Notre-Dame Cathedral

*Originally this blog post was supposed to be about events during Holy week. With the news yesterday about the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, it seemed more appropriate to write about the tragedy. Notre-Dame is not only one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, but it is also an important site for Catholic’s and Christian’s alike. Let’s give it the attention it deserves.

My first time in Paris was when I was 20 years old. I went with EF Tours – a company that provides tours geared towards students at a reasonable cost. I went with my French class and some fashion students from the college I was attending at the time. It was my first time out of the country and I was excited beyond words. It was a couple of months after the Sex and the City finale so we all had Carrie Bradshaw on our minds – eat at a patisserie, visit museums and see all the sites! The list of sites included the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and of course, Notre-Dame. Check, check and check!

Upon hearing on the news yesterday that the Spire at Notre-Dame was on fire, all I could think about were the priceless artifacts and priceless memories I had in Paris. When you are not certain of how the fire would turn out, you always imagine the worst and then are thankful that you can always say, “at least I was there”. The news has given us hope that all is not lost.

Many ponder, “What makes Notre-Dame so important?” It’s the priceless artifacts, the countless pieces of artwork, the beautiful stain glassed windows, and the heritage of not only the French, but of Catholic’s as well.  It has stood where it is for over 800 years, a fete not easily achieved because of two world wars and the French Revolution. It truly signifies French beauty and history.

The roof and part of the interior were made of wood, which diminished in the fire. Already millions of Euros have been pledged to rebuild the cathedral. Since it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, there is an international appeal for funds to help restore it. If you’d like to make a donations visit Heritage Foundation. All donations are tax deductible and there are no added fees.

Let’s try to keep this Heritage site alive and try to rebuild what was destroyed for future generations. We do not want to “remember when”, but rather “let’s revisit” Notre-Dame in Paris.

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!   

Holy Week and Our Easter Traditions

Easter is always an exciting time of the year. Since it is later than usual, we are expecting warmer weather, plenty of sunshine, beautiful flowers and lots of Easter dresses and suits on the little ones! We also are looking forward to our traditions whether new or old. Here are some of our favorite Easter traditions from Parish Giving.

Berkeley Sweet Shop

This has been a tradition in my family since before I was born. Every Palm Sunday we go to Seaside Heights just for our Easter candy from the Berkeley Sweet Shop. We enjoy a leisurely walk up and down the boardwalk, take in the ocean views and reminisce of years past. Just thinking about it makes me excited for this Palm Sunday!

Warner’s Candy

Heather goes to this candy shop every Palm Sunday (I’m starting to see a pattern here). It is a small, family owned shop that makes delicious chocolates. It’s located in Bensalem, so if you are in the area then be sure to check them out! You may even see Heather there buying her Easter candy!

Spors Garden Center

This is a great place to pick up Easter flowers. Heather goes here to pick up flowers for her mom every year. She even picks some up for herself! Since they all have bulbs, she plants them in a flower bed so she can enjoy them all Spring! They have hyacinths, daffodils and so much more to choose from!

Heather isn’t the only one who picks up Easter flowers for her mom! Alexander also picks up flowers for his mother. It’s such a nice gesture to pick something up that smells nice and adds a pop of color to your yard!

Dandelion soup and Pineapple Stuffing

I wasn’t familiar with either one of these dishes until I met Jill. These are both apart of her family Easter tradition. Having pineapple stuffing with your ham is a staple in many families at Parish Giving and John Patrick. Together they are the perfect sweet and savory dishes for dinner.

Dandelion soup is also another tradition in Jill’s family. They have been serving it as a course at Easter dinner for as long as she can remember. It is a simple dish that doesn’t require a lot of fuss. Plus it takes care of all the dandelions growing in your lawn!

Egg Hunt

This is a tradition we all share. It doesn’t matter your age; you still enjoy a good, old-fashioned Easter egg hunt. It doesn’t matter if there is chocolate or money in the eggs, all that matters is that you are having fun finding them!

