The Joy is Growing!

Joy marks the third week of Advent. We light the pink  or rose candle, as this week is meant to bring rejoicing. The time of preparation is halfway over. The joy is growing!

Jesus, our Savior, is near. Not just in the day of Christmas but in the reality that He will come again. Joy in knowing that working on our relationship with Him will bring us closer to heaven. Joy that working on this relationship with others will bring heaven closer to earth. Joy that all will be made well for those who place their trust in Him.

As you ponder faith and joy, I share this passage from You: God’s Brand New Idea, a book of reflections that draws from other texts, to inspire and motivate you as we draw closer to Christmas. Have faith! Rejoice!

God has never taken his eyes off of you. Not for a millisecond. He’s always near. He lives to hear your heartbeat. He loves to hear your prayers. He’d die for your sin before he’d let you die in your sin, so he did.

What do you do with such a Savior?

Don’t you sing to him? Don’t you declare, confess, and proclaim his name? Don’t you bow a knee, lower a head, hammer a nail, feed the poor, and lift up your gift in worship? Of course you do.

Worship God. Applaud him loud and often. For your sake, you need it.

And for heaven’s sake, he deserves it. (Cure for the Common Life)

 

Jill Fischer is Principal of St. Dominic Catholic Parish

 

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Prayer in a Busy Life

December is a very busy month for everyone and it’s very easy to get caught up in your list of things to do.

But it’s also an important month for prayer and reflection. Writer Christina Antus posted this short article on Catholic Digest.

How do I fit prayer into my already insane schedule of things? Well, there are a lot of ways to fit prayer time in.

  • Running or walking. Whatever your exercise regime may be, it’s a good time to check out of this life and tune into your spiritual life. It could be silence, meditation, or prayer.
  • Podcasts on your errands. Listen to favorite podcasts and audio books when dropping kids off at school and running errands like a crazy person. It puts a sense of calm and positive perspective into what otherwise can quickly become a frantic day.
  • Using sock-folding as makeshift decades. I know it sounds ridiculous, but we have enough socks to make a full rosary. We have enough laundry to say the rosary for 40 years. The nice thing about the rosary is you don’t have to say it all once. It makes for a pretty awesome “on-the-go” prayer.
  • Daily devotionals. I have a book that has very short devotionals for women. It takes me five minutes to read it, and each ends with a prayer and reflection. It’s an excellent way to start or end your day. You can use the prayers to set your day on the right path or use it to reflect on the past day and focus on the next.

These are just a few examples of how to bring prayer and reflection into your everyday life. Maybe you have one that works better for you…we’d love to hear about it. Share your thoughts below.

During these last busy days before Christmas, it’s important that we find time to prepare our hearts and mind for the birth of Christ.

Are You Ready for Advent?

This will not be a surprise to anyone: December is a crazy, hectic month. We all have a lot going on. It’s tough to keep us with all of the shopping, entertaining, planning, coordinating and decorating.

As we continue our theme of “Being Ready,” we look at three things you can do to take full advantage of the Advent Season. But let me warn you, it will take some energy and dedication. But it is so worth it.

Create a Plan. It’s not too late. Come up with a schedule that allows you to sit for fifteen minutes and catch your breath. This is the perfect time to read, reflect, and pray. You choose how often you would like to do this. Pick days and times, and add it to your calendar. Look for ways to get closer to God.

Light the Advent Wreath. Take time each day to light the candles on the wreath and say a short prayer. Many families do this before dinner. Take turns reading bible passages or sharing thoughts on getting ready for the birth of Jesus. Make sure it is a quiet and reflective time, even if only for a few minutes.

Put Your Words into Action. Choose one thing for you and your family to do together this Advent Season. Collect food for a pantry. Buy gifts for a family in need. Find a charity to support. Discuss it one evening after you light your Advent Wreath. Decide what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.

Hope

Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is a confident expectation of finding God.

Hope springs from abandonment to the will of the Father. It is indescribable. It is overwhelming in magnitude. It is beyond all reason.

Hope is joy, love, awesomeness, and more all wrapped up into a small little word. Jesus is hope.

To have a relationship with Him is all a person needs because that is where hope resides.

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic Parish.

 

Tune in to Advent

I tend to consider Advent to be the forgotten liturgical season. The secular culture totally dismisses it in its rush toward Christmas. We have the special privilege to be countercultural, if we allow ourselves to be.

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. It is a time to reflect upon the past through the anticipation of the Lord’s birth 2017 years ago. We are able to anticipate His coming at Christmas now. We are able to focus on living a life dedicated to Him in anticipation of His coming at the end of time, whenever that is. We are to live each day as if it is the day of that coming. Are you ready?

