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My older brother caused quite a stir on Facebook this week when he posted a meme of Pope Benedict with the quote: Dancing is not a form of expression for Christian liturgy … None of the Christian rites includes dancing – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (future [Pope] Benedict XVI.

Immediately, the non-Catholic Christian Facebook community took my brother to task and began quoting 2 Samuel 6:14-22 and Psalm 150 from the Old Testament.

First, let me just say that this blog and my books always try to focus on the positive.

However, when people attack my Faith, I get a bit defensive and sadly may appear to sound negative when countering false statements. That is not my intent. My intention is always to try to shed light on the subject in the hopes that this correction will lead to Christian Unity if not in the form of praise and worship, at least in love and respect.

Here’s a short list of my past works in apologetics, for lack of a better word:

Let me begin by saying that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI was one of God’s most humble creations. Based on his works, I believe that he also stands with Aquinus and Augustine as one of the Creator’s most significant Christian minds.

To think that he was unaware of 2 Samuel or any of the Psalms reminds me of two of the most telling words in scripture, Ecce Homo; the words Pontius Pilate ignorantly used, according to the Gospel of John, to present the King of Kings to an unenlightened crowd.

Second, it literally perplexes me how uneducated Christians are when it comes to the rituals and practices of fellow Christians. Aren’t we brothers and sisters? Shouldn’t we be interested in how each other loves and praises our Father? Matt Pratt and Matt Whitman offer the best example of this curiosity for mutual understanding that I’ve seen. (Watch: A Catholic and a Protestant Walk Into a Bar.)

Instead, we bicker and feud like the sons of Jacob and the latter Tribes of Israel and have become more like the Judahs and Samaritinas than members of the body of Christ.

In 2 Samuel, David’s dancing was a spontaneous, expression of joy — much different than the kind of choreographed dancing for which Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was expressing his disdain. Second, when it came to how David worshipped God, let me draw your attention to 2 Samuel 6:17.

And they brought the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle, which David had pitched for it: and David offered holocausts, and peace offerings before the Lord.

Notice, in 2 Samuel 6:17, that David was no longer leaping and dancing when he was in the great tent, known as the tabernacle.

I won’t bore you with all the particulars of the tent known as the Tabernacle or the Mishkan in Hebrew, except to point your attention to a part of the Mishkan known as the Holy of Holies, the inner room. The Holy of Holies was the actual dwelling place of the God of Israel, who sat invisibly enthroned above a solid slab of gold that rested on the Ark of the Covenant.

Every Catholic Church, no matter the Rite, has a re-creation of the Holy of Holies, a place where the Tabernacle rests. As in the true Holy of Holies, in our Tabernacle, Our Lord presides in the form of consecrated bread, which we call the Real Presence.  Now, I’m not asking you to believe it. I’m just asking you to respect what we believe.

Sadly, because of poor catechism over the last 40-50 years, many Catholics today don’t understand this teaching either; and because of this, a great many Catholics no longer believe in the Eucharistic teaching that is called the source and summit of our Faith. (That’s a story for another day.)

Are you still with me?  Good!  Let’s continue…

The Liturgy of the Catholic Latin Rite, which many call Roman Rite or Roman Catholicism, is broken into two parts: The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Biblical references in the Mass are too many to number, so I’ll just put a link to the references here.  Here’s a link to the percentage of the Bible in the Lectionary, our Reading.

So, to say we are not a Bible-based Church is just a lark.

When one looks at the Liturgy of the Word, one will see Catholics do what we do because the Bible tells us so.  To show this, I’ll use the Gospel of Luke 4:16-20.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus reads from the book of Isaiah. So, just like Jesus, we read from Scripture.

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.

Notice, no dancing.

In the Catholic Latin Rite, after the Gospel is read, the priest sits down and the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins. What does Luke tell us about how this originally took place?

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

In fact, at every Mass, the priest says those same words — and we do exactly as Christ instructed, in remembrance of him. Notice again, there was no dancing at the Last Supper. Next, the priest prays at the altar, as the congregation prays along silently. Again, Luke explains what happened next.

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly….

