More than once during this busy season we might find ourselves wanting to run away to a deserted place. We get caught up in seeking the spirit of the season in the music, the parties, the gifts, and all the other trappings of the holidays. But Advent calls us again and again to seek God in the silence.
-from The Joy of Advent
†"Be a Catholic: When you kneel before an altar, do it in such a way that others may be able to recognize that you know before whom you kneel." — St. Maximilian Kolbe
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "The sacraments, then, perpetuate and diffuse the life-giving power of Christ in His Church which is His Body. Unlike the organs of the human body, which are in permanent connection with the arteries and channels of supply, we, the members of the Mystical Body, are free; it is by our own choice that we approach the sacraments and join ourselves by them to Christ. Each of the sacraments can give us an increase of the life of grace; but each has in addition a special grace of its own. It puts at our disposal the strength and merits of Christ for a special purpose." — Dom Mary Eugene Boylan, p. 132 AN EXCERPT FROM This Tremendous Lover
Blessed Charles de Foucauld
Saint of the Day for December 1 (September 15, 1858 – December 1, 1916)
Blessed Charles de Foucauld's Story
Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of 6, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager, and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi.
When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received.
Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest.
Later that year, Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions.
A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death.
In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: "The love of God, the love for one's neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven."
The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916.
Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel, and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. Reflection
The life of Charles de Foucauld was eventually centered on God and was animated by prayer and humble service, which he hoped would draw Muslims to Christ. Those who are inspired by his example, no matter where they live, seek to live their faith humbly yet with deep religious conviction.
"I stand at the door and knock," says the Lord. What a wonderful privilege that the Lord of all creation desires to come to me. I welcome His presence.
Lord God I thank you for the gift of freedom. Help me to use this gift with integrity. I am free to make choices. Help me to choose to follow you, to live in a Christian way by caring for others. Remind me to consider always those less fortunate than myself, the oppressed, the prisoner, those who are not free to worship in public. Guide me always to seek your holy will in all the events of my life.
I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord. I will take refuge in His loving heart. He is my strength in times of weakness. He is my comforter in times of sorrow.
On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:
"A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us. Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith. A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you."
Trust in the LORD forever! For the LORD is an eternal Rock. He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 118:1 and 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a R. (26a) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. Open to me the gates of justice; I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD. This gate is the LORD's; the just shall enter it. I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me and have been my savior.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. O LORD, grant salvation! O LORD, grant prosperity! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD; we bless you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and he has given us light.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Is 55:6 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Seek the LORD while he may be found; call him while he is near. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 7:21, 24-27
Jesus said to his disciples: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined."
Dear Lord, stay by my side always. Gain for me a trusting heart. Thank you for loving me.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
This gate is the Lord's; the just shall enter it. (Psalm 118:20)
You join the parade as it passes through the city, gathering scope and momentum with every person who joins in. Joyful music rings out as you surge toward the Temple. Then suddenly, the noise of prayer, song, and conversation ceases: you have come to a halt at a massive gate, the door to the Temple courts. From the head of the procession, a voice cries out, "Open the gates!" You smile in recognition—it's the king's voice! A reply comes from the wall, "This is the gate of the Lord, through which the just may enter."
What does it mean to be among that seemingly elite group, "the just," who are permitted to step through the gate? Do you have to be flawless? Do you have to be a recognized saint like Mother Teresa or Pope John Paul II? Maybe as you stand in that crowd, fear rises in your heart. If that gate is only for the righteous, do I really deserve to step through it? Let's try to answer that question.
The first thing is to remember that Jesus is not just the king who commands the gate to be opened; he is also the gate itself. "I am the gate," he once told his followers. "Whoever enters through me will be saved" (John 10:9). On the other side of that gate are the courts of heaven, eternal life in the presence of God.
Second, remember that the gate has already been opened. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has removed all the barriers that have kept you from entering heaven. You can live on the other side of that gate as he showers you with gifts like prayer, the Eucharist, and his word.
Third, remember that no sin is so great, no sense of guilt so heavy, to keep you from entering through the gate. There is no unpardonable sin. We have all been made righteous through Jesus' sacrifice!
