This week we celebrate two special days... On January 1 we celebrate The Solemnity of Mary. Listen to the beautiful reflection below and think about how we spread the love of God to others.
Hope you had an amazing celebration of Christmas week... on Sunday-we remember the Epiphany of the Lord!
The dictionary defines Epiphany in literature as when the character has a realization. In this week’s celebration we recall when the 3 Kings had a realization thru a dream to change their course. We too
can experience an Epiphany when we are open to God’s direction in our lives.
Another Tradition connected to the Epiphany of the Lord is a house blessing: They say to put a sign in your doorway representing the visit of the 3 KINGS. 20+c+m+b+21 May God bless your house!
May we always have eyes to see the star and where God may be leading us. We are all like the Kings searching to give our gifts.
For Kids in grades k-4:
We are celebrating two special things this week. First on January 1 it is a special day for the Blessed Mother and then on Sunday we remember the 3 Kings that visited Jesus by following the star.
For kids in grades 5-7 and their families:
January 3 is the Feast of the Epiphany, sometimes called "Three Kings Day," and starts what some consider to be the Season of or after Epiphany, continuing until Ash Wednesday. In some cultures, January 6 is a large and festive end to the Christmas season; a day of presents, parades, and celebration. Epiphany is an invitation to follow stars, listen to dreams, and step out of what we have always known. The Gospel of Matthew tells us this is the day the magi ("kings") arrived in Bethlehem, directed by angels and guided by a star, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus. Gold symbolized Jesus as a king. Frankincense and myrrh are sweet-smelling resins that were burned as sacred offerings and during burials. The magi go home by another road. Little else is known about them, although a robust tradition has grown around them over time, including their number (three) and their names (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar). This holy mystery invites us to wonder who the magi are and how their sacred story intersects with our own. Who or what is leading you to God incarnate? Which stars will you follow this year and what road will you take? What gifts will you offer?
Matthew 2:1-12 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this he was frightened and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem; for it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” They set out and ahead of them went the star they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
On Epiphany, consider participating in an ancient tradition known as "Chalking the Door." This practice consists of marking a blessing in chalk in a specific pattern of letters and numbers, to invite God's blessing on a home, church, or other entryway, and on all who enter its doors during the year. All you need is chalk and a doorway. The markings are usually made above the front door or main entrance, in this pattern:
20 + C + M + B + 21
The numbers change each year to reflect the new calendar year. The letters C, M, and B are given two meanings: the initials of the traditional names of the three magi, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, and the initials of the Latin phrase Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means, “Christ bless this dwelling.” The + signs are for the Cross of Christ. Before, during, or after the chalking of the door, the following prayer might be offered:
O God of Stars and Journeys, we ask your blessing on this threshold. May all whose journeys lead them through these doors be blessed with health, generosity of spirit, a joyful heart, and deep peace. O God of Welcome, may all who enter this doorway rejoice to find Christ living among us, and may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, that same Jesus who is the incarnate Word, now and forever. Amen.
Seeing the symbols over our door during the year remind us, even as life goes back to a regular routine after Christmas, that our homes and all those who dwell there belong to Christ. They are also reminders of the welcome the magi gave to Jesus. Who might we welcome into our hearts this coming year? With time the chalk will fade. As it does, we let the meaning of the written symbols sink into the depths of our hearts and manifest in our words and actions.
O God Among Us, may we be visited by angels, may we follow stars, may we bring the gifts we have to offer. May we embrace the journey and travel in love. May Christ bless our homes and find a home in our hearts throughout the year.
- written by Rev. Jennifer McNally, Family ministries at St. Ann’s in Minnosota
For youth in grades 8-12 and their families:
Merry Christmas! This week we celebrate Christmas on Friday and on Sunday the Holy Family!! So much to be thankful for as we remember kept promises! God is with us!
For Family all ages and people not necessarily related by blood!
For younger children especially- One of my family’s favorite on Christmas Eve was to read “ Timmy’s gift” ...here it is in a video and there are lessons for all ages. We also read the scriptures on the the Nativity. My parents had a really great Bible that had pictures of the actual places things happened. Look for Bethlehem on a map as well. Trace their steps from Nazareth. In the second video you can see the ACTUAL places where shepherds kept watch and where Jesus was born!!
Now let’s journey to the real place the Nativity story unfolds....
On Sunday we celebrate the Holy Family. The Holy Family give us something to strive for. I think even the Holy family had their moments. God asks that when we fall, we get back up and do the best we can. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some families are formed by friendship. We are all family as children of God.
In closing..... One of my favorite songs that fits every season is from Matt Maher and is my prayer for each person .
We made it to the Fourth Week of ADVENT. Christmas is right around the corner. Is our heart and home ready to receive Jesus? Have we made room for him in our hearts?
Did you know that it was St Francis of Assisi that gave us the tradition of setting up a Nativity scene? Have you stopped by the church to view our Nativity scene? Do you have one in your home.
When my children were very young they loved Legos . Part of our family’s tradition was for my son and daughter to build the stable for our nativity scene. I had very inexpensive figures for the holy family so it would be okay for the kids to play out the scene. They would work together to build it and place the people inside and we would talk about it. What are some of your family’s traditions?
