Commentary by Jennifer Gregory Miller

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The Spirit of the Liturgy, Part Two: Liturgy and Popular Piety

I’m continuing my discussion on Romano Guardini’s The Spirit of the Liturgy with Leila Lawler. In Part One I considered Guardini’s discussion of our work or "mental exertion" so as to receive greater benefits...

The Spirit of the Liturgy, Part One: Mental Exertion

This Lent I joined Leila Lawler in reading of The Spirit of the Liturgy by Romano Guardini. Although I haven't been able to keep up with the discussions, I've been reading on my own, hoping to find some time to share my thoughts. I'm looking forward to reading together the next...

The Easter Octave

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it, alleluia! With the whole Church we rejoice at the resurrection of Christ! The Church celebrates the Easter season or Eastertide. St. Athanasius said "[t]he fifty days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost...

Contemplating Good Friday and the Annunciation

Today the world recalls the passion and death of Jesus. There is sadness and mourning in the air. This year our family has decided to spend the three hours from noon to 3 at church, attending the Seven Last Words and then Stations of the Cross, and then the Celebration of the...

Traditions of Holy Thursday

Wednesday of Holy Week is pivotal because it marks the end of Lent. Holy Thursday begins the sacred Triduum -- the holiest days of the Church year. The liturgy reflects the beauty of the Paschal mystery and the Passover Feast of Christ. But how is this day spent in popular piety? What do...

Holy Week in the Home

Holy Week is aptly named because it is the holiest week of the Liturgical (and calendar) year. But it is also one of the busiest weeks of the year for our family, so I annually review my plans and revise according to our changing needs. There is more time spent in church due to the...

Catholic PSA for Palm Sunday: Treat Blessed Palms with Reverence

Originally published in 2015, this PSA needs to be annually remembered. 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...

Celebrating St. Joseph

Every new year, I like to check the calendar for upcoming dates for the Liturgical Year. I start turning the monthly pages to see when is Ash Wednesday, is Easter early or late, etc. One thing in particular is to see what part of Lent do the solemnities of St. Joseph and the Annunciation...

Passiontide and Veiling of Images

Yesterday when I dropped my son off for classes at the homeschool co-op in the neighboring parish, we noticed the veiled statues around the church and chapel. Our parish doesn't follow this tradition, so it was a wonderful opportunity to discuss and research a little about the veiling of...

A Peek into our Daily Roman Walk

Two weeks ago I shared our plan for our daily Lenten journey following the Roman stations. I thought I would share our progress and what it looks like in our home. My sons are ages 8 and 12 and are at an age of transition. The daily countdown calendar to...

Lentitude Adjustment

The Church is nearing the end of the Second Week of Lent. I find the first two weeks the hardest. Once a personal plan of prayer and penance is chosen, it takes some time to adjust to the change of outlook and habits for the next six weeks. For a weak sinner like me, being only two weeks into the...

Lenten Ember Days

This post was originally written in 2014, updated for Lent 2016.  This Wednesday, February 17, 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...

Following the Roman Lenten Stations

Although I would never consider myself a Pollyanna, I try to remain positive when writing on the Church's Liturgy and Liturgical Year. The Council of Vatican II brought many changes to the Liturgy, and although the closing of the Council occurred 51 years ago, I see the Church still struggling...

Entering the Season of Lent

Having Ash Wednesday begin so early in February makes it difficult to me to get into gear. Every year I make some decisions on what areas to focus on during Lent, but even as I choose them, I always wait for God to send me His penance for me for Lent. He knows just what I need. And when Lent...

Presentation of the Lord: A Light for the Nations

February 2nd, in the Ordinary Form, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord; in the Extraordinary (1962) Calendar the feast is known as the Purification of Mary. This is traditionally called "Candlemas" because of the blessing of candles before Mass on this day. As I was putting my...

The End of Christmas: Dispelling the Misconceptions

Most Catholics recognize the end of the Christmas season ends with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which occurred in the Ordinary Form/current calendar on Sunday, January 10, and the Extraordinary Form on January 13th. But there are some Catholics who claim that it is still Christmas and...

Christmas to Candlemas: When is the Real End of the Christmas Season?

