The Third Sunday of Advent- JOY

3 advent

 

Often, when we need to emphasize something or mark it as important, we use a red pen or highlight it, right? Well this third week of Advent is no exception! Instead of the usual purple candle, we celebrate this week with a notable pink candle. Why pink, you may ask? Because pink is the liturgical color for joy! It is during the third week of Advent that we celebrate the joy of Christ’s coming. Much like the shepherds in the field, we hear that Christ is coming soon and are overwhelmed with joy!

As you enter into this third week of Advent, reflect on the joy of this season and count the blessings in your own life.

FUN FACT: The third Advent candle is often referred to as the “Shepherd Candle”

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Silent Night- A Beloved Christmas Carol

We’ve all heard the classic Christmas carol “Silent Night.” Whether it’s on the radio, in the background of a movie, or sung at Mass, the song is one of the most popular Christmas carols to date. But why? Why has this song, which is so simple and so humble, made such a large impact in not just the Christian world, but also in the secular world? Let’s take a closer look at the song and its origins to find out.

Silent Night

Silent Night was written by Joseph Mohr in 1816. He was a young priest living in Austria who had written the lyrics down in the form of a poem one evening. It wasn’t until 1818 when Mohr would show the lyrics to his friend Franz Gruber, who happened to be a musician-schoolteacher, that a melody accompanying lyrics began to take form. It was Christmas Eve of that same year that the song was performed for the first time. After this first performance, word of the song spread rapidly, growing in popularity along the way. In fact, the Strasser Family, a traveling family of folk singers (similar to the Trapp family singers as seen in The Sound of Music) incorporated the song into their routine. By 1832 the notes had been tweaked to create the melody that we all know and love today.

While there is certainly more history surrounding this beloved song, the true significance of the song comes from the lyrics and creation itself. Mohr and Gruber were by no means famous. They were humble people who lived ordinary lives. They didn’t expect for their simple song to be as popular as it ended up being. They didn’t expect fame or recognition for their efforts. They simply sought a way to better praise and worship the Lord during the season of Advent. Isn’t that something we should all strive for?

Take a moment to listen to this carol. Really listen to the words, think about the message Mohr and Gruber so carefully expressed to the world. Think of what seemingly ordinary acts God is calling you to do. You might be surprised with His answer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T4WB2zfmps

Post written by Katie Karpinski

The Second Sunday of Advent- PREPARATION

Second Sunday of Advent

As we enter the second week of Advent, we enter into a spirit of preparation. We are not merely anticipating the coming of Christ, but are actively readying ourselves for His arrival. In the readings this week we hear from the prophet Isiah who declares:

“In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” -Isaiah 40:3 – 5

We are the desert. We are supposed to be preparing the way of the Lord. This time of Advent is a chance for us all to clean ourselves up and make ready for the arrival of Christ!

While there may be talk of cleaning the house, buying gifts, and gathering food, what’s even more important is that we prepare our hearts and minds for Christ’s arrival. This second week of Advent is a great time to do an examination of conscious. Prepare your soul by confessing your sins and spend some time alone with Christ to reflect on what you can be doing to better welcome Him into your heart.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

Emmanuel: God’s Eternal Presence

Emmanuel God's Eternal Presence

During the Christmas season, the word “Emmanuel” is certainly repeated often. Whether it’s during a Mass reading, written on a holiday card, or in the lyrics of a popular Christmas song, we are constantly reminded of Emmanuel. But what exactly does this word mean? To some, the word is synonymous with Jesus Christ, for others Emmanuel is the hope of Christ, or a feeling of anticipation. However, the actual meaning of Emmanuel stems much deeper than either of these theories. Emmanuel actually translates to “God is with us.”

You see, Emmanuel isn’t just a name or phrase: it is a promise. God is with us.

Many of us will be missing cherished loved ones this holiday season. It’s common for those who are grieving to experience an increased sense of loneliness during the holidays. Treasured memories of our loved ones will be vivid in our minds, and the traditions that once were so meaningful may be hard to bear. This is normal, but we must take heart and remember the promise of Emmanuel: God is with us. He is always with us. Even in our most lonely and desperate times, God is close to us. If you find yourself in a state of isolation, reach out to God and ask for His comfort and healing.

