On November 30, the First Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis inaugurated a Year for Consecrated Life. It will close on the World Day of Consecrated Life, February 2, 2016. There are three primary purposes for this Year:
1. renewal for men and women in consecrated life;
2. thanksgiving among the faithful for the service of sisters, brothers, priests,
3. invitation to young Catholics to consider a religious vocation.
For the Year for Consecrated Life here at St. Thomas Aquinas we have several special programs and events that I hope you will take advantage of. Please click on the link below for all the details.
An Ignatian Path to Christ
All parishioners are invited to participate in the Forty Weeks program beginning November 30. This program has three goals: 1) to teach individuals to look at the movements toward and away from God in their lives so as to turn all over to Christ and find healing where necessary; 2) to build a daily, personal relationship with Jesus Christ; and 3) to learn how to discern the two different spiritual inspirations (good and evil) that are constantly working beneath our conscious awareness.
Week Four assignment: The exercises for the fourth week move from the conversion story of St. Ignatius to your own story.
St. Andrew Christmas Novena
Beginning on his feast day, November 30, the following beautiful prayer is traditionally recited fifteen times a day until Christmas (all at once, five times at each meal, or perhaps split up throughout the whole day). This is a very meditative prayer that helps us increase our awareness of the real focus of Christmas and helps us prepare ourselves spiritually for His coming. It is also known as the Christmas Anticipation Prayer.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, (here mention your specific request) through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen
Natural Family Planning
Christ and His Church call us to holiness in our everyday lives and in and through our vocations. In the Sacrament of Marriage, a particular kind of conjugal chastity is demanded by the nature of love and God’s order of Creation. In marriage, the two have become one and are called to continually make that gift of self-donation to the other as they strive to build up one another in faith and love. The two, in imitating the Trinity by their union and love, also share with the Trinity in the great work of co-creation. Part of this, of course, is the bearing and raising of children. Marriage in many ways is oriented towards children, which are always a great good.
The couple must remember God’s dominion over Creation as they remain open to life, and must not cut these off through contraception and sterilization. While these are illicit, the Church does allow spouses, with prayer and discernment, to plan their families in a natural way.
Denise Swanson, the NFP Apostolate Coordinator, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or inquiries.