When Jesus comes, it won’t matter if we got the Christmas gifts bought or if we were able to make that last batch of cookies. While all of that is nice, it is certain that it will be more important how we used our time to do His work. Did we take the time to build a relationship with Him in order to understand what we are called to be and do?

  • Did we stay connected to Him through prayer and the sacraments?
  • Did we do our best to be Jesus to those we meet and to those we already know?
  • Did others come to know Jesus through us?

I am fairly certain that the answers to these questions will be more important than if we mailed all the Christmas cards.

If I may suggest a way to help slow down the pace around us and tune in to Advent, join me in a daily retreat with Matthew Kelly through Best Advent Ever! I did Best Lent Ever last year and loved it! I am sure that something from this experience will stick with you.

https://dynamiccatholic.com/best-advent-ever

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.

Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chairs

A few years ago some friends of mine had a baby. They recently moved to a new home several hundred miles from my house, so it wasn’t easy for me to visit them. So instead, I sent them a gift: Sweet Surroundings Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chair. (Yes, it was a bouncy chair shaped like a monkey.)

I wanted this gift to be unique, something special, something that would let them know that I was so very happy for them.

I placed my order, selected my delivery method, and off it went. And then I waited.

And I waited. No call. No email. No text. No thank you note. Nothing.

I wondered if they received the gift. Could there have been a problem with shipping? Maybe it was sent to the wrong address?

A few weeks passed, and I started to get concerned, as I still had not heard from my friends. That evening,  I went onto Facebook and I stumbled upon some newly posted family photos. The baby was adorable, and Mom and Dad were beaming with pride. But then I looked closer at one of the shots in the living room.  There, in the back of the room, against the wall, was my Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chair.

They simply forgot to say “thanks for the gift.”

This experience made me think. How many gifts has God given me in my life? Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Have I always remembered to say thank you? Have I always been grateful for everything that God has given me?

This month, theROCK is focused on Being Ready. A big part of being ready is always being ready to say thank you.

There is nothing better in life than sincere gratitude.

God has given me lots of Monkey Deluxe Bouncy Chairs in my life. I think it’s time that I sit down and write him some serious thank you notes.

 

Dan Herda is a member of St. Dominic Catholic Parish Marketing Committee, and one of the editors of theROCK.

 

The Blessing Box

For the last 15 years, I have had the privilege of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my family. This tradition includes both sides of the family and results in about 24 people. While this sounds like a big deal, it really isn’t, as I only cook the turkey and other family members contribute to the feast.

When I began hosting, I initiated a family practice called the Blessing Box. The “blessing box” is placed in a central location with strips of paper and markers. Throughout the afternoon, everyone is to write a blessing they are feeling onto a slip of paper and place it in the “blessing box.”

Just before dinner, I take the collected strips and distribute them randomly among the guests. We circle around in anticipation of the sharing. I call the group together, thanking them for coming and joining us before announcing, “May the blessings of one be the blessings of all.” We then take turns reading what is on the slip as we go around the circle. When the circle of sharing is complete, we say the meal prayer.

When the children were smaller, we were blessed in gratitude for Elmo, blankies, potty training, and school. Now that we are 15 years older, our blessings are becoming more profound and sentimental. I have collected these blessings in scrapbooks. The scrapbooks have become part of the Thanksgiving tradition as well. It is fun to look back on pictures of dearly departed family members and their blessings written in their handwriting.

These little nuggets of history begin “remember when” conversations that knit our family tighter together. When we do have guests join us, they become part of the story. While I ponder what I will share as my blessing this year, I can’t help but think of the community and story I have found myself woven into here at St. Dominic.

Five years ago, I knew the Lord sent me here for a purpose. While I pray for the wisdom, courage, knowledge, and understanding to fully execute that purpose, I do know that it was Divine Providence. I have gained so much from being a part of
St. Dominic that I can’t help but feel blessed. I am blessed to come to work and not ever really feel like this is work. I am blessed to engage with people who appreciate their Catholic faith and common purpose.

I am blessed to be surrounded by the most genuine, hard-working teachers and staff members, who are dedicated to the well-being of the children. I am blessed to feel the love and joy of 433 children every day. God is good! All the time!

As I gather with my family in gratitude, please know that you are counted among my many blessings.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. Peace!

 

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic Parish

Guiding Principles

The other day I met with Barry, a former co-worker of mine. He wanted to pick my brain on some computer technical issues. He is building a training website for his sales team, and wanted some advice on how to get the project started.