It is also important during this time of grief to attend Mass. While God is always with you, attending Mass is a unique opportunity to grow in physical closeness to Christ through the Eucharist. Receiving the blessed sacrament assures that God will live inside you, yet another reminder of His never ending love. Also, it is during the Mass that the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest. Certain portions of the Mass are even dedicated to the souls of those who have died and the saints currently in Heaven. By taking an active part in the Mass, you not only grow closer to Christ, but you have the chance to pray and reconnect with your dearly departed loved ones.

To anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one this season, you are not alone. God is with you.

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Join us on December 17th for our Sunday Grief Support Group. This month’s topic will be “God’s Eternal Presence.”

In a warm, comfortable, and supportive environment, you’ll find a warm fellowship of people with similar grief experiences.
Come. Listen. Be in the presence of those who understand. Available at the following locations:

Holy Cross Cemetery, Akron
Holy Cross Cemetery, Brook Park
St. Joseph Cemetery, Avon

NO RESERVATIONS NECESSARY. Please join us.

More information available at https://www.clecem.org/Events/Calendar.aspx

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

Five Things You Should Do During Advent

Well, we are officially entering into the busiest month of the year: December. Department stores have been advertising Christmas deals since Halloween, and The Hallmark Channel has already begun their countdown to Christmas. It seems as if the whole world is preparing for this universal holiday. However, so much of this season gets lost in the material world. You see, Christmas isn’t about gifts, or food, or even friends and family. Christmas is about Christ coming to this world. This act of love is the cornerstone of the Catholic faith. Alongside Easter, Christmas is so significant that we even have a special liturgical season to prepare His arrival.  As Catholics, we call this period of preparation and anticipation Advent. Celebrating Advent and truly entering into a spirit of honor and hope is a great way for us all to grow closer to Christ and ready ourselves for the wonderful season and holiday that is Christmas! Keep reading to learn more about 5 things you should do during advent.

5 Things You should do during advent

Get an Advent Wreath

While a seemingly minor gesture, displaying an Advent wreath serves as a visual reminder of the preparatory season. By lighting the candles each week and reflecting on their specific meanings, you can better focus your prayers and intentions to enter more fully into praise and worship. Even more so, fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. By lighting your Advent Wreath candles you are inviting the Holy Spirit into your life, allowing Him to work through you and offer you even more blessings!

Be charitable

We all know Christmas as a holiday of giving. Be it with friends, family, or coworkers, there is a natural expectation to give and receive gifts around the holidays. While there’s no specific attribution to this custom, this “giving tradition” is actually in honor of Jesus Christ Himself. Since He lives in all of us, we are taught to see Christ in each other—which is why we exchange gifts for His birthday! However, we are not called to see Christ in only our friends and family, we are called to see Christ in every single person we encounter. This means being charitable and giving to those less fortunate. Whether it’s donating clothes, volunteering at the soup kitchen, or donating your time at a local nursing home, try and find a way to give back.

Start a daily devotional

Advent is a great time to pick up a new spiritual habit. You can use these four weeks as a time to grow Closer to Christ by reading His Word and familiarizing yourself with scripture. Whether it’s doing the daily Mass readings or finding a special Advent-themed devotional, reading scripture each day will help you enter into the anticipatory spirit!

Go to confession

When we have a guest over to our house, it’s customary to clean and make ready everything right? So why not do the same to get ready for the arrival of Christ? Sin dirties our souls; it weighs us down and makes us spiritually “unclean.” By going to confession and offering your sins up to the Lord, you are preparing your spiritual home for His arrival. By preparing your soul you can enter more fully into the hopeful, joyful, and faithful spirit of Christmas! Find out when your local parish offers Confessions—you won’t regret it.