So go back, and picture yourself at the threshold of the Temple. Go ahead, and walk in confidently and joyfully. Jesus is waiting to welcome you with open arms.
"All praise to you, King Jesus! Thank you for opening the gate to salvation."
The Word of God says today to you and me "Trust in the LORD forever! For the LORD is an eternal Rock. He humbles those in high places..." and this from the prophet hundreds of years before Christ, to announce the coming of the Messiah, our Savior, and how the lofty would be toppled, both in their current religion and in the world, and the lowly would take over, the meek, the humble, those who dare see the Lord.
We prayed today "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." and "Open to me the gates of justice; I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD. This gate is the LORD's; the just shall enter it." It is an invitation from the Lord Himself to enter....HOLINESS. May it enter your household, may it topple everything you've built, your ego, your self esteem, your self-righteousness, your selfishness, your self as a god to be served, and may the inverse become the truth: may your lowliness grow, may His righteousness grow, may your charity grow, and may you serve yourself as the Lord.
In comes the Lord served before your eyes to enter your heart...your soul: ""Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven,but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." Yesterday we heard that anyone who claims the Lord as their savior has Heaven, yet today, the Lord says not everyone who calls out to Him will enter, only those who ACT, those who LIVE, those who BECOME the living Christ, denying themselves and carrying their cross to salvation. It is one thing to say, and another to do. I've had someone tell me they love me, and behind my back act quite the opposite. If they loved me, how could they betray me? It is the same with the Lord, but more. If we love Him, how can we betray Him,...by betraying Him in our brothers and sisters? It's like many songs I've written, how can I be always looking to the skies for Heaven and miss what's in front of me? What if I fall into a pit? You can't just say Lord all the time and look beyond the lowly, those who are building their lives on and around Christ. It's like the one time we have adoration per month in our parish. Me and my wife revolve our lives around this Holy Hour. We won't go on vacation, we won't have family movie night, we won't do anything, we will even miss our little town's Christmas parade because it is at the same time this Friday. We will be with the Lord HIMSELF. And I say this so that you and me can ask ourselves...how true am I to God? How much effort do I really put into my prayer life? Is this readings all I do? Is all I do is talk about God when the occasion arises? Because many will talk, many will pray, many will heal even, in the name of the Lord...but not get into Heaven. How is that? How is that possible? Simple. Jesus did all the healing, and the faithful were touched.
It was never I who did what I thought I did for Him. And so the question is in the offering of truth, for Truth, love for Love, a sincere sacrifice, or a penny on the dollar, one percent. Let your one percent be one hundred percent, die hard faithful, to the core of your every moment of breath. Last night, our 2 year old was up most of the night, whimpering, feeling sick, every few minutes I'd wake up, every hour, and at every waking moment I'd pray. Remain awake, light the candles, the lights. Let Christ be our light, our joy, our center, our everything. This is a Christ centered life. I don't mean to take your time, but one more quick story from a reflection I read in spanish today (I read about 5 daily Gospel reflections from various sources):
"They say a mother had two children. Being still very young children, the father died. The mother tried to give them a good education, especially religious. But when they left to College and entered the university, some professors influenced them a lot and the two boys fell into their ideological networks and abandoned the faith. The poor mother was disappointed and wondered what she had done wrong. Why did their children live without God? She even questioned herself. Would not it be that the faith she gave them was not the true one and they were right? One day she went to consult with a Priest who lived in a village in the interior of the country. He listened very carefully to her case and then made her look out the window: "What do you see, ma'am?" - I see a mare tied to a tree and a loose foal that jumps very joyfully, comes and goes, moves away and returns next to its mother. "Exactly!" Said the Priest. The foal walks loose, but the mare is tied. He leaves, but then comes back. If the mare was also loose possibly the colt would not have the reference point to return; Being both loose the mother and the son would go away never to meet again ... Equally it happens to You: their children have been released, even they have turned away from God. But you must stand firm in your faith. So, even if the children leave, they can return because they will always have a reference point in their mother. Mother said very convinced: "If God does not occupy the center of our home, our family collapses."