Advent Is a Wake-Up Call Advent is a wake-up call to the Church, a time when we're prodded into beginning again, taking more notice of our spiritual
Advent Is a Wake-Up Call
Advent is a wake-up call to the Church, a time when we're prodded into beginning again, taking more notice of our spiritual surroundings, once again getting going on the work of the kingdom in the world. For some of us, if we've neglected the spiritual side of our lives, this wake-up call is going to jar us into awareness, and at times we will want to pull a metaphorical pillow over our heads and pretend that it's still dark. For others of us, it's a welcome opportunity for a fresh start. —from the book Advent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek
✞ "Be patient, because the weaknesses of the body are given to us in this world by God for the salvation of the soul. So they are of great merit when they are borne patiently." — St. Francis of Assisi
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Your Lord is seated at the Father's right hand in heaven. How then is the bread His body? And the chalice, or rather its content, how is it His Blood? These elements are called Sacraments, because in them one thing is perceived by the sense and another thing by the mind. What is seen has a bodily appearance; what the mind perceives produces spiritual fruit. You hear the words, 'The Body of Christ', and you answer 'Amen.'" — Saint Augustine, p. 91 AN EXCERPT FROM Augustine Day by Day
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you." John 15:12-14
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Saint John Damascene
Saint of the Day for December 4
(c. 676 -749)
John spent most of his life in the Monastery of Saint Sabas near Jerusalem, and all of his life under Muslim rule, indeed protected by it.
He was born in Damascus, received a classical and theological education, and followed his father in a government position under the Arabs. After a few years, he resigned and went to the Monastery of Saint Sabas.
He is famous in three areas:
First, he is known for his writings against the iconoclasts, who opposed the veneration of images. Paradoxically, it was the Eastern Christian emperor Leo who forbade the practice, and it was because John lived in Muslim territory that his enemies could not silence him.
Second, he is famous for his treatise, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a summary of the Greek Fathers, of which he became the last. It is said that this book is for Eastern schools what the Summa of Aquinas became for the West.
Third, he is known as a poet, one of the two greatest of the Eastern Church, the other being Romanus the Melodist. His devotion to the Blessed Mother and his sermons on her feasts are well known.
John defended the Church's understanding of the veneration of images and explained the faith of the Church in several other controversies. For over 30 years, he combined a life of prayer with these defenses and his other writings. His holiness expressed itself in putting his literary and preaching talents at the service of the Lord.
Monday of the First Week of Advent
Reading 1 Is 2:1-5
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come, The mountain of the LORD's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: "Come, let us climb the LORD's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths." For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!
Responsorial Psalm Ps 122:1-2, 3-4b, 4cd-5, 6-7, 8-9 R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. I rejoiced because they said to me, "We will go up to the house of the LORD." And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem. R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD. R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. According to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David. R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May those who love you prosper! May peace be within your walls, prosperity in your buildings. R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. Because of my relatives and friends I will say, "Peace be within you!" Because of the house of the LORD, our God, I will pray for your good. R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Alleluia See Ps 80:4 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Come and save us, LORD our God; Let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 8:5-11
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully." He said to him, "I will come and cure him." The centurion said in reply, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven."
Meditation: Isaiah 2:1-5 Saint John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Optional Memorial)
They shall beat their swords into plowshares. (Isaiah 2:4)
Sparks fly with each strike of the hammer. Heat billows from the furnace. The sound of metal against metal clangs in the air. A blacksmith, applying the tools of his trade, takes a sword and slowly, painstakingly reshapes it into a plow blade.
Is this what Advent looks like to you? It's the image Isaiah used when he prophesied about the coming Messiah. He described a kingdom where swords were no longer necessary. Instead, these obsolete tools of war and instruments of death would be turned into instruments of life and peace.
This is how God asks us to prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas; it's what Advent is all about. We all have swords in our lives, "tools" that we use to hurt one another. Maybe we have a short temper. We might be moody and hold grudges, or maybe we're quick to insult or condemn. The Lord wants to take those biting words and teach us how to speak with compassion and understanding. He wants to take our anger and re-form it into mercy. He wants to help us take steps toward making peace in our relationships.
This image of swords turning into plowshares is one way to explain exactly why Jesus became man—to turn us from the destruction of sin so that each of us can become a tool for peace. This is what the Messianic Age looks like—an age when people are more concerned about building each other up than tearing them down.
Experience tells us that this beating of swords into plowshares doesn't happen automatically. We need to cooperate with the divine Blacksmith. We need to surrender our swords to him so that he can help us reshape them. That's why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so vital.
