Deacon Tom Fox invited Laura Pearl to talk about Erin's Ring on Catholic Vitamins Podcast eXtra 10. We love Deacon's work at Catholic Vitamins and know you will, too! If you haven't yet become a fan of Catholic Vitamins, this is the perfect time. Merry Christmas!
It is easy to get caught up in the seasonal frenzy and
forget that Christ is at the center of Christmas; so here are ten great ways to
put Christ back into Christmas!
Purchase cards that say “Merry Christmas” as part of the
message; don’t settle for “Happy Holiday” cards! And if it has been a while
since you’ve sent Christmas cards, make this the year you start again.
Christmas cards with a personal note are a great way to put Christ back into
Lots of people have service jobs that we often take for
granted. Decide which person (or people) you would like to notice at
Christmastime and purchase some small gift. Maybe purchase a set of pretty,
padded hangers for the school bus driver or a gift card for a coffee shop for
the mail carrier. Make sure a Christmas card is included with the gift!
This year make sure you have a nativity set for your most
used room in the house. The crèche doesn’t have to be large or expensive. A
small, inexpensive one put on a pedestal serves the purpose of remembering what
Christmas is really all about. Be creative: use a cake pedestal as a platform!
Grab a friend and make arrangements to visit a local nursing
home or assisted living facility and read Twas the Night Before Christmas and
then spend some time visiting with the residents.
See if Christmas Carol is playing at a local community
college or playhouse. Get tickets and go!
Make a decision to buy less and give more this season.
Record your efforts in a journal and ask God to show you other ways to serve
Him through a servant’s heart.
Gather a few friends and make a couple of Christmas baskets
to deliver to the nightshift of a local hospital—or your fire department or
police station. Remember to include a Christmas card!
Volunteer to be part of your church’s Christmas cleaning and
decorating crew. More importantly, be part of the cleanup crew!
Offer to read Christmas books at the local library.
Go ahead and make that edible gingerbread house (and don’t
fret if it isn’t perfect) and then invite a friend over to enjoy it with you—or
give it to someone who needs a lift.
Putting Christ back into Christmas is fun and easy—and will
bring Him more fully into your life as well.
It makes perfect sense to call the
thirteen words every Catholic must know a “Baker’s dozen.”
Christ, after all, used such references
as “yeast” and “leavening,” in his parables. So, with yeast as the foundation
of baking, these thirteen words, when part of the Catholic’s every day journey,
will grow and expand into a vibrant and exciting understanding of faith.
What do you want to hear first: the good
news or the bad news?
The good news is that Jesus suffered and
died for us. He bore our wounds, his stripes healed us.
The bad news is that this does not
eliminate suffering in the world.
Enter the often misunderstood teaching
of “redemptive suffering.”
This isn’t to say that what Christ
suffered was insufficient or lacking; rather, redemptive suffering is the
ability to be a co-worker of Christ’s. It is the anointed opportunity to join
your own difficulties and afflictions with Christ’s for the sake of others. It
is the beautiful way for you to lay your hardships at the foot of the Cross
where Christ will pick them up and distribute them as gifts of love to others
Offering your suffering to Christ’s is
the ultimate act of service that you can offer the world in imitation of Jesus.
You’ve said it thousands of times in
When you say “amen” you are saying, from
the depths of your heart, that you are in complete and total agreement with
whatever words or phrases came before it. It ought not be an empty word but
should, instead, be offered as a verbal oath that you are in concurrence with,
for instance, the proclamation of the Apostle’s Creed or the belief that the
priest has just changed the bread into the body and blood of Christ.
Jesus used “amen” to begin much of what
he said (Amen, Amen I say to you…). He was putting the listener on alert before
he spoke so that they could get their minds and heart in alignment for what he
“Amen” is a voluntary response to
verbally accept teachings and doctrines of the faith.
Infallible is another often
misunderstood word in regards to it and the pope.
Is the pope infallible? Nope. (He isn’t
free from sin, either. Now wasn’t that simple?)
However, in his role as successor to Peter,
and by the very nature of his office, when he teaches about the doctrine of the
faith, he is guided by the Holy Spirit and in that way is infallible. Bishops
who are in union with the pope are also to proclaim the truths of Christ
infallibly. ("He who hears you hears me." Luke 10:16)
Infallibility is not a new teaching of
the Catholic Church; it is in regards to the “solemn, official teachings on
faith and morals.” The pope doesn’t tend to walk around spouting “infallible”
things but, rather, issues infallible statements when doctrines of the church
as called into question—which doesn’t happen too often.
