Blue heaven


This past Sunday I walked into church and inwardly rejoiced at seeing the unexpected: A new Advent tradition! 

Finally we have blue instead of purple on the altar!  Truly appropriate, considering we’re eagerly awaiting the birth of a newborn child— Jesus!


Father, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, breathe new life into each of us.  Give us strength and resolve as you did your servants Mary and Joseph so that, like them, we may honor and protect the precious lives of those in our care.  As we enter this holy season, let us be people of wonder, reverence and playful imagination so that we may, with full hearts and full voice, proclaim our joy to the world.  We ask this in the name of the once and forever newborn king.  Amen (Larry Livingston).

Good and gracious God, as I prepare Christmas cards and letters, writing words of joy and love, prepare my heart to receive the word made flesh— Jesus, your son.  As I prepare our home for guests, for feasts, and for friends, help me open the door of my heart just a bit wider to make room at our table for all.  As I prepare gifts to go beneath the tree and packages to bless loved ones near and far, deepen my gratitude for your many gifts to me.  Amen (RCL Benziger, 2018).

Holy God, we lay our lives before you now.  We turn off our mobile phones and tablets and give our attention to you totally this Advent season.  Surprise us again with unanticipated wonder so we can be awakened to a new and abundant life.  We close our eyes to the things that draw us away from you and open them to the joys you share with us each day in small and unassuming ways.  We listen with anticipation for your wake-up call, ready to love and serve you with every fiber of our being.  All these things we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen (Pittsburg Theological Seminary [PTS], 2019).

Oh God, come, be with us in our lives today.  Show us, your people, your new way.  Imbue us with love, great hope, and peace beyond all comprehension.  Hold us up by faith and trust that your promises will be fulfilled throughout Creation.  Bring us wholeness, bring peace on earth, and bring goodwill among all humanity we pray.  So be it!  Amen (PTS).

O God, this journey of Advent stirs great excitement in us.  In this season, we see anew all the good gifts you continue to bring to us through your journey to and abiding presence with us— gifts that remind us of your great love for each one of us.  Please grant that in all we do and say, we will reflect your great gift of Christ our Lord to everyone we meet as we walk with you each day.  Amen (PTS).


“Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love.”

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in your faith, so that in the power of the Holy Spirit you may be rich in hope” (Romans 15:13).

December 24, 2019

Love is always bestowed as a gift— freely, willingly, and without expectation.  We don’t love to be loved, we love to love (Dr. Leo Buscaglia).

Links of interest…  Advent: about / anticipation & hope (more) / calendar / celebration of saints / celebrating the season / colors / customs / devotionsprayers (quotes) / preparing for the coming king / seasonal customs / surprise calendar / time of preparation / wreath…  American Catholic…  Baby’s coming to shake up our world…  Catholic online…  Franciscan media…  National Shrine of St. Jude: blog / home page / meditations / prayers & petitions…  Nunc dimittis: about / canticle of Simeon / song (YouTube)…  Our Lady of Advent…  Pencil Preaching: God of surprises / Joy to the world

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Call of service…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas scenes…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  Oh, happy day!…  On being Christian…  Our Lady…  Prayer power…  Prayerful ways…  San Giuseppe…  Sweet Jesus

Church time blues

SJC3611-29A few days ago, I decided to look for answers to some questions I’d been lugging around for a while.

For instance, what’s the difference between the liturgical year and the church calendar?  What are lexionary cycles?  And why does Steven prepare for the Sunday readings using workbooks marked A, B, or C?  Why does Ordinary Time come around twice?  Why is it called Ordinary Time?  What signals a season’s start and its ending?  Are blue vestments now worn to differentiate between Advent and Lent?

Of course, during the search and find process, new questions always come up; but here’s what I’ve found in the meantime.

Liturgical year

The liturgical year is divided into four parts.  Its two themes, or cycles— Christmas and Easter— are based primarily on the Gospel of John.  Each cycle has its seasons and colors.