This post was originally published in January 2014. The Christmas season ended on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Or did it? It seems inevitable every Christmas that there will be polite disagreement among Catholics as to when the Christmas season officially ends. Usually...

January 22: Day of Prayer and Penance in the United States

January 22 marks the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court legalizing abortion. Most of us know it as the day for the March for Life, when pro-lifers from all over the country converge to be a public witness for those innocent lives that have no voice. Not everyone...

The Diversity of Epiphany

For Catholics living in the United States attending mass in the Ordinary Form, January 3 is the transferred Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Elsewhere, such as in Rome, Epiphany is celebrated on the traditional date of January 6.  The word "Catholic" means universal, but it...

Celebrating Epiphany and the Christmas Season

This post was originally published in 2013. The Christmas season always seems over too quickly! It's not that we're packing the days full of activity, but rather our resting and relaxing and enjoying the Christmas glow makes time fly! Our family observes the Twelve Days of Christmas...

The Octave of Christmas

"On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." Everyone is familiar with the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas." And although some people have already thrown their Christmas tree to the curb and taken down their Christmas decorations, there are the reminders...

Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!

As I finalize the preparations for Christmas, my thoughts go back to Christmases past, both from my childhood and my own family. Through all the years at Grandma's house, or recovering from surgeries, there are two traditions for our children that have stayed constant, even if was a...

Observing the O Antiphons

December 17 begins the "O" Antiphon Days, my very favorite part of Advent. These are ancient antiphons that all begin with "O" found in the liturgy from December 17-23. They are particularly in the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) before the Magnificat in the Evening Prayer...

Sharing the Gift of Mercy with Our Brothers and Sisters

December 12 marks the second anniversary of my open heart surgery. Such a short sentence doesn't capture all the inconvenience, pain, emotion and healing involved before and after the surgery. For me and my family, this was a pivotal moment in our lives. I have brushed the face of death but...

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception Opens the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patronal feast of the United States and a holyday of obligation. This day also marks the opening of the Holy Door and the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  The choice of this feast day to open the...

The Spirit of Advent: Listening to Christ

Even before the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, the new Liturgical Year begins. The First Sunday of Advent is this Sunday, November 29. It is a little difficult to transition from Thanksgiving into Advent; I am still putting away the table decorations, restoring our downstairs and cleaning up...

Prayers of Thanksgiving

I apologize that due to technical difficulties, this post could not be made active earlier. It's been a long three days of cooking and cleaning preparing for our Thanksgiving meal.  Twenty-five family members will be gathering around our table today. Serious accidents were avoided;...

Feastday Highlights: Solemnity of Christ the King

This post was originally written in 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...

What Can We Do?

In 2001 we said we would never forget. Fourteen years later a younger generation now feels the outrage of terrorist attacks on innocent people. France is not a war-torn country, but a popular place, where many people visit, and almost everyone seems to have some connection or memory related to the...

November: Close Connection of the Communion of the Saints

This is my annual reminder that November 1 begins the special opportunity to earn plenary indulgences for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Visit a cemetery and pray for the departed from November 1-8 and visit a church or oratory on All Souls Day, November 2, praying the Our Father and the Creed. You...

Halloween is for Catholics

It's the return of the annual controversy of whether Catholics should celebrate Halloween in a secular way. As a parent trying to do the right thing, it's a struggle to find the right balance for their own family. I wrote a long post last year, Halloween: Celebrating Like a Catholic. In...

November: a Month of Poor Souls and Cemeteries

This post was originally written in November 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...

Halloween: Celebrating Like a Catholic

This blog post was originally written in October 2014. Ready or not, Halloween is Saturday. 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...

Taking Stock: Advent Wreath and Candles

This is not to ensue panic, but Advent begins November 29, the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. That is in less than 6 weeks or 6 Sundays from now. Do you know where your Advent wreath is? And more importantly, do you have Advent candles and KNOW where they are? I was grateful to my friend...

Louis and Zélie Martin: Patron Saints for the Domestic Church

This Sunday, October 18, 2015, Pope Francis canonized Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. This is the first husband and wife to be canonized together, emphasizing their cooperation with the graces of the sacrament of matrimony.  The...

