Oh, Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament, today I open my heart to your real presence and to the way you wish to speak to me. Teach me to listen and to be still so I can hear you. For these few minutes I put aside all the busyness of this season so I can focus on you. Thank you for the gift of your presence!
-from A Eucharistic Christmas
†"If we do not risk anything for God we will never do anything great for Him." — St. Louis De Montfort
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "An excellent method of preserving interior silence is to keep exterior silence. . . even in the world, each one of us can make his own solitude, a boundary beyond which nothing can force its way unperceived. It is not noise in itself that is the difficulty, but noise that is pointless; it is not every conversation, but useless conversations; not all kinds of occupation, but aimless occupations. In point of fact, everything that does not serve some good purpose is harmful. It is foolish, nay, more, it is a betrayal to devote to a useless objective powers that can be given to what is essential. There are two ways of separating ourselves from almighty God, quite different from one another but both disastrous, although for different reasons: mortal sin and voluntary distractions—mortal sin, which objectively breaks off our union with God, and voluntary distractions, which subjectively interrupt or hinder our union from being as close as it ought to be. We should speak only when it is preferable not to keep silence. The Gospel does not say merely that we shall have to give an account of every evil word, but of every idle thought." — St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 44 AN EXCERPT FROM Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori
Saint Peter Canisius
Saint of the Day for December 21 (May 8,1521 – December 21, 1597)
Saint Peter Canisius' Story
The energetic life of Peter Canisius should demolish any stereotypes we may have of the life of a saint as dull or routine. Peter lived his 76 years at a pace which must be considered heroic, even in our time of rapid change. A man blessed with many talents, Peter is an excellent example of the scriptural man who develops his talents for the sake of the Lord's work.
He was one of the most important figures in the Catholic Reformation in Germany. His played such a key role that he has often been called the "second apostle of Germany" in that his life parallels the earlier work of Boniface.
Although Peter once accused himself of idleness in his youth, he could not have been idle too long, for at the age of 19 he received a master's degree from the university at Cologne. Soon afterwards he met Peter Faber, the first disciple of Ignatius Loyola, who influenced Peter so much that he joined the recently formed Society of Jesus.
At this early age Peter had already taken up a practice he continued throughout his life—a process of study, reflection, prayer and writing. After his ordination in 1546, he became widely known for his editions of the writings of Saint Cyril of Alexandria and St. Leo the Great. Besides this reflective literary bent, Peter had a zeal for the apostolate. He could often be found visiting the sick or prisoners, even when his assigned duties in other areas were more than enough to keep most people fully occupied.
In 1547 Peter attended several sessions of the Council of Trent, whose decrees he was later assigned to implement. After a brief teaching assignment at the Jesuit college at Messina, Peter was entrusted with the mission to Germany—from that point on his life's work. He taught in several universities and was instrumental in establishing many colleges and seminaries. He wrote a catechism that explained the Catholic faith in a way which common people could understand—a great need of that age.
Renowned as a popular preacher, Peter packed churches with those eager to hear his eloquent proclamation of the gospel. He had great diplomatic ability, often serving as a reconciler between disputing factions. In his letters (filling eight volumes) one finds words of wisdom and counsel to people in all walks of life. At times he wrote unprecedented letters of criticism to leaders of the Church—yet always in the context of a loving, sympathetic concern.
At 70, Peter suffered a paralytic seizure, but he continued to preach and write with the aid of a secretary until his death in his hometown (Nijmegen, Netherlands) on December 21, 1597. Reflection
Peter's untiring efforts are an apt example for those involved in the renewal of the Church or the growth of moral consciousness in business or government. He is regarded as one of the creators of the Catholic press, and can easily be a model for the Christian author or journalist. Teachers can see in his life a passion for the transmission of truth. Whether we have much to give, as Peter Canisius did, or whether we have only a little to give, as did the poor widow in the Gospel (see Luke 21:1–4), the important thing is to give our all. It is in this way that Peter is so exemplary for Christians in an age of rapid change when we are called to be in the world but not of the world. Saint Peter Canisius is the Patron Saint of:
Lord, you are always there waiting for me. May I never be too busy to find time to spend in your presence.
Lord grant me the grace to have freedom of the spirit. Cleanse my heart and soul so I may live joyously in Your love.
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them. Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment. I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.
The Word of God Luke 1:39-45
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Birth, the gift of life from God, fruitfulness was always sacred to the people of Israel; and the mothers had a special place down through sacred history – as the bearers of life. Mary and Elizabeth outdo one another, as it were, in giving thanks.