Sadly, I’m sure there are some in the pews who have fallen asleep or even would betray Christ. But there we are, praying and still not dancing.

Finally, the Priest lifts up the Eucharist.

46 When he had said this, he breathed his last … 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

If that’s not evidence enough, one could argue that the complete trip to Emmaus was a Mass.

On the Road to Emmaus

Again, the Catholic Rites, of which there are over 20, start with the Liturgy of the Word.

 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Catholics read all the Scriptures concerning Him. In fact, if you attend Mass every Sunday for three years, you’ll hear all four Gospels. Can you say that about your worship services? Hopefully, you can. Along with the Gospel is an Old Testament reading that foreshadows the events in the Gospel — just like the Risen Lord did on the Road to Emmaus.

Again, after the readings, Catholics move on to the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Finally, the priest then gives us a blessing by invoking the Sign of the Cross (the Trinity) and finally, we come to the words, Ite Missa est.” These words are rendered most literally as, “Go forth, the Mass is ended.

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

The Latin word “Missa” is the origin of the English word “Mass,” and it carries the sense of mission. (Maybe, that’s why non-Catholic Christians called their gatherings a “service”?) It’s our mission to tell others about Jesus, the Risen King!

Here’s where we can now go forth to sing and dance, showing our joy for Christ to the world. In fact, I belonged to a Catholic Church in California that did just that! After Mass, we all went outside and continued to sing and praise the Lord.

Finally, all this is recorded clearly in early Christian texts. A first-century convert, St. Justin Martyr wrote this about traditional Christian worship.

Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands.

And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to ge’noito [so be it].

And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.

Finally, he wrote this about the Bread and Wine, what we call the Eucharist.

And this food is called among us Eucharistia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.

For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.” – (First Apology, 66)

It’s with humility that we worship our Lord as He himself worshipped and as, we believe, He taught the Apostles to worship. We have this understanding based on the writings of those early Christians, such as our brother Justin, who received our Faith directly from the Apostles.

Who are we to deviate from that?

Maybe you are called to worship as you wish? I am not that bold. Until I am, I will humbly worship the way that was passed down to me, through the centuries, by great men and women who intimately knew the Apostles and Our Lord and was preserved through the millennia by such reverent, and holy people as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who humbly became Pope Benedict XVI.

God bless and go forth to love and serve the Lord.

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James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the SoulThe Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James’s appearances include Newsweek, The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

Photo: Ghirella Rosary on Jonathon Roumie’s Facebook page.

In our family, we have a new weekly tradition. We gather for the Rosary and after our prayers, we watch the next version of The Chosen. Immediately, my youngest started calling it “The Chosary.”

First, the Rosary is more than just a series of rote prayers. It is a meditation on the Divine Mysterious of Our Lord.

Depending on what day you watch the latest episode, you journey through the Joyous, Glorious, Luminous, or Sorrowful Mysteries, reflecting on the life and times of Jesus.

The Rosaries and The Chosen go perfectly together. You can also mix it up like we do.

Sometimes we pray the Rosary ourselves, where each person in our family circle prays a decade, and our children alternate reading one of the five Mysteries. Or we pray along with someone reciting the Rosary online. For example, we sometimes pray as we watch The Rosary by Bishop Barron. (My personal favorite.)

Not only is Bishop Barron reverent as he prays, but his sermons on the Mysteries are also a mini-catechism. Further, as Bishop Barron recites the next decade of prayers, the TV screen is filled with a montage of artwork, all focusing on the specific mystery — a storyboard, if you will, of that Divine and Holy scene.

Much like Dallas, you will see how artists for centuries have been trying to interpret the life of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all the chosen!

There are other online options besides Bishop Barron. You can pray The Rosary with Jonathon Roumie, the actor who plays Jesus on The Chosen. (But of course, you know who he is.) There’s also the Divine Mercy Chaplet Rosary.

Again, you can pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet along with Jonathon Roumie.