The Family Rosary: A Month for Renewal

October 7 is the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, but the entire month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary, which makes it another liturgical opportunity for renewal. The liturgical seasons of Lent and Advent are times for beginning again, time for change and renewal. Quarterly...

St. Francis of Assisi -- Setting the Record Straight

This post was written in October 2014. This year, 2015, October 4 falls on a Sunday, so the memorial St. Francis is not universally observed, but we still might want to honor him in small ways without overshadowing the primacy of Sunday. =================== October 4 marks the memorial of St....

Feasting for Junípero Serra

We have a brand new American saint, St. Junípero Serra; he is the first saint canonized on American soil. Our family is still enjoying celebrating this new saint. He is a new member of our Catholic Family, and we have been spending time in getting to know this new family member. One...

America's New Saint, Junípero Serra

...[W]e declare and define Blessed Junípero Serra to be a Saint and we enroll him among the Saints, decreeing that he is to be venerated as such by the whole Church. Yesterday Pope Francis, with these words, canonized Junípero Serra. This humble Spanish Franciscan friar is one of...

Memorable Saint Stories

After just a few years of practice, following the Liturgical calendar within your Domestic Church can become second nature to the family; it can become an inseparable part of the family's organic routine. In our family, there are certain feasts and saints that we highlight annually, whether it...

Fall Ember Days

Football games and pumpkin spice beverages and foods return; Autumn is upon us. Sadly, that is what the fall season means to so many people. We have lost contact the actual natural signs of the seasons of the year and turn to manmade expressions as signals for the change of seasons. But a pumpkin...

Recognizing the Humanity of Our Faith

Last Saturday our family returned from a week-long beach vacation in the Outer Banks. It was an unparalleled week of perfect weather, especially considering it was the end of August and beginning of September. As I sat on the shoreline recharging my "batteries", contemplating the...

Monica and Augustine: Glimpsing into the Unity and Vastness of Marriage and Family

As we reach the end of August, two of my favorite late August feast days are of Saints Monica and Augustine. Last year I discussed the familial example these mother and son pair provide. This year I have been dwelling further on their example of marriage and family, particularly living out...

Breaking Bread throughout the Liturgical Year

This upcoming Sunday concludes a series of five Sundays with the Gospel taken from John Chapter 6, the discourse on the Bread of Life. Jesus was preparing the people for his upcoming greater gift of Himself in the Eucharist. Jesus recognized bread as a universal daily sustenance and staple of...

Feastday Highlights: The Assumption

From the archives, originally written in August 2014. The month of August has only one solemnity, and it is also a Holy day of Obligation: August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul into heaven. This feast has the juxtaposition of being one of the...

Evangelism in a Glass

In my last post I shared some simple ideas on ways to bring different wines to enhance adult celebration of the Liturgical Year. Those thoughts were originally scribbled on the back of an envelope 10 years ago. My husband and I have enjoyed inserting a bit of the "liturgical" in sharing...

Toasting through the Liturgical Year

When Jesus gave us the gift of the Eucharist, He used the universal basics of life, bread and wine, to be transformed into His Body and Blood. The Mass, repeated daily all over the world, transforms the humble offerings of bread and wine into the Eucharist. In every county grapes are grown and...

On Pilgrimage with St. James the Greater

July 25 is the feast of St. James the Greater, apostle. St. James the Greater was one of the twelve Apostles, but had a special relationship with Jesus. How many times do we hear of the threesome, Peter James, John? They were present at the Transfiguration, they also were called to...

Mary and Martha and our Place in Bethany

This article was originally published in 2014. I had not planned a vacation, but the past couple of weeks became a vacation by default with health concerns and funerals and family events. I hope to be back more in the swing of writing, especially as the Church celebrates some of my favorite...

Imitating St. Camillus: Beginning with Charity

July 18 is in the USA the Optional Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis. On the General Roman Calendar his feast is July 14, but in the USA that is the Obligatory Memorial of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, so Camillus is transferred on the...

Fighting Evil? There’s a Summer Saint for That

I've been busy with summer traveling, pool fun, and a little minor foot surgery, but have not been immune to feeling a little disheartened by the headlines this summer. With news of Jenner transgenderism, Supreme Court redefinition of marriage, laws forcing people to go against their beliefs,...

