Diocese of Ogdensburg

The Roman Catholic Church in Northern New York

Happy New Liturgical Year. 

On December 2, Advent starts and with it we begin a new liturgical calendar year.   As is the tradition, I would like to share with you a few advent resources, some familiar ones that show up every year, and some new ideas.  I would also like to suggest you check the Department of Family Life page.  It will have wonderful family traditions, prayers and crafts  that you can use to make this Advent special. 

Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ, both at Christmas and his second coming at the end of time.   In our culture, it has become a time of almost frantic activity: shopping for the perfect gifts for under the tree.  We will be bombarded with Christmas music and the usual arguments whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and often we allow Advent to be overtaken by all the noise and activity so that when the Christmas season actually begins on Christmas Eve, the world is ready to be done with the festivities.

So this year, may I recommend that you take some time out to pause and reflect and enter into the silence of Advent.

A good place to start is with an advent calendar.  There are a variety for sale at local stores or online, but there are also digital calendars.  One of these, along with a great deal of advent resources can be found on the USCCB's website: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/advent/  

usccb advent calendar


When I was a child, we had advent calendars that behind each little door was a piece of chocolate.   But you can also create a "reverse" advent calendar.  This is an activity that is especially fun if done with a group or at the office.  For each day of Advent, list an item that would be useful for your local food pantry or charitable organization.  Perhaps see what items they normally do not get but may have a great need of: things like toiletries or spices, socks or hats, school supplies. 

Another way to give back, rather than worrying about what will be under our own trees this year is to check out Catholic Relief Services Advent page.  Again they also offer an online advent calendar for inspiration as well as reflection for each Sunday of Advent as well as prayer resources: https://www.crs.org/resource-center/advent-resources-your-parish




There are wonderful daily meditation booklets available from all the Catholic Publishers.  Here is a selection:

Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary from Ascension Press: It is a prayer journal, with a daily word, reflection, psalm, a reading and then a prompt for you to journal and help you reflect and enter more deeply into the season of Advent.



Bishop Barron offers a booklet with Advent Gospel Reflections.  Similar to last year's booklet is has the reading and Bishop Barron's reflection for the day, plus, this year, there is space to journal and write your own reflections.



Sacred Reading for Advent and Christmas 2018–2019 from Ave Maria Press by the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network


sacred reading


Advent Meditations With Fulton J. Sheen from Pauline Books and Media



Waiting For Christ: Meditate with Bl. John Henry Newman From the Augustine Institute



Other Advent Resource Pages:

From Loyola Press see these resources: https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/liturgical-year/advent




From IgnationSpirituality.com there are a a variety of online prayer resources including making an online retreat:




Of course, since Advent is the beginning of a liturgical new year, how about making a liturgical new year's resolution?

The USCCB has created a Prayer Resource for personal meditation, family prayer or small group reflections on the Sunday Gospel for the entire year.   This Lectio Divina of the Gospels is available from the USCCB



The office of New Evangelization wishes you and yours a prayerful advent!




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Book Review:

Blessed are the Bored in Spirit: A Young Catholic’s Search for Meaning By Mark Hart

This is a fantastic  book for older teens, young adults and parents! If you ever feel like you are just checking off a to-do box when going to Church or preparing for the Sacraments, this book is for you!  God want to transform us, make us into a new creation, love us despite our messes. There is so much more to our faith than the rules we all know by heart.  If you ever wondered what faith is really for, how you can be spiritual AND religious, what discipleship and a relationship with Jesus is all about, this book is for you!

Mark Hart uses stories from his own life and faith, failures and successes to illustrate the Truths of our Faith. He offers practical steps we can take to draw closer to Jesus and to enter onto the path to sainthood.  We are all called to holiness, and not a pious, plaster-cast statue type holines, but real, flesh and blood transformed in the Spirit, holiness.  He shows us, with his characteristic sense of humor, the three things – our perspective, our approach and our self-offering -need to be transformed in order to be open to the encounter with Christ.  

