on the bright side

It is critical in this walk called life to have good ‘first thoughts.’ You need to always start out in a positive frame of mind. If you don’t there will be trouble later, on the other side, during a review of your life (and thoughts). . . . If you want to find favor and peace, get into the habit of making your ‘first thoughts’ positive ones, finding the good, the Godly, the worth, in everyone. Keep trained on that and you will accomplish far more than you ever thought you could. Your spirit, at peace, will know it. You spirit will find rest. When we remove the barrier of negativity, love flows in abundance, and love guides and covers over a multitude of sins. Dislike does the opposite. Criticality reverses the blessing.
Michael Brown

Trust in God

God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission—I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do his work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it, if I do but keep his commandments. Therefore I will trust him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what he is about. He may take away my friends, he may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me, still he knows what he is about.
John Henry Newman

contemplative awareness

Do not let your weakness make you unhappy. When, in the morning, we feel no courage or strength for the practice of virtue, it is really a grace: it is the time to ‘lay the ax to the root of the trees,’ (Matt. 3:10) relying upon Jesus alone. If we fall, an act of love will set all right, and Jesus smiles. He helps us without seeming to do so; and the tears which sinners cause him to shed are wiped away by our feeble love. Love can do all things.
Therese of Lisieux

a quiet meditation

Dear Lord, thank you for another day. May I put you first I pray, and from your guidance may I not stray. To meet your standards and the Ten Commandments obey. To the poor may I pay. To be always grateful for your many blessings I say. For continued good health may it stay okay. In your grace I forever stay. To the devil, say nay, stay away. To all the above may I keep it that way. Again Lord, thank you for another day. Amen
George Tanner

Mary, Mother of God

Heavenly Father, through Mary’s uplifted hands, we come to you with all the needs we have for your mercy. We lay before you the pressing concerns of our loved ones as well as the prayers of the poor and those forgotten by the side of the road. You built a shelter for Jesus in Mary’s womb, and found a shelter for the Holy Family in the outskirts of Bethlehem. We ask you now, through Mary, to show us the warmth of your Fatherly response to all our intentions, and enkindle in the heart of our suffering world your holy gift of peace.
Carmel of Terra Haute
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen
in Latin:

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Nativity of the Lord

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming, from tender stem hath sprung! Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung. It came, a flower bright amid the cold of winter when half spent was the night. Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind. With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind. To show God’s love aright she bore to men a Savior when half spent was the night. This Flower whose fragrance tender, with sweetness fills the air. Dispels with glorious splendor, the darkness everywhere. True man, yet very God from sin and death He saves us and lightens every load. O Savior, child of Mary, who felt our human woe, O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know. Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of heaven and to the endless day!
This Christmas hymn expresses and acknowledges a particular tension we ought to be aware of during the Christmas season. Just as, in the prophecies from Isaiah, a “rose,” or stem, shoots up from the stump, so too do we celebrate Christ’s birth in the knowledge that He brings life out of death. Our celebrations of Christmas must always point us to Easter. We celebrate Christ’s life because His death brings us a new kind of life. So too, the season of Advent points us not only to Christmas, but to the second coming of Christ, when He will finally make all things new. This is a beautiful and peaceful hymn, but there is just a touch of melancholy in the tune. Even in the arrangement the composer was able to convey the tension amidst our celebration, the sorrow that must lie within our rejoicing, if only for a moment. We know what is coming that week before Easter morning, and this should give us reason to pause. But we also know that the tiny babe whose birth we celebrate, our “Rose,” came to “dispel…the darkness everywhere.” Thus, even amid the tension of life out of death, we celebrate the ultimate life we are promised in Christ.
To hear hymn

Charlotte Church: “Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming” (2000 …
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Christmas carols, Advent wreaths, Christmas trees, Midnight Mass, and ginger cookies— Whether they are family or Church customs, the many traditions associated with the Advent and Christmas seasons make these special times of the year for us. One of these ancient traditions is the O Antiphons: seven responses, or antiphons, that are sung or recited to introduce the canticle of Mary (the Magnificat) at evening prayer from December 17 to December 23, the octave before Christmas. These antiphons are based on Isaiah’s prophecies and refer to the different ancient titles given to the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom) See Isaiah 11:2–3; 28:29. O Adonai (O Lord) See Isaiah 11:4–5; 33:22. O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) See Isaiah 1:1; 11:10. O Clavis David (O Key of David) See Isaiah 9:6; 22:22. O Oriens (O Rising Sun) See Isaiah 9:1. O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations) See Isaiah 9:5; 2:4. O Emmanuel (God with us) See Isaiah 7:14. We can bring these responses into our own prayers, as simple reminders throughout the day of the one whose coming we are joyfully expecting, as introductions to our own prayers of praise of Jesus, or as words of thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness throughout the ages and our lives. Regardless of how you incorporate these ancient words into your Advent prayer life, let them speak to you, and maybe they will become part of your family traditions.
Loyola Press
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel. That mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear. O come, thou Rod of Jesse free, thine own from Satan’s tyranny. From depths of hell thy people save, and give them victory o’er the grave. O come, thou Dayspring from on high, and cheer us by thy drawing nigh. Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight. O come, thou Key of David come, and open wide our heav’nly home. Make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery. O come, Adonai Lord of might, who to thy tribes, on Sinai’s height. In ancient times didst give the law, in cloud and majesty and awe. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, shall come to thee, O Israel.


