HOME PAGE: Thanksgiving & Advent Special 2016

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Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.

~Pope Francis~

Thanksgiving Day & Advent


This Thanksgiving let those of us who have much and those who have little gather at the welcoming table of the Lord. At this blessed feast, may rich and poor alike remember that we are called to serve one another and to walk together in God’s gracious world. With thankful hearts we praise our God who like a loving parent denies us no good thing.


ADVENT begins November 27, 2016

Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me the joy and love and peace it is right to bring to the manger of my Lord. Raise in me, too, sober reverence for the God who acted there, hearty gratitude for the life begun there, and spirited resolution to serve the Father and Son. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, whose advent I hail.


Did You Know?

That Thanksgiving did not come into existence until 200 years AFTER the event that would define it?

Good News

My Life As A Turkey

After a local farmer left a bowl of eggs on Joe Hutto’s front porch, his life was forever changed. Hutto, possessing a broad background in the natural sciences and an interest in imprinting young animals, incubated the eggs and waited for them to hatch. As the chicks emerged from their shells, they locked eyes with an unusual but dedicated mother. Deep in the wilds of Florida’s Flatlands, Hutto spent each day living as a turkey mother, taking on the full-time job of raising sixteen turkey chicks. (This program originally aired on PBS in 2011, but, is so worth enjoying again at this time)


In the News

The Vatican Christmas Tree 2016

This year’s Christmas tree and Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square will be inaugurated and lit up on December 9th and will highlight several issues such as care for the environment, the sick and migrants. A communique from the governing office of Vatican City said the 25 metre-high spruce tree for 2016 will come from the region of Trentino in northern Italy and when it’s cut down local school students will plant nearly 40 new spruce and larch seedlings in a nearby area to replace trees suffering from a parasite that had to be culled.

It said the tree will be adorned with handmade ornaments featuring drawings made by children undergoing treatment for cancer and other illnesses at several Italian hospitals.


Picture of the Week

The Dukha are a small Turkic community of reindeer herders living in northern Mongolia. Dukha raise their reindeer primarily for milk. Reindeer milk, reindeer yoghurt and reindeer cheese are the staples of the Dukha diet. Only a few reindeer are slaughtered during the year for meat and pelts. The reindeer also provide transportation. Because the taiga area is typically hilly and covered with forest, reindeer are used for riding and as pack animals. They take the Dukha for daily grazing, hunting, the collection of firewood, seasonal migrations, visiting relatives and friends, and traveling to a village for shopping and trade.

Ask Susi

Q: My parish priest told me that “we (meaning the Catholic Church) do not believe that animals go to heaven, because they have no souls.” But, my heart and faith in Jesus tells me otherwise. Is what he said true?

A: This is perhaps the most epic question I am asked, in numerous and varying contexts. Countless books and articles have been given over to the question of animals in heaven and there is the long and short of it, depending on where you really want to go. So, I will answer the initial question, and follow it with an abridged explanation for the positive.


Susi’s Weekly Column

I believe

~by Susi Pittman

America’s Thanksgiving comes but once a year…as Catholics, “thanksgiving” comes at every Mass.


Catholic Journeyman


Part 1 : Son of David; Part 2: A Righteous Man

~by Louis Templeman

Louis has written a 10-Part series upon the greatest “man” to ever serve the Living God! Being obedient to God’s call and embracing in total trust that which he did not understand are the cornerstones in Saint Joseph’s relationship with the Divine as he took upon himself the great calling to protect and care for the Son of God.


Meandering Along the River’s Edge

Banyan, Realm of Celtic Fantasy

~by Virginia Rhys Anson, OFS

Virginia gets her Irish on and presents a lyrical journey into one of natures most magical trees


Weekly Commentary

What are you waiting for? by Father Robert Barron

ADVENT IS THE LITURGICAL SEASON OF VIGILANCE OR, to put it more mundanely, of waiting. During the four weeks prior to Christmas, we light the candles of our Advent wreaths and put ourselves in the spiritual space of the Israelite people who, through many long centuries, waited for the coming of the Messiah (“How long, O Lord?”).


Catholic Writers

Cheryl Dickow

Cheryl Dickow holds a Master’s Degree in Education and combines her faith and degree in her position as President of Bezalel Books. Her book, Miriam: Repentance and Redemption in Rome, has received Honorable Mention for Fiction in 2014 Catholic Press Awards.

At Bezalel Books, Cheryl has provided a platform for many aspiring authors whose works have been recognized from a variety of organizations and prominent voices. Bezalel Books offers a series of women’s inspirational fiction books that includes two of Dickow’s own titles, Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage and Miriam: Repentance and Redemption in Rome.