This would be a terrific book for anyone who works with teens, for catechists who may need a shot in the arm, for parents who want their kids to remain faithful Catholics, but aren’t sure how to explain the faith, and for older teens and young adults who are wondering about the meaning of life and the why of faith and church.

Note for parents of younger teens: I would recommend reading it first.  There is a chapter dealing with issues relating to sex and other related themes. 

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Book Review: 

Meditations. Reverb Culture: Meditations on Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Volume One: The Profession of Faith

By Edmund Mitchell

Reverb Culture Press


reverbculture meditations

This is a lovely little book for praying with and through Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The quote in the front of the book from Abraham Villela speaks volumes: Scripture is lie words from my Father, and the Catechism is like words from my Mother.”

This book has taken passages from scripture and corresponding sections and paragraphs of the Catechism and juxtaposed them for your reflection on the profession of faith, one small bite at a time. For example, under Jesus Christ – The Son of God, we are given the passage of Mathew 3:13-17 (the baptism of the Lord)  juxtaposed with CCC422 (God sent for this Son, born of a woman, born under the law … ) and CCC444 (speaking about the baptism and transfiguration …) and then the book simply leaves room for you to journal your own prayer, reflection, meditation on who this Jesus is.

If you like praying Lectio Divina, pondering the words of scripture as a means of prayer, you will love this little book for your private prayer.  It also gives another dimension of using the Catechism to assist in interpreting scripture or giving another lens through which to pray the creed.

I could see how this book could be used for group prayer and faith sharing. Reading the passages out loud in a small group and allowing the Holy Spirit to move for members of a prayer group to share their reflections and meditations could be a powerful way to help people to pray and share their faith or their journey.

At the end of the book of 30 chapters focused on elements the profession of faith, is a listing of the Gospel readings for each Sunday of the Year (A B and C) juxtaposed with the corresponding paragraphs form the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  These can be used throughout the years to prepare for Mass and to come to understand our faith in a deeper, more personal way.

Available from www.ReverbCulture.com  

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Today is the first Friday of Lent.   I find that the beginning of Lent is often hard until I get into the groove of whatever I have given up or taken on.  It takes a while to break habits, like not checking social media on the phone.  



First of all, check your parish bulletin or website:   Most parishes offer Lenten opportunities for prayer such as the Stations of the Cross.  Many will offer Lenten Parish Missions or opportunities for adult faith formation.  There will be fish fries and soup suppers to help build community and fundraise for those less fortunate.  If you are not sure if your parish has a website, check Parish Directory on the Diocesan Website.




180214 social justice prayer card front


The diocesan Public Policy Committee has created a resource in conjunction with the season of Lent based on the 7 themes of Catholic social teaching. The committee has created a downloadable prayer card as well as a webpage which will include a series of articles in the weeks to come on each of the 7 themes. The articles will also appear in the North Country Catholic. The first article, summarizing the themes is currently available.  For more information please see the public policy webpage under the "About the Diocese" section on the Diocesan website or click HERE.



The Cursillo movening is offering a Lenten Day of Reflection at St. Augustine Church, Peru, NY, on Saturday, March 03, 2018 from 10:00AM to 5:30PM

Join Bishop Terry LaValley, Fr. Alan Shnob, Fr. Timothy Canaan, Fr. Albert Hauser,Fr. Jack Downs and Deacon David Clark for a day of talks, prayer, personal witness, recollection and opportunity for Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Lunch will be provided. Anticipated Sunday Mass will be celebrated by Bishop LaValley at 4:30PM at St. Augustine Church in Peru, NY. Pre-registration is requested to assure seating and food. A donation of $10/adult is suggested upon arrival to help defray expenses. Please pre-register by email or phone no later than Monday Feb. 26, 2018: Kathy Racette, kathyracette@gmail.com, 518-314-1505 or Ken Racette, kracette1a@gmail.com, 518-578-3056





Our Sunday Visitor is offering a FREE little 9-page e-book guide to LENT http://response.osv.com/the-catholic-guide-to-making-lent-matter/ which covers some of the reasons behind our Lenten practices as well as offer some ideas to try .