My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world. Who can measure the extent of my goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart. Your misery has disappeared in the depths of my mercy. Do not argue with me about your wretchedness. You will give me pleasure if you hand over to me all your troubles and griefs. I shall heap upon you the treasures of my grace
Diary of Sister Faustina No. 1485


The Advent wreath is part of our long-standing Catholic tradition. However, the actual origins are uncertain. There is evidence of pre-Christian Germanic peoples using wreathes with lit candles during the cold and dark December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended-sunlight days of Spring. In Scandinavia during Winter, lighted candles were placed around a wheel, and prayers were offered to the god of light to turn “the wheel of the earth” back toward the sun to lengthen the days and restore warmth.
By the Middle Ages, the Christians adapted this tradition and used Advent wreathes as part of their spiritual preparation for Christmas. After all, Christ is “the Light that came into the world” to dispel the darkness of sin and to radiate the truth and love of God (cf. John 3:19-21). By 1600, both Catholics and Lutherans had more formal practices surrounding the Advent wreath.
The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. Even these evergreens have a traditional meaning which can be adapted to our faith: The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection.
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.
The light again signifies Christ, the Light of the world. Some modern day adaptions include a white candle placed in the middle of the wreath, which represents Christ and is lit on Christmas Eve. Another tradition is to replace the three purple and one rose candles with four white candles, which will be lit throughout Christmas season.
In family practice, the Advent wreath is most appropriately lit at dinner time after the blessing of the food. A traditional prayer service using the Advent wreath proceeds as follows: On the First Sunday of Advent, the father of the family blesses the wreath, praying: O God, by whose word all things are sanctified, pour forth Thy blessing upon this wreath, and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from Thee abundant graces. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.” He then continues for each of the days of the first week of Advent, O Lord, stir up Thy might, we beg thee, and come, that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and saved by Thy deliverance. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.” The youngest child then lights one purple candle.
During the second week of Advent, the father prays: O Lord, stir up our hearts that we may prepare for Thy only begotten Son, that through His coming we may be made worthy to serve Thee with pure minds. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.” The oldest child then lights the purple candle from the first week plus one more purple candle.
During the third week of Advent, the father prays: O Lord, we beg Thee, incline Thy ear to our prayers and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.” The mother then lights the two previously lit purple candles plus the rose candle.
Finally, the father prays during the fourth week of Advent, O Lord, stir up Thy power, we pray Thee, and come; and with great might help us, that with the help of Thy grace, Thy merciful forgiveness may hasten what our sins impede. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.” The father then lights all of the candles of the wreath.
Since Advent is a time to stir-up our faith in the Lord, the wreath and its prayers provide us a way to augment this special preparation for Christmas. Moreover, this good tradition helps us to remain vigilant in our homes and not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.
Father William Saunders, “The History of the Advent Wreath.” Arlington Catholic Herald


Lutheran pastor Martin Rinckart, served in a German town named Eilenburg that became a refuge for military and political fugitives during the Thirty Years War. Eilenburg became overcrowded with refugees who were victims of famine, and victims of the Black Plague epidemic that arrived in 1637. Pastor Rinckart buried two of the town’s four pastors on the same day and the third one fled to a healthier climate. As the sole remaining pastor, Rinckart conducted as many as forty to fifty funeral services a day, totaling to about 4,480 funerals. While living in this town that was dominated by death, Pastor Rinckart is best known for writing this hymn:
Now thank we all our God with heart and hand and voices, Who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices; Who, from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today. O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us; Preserve us in his grace, and guide us when perplexed, And free us from all ills in this world and the next.
Click on link and listen to hymn
2:26 Lincoln Minster School Choir – Now thank we all our God … donhenri01 YouTube – Sep 24, 2010