Spend time with Christ

The most important thing you can do this Advent season is to spend time with Christ. He is the true reason we celebrate this holiday! As you reflect back on the past year, thank God for the blessings. Talk to Him about any heartache you experienced, or any challenges you faced. Share with Him your favorite memories and then be still and listen to Him speak to you. What is He asking you to do in your life? Where will this next year take you? These questions can only be answered by spending quality time with Christ. By taking this time of Advent to grow closer to Him, you can enter the Christmas holiday and New Year reinvigorated and renewed!

Post written by Katie Karpinski

The First Sunday of Advent- HOPE

 

First Sunday of Advent.jpg

The first week of Advent begins the liturgical countdown to Christmas. Whereas most of society may start celebrating the sacred holiday immediately after Halloween, Catholics have a very purposeful and meaningful perspective on anticipating the coming of Christ. This first week of Advent, we celebrate with a spirit of hope: the hope that God provides through His son, Jesus Christ. During this first week of Advent, the daily Mass readings revolve heavily around prophecies of Christ’s coming. This year we hear from the prophet Daniel who states:

“One like a son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
He received dominion, glory, and kingship;
nations and peoples of every language serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.” -Daniel 7:13-14 

You see, even thousands of years later we are all still anticipating the birth of Christ. We still celebrate His coming and the hope it brings to our world. What’s even more significant is that we notice and appreciate the faithfulness of God. The prophets were given this promise of hope in Jesus Christ. As we know, God always delivers on His promises and as a result the world was given a true Savior. Let this first week of Advent be one of thankfulness and appreciation. Our God is faithful and fills us with hope!

**Fun fact: the first Advent candle is referred to as the Prophecy Candle, or the Candle of Hope**

John Seelie: Pearl Harbor Survivor

In September of this year, the Catholic Cemeteries Association had the honor of care taking for the final remains one of this country’s final Pearl Harbor survivors: John Seelie. A man of pure dedication to faith, family, and country, his experiences provide us with a glimpse of what so many men and women sacrifice for the good of our country each and every day—willingly placing themselves in the path of danger and uncertainty. Keep reading to learn more about this brave American solider.

John Seelie
Photo Credit 

John Seelie was born on November 25, 1922. When he was only 18 years old, Seelie decided to enlist in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Hayes in Columbus, OH. Only a year later Seelie was transferred to Schonfield Barracks Oahu with the 65th Combat Engineers, 25th Infantry Division with the mission to protect Wheeler Field, a U.S. air base. According to Seelie’s public Facebook page, this transfer was decided by the flip of a coin by his captain. Seelie and another solider were transferred to Hawaii, whereas two other soldiers were transferred to the Philippines. While this may at first seem like a rather unlucky test of fate for Seelie, the two soldiers that were sent to the Philippines did not survive.

That is not to say, of course, that Seelie’s time at Hawaii was without its own tragedy. On the morning of December 7th, 1941 Seelie was just waking up when he recalled seeing the first of the Japanese planes. In a 2009 interview Seelie tells of his experience firsthand:

“We grabbed our M-1 rifles and our redesigned steel helmets we had just been issued, a couple of .30 caliber machine guns and ran outside. We had no ammunition because it was all locked up to keep it away from saboteurs. We asked the sergeant to open the ammunition room, but he had no orders to do that. So we broke the door down to get to the ammo. We started firing at the planes. Whether we knocked an enemy plane down nobody knows.”

Seelie was one of the lucky survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack, and paid constant tribute to those who had fallen by attending yearly memorial services and recounting his experiences to all who would listen.

Seelie passed away on August 11th, 2017. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, OH (Sec#7, Lot#152, Grave#1). May his dedication and service to our country inspire us all.