The Christmas cycle consists of Advent, Christmastide, and the time after Epiphany.

The Easter cycle has four seasons: Septuagesima; Lent (Quadragesima); Paschaltide, or Eastertide; and the time after Pentecost.  Moreover, the last two weeks of Lent are called Passiontide.  Holy Week with its Sacred Triduum— Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday— begins with Palm Sunday and is the second week of Passiontide and the last week of Lent.

Ordinary Time, on the other hand, isn’t associated with a theme; hence, its name.  Its thirty-three or thirty-four Sundays are divided into two sections, which recount the life and work of Christ based on the three remaining gospels.  The first part lasts from Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord through Tuesday before Ash Wednesday; the second, Monday after Pentecost until Saturday evening following the Feast of Christ the King.  This holy day ends the liturgical year, after which the new year begins with the Christmas theme.

Gospels are presented in three-year cycles: Matthew, A; Mark, B; and Luke, C.  First readings, based on the Old Testament, support the message in the corresponding day’s gospel.  Second readings are taken from the apostles’ letters in the New Testament.  Although the letters are delivered sequentially, Peter’s and John’s are read during the two church themes: Christmas and Easter.  Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians is read at the start of Ordinary Time in Years A, B, and C, since it covers assorted topics and is rather lengthy; James’s Letter to the Hebrews, in Years B and C.

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Church calendar

The church calendar refers to four types of remembrances.   Feast days denote the dates when saints died, or entered heaven.  Memorials honor saints, dedications of churches, or other such special times in church history.  Commemorations are celebrations during which parts from two separate Masses are combined to acknowledge both special days, since they can’t be transferred to other dates.  Holy days, usually observed with a Vigil Mass, glorify events in the life of Jesus, Mary, or other important saints.


A lexionary is a book of lessons that contains the scripture readings sequenced in such a way that the life of Christ is told from beginning to end each calendar year.


The colors of liturgical vestments depend on the occasion. 

vestments2White  is for Easter, Christmas, and Holy Days; red, for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Pentecost Sunday; green, for Ordinary Time; violet or purple, for Advent, Lent, and Requiem Masses; violet, white, or black, for funerals; and rose, for the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent.  Vestments that are either festive or different in color may also be worn.

In the United States, gold- or silver-colored vestments are also allowed on solemn occasions.

Church time blues

And, personally, I like the idea of royal blue for Advent not only to distinguish the season from Lent, but also to signal that the birth of the Infant is near: a joyous occasion, blue, as opposed to a somber event, purple.  However, ten of the twelve online articles I read expressed their dislike, disdain, disgust, and/or disapproval of blue vestments.

One priest referred to a musical parody on the color blue.  Another saw red at the sight of a priest wearing blue.  If he closed his eyes, he wrote, the colors would blend as purple, which meant compliance with church rules.  A couple mentioned blue is worn on special occasions in other countries, while two others noted that Protestants have adopted the color blue for Advent.  One blogger was tickled pink to see Pope Benedict XVI wearing blue, and a different source described blue in optimistic shades of patient anticipation.

Maybe I won’t see blue vestments become a reality in my lifetime, but I can dream.

After all, blue is Father Xaviour’s favorite color, as well as the color of the tile near the walls in our new church building.  But, no, I haven’t asked Father’s opinion on blue vestments yet.

Links to explore

In the meantime, I’ve got some excellent links to follow (on homilies, church customs, and celebrations) before revisiting the Fish Eaters’ list of recommended movies to view during the liturgical year.  Maybe you’d like to do the same?

November 29, 2010

On entering church for eleven o’clock Mass yesterday, the first day of Advent, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Blue on the altar?  Amazing.

Since replacing the photo on the left (2009) with the photo on the right (2010) on our church blog yesterday, I’ve revisited Sunday’s post numerous times.

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The blue is so bright and uplifting compared to the subdued purple that the altar appears to be signaling a glorious event.

