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Brace Yourselves: The Christmas Jesus Juke is Coming

Written by Kristin Bird on .

Have you heard of the Jesus Juke?

The Jesus Juke is a great way to tell a friend, "I wish you possessed the uber holiness I do and were instead talking about sweet baby Jesus in this conversation." It's like a tiny little "shame grenade," you throw it into an otherwise harmless conversation and then watch it splatter everyone in guilt and condemnation. (From Stuff Christians Like)

It seems like Christmas (and maybe Easter) brings out the worst of the Jesus Jukes. Combine it with intentionally controversial or inflammatory blog post headlines and memes, and it can suck the Christmas joy right out of jolly ol' Saint Nick himself.


Jesus Juke
Jesus Juke:  St. Nick just made that sad trumpet sound: "whaaaa, waaaa."

Don't get me wrong, I love to be challenged to think a little differently. And I need to be reminded of the sacredness of this season when I am bombarded with advertisements that breed anxiety and foster materialism.

However, I don't love to be told that the way I celebrate the season is wrong.  I don't love the implication that some traditions are holier and more Catholic (yours) than others (mine).

Being challenged to think and re-grounded in faith leaves me open to becoming a better person.  Being Jesus Juked over family traditions leaves me closed and defensive.

Jesus Jukes can be dropped like a bomb on my Facebook status or in an email and I can walk away.  Loving reminders and gentle promptings take the time and effort of a genuine relationship. 

Insults and controversial headlines attract attention and are often amusing.  Genuine awareness of the holiness of the season inspires humility and a willingness to admit where I've missed the boat.

Let Peace Begin With Me

I'll be the first to admit that I've made this mistake.

Advent: Unprepared to be Prepared

Written by Kristin Bird on .

A Season of Preparation, Holy Waiting, and Hopeful Anticipation

It's the First Week of Advent, but you wouldn't know it at our house. The wreath and calendar are still packed away in the basement. I have made no plans for what additions I will make to my prayer life for the next few weeks. Apart from the fantastic seasonal nail art I helped my 7 year old with last night, I have not even discussed the season of Advent with my children.

The wreath lighting at Mass this morning made me realize that I had procrastinated too long. Advent has started, and I'm not ready.

Then came this morning's social media onslaught. My news feeds were filled with blog posts, book reviews, youtube videos, and list after list of the best ways to enter into the season...

Accompaniment & Politics

Written by Burning Hearts Team on .

Ten Tips on Dialogue from Pope Francis

In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis calls dialogue “essential” for family life. His guidelines on dialogue are easily applicable to civil society as well.

Can you imagine how this election cycle might be different if we challenged ourselves, candidates, political parties, commentators, and others to follow Pope Francis’s advice?

1.  Recognize the real importance and dignity of the other person.

Recognize others’ right “to think as they do and to be happy.” Pope Francis challenges us to acknowledge the values of the other’s “deepest concerns” and what he or she is trying to say (no. 138).

Pray Your Way to an Evangelizing Heart

Written by Kristin Bird on .

pray evangelizing heartAt it's core, the New Evangelization has everything to do with this question: Do I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?  

If we want to be intentional disciples who live the New Evanglization in our parishes, schools, workplaces, and homes, we must begin by deepening our own relationships with God.  A central tenet of Pope Benedict XVI's teaching on the New Evangelization focused on the centrality of prayer in this mission. Benedict XVI understands prayer as holding a two-fold significance in evangelization:

    1. Those sharing the faith must first be re-evangelized ourselves, growing in habits of prayer and contemplation amidst life’s busyness; and

    2. Among those with whom we share the faith, prayer constitutes a deeply personal and essential means by which one encounters God.

Benedict XVI writes:

“Praying actualizes and deepens our communion with God. Our prayer can and should arise above all from our heart, from our needs, our hopes, our joys, our sufferings, from our shame over sin, from our gratitude from the good. It can and should be a wholly personal prayer." [1]

The role of prayer in the New Evangelization is central for the Pope Emeritus, and it must be for as well.

Holy Week with Dante

Written by Brittany Miller on .

I have been wanting to read Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy for some time, but have always been too busy to begin. However, after learning of Pope Francis’ high valuation of the poem, I knew that I could no longer delay.

Through his writings, Dante, is a man who invites us to regain the path of our human journey and the hope to once again see the bright horizon where shines the full dignity of the human person.

Happily, I have found the poem to be much more understandable and enlightening than I had envisioned. Despite its Medieval nature, the poem ignites the deadened imagination and reminds the reader of the undeniable human desire for God.

Dante’s Divine Comedy begins with Inferno, which describes the principle character’s journey through hell. I began Inferno near the beginning of Lent and have found it to be an excellent aide to Lenten preparations for confession. Journeying through the various rings of hell, and the corresponding human sins, invites the reader to make an interior journey into the depth of one’s own soul.

Dante’s punishments are carefully crafted to reflect the underlying nature of unholy human behaviors. The vivid images compel the reader to determine if one’s current state of being corresponds to the state of the punished sinners.

For example, Dante’s pilgrim encounters a group of souls who lived their life with no real purpose. They were too cowardly, or too lazy, to devote themselves completely to God or even to adamantly resist Him. As the pilgrim watches, he sees a blank banner go by:

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