Author: FrancisMary

4 Amazing Catholic Songs to Prepare Your Heart for Christmas

4 Amazing Catholic Songs to Prepare Your Heart for Christmas

Catholic music artists continue to emerge on the scene. Some have gained status as Catholic music stars like Audrey Assad and Matt Maher. While other lesser known artists strive to become more visible in the Catholic and Christian world.

Advent hymnody like O Come Divine Messiah and O Come, O Come Emmanuel, resound throughout our churches leading up to Christmas. In recent months, songs from various Catholic artists struck a chord in my heart and I realized some of them were perfect songs to prepare us for Christmas, even though they were not specific to Advent.

Here are four non-traditional, and contemporary songs to prepare your heart for Christmas.

1) Dana Catherine – The Greatest Love Story

Dana Catherine emerged this year with her debut album Glorious Horizons. I happened to catch an interview Dana did with Jennifer Fulwiler on Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel. What impressed me most about Dana’s interview was the depth of her spirituality which she conveyed and comes alive in all her music.

One song quickly became my favorite: The Greatest Love Story. Dana tells us that the greatest love story ever told “started with a girl who brought him to the world and in a manger laid, the one who came to save.” Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is the greatest love story, because it God who is love, comes to dwell among us and die on the cross for our salvation. His birth makes us strong, when we struggle, we can place our trust in God. This advent learn the Greatest Love Story ever told and allow that story to change your life and help you write your own story.

2) The Thirsting – Come Hold My Son

A friend of mine introduced me to the band The Thirsting several years ago and more specifically to their album Companions of the Lamb. Based out of Oregon, their music focuses on topics of faith including confession, the Eucharist, the Trinity, and Mary. One song has a specific Marian focus, Come Hold my Son. This song highlights key moments in the life of Jesus and Mary’s participation in those mysteries.

For me, the song evokes imaginative prayer and led me to realize some new insights into Marian meditation. Most striking in the song is Mary’s invitation for people to come and hold her son.

This Advent season you are being invited to the manger in Bethlehem. Will you go and hold the Christ child? Spend some time in imaginative prayer. Allow Mary to entrust the Christ child to your arms as you behold the Son of God and Son of Mary.

3) Danielle Rose – Mysteries Album

Followers of Danielle Rose have their favorite songs; for me, it is See You in the Eucharis. Danielle has had many amazing experiences in her life from volunteering with Mother Teresa’s order in India to spending two years discerning her vocation in the convent, and now as a wife and mother.

One of her albums is Mysteries, containing twenty songs corresponding to the twenty rosary mysteries. The rosary is an excellent way for us to prepare for Christmas, especially by praying the Joyful Mysteries.

Allow Danielle Rose to lead you through music into the depths of the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity.

4) Marian Grace – Behold the Mystery

Artist Marian Grace offers a rhythmic song Behold the Mystery on her album Ancient Hymns and Chants. The song emphasizes the Eucharistic mystery by beholding and adoring the Lord. In view of Christmas, many people came to behold the mystery in Bethlehem in the scriptures—magi, shepherds, and the unknown people not mentioned in the sacred pages.

In our churches, many people will come to adore Jesus on Christmas day. Let us pray for one another, that we might all behold the mystery on Christmas morning.

5 Ways to keep Jesus in your Christmas Celebrations this Year

5 Ways to keep Jesus in your Christmas Celebrations this Year

Christmas is not only a time to celebrate family, love and renewal – it’s also a time to honour Christ’s miraculous birth.

Remember, Jesus’ birth was a gift to all humanity, thus the reason we offer presents to each other during his birthday celebration.

So how can you keep Christ in Christmas this year?

Consider the following suggestions and share them with your friends and family:

1. Celebrate with Advent Prayers

There are so many reasons to pray each day but pull your family together and share a quick prayer each day as we get closer to Christmas.

2. Attend Mass

It’s hard to find extra time while juggling work, kids, Christmas shopping, meetings and life in general but it’s important to remember to attend Mass.

Too many make excuses to avoid Mass but Christmas, the season dedicated to Christ’s birth, should be celebrated with Christmas services, Midnight Mass and fellowship with other Christians.

3. Listen to Real Christmas Music

The radio is full of great songs about Jolly Old Saint Nick, flying reindeer, talking snowmen and spreading good cheer.

While there is nothing wrong with these songs, it wouldn’t hurt to bring up Jesus’ birth and some good Christian vibes with “O Magnum Mysterium,” “Salvation is Created” or the new classic “Mary, Did You Know?”

4. Say “Merry Christmas”

In an ever-growing secular world, many employees are not allowed to say, “Merry Christmas.”

Take a stand, enjoy your religious freedoms, and wish people a very merry Christmas this year. Not everyone may be allowed to respond in kind but your energetic words can more than make up for their silent responses.

Don’t be afraid to stand out and wish everyone you interact with this December a merry Christmas.

5. Display a Nativity Scene

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars for a 6-piece blow-up Nativity scene complete with lights and music to display on your lawn.

Simply walk into the nearest store and you are guaranteed to find a miniature Nativity, window decal, toy, display or other ornamentation.

