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Reflections and insights on building a rich spirituality and cultural identity by the following the Liturgical Year.

Easter: Fifty Days of Rejoicing by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Apr 6, 2015

This post was originally written for 2014. The links have been updated for 2015. The Lord has risen from the dead, as he said; let us all exult and rejoice, for he reigns for all eternity, alleluia. (Entrance Antiphon, Monday within the Octave of Easter) After Lent's forty days...

Holy Saturday: Come and Mourn With Me Awhile by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Apr 4, 2015

To me, Holy Saturday is the longest and the hardest of the days of the Triduum. It is a day of limbo; life is in a kind of suspension. Except for the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) or Blessing of Easter Baskets (or Blessing of Animals on Olvera Street in Los Angeles), there is no liturgy...

Catholic PSA for Palm Sunday: Treat Blessed Palms with Reverence by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Mar 28, 2015

Public Service Announcement: The palms we receive on Palm Sunday are blessed objects or sacramentals that need to be treated reverently, not as toys, mere craft material or trash. Every Palm Sunday I just cringe because the palms are abused and such a distraction during Mass. The sound of palms...

Praying in Rhythm with the Feasts and Seasons: The Rural Life Prayerbook by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Mar 27, 2015

There were two Catholic publications printed in 1946 that were ahead of their time. The National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) published a small booklet entitled With the Blessing of the Church, translated by Most Rev. J. H. Schlarman and Father Philip T. Weller published a Latin and...

Holy Week Preparation by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Mar 24, 2015

This post was originally written for 2014. The links have been updated for this year. Holy Week is one of the busiest weeks of the year for our family. Preparing for Christmas, especially when we have to plan celebrations for both sides of the family and possible travel is also busy, but it...

The Solemnity of the Annunciation: the Moment of Incarnation in Our Lives by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Mar 24, 2015

With the Church we celebrate a second solemnity in the month of March and also during the Lenten season: the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. This is such a pivotal feast in our Catholic faith, and unfortunately it seems overshadowed by all the celebrations for St. Patrick and St. Joseph...

Lenten Conversion and Repentance: The True Vine and the Sacrament of Reconciliation by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Mar 20, 2015

On Ash Wednesday the Church exhorted us to "Repent and believe in the Gospel." The ashes were the sign of the turning of our hearts back to God. The main themes throughout Lent are 1) baptism and 2) conversion and repentance. Not all of us are catechumens preparing to receive Baptism for...

The Great Saints of March: Patrick and Joseph by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Mar 17, 2015

I always look forward to mid-March. My birthday falls on March 16 and it marks the beginning of a series of breaks from the Lenten focus and a little festivity. Not everyone is celebrating my birthday, but the Church honors two very popular saints, Patrick and Joseph, within three days (and...

Fasting and Mercy by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Mar 13, 2015

The theme of conversion is a thread that runs all through Lent, but conversion takes on different aspects throughout the phases of Lent. The first two and a half weeks focused on the interior turning of hearts; the liturgy urges the faithful to reflect and examine consciences thoroughly. The...

Are Sundays Part of Lent? by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Mar 7, 2015

I clearly recall a Lenten sermon from my childhood during which the priest shared a statistic that chocolate stores are more profitable during Lent than the rest of year. At the beginning of Lent many people make the resolutions to give up sweets resulting in slow sales. By mid-Lent these...

Lenten Ember Days by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Feb 25, 2015

This Wednesday, February 25, within the First Week of Lent marks the beginning of the traditional dates of the Lenten Ember Days. With the reorganization of the Liturgical Year by Vatican II, the Ember Days were retained within the Ordinary Form, but dates and form were left to the episcopal...

The Missing Element In My Lenten Penance by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Feb 24, 2015

On Ash Wednesday my youngest son asked if the next two days were Holy Thursday and Good Friday. His question reflects my initial feelings of Lent: "We have to do this for 40 days?" I start looking for any kind of respite because I give into "Brother Ass" (as St. Francis...

It's About the Cross, Not the #Ashtag by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Feb 18, 2015

I was surprised to see controversy arising from the idea of taking an Ash Wednesday selfie showing one's ashes and posting it on social media. Even the USCCB had a contest using the #ashtag as an entry. While I'm not a fan of hashtags, I did find this one rather clever. Before there...

