Memorial Day

Upon recently glancing at my calendar I saw that Memorial Day weekend is upon us! The weather is warm, cookouts are a nightly event and we are finally able to wear our favorite summer clothing and sandals. This also means a busy weekend is ahead of us: parades, services for fallen soldiers and a family bar-be-que. Can’t wait!

Memorial Day parade

To me it’s not Memorial Day without our town parade. The first one was back in 1885, and people have been enjoying it since! I participated in it growing up whether on a float, or marching with my peers for an organization. Now I enjoy being a spectator and admiring the floats, marching bands and all the classic cars!

After the parade is a service in the town park. There is a memorial in which a veteran lays a wreath or flowers down on and the school bands play in the background. Then everyone has a moment of silence and reflects the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Many towns across America have similar traditions. What does your town do?

Services

As mentioned before, we hold a service in our town park for those who have fought for their country. There are also services at your local church. Many chaplains celebrate with a short service at a military graveyard or a local cemetery. It’s nice to know that there are different ways to honor those who have fallen during war, or those who have lost someone from their military unit. That is what Memorial Day is for.

Bar-be-que

Yes, this is perhaps my favorite part of Memorial Day weekend! I know Saturday morning I’ll be putting my fiesta beans in the crock pot, and get ready to grill all weekend long! Plenty of pasta salads, grilled entrees and lots of fresh fruit salad! It’s especially nice when you can enjoy it outside in the sunshine!

This is what Memorial Day weekend is about to me. What is this weekend about to you?

Autism Awareness Month

Since April is World Autism Month, we thought we’d share an article with permission from Saint Isaac Jogues in Marlton, NJ. It was originally published in the Trenton Monitor and after reading it we decided to reach out to the church. Here is some information they provided along with the link to the article. Enjoy!

The  Parishes of St. Isaac Jogues and St. John Neumann Special Needs Inclusion Mass

In an effort to minister to the needs of our families who have children and other family members who may be dealing with physical, emotional and mental challenges and to create a welcoming environment at our parish liturgical celebrations, the Special Needs Inclusion Mass will be celebrated on the second Saturday of each month at the Vigil liturgies at  St. Isaac Jogues and St. John Neumann parishes.

The next Special Needs Inclusion Mass will be celebrated at St. John Neumann on Saturday, May 11th  at 4:30 pm.

The Special Needs Inclusion Mass celebrated at the Church of St. Isaac Jogues will be on June 8th  at 5 pm.

The liturgy celebrated makes simple, approved modifications to make it possible for families with a  physical, emotional or mentally challenged member to come and pray at liturgy together. We are grateful to Shannon Rizzo for introducing the idea and working with the parishes to make it a reality. We are grateful to her family for their support and encouragement. This is Shannon’s Gold Project for Scouts.

Check out the article here!

Easter Traditions of the Catholic Church

It’s hard to believe, but it’s finally April! I was down the shore this past weekend, and all the flowers were lining the streets and outside of shops. The air was so fragrant that all you could think about is how nice Easter is going to be this year. Easter flowers are just one tradition in the church – there are so many others that are celebrated. Here are just a few Easter traditions of the Catholic Church.

Veiled Images

Starting Palm Sunday many churches use purple cloth to cover religious artwork within the church. All but the Stations of the Cross and stained glass windows are covered. Some parishes even remove all images and works of art all together from the church. This lasts until Easter masses when they are uncovered, except for the crucifixes which are uncovered on Good Friday.

Washing of Feet

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world in the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot to hand him over. So during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. The he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with a towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” John 13 1-7.

This tradition of the washing of the feet takes place every Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday). Since 1955 usually twelve people are asked prior to mass to have their feet washed. They sit in a specified area and the priest and ministers come around and pour water on their feet and then dry them.

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross is a Good Friday custom that the church is very active with. It depicts fourteen different pictures or scenes from the gospel. It starts with Pilate condemns Jesus to die, and ends with Jesus being placed in the tomb. Often churches present a live version of the Stations with youth groups acting out the scenes.

Check out our blog next week to see some of these events at some of our parishes! You can also locate what is going on at your church through its weekly bulletin! It’s the busy season for the Catholic church, and there is something happening during Holy Week at a church near you!   

Love Yourself First #SelfloveSunday Series

Some of us are familiar with the hashtag #SelfloveSunday. People take pictures with their coffee in their comfiest sweats and profess their self-love. Well, what if there is more to loving yourself than drinking a fancy pour over in their designer sweats that you worked so hard for? What if loving yourself has more to do with how you approach viewing yourself and having the world see you? What if it meant loving your imperfections and finding strength in them? That is what #Selflove is about.

Maya Angelou once said, “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody”. Sometimes knowing yourself can be mistaken for being overly confident or conceited. Reciting Maya Angelou’s quote allows us to see that this is not true. Knowing yourself and loving yourself is pretty powerful, and not many of us can say we do.

So this made me think, how do we learn to love ourselves? I have 5 steps that will lead to some real #SelfloveSundays that are more Instagram ready than fancy lattes in bed.

Have Grit

Grit is a word that has multiple meanings to multiple people. Grit is similar to gumption – go out and get it. Take that solo adventure, go out to dinner by yourself, or apply for a promotion/school that may be out of reach. Prove to yourself that yes, you can do it. Take pride in yourself and see what you can do. Be daring. Once the adventure is over, you will have more respect for yourself, and therefore more love.