Here’s a Divine Mercy Chaplet with great imagery of Jesus’s Passion. If you only have a few minutes before the episode begins, here are two DM chaplets that are less than 10 minutes. (One is by the Franciscan Friars. The other is by Ascension Press.) Finally, if you’re looking for a Gregorian-style Divine Mercy Chaplet, may I recommend this one done by one of our local parish priests.

No matter what you choose, praying the Rosary quiets our minds and perfectly prepares our souls to be focused on the next episode of The Chosen.

So, this week, join me and my family in “The Chosary”.

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James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the SoulThe Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James’s appearances include Newsweek, The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, Megyn Kelly, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

Photo credit: By Kancelaria Prezydenta RP – prezydent.pl, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11813191

It’s not constant, but this week we’ve kept ETWN on in our home to watch the coverage of the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict.

Last night, before grace, we prayed for the repose of his soul with little doubt that this philosopher-king has been granted entry into the Eternal. After we prayed, I couldn’t help to notice how different things were this time.

I’ve lived through the passing of four Popes: Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and now Pope Benedict. The difference now, however, is the absence of anticipation of who will be Peter’s successor.

I’m not saying that’s good or bad. Just different.

I remember crying after hearing that Pope John Paul II died. His papacy had such an impact on my life. Maybe that’s why I cried? But I also felt a paternal loss. I cried at the passing of my hometown parish priest, Monsignor James McDonald, and I cried again, recently, when our present parish priest, Fr. Tom Morrette, announced that he was being transferred.

Each time, I felt like my dad had died all over again. However, I didn’t cry when I heard the news about Pope Benedict’s death. As much as I was connected with Pope John Paul II and the other two priests, I identified more with Pope Benedict.

An avid reader of all things Catholic, I felt a much greater connection to the works of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger than the writings of Saint John Paul the Great, which greatly inspired me. And while the election of Pope John Paul II surprised and captivated me (along with the rest of the world), I felt so connected to Cardinal Ratzinger that I predicted his election as Pope and subsequently, defended him throughout his papacy — though he truly needed no defending.

Yet, even though I feel like we have suffered a great loss with his passing, I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry and haven’t cried because I am still torn over the fact that he resigned.

I understand that he was wanting to retire before his election as Holy Father and that, he felt that was getting too old to continue as Pope. Maybe, if I am blessed with old age, and make it to 85, I’ll have a stronger understanding. But right now, I don’t.

Let me make it clear. I’m not judging Pope Benedict XVI. I’m just torn.

Should the successor of Peter be allowed to quit? Priests and bishops are required to retire. Why not Popes?

According to news reports, Pope Francis has a letter of resignation prepared. This is not a Benedictine trend continued by Pope Francis. Pope Paul also had one as did Pope Pius VII and Pius XXII, both were concerned about being kidnapped; and Pope John Paul II wrote two. [1]

The Apostle John, who according to St. Epiphanius lived to 94, appeared to pass the reigns to his successors in his old age.

St. Jerome handed down the story that when Saint John “was no longer able to preach or make long discourses to the people, he used always to be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words, ‘My dear children, love one another‘.”

Though not the Pope at the time, the office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head. (CCC 1444). So, passing on the keys has to fall under Apostolic Tradition?

So then, what present-day lesson are we supposed to take from this “new” tradition in the reign of Peter? Always the teacher, with Joseph Ratzinger, there always is a lesson somewhere. What is it?

Has he prepared us for a world where the position of the Holy Father is fraught with danger? Where the concern of kidnapping that Popes Pius VII, XXII, and maybe even John Paul II felt become real and possibly constant? Or maybe it’s something simpler? Something paternal and not so apocalyptic?

Fathers, in many of our child-like eyes, appear somewhat invincible like kings who reign mightily until the end.

However, a father’s job is actually a short-lived task. It is to raise strong, faithful Christians and prepare them for adulthood. Most dads, though available when needed, inwardly hope for an early retirement. One enjoyed in comfort with their beloved spouse. He is not a King. For that matter, either is the Pope. He’s a Prime Minister at best.

There is only one True Father and one Reigning King, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

That being the case, then our dearly departed brother Joseph and spiritual father and teacher, Benedict, has carried out his role as Holy Father faithfully and was greeted at the Gate of St. Peter with the heavenly proclamation we all long to hear, “Well done, Faithful Servant.”

