The First Sunday of Advent 2008 -- Preparing for Christ's Coming

(Holy Card re-print permission granted from "Holy Cards for Your Inspiration"
http://thewindowshowsitall.blogspot.com )

Hello dear friends in Christ,
The special Advent time of year is here again when we celebrate the preparation of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Advent means "coming".
Jesus tells us (Romans 3:11) to WAKE FROM OUR SLEEP!!! For we FORGET what is the most fundamental reason for our existence: to know, love, honor, obey, and serve God who sent His Son to be born among us, live among us, and teach us how to live as Catholics and Christians.

Additionally, we not only prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth and first coming, but we also continue to ardently prepare for His final coming. I need to constantly ask myself if I am prepared for the second and final advent (coming) of my Father, for when I pass away and for Christ's return at the end of time? I think that I am so far away from being worthy of His coming. I have so many issues and shortcomings to work on. You and I cannot forget that we are all called TO BE SAINTS . . . to be the best that we can be as Catholics, living out our beautiful Faith.

Each of us needs to rid ourselves of those specific issues and shortcomings that we each have to conquer, and we can do so with the help of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. A good examination of conscience each day and for confession would do our souls so much good! We need to have interior purification for the coming of God.

What are the issues and shortcomings that are separating me and you from God? I know that I need to be very strict and scrutinous and dig deep into my heart, mind and soul about whatever behaviors separate me from the Father. This is where some really serious spiritual warfare takes place! Lust of my eyes towards nice things, pride of life's accomplishments (which are truly from God anyway and not me!), selfishness, and more.

When we celebrate our Lords' birth and first coming, and when He returns for His final coming, will you and I have everything in order in our hearts, minds, and souls? Our whole reason for living here on earth and for being is for our constant preparation to see God! It is amazing how many people do not know this!

Jesus said to His Apostles: Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come when the Master of the house will come . . . in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning . . . lest he come suddenly and FIND YOU ASLEEP. And what I say to you I say to all:

Let us remain ready by being more prayerful, more tolerant of our mortifications, and more through in the examination of our consciences, and by engaging in the Sacrament of Penance.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit and our Lady to help us prepare for our Lord's arrival this Advent season and for His final return.

In Jesus precious name, I pray. Amen

Blessings to you this Advent season,

~ Bella
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

We're off to visit our family and will be back to post and chat when we return!


~ Bella
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Keep Our Eyes on Christ Above and Not The Things of This World

Hello dear amici (friends) in Christ,

I have not posted in over a week because it is an incredibly busy time of the year in education before the semester ends in a few weeks. Also, my computer came down with a few flu bugs itself and had to have a few computer doctor house calls to get it well again......make sure your adware and spyware and virus protection software is on and run those checks weekly! What a mess my computer was in!

We all know that the economy is on everyone's minds AROUND THE WORLD now.....what proof that 'no man is an island'!

This week in my little local newspaper was an article written by Jim Mullen in which he compares the real suffering of those who lived through the Great Depression and those of us who are living through this current recession. It really helps you ask yourself, "What truly is SUFFERING?"

In the Great Depression:

  • people had to walk everywhere . . . not take their heated and air conditioned cars with DVD players and navigation systems!
  • people were not in debt up to their eyeballs with home mortgages way beyond the ability to pay with their earnings.
  • people did not drink $5 - 6.00 cups of gourmet coffee!
  • people knew how to 'do it themselves' and did not hire out every service - they painted their homes themselves, repaired their cars, re-used and recycled or went without things, they washed and ironed their own clothes and did not drop clothes off at the dry cleaners, they did not eat out at restaurants, movies were a treat.
  • people did not have cable or satellite services added to their TVs, nor had the added premium channels such as HBO, Showtime, the Disney Channel or Starz.
  • people drove cars and repaired them until they couldn't drive anymore; they didn't buy a new car every 2 years (who started that stupid idea anyway?)
  • people cooked meals at home and did not rely on dining out or purchasing packaged, fast-food, or take-out meals.
  • people gave humble, but love-filled gifts at Christmas, and did not worry about the high priced gifts that are expected by kids today (Wii's, Xbox's) or adults expecting jewelry, vacations, etc.
  • people went to the local parks to play for free and did not go to expensive theme parks (that are also expensive to get to and pay for lodging on top of it all).

So for this year's (and forever hopefully), let's all get REAL around the world ! Truly put Christ back into Christmas and don't make that saying another cliche'.....live our beautiful Catholic faith. What a perfect gift!