Now that you’ve read about our Easter traditions we have to ask – what are your Easter traditions?

Spring into Savings!

Happy First Day of Spring! Our geese friends Jay and P. are outside honking, we’re taking our allergy medicine each morning because the trees are starting to blossom, and the grey winter sky is starting to turn into a happy blue! Finally, spring is here! That means it is time to spring into savings with Parish Giving! Large Parish, small parish, it doesn’t matter!  You can pick and choose online solutions that work for you.  Continue reading to find out how!

Our Online Forms

Our online forms save your time and energy! How often have you looked through stacks and stacks of paper, or spreadsheet after spreadsheet looking for someone’s payment or demographic information? Although it has worked for a while, why not try our online forms? If you do not like them, then you can go back to your older version. I can almost guarantee that you won’t though!

Religious Education Registration and Payment Solutions

Our Religious Education online registration and payment solutions will allow you to spend more time on your mission of education!  There are two options to pick from:  an online form or a module.  The form is easy!  You decide what registration information you want on the form and we create it.  Your families click on the form link to register and pay.  The module is simplified!  You provide your student information and we upload it into the module where you can assign tuition and classes.  Your families will receive an email to register and pay.

School Tuition Registration and Payment

If you are like me, you have most of your monthly bills automatically taken from your account. I have it set up on my calendar how much comes out on which day so I can account for it beforehand. With certain bills, I like to be able to pay them when I have money. This includes school tuition.

As we all know paying for a parochial school education is a sacrifice a family makes for their children. Sometimes we miscalculate and are off by a couple of dollars from our monthly payment. That usually means a hefty fine if you are late by a day or two waiting for your paycheck. Parish Giving simply does not believe in those extra fees for families. If you need that extra day or two to pay your tuition, we will not charge you an additional fee. It just makes sense.

Another service we provide is not charging for insufficient funds. This is unique to Parish Giving! We know that sometimes you can be off by a dollar or twenty when managing your checkbook, so we do not see the point in punishing you for human error. Instead we charge a flat fee for each family (not per person!) and reach out to families if a payment does not go through. We stay on top of it for both the school and family!

Our Weekly E-Giving

Sometimes we forget our church envelope at home. It happens. That means you have to then mail in your envelope to the church. A stamp now costs $0.55! Why not try Parish Giving’s electronic giving instead? Save the cost of a stamp, and save yourself some time by setting it up to be automatically debited each week.

As you can see Parish Giving is all about Spring and Savings! Give Parish Giving a try and see how much time and money you can save!

Saint Patrick’s Day

The day is approaching in which everyone is Irish! To some Saint Patrick’s Day is about parties and enjoying life to the fullest. To others it is a day to celebrate Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and numerous other countries. This week’s blog is dedicated to Saint Patrick and how he is perceived in different places around the world.

Ireland

Of course we have to start with the country Saint Patrick is most associated with. When I was in undergrad I went with my school on a trip to Ireland, England, Wales and France. Our tour director had us take an unplanned trip to Rock of Cashel while there.

Rock of Cashel is by a cave where Saint Patrick banned Satan from entering. In the 12th Century a Cathedral was built there. As you can see from my picture, we visited when they were preserving the structure. We were still able to see the importance of this cathedral to the Irish.

Rock of Cashel in 2012

Northern Ireland

This is the burial place of Saint Patrick. He is buried at Down Cathedral which is located in the town of Downpatrick. He was most likely buried there because he is regarded as the first bishop of the Diocese of Armagh.

Down Cathedral is also part of the Church of Ireland. To be seen as a Saint of both the Catholic Church and Church of Ireland is a pretty special honor.

United States

Everyone may not be Irish here, but people love to celebrate one of our favorite Saint’s. Cities have grand parades and turn everything from rivers to their drinks green. We also enjoy a good Shamrock Shake!