Ascension Press has a wonderful program on LECTIO DIVINA called OREMUS which comes with a DVD set of 8 30-minute DVDs, workbooks and leader guides.  For free, you can watch the introduction to how to pray Lectio Divina on YouTube: You can watch these below: 


part 2

Part 3

Part 4




For previous lenten resources see: 





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tied in knots


Book Review: Tied in Knots: Finding Peace in Today's World.  By Greg Willits.  (Our Sunday Visitor)


Are you anxious?  Can’t find the joy in life?  Are you stressed out?  Are you stuck in a rut and just going through the motions, whether at work, at home or in your faith life? Then this book may be for you.

Tied in Knots by Greg Willits has written a wonderful little book based on his own experience to help us look at the knots in our lives that may be the cause of anxiety, stress or malaise in our lives.  Greg Willits shows us how  he was able to untangle those things that were binding him down and through his expert story-telling, we too can discover and untangle the knots in our life and rediscover the joy we lost.

For those of you who have listened to Greg (and his lovely wife Jennifer) over the years through podcasts or Sirius Radio (Rosary Army, The Catholics Next Door, Adventures in Imperfect Living), will recognize the style and humor as well as his struggles with obstacles to channel his gifts and creativity while providing for his family. Besides engaging stories that anyone will be able to relate to, the book offers practical tools and prayers to break through those knots that keep you from finding the joy and passion in life again leading to lasting peace.

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180122 book lenten healing

Book Review: Lenten Healing: 40 Days to Set You Free from SinBy Ken Kniepmann  (Ave Maria Press)

I received a lovely little book to review from Ave Maria Press called Lenten Healing: 40 Days to Set You Free from Sin by Ken Kniepmann. The format at first seemed familiar.  It is a daily reflection book for Lent, but it comes with a twist.  Rather than reflecting on the readings for the day, Ken Kniepman covers each of the seven deadly sins and connects them to their corresponding virtues.  Each week of Lent covers on of the deadly sins, the corresponding virtue, connects them to wounds in our lives and how we can heal those wounds. 

I did a quick read of the book in order to review it in time for Lent, but of course, the purpose of this book is not that you sit and read it cover to cover in one sitting.  Rather, we are invited to read the daily portion of the book, usually about 2 pages, and use it as a springboard for prayer and reflection.  Each day has a short reading to introduce the topic, whether it be a sin or a wound or virtue to counter the sin. Then two short related verses from scripture to deepen our reflection by listening to God speak to us.  These are followed by one or two reflection questions and a short meditative prayer. 

I plan on using this book as part of my own Lenten journey this year.  I like to journal each morning, and for me, the value is in the reflection questions which will prompt my daily journaling.  I can also see it as a gentle way to uncover hidden wounds that cause me to struggle with the same sins over and over again.  This book aims to help us see the connections between our sins and the deeper, often hidden wounds and reasons we are drawn to those sins, allowing God’s grace to heal so that we may live out the corresponding virtues.

If you struggle with the deadly sins, whether, sloth, pride, envy, greed, gluttony, anger or lust, this may be the book for your Lenten reading this year. The Lord wants to set us free to live a virtuous life that we may encounter love and happiness.  May this Lent be a season of healing and mercy.   


For more Lenten Resources see: https://www.rcdony.org/evangelization/blog/1535-lenten-resources-2018.html 

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lent2018. no resources


Here are a few resources for prayer, reading, reflection.  


Daily Lent by Email or Text:

Many groups will have Lenten emails where you can subscribe to get a daily email or text for prayer and reflection.  Here are a few to consider:


Living Lent Daily by Loyola Press based on the book A Friendship Life No Other by William A. Barry, SJ

best lent 

Best Lent Ever is a daily email with a video by Matthew Kelly and Dynamic Catholic with practical tips to incorporate into your daily life


Daily Gospel Reflections by Bishop Barron (not just for Lent).  Word on Fire also has daily reflection booklet available which can also be bought in bulk


Carpe Verbum: Sign up to get a text of email every day to a step-by-step prayer guide.  It is designed for teens, but adult can use it too!