Nativity of St. John the Baptist: A Family Feast

As the day of the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist comes to a close, our domestic church hasn't seen too much of physical feast day celebration, as we are saving up the treats for after dinner. Following the inspiration of how St. John ate grasshoppers and honey, mint...

Witnesses for Christ: Prayer, Fasting and Bonfires!

Today is the memorial of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, English martyrs who died defending the faith. After a week of ferial days except St. Romuald, the Church calendar unfolds several important feast days these next two weeks.  June 21st marked the beginning of the

St. Anthony's Bread

It might come as a surprise to some who attend Mass on June 13 that since there are two obligatory memorials for this Saturday, they are treated as optional memorials for the day. The celebrant of the Mass can choose either the St. Anthony of Padua which always falls on June 13, or the

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

There are only eighteen (18) total solemnities throughout the Liturgical Year, but in May and June there are no fewer than seven solemnities: Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, and the Sacred Heart are all celebrated in less than five weeks, with two more solemnities in late...

Solemnity of Corpus Christi: Remembering

Last night my family attended Seton School'shigh school graduation Mass and commencement. My oldest nephew was member of this class of 2015. My family has been part of this community since 1986, the year I graduated from the school, and continued to 2000 when my youngest brother graduated....

Celebrating Trinity Sunday at Home

As the Liturgical Year returns to the "Season of the Year" or "Ordinary Time," the pattern does not fall completely into place. The first few Sundays are special solemnities of Our Lord, so there will not be the green vestments and a numbered Sunday but white vestments and the...

Summer: More Time for the Lord, Not a Vacation from Him

Periodically Pentecost Sunday falls the same weekend as Memorial Day. Although seemingly different in focus, both celebrations reflect shifts in our daily lives. Pentecost marks the close of the Easter season and the beginning of Tempus per Annum or Ordinary Time. Memorial Day is the unofficial...

Pentecost with Mary, Queen of Apostles

More often then not, the close of the Easter season with the feast of Pentecost falls during the month of May, which is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We do not need to exclude one for the other, but in actuality honoring Our Lady directly complements our celebration of the birthday of the...

Pentecost and Confirmation

Restoring the order of the sacraments of initiation made the headlines again this week as Archbishop Aquila of Denver made an announcement that he will be implementing this change in his diocese. His pastoral letter...

Celebrating First Holy Communion

First Holy Communion is fresh on my mind since our youngest son received Jesus for the very first time on May first. It is a such a privilege and joy to be a witness to our child's reception of the sacraments and to grow in his relationship with Jesus. I mentioned 

The Solemnity of the Ascension: The Feast Who Was Thursday

Bumping up this 2014 post for the feast of the Ascension, whether it is celebrated on Thursday or Sunday.  The sixth week of Easter and the Seventh Sunday of Easter is a liturgical time with a bit of an identity crisis. This week was often referred to as Rogation Week before the revision...

St. Isidore the Farmer and Rogation Days

The traditional Rogation Days of Ascension Week begin today, May 11. This post was written in 2014, but still applicable today. Of all the saints on the calendar, St. Isidore the Farmer ranks as one of my favorite saints. (I can rarely narrow down to only one favorite, but I will say he is...

The Role of Christ and Sacramental Graces in Sacramental Catechesis

Earlier last week, Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu, Hawaii issued a letter stating that his diocese is returning to the proper order of reception of the sacraments of initiation: If one looks at the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” one notes that the first three sacraments...

Remembering the Sacraments: Our Family Life in Christ

During the Easter season, particularly in the month of May which is also dedicated to Mary, many children receive for the first time the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. We have a first communicant in our own family; my son receives Jesus for the first time on Friday. It is not just because of the...

Celebrating in the Easter Season

In the Passover Seder observed by many Jews there is the particular question by the youngest, "Why is this night different than any other nights?" As a Catholic, I like to shift this question around to apply to the most pivotal weeks of the Church year, Holy Week and the Octave of...

Easter: Fifty Days of Rejoicing

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

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...

Praying in Rhythm with the Feasts and Seasons: The Rural Life Prayerbook

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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...

