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In the Darkness of Advent – Look to Joseph

In the Darkness of Advent – Look to Joseph

It seems that every day brings with it more bad news from around the world, and from right in our own backyard. Stories of violence, natural disasters, and good people facing terrible situations are everywhere we look. It is easy to grow anxious and fearful of the times in which we live.

In an article for FOCUS, Nathan Stanley writes about this darkness that can seem to surround us, and how to remain courageous in the face of difficulties. Nathan writes:

 These moments are the moments that make or break us. It’s tempting to think that we are the only ones who have seen this kind of darkness, but all times have. And when the darkest times hit, that’s when the greatest saints were made.

So in the moments where we find ourselves tempted to despair and doubt when we see the state of the world, the words of St. Thomas More can inspire us and remind us of our call to greatness.

He exclaimed, “The times are never so bad that good men cannot live in them.”

We were chosen by God for our time, as dark as that time may be. And the best example we can look to of a good man living in a rough time is none other than St. Joseph. During this season of Advent, St. Joseph is a model of how we can face the difficulties in the world with courage.

St. Joseph went through a lot. He traveled many miles with his pregnant wife only to find there was nowhere for them to stay, nowhere for her to give birth. But he made the most of the situation, and the King of the World was born not in the glory of castle, but in the glory of a loving family.

An angel warned St. Joseph in a dream that his family was in danger: The government wanted to kill his son. He had leave immediately and take his family to a foreign land, where they had no relatives and no work. Can you imagine his thoughts at that moment? He probably felt fear, regret and even anger. But he didn’t let his emotions overcome him, and he courageously acted with trust in God. He got up and immediately took his family to Egypt.

Here’s what we can learn from the courage of St. Joseph in our own day and age.

Read the rest at the FOCUS blog.

Wait in Joyful Hope: Tips & Resources for a Holy Advent

Wait in Joyful Hope: Tips & Resources for a Holy Advent

The Advent season begins this Sunday and marks the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year. It is a time of prayer and expectation as we prepare for Christ’s second coming at the end of time and commemorate his birth at Christmas.

With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, it is easy to be distracted and not take advantage of the spiritual opportunities that come with the season. If you are looking for a way to make Advent a more prayerful time, check out the links below for some resources and tips!

Immaculate Heart Radio Pinterest board  has lots of inspiration and resources for a happy and holy Advent, and it’s updated daily!

Five Advent Tips by Tom & Caroline McDonald has some great, easy ways to celebrate Advent as a family.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops web site has tons of Advent resources, including an interactive Advent calendar with works of mercy and reflections for each day.

Bishop Robert Barron’s Daily Advent Reflections include Advent reflections, exclusive videos, special discounts, and a chance to win free DVDs, CDs, and books and more from Bishop Robert Barron.

Best Advent Ever is a program from Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic that includes daily inspirational e-mails with short videos, encouragement, and coaching for Advent.

Danielle Bean is a popular author and speaker, and she is offering a free daily e-mail that will give you inspiration to think, act & pray every day of Advent.

Catholic All Year has a great post about celebrating everything in its proper season “without feeling like total jerks.”

Catholic Mothers Online has a free printable with 10 December activities for Catholic families.

We hope you and your family have a peaceful and blessed Advent!


How to Make Prayer a Part of Your Thanksgiving Day

How to Make Prayer a Part of Your Thanksgiving Day

Turkey and family and pies – oh my! There’s so much to look forward to when it comes to Thanksgiving. But with all the cooking and festivities, it’s easy to forget about the Lord, from whom we receive all our blessings. Incorporating prayer into your Thanksgiving is a great way to center the holiday around God rather than the turkey, and here are some simple ways to do that:

Go to Mass

The word ‘Eucharist’ means ‘Thanksgiving’ so what better way to begin Thanksgiving Day than by receiving Christ in the Eucharist? Most parishes have special Thanksgiving Masses, so check out your parish’s web site or bulletin for times or call the parish office if you can’t find it on the web site. And if you’re travelling for Thanksgiving, you can find Catholic churches nearby using

Pray for Your Family

For many people, Thanksgiving is a time spent with family. Whether you are together or apart and whether your family ties are close or strained, Thanksgiving is a great time to stop and thank God for the people He has put in your life. Here are two simple prayers from The Catholic Prayer Book you can use:

We thank you, Father, for the gift of Jesus your Son who came to our earth and lived in a simple home. We have a greater appreciation of the value and dignity of the human family because he loved and was loved within its shelter. Bless us this day; may we grow in love for each other in our family and so give thanks to you who are the maker of all human families and our abiding peace.Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health, and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

Begin the Thanksgiving Feast with Prayer

The time has finally arrived and everyone is gathered around the table to dig in. It is a perfect time to pause and thank God for the food and loved ones gathered together. If you are looking for something other than the standard Grace Before Meals, consider using this prayer from Celebrating Faith: Year-round Activities For Catholic Families, by Mary Cronk Farrell:

O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work and our play. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen.