In Jesus, our disgrace has been removed. God has seen fit to do this in a way far greater than any we could have fashioned for ourselves. Our mouths should sing of God's glory, for he has rescued us from the hand of the wicked and been our strength even from our mother's womb. Yes, all is well when one seeks only the will of Jesus.
-from The Little Way of Advent
†If you wish to go to extremes, let it be in sweetness, patience, humility and charity." — St. Philip Neri
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "Augustine drew out the meaning of the manger using an idea that at first seems almost shocking, but on closer examination contains a profound truth. The manger is the place where animals find their food. But now, lying in the manger, is he who called himself the true bread come down from heaven, the true nourishment that we need in order to be fully ourselves. This is the food that gives us true life, eternal life. Thus the manger becomes a reference to the table of God, to which we are invited so as to receive the bread of God. From the poverty of Jesus' birth emerges the miracle in which man's redemption is mysteriously accomplished." — Pope Benedict XVI, p. 68 AN EXCERPT FROM Jesus of Nazareth Infancy
Saint Dominic of Silos
Saint of the Day for December 20 (c. 1000 – December 20, 1073)
Saint Dominic of Silos' Story
It's not the founder of the Dominicans we honor today, but there's a poignant story that connects both Dominics.
Our saint today, Dominic of Silos, was born in Spain around the year 1000 into a peasant family. As a young boy he spent time in the fields, where he welcomed the solitude. He became a Benedictine priest and served in numerous leadership positions. Following a dispute with the king over property, Dominic and two other monks were exiled. They established a new monastery in what at first seemed an unpromising location. Under Dominic's leadership, however, it became one of the most famous houses in Spain. Many healings were reported there.
About 100 years after Dominic's death, a young woman made a pilgrimage to his tomb. There Dominic of Silos appeared to her and assured her that she would bear another son. The woman was Joan of Aza, and the son she bore grew up to be the "other" Dominic—the one who founded the Dominicans.
For many years thereafter, the staff used by Saint Dominic of Silos was brought to the royal palace whenever a queen of Spain was in labor. That practice ended in 1931. Reflection
Saint Dominic of Silos' connection with the Saint Dominic who founded the Dominican Order brings to mind the film Six Degrees of Separation: we are all connected it seems. God's providential care can bring people together in mysterious ways, but it all points to his love for each of us.
I reflect for a moment on God's presence around me and in me. Creator of the universe, the sun and the moon, the earth, every molecule, every atom, everything that is: God is in every beat of my heart. God is with me, now.
What most often stops me achieving freedom is my tendency to be caught up in fears and expectations about what I 'ought' or 'should' be. My usual automatic responses tie me down and inhibit me from exploring new areas of growth. I ask and pray for a greater sense of inner freedom and that I might reach the fresh and challenging possibilities that God wishes me to realise.
I ask how I am within myself today? Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off-form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?
The LORD spoke to Ahaz: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!" Then Isaiah said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 24:1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6 R. (see 7c and 10b) Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory. The LORD's are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it. For he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory. Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD? or who may stand in his holy place? He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD, a reward from God his savior. Such is the race that seeks for him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory. Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness! R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:26-38
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end."
But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ For any young woman of Israel, the gift of a child – fruitfulness – was a special mark of God's favour.
▪ But almost before Mary even has time, one could say, to take in this news – all at once she is confronted by the announcement that her future son will be 'saviour' (the meaning of 'Jesus') – successor to the kingship of David – Son of the Most High.
▪ Still trying to come to terms with it all, we can imagine her consternation as she realises that not even a first step is in place - she is as yet no more than betrothed.
▪ But the announcing angel only 'piles it on' – by referring to God's action in bestowing a son on the aged Elizabeth.
▪ Years later, those surprised by the miracles of Jesus could only utter: "We have seen strange things today" (Luke 5:26). But for mother-to-be Mary, the news that the power of the Most High would cover her with its shadow, was absolutely groundbreaking.