“The first thing you must do,” I said, “is write down the goal for the site. Don’t assume everyone knows what it is. Decide on a very specific goal, then write it down. What do you want this site to be?”

I watched Barry scribble this in his notebook. He then looked up at me waiting for more. That’s when I stopped and smiled.

“Do you know what the problem is with most internal training websites? They have too much stuff on it. People get confused and they don’t know where to find anything. They can’t determine what’s important.”

That’s when I explained guiding principles. “Choose four or five guiding principles or rules for the site. Every video, every training guide, every document must follow one of your guiding principles.”

Barry looked at me with a confused look on his face. “How do I know what my guiding principles are?”

I smiled. “That, my friend, is the important question. That’s for you to decide.”

I knew Barry wanted an easy answer, but it wasn’t that simple.

Later that night while I was driving home from work, I thought about our conversation and how it related to faith in my life.

Am I sometimes too busy reacting to everything in life instead of being proactive in my approach to each day? Do I have too much stuff in my life? Can I always determine what’s important?

What is my ultimate goal?

What are my guiding principles?

What are yours?

The only way to truly grow closer to God is to live intentionally. Take out your notebook and jot down your goal and guiding principles.

This month theROCK is focused on Being Ready.

Are You Ready?

Do you consider yourself a proactive or reactive person? Do you find yourself simply trying to keep up with life? At the end of the day when your head hits the pillow, do you still have items on your to-do list?

The reality is that too many of us go through our days letting the circumstances of life dictate what we do and ultimately, who we are. We become reactive.

What would happen if we became a bit more proactive? What if we made plans to truly focus on things that really matter most?

This month, theROCK focuses on Being Ready. We will look at how to set up a plan to become the person you’ve always wanted to be. We’ll hear from an expert on what you can do to live in the moment. And we’ll discover how to make the most of every minute of every day.

Let’s start right now.

Think of one thing that can help you grow in your faith. It may be praying more, reading more, putting your words into actions. It can be anything that helps bring you closer to God. Make it simple.

Now…choose a day on the calendar, and put that item as a “to-do.” Schedule it for a specific time, much like an outside appointment. When that day comes, make sure you treat that “to-do” with the respect it deserves.

Then schedule it again. And again. Until it starts to become a habit.

It’s that simple.

So, what can you do today to Be Ready for tomorrow?

Share your thoughts with us.

Children Are Watching

I was recently reminded of how impressionable our children are. With the current pace of our world, one can forget to take the time to shield them, or at least teach them, about what they see and hear in light of our Catholic faith.

A few weeks back, an event happened at recess that put me in a situation to look our culture square in the eye as it played out on our baseball diamonds.

I am sure you are all too aware of the NFL controversies around the National Anthem, player’s rights, the role of the president, and all of those components that personally, make me shake my head.

 

Regardless of your opinions and mine, one can’t deny the impression this is making on our young people when in a moment of playing an innocent game of kickball, the players in the field stop to take a knee.

What? Yes, a group of children playing kickball took it upon themselves to just stop and take a knee. I saw it and was a bit dumbfounded. I waited to see what would happen next – some shouting to get on with the game, some exasperated looks of “What is going on?”, and then eventually the game resumed. Interested, I continued to watch. The fielding team went in to take their turn at bat. As anticipated, the now fielding team took a stab at pausing the game to take a knee as retaliation played out.

The teachable moment was upon me. I called “Time Out” and brought everyone to the pitcher’s mound. I asked the group in as innocent a way as possible, “What are you doing by kneeling down?” The initiator said he was protesting. I asked, “What are you protesting?” No one really knew how to answer. I asked if they knew what it meant to protest. They didn’t know. I explained.

After explaining, I then asked what they would be protesting about this recess. They didn’t have any clue, as nothing was wrong. Clearly, they just saw individuals that they idolize doing this, thought it was cool, and followed suit. That bothered me. What bothered me more was the way the children followed the leader not knowing what the leader was doing. That is really scary. I furthered the teachable moment along this vein – children do not have to simply do what others do. If you don’t understand or don’t agree, don’t follow.

Conscience formation is a critical component of what we do at school. We have opportunities to catch impressionable minds in social situations that parents may not always get.

Parents as primary educators are the first teachers of right and wrong. How parents “teach” when reacting to television, radio, movies, or media in anyway is teaching the children and forming a conscience.

Children are watching. Children are listening. Children are emulating what they see. Let’s be vigilant together.

 

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.