Writing a letter to your confirmation candidate

It seems that one of the biggest events in confirmation preparation in this country is the letters of support to be given to the confirmation candidates during their mandatory retreats.

I have three such letters saved on this blog:

Confirmation letter to my daughterConfirmation letter to my fourth sonConfirmation letter to to my third son
I've asked my children what they remember about the letter they got from me and their dad, and also what they remembered about the letters they received. 
The answer was not much, or at least nothing specific. In general they were happy to have gotten a bag full of letters and there was a sense of feeling loved and supported. I guess that's the main thing - for them to have a sense that this is an important step in their spiritual growth, and that people they know, love and respect have taken the time out of their lives to let them know that! So here are some tips on procuring and writing letters for young confirmation candidates. Start thinkin…

Feast of St. James the Greater - Patron saint of pilgrims to the Holy Land

Feast of St. James the Greater

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James the Greater was the brother of John the Evangelist, the beloved apostle. Our Lord referred to the two brothers together as ""Sons of Thunder." They were the sons of Zebedee and Salome, and like their father, the brothers were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee.

 James and John were together when Jesus called them and their friends Simon and Andrew, to be "fishers of men."  Among the 12 apostles, James held a special place.  He was there when Jesus raised Jairus' daughter from the dead; he was present at the transfiguration along with John and Peter, and he slept in the Garden of Gethesemane.

The mother of James and John asked for a special place for her sons in Mathew 20:20.

c Then the mother* of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.21He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”22Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking.* Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.”

As it turns out, they both did.

Legend has it that after the Ascension of Jesus,  James traveled to preached in Spain.

He returned to the Holy Land and was martyred. (Acts 12:1).   King Herod Agrippa I killed him with a sword in an early persecution of the Church. There is a story that the man who arrested James became a convert after hearing James speak at his trial and was executed with him.

Legend has it that after his death, Christians put the remains of St. James on a rudderless ship that landed in Spain. After some negotiations and problems with the local Celtic Queen Lupa (who later converted) the saint's remains were put on an ox cart. The Christians determined that they would lay the saint wherever the ox stopped to rest. And that is how St. James came to be buried where the Cathedral of Santiago stands today! (Iago is his name in Spanish).

So how did the scallop shell become a symbol of St. James?  I've read it two ways  -The scallop-shell is very prevalent on the shores of Palestine, so pilgrims would take these shells home and put display them on their hats to show that they had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands.  St. James will frequently be portrayed as a pilgrim with a staff and with a scalloped shell.  It also seems that when the body of St. James was nearing the shore of the Iberian Peninsula, a man on a horse went out into the water to meet it and went under the water. When the man and horse came up, they were covered with shells!

 photo 725james26.jpg

St James as a Boy
Father Lawrence Lew, OP via Flickr, licensed cc - St. James as a child - note the sea shell included in this piece!

For More information

St. James the Greater
A Little about St. James 
The Shell
Follow the Camino

This is the day to try oysters on the half shell!  or maybe stuffed shells for dinner! or try some fun shell crafts!

This is our Pentecost bowl filled with seashells on the Feast of St. James

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