I wonder, Will Father Xaviour wear blue to match next year?  Will I see blue vestments during Advent in the Catholic Church in my lifetime?

Links of interest…  Advent blues…  Approved colors (meaning / more)…  Blue: chasuble / color / not a liturgical color / not for Christmas / rant & poll (more – still more)…  Calendar of saints…  Cassock: Work clothes, not a dress uniform…  Catholic fidelity (why I am Catholic)…  Colorful guide to the liturgical year in one infographic…  Ever ancient, ever new: The gift of the liturgical year…  Gospel: homilies / Luke / page: index – introduction…  LectionaryMatthew, A / Mark, B / Luke, C…  Liturgical: calendar / colors / feast days / memorial (liturgy) / seasons & cycles (more) / time travel / vestments (different colors) / year…  Movies with Christian themes…  Ordinary time (spiritual meaning – symbols)…  Proper of saints: Sanctoral cycle…  Seasonal customs…  Seven trends shaping the Church…  Solemnity…  Why do priests wear a chasublegreen in Ordinary Time / pink / red on Pentecost / a stole

WP post…  Blue heaven…  Call of service…  Concrete abstraction…  Growing pains…  Prayer power…  Prayerful ways…  Simple yet profound…  Sweet Jesus

On being Christian


During the Christmas holidays, I came across an interesting but disturbing blog post.

Having read the December entry, the last sentence rang true.  To keep Christ in our daily lives instead of just at Christmas made perfect sense, since I was brought up believing that the spirit of Christmas should be year ’round.

I shared the post with Sam and Ning, but the article’s first paragraph grievously offended Ning.  And she quickly let me know it.

This is so anti-Catholic!  It goes against everything we’re about!  This is why the Filipino community celebrates the Santo Niño.

KC10810bI quickly responded.

Yes, I agree.  I’m a huge proponent of the Holy Infant, too.

Then Ning emailed again.  She’d send me information on the January celebration of the Santo Niño de Cebú at one of the area churches.


Although Ning and I had ended our emailing on a happy note, the Catholic to Christian blog post continued to pester me.

Catholic to Christian had written, first, that Catholics erroneously associate Christ with Christmas; second, that Christ was born at a time other than Christmas, so we Catholics foolishly celebrate the wrong date; and, third, that Christ’s resurrection, not his birth, is what’s important.

SPC51814-2Being a devotee of the Holy Infant, I disagree, of course.  For us to have received Christ’s gift of life through his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, Jesus had to have first been born!  So it’s only natural that the Catholic Church should commemorate both of these very special seasons, Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter, in the life of Christ during its liturgical year.

Foolish thinking

Having read and reread the October 16th post, I was beyond annoyed at Catholic to Christian’s perspective.

As we all know, the Roman church is not Christ’s church, and many of its teachings are completely contrary to the holy scripture and the absolute word of God….  I thank God that my story is comfort to those who have had the courage to break away from the oppressive teachings of the false church.

I seriously considered adding a comment but quickly decided against it, recalling what I’d been told growing up: Better to have one fool than two.

I recalled Dr. Kearney’s English history course and the decades-old image I’ve carried around of Martin Luther nailing his ninety-five theses on the church door.

On being Christian

Catholicism existed before Protestantism, so why aren’t Catholics Christian?

My thoughts continued to percolate through Sunday when, on the feast of Christ’s baptism, Father Xaviour’s homily focused on the two significant aspects of Christ’s life, namely his birth and his purpose for being.

holyinfant14Father said that Christ accepted God’s master plan when he humbled himself before John the Baptist and asked to be baptized.

I smiled within as I mentally repudiated Catholic to Christian’s beliefs.

Through faith, we acknowledge Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us.  Despite the difficult choice he undertook, he accomplished his mission in life so that all who believe can find their way back to God through repentance and forgiveness.  Moreover, if we believe in Christ, then, whether we’re Catholic or Protestant, we are Christian.