So then, why am I still torn? Maybe, just maybe, I’m not ready to cry again.

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James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the SoulThe Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James’s appearances include Newsweek, The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, Megyn Kelly, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

Photo by jeffeson Deshommes on Pexels.com

It’s New Year’s Day and social media is overflowing with posts about fresh starts. Well, if you’re a follower of this blog or have read my book, Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, I’m living proof that anyone can make a fresh start — over and over.

It’s all about having enough Faith to know that all is going to work out as planned. It just might not be your plan. Having the right person at your side sure is helpful.

You see, life is like a whitewater rafting trip. There’s the preparation. The anticipation. The excitement of the unknown. Once you’re in the water, however, there’s no turning back.

As in life, you go from calm to rapids to calm, again and again. Along the way, there’s laughter and screams — much like a rollercoaster ride. However, with a rollercoaster, you can see the challenge before it starts and for the most part, you see what’s up ahead.

Photo by Hilmi Iu015fu0131lak on Pexels.com

Not so with whitewater rafting. Trees, rocks, and bends often block your view as you edge forward.

Try as you might, you’re still going to hit rocks along the way. The key to success is to wear a life jacket, listen to your guide, and stay in the raft.

So, if you’re hesitant about starting anew, go on a Whitewater rafting trip.

It all makes sense when you make Jesus your life jacket, the Holy Spirit your guide, and the Church your raft. And if you allow it to work out as God planned, the Father will greet you at the shore along with the warmth of a campfire at the end.

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James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James’s appearances include Newsweek, The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and Megyn Kelly and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

Photo by Chris Duan on Pexels.com

Full disclosure, when I received a list of questions from my friend (and publicist) Mark Goldman, I didn’t think Newsweek would choose any of my replies. Much to my surprise, they did. In fact, I was one of only two Christian authors for this article: Should Christians Watch ‘Yellowstone?’ Religious Authors Weigh In.

Out of respect for Newsweek, I’ll just post the link to the article here. At a later date, I’ll update this post with all the questions and every one of my responses.

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James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James’s appearances include Newsweek, The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and Megyn Kelly and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

December is a great time of year. It also brings us the celebration of Advent, a time to prepare for the birth of Our Lord.

Along with Thanksgiving, Advent is sadly becoming all but a forgotten celebration. What better way to revive Advent and prepare “The Way” than with mini-celebrations as we go forth. It is also a great Catechism, as well as a trip around the World!

Here’s a short list of saintly meals to put the focus back on Advent.

December 5: Saint Nicholas Day Eve

No saint captures the Spirit of Christmas more than St. Nicholas. So, on the Eve of his Feast Day, read a short story to your children about the legend of Old Saint Nick. The St. Nicholas Center is a great resource. Then, before getting nestled in bed, have your kids put their shoes outside their bedroom door to be filled with gold chocolate coins, a candy cane, and an orange or tangerine.

December 6: Saint Nicholas Day

Last night, we had a debate at the dinner table on the BEST way to celebrate St. Nicholas Day. You can choose something more traditional. According to Mango, a traditional table might have Bishop’s wine, bread, St. Nicholas-shaped cookies, and a special main dish reserved for the holiday. In France, that might be pork with mustard and apples. In Germany, you might enjoy Pfannkuchen, or German pancakes. Around the world, there are traditional St. Nicholas pizzas, soups, and pastries.

Since he was the Bishop of Myra, one of my boys asked Alexa for a list of foods eaten in present-day Turkey. You can serve Shish Kebab, Roast Lamb, and White Bean Stew; the list goes on and on. I voted for something personally more cultural, like my grandmother’s Potato Pancakes.

Desserts for Saint Nicholas Day abound. As in my house, Alexa is all too willing to help. You can also go to the Catholic Digest for their list of St. Nicholas cookies like these and also these from Catholic Cuisine. Or celebrate with a fantastic breakfast featuring St. Nicholas pancakes or a cherry cheese coffee cake in the shape of a candy cane. St. Nicholas strawberries are a great treat

Here’s another great list of traditional desserts from the Saint Nicholas Center, including this Biloxi, Mississippi tradition called the St. Nicholas String.