I’ve experienced New York City’s parade accidentally once – and yes that can happen. It runs up 5th Avenue, and if you are there the wrong Saturday you too can be stuck in it. If Saint Patrick’s Day is on a Sunday like this year, the parade will be on Saturday the 16th. They even have mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral that morning, but you have to purchase a ticket first!

Chicago is known to dye the Chicago River green in celebration! This draws on average 400,000 spectators each year. Then again, their annual parade helps draw in the tourists as well!

Many small towns across the globe have different festivities this weekend. Since Saint Patrick’s day is a Sunday this year, that means there will be less traffic going to work Monday morning (hopefully!). Just keep in mind that Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland. You can donate an offering to your parish in honor of Saint Patrick, and you can do so by using Parish Giving! Give us a call or email if you have any questions!      

Fun Facts about Daylight Saving Time

It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year! Daylight Saving Time! This means winter is ending, and spring is about to begin. The days are longer, we have more sunshine and the winter cobwebs are being swept away. Parish Giving thought since we’re all dusting our cobwebs away that we’d share some fun facts about Daylight Saving! Here are just a few!

Fun Fact #1

We can all thank Ben Franklin – Yes, it’s true. When he was living in France, he noticed how the sun was up at 6am. He thought to himself that if you are up with the sun, and go to bed earlier at night, that you would be saving more energy and save money on candles. I suppose this is another spin on Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Fun Fact #2

Your state is not required to follow Daylight Saving Time – Arizona and Hawaii are two states that do not follow it.

Fun Fact #3

Arizona doesn’t follow Daylight Saving due to extreme heat. They want to preserve the cooler evening hours so people can enjoy time outdoors.

Fun Fact #4

But the Hopi Reservation which is surrounding by the Navajo Nation observes Daylight Saving Time. Always a loophole!

Fun Fact #5

The English first thought of Daylight Saving Time, but the German’s were the ones who implemented it.

Do you have any fun facts about Daylight Saving Time? Feel free to share them with us!

Mardi Gras: The Food before Fasting

It’s the Tuesday before Lent which means it is Mardi Gras! Mardi Gras translates to Fat Tuesday. It’s the day we use up all of the fatty, sugary foods prior to the first day of Lent. For the next 40 days, we try our best to stay away from rich foods and to fast whenever possible. Different regions of the world have different ways to use up all of their fattening foods. Parish Giving wanted to share some of theirs!

Fastnacht

This is Jill’s way to celebrate Fat Tuesday! It’s a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition which is a German word that means “Fasting Night”. What you are supposed to do is eat as much rich and delicious foods as you possibly can before the Lenten fast. Today we have Fastnacht donuts in which we enjoy. There are three different kinds:

    -Fastnachts made with baking powder

    -Fastnachts with yeast

    -Fastnachts with potato and yeast

No matter how you make these delicious donuts, they all contain butter or lard, flour, powder sugar and are deep fried. Some contain jelly or cream in the middle. Either way, they are delicious and melt in your mouth! You can see why Jill enjoys this tradition every year!

King Cakes

The traditional King Cake is usually eaten during Epiphany, but now is also seen during Mardi Gras! For Fat Tuesday, the cake is typically made of brioche colored with traditional Mardi Gras colors such as green, yellow and purple. The colors are seen in the cake and in the icing.

What makes King Cakes special is the figurine that is baked inside of it. The porcelain figurine represents Jesus, and the person who has him in their slice is responsible for next year’s cake! The lucky few who have the Jesus figurine can also be seen as the King or Queen of the party! I think I like that tradition better!

Shrove Tuesday

This is how I celebrate Fat Tuesday! For dinner, my family always celebrates with a big stack of pancakes, butter and plenty of maple syrup! We usually have bacon or sausage with it too!

Shrove Tuesday is derived from Shrovetide, which is a biblical term for the last day of the liturgical season. The eating of pancakes on this day has dated back to the 16th Century for British Christians. Many churches still ring the Shriving Bell (Church bells) to sound when people should begin frying their pancakes.