Blessings and amore',

~ Bella

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Prayer for Return of Lapsed, Non-Practicing, or Strengthening of Weak Catholic Family Members and / or Friends

Holy Card image reprinted with loving permission from "Holy Cards for Your Inspiration" blog

Dear Lord, Jesus Christ, in your precious name, I pray for the strengthening of the Catholic faith among my two children and for the return to your blessed Church of all lapsed and non-practicing Catholics . . . for the strengthening and/or return of your Catholic flock of sheep to you, our Divine Shepard, and to your divinely ordained Holy Catholic Church.
Dear friends in Christ,
I can't think of anything more important than this issue of fallen away Catholics. How many of us Catholics have drifted away from the Church during our lifetime? Let's be honest now, God knows all. Or maybe you know someone who was baptized Catholic, but is not living the beautiful Catholic Faith.

I must admit to you, that one of my rosary petitions to our Blessed Lady is to strengthen my two adult-children's Catholic faith. Truthfully, I was not raised in a strong Catholic family. As a result, I passed along that which I knew . . . not very much, sadly!!!
I am what is called a "CRADLE CATHOLIC" (the true definition is not something I have right at this point). I was born into an Italian-Catholic family that just sort of went about going through the some (not all) of the motions of being Catholic, but yet I NEVER really KNEW and UNDERSTOOD what this beautiful Catholic faith was really about!
What I have learned about the depths of our beautiful Catholic faith has been moreso on my own through reading Catholic literature and the Catechism, listening to Catholic podcasts during my commute to work, and watching programs on EWTN . . . and yes, of course through the priests at Mass and devout fellow parishioners that I have met along my spiritual journey -- beginning with my first-born child's babysitter (a lady in her 40's)!
Truthfully, what led me to explore the Catholic faith were protestants themselves who challenged me to defend my Catholic faith . . . and do you know what, my friends? I was completely unable to defend it!!! So to my protestant friends who want to convert Catholics to protestantism . . . hey, it is ALL your fault that you challenged me. And I simply cannot thank you enough for leading me to discover this most beautiful faith. I just wish and pray for each of you (yes, I really do pray for your conversion) that you find out someday what you are lacking in your Christian faith and return to the One, True, and beautiful Catholic Faith.

As I was saying, I was unable to defend my faith to my protestant friends, simply because I either did not know or just plain did not remember my Catechism from parochial school. Isn't that just a cryin' shame?
But it was a BLESSING in disguise!
I delved into and poured myself into EVERTHING I could get my hands on, my heart and mind around to learn about this beautiful Catholic faith . . . from EWTN programs such as those about former protestants' JOURNEYS BACK to the Catholic faith, to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to blogs, to podcasts, to books, to the Catholic (and original and TRUE) Bible, and more!
I made this Catholic faith journey as a CHOICE, and away from a "gee, my parents were Catholic, so therefore I'm Catholic" kind of shallow faith level. PRAISE GOD for those protestants who challenged me, because it was they, themselves that led me to FIND, to DISCOVER, and to LOVE, CHERISH, and PRACTICE this beautiful Catholic faith that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ began on earth with the Apostles and his pure, Immaculate Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, followed by the First Catholic Christians, the Popes, and the Doctors of our beautiful Catholic faith.

My dear friends in Christ, here is a prayer that you may wish to add to your prayers for those people that you know and love, who you would like to pray for their strengething, return of, or conversion to the beautiful Catholic faith. This prayer is from Father John Harden's Catholic Prayer Book, 1999.
Return of Lapsed Catholics to the Sacraments
Almighty Father,
. You desire not the death of the sinner, but that he may be converted and live.

Pour out upon us Your mercy and hear the prayers of Your servants.
Soften the hearts of Your children who have strayed from the true path which You established for their salvation.
They are now forgetful of their duties as Catholics,
and pursue the pleasures of the world.
Grant that they may quickly return to the practice of every Christian virtue,
so that their lives may shine with the integrity of faith,
the fervor of piety, and the ardor of charity.
Restore them all to Your sacraments and the life of Your grace,
through the merits of the most precious blood of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

I wish you a most blessed evening wherever you are.

Blessings and amore',

~ Bella

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The Economic Recession Has Hit Us -- God Provides for His Flock

(Permission to re-print Holy Card image from "Holy Cards for Your Inspiration")