Dear Lord, help me each day to seek your presence more and more. Fill my heart with love for you. Conclusion
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Luke 1:26-38
4th Week of Advent
Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you. (Luke 1:28)
Generation after generation of believers has echoed this greeting of the archangel Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:28). And Mary and her son have been honored millions of times over with Elizabeth's salutation: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb" (1:42). For through the willing obedience of this young Jewish girl from the obscure town of Nazareth—and through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit—the Word of God became flesh. The pivotal point of God's plan of redemption had arrived. Mary's response, "May it be done to me according to your word," triggered the reverence we've offered her through the centuries in the Hail Mary (1:38).
The greetings of Gabriel and Elizabeth—accompanied by a bow or genuflection—were used in the Eastern church as early as the sixth century and in Rome about a hundred years later as salutations to honor Mary. Gradually, the greetings were linked and Mary's name added as the words were addressed to her in prayer. The name "Jesus" was included by Pope Urban IV in 1261.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. This invocation, added before the fifteenth century, is based on Elizabeth's words calling Mary "the mother of my Lord" and on the Council of Ephesus' affirmation (made in AD 431) of Mary as "Mother of God" (Luke 1:43). The petition's present form was incorporated in the Liturgy of the Hours in 1514 and officially included by the Council of Trent in the reformed breviary of Pope Pius V in 1568.
In showing reverence to Mary, even more do we revere Jesus, the "fruit" of her womb. As St. Bernard of Clairvaux noted, "Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the son by the praise we lavish on the mother; for the more Mary is honored, the greater is the glory of her son." When we pray for ourselves and for the intentions and needs of others, we confidently ask Mary to add her prayers to our own, for who can better intercede on our behalf than the mother of our Savior and the one Jesus himself gave to us as our mother?
"Jesus, thank you for entrusting us to Mary's loving care! Help me to imitate her faith and obedience."
Today's 1st Holy Scripture ends with "Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel." Emmanuel meaning, God is with us. This means volumes, it also means He is not against us, therefore, everything that occurs is for us, our favor, to lead us closer to Him, now, whether we see that or not, that is the question: can you see God? Can you see Him at work? Have you seen Him without human eyes but throughout life? Yet, to not comply, and to prove more, He not only dominates the spiritual realms, but the physical, that is why He forgives, and to the unbeliever...He makes the sign of healing a visible reality. I am no longer Me, but Christ that lives.
We prayed today "Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory. The LORD's are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it." We belong to God. I told everyone a night or two ago at the Posadas, that we are a nation of God, and this is a Nation of light. No, it is not the United States, nor Mexico, nor any other country, but His people are His Nation. I said "this is why communist countries hate religion, because we belong to God". It is not about a world order, but about God's Kingdom...the entire world, "The Lord's are the earth, and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it" !
The Gospel of the Lord says ""Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." Emmanuel. The Lord is with us, and is with Mary in a unique way, the physical Mother of God, or as Elizabeth said "Mother of my Lord". And the archangel continues "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus." God is with us, and His name will be Savior of the World...JESUS. So did the prophet Isaiah get it wrong with the name? The angel named Him Jesus and the prophet named Him Emmanuel. Truth is, it is not either or, but both. Too often we choose sides, when God can be more. His name is Savior who is With Us. Today, that Savior is in the world, reaching people you thought were unreachable, either with you, through you, or not, He is ever reaching, often without your consent, or even knowing. Your job is to be found giving fruit, being a witness to Christ the King. We sing in the streets, pray in the streets in the bitter cold and darkness. A brother told me last night "did you notice a couple of strangers join us that one night?" I faintly remember two onlookers begin to follow us, and Joseph, and Mary, riding the donkey from house to house, sometimes in the quiet darkness...still follow, until we are allowed in. This is the works of the Holy Spirit. Traveling until He is invited in. These people that let us in, they know the Lord is coming, and they prepare. Those that do not know are not prepared, yet the Lord knocks, in the womb He is already knocking.
"I want in. I want to come in. I want to be in your life. I want to be all in your life because I am all you will need. I want in, every day, every minute. I want to give you life. I want life eternal. I want you. Why? Because I created you, for a special reason..."