Online Retreats:


An Ignatian Prayer Adventure is an online 8-week retreat, so perfect for Lent and Easter adapted from the Spiritual Exercises.  It is based on the longer book format by Kevin O’Brien, SJ called the Ignatian Adventure    


The Ignatian Workout for Lent Retreat: is based on the book by Tim Muldoon by the same title.

creaighton online 

Creighton Ministries Lenten Online Retreat: This is a retreat for busy people.  It includes a guide, a photo and a variety of reflections to help you pray each week.


Books, Booklets and Pamphlets:

Of course every Catholic Publisher has a wide selection of books, booklets and pamphlets for Lent. 

Here is a list of some publisher’s Lenten book catalogs:

paulinePauline Books and Media


iggipressIgnatius Press


osvOur Sunday Visitor


avemariaAve Maria Press


liturgical pressLiturgical Press 


sophia pressSophia Press


loyolapressLoyola Press


Some of my favorites books tools and resources for Lent:


Just reading and reflecting on the Mass Readings of the Day: these can be found in a missal, WORD AMONG US, in a variety of free apps (for example IBreviary or Lectio Divina or online via the USCCB website )


By the way, the USCCB offers a wonderful online Lenten Calendar and other resources.


Of course, a wonderful way to pray, fast, learn and give is through the CRS Rice Bowl.  It is more than just putting your spare change in a box: there are recipes, and activities and reflections.  Start HERE .


Maryknoll has some wonderful resources for lent, including reflection guides for small group discussion HERE


More to come:

We will add future posts with book reviews and other ideas for Lent. New posts and resources will be listed below as we review them:

UPDATE 1/23/2018:  Book Review: Lenten Healing: 40 Days to Set You Free from Sin. By Ken Kniepmann  (Ave Maria Press)

UPDATE 2/16/2018:  More Lenten Resources 2018

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180103 catholic hipster


Catholic Hipster Handbook: Rediscovering Cool Saints, Forgotten Prayers and Other Weird but Sacred Stuff

If you are looking for a fun read that still manages to remind you of what makes being Catholic cool yet countercultural, this is the book for you!  And you do not need to be a hipster to enjoy it. 

I found this gem of a book, co-written by about 15 bloggers and authors, to be a wonderful collection of Catholic devotions and practices, with each chapter liberally supported by a classic prayer, a short biography of a saint related to the topic at hand and an activity that will help you put your faith in action.

Each section starts with the word “rediscover” … Rediscover the Attitude, Rediscover the Stuff, Rediscover the Life, and Rediscover the Attraction.  The book reminds us of the who we are in God’s eyes – that we are children of God and that we loved. It reminds us about the catholic practices that may have been left by the wayside but are being rediscovered by a new generation: from novenas, to chaplets to relics and brewing beer, growing beards and wearing sandals … all the while not being afraid of having a good sense of humor and a good dose of laughter with friends.

If you think our faith is boring, or irrelevant or just passé, check out this fun book, and rediscover (or discover for the first time) what continues to draw young people to this beautiful and ancient faith.   

The Catholic Hipster Handbook (225 pages)  is published by Ave Maria Press and edited by Tommy Tighe (www.catholichipster.com).

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Vignettes edited 1


2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16/Rom 16:25-27/Lk 1:26-38 

Mary said YES!. She didn't have to.  She could have said 'thanks but no.'  She could have said 'when it is more convenient.'  We can learn a lot from Mary's yes.  How do we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Are we even open to listen? How often do we say things like: someone should do something about that? Maybe that someone is you! Or perhaps we have an inspired idea for something, but out of fear or false modesty, we keep it to ourselves. Mary's yes was courageous.  She trusted God's will for her.  Perhaps today we can find a quiet place, and ask Mary for help to know and say yes to God's will in our own lives.    Have a joy-filled and blessed Christmas season!

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