December 8: Immaculate Conception

Taylor Marshall suggested “White food. Our Lady is without stain of sin. She is all pure.” Some meal suggestions: spaghetti with white sauce, chicken breasts, or my favorite Baked Halibut. Or you can just keep it simple with a white cake dessert after dinner or some vanilla ice cream.

December 9: San Juan Diego

You can start preparing the Feast of Our Lady pf Guadalupe on this Feast day. You can begin by buying a bouquet of roses. (Gents, this is a perfect gift for your wife!) It’s also a great way to recall the miracle of the tilma and Our Lady. As you plan for the Feast of Our Lady, you can honor San Juan Diego by enjoying some Xocolatl (Aztec Chocolate). If you want to take a deep dive into this feast, you can purchase the book “Amazing Aztec Recipes: A Complete Cookbook of Native Mexican Dish Ideas!

December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Catholic Cuisine has a lot of great ideas for this Fiesta! So go there and learn more. In our household, we stick with tacos served with Catholic Cuisine’s “A Woman Clothed In Sun” Taco Dip!

Here are other great recipes, as well.

December 13: Saint Lucia

Many of us know the song “Sanka Lucia” which says Christmas lasts until Easter. (Now, you have a faith-based excuse for not taking down your outdoor Christmas lights until March or April.) The Swedish celebration focuses on service. Though in the past, the Feast of Saint Lucia focused on the eldest daughter serving the family. Today is the perfect day to put Mom first — at least in the morning — by getting her morning coffee prepared. Thought the Swedes usually serve coffee and baked goods, such as saffron bread (lussekatter) and ginger biscuits. The s-shaped Stella D’ora Breakfast Treats seem to be the perfect substitute! The

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Though many associate St. Lucia with Sweden, she was born in Sicily. Sicilians celebrate St. Lucia Day, as they celebrate most feasts — large! Folks in Palmero also practice a somewhat somber devotional on December 13. According to Scent of Sicily, in Palermo though the day of Saint Lucy is related to another tradition: every 13th of December everything the locals eat according to the tradition is rice, actually, a special street food prepared with rice, that has become famous all over the world: the arancina. In 1646 Palermo had been hit by an awful famine, on December 13 a bunch of fishermen was praying, asking for the intercession of Saint Lucy, when something happened: a big ship full of corn arrived unexpectedly at the port of the city saving people from certain death. Since then, Saint Lucy Day has been celebrated every year on that day avoiding eating pasta and bread. The tradition of eating corn and rice changed over the years, and at some point, arancina came in. Arancinas are delicious rice balls, fried and usually filled with two typical dressings: butter, mozzarella, and ham (Arancina al burro) or rough Bolognese sauce (Arancina alla carne).

4-formaggi

December 21: St. Thomas the Apostle (Old Calendar)

Here’s another Taylor Marshall suggestion: Since Saint Thomas is the patron of India, it’s a perfect time to eat Indian food. Saint Thomas’ feast was moved to July 3 on the Ordinary Novus Ordo calendar. However, the Latin Mass calendar remembers Saint Thomas on this day. So, if you need an excuse to eat Indian food and you want to feel a little nostalgic (or rebellious), explore Indian cuisine. You can stay at home or go to your local Indian restaurant.

Channukah

We also light the menorah in our household in December. It’s a great way to connect with our Jewish Roots of the Faith and to share the story of the Festival of Lamps or Lights. The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees, which describe in detail the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the lighting of the menorah, making it a very Catholic story, as well. So, spin a dreidel, enjoy some halvah, and sit back and do as I do — watch the classic movie musical “Fiddle on the Roof.”

Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com

You can do all of these, just one, or nothing at all. The choice is yours. In trying to decide what works for you, remember to only do that which brings you closer to Our Lord! Special thanks to all the helpful Catholic blogs out there that are trying to keep our traditions alive.

Here’s a great video to watch if you want some more Advent Traditions.

