Pope Francis reminds us that the hallmark of a Christian should be joy and peace, even in the midst of difficult times. We can become discouraged by the state of the world, the squabbling in our families, the economic difficulties we face, and even the dissension and scandals in our church. We need frequent reminders that God still has the world in his hands, even if we can't always see it. The world of first-century Palestine, the world into which Jesus was born, had its own conflicts and strife. But Jesus brought hope and peace to his world, and he continues to bring the same to ours. Getting back to the beginning of the life of Jesus can bring back some of the joy and innocence of childhood and remind us that a tiny faith can blossom into something much greater. —from the book The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek
✞ "Health is God's great gift, and we must spend it entirely for Him. Our eyes should see only for God, our feet walk only for Him, our hands labor for Him alone; in short, our entire body should serve God while we still have the time. Then, when He shall take our health and we shall near our last day, our conscience will not reproach us for having misused it." — St. John Bosco
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ's victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity, and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, 'there is no human activity—even in secular affairs—which can be withdrawn from God's dominion'. It means working to enrich . . . society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives." — Pope Benedict XVI AN EXCERPT FROM Pope Benedict XVI
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "...it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:43-45
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Saint of the Day for December 7
(337 – April 4, 397)
One of Ambrose's biographers observed that at the Last Judgment, people would still be divided between those who admired Ambrose and those who heartily disliked him. He emerges as the man of action who cut a furrow through the lives of his contemporaries. Even royal personages were numbered among those who were to suffer crushing divine punishments for standing in Ambrose's way.
When the Empress Justina attempted to wrest two basilicas from Ambrose's Catholics and give them to the Arians, he dared the eunuchs of the court to execute him. His own people rallied behind him in the face of imperial troops. In the midst of riots, he both spurred and calmed his people with bewitching new hymns set to exciting Eastern melodies.
In his disputes with the Emperor Auxentius, he coined the principle: "The emperor is in the Church, not above the Church." He publicly admonished Emperor Theodosius for the massacre of 7,000 innocent people. The emperor did public penance for his crime. This was Ambrose, the fighter sent to Milan as Roman governor, and chosen while yet a catechumen to be the people's bishop.
There is yet another side of Ambrose—one which influenced Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose converted. Ambrose was a passionate little man with a high forehead, a long melancholy face, and great eyes. We can picture him as a frail figure clasping the codex of sacred Scripture. This was the Ambrose of aristocratic heritage and learning.
Augustine found the oratory of Ambrose less soothing and entertaining but far more learned than that of other contemporaries. Ambrose's sermons were often modeled on Cicero, and his ideas betrayed the influence of contemporary thinkers and philosophers. He had no scruples in borrowing at length from pagan authors. He gloried in the pulpit in his ability to parade his spoils—"gold of the Egyptians"—taken over from the pagan philosophers.
His sermons, his writings, and his personal life reveal him as an otherworldly man involved in the great issues of his day. Humanity for Ambrose was, above all, spirit. In order to think rightly of God and the human soul, the closest thing to God, no material reality at all was to be dwelt upon. He was an enthusiastic champion of consecrated virginity.
The influence of Ambrose on Augustine will always be open for discussion. The Confessions reveal some manly, brusque encounters between Ambrose and Augustine, but there can be no doubt of Augustine's profound esteem for the learned bishop.
Neither is there any doubt that Saint Monica loved Ambrose as an angel of God who uprooted her son from his former ways and led him to his convictions about Christ. It was Ambrose, after all, who placed his hands on the shoulders of the naked Augustine as he descended into the baptismal fountain to put on Christ.
Ambrose exemplifies for us the truly catholic character of Christianity. He is a man steeped in the learning, law, and culture of the ancients and of his contemporaries. Yet, in the midst of active involvement in this world, this thought runs through Ambrose's life and preaching: The hidden meaning of the Scriptures calls our spirit to rise to another world.
Saint Ambrose is the Patron Saint of:
Bee keepers Beggars Learning Milan
Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Reading 1 Is 26:1-6
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."
Meditation: Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27
Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
The Lord is God, and he has given us light. (Psalm 118:27)
Have you ever been in a completely dark room? It's hard to see or know where anything is. But think of the effect when someone turns on a flashlight or lights a candle. Just a bit of light, and so much becomes visible. That's how powerful light can be!
Light is such a common theme in Scripture and in the liturgy that we might miss the strength of the metaphor. So let's slow down for a bit and ask what the light of the Lord does for us.
