Advent Journals are Here!

I’m so pleased to share with you all these Advent Journals. As you may have noticed, Advent is quickly approaching and there are so many wonderful resources available to help deepen and enrich your Advent experience.

For the past few years, I’ve noticed a need for Advent journals that cover a few bases. 1. They are Scripturally based 2. They are simple 3. They are not time consuming but still powerful 4. They are free. I have 2 different journals this year so be sure to read to the bottom to hear about both. One is based on lectio divina, the other is a deeper look at the 4 Sundays of Advent.

Lectio Divina Journal

In the journal I’ve highlighted one or two verses from the daily readings for reflection. There is space to prepare yourself for lectio and think about what’s going on in your life that day. What’s joyful, stressful, exciting or bothering you? Your lectio experience is colored by what’s happening in your life and it is good to take a moment to acknowledge what you are bringing to the table. There is also a place for your Word or phrase that has been highlighted during your reading as well as your prayerful response to God’s movements in your heart. Finally, there is room to think creatively about what God is calling you to do or change as inspired by the day’s prayer. 

The journal includes an overview of what lectio divina is, how to pray it and why it’s such a rich experience of prayer. As I said, I have chosen one or two verses for your reflection. However, maybe you already have a habit of reading the daily readings. Maybe a different verse stood out to you. At the very end of the journal is a blank page. It has all the formatting and different writing spaces, but the Scripture portion is blank. You can use this page to write your own verses in. 

Remember, this is completely free and is a pdf. So you can print the whole thing if you are going to use the verses I chose. Or you can print that last page 30 times and fill in your own verse every day. Or maybe you’re overwhelmed and already have a daily Advent devotional but want to give lectio divina a try – just print a week and see how it goes. Maybe every Sunday would work better. This is completely customizable to you. 

4 Sundays of Advent Journal

This is the brand new journal and I’m so excited about. I was inspired by a few things. First by my long-term writing project on the Philippians 2 Christ hymn. In that project, I am doing a deep study of the hymn, looking at the historical, theological, ecclesial, and liturgical significance and why it is a piece of Scripture that we all should know inside and out. I was also inspired by Every Sacred Sunday and how their Mass journals encourage Catholics to spend quality time preparing for Mass. If you are looking for something long term to help you dig deeper into the Sunday readings all year long, I cannot recommend their journals enough.

My new Advent Journal works like this. The first and super important thing you need to know is that it starts on Nov. 26. Yes, that’s before Advent actually begins. But, if you are going to be preparing for the 4 Sundays of Advent, you’ve got to start before the first Sunday, right?

Ok, got that cleared up. Mondays we spend time with the First Reading. Tuesdays the Psalm. Wednesdays the Second Reading. Thursdays the Gospel. Each page has the reading as well as space for any notes, questions or insights you might have while reading. There is also space for a brief prayer or reflection on what you’ve read. Think of this as lectio divina lite. 

Friday’s I offer a theological reflection on the readings. These include any historical information that is relevant, how the readings fit together, and what they can say to us today. It concludes with a quote from a saint that illuminates the overall theme of the Sunday.

Saturday encompasses how we can take what we’ve learned and grow in the week to come. I include another brief reflection, followed by questions or ideas meant to inspire you to apply the readings to your daily life and enhance your Advent experience. 

Sunday is a simple page for homily notes or other reflections you have on these readings. Perhaps you have another Advent devotional you are doing side by side and want to write down a special quote or work through a new idea. Here is space to do it, especially in light of the Sunday readings. 

Click below for a closer look at the Four Sundays of Advent Journal. You will be opening a pdf document which you can print for your own personal use. 

Click below for a closer look at the Four Sundays of Advent Journal. You will be opening a pdf document which you can print for your own personal use. 

I’m so excited for your Advent journey. It would be great to hear from you which journal you chose and why. I love feedback and want to keep developing these into quality, useful tools for you to deepen your relationship with God. Do please share with anyone you think would benefit from these journals. 

God bless

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

When Words Fail

I have been debating back and forth to write this post. Truthfully, I’m not sure what I can say, what I should say, or what I ought to say. These past 2 weeks have been full of tremendous pain, anger, sorrow and shame for our Church.

As a Catholic, I am so ashamed, even though I have no knowledge or contact with anyone who has suffered abuse or perpetrated it. As a mother, I am fearful and on edge, what if it happened or someday happens to one of my children? As a member of society, I am outraged that something this heinous could happen among people claiming to love and follow Christ.

Naming our feelings is just one of many steps in what will be a long, slow process of healing. We are still not recovered from the scandals of the early 200s. Wounds have been torn back open and new ones made in the wake of Pennsylvania.

In times such as these, it is perhaps understandable to want to circle the wagons, keep everyone and everything close at hand. We can read the Bible at home. We can teach our kids right from wrong at the park under our watchful eye instead of at Religious Education classes. There isn’t time for the parish potluck, and besides we don’t know who will be there.

Tempting though this attitude may be, it is not one that will bring healing and wholeness back to our Church. The temptation to isolate ourselves from our faith would be the height of achievement for the devil’s plans in this twisted mess. Bishop Barron, in his article about this situation, reminds us that “The devil works through temptation, suggestion, and insinuation—and he accomplishes nothing without our cooperation.”

As a mother, it is my job to work with my husband to raise our children in the ways of society and the truths of our faith. We would be abandoning both charges if we turned our backs on the Church in this moment. We show our children every single day what it means to be a member of society through our interactions with others. We model our faith in the exact same way. If we were to stop going to Mass or participating in parish events, we would effectively be training our children that 1. This faith stuff really isn’t the be all end all if it is so easily cast aside and 2. When there is a big problem, something bigger than just ourselves, our actions mean little and aren’t worth the effort to try and fix whatever is going wrong. Pope Francis  said, “today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history.” We must come together, not be driven apart.