For many, the word “vocation” tends to
mean “priesthood” or “celibacy” or “consecrated life.” The fact is, though,
that every baptized person has a vocation.
A vocation is simply a call from God.
It is the beautiful truth that God has a
plan for every person and that every person is most happy when fulfilling the
vocation to which he or she is called.
Marriage is a vocation.
Parenthood is a vocation.
Remaining single and chaste is a
Everyone is called to Christ in one way
or another and that is a vocation. Certain vocations—or calls—are shared by
all: the call to sanctity or holiness is an example of a vocation everyone
Praying about guidance for the vocation
to which each is called is an important part of the development of the life of
The Charismatic movement received a nod
of approval when Pope Francis called it a gift to the church. Simply speaking,
charisms are specific gifts that each believer has been given in which to serve
God and his kingdom on earth. Most people think of speaking in tongues when
they think of charismatic gifts but that is but one example.
Other gifts—or charisms—include the gift
of knowledge, prophecy, wisdom, helps, teaching, and healing to name just a few
that have been identified and practiced.
Charisms are meant to be shared and
discovering these gifts can be a beautiful part of fulfilling a vocation. For instance, you may be called to the
vocation of marriage and parenthood and find that your gifts are in teaching
and helps. You flesh out your life, then, as a married parent who may be a
teacher and volunteer as a server for funerals in your parish.
Mary’s role as co-redemptrix has
elicited as much (if not more than) controversy as the pope’s infallibility.
However, identifying her role as co-redemptrix does not lessen the full and
complete redemption offered through Christ. Rather, it expands it to rightfully
include the full and freely given cooperation of Christ’s mother.
Seeing Mary as co-redemptrix is easy
when you take into consideration her very important, often overlooked words of
John 2:5: “Do whatever he tells you.” Mary always directs to the Son; she never
detracts and is never contrary.
It is human nature to turn eyes, ears
and hearts towards a feminine nature as it typically tends to be nurturing and
forgiving. Mary as co-redemptrix doesn’t take eyes, ears and hearts from
Christ; rather, she redirects—or directs them for the first time—to her Son.
Mary is called the “Immaculate Conception”
because she was prepared by God to carry his Son in her womb. Just as God had
requirements, restrictions and divine expectations for the Ark in the Old
Testament, so, too, would he have had those for his Son—thus the immaculate
conception of Mary. In fact, one of Mary’s many titles is “Ark of the New
Did God’s preparation of Mary preclude
her, then, from saying no to Archangel Gabriel? No, it did not. Consider the immaculate
conception—the preparation—as way that should she say yes, she was ready to
carry the Christ child.
Mystics are considered great receivers
of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They represent a small portion of the
Catholic Church and are given honor and respect for the teachings they bring to
St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of
Avila are considered mystics and are also Doctors of the Church (a title
bestowed on those who do, indeed, bring great knowledge to the flock as a
result of their own understandings of the Truth as revealed in private
St. Hildegard of Bingen is yet another
popular mystic and doctor and the church. Her own work includes chants that
have been recorded far and wide, healing with gems, and even an extensive work
on the physical and spiritual ailments of man.
Not all are called to mysticism and the
church even warns against those not called to it to be wary of pursuing it.
The priest holds up the bread and
proclaims, as he stands in for Christ, “This is my body.”
These words of consecration form the
basis of transubstantiation where the bread and wine are literally—not
figuratively—changed into the body and blood of Christ.
The biggest roadblock to understanding
transubstantiation often lies in the misunderstanding of the words “in memory
of me.” Because the current definition of “memory” is used, the belief is that
the bread and wine are only symbols; but in the Catholic Church, the word
“memory” is more closely related to the way Jesus would have used the word
which was to, essentially, go outside of time and space and “re-live” Exodus
(“remembered” during Passover—the Last Supper).
Complicated? Not really.
Jesus wasn’t saying “do this and
remember me” but was saying “do this and join me right here, right now as I’m
doing this: This is my body.”
In a culture that seems to deplore
authority, nothing seems to rankle more people than the fact that the Catholic
Church stands in authority over the flock—the faithful and the not-so-faithful.
Scripture confirms God recognizing the
authority of some people over others (Colossians 3:22, Ephesians 6:5). Of
course all these men and women in positions of power are under the ultimate
authority of God.
The authority of the Catholic Church
rests in the Magisterium. An important work of the Magisterium is to safeguard
that the tradition of the Apostolic faith does not succumb, so to speak, to the
culture. While there are certain rules that may change with the times, the
adherence to the faith of the Apostles of Christ as given by Christ himself, is
rigorously guarded by the Magisterium and in doing so the faith that is
practiced today is the same faith that was practiced thousands of years ago.