The Missing Element In My Lenten Penance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(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

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

[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

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

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

Celebrating St. Nicholas: New Picture Book Review

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

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: 11-11, Honoring the Real St. Martin of Tours

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

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...

St. John Paul II: Top Ten Connections

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

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

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

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. Thérèse and Her Way of Trust and Love For Our Lives

  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

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...

Contemporary Observation of Ember Days

Even Catholics who lived before Vatican Council II would say that Ember Days are one of the most confusing Catholic practices. Ember Days are an extension of our agrarian roots, but were usually seen merely as fast and abstinence days on the calendar. Most Catholics born after 1965 typically have...

The Week in the Shadow of the Exalted Cross

Beginning with Sunday, this week unfolds a mosaic of feast days that all relate to the cross of Christ and refer back to Sunday's feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Sunday, or the "Lord's day" is the "primordial feast" and "basis and center of the liturgical...

Most Holy Name of Mary: What's In a Name?

September 12 marks the Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a few days following the Memorial of her Nativity. This feast is the counterpart of the Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Honoring the Holy Name of Mary as a feast was originally...

The Nativity of Mary: Family and Birthday Blessings

The feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary continues Our Lady's Thirty Days which began on the feast of the Assumption. This feast is the last of the Church's celebration of earthly birthdays celebrated in the Liturgical Year, the other two being the Birth of John the Baptist and...

Feastday Highlights: The Familial Example of Sts. Monica and Augustine

As August closes, we celebrate back-to-back memorials of famous mother and son, St. Monica and St. Augustine of Hippo. These are some other of our  "family feasts" for my family, as the 28th is my parents' wedding anniversary. Saints Monica and Augustine became the special...

St. Pius X: Restoring All Things in Christ

August 21 marks the hundredth anniversary of the death of Pope St. Pius X, who reigned from 1903 to 1914. When I think of St. Pius X, there are notables from his papacy that come to mind: the changing the age of reception of First Communion from 12 or 14 to the age of reason, around the age of 7...

Feastday Highlights: The Queenship of Mary

The Queenship of Mary on August 22nd is a title of Mary that is more difficult to grasp in this more "democratic" era. Most queens around the world are ceremonial and symbolic and do not rule a county. Revisionist history presents most queens as corrupt or power-hungry. The Blessed...

Restoring a Catholic Culture through Liturgical Cooking: Early August Thoughts

I'm currently reading Eternity in Time: Christopher Dawson and the Catholic Idea of History edited by Stratford Caldecott and John Morrill. It is a collection of essays by various authors honoring Christopher Dawson's life and work as a Catholic historian. Throughout the...

Feastday Highlights: The Transfiguration

Interspersed throughout the Season of the Year (Ordinary Time) are feasts of Our Lord that are not directly connected to the Temporal Cycle, but integrated in the Sanctoral Cycle. There are two cycles within the Liturgical Year, Temporal (or Proper of Time) and Sanctoral. The Temporal Cycle...

Sts. Anne and Joachim: Our Family Support

Many years ago as a small infant I became a member of the Catholic Church, baptized as "Jennifer Ann" in St. Anne Catholic Church in Houston, Texas. Being named after the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus always felt as a special privilege. As time has...

St. Benedict's Far-Reaching Impact

After a June full of multiple solemnities, July takes a bit of a respite from multiple high feasts. The Sundays and the two feasts of apostles (Thomas and James) are the highest feast days. The rest of the month sets the rhythm of Tempus per Annum or Season of the Year or Ordinary Time (discussed...

Feastday Highlights: the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

The final weeks of June are full of multiple feasts, including several solemnities. If you are one for adding dessert to celebrate special feast days, this time can be hard on the waistline! We end this week with the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which falls the third Friday after...

Mid-Summer Feasting: The Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist

Merry Christmas! I know it’s not December, but June 24, Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, is often referred to as “Summer Christmas” because it is exactly six months from Christmas. The cult of St. John the Baptist, the Precursor of Christ is very ancient, which...

Feastday Highlights: Corpus Christi

The Thursday (or Sunday in the United States) following the feast of the Holy Trinity is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Latin title Corporis et Sanguinis Christi). This feast is traditionally referred to as Corpus Christi, as there were originally two separate feast days,...