Like I said at the start, I’m still not sure what to say or how to say it. What has happened, what has been allowed to happen, are crimes against so much of Jesus taught us. He exposes the injustice of society. He reaches out to those in need and to those being trod underfoot and raises them up. He loves without measure and forgives without tiring. We as a Church are in great need of His mercy now, for we have greatly sinned.

Regardless of how closely related to this situation you are, your prayers and your presence are needed. I would encourage everyone to pray in a special way through Mary, Our Lady Undoer of Knots. This is a deep, dark problem. One that we most certainly cannot unravel on our own. It will take time, patience, diligence and justice. For the victims it will take enormous amounts of mercy, compassion, healing and hope.

Some other ideas for the way forward:

Read Pope Francis’ letter to the People of God and join him in prayer for the victims of these crimes as well as their families and communities.

Write a letter to your local bishop, archbishop or cardinal.

Pray with #sackclothandashes a growing movement that wishes to participate in acts of sacrifice, sorrow and reparation to God for the terrible sins committed against God’s people. This is a call for fasting and prayer for 40 days. Though it started on Aug 22, the Queenship of Mary, your prayers, sacrifices and support are never wasted.

Holy Mary, full of God’s presence during the day of your life, you accepted with
full humility the Father’s will, and the devil was never capable of tying you up with
his confusion.
Once with your Son you interceded for our difficulties, and full of kindness and
patience, you gave us example of how to untie the knots in our life. By remaining
forever Our Mother, you put in order and make more clear the ties that link us to
the Lord.
Holy Mother, Mother of God and our Mother, to you who untie with a motherly
heart the knots of our life, we pray to you to receive in your hands (the name of
the person), and to free him/her of the knots and confusion with which our
enemy attacks.
Through your grace, your intercession and your example deliver us from all evil,
Our Lady, and untie the knots that prevent us from being united with God, so that
we, free from sin and error, may find Him in all things, may have our hearts
placed in Him, and may serve Him always in our brothers and sisters.
Amen.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

The Mass Box – It’s Official People

For those of you who have been around the blog for a while you will know that we LOVE our Mass Box subscription. The kids so look forward to the videos, crafts, and now the bonus Superbook DVDs. Recently, the Mass Box has teamed with the Christian Broadcasting Network and every monthly box includes a Superbook DVD. Anyone remember Superbook from growing up? They’ve updated the animation and characters but still encourage your kids to dive into the Bible stories.

I’ve been toying with the idea of branching out into the world of affiliate programs, but don’t want to get caught up in it. Do you know what I mean? So, starting slowly, I’m so pleased to share that I am officially a promoter and affiliate for the Mass Box.

We were one of the first families to try out this subscription box. Back in Lent 2016 Ashley and Raymond (founders of the Mass Box) sought out 100 families to do a trial run and give feedback for their idea. The response was overwhelmingly positive from us and from others, as you may have guessed since they are still going strong! We have loved growing with the Mass Box family. I have seen how attentive they are to the needs of families as they continue to ask for feedback, solicit reviews and ideas and engage in encouraging and supportive conversations with their subscribers.

The Mass Box is, for those who don’t know or need a refresher, is a monthly subscription box that helps prepare the whole family for Sunday Mass. The crafts are best for, in my opinion, ages 4 – 8 or 9, but they can definitely be done younger (with help) or older for craft loving kids. Each week there is a short Youtube video where Ashley and Raymond’s children do the weekly craft, explain the readings and how everything is connected. These videos are completely free for anyone – check them out! In the box comes everything you need to complete the crafts for the month. They also include a weekly magazine that has the directions for the craft, the readings and some activities that relate to the readings (word searches, colorings, Q&A, games, etc.). These magazines are perfect to bring to Mass for busy hands that need something to focus on. And on top of all that, as I mentioned earlier, now they are also including a new Superbook DVD each month.

Every single Sunday has a craft, magazine and video. Plus, because these people are totally legit and this is what sold me on the whole thing in the first place – they also include crafts, videos and magazines for all the Holy Days of Obligation as well!! You can also opt to skip a month or two if you know you are going to be on vacation or for some other reason know you will be missing the opportunity to do the crafts for a period of time.

The makers of the Mass Box have done a really nice job trying to offer a wide variety of options to fit families of all sizes. You can subscribe for the box with craft supplies for 1-4 children. You can also get a box for just a single month to try it out. There is also something called the Mass Box Lite which includes the craft materials for one Sunday, but the magazines for all the Sundays and Holy Days. You can also order just the magazines if the craft element isn’t totally up your alley. You can also opt to skip a month or two if you know you are going to be on vacation or for some other reason know you will be missing the opportunity to do the crafts for a period of time.

If this sounds like something your family needs, or you know a family that would benefit from this kind of preparation for Mass, please click on any of the links here. You will go straight to the Mass Box website and sign up. Click “Subscribe” at the top of the Mass Box homepage for the subscriptions, or click “One Time Shop” for the single order boxes. As an affiliate, I will receive a 10% kickback on any order you make (subscription or one time) when you use the links here.

If you need more evidence of the enthusiasm for the Mass Box, check out this video my kids took while unboxing the August Box.

This month, our favorite craft was using our Mass Box boxes to make sandals. Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs, directing them to take along for the journey nothing but sandals and a walking stick. Our walking sticks have since turned into fairy wands, but the sandals are still intact and used for spreading the Good News.

As I keep working on my Philippians 2 book, I’m beginning to hope for some more opportunities for this blog. But as all things, finances are part of the equation. My husband and I both appreciate this small way you can support these writing dreams of mine. Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com