Cheryl has a Master’s Degree in Education and lives in the beautiful state of Michigan with her husband and three sons. Cheryl is a contributing writer to the “Today’s Catholic – Women in Faith” category at the Integrated Catholic Life.


Recommended Read

Our Jewish Roots  – by Cheryl Dickow

Discover the secrets of true feminine genius through the lives of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary and others. Experience how the lessons from their lives can transform yours! Journey back through time and see how God’s faithful women have come to know, love and serve Him most fully and in that fullness, find true happiness, fulfillment and joy. Come to know how God calls each woman uniquely–and with purpose–and allow your own life’s journey to be enriched by connecting with your past. Understand how the teachings, truths and traditions of the Catholic faith rest so fully in the rich heritage of our Jewish roots.


Catholic Saints

Saint Columban

Quote of the Week

We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.

~ C.S. Lewis ~

Geology & Archaeology

The real story behind Plymouth Rock

The real Plymouth Rock was a boulder about fifteen feet long and three feet wide which lay with its point to the east, thus forming a convenient pier for boats to land during certain hours of tide. This rock is authenticated as the pilgrims’ landing place by the testimony of Elder Faunce who in 1741 at the age of ninety-five was carried in a chair to the rock, that he might pass down to posterity the testimony of pilgrims whom he had personally known on this important matter. There have been doubts hinted about the accuracy of Faunce’s identification, in view of his age and the dates of the landing and his birth, but there is no doubt that he grew up in Plymouth at a time when many of the original passengers were still there. The Pilgrims first landed, however, near the site of modern Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod in November 1620 before moving to Plymouth. The rock is located about 650 feet from where it is generally accepted that the initial settlement was built.

Global Weather

Projection for Winter Season 2016-2017

Get ready for a shift from last year!  For the winter of 2016–2017, we expect temperatures to be much colder than last winter but still above normal. Winter 2017 will also feature below-normal snowfall overall; the snowy exception is the northern tier of the U.S., which can expect to be blanketed in white.



Climate Change: The Case of the Missing Heat

Editorial Note: This article was written in 2014 and presents a chance for comparison to today’s findings.

The biggest mystery in climate science today may have begun, unbeknownst to anybody at the time, with a subtle weakening of the tropical trade winds blowing across the Pacific Ocean in late 1997. These winds normally push sun-baked water towards Indonesia. When they slackened, the warm water sloshed back towards South America, resulting in a spectacular example of a phenomenon known as El Niño. Average global temperatures hit a record high in 1998 — and then the warming stalled.



Having a green Christmas makes all the sense in the world!



REAL Christmas Tree versus FAKE Christmas Tree

How environmentally sustainable is the Christmas tree industry? And how does buying a real tree versus a fake tree affect the environment?re


God’s Green Earth

Winter Snow

Farm News

Christmas Tree Farms of America–Find One Close To You

The Christmas Tree Network is the most complete online directory of retail and wholesale Christmas tree farms in the USA.


Steward Alerts

ADVENT SEASON–United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas).


Steward Activities

Catholic printables for the whole family at Advent–The Catholic Mom

Can you believe it? Advent starts NEXT WEEK…and the Jubilee Year dedicated to the theme of Mercy begins shortly after that, on December 8th! I thought I’d round up my favorite Catholic Printables available right now…in case you can tuck one or two of these in to make this your best family Advent ever!


A Song Before The Lord

Night of Silence


Winter Tomatoes

Just one encounter with a tasteless, artificially ripened, imported winter supermarket tomato makes you want to grow your own tangy, sweet-tasting tomatoes in the off-season. In a good winter, at peak production, a single plant in my window produces a pint of cherry or pear tomatoes every day or two. Here’s how to do this yourself:


Wellness & Nutrition

12 De-stressing tips for the holidays

The most wonderful time of the year, huh? So why do the holidays sometimes feel like a month-long panic attack? “During the holidays, people have such high expectations for things to be perfect,” says Jon Abramowitz, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Clinic at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In other words, we take on too much, then feel anxious and stressed out when reality doesn’t measure up to the flawless fantasy in our heads.



What exactly WAS the Star of Bethlehem?

It might seem churlish to dissect such an enduring image of Christmas as the star of Bethlehem, but a quiet astronomical debate has been bubbling away for decades. Could some real cosmic event have drawn “three wise men” on a journey to find a newborn king?

This debate requires one very big assumption – that the story of the star and the journey is true.

Prof David Hughes, an astronomer from the University of Sheffield, first published a review of the theories on the famous star in the 1970s.

Having spent many years studying the astronomical explanations and reviewing the associated biblical stories, he is now an expert on the subject.

But there are some intriguing historical parallels.





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