Today, my wonderful wife, Kathleen, is guest-posting over at Bonnie Engstrom's blog. She highlights several of our family's Advent traditions including our Advent candles and Jesse tree:
If you have ever been 37 weeks pregnant, you know the excited anticipation that comes with knowing a baby is on the way, a baby who can be born at any moment. You count down the days, wondering if today might be the day. The anticipation throughout Advent is somewhat dampened because we all know the ending (and when it will happen.) We celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25, year after year. So, I wondered, how can we revive that?
After my oldest son’s first Christmas, feeling so overwhelmed with all the busyness of the season—going from here to there, decorating, all the gift-giving—I felt the need to just stop and enjoy the quiet anticipation of Advent. Around that same time, I came across a tradition where some families do not put up a Christmas tree or decorate until Christmas Eve. At first, this seemed odd. Wouldn't “procrastinating” to put up the Christmas decorations make everything even more hurried and rushed?
Today I'm over at Ignitum Today writing about the forgotten Pope and his letter to Mark Twain:
What if Cardinal Timothy Dolan became Pope? That's probably a long-shot, but it's a question I've been hearing more and more especially as his star rises across the world. When asked, one answer I like to give is, "Well, look back to 1978 and find out."
Sandwiched between the prophetic Pope Paul VI and the magnetic Pope John Paul II, Pope John Paul I was one of the twentieth century's most charming Catholic leaders. He reigned as vicar of Christ for just 33 days before his unexpected death. But in those five weeks, he wooed the world.
Like the jolly archbishop of New York, John Paul liked his religion tinged with humor. He was a natural joker with a big, beaming smile. To this day Italians remember him as "Il Papa del Sorriso"—the Smiling Pope.
After his death, Cardinal Carlo Confalonieri remembered John Paul as a "meteor that lights up the heavens and then disappears, leaving us amazed and astonished." Cardinal John Wright of Pittsburgh called him "an enemy of boredom, a friend of delight."
A few weeks ago, I had a brush-in with this cheerful churchman. I was browsing my local used bookstore, when I stumbled upon a dusty old book titled Illustrissimi: Letters from Pope John Paul I (Little, Brown and company, hardcover, 258 pages).
Most people start their web presence with a template website or a free blog on Blogger or WordPress. And that's great. There's nothing wrong that. It's the right way to go for most people.
But if your goal is to stand out or to take your blog to the next level, you should consider a professional, custom-designed website. A few months ago I made the switch from a free Blogger site to the totally-custom BrandonVogt.com (thanks to Kickstart Media!).
I haven't looked back. It was one of the best decisions I've made, as the new site provides a more professional look, allows me to do more with my writing, and has already produced several additional speaking opportunities.
However, here's the rub: beautiful custom sites typically cost a nice chunk of change.
But what if you could get one for free?
That's what Lauren Gulde is offering through her top-notch design service, Santa Clara Design. In honor of St. Clare, the patroness of her business, Lauren is offering a "free, custom designed WordPress site as per your design style and suggestions."
To win your custom site, you must enter at her blog sometime before Friday (8/17) at midnight. Here are the details and requirements:
- You must be a Catholic ministry, Catholic Church or Catholic-focused blog
- You will get a free, custom designed WordPress site as per your design style and suggestions
- You will need to pay for hosting (around $85/year)
- To enter, please follow Lauren on Twitter, or like her Facebook Page
- AND leave a comment at Lauren's blog letting Lauren know you have done that and tell us why you need a new website!
- You must leave your email address
- Entries will be closed at midnight on Friday August 17th
- We will use Random.org to select the winner
- We will announce the winner on Monday, August 20th
If I were you, I'd be all over this. I know Lauren won't just slap together a cheesy, boring site for the winner. Instead, you can expect an elegant, functional site likes the many examples in her portfolio.
There are less than 15 entries so far which means you have a great shot at winning. So head over to Lauren's site and enter now!
Imagine a different kind of icon: a living, breathing image for the digital age.
Gary Gasse is the director of the new Multitude film series which aims to bring the saints to life like never before. Some of the stories he plans to tell are those of St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Edith Stein, Bl. Bartolome Blanco Marquez, Fr. Stanley Rother, and Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha.
"We want to tell the stories of a different type of hero: the men and women who gave their lives in radical sacrifice for the sake of love.
Hear the voices of the saints and experience their lives. Listen to their wisdom, and allow yourself to be taken up in their joys, their sufferings, and ultimately their victories.
The Multitude is a series of short films that tell the stories of incredible men and women who lived radical lives for Christ. These films are about real people who served the poor, thirsted for justice, were peacemakers and were persecuted because of their love.
We’ve been working on The Multitude for over a year, and so far we have filmed four out of the fifteen episodes. We are well on our way, but we need funding to make these films live up to the lives of the people they portray. We don’t want to put out anything we aren’t proud of. We want these films to be the best work we’ve ever done.
Our hope is that these films will inspire you to live for Christ with heroic virtue. There is massive potential here: there are thousands of unbelievable, incredible stories that could be translated into truly moving films.
Please help us bring these and many other awesome stories to life!