National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

December’s Cast of Characters

User’s Guide to Sunday

BY Tom and April Hoopes

November 30-December 6, 2008 Issue | Posted 11/24/08 at 1:08 PM


Saturday, Dec. 6, is St. Nicholas’ day. Sunday, Dec. 7, is the Second Sunday in Advent (Year B, Cycle I). Monday, Dec. 8, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Tuesday, Dec. 9, is St. Juan Diego’s day. Friday, Dec. 12, is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Parish offers “Best Parish Practices.”

With Advent comes almsgiving. It’s a good time to look into ways of normalizing parish income. ParishPay is the largest religious donation and tuition payment processor in the country, reports EPriest, and it offers the tools you need to begin scheduled online giving.

“We have about 20% of our regular contributors using ParishPay. It keeps growing,” says Msgr. Francis Kelley, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Roslindale, Mass. “I think the process of using the automatic deduction makes us think, ‘Well, I can do more than that.’”

EPriest has lots more details.


On Monday, pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary — not the Joyful Mysteries. By looking at the consequences for Mary of her Immaculate Conception, you remind kids that the day is about Mary’s conception, not Christ’s.


This is as good a week as any to remember CCC of America cartoons. Perhaps you’ve never seen these high quality (but Hanna-Barbera-style) animated videos on Catholic themes. Kids love them. There is one for several of the feasts in early December: Francis Xavier and the Samurai’s Lost Treasure is good, though not one of the best. Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa is one of the best. And Juan Diego: Messenger of Guadalupe is excellent, too.


Sunday: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85:9-14; Second Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8

Monday: Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalms 98:1, 2-4; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38 offers free homily packs for priests.

Our Take

The special days we’ve listed here are a great way to introduce families and congregations to an extraordinary cast of Catholic characters:

• St. Nicholas, the bishop of Myra. Here is a great bishop and martyr who was known as a wonder-worker. He is one type of Christian: the choleric man with boundless energy and imagination, who sticks to his principles through thick and thin. He’s like Pope John Paul II.

• John the Baptist, the radical preacher living on locusts, is introduced to us in Sunday’s reading. He’s another type of Christian: the man who cares nothing for himself, but only exists to communicate Christ to the world. Mother Teresa was this kind of person.

• Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception: Mary is a pattern for all Christians, and this is a great feast of her “pattern-ness,” because it’s the celebration of her as conceived without original sin. In the Our Father we pray that “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Mary did just that — and we can follow her example.

• St. Juan Diego, the humble Indian peasant, is another type of Christian. He is a simple man, without erudition or special talents that we know of. But he had a heart filled with love, and that made all the difference. This is the kind of saint many of us have known personally — the daily communicant who is quiet but constant, the relative who is unassuming but always faithful.

• Our Lady of Guadalupe draws our attention to another aspect of Mary: a strange juxtaposition of Mary in her glory and in her ordinariness. She’s clothed with the sun, cloaked with stars — but with a humble, downcast Aztec face.

Mary, pray for us! Pray that our own personality will become part of heaven’s cast of characters.