Why is this so easy for me to understand yet so difficult for others to accept?  Why do non-Catholic Christians always insist that we Catholics haven’t been saved?  We’ve been baptized!  And does our profession of faith not proclaim who we are and what we believe?

Honoring the Holy Infant

Ning and I easily came to terms with our opinions of the Catholic to Christian blog post, so on Monday we were back to our usual sharing online.  She forwarded a flyer from St. James the Apostle Church on the upcoming Santo Niño festivities and followed up with a printout, which Sam gave Steven at work on Wednesday.

I’m so excited that I can hardly wait for tomorrow evening! 

Not since Segy and I visited Our Lady of Victory in Prague have I been filled with the joy and anticipation of attending a Mass in honor of the Holy Infant.


For a holy Christian life…  St. Anthony, model of great holiness, help me to live as  a true Christian, faithful to the promises of Baptism.

You know how great are the dangers and difficulties of my life.  Grant that I may overcome all temptations to evil and have the courage to witness to my faith.

StA3814Obtain for me a heart that is capable of loving God above all things, ready to accept the holy will of God in sacrifice and renunciation.

Open my soul to a generous and sincere love of neighbor; make me disposed to save and console anyone who is in need.

Sustain me with your example so that I may be worthy of God’s friendship.  Amen.

For all Christians…  Lord God and Father, in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, your son, you willed to reconcile men with each other in peace.  Hear the prayer of your people.

Let your spirit of life and holiness renew us in the depths of our being, unite us throughout our life to the risen Christ, for he is our brother and savior.

With all Christians we seek to follow the way of the gospel.  Keep us faithful to the teaching of the Church and alive to the needs of our brothers.  Give us strength to work for reconciliation, unity, and peace.

Salesians-prayersMay those who seek the God they do not yet know discover in you the source of light and hope.  May those who work for others find strength in you.  May those who know you seek even further and experience the depths of your love.

Forgive us our sins, deepen our faith, and enliven our hearts with love for our brothers so that we may walk in the footsteps of Christ as your beloved sons and daughters.

Father of great goodness, hear in the words of your people the prayer of the Spirit for the praise of your glory and the salvation of men.  Through Jesus Christ your son, our Lord, the way, the truth, and the life forever and ever.  Amen.

Our Lady of Brezje…  Mary, help of Christians, you show us how to be Christian, how to “hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28).  Help us to respond to God as you did, that his power work in us; that the Spirit form Christ in us; that his mind, heart, and will be ours.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

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Contact information

The Daily Prayer booklet is from Salesian Missions, P. O. Box 30, New Rochelle, NY 10801-0030; the Infant of Prague leaflet, from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

February 4, 2014

“Christianity is the meeting point of earth and heaven” (St. John XXIII).

August 17, 2014

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings (Hebrews 13:7–9).

September 10, 2014

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else” (C.S. Lewis).

February 28, 2015

“All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be” (St. Francis de Sales).

May 28, 2015

What is Christianity?

In the home it is kindness.  In the business it is honesty.  In society it is courtesy.  In work it is fairness.  Toward the unfortunate it is sympathy.  Toward the weak it is help.  Toward the wicked it is resistance.  Toward the strong it is trust.  Toward the penitent it is forgiveness.  Toward the successful it is congratulation.  And toward God it is reverence and obedience (“Christianity” in A treasury of prayers, The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., p. 17).

August 21, 2015

My hope is in Christ, who strengthens the weakest by his divine help.  I can do all in him who strengthens me.  His power is infinite; and if I lean on him, it will be mine.  His wisdom is infinite; and, if I look to him for counsel, I shall not be deceived.  His goodness is infinite, and if my trust is stayed in him, I shall not be abandoned (St. Pius X).

October 9, 2015

Changed by the working of grace into a new creature, the Christian thus sets himself to follow Christ and learns more and more within the Church to think like him, to judge like him, to act in conformity with his commandments, and to hope as he invites us to (St. John Paul II in Catechesi Tradendae).

