December has arrived, and with it the frenzied chaos of preparing for Christmas. During this busy time of lights and trees and gift giving, we tend to forget what season we’re really in: Advent. It’s a time of hopeful anticipation for the birth of Christ.

Christmas is important, but we should make it our goal to do more than just decorate, shop and bake in the weeks beforehand. Let’s find ways to prepare our hearts and homes for what can truly be the “most wonderful time of the year”.

Here are a few ways that our family prepares for Christmas, as we do our best to incorporate the joy of the season with the prayerful waiting of Advent.

 

We’re Catholics. We all know who Mary is. I mean, we see her statue in the corner of every Catholic Church from Alaska to Madagascar; we know the little group of faithful ladies who arrive at Mass a half hour early to pray with their rosary beads; and it’s not uncommon to see Our Lady of Guadalupe tattooed on someone’s arm or bedazzled on their t-shirt. But what on earth does that have to do with us? Who is this special woman who’s sparked such intense devotion and controversy across the globe? Is there more to Our Lady than little silver medals and plastic nativity scenes?

 

During Pope Francis’ address on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, he shared with us an idea of his that I believe is important for all of us to implement in one way or another.  Although he is speaking specifically to dioceses around the world, I think it poses a special challenge for families and communities as well.

 

It’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t in this desert. Something about these 40 days always makes it seem more like 40 weeks. But now we've reached the point in our Lenten journey when we're finally able to catch a glimpse of the Easter light at the end of the tunnel. So how do we remain faithful to our Lenten commitments in these last days before Holy Week? What's the point of persevering if it feels like we’ve spent more time failing then succeeding? Why should we even bother? It's almost over, right?

 

We live in a fast-paced, so called "social" society that does a good job of keeping us consumed in our own little world. We rarely make time for things that stretch us out of our own comfort zones, and when we do, it’s usually because we don’t have much of a choice.

What if there was something we could do that would change the life of someone on the other side of the world? What if a few small sacrifices meant that a hungry child could be fed? We take for granted our overflowing fridges and heaping dinner plates, but so many people go without even the most basic necessities. There are many things we can do to make a difference, and one way is to sponsor a child.

 

It’s that time of year again. The season that far too many Catholics seem to dread… Lent. It’s almost as if the end of Christmas signals the uneasy thought that soon we’ll have to spend forty days giving something up. But shouldn’t this be a season to look forward to? Lent is a time where we become more intentional, less concerned about ourselves, and more willing to reach out to others. It may involve stepping out of our comfort zones, but that’s not usually a bad thing. Forty days is the perfect amount of time to form good habits that may stick with you for the rest of your life.

 

We recently got asked a question that many of you probably ask yourselves every summer, and if you aren’t, then maybe you should.

“How do we get families who don’t go to Church to come to our VBS?”

It’s not an easy question. Taking the first initial step of inviting people to parish activities and events can be overwhelming. Hopefully these tips can give you a little more confidence about what to do when the time comes, and why it’s important. These tips are by no means limited to VBS, and they can be applied when inviting people to any event.

 

If you’re brand new at this whole “Vacation Bible School” thing, and the first thought that crosses your mind is one of complete panic; I’m okay with that. After all, the thought of keeping dozens of kids occupied in a church basement for long periods of time probably seems like something you’d read in a “stranger than fiction” magazine. However, it won’t be long before you start to automatically associate your best summer memories with a week spent at your parish VBS.

 

Perhaps you’ve never done a VBS before and you aren't sure where to start? Or maybe you're a seasoned VBS veteran who just happened to come across our website? But whether you're buying your first program or your fiftieth, we believe it's important to find one that suits your parish and it's needs. Here are 10 Reasons why we think a Cat.Chat VBS might be just what you're looking for.

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