Below is a clip explaining what the first Nativity scene was like as St. Francis brought it to tradition and why this is a very important visualization.
Where do you go to find peace and prayer? How can we make sure the door will be open when God arrives?
This past week, Pope Francis has declared 2021 to be dedicated to St Joseph. The song below is one of my favorites imagining what St. Jospeh was thinking when Jesus was a baby.
For Kids in grades k-4 and their families:
What are ways your family keeps Jesus as the true meaning for the season? What TV specials do watch together? One of my favorites is the Little Drummer Boy. What are some of your family’s favorite traditions?
What will you give him?
For kids in grades 5-7 and their families:
Did you know that the Blessed Mother Mary was only a young teenager.... probably around 13-14years old? Can you imagine being her when the Angel visits to tell her about God’s special plan? She said,” YES” to cooperate with the plan. She may not have understood everything but she trusted. What would you do?
God has given us all a special plan for our life? Do we take time to listen to the ways God lets us know which direction is best for is to go? Ask GOD to help you find your special part to play in building HIS kingdom.
For Youth in grades 8-12 and their families:
How has ADVENT been going for you? This week we focus on the Blessed Mother’s “ yes” to God. How often to do we say “ yes” to God.
How often to we put trust in God even when we are not understanding the plan exactly?
Make sure you make room. Pray with me.
Welcome to the Third Week of ADVENT otherwise known as Gaudete Sunday or Rejoice Sunday! We light the PINK candle. What feelings does the color pink envoke in you?
December 12 , we also celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe! What a special miracle that the Blessed Mother has left for us as a sign of her love and care.
Family Fun with purpose: Crank up your inspirational Christmas tunes and make some cards or gifts for Nursing homes or neighbors in need of Christmas JOY!
For kids in grades k-3 and their families: Who is John? What did he do? What was his message?
Don’t forget to light your pink candle on your advent wreath! We are celebrating “ Rejoice” Sunday!!
One other specila day we remember on DECEMBER 12 is the feast of of Lady of Guadalupe! The blessed Mother appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico and left us with miracles. Please click on the link beliw to hear this amazing TRUE Story!
If you are looking for an amazing family movie to watch about another time when the Blessed MOTHER appeared to three children, please watch “ Fatima” . This is also a true story that keeps blessing us!! Break out the popcorn and curl up in a blanket and be blessed.
For children in grades 4-7 and their families:
This week we learn more about John the Baptist and we also light the third “ Pink” candle on the advent wreath!! This is known as Gaudete Sunday . This means “ Rejoice” in latin. We are getting closer to Christmas!!
There are many Saints we celebrate during ADVENT TO LEARN ABOUT! A holy challenge for you is to do google the Saints and draw a picture... We have the Blessed Mother, St Lucy, and St Nicholas to name a few.
For youth in grades 8-12: Get your JOY ON- it is Gaudete Sunday!!
What is real joy? Hint it is different than happiness... see last week’s Fr. Mike video.
Miracles happen everywhere if you look. We celebrate an ongoing miracle on December 12 in the feast day of Our LADY OF Guadalupe. It is the TRUE Story Of when our Blessed Mother appeared in Mexico to Juan Diego. She left a miracle that has been blessing people ever since. If you find that interesting.... watch the movie “Fatima” it was recently released. See the trailer link above.
At the close of this blog for this week.. I am
posting a song that is not your typical Christmas song but has always touched my heart with it’s message. We seem to always focus on doing good during certain times of year when really we are called all thru the year to help others.
Here we are already to prepare for the second week in Advent! I hope you are making a plan and checking it twice on how best to spend this period of Advent 2020. I pray that we all use this time wisely. This week’s Gospel is focused on John the baptist. He was spreading the message for all to “ Prepare the way”.How are we doing so far... preparing the way? What are the delays and stumbling blocks in our way to the Lord. It will be a different answer for everyone. This week... let’s pray that whatever is blocking us from being ready or tripping us up , that God either uses it for a purpose or he helps us clear the path.
This week’s prayer focus: Show me what needs to be done to be ready. Help me focus on all the right things. AMEN
For Dec. 8- Feast of the Immaculate Conception
We celebrate and honor the fact that the Blessed Mother was conceived without sin. Many people misunderstand this day and think that it is about the Conception of Jesus. This day is about Mary. It is about God’s plan from the very beginning of Mary’s life- her conception!
Family Challenge: Draw Mary and Jesus
Another good challenge is to save money and give to our giving tree at St Francis Xavier! We are doing things differently this year.. you can mail in donation to C/o Chris Grenier, 1 elm street, New Milford, CT 06776. Check is to SFX and memo to Martha and Mary Fund. Due to safety ,gift cards will be purchased with funds raised. Let’s lift the spirits of someone struggling and please donate! Make it a family project! Call the office if you have questions. 860-354-2202.
For kids in grades k-4 and their families:
What are 2 things you think you need to do to get ready for Jesus? What things are your family working on to prepare?
For kids in grades 5-7 and their families:
The Gospel this week:
For Youth grades 8-12 and their families:
Things that you can ponder in your heart-
Has anyone made their own advent calendar? What kinds of things to you do for each day? How is your ADVENT going? How can this Advent change your life and strengthen your faith?