October 13, 2015

The Catholic faith is like a lion in a cage.  You don’t need to defend it— you simply need to open the cage door (Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen).

October 16, 2015

After a long and deep consideration of the divine indwelling, we begin to realize that Christianity is something we live, that it is a life given by Christ that grows, and this growth is one of union with God, who dwells as a lover within the heart of man.  Human love grows; two hearts begin to beat as one, two wills to act as one.  Such, also, is the love of man and God.  Thinking of God within us, we begin to see things the way he sees them.  We begin to will what God wills (Fr. Killian J. Healy in Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God).

February 23, 2016

“Hear me clearly: I am a Christian” (St. Polycarp).

May 27, 2016

“A Christian is: a mind through which Christ thinks, a heart through which Christ loves, a voice through which Christ speaks, and a hand through which Christ helps” (St. Augustine of Hippo).

August 13, 2016

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried” (G.K. Chesterton).

January 25, 2017

Christianity, if false, is of no importance and, if true, of infinite importance.  The only thing it cannot be is moderately important (C.S. Lewis).

September 12, 2017

“What makes a man a Christian is his faith, that inner life that awakens in him the revelation handed down to us from the very moment he receives it” (Romano Guardini in Meditations on the Christ).


Sacred Heart Church – Brownsville, TX


Links of interest…  An enchanted faith…  Arguing with Dorothy Day challenges my quest for a Christian life…  Away in a manger: St. Francis & the nativity…  Atheists are lame…  Being Catholic: about / conversion stories / lists to know / ten reasons to return / welcome home…  Benefits of believing…  Bible: books / disciples & apostles / free audio download / gospel & gospels / liturgies / New American / study tools / what is…  Blessed are the simple-hearted…  Can Catholics celebrate the Reformation…   Child Jesus: baptism / Christ / de Cebú (more) / devotion / holy / infant…  Christian faith is not blind belief…  Christianity changes everything…  Christmas in Prague (live video)…    Church trek: The next generation…  Coming home to God: On losing my unbelief…  Correcting media portrayals of Prince’s faith…  Fatherly advice: Being pressured to convert…  Fifteen graces of Baptism…  Finding true goodness as a Christian…  Growing in Christ: The performance principle…  Have you been saved…  How are we saved…  How I came to speak Catholic / to keep Christmas…  “I used to be Catholic”…  It’s all a joke, so we may as well laugh…  Keep Christ at the center of your Christmas…  Lost art of talking about Jesus…  Many Protestants closer to Catholics…  Martin Luther: 10 remarkably “Catholic” beliefs95 theses (basis – listed –  more –  wife) / disgust over Protestant sectarianism & radical heresies / realtrue reformer or defender of erroneous conscience…  My Catholic Christian story (blog)…  Pastor, am I a Christian…  Persecution: A price to pay for being Christian (video)…  Pope to meet Lutherans on anniversary of Reformation…  Protestant trapped in a Catholic body…  Remain steadfast…  Responding to “spiritual but not religious” Christians (three Catholic practices) / when “Christian” has become a bad word…  Savior among sinners: Reflecting on the Sunday gospel…  True meaning of “born again” isn’t what you think…  What is Christianity?  It’s all about an epiphany…  Why are you a Christian…  Why Catholics play dumb

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Faith and prayer…  Oh, happy day!…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret

Church doctors

Have you ever said or written something that keeps getting mentally regurgitated like the cud in a cow’s multiple stomachs?  You want to swallow it, but it just doesn’t want to stay down?

Well, that’s what happened since my September fifth blog post entry.


While I was totally taken by what I read about St. John Chrysostom (Sept 13th), I had a tough time accepting the quote I read describing him as “one of the four doctors of the church.”

Hmm.  I used the quote but felt bothered.  My doubting Thomasina kept me on edge for ten days.  What if there are more than four?  What if someone reads this and quotes the error?  I’ve gotta look into it, or the Monk within won’t let me rest! (Monk is a TV detective with an overly meticulous personality.)