Hello dear friends in Christ,

My father told me that he felt that those of us in education were (more) sheltered from the negative impacts of the recession than those who are employed in business and industry. Financially, this is not true at all. Although my husband and I am most fortunate to have good jobs in the field of education (that we love and believe are making contributions to the improvement of people and society), a 5-day cut in pay for all employees at my husband's university has been announced and begins in December until May. There is no word on what will take place next year.
So we'll just cut back on more unnecessary things, that's all. Yes, this is a bummer, and unexpected, as others have been and are feeling at this very moment in the U.S., but things can be so much worse! Our cups are half full and not half empty. We are still blessed with those things from God THAT MATTER!
  • We have God! At all times, we need to deepen our relationship with God, and hopefully this will compel others to do so, along with our own strengthening of our relationship with God.
  • We have His Church and Salvation through His Son!
  • We have our health.
  • We have our shelter, food, water, and heat in the cold months to come.
  • We have each other and our precious family!
  • We have our jobs.
The list is too long for me to mention all of our little blessings.
DON'T LET THE DEVIL STEAL YOUR JOY!!!! Rejoice in the Lord!
Recall in Mark 9:14 - 29 that FAITH is the secret to everything and can move mountains and any obstacle! We need to place our fears in the hands of God. Yes, bad things happen to good people, but our Lord and Heavenly Father give us what we need to deal with and endure through these negative things. And even negative things work out for our own GOOD! The silver lining in the dark cloud! We can all re-think our materialistic values (around the world, not just Americans). We can focus on our needs and not our unnecessary wants! We can extend more compassion towards those with even less than ourselves!
We read also in Matthew 6:25-34
Do not be worried about the food and drink you need in order to stay alive, or about clothes for your body. After all, isn't life worth more than food? And isn't the body worth more than clothes? Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren't you worth much more than birds? Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?
And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. It is God who clothes the wild grass -- grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won't He be all the more sure to clothe you? What little faith you have!
So do not start worrying: "Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes? (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about).
Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things.
Instead be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God
and with what he requires of you, and He will provide you with all these other things.

So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own.

There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.
I hope that you have a blessed day and are enjoying the simple things in life that matter so much! But most especially, I hope you are finding incredible joy in your deepening relationship with God!
~ Bella
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The Canon of Scripture (CCC continued, Article 3, Part IV, p. 34)

Hello dear friends in Christ,

I have not posted on the Catechism of the Catholic Church in a while due to the elections and simply being led to chat about other topics of our Faith.

So I'll just simply pick right back up at the point where I last posted on the CCC.

The Catholic Church alone discerned and discerns which writings are to be INCLUDED in the SACRED BOOKS of the Bible!! THIS COMPLETE LIST IS KNOWN AS THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE. Included are 46 books from the Old Testament and 27 books from the New Testament.

The Old Testament includes the following books:

1 and 2 Samuel
1 and 2 Kings
1 and 2 Chronicles
Ezra an Nehemiah
1 and 2 Maccabes
the Song of Songs
the Wisdom of Solomon
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
Zachariah and Malachi

The New Testament includes the following books:

the Acts of the Apostles
the Letters of St. Paul to the Romans
1 and 2 Corinthians
1 and 2 Thessalonians
1 and 2 Timothy
the Letter to the Hebrews
the Letter of James
1 and 2 Peter
1, 2, and 3 John
Revelation (the Apocalypse)
Until my next post and visit with you,
~ Bella

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God Bless America!

(Holy Card re-print permission granted from "Holy Cards for Your Inspiration"
http://thewindowshowsitall.blogspot.com )

Sweet Jesus,

Bless all of the newly elected leaders

of this great country,

the United States of America.

Guide these men and women

with Your perfect wisdom

and divine will.

In Your precious name, we pray,
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Giving to Others with No Expectations. In Giving We Receive!

Catholics, just like other Christians believe in giving to others out of love for our Heavenly Father, without any expectation of anything in return. We can give not only of our material and financial resources, but also of our works of mercy and our time in service, attention when listening to others, showing respect, sharing joy, showing compassion and understanding, being a companion or friend in times of need, kindness and random acts of kindness, simply smiling and saying 'hello' and 'have a great day!". All of these little things are so easy and yet can really help another out in some way. Whatever each of our talents and gifts that we are blessed with in our lives is that which we need to give to others!

Our Lord teaches us that we should not keep track or calculate how much we give and then expect the same in return. We will receive in ABUNDANCE through the Lord in Heaven!

The more we give, the RICHER in spirit we become, not richer in the pocket. Christ is the reason for our generosity towards others. We may not see the immediate fruits of our giving, but we need to TRUST in the Lord that those fruits will manifest.

Charity is PATIENT; charity knows how to wait says Fernandez in "In Conversation With God". We need to remember the ultimate sacrifice and gift that our Lord gave up for us: His very own life so that we may be forgiven and have eternal life! Nothing we can give will ever equal his generosity! Give completely and selflessly for the Lord alone and not what you think you'll get back in return.

We also need to be cheerful and not resentful when we give (2 Cor 9:7). The Lord delights in those who give with JOY!!!!

With the holidays approaching and the economy so difficult for most of us, lets see how we can lift up our own spirits by remembering that there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, someone who is less fortunate than ourselves and who is in some type of need. Lets give and not worry about what we're going to get in return. Lets make someone's day a little better somehow. If each of us did this, what a better place the world would be in which to live. Indeed, our generosity, charity, and kindness will help others understand our beautiful Catholic faith much better!

I would love it if those of you who are reading this post, would write to me and post a comment as to how you show charity towards others or random acts of kindness. I promise that I'll post them to share with all.

I wish you a beautiful, faith-filled, charitable afternoon,


~ Bella
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