Carnival: Part Two, the Final Countdown by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Feb 17, 2015

See Carnival Part One: A Season of Contrasts which illustrated how the Carnival season provided a spiritual focus but incorporated both physical and spiritual aspects.   Last year my husband's co-workers planned a Mardi Gras party at the office, but a snowstorm closed down work...

Preparing for Lent: Seven Lessons the Flu Taught Me by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Feb 13, 2015

The beginning of Lent is less than a week away. These final days are the last bastion of celebration, but also time to strategize how we will spend this holy season. Unfortunately, my planning came to a halt last week when I was struck down by the flu. Mothers usually are not allowed even one sick...

Blaising the Way to Keeping Healthy by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Feb 2, 2015

February 3rd has the choice of an optional memorial of two different saints: St. Blaise and St. Ansgar. St. Ansgar is a newer addition to the General Roman Calendar for that date. But St. Blaise, the bishop and martyr who died in 316 A.D. has been honored on February 3rd for many centuries. His...

Receiving Holy Communion Under Special Circumstances: Continuing the Conversation by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Jan 23, 2015

Earlier this month I wrote about how formation and catechizing our children can go beyond the simple Q&A catechism and continues, especially in special needs for receiving the Eucharist. (See Baptism Begins a Continuing Catechesis: Special Needs for Communion.) Very soon after writing my...

Carnival Part One: A Season of Contrasts by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Jan 19, 2015

Lent is a month away. The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time is exactly 31 days before Ash Wednesday. The Church has entered Tempus ad Annum, "The Season Throughout the Year," most commonly referred to as "Ordinary Time" and will soon enter the six-week period of Lent culminating...

Fitting Resolutions by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Jan 13, 2015

From the end of December into January, everyone is abuzz about making  New Year's resolutions. Most resolutions revolve around health of the body: lose weight, exercise more, change bad eating habits. As we enter the third week of January, so many resolutions are already forgotten,...

Baptism Begins a Continuing Catechesis: Special Needs for Communion by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Jan 9, 2015

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Sunday (or Tuesday in the Extraordinary Form) marks the end of the Christmas season. The Church changes to green vestments and begins Tempus Per Annum or Ordinary Time (or Time after Epiphany in the Extraordinary Form). This feast can be a reminder of each...

Contemplating the Christmas Mysteries: He is Light and Peace by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Dec 27, 2014

After all the Advent preparation and strife, we finally reach the climax of the solemnity of the Nativity of Christ and attend Mass for Christmas. The church decorations of evergreen, poinsettias and crèche are so beautiful and inspiring. Unfortunately, the entire time in church can be...

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Advent by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Dec 19, 2014

(With my apologies to the author Judith Viorst.) How does your Advent grow? How does mine grow? Thanks for asking. I'd say it isn't growing too much. Christmas still comes on the 25th, ready or not. And I'm not ready, either on the interior or exterior. The decorations are...

Rejoice, the Lord is Near! Gaudete Sunday, Ember Days and O Antiphons by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Dec 16, 2014

See my post from 2013, O Come!! The O Antiphons for further reflection on the O Antiphons. The Advent liturgy is so rich, varied and beautiful. Every time the liturgical cycle repeats, it is another opportunity to enter more deeply into the Church's liturgy as She prepares for Christmas....

O Come!! The O Antiphons by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Dec 16, 2014

[This entry was originally written in December of 2013; in December 2014, I wrote a more comprehensive essay: Rejoice, the Lord is Near! Gaudete Sunday, Ember Days and O Antiphons.] Although not highlighted on most calendars, I consider December 17 as a red letter day. This date marks the...

Straws in the Manger -- Preparing Our Hearts for Christ's Birth by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Dec 6, 2014

Of all the Advent traditions, the one that my family practices annually is the French custom of preparing the manger for Christmas. This is the tradition of making Baby Jesus' bed soft by adding straws in the manger. The straws reflect extra spiritual efforts made during Advent. In my...

Recognizing the True St. Nicholas by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Dec 5, 2014

The feast of St. Nicholas on December 6 is a favorite highlight of the Advent season. Remembering one of our favorite childhood traditions, over the years my family has gathered with my siblings and their families to bake speculaas, traditional Dutch spice cookies. We enjoy the family...