Find Happiness

We’ve all been in a rut. Our life is sometimes on autopilot. We get up, drive to work in the same traffic, go through the same motions, and come home. We do this five days a week. It becomes a bit monotonous, which can also mean boring or dull. When I’m bored, I find myself lacking happiness. I have to break out of the everyday rut, and find my own joy.

It’s sometimes difficult breaking out of your rut, so you sometimes have to be a bit creative. I enjoy taking a different kind of workout class during evenings after work. From aerobics to yoga, I have tried it all. Another way to find happiness is to wear an article of clothing (or accessory) that makes you glow from the inside. I have a pair of bowtie oxfords in pink and purple. When I put them on, I feel as though I can take on the world! That is pure happiness to me.

Meditate

Sometimes you need 5 minutes for yourself. Working 8-hour days, driving in traffic to work each day, and then coming home to family and noise; you just need 5 minutes to recover. Just sit cross legged and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try not to think about anything while doing this. You will feel the weight of the world being lifted off of your shoulders with regular practice. With less weight, you feel lighter and happier.

Cater to you

If you are like most of us, you put yourself last. Stop. You are no good to others if you are not your own priority. Just like you need your 5 minutes of meditation at the end of each work day, you also need to put yourself first. Do not think of this as being selfish, but rather love. Loving yourself allows you to love others around you.

Mass

As usual, I save the best step for last. Just sitting and listening helps to calm our nerves. When you listen to someone preaching about love, it becomes second nature to love yourself.

If you find yourself at mass without your church envelope, do not fret! You can go home and sign up for Parish Giving. In the back of the church you can find cards that state, “I participate in the ‘Electric Giving Program’” in case you feel the need to put something in the offertory basket.

Remember #SelfloveSunday this weekend. Enjoy your coffee in your sweats, or your time at mass. Either way, use that time to find love within yourself.      

How to Rid Yourself of the Winter Blues

Finally, February is here! The shortest month in days, but the longest in winter; February brings the harshest snowstorms and frigid temps leaving us with cabin fever. The most difficult part is coping with the freezing temps and keeping everyone entertained. Here are some ways you can rid yourself of the winter blues.

Get Out There

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” (Elle Woods, Legally Blonde). One of my favorite movie quotes of all times rings true this time of the year. Yes, many people share the New Year’s Resolution of losing weight and going to the gym, but what you may not realize is that regular exercise DOES make you feel better!

If you are not able to join a gym, consider taking a walk during your lunch hour, or if it’s too cold, take a lap around the building or go up and down flights of stairs. Any type of moving helps with the winter blues, so get out there and take a lap!

Prep your Spring Cleaning

We are all fans of the Marie Kondo show on Netflix here at Parish Giving. She is teaching us how to clean our closets, and clean up our lives. If it doesn’t bring us any joy, we are tossing it. Once your closet is cleaned out, you can dust and donate.

This also applies to items around your house. If you have an old vase collecting dust, or some picture frames without pictures in them, why not put them in a box and donate them to your local Goodwill? Not only are you de-cluttering your life, but you are also helping out those who are not as fortunate.

Eat Healthily

I know, I know… it’s difficult to find good, fresh produce during the middle of winter. Eating healthier will make you feel better. Aim to have either one fruit or one vegetable with each meal. Berries with your breakfast, salad for lunch, and steamed spinach for supper is just an easy way to squeeze in produce. Once spring and summer hit, you’ll be craving seasonal treats like peaches and tomatoes!

Let there be light!

Vitamin D is a necessity. It helps us feel good and feeling good means looking good. With the short winter hours, you may want to invest in a lightbox. You are then able to set the lightbox to act as a sunrise, so you feel as though the sun is rising as you are waking up (as in spring, summer, and fall…).

If this is something that is not in your budget, then try to go outside for a couple of minutes each day. Breathe in the fresh air, and try to do it when the sun is out. Even short bursts of Vitamin D are better than no Vitamin D.

Parish Giving

Yes, Parish Giving is able to help with your winter blues! If you are lucky enough to travel somewhere warm over President’s Day weekend, then remember to use our online giving services to remember your parish. Also, this is not just for when you are on vacation. In case your area is pummeled by snow this month, and your streets are too icy, you can give online and watch mass streaming online. Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing?!

Just remember, spring is just a few short weeks away and so is Daylight Savings Time! We’ll be waking up with the sunshine soon enough! Keep warm and stay safe for the remainder of winter!

Travel for the Holiday’s

Thanksgiving is perhaps one of the busiest travel holidays of the year. College students are coming home for the first time since the beginning of the semester, friends and family are flying in from out of town and roads are busier due to the long holiday weekend. Are you one of the millions travelling this Thanksgiving? If you are, Parish Giving is here to help!

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Youth Ministry: How You Belong in the Church

Often times once you are confirmed in the church, you may struggle with a reason to attend Mass anymore. You feel as though you have learned enough through Religious Education, and that attending Mass will not provide any real benefit to your life. That is simply not true. As we mature, our minds widen. That is why it is important to attend Mass and allow our minds to develop with Catholic teachings. Youth Ministry (YM) allows us to do so.

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Youth Ministry – Top 5 Reasons as to Why Your Church Should Have One

Youth Ministries seem to be popping up more frequently around the Catholic Church. Growing up, my family’s church didn’t have one. I never understood the importance of gathering with my peers and having discussions about faith, and fun activities to do with one another. So I thought I’d share 5 reasons as to why your church should have one so today’s youth doesn’t miss out on all the fun!

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