To silence the discomfort, I deleted the quote from my entry.  I was still curious, mind you; but I lacked the oomph to check into the topic.  And what about the fathers of the church?  I searched for worthwhile links on this week’s saints and serendipitously discovered— gasp— another doctor!

St. Robert Bellarmine (September 17th).  Oh, my! 

I know St. Anthony of Padua (June 13th) is a doctor, and St. Lawrence Brindisi (July 21st) is another.  This is four already! 

I couldn’t delay my search any longer.


For those of you who, like me, are curious to learn more about the fascinating doctors of the Catholic church, Tommy Ferris lists thirty-three on his homepage and provides noteworthy links to each of these saints.

But wait! 

Wasn’t there someone else?  I know I’ve recently seen someone else who writes on this topic.

Father or doctor?

I revisited Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, who has St. Irenaeus (June 28th) listed as both church father and church doctor.  But how can one saint be both? 

What’s the difference between a church father and a church doctor?  This inquiring mind really wanted to know.

Among New Advent‘s (2009) copious definitions is one for church father that makes sense to me.

It follows that, as our own fathers are the predecessors who have taught us, so the fathers of the whole church are especially the earlier teachers, who instructed her in the teaching of the apostles, during her infancy and first growth.

On the other hand, church doctors are “certain ecclesiastical writers [who] have received this title on account of the great advantage the whole church has derived from their doctrine.”

The Catholic encyclopedia also lists and differentiates among saints, fathers, and doctors but doesn’t include all thirty-three of the church doctors on the existing list.

Church doctors

Additionally, my searches yielded three important considerations regarding church doctors:  (1) The Western church had four doctors: Sts. Gregory the Great, Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome; the Eastern church, three: Sts. John Chrysostom, Basil, and Gregory Nazianzen.  Then others were added over time.  (2) To be called a doctor of the church, a saint had to meet three criteria: “eminent learning, a high degree of sanctity, and proclamation by the church” (New Advent).  However, unlike those of us mere mortals who must go before a dissertation defense committee, the bar, or the medical board to receive the title of doctor, saints don’t appear before a council.  Instead, the title is conferred after the saint’s death.  (3) And, finally, not all extraordinary saints can be doctors of the church.  Martyrs, like St. Irenaeus, are honored only as fathers of the church.

Regardless, I did find the answer to my original question: The Catholic church has thirty-three doctors.  But what about the number of church fathers?  And who are they?

June 22, 2012

“God did not tell us to follow him because he needed our help, but because he knew that loving him would make us whole” (St. Irenaeus in the Word among us, June 2012, p. M81).

February 21, 2015

Pope Francis proclaimed St. Gregory of Narek (950-1003) the thirty-sixth doctor of the Church.

June 30, 2015

Hold firmly that our faith is identical with that of the ancients.  Deny this, and you dissolve the unity of the Church (St. Thomas Aquinas).

June 28, 2016

“God did not tell us to follow him because he needed our help, but because he knew that loving him would make us whole” (St. Irenaeus).

Links of interest…  5 reasons to read & love the fathers of the church…  Apostles, major saints, & feast days…  Catholic church doctors / fathers (& the Eucharistearlymore – patriarchs) / martyrs…  Back to the beginning: A brief introduction to the ancient Catholic church…  Doctors of the Catholic church: about / audios / book (more / rating) / “faithful people” (more) / list (more) / two new (more)…  Learning to appreciate church documents…  Monk (TV show)…  St. Gregory of Narek: about (more) / Armenian mystic / Catholic / church / monk /  newest doctor / tenets of prayer (about – book)…  St. Irenaeus of Lyons: about (more) / bishop / five Marian factsgnostics (more) / quotes (more) / ten things to know / theologian / writings…  St. Jerome

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Church time blues…  Concrete abstraction…  Golden…  Kindred acorns…  Picturing God…  Seven dwelling places…  Simple yet profound…  St. Anthony…  St. Chrysostom…  Teresa of Avila