Feastday Highlights: St. Anthony of Padua

June 13th is the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua. Although Portuguese by birth, he is also (unfortunately?) "adopted" by the Italians and a special saint of the Franciscan order. Nicknamed the "Wonder Worker of Padua," St. Anthony is most known for the prayers and miracles...

Return to Tempus Per Annum or Ordinary Time

On Sunday we celebrated the end of the Easter Season with the Solemnity of Pentecost. The reorganization of the Liturgical Calendar in 1969 removed the octave, so the day after Pentecost we entered into Tempus per Annum or Ordinary Time, also known as "Time after Pentecost" in the 1962...

The Solemnity of Pentecost: An Elementary Feast

Since the feast of the Ascension, the Church has been liturgically preparing for Pentecost. The universal Church is back to her regularly scheduled program, with all the Church celebrating the same liturgy, unlike the Ascension week. The Solemnity of Pentecost is the birthday of the...

Feastday Highlights: The Visitation

The Church closes the month dedicated to Our Lady with the Feast of the Visitation falling on the last day of May. This feast celebrates the events described in Luke 1:39-56, with the Blessed Virgin Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth after the Annunciation. The feast arose from medieval times,...

The Hound of Heaven Never Rests

Stories of conversion or reversion to Catholicism are very captivating. I love to read how God works His grace and unfolds His plan; we are seeing the Hound of Heaven in active pursuit. I respect those who make those big leaps of faith and answer God's call. I often wonder if I would be able...

Laying the Foundation: The Little Oratory

The family is the root of society, and a miniature reflection of the Mystical Body, the family of God. We can all agree there is a crumbling of the traditional family. Oftentimes the family is isolated, no longer having the support system of grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins or even...

May: The Month of Mary

I must confess that even though I have been a practicing Catholic all my life, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary has never come easily to me. Growing up our family always practiced devotion to Mary in various ways. We would daily pray five decades of the rosary, wear the Brown Scapular, pray...

Mandatum: Love One Another

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and...

Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches

I don't keep a written bucket list, but I do have a mental list of things I would like to do some day (with most of the restrictions being lack of funds). One item on the list is to travel to Rome with my family. I have been been blessed to have visited Rome twice, the second time with my...

Mid-Lent: Technology Helps To Avoid the Slump

This past Sunday we celebrated Laetare Sunday: “Rejoice, Jerusalem”. We have passed the halfway mark of Lent and closer to the feast of the Resurrection! Only 19 more days in Lent (if you include the Triduum). Gaudete Sunday and Laetare Sunday--these are the "Rose" (or...

Understanding Our Family's High Feasts

The Church just celebrated two solemnities in March within a week of each other, the Solemnity of St. Joseph and the Solemnity of the Annunciation. While there are other solemnities throughout the year, no other part of the Liturgical Year does a solemnity stand out in such marked contrast to the...

The Annunciation and Lent: Celebrating New Life through a Mary Garden

March 25 marks the second solemnity that falls during the Lenten season, the Annunciation of the Lord. God chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, having prepared her without sin to be a worthy vessel for His Son. The angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she shall be the Mother of God. At the moment Mary...

Solemnity of St. Joseph: A Family Celebration

Wednesday, the Solemnity of St Joseph, is always a bright and welcome celebration amidst the penitence of Lent, "Solemnities are counted as the principal days in the calendar." (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar). We put aside our Lenten purple. The priest dons white...

Feastday Highlights: St. Patrick and the Paschal Feast

March 17 is the feast of St. Patrick, and almost everyone knows something about St. Patrick, ranging from some truths, some untruths, some exaggerations and some larger-than-life legends. He wrote very little, and there are prayers attributed to him, such as the Lorica or Deer’s Cry that he...

Lenten Wake-up Call

Plunging into Ash Wednesday with fasting and abstinence is such a "rude" awakening of the senses to Lent. No matter how hard I try to "ease" into fasting, the day is always very difficult. The Ash Wednesday sermon of Pope Francis zings right at the heart of Lent: We are...

Lenten Mnemonics: Keeping our Focus in Lent

It is a late start this year, but Lent will finally begin on March 5. It is less than one week away. I have feelings of both dread and anticipation for this season: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." My first thoughts when I think of this liturgical season: L =...

