the clang-clang of metal on metal, the hammers banging out the sculptures, provides constant music. The artisans start with designs inspired by nature and culture. From cardboard patterns, they trace their design with chalk on the flattened metal from torn-down oil drums. With chisels and hammers, they carefully cut and decorate the metal by hand. Each piece is shaped and smoothed, then the artists boldly and proudly chisel their name on to the metal sculpture." Thank you to "Beyond Borders" for the info. for this article.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Jujube Wood Rosary

What in the world is Jujube Wood? Several of our rosaries and rosary bracelets are made from a beautiful wood that comes from the Jujube tree. "In Christian tradition, the Jujube tree was identified as the thorn bush used to weave Christ's Crown of Thorns. Based on this tradition, Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land would take the branches of this tree home as souvenirs. The wood is heavy and durable and serves for artistic woodwork." How beautiful it is to contemplate the life of Christ and to pray to Jesus and Mary on these special beads!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"Today's feast reminds us that holiness means depending on God. The Queenship of Mary invites us to exercise our obedience to God in a way that results in, not submission, but likeness. Saint Maximilian Kolbe wrote that Mary "has a right to be loved as Queen of all hearts so that through her, hearts would be cleansed and themselves become immaculate, similar and like unto her own heart, and so worthy of union with God." from the Magnificat

I found this meditation incredibly beautiful and had to share it with anyone who may have missed it.

St. Mary's has just received a large shipment of icons and this particular one made me think about the Queenship of Our Lady. May we entrust ourselves to her loving care.

Monday, August 1, 2016

St. Alphonsus Liguori

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop, writer, artist, lawyer and theologian, dedicated to promoting devotion to Our Lady and the Blessed Sacrament.

"Here, then, is our heaven on earth--the Most Blessed Sacrament."
—    St. Alphonsus Ligouri

This book, written by the great St. Alphonsus Liguori, helps us grow in the knowledge and love of God and in appreciation for what He has done for us. Designed to be prayed in front the Blessed Sacrament each day over the course of a month, users of this powerful book cannot help but grow closer to Christ.

Includes: 31 days of meditations and fervent prayers of love toward Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament,  a daily "Visit to Our Lady," and an act of Spiritual Communion for each day, when we cannot receive His Body and Blood in the Eucharist

Premium UltraSoft with a ribbon marker and gilded edges.   $18.95