Celebrating St. Nicholas: New Picture Book Review by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Nov 28, 2014

One of the most popular saint days of Advent is the Optional Memorial of St. Nicholas of Myra. St. Nicholas is a contemporary of St. Martin of Tours, Nicholas being the saint of the Church in the East and Martin the saint of the West. Both are the first of the class of "confessors" and...

Living Advent Simply with Food and Family by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Nov 25, 2014

The season of Advent which opens the new Liturgical Year begins this Sunday after Thanksgiving. The Church provides this time as another opportunity to renew, refresh, and prepare. Trying to balance living a Catholic culture during these days is a challenge. Many of us are already overwhelmed with...

Feastday Highlights: Solemnity of Christ the King by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Nov 21, 2014

This Sunday the Liturgical Year ends not in a sad or a small way, but culminates in the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. During November the liturgy has been keeping an eschatological theme and this feast reminds us of that end in hope and glory. In the...

Feastday Highlights: 11-11, Honoring the Real St. Martin of Tours by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Nov 11, 2014

November 11 marks the Memorial of St. Martin of Tours. For modern American readers, this date doesn't bring to mind too many Catholic traditions in this country. This date was formerly Armistice Day, and is now a federal holiday, Veterans' Day. But St. Martin, the humble bishop from the...

Feastday Highlights: Dedication of St. John Lateran by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Nov 7, 2014

Every five years several feasts interrupt the cycle of the Liturgical Calendar; these feasts take precedence over the Sundays in Ordinary Time: September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, November 2, the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed, and this Sunday, the feast of the...

November: a Month of Poor Souls and Cemeteries by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Oct 31, 2014

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins (2 Mach. 12:46). Every November I like to make a "Public Service Announcement" of the Church's opportunities at the beginning of the month to help the Poor Souls. The Church...

Halloween: Celebrating Like a Catholic by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Oct 30, 2014

Ready or not, Halloween is Friday. This is the second highest grossing commercial holiday in America, and also one of the most controversial. Fundamental Christians believe it should be completely rejected because it has roots as a pagan celebration, and some Catholics feel a need to change the...

St. John Paul II: Top Ten Connections by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Oct 21, 2014

Recently my husband and I watched The Roosevelts: An Intimate History by Ken Burns. When the film reached Franklin Delano Roosevelt dying after serving as president of the United States for 12 years, there was a comment that many people couldn't remember having another president. I have been...

Feastday Highlights: St. Luke, Evangelist and Artist by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Oct 17, 2014

The month of October is filled with many memorials and optional memorials of saints, but the only two feasts during the month are for St. Luke, Evangelist on October 18, and ten days later Saints Simon and Jude, apostles. Not much is known about St. Luke's life, nor his death. Tradition...

Relevancy of Current Events and the Liturgical Year by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Oct 14, 2014

The current era is not lacking in crises, breaking news, conflicting news reports and confusing reports from Rome. Catholic Culture and CWNews provide accurate news reports and opinion pieces giving balance and insight with a Catholic perspective on these existing and developing issues, such as...

The Month of the Rosary: Working on our Relationships by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Oct 7, 2014

October 7 marks the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, the centerpiece feast for the month dedicated to the rosary. After the Liturgy, the rosary is esteemed as one of the greatest prayers. Volumes have been written singing the praises of the rosary, including many writings from the hands of...

St. Francis of Assisi -- Setting the Record Straight by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Oct 3, 2014

October 4 marks the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, a feast honoring one of the most well-known saints in the Church. It seems that everyone knows about St. Francis, or at least they claim they know him. This saint has become even more well-known due to our current pope taking the name of...

St. Thérèse and Her Way of Trust and Love For Our Lives by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Sep 30, 2014

  Fifteen years ago my then-future husband proposed on October 1, the memorial of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, also known as "The Little Flower". The date was not chosen lightly. Early on in our courtship he asked me for a Lenten book suggestion. I suggested my...

Cosmas, Damian and Saints of the Canon by Jennifer Gregory Miller - Sep 26, 2014

September 26 is the combined optional memorial of Cosmas and Damian, two saints of the Roman Canon (or Eucharistic Prayer I). Although not much is known about these twin brothers, there is much to be learned from contemplating their feast. Medical Missionaries Cosmas' and Damian's...

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