Grace is a gift of the Holy Spirit; it
sanctifies and justifies the recipient. It cannot be earned, borrowed, begged
for or bought. It is God’s to give and God’s to take.
Grace moves us in the ways that serve
God. Being in God’s grace is being in the company of God and while we cannot do
things or act a special way to get into God’s grace, we can certainly be
reminded how, with a humble heart, St. Joan of Arc said to her accusers who
asked her if she was in God’s grace: “If I am not, may it please God to put me
in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.”
Sacramental Graces are those associated
specifically with the Sacraments. They are special graces to continue to strive
for holiness and are received through the Sacraments (Eucharist, Reconciliation
Jesus died for our sins.
No one is free from sin.
But what is sin? Exactly?
We are made in the image and likeness of
God who is sinless. Sin, then, muddies that likeness; in a state of sin we look
less like our Creator. This, of course, indicates that we have a potential to
be very much like our Creator and should be buoyed by that knowledge.
Everyone sins but not everyone is a
murderer or thief (mortal sins that turn man away from God and destroy charity
of the heart).
Typically, people’s sins are venial
sins. Venial sins are those that offend and wound but have not completely
destroyed charity. The Catholic Church warns that constant, unrepented venial
sins may have an aggregate effect that could lead to mortal sin.
Reconciliation and sincere repentance
are necessary to remove the damages of all sin.
Heaven is where the constant presence of
God is seen, felt and lived. It is where the holiness, perfection and joy that
we are striving for on earth is fully experienced.
The Catholic Church teaches that we are
here to know, love and serve God so that we can live with him in eternity—in
Heaven. Earth, then, is the practice, the preparation and the taste of things
to come. While on this earthly journey, God gives us a great many ways to find
him and know him and serve him.
How we do that—and to what extent—is
totally up to each of us. Keeping a spiritual eye on heaven and the eternal
rewards helps guide us towards our heavenly destiny, if we so choose.
Have you ever been in a religion class or in Church and
Father asks you to think about a vocation? Do you get the feeling you want to
crawl in a hole and disappear, fearing he will ask you to become a priest?
A vocation is a call from God. It’s not merely a career
choice. Everyone, everyone, everyone has a calling from God!
The word vocation refers to three different things:
1.Vocation comes with baptism. It’s a call to know, love
and serve God in your life.
2.Vocation also means, “state in life,” such as
priesthood, religious life, marriage or single life.
3.Vocation also means a personal relationship you have
with Jesus. It’s you, yourself, trying to know, love, and serve God.
vocation is much more than choosing a career or planning your life. You have to
discern what God’s plans are for you. To discern means that you pray and ask
God to show you what he wants for you. Pope John Paul II explained in a paper
he wrote called “On the Vocation of the Lay Faithful,” that it is a “gradual
process, one that happens day by day.” So don’t look for the answer to fall
from the sky. It happens day by day through discernment.
people choose a career such as becoming a doctor, engineer, fireman, or police
officer, they ask themselves questions like:
will make me happy?
will I make money for myself?
person discerns a vocation, he asks himself bigger questions like:
VWhat does God want me to do?
VWhat will please God most?
VWhat gifts did God give me to use in life?
the difference? The focus in discerning is God, not “me.” But the cool thing
is, what God wants for you is what will make you happy!
mentioned before, there are several vocations, that is, “states in life” for
VPriesthood and Permanent Deaconate
Whichever God calls you to will
have its joys, sorrows, and challenges, but you will have peace and joy by
using your gifts the way God intended. God loves you very much and will give you
all the graces you need to answer his call.
history the word “light” has been used to portray goodness, charity, kindness,
all, removes darkness—whether literally or metaphorically.
People say, “She
lit up the room when she entered,” or “He is the light of my life.”
the significance of those phrases.
During the Christmas
season—when the amount of actual daylight is at its most limited—we are most
fully aware that Christ is the light of the world. It seems rather fitting that
in the long hours without light that we contemplate how He dispels the darkness
in our lives. We are able to become keenly aware that He conquers the shadows that
sometimes seem to overtake us. During the Christmas season we most fully
realize that through the light of Christ we find our way to the Father.
tradition during Christmastime is to light luminaries. The history behind
luminaries is rich and beautiful—and varied. Shepherds marked the way to the
Christ child with small fires. Centuries later, the Mexican people would gather
around celebratory fires in the town square to sing and give thanks for the
Lord’s birth. Elsewhere, small fires would mark the route to church for
Christmas is the
time to remember that, in some way, we each are called to be a light to another
sojourner—to be a luminary.