For more family fun, share the story of the Nativity while making one with your kids! Shoebox scenes are classic bonding activities that will not only help your kids remember the story of Christ’s birth, but will serve as a beautiful memory for years to come.

Source: catholic.org

A Simple But Powerful Daily Prayer To Prepare For Christmas

A Simple But Powerful Daily Prayer To Prepare For Christmas

Sometimes a simple prayer is all we need to remind us of what we are celebrating.

Christmas is getting closer and festive decorations are already surrounding us, preparing us for a season of little elves, reindeer, and fluffy snowmen. In the midst of all the exterior preparations and the looming need to go Christmas shopping, it is easy to forget the “reason for the season.”

One simple way to stay focused is by saying a brief prayer at the start of each day. Here is one prayer, called the “St. Jude Prayer,” that is very powerful and can return our thoughts (and our hearts) to what celebrating Christmas is truly about.

Lord Jesus, your power is infinite, your glory, everlasting. Quietly you come, as a tiny baby. Ready my heart for the miracle of your birth. Bring light to this dark world, waiting silently for your warmth in the coldness of the night. Waiting is itself your gift, animating my heart with anticipation.

Bless me with needed patience and faithful discipline to prayerfully prepare to welcome and greet you. St. Jude, eternal hope, let your holiness flow into me.

May Christmas joy and burning love take root in me and grow until they bloom on Christmas Day, to carry joy to the world and inspire hope to renew the face of the earth. Amen

 

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ADVENT!!! Everything You Need to Know

ADVENT!!! Everything You Need to Know

Don’t Start Christmas without Advent: Here’s Everything You Need to Know!


WHAT IS ADVENT?

Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year for the Catholic Church. The date for the beginning of Advent falls each year on the Sunday closest to November 30th – the feast day of Saint Andrew the Apostle. Advent means ‘to come to’ and it is a call to readiness for the coming of Jesus Christ.

HOW IS ADVENT DIFFERENT FROM CHRISTMAS?

Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that Advent is part of the Christmas celebration. In fact, Advent is a separate time of preparation all its own. For the Catholic Church, Christmas doesn’t begin until the first Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve. Christmas feast celebrations continue until Epiphany on January 6th, with the longer Christmas liturgical season ending on the feast of the Baptism of Jesus.

Advent is given to us as a time to prepare our souls for the coming of the Lord. Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter. In modern times we are tempted to skip over the penitential aspects of Advent and focus on the joy of Christmas. This is a great tragedy. Focusing only on the joy denies the truth: the Christ Child is our Lord and Savior who will suffer and die for our salvation.

 WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF ADVENT?

Originally, Advent was celebrated over forty days, just like the Lenten season. This has now been shortened to four weeks, but the symbolism remains. You may notice another similarity to Lent when you attend Mass; although we still sing the Alleluia before the Gospel reading, we no longer sing the song of the angels – the Gloria. We will sing this song anew with the angels on Christmas day – just as they did over 2000 years ago.

The Scripture readings during Mass remind us of all the prophecies that point to the Lord’s coming. We are called to keep watch and to leave behind our sinful ways. We also hear the recurring theme of a light shining through darkness. In Isaiah 60:19 we are reminded of this promise:

“The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE ADVENT WREATH?

Since circles have no beginning and no end, the circular shape of the Advent Wreath is used to symbolize God the Father and eternal life. The wreath holds four candles which are lit over the four weeks of Advent. The light of the flame is a visual reminder that Christ is “The Light of the World” (John 8:12). There are three violet (purple) candles and one rose candle, each representing 1,000 years. Added together, the four candles symbolize the 4,000 years that humanity waited for the Savior.

WHY ARE ADVENT CANDLES PURPLE AND PINK?

Violet is a liturgical color that is used to signify a time of penance, sacrifice, and prayer. During the first, second, and the fourth weeks of Advent we light violet candles. The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. On this day we celebrate that our waiting for Christmas is almost over. Rose is a liturgical color that is used to signify joy, so we light the rose candle on the third Sunday of Advent.

The 4 Weeks of Advent

Traditionally, each of the four candles on an Advent wreath has their own meaning. These meanings are simply illustrated in The Four Weeks of Advent Pewter Advent Wreath.

The first Sunday of Advent symbolizes Hope with the Prophet’s Candle reminding us that Jesus is coming.The second Sunday of Advent symbolizes Faith with the Bethlehem Candle reminding us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.The third Sunday of Advent symbolizes Joy with the Shepherd’s Candle reminding us of the Joy the world experienced at the coming birth of Jesus.The fourth Sunday of Advent symbolizes Peace with the Angel’s Candle reminding us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

When Advent Wreaths are decorated the materials often have symbolic meaning. The use of evergreens reminds us of our eternal life with Christ, holly represents the crown of thorns from the Passion of Jesus, and pinecones symbolize Christ’s Resurrection.

HOW CAN WE INVOLVE CHILDREN WITH ADVENT?

Advent is a great way to keep children focused on preparing for the coming of the Baby Jesus instead of on materialistic desires. Each new week of Advent begins at Mass with the lighting of a new candle on the parish Advent Wreath. Our parish family is connected to our personal family when we light our own Advent Wreath at home. Explain to your children the meaning of this week’s candle and what they should focus on during the coming week.

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