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James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James has been featured on The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio),  Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The 2022 World Cup is in full swing and Team USA has, so far, stepped up to the challenge exciting the American fan base. We all know the ups and downs of being a fan. As a life-long Mets fan, I can only say that its not always easy being a true fan.

Most of us have heard of “The Bible in a Year” podcast, as well as the face (or voice) of the podcast, Fr. Mike Schmidtz. As dynamic as that series is, it was an interview with the podcast’s lesser-known contributor, Jeff Cavins that had one of the most significant impacts on my life.

Jeff Cavins proposed a very simple question: Are you a fan of Jesus or are you a follower?

I’m not sure whether I heard Jeff Cavins say it during his interview on Pints with Aquinas or someplace else. All I know is that it affected me profoundly.

First, I am definitely a fan of Jesus — or, at least, the Theology on Jesus Christ. In my late teens, I was oddly drawn to the Christian Theology section in bookstores. When many of my high school peers were reading Christian allegory through the works of J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, I was delving into hermeneutics and the first three books of Jaroslaw Pelikan’s “The Christian Tradition.”

I just couldn’t get enough!

I couldn’t get enough until Jeff Cavins asked, “Are you a fan or a follower of Jesus?” Something like this once happened before. It was the time described in my book, Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, when the mysterious man in the King Kullen parking lot “set his words and propelled at me with precision and grace … [and] pierce my heart with pointed love.”

Back then, I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination playing tricks on me. This time, however, I was certain. Like before, my life changed after hearing Jeff Cavins asked “Are you a fan of Jesus or a follower?”

Before hearing those words, I would gravitate to book racks and old bookstores searching for hardcovers to offer me the perfect words. Since I just spend most of my time in prayer and quiet contemplation.

I’m still a fan of Our Lord. I think in all relationships, there first has to be a sense of admiration of some kind. And, I can’t say I’m always a good follower of Christ. Some days are better than others.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep trying — and I’ll also keep praying for miracles as a fan of my beloved Amazing Mets.

________

James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James has been featured on The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio),  Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988or Mark@goldma

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Pope Francis recently stated in essence that if you don’t believe in Vatican II, you don’t believe in the work of the Holy Spirit.

If you dig deep into the Vatican II documents, I feel there is nothing that any devout Christian wouldn’t agree with.  In fact, my buddy often reads the Vatican II documents to his congregation — which is a non-denominational congregation with a weekly service with little remnants of the Latin Rite liturgy.

How Vatican II was implemented, on the other hand, may be another story — and most likely not the work of the Holy Spirit.

Archbishop Karol Wojtyla appeared to properly prepare the Polish during the implementation of Vatican II — which is probably why the Polish people are so faithfully loyal and reverent.   (Though I’m obviously biased). Pope Benedict XVI believed giving priests “options” in Mass was possibly a mistake. As Cardinal Ratzinger, he stated in an interview in “L’homme Nouveau,” he thought that the door [was] left open to a false creativity on the part of the celebrants. And though the press has focused mainly on Pope Francis limiting the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), he also spoke about abuses in the “New Order” Mass and the need for Masses to be uniformly reverent.

In his letter accompanying Traditionis Custodes, his motu proprio restricting the celebration of the TLM, Pope Francis wrote, “At the same time, I am saddened by abuses in the celebration of the liturgy on all sides. In common with Benedict XVI, I deplore the fact that ‘in many places, the prescriptions of the new Missal are not observed in celebration, but indeed come to be interpreted as an authorization for or even a requirement of creativity, which leads to almost unbearable distortions.’” [1]

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum on religious rituals.

Many believe they are a hindrance. Some of my closest Christian brothers and sisters completely denounce rituals of any kind. However, they somehow ignore the fact that their worship services are somewhat programmed with weekly familiarity. They also tend to ignore the fact that the celebrations of Christmas and Pascha (Easter) are rituals, deeply rooted in ancient tradition.

So where does that leave things in regard to rituals?

Many of us have had or are in careers where certain steps seem trite or ritualistic, but in the larger scheme, if removed, could cause havoc or possibly a fatal flaw down the road. Think of surgeons, airplane pilots, law enforcement officers, and the daily rituals or safety checks and precautions they carry out routinely throughout the day.

