A blessed Advent to you all!
For a very special Advent treat, I’d like to introduce you to a young man who is one of the greatest Pro-Life advocates in the world, just by virtue of the incredible life he leads. Intellectually disabled from birth, Daniel Smrokowski is not letting anything stop him. His faith is amazing and such a testament to God’s grace in suffering. A college student and radio host, Daniel is also the host of Special Chronicles, the podcast that is doing great work in encouraging respect and understanding for the intellectually disabled among us. Be inspired, check out his interview with Amazing Catechists and his great new website! Questions for Daniel? Contact him directly! To listen to this interview, click here.
I’d also like to invite you to read a testimony of great importance. Barbara Kirkwood’s daughter married a lovely young man from another Christian faith, and eventually left the Catholic Church to join his. This short interview will show you just how powerful God’s grace is, saving one of His lost sheep by sparking in her a great hunger for the Holy Eucharist. Encouraging reading for all of us with family members who have stopped practicing their faith!
I’m just thrilled to announce that our Fan Page on Facebook is now being managed by the award-winning Catholic novelist and publisher, Ellen Gable Hrkach. What a gift she is to us! Ellen is our NFP/Chastity columnist here at Amazing Catechists, and we’re so grateful that she’s willing to take on this important duty. She’ll be posting all our late-breaking news, great original cartoons, and running giveaways of books authored by some of our contributors. You won’t want to miss it! Pop over and “Like” Amazing Catechists on Facebook so you can be kept up to date! Ellen will be giving away some terrific goodies between December 10th and December 15th in plenty of time for Christmas gift-giving. She has also reviewed a wonderful new Advent book by Kathleen Basi, called, “Joy to the World.”
Gifts! Oh, the pressure! We’re making our lists and cross-referencing and price-checking and…
But look around you. There are gifts of every sort in our lives, so many they are hard to count. We are so blessed to be Catholics; so blessed to know and love Jesus Christ in His Church; so blessed to have the sacraments and the Magisterium to guide us; so blessed to be surrounded by others who love the Faith and teach it, sacrificing much to spread His light in a dark world. Even our many sufferings become gifts rich in graces when offered to our tender Lord with confidence in His love.
We are so blessed to be counted among God’s children… to be on His list.
A friend of mine teaches her children to write Christmas lists that show everything they plan to give, not what they plan to receive. I think that’s amazing. It’s simple, profound, and right on target. Shouldn’t we be looking around at the needs of others and asking, “What does Jesus want for His birthday?”
I’d like to recommend some resources that I feel certain will help you answer that question. It’s really my wish-list for all the goodies I wish I were rich enough to send out to all our readers and all those who desire a closer, more rewarding relationship with Our Lord. Many of these resources have come to me during a time in which my deepest desire has been to sit at the feet of Christ and just gaze at Him, to get to know Him better in tangible ways. The longing just grows deeper and deeper, inspired by these amazing resources*:
Divine Mercy Readings [CD], by Inter-missions. Do NOT miss this incredible dramatization with music of much of the Diary of St. Faustina and the conversations she had with Jesus Christ. It is one of the single most beautiful things I have ever heard. Go to the website to listen to some free samples.
The Healing Prophet: Father Solanus Casey [DVD], by Audrey Geyer and Kevin Lindenmuth. A gorgeous, detailed look at the life of a holy priest who was able to predict the future and cause miraculous cures; includes moving interviews with those who knew him.
Thirty-Day Devotions for the Holy Souls, by Susan Tassone. Yes, with the end of November, the traditional time for these readings is past, but they are short and so powerful. Try them any time of year.
God is Love: Deus Caritas Est, by Pope Benedict XVI. Deep, readable, incredibly beautiful. You want a heart on fire for Jesus? Slowly read this holy encyclical. Also available free online .
The Joy of Knowing Christ: Meditations on the Gospels, by Pope Benedict XVI. St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” One brief, but illuminating homily a day takes you through 55 New Testament readings. Draw near to Christ with our Holy Father. A genuine delight.
Take Five: Meditations With John Henry Newman, by Mike Aquilina and Father Juan R. Vélez. Concise and inspiring, this small guide gives you a soul-shining thought to contemplate throughout each day. Short format is great for busy Catholics. Here’s a special sneak preview of next month’s spotlight interview with Fr. Juan. Enjoy!
A Catholic Woman’s Book of Prayers, by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle. Packed with wisdom and a deep understanding of the hearts of women, this small volume is a delight. Quotes from John Paul II, Mother Teresa, saints, scripture, and more, support very brief prayers and meditations on the lives of women in relationship to God’s purpose. Lavish this little gem on any woman who needs a lift.
The Amazing Secret of the Souls in Purgatory, by Sister Emmanuel of Medjugorje. An in-depth interview with Austrian mystic, Maria Simma, who actually communicates with the Holy Souls in purgatory. Pretty amazing.
The Magnificat Rosary Companion, edited by Father Peter John Cameron. Beautiful artwork, phenomenally insightful, brief meditations. I’ve had it for years and it’s still my favorite Rosary booklet. Probably the best stocking-stuffer available!
Introducing Trebelina [DVD] by the Cristofori Baby Company. This is the little DVD that roared, inviting babies and toddlers into the world of music theory through inventive and charming animated characters. This makes my list because it reminds us that everything beautiful points to God, and a love of music is a great gift for any child.
Check out this list, created by author and publisher Cheryl Dickow. It’s got some wonderful recommendations, especially for children.
I’ll bet lots of you have great ideas for helping your students find the best in themselves and connect with the real focus of our faith in Jesus Christ, especially at this time of year. I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line and I’ll share your stories, ideas, and teaching tips. Pop over to my new weekly catechetics column at Patheos.com, too. I’ve got some great Advent crafts for you. [If you previously signed up for my RSS feed, please re-subscribe; the site had a glitch and the feeds were lost. Thanks!]
And remember, Jesus is making a list… and you’re on it!
Sincerely in Christ,
Founder, Amazing Catechists TM
Author, “Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children”
Available from Our Sunday Visitor
* Neither I nor Amazing Catechists benefits from your purchases. These are just a few of my favorite things! I hope you enjoy them.
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