Information gathered from: https://pearlharbormemorials.com/survivor-john-seelie/ 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

Meaningful Music: WHERE I BELONG by Building 429

Life is hard—there’s no question. Whether it’s small day-to-day struggles, or major traumatic experiences such as losing a loved one, this world can be a confusing place. We may wonder why our God, who is all loving and benevolent, would allow such strife to happen. While we may never know these answers, what we do know is this world is not our final destination, but rather a stop on the road to God’s eternal kingdom. The popular Christian music group Building 429 addresses this topic in their song ,“Where I Belong.” Let’s take a closer look at this song and how we can all relate to its powerful message!

building 429 where i belong
Photo Credit 

The song begins by describing the unique sensation of distance between body and soul:

Sometimes it feels like I’m watching from the outside
Sometimes it feels like I’m breathing but am I alive?
I will keep searching for answers that aren’t here to find

The singer exposes a questioning attitude that we’ve all experienced at some point. What does it mean to be alive in this world? Why are there so many questions that can’t be answered? What is the purpose of all this ambiguity? As the chorus winds up, we are given the poetic answer:

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong 

The reason why this world is so confusing is because it is not our final home. We are only visiting. Our actual and eternal home is with Jesus Christ, and only with His help can we begin to understand the intricate and complex workings of life as we know it. This may seem overwhelming, but let it be of comfort. We are not supposed to understand everything in this world—not yet. If you find yourself struggling with feelings of doubt or discouragement, let this song serve as a source of hope and encouragement. One day we will be reunited with our heavenly Father, who will take away all our pain, confusion, and trouble.

Take some time to listen to the rest of the song below!

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

I Cried All Day Yesterday

“I cried all day yesterday so that I could be strong for the family today.” If you should ever wonder what kind of people work at the Catholic Cemeteries Association, the quotation above says it all. We know that families need us to be strong when they are broken, to guide them with love and compassion. We give a piece of ourselves to that family as we help them through the most difficult of tragedies. Giving the family a piece of our heart is the only way we know how to do this ministry. I know that every single member of the Catholic Cemeteries Association staff willingly gives of themselves to serve when families need us most.

To all the families served by the Catholic Cemeteries Association staff, whether it is the CEO or the staff member preparing the final place of rest, know that we accept our responsibility with reverence and are devoted to the person loved by you and entrusted to our care.

 

– Andrej Lah, Director of the Catholic Cemeteries Association

 

John Joseph Bernet: Railroad Tycoon

John Joseph Bernet, later called the “Doctor of Sick Railroads” is an example of someone who took their business skills and achieved measureable success. Throughout his successful career, Bernet made sure to be charitable and humble. Keep reading to learn more about this intelligent figure!

 

john bernet.jpg
Photo Credit

 

John Joseph Bernet was born on February 9th, 1868 in Brant, New York. His father, Bernard Bernet, was a blacksmith and at a young age John became an apprentice at his father’s shop. However, the pairing wasn’t meant to be, as John was not as skilled at the craft as his father. Seeing that he needed to explore other career options, Bernet developed his telegraphy skills and was eventually hired to work for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway in 1889. It wasn’t long before Bernet worked his way up through various positions and became a Vice President for the New York Central Railroad, controlling all the lines west of Buffalo. But this was only the beginning for Bernet.  

In 1969, Bernet was asked to lead the Nickel Plate Railroad. Under his leadership, the railroad experienced massive success. This was largely due to upgrades proposed by Bernet which included doubling the total freight capacity and doubling speed while simultaneously cutting fuel costs. After leaving the Nickel Plate Railroad in 1926, Bernet became president of the Erie Railroad. Again, the railroad experienced much success due to his innovative cost-cutting measures. During the Great Depression, Bernet was brought on as President of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, and with his leadership the company actually experienced a profit in the midst of the Great Depression, and even paid dividends in 1932.

Bernet held this position for only a short time, however, as in 1933 he returned as President of the Nickel Plate Railroad. He remained president until his death in 1935. He passed away in his home in Cleveland, OH and is buried in Calvary Cemetery (Sec #78, Crypt #6, Grave #2) Bernet was a man of strong faith and is noted for his charitable giving. In fact, Bernet was involved in the construction of the dormitories at John Carroll University. So much so, that the first residence hall was named Bernet Hall in his honor. Bernet is a wonderful example of someone who used their business acumen and followed a passion to serve God and others.

Post written by Katie Karpinski