Ritualism, for the sake of ritualism, has little spiritual value — yet, it can still prevent serious error or possible death. 

However, knowing why the rituals were put in place and knowing their importance, leads to greater understanding and an elevation of one’s performance.  This not only applies to both a person’s career — but to one’s spiritual life, as well. So, rituals — especially spiritual rituals — are important!

Sacred rituals given to us by ancient tradition are a gift to be treasured, preserved, and passed on.

_______________________<>_______________________

James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James has been featured on The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio),  Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988or Mark@goldma

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Life is not easy and not everyone attains their goals. Trust me, I had some lofty goals — and I came close to attaining many of them. As a father, I hope my boys have lofty goals, as well.

However, the other day, when trying to talk my youngest through a tantrum (a minor one) I let him know about my “ultimate goal.”

“You know what my goal in life is? The only thing I care about?” I asked. “My goal is to get to Heaven. And when I arrive and I open my eyes and see Jesus, I will turn to my left and to my right and look for you … and your brother … and for mommy.

“If you or your brother are not there, then I’ll consider my life a failure.”

Sure, I need to make sure my children have a roof over their heads and food on their plates. However, my ultimate goal in life is to make sure they make it to Heaven!

______________<>_______________________

James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James has been featured on The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio),  Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

Have you ever seen “It’s A Wonderful Life“?

In despair, George Bailey, played by the iconic Jimmy Stewart, offered a simple prayer that changed the direction of his life — and became the turning point of this classic film.

God … oh God … Dear Father in Heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if You’re up there and You can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope. Show me the way, Oh God.

It took less than 40 seconds (and less than 40 words, as well) for God to change George Bailey’s life. So, if that’s all it takes, why do we keep praying? Why do we keep asking God for things? Many times, we keep asking for the same thing, and we keep asking day in and day out. Why?

I’ve been struggling with this question lately.

Ironically, I’ve been struggling with this question just around the same time that I traded my theology books for a small 15-page book of prayers and dedicated my mornings to spiritual devotion.

Daily, I just silently read each prayer, many prepared by our great Saints, as I sip a warm cup of coffee. I sit downstairs in my EZ-Chair or outside as the sun rises, alone with only my most loyal family member at my feet.

The words of the prayers don’t change. My requests are usually the same.

I don’t ask for richness or success. I simply ask for guidance, Heavenly protection from the Evil One, and the will to be an example of Christ’s Love if and when called upon. And I do this every day. I do this every day, even though I know God is Ever-present, All-Knowing.

I do this knowing, as a Father, God is always there, always watching, always willing and prepared to help.

Every day, I repeat my prayers even though I know that God does not exist in time. I repeat my prayers even though I know God heard and remembered every word I spoke the day before. And I do this knowing that, just like George Bailey, all it takes is less than 40 seconds and less than 40 words to get my point across.

If fact, God knows exactly what I am going to say and exactly what I’m going to ask. So why do I do it? Why do I pray every single day and dedicate so much of my morning to prayer?

I do it because…

I need to remind myself that God is always watching. I need to keep close to God, not the other way around. Prayer keeps me connected to the Father. Prayer keeps me close to Him and to the Heavenly Hosts. Prayer keeps the temptations of the Evil One at bay — for just a little while, at least.

Prayer doesn’t change God. Prayer changes you and me. Prayer helps you and me “change and become like children” so one day we can “enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Sure, God can change one’s life in less than 40 seconds — and so can Satan.

So, through prayer, I choose to spend my time with the Father. As His child, I seek His loving guidance and protection, daily, the same way my children seek my guidance and protection. In prayer, I willingly accept His loving hand as I cross this chaotic, traffic-filled road called life until I get safely to the other side — and He will do the same for you.

That’s why we pray! Amen.

_______________________<>_______________________

James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James has been featured on The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio),  Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

The photo of Jimmy Stewart is from “It’s a Wonderful Life”. George Bailey’s Prayer. (1946) Fair Use: The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S.

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