We’d love to hear how you and your family celebrate Mardi Gras each year! Fat Tuesday has so many different traditions all around the world!     

What to Give Up for Lent

Lent is the time of year in the church in which we reflect and prepare for Easter. We are asked to give up something that means a lot to us for 40 days as a way to represent Jesus’s sacrifice during his journey through the desert for that amount of time. Some people give up chocolate or other delicious treats, but what about giving up things that are not as traditional? Here are some items you could be giving up during Lent rather than just meat on Friday’s.

Caffeinated beverages

Whether it is coffee, tea, or soda, the common factor is that they all contain that lovely chemical caffeine that we use to wake up in the morning. You just have to put it in the big picture – what is 40 days in comparison to the other 325 days of the year? Absolutely nothing. Why not try a nice herbal tea or green juice instead? They tend to give me a nice pick-me-up in the afternoon when I notice myself nodding off.

Items from your closet

I recently read an article online explaining how we should take an item from our closet each day during Lent, and at the end of the 40 days donate it to Goodwill. This could be anything from clothing you never wear, shoes that are no longer your style, or accessories/bags that you never use anymore. There are plenty of people out there who would love and appreciate your unused items. It’s a win-win for both!

Smartphone

Now I’m not saying to give up your iPhone, but perhaps give up the “smart” part of your phone. That is the part we are most addicted to. Has anyone emailed me about my resume? Did you see the latest cat video on YouTube? Use your phone for what it was meant for – to call people!

Paper Waste

I tease my colleague that she is a “tree killer” because she uses the office printer constantly! Don’t worry – she knows it’s a joke! But one thing you can do is waste less paper and make an impact on the environment. Parish Giving can help with that! Save your church envelope and paper check, and sign up for e-giving instead.

Parish Giving also has graphics to put in your weekly church bulletin to advertise your parish’s e-giving program. That means you no longer have to contact us, ask for a certain amount of inserts, wait for them to be delivered in a cardboard box, and hand them out to parishioners. Now you can just paste it into your bulletin and not use any extra paper!

Remember that Lent is a time to sacrifice and accomplish something you didn’t know you could. These are just some examples of what you can give up. Just try to commit to something for 40 days and see what you can accomplish!

Preparing for Lent

Waking up this morning and I could smell spring trying to emerge. The birds are out chirping, but the weatherman is still predicting another snow storm. March is on the verge of arriving, but we are still stuck in February. This does mean that Lent is around the corner and we should begin to prepare for it. The only thing is how do we prepare for Lent? Well, I have come up with a couple of ways in which we should begin to prepare for the Easter season.

What does my heart and soul need?

This is a question I ask myself daily. All of our hearts and souls need to be nourished differently. For some, it may be daily meditation, and for others, it may be quietly listening. Either way, it should be able to help us focus on the Lenten message. This year’s message is about heart and soul. Pope Francis reminds us that the other person is a gift, sin blinds us, and the Word is a gift. Keep this in mind when you are listening to your heart and soul.

What about my life makes me happy?

We all have things in our lives that make us unhappy. Why don’t we for once focus on what makes us happy? For instance, we should be happy to have our health, a roof over our head and food on the table. There are plenty of people who would love to have one of the items mentioned. Find something about your life that makes you happy and focus on it. Not only will it make your day better, but the positivity can be contagious.

Stop and listen.

This brings all of the Lenten preparation together. Think about what Pope Francis told us about in his message: Lent is a new beginning… and you should be using it to deepen your faith and friendship with Jesus. He is our gift, helps us refrain from sin, and we should live His word.

The best way to Stop and Listen is to attend mass during Lent with a renewed thirst for Jesus. You are being led on how to love and listen which is what the season is all about. Remember, the most important thing is to attend mass, and you are able to give your offering online with Parish Giving. You just worry about listening and worry less about checks, envelopes, and cash. We can take care of that for you.