Music and the Gospel: “Big Yellow Taxi,” Counting Crows ft. Vanessa Carlton; 1st Sunday of Advent

Whether a friend moves away or the open field down the street becomes a housing development, we often don’t realize how special the friend or the open space was until we no longer have them. We grow so used to God’s wondrous creation surrounding us that we easily take it for granted. It is important to treasure all that God has created in this beautiful world, and through this appreciation work to preserve our kin in creation.

Key Lines: “Don’t it always seem to go / That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone / They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot”

Questions: What did you last eat or drink? Where does this nourishment come from? How does God’s creation produce this food for you? How do you show appreciation for these gifts from creation?




Music and the Gospel: “Use Somebody,” Kings of Leon; Feast of Christ the King

God asks each of us to love our neighbors — this includes those who live next door and those that live half way around the world. When those we love are in need of our attention and help, we give to them without hesitation. People all over the world are asking for help, for “someone like you” to take loving action.

Key Lyrics: “You know that I could use somebody / You know that I could use somebody / Someone like you”

Questions: Think of a time when you needed somebody, how were you able to get help? Beyond assisting you with what you needed, how did the person helping you provide that help? Did they talk to you in a certain way or listen to your frustrations? When you are helping others, what can you carry with you from your own experiences of being helped?

Music and the Gospel: “Girl on Fire,” Alicia Keys

St. Ignatius of Loyola, whom we read about last week, told those who trained with him, “Go forth and set the world on fire.” By this he meant: share your gifts and passions in an unrelenting, larger-than-life way. Let your gifts spark life within you and ignite the light in others, helping our world to burn a bit brighter each day.

Key Lines: “Oh, she got both feet on the ground / And she’s burning it down / Oh, she got her head in the clouds / And she’s not backing down”

Questions: Without talking, stand up and put your body into a position that expresses what it feels like when you are holding something in or keeping a secret. Now move to a position that expresses what it feels like when you are giving it your all. Turn to the person next to you and tell them about a moment that made you feel like you were “burning it down” or “on top of the world.”

Music and the Gospel: “Suddenly I See,” KT Tunstall; Dedication of St. John Lateran

Through prayer and reflection we are able to witness God at work in our lives. By taking time to be still and know God, we gain clarity on what stirs our heart. When we are suddenly able to see and feel our gifts and passions, we are able to share our lives zealously with the world.

Key Lines: “Suddenly I see (suddenly I see) / This is what I wanna be”

Questions: What did you see today that was beautiful? What made you feel excited and joyful today? What choices can you make tomorrow to enjoy the same excitement and beauty?


Dias los Muertos

via Flickr user Gwyn Fisher

via Flickr user Gwyn Fisher

In Mexican culture, All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day are important feast days. Mexican families make Dias los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altars, on which they put photos and mementos of deceased loved ones. They honor the dead with ofrendas — flowers, favorite food, and candles. Families also put sweet breads and water on the altars, the basic nourishment for human life.

On All Souls Day itself people take the food from the altars to the graves of family members. They clean around the graves and decorate them with marigolds (zempasuchil) and other flowers.

Marigolds are the symbolic flowers of death of the Aztec people of ancient Mexico. Family members picnic in the cemetary, light incense and candles, and keep vigils into the night. These customs introduce children to grandparents, aunts, and uncles they may never have known in life. It also eases fear of death. On this day the living visit the dead, and the dead come to life in the memories of their families and friends.

via Flickr user Heidi Reyes

via Flickr user Heidi Reyes



Put your faith in action this week by visiting family members’ graves and take flowers. If your family graves are not nearby, visit your parish cemetery or nearest cemetery.




Music and the Gospel: “See You Again,” Carrie Underwood; All Souls day

All Souls Day is a time to remember and pray for our lost loved ones. As followers of Jesus, we each bring God’s love to life in our own ways. In our Church we live in communion with all who walked this earth and showed Jesus’ teaching to others through their lives. We can keep the spirit of those we have lost alive by learning from their lives. Remembering how they lived the gospel and incorporating these actions into our own lives allows us to spread their love throughout our communities.

Key lines: “But I won’t cry / Cause I know I’ll never be lonely / For you are the stars to me / You are the light I follow.”

Questions: Call to mind a person you have lost or a saint that you identify with. What do you admire about the person? What made him or her special? How can you keep this person’s spirit alive in your daily life?