Lent: A Time of Contemplation for All

Many years ago while I was discerning my life's vocation, I was drawn to the contemplative life, particularly the Poor Clares. So when the nearby Poor Clare convent had a "Come and See" weekend during Lent, I jumped at the opportunity. The invitation said I was to come on Saturday...

Feastday Highlights: February 14, Letters and Love

This morning we awoke to a blanket of snow. While I know much of the country has been digging themselves out all winter, this area rarely gets anything more than a few inches at a time, so a foot of snow is a welcome change. The timing of the snow coincides with the Winter Olympics. Did anyone...

Singing Our Lady's Praises

February 11 is the Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. This feast, established in 1907 by St. Pius X, re-presents the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This is such a pivotal dogma, yet many Catholics struggle to understand this definition and even the whole veneration of Mary. As a...

Conquerors and Martyrs

Today (February 5th) is the Memorial of St. Agatha. The very next day, Feburary 6, the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Paul Miki and companions. Back to back are two memorials of Martyr Saints. St. Agatha is one of the earlier Roman martyrs, who died around 250 A.D. under the Roman...

The Saints: Our Empathetic Brothers and Sisters

Coming in at the heels of Candlemas Day is another feast that again features blessed candles, the optional memorial of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr. This time the candles do not focus on light but on health. Since about the 8th century the Church has blessed throats in honor of St. Blaise asking...

Candlemas: The Feast of Light and Hope

This Sunday, February 2, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, forty days after Christmas. In the 1962 Extraordinary Form Calendar the feast is the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and commonly referred to as Candlemas. In the current calendar this Sunday...

Feastday Highlights: St. Brigid of Ireland, February 1

The General Roman Calendar does not have a saint for February 1st, but in Ireland this is the Feast of St. Brigid, the patroness of Ireland (also referred to as Brigit, Bridget, Brighid, or Bride). St. Brigid and St. Patrick share the honor of planting Christianity deep in the hearts of the...

Feastday Highlights: January Ends with Three Italian Educators

The last week of January in the current Ordinary Form of the Calendar has the unique distinction of celebrating three saints that were both educators and also from neighboring regions of northern Italy. These are saints that the Church holds before us as examples and intercessors for those who are...

Feastday Highlights: Conversion of St. Paul, January 25

After the close of the Christmas season with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the first Feast in Ordinary Time is the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle on January 25. This is a solitary feast of St. Paul compared to the shared solemnity of June 29 with St. Peter. Tradition has that in...

Our Ordinary Walk of Life: Understanding Tempus per Annum

Here’s a bit of Catholic trivia to use at your next Catholic gathering: When is the First Sunday in Ordinary Time? In the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite there is No First Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is usually on Sunday and the following day is the...

Remembering Our Baptism

My husband and I were struck by the theme of Pope Francis' General Audience from January 8: Learn and Celebrate the Day of Your Baptism (complete text here): Baptism is the Sacrament “on which our faith is based, and which grafts us to Christ and His Church, as living members....

Jesus Is the Meaning of Life and History

Around the Christmas tree, the torn wrapping paper has been discarded, replaced by Lego sets in various stages of building. Baby Jesus rests in His manger, the Advent wreath candles have been replaced with red (it's not the liturgical color white, but it's all I could find) and the

Advent Feast: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Marian themes are predominant throughout the liturgy of Advent and Christmas; in fact the whole month of December could be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. But the second week of Advent I always consider the most Marian week, since it usually includes two high feasts of Mary. Both of these...

Collect-ing for Advent

Advent is one of my favorite liturgical seasons. While it is penitential, the element of joyful expectation for Christmas really shines through the tone of the liturgy. It reminds me of the final weeks of gestation, with the anticipation and preparation for the new baby to finally arrive. But...

The End and the Beginning: The Cycle of the Liturgical Year

I love late autumn in Virginia. The seasonal changes are so tangible: colder nights, bare trees, piles of crunchy dead leaves, shorter days, early and longer darkness, and, the biggest contrast to me, the outdoor silence. There are no birds singing, no crickets chirping, no other creatures making...