So take the time to examine your conscience before Christmas. Don't be afraid to look for those swords, the ways you have injured yourself or the people around you. Then go to Confession. God is ready to forgive, heal, and strengthen you. He is ready to make you an expert in the art of peace, not war. He can take every act of repentance, every bit of time spent in prayer, every sacrifice or act of generosity, and fill it with his grace.
"Father, thank you for this season of Advent. Lord, I surrender my swords to you."
Psalm 122:1-9 Matthew 8:5-11
The Word of God proclaims in the first Holy Scripture: "The mountain of the LORD's house shall be established as the highest mountain" and ends "O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!" Let us ascend the mountain, climb the mountain of our Lord's house, and make it the greatest. Let us make His Kingdom come. He does with our willing bodies desire with only a word. Does not one word matter? Watch your words that can speak blessings, or a curse. How can you ascend? Blessings. This reaching of our Lord's hand to ours.
We pray on "I rejoiced because they said to me, "We will go up to the house of the LORD." And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem." Can you imagine, our Lord Jesus spoke in Psalms frequently, and now imagine Him speaking or thinking this one as He was paraded into Jerusalem? The house of the Lord is Heaven. He shows us the way. He carried His cross at Jerusalem, He made straight the road. He climbs the mountain of the Lord. He did it not only barefooted, but loaded with the cross, the weight of all sin and death. And He rejoiced to see the day.
This is faith.
And so our Lord is approached today by a centurion, a power soldier, power over a hundred soldiers. The centurion, with this power though could not fix one broken slave and friend and brother. With all our power and might, we can not save a critical case, unless we receive a miracle. Then, we turn to God. This is what gets me. Miracles. Jesus makes thousands of miracles happen. And I've said it before, the greatest is that of a conversion. That is the purpose of a miracle, for conversion of hearts, minds, and souls. Think about that next time you witness or need a miracle. It is a calling. To this day, we say the words of the centurion right before receiving the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, the Body, and Blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus. "Lord, I am not worthy that you should come into my house, but only say the word and I shall be healed". Jesus doesn't need to come down from His throne to help you. But He does. Simply with a word. I wrote a song yesterday, and I offered it in honor of these orphans in Chihuahua, they have been asking for prayer, because some indigenous kids were brought in to the orphanage and spread an infectious disease making welps and rashes to almost half of the 60 kids there. I think of their suffering, no family, sick, and maybe feeling alone in the world. I wrote a song named "Adrenalina" (adrenaline). I had wanted to write a song about adrenaline for a while now, and I didn't know how but I knew it would happen. I wanted the song to make the blood boil. I wanted the song to make the heart pump like many of the songs I write do. Indeed, when I'm falling asleep driving on the roads, I simply either eat seeds or pop in one of my cds or mp3s. I digress.
The song says:
"tu eres para mi adrenalina" you are to me Adrenaline. "fuerza pa mi sangre me das vida" strength for my blood you give me life. "Tu eres para mi adrenalina tu vida unida con la mia" You are to me adrenaline, you life united to mine" "Tu eres para me adrenalina, te amo para siempre eres mia" You are adrenaline, I love you forever you are mine" "Dicen que la adrenalina causa milagros" They say adrenaline causes miracles. "Dicen que con ella no sientes dolor" They say with it you don't feel pain. "Dicen que todos tenemos adrenalina" They say we all have adrenaline. "Dicen que Dios es Puro AMOR!" They say God is pure love!
It is like this, we are to God a cause of great joy. I didn't share the first part of the song which talks about God seeing us formed before His very eyes and causing great joy to see our first heart beats. What He sees we can not, and if you could only see what causes Him great joy. Like, let's say... a centurion. Like even you can today. If today you have life, let it be an ascension to the house of our Lord. Ascend with the cross, an offering of love, obedience, all things faith with one powerful ingredient...love. This makes all the difference. Let us focus on this, because the Body of Christ is all of us in the Holy Church stretching to the darkness with light.
We got one shot in this life. Aim for the light. In the world there are very few saints being saints.
In the world there are very few making a difference. But in only took one man in the world to change it, and this man is the Son of God. He proves "with God all things are possible".
I wake up with adrenaline running through my veins, the possibility of a saint being the saint God wants. The centurion then, is a saint. An intercessor. A person of great faith causing waves of faith for the rest of time. Now repeat: " I am not worthy Lord, but only say the word and I shall be healed". I meditated in a daily Mass after receiving the Eucharist, "Lord I am worthless" and the Lord spoke in my heart "who told you, you are worthless?" And now I write a song to the orphans. Those who have no mother or father, meaning all the lost souls that encompass this earth....not knowing to seek God our Father.
adrian for a sneak peak of the song email me and I'll forward you a download link. Its in Spanish. I'll be emailing it to the orphanage later today....pray for them please.