▪ But this particular case is special, unique. Jesus, the child that Mary is carrying, is recognised by the child in Elizabeth's womb - John leaps in recognition of the one whom both mothers revere as 'Lord' (John himself being of miraculous origin from an elderly mother).
▪ And above and beyond what is happening to each mother, earthshaking events are in train - the Lord (long awaited) has finally come to visit his people, to be victorious over enemies, to exult with joy over those who are his own.
Lord, I know that when I turn to you there is no need for words. You can see into my heart. You know my desires and you know my needs. I place myself into your hands.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Luke 1:39-45
4th Week of Advent
Blessed is the fruit of your womb. (Luke 1:42)
From poisonous snakes to the neighborhood cat, animals have always had ways of defending themselves. They use their teeth, their claws, and even putrid odors to ward off attackers. Humans have ways of defending themselves too. Weapons, walls, and trained armies are just a few possibilities. We also have emotional defenses, don't we? Yet if you look at today's readings, you see a God who comes to us in one of the most defenseless ways possible: as a baby.
Jesus could have come as a mighty warrior, a wise sage, or a majestic king. But he didn't. He came as a baby so that he could go through all the stages of growth and development and so become a beacon for everyone. He came in poverty to show that every human being, no matter their status, is important to God. He didn't come only for the wealthy and powerful. He didn't come only to the educated or influential. He came to embrace every person, including you.
It was an incredible risk of love, wasn't it? Jesus put all his cards on the table—and not just in his birth. He continued his way of humble vulnerability right up to his death on the cross. Even today, he comes to us in remarkably vulnerable ways: in our fellow parishioners, in the poor and needy, and in the form of simple bread and wine. That's how valuable we are to him!
Right now, as you read these words, Jesus is standing before you. He is inviting you to respond to his vulnerability by being vulnerable yourself, by opening up your heart and letting him in. Welcome him in his smallness and humility.
Infants don't look at the messes around them; they don't judge or criticize. They have no defenses and no misgivings about you. They just want to love and be loved. Maybe it's the first time, or maybe it's the hundredth; still, dare to let down your defenses, and be as vulnerable to Jesus as he is to you.
"Lord, help me to open my heart to you, just as you have opened yours to me."
The Word of the Lord today said "The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear." Something keeps churning through my head today, and it says "doubt makes room for havoc". Let it be a prophecy, and prophecies have everything to do with faith. Let there be no room for doubt when it comes to God. To doubt is to not love. Some will argue and say "it is only human" and therefore justify sin. No. Because there is no room for doubt, there is more room for Him. And this is the focus...JESUS. The whole point of Advent means "the coming" of the Messiah. And the Messiah is the Savior who has come and is in our midst...believe it? Or doubt.
We prayed today "Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.. . the plan of the LORD stands forever; the design of his heart, through all generations. Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he has chosen for his own inheritance." And He left His inheritance with us...JESUS. Do you believe? If we have Jesus, we have eternity. And the whole of it is how much of Jesus do we have? He gave us His all....and us? I know we can do better, but to do better, you must love better.
In the Holy Gospel we heard "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb" and we heard Elizabeth cry out the Hail Mary prayer "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb". The leaping of the baby in the womb means many things. It means that life is already happening. Sadly, in our time, babies, those defenseless babies are not recognized as humans, and in doubt, they are slaughtered. It means that life is in the womb and sacred, and the most defenseless are those that God loves most. The poor. The forgotten, the un-cherished, the little ones. And so when John the baptist as an unborn leaps in the womb, the mother is shocked and speaks words from the heart and from John's heart, "Here is the Mother of My Lord!". It reminds me of King David, dancing and leaping without his clothes in the streets, shirtless, and why? Because he won a war? No. Because he was drunk? No. Then why? Because, the Ark of the Covenant was being brought to him and his people. Mary is the Ark of the new covenant, she held within her everything the old Ark held, the staff to lead God's people, the commandments, and the Manna. I asked everyone last night if any one knew what Bethlehem meant. Nobody answered. I said "it means house of bread". Jesus was born in Bethlehem for a special reason, to be known that the bread He is would come from the house (Mary) of bread. She was the housing, and now we faithful Catholics are the housing when He enters our bodies and souls with His Body and Soul. This is why we give gifts in Christmas, because Jesus enters these souls. Will He enter yours? He already has, and desires to be made king. The King of your world. The Love of your world. And Jesus asks His first Pope: Do You Love ME??