Light gives us insight. Turning on a light in a dark room allows us to see what's there. The light God gives us does the same thing spiritually. You might be irritable or short-tempered around your spouse. God's light can help you see what is at the root of your irritation. It can not only show you resentments or hurts beneath the surface but also draw your eye to the love you have for each other—love that might have seemed somehow hidden before. That changes how you look at your spouse and shows you how to move forward in love. Light gives us perspective. Darkness keeps us from understanding the big picture. It's easy to focus narrowly on how events affect us personally, but God's light allows us to see the panorama of his plan. Maybe you were planning to go on a family vacation, but your child got sick and you had to stay home with him. That would be disappointing. But your sacrifice showed your child how loved he is, and that built trust and respect in your relationship. Instead of focusing on the disappointment, you can focus on the blessing. Light gives us hope. In the dark, we fear what we can't see. But light shows us where we're going. You might be facing a decision and not know what to do. God's light can bring hope. He might not show you exactly what to do, but he will remind you where we're going. His light can draw your vision to your end goal, life with him in heaven. He'll help you see all your brothers and sisters accompanying you along the way. God's light is all around you. It is within you. He loves giving you insight, perspective, and hope.
"Lord, help me walk in the light!"
Isaiah 26:1-6 Matthew 7:21, 24-27
my2cents: We heard the proclamation today: "Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith." Open wide to...the faithful. God's nation, God's...Kingdom. Baptized? Welcome. Ready? Let's get ready.
We pray: " Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 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." Gates of justice? Not like we think. Justice is God's side, and bursting from it are rays of mercy, and blood. From the east side of the temple...His own body...His very...LIFE.
In comes the Blessed most Holy Word: "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." They said at the men's conference that it was said that Pancho Villa, a brute revolutionary in Mexico fighting the incumbent government, supposedly he went to Mass every day, but was found in hell. When asked "why wasn't he in heaven?" they said "because he never did nothing. You can't just say you have faith. You can't just babble words. Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church states "II. "YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME" 2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion. Superstition 2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.41"
It would be superstitious to attend Mass with the body thinking it would be good for the whole soul, yet presenting yourself as good as dead no heart for God, not heart in the soul, nothing to offer, just there as a good luck charm for yourself.
I don't know if this scripture will help, but it helped me, as it came in very early this morning as a text from my god-son this morning: "Proverbs 27:5-6 " Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." (Proverbs 27:5-6 NIV) Truth hurts. And wouldn't the truth hurt if you sinned against it? Sin hurts truth, and the truth is Jesus. That's why I've said it several times already. There is a lie in the world that says "God does not feel pain". Jesus wept. God feels pain. Jesus suffered the lashings and the crown of thorns and the spit in the face and the striking on the head and being nailed to the cross, and the carrying the cross was indeed extremely painful, causing Him to fall 3 times on the Way. Physically painful, but you can't even imagine the pains in the heart, pains we couldn't begin to understand, pains to make you sweat blood. What heart oozes like that? Mary wept all along the Way. She was crucified with Christ. She wore the cross on her heart forever, never ever got over the passion of Christ her beloved and only Son conceived without sin.
And how do we present ourselves to our Lord day in and day out?
A spanish reflection said several times today in its beginning paragraphs "Nuestras vidas son las casas" our lives are the houses. Houses built on what? Temples built on what? Families built on what? Nations built on what? Marriages built on what?
Bishop Barren ends His reflection today "So the question is a simple one: where do you stand? How goes it with your heart? On what, precisely, is the whole of your life built?"
There is a common denominator across everything. It is God and everything is based off Him and the distance from Him.
Flowers in the fields glorify God. They open up to Him, they open up to the light, and they get eaten, trampled on, or they get pollinated, either way giving fruit to the earth they came from. For us humans, it is the same but with the Spirit. You shall worship the Lord, glorifying Him, and whatever may happen, to the Lord be all the Glory and fruit as He sees fit. I encourage you to strive to enter the gates of justice, of holiness, of being so near to God you can feel Him around every corner and move in your life. It is possible He is closer than you care to believe. Base your faith on this solid foundation....Jesus. Once you orbit the Son, you are on an eternal path that shall not cease in its motion. Just because time exists on earth does not mean it exists anywhere else. Can you fathom the thought? There, then, is a power to reckon in your life. Here we are called to something not of this world but in the world...and He calls Himself I AM & Love I AM n' Love