Light in the Darkness Christmas makes sense only if you know the experience of darkness—the experience of not knowing what is going on, not knowing y
Light in the Darkness
Christmas makes sense only if you know the experience of darkness—the experience of not knowing what is going on, not knowing your way, not seeing life for what it is, failing, losing, and suffering. Then the turn toward light has a real impact. The more you know the dark, the more you will appreciate the light.
—from the book The Soul of Christmas by Thomas Moore
✞ "And I saw that truly nothing happens by accident or luck, but everything by God's wise providence ... for matters that have been in God's foreseeing wisdom, since before time began, befall us suddenly, all unawares; and so in our blindness and ignorance we say that this is accident or luck, but to our Lord God it is not so." — St. Juliana of Norwich
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Many of the saints tell us that these times of God-ordained 'desolation' or dryness are very important times of growth if we persevere through them by exercising a deeper faith, hope, and love. It is particularly important, they tell us, not to give up our spiritual practices but to remain faithful. God in His wisdom knows how long and how deeply we must be tried in order to come closer to Him, and we should patiently trust Him during the trial while persevering in our practices." — Ralph Martin, p.174 AN EXCERPT FROM Fulfillment of all Desire
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining." 1 Peter 4:7-9
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Blessed Pope Urban V
(1310 – December 19, 1370)
Blessed Pope Urban V's Story In 1362, the man elected pope declined the office. When the cardinals could not find another person among them for that important office, they turned to a relative stranger: the holy person we honor today.
The new Pope Urban V proved a wise choice. A Benedictine monk and canon lawyer, he was deeply spiritual and brilliant. He lived simply and modestly, which did not always earn him friends among clergymen who had become used to comfort and privilege. Still, he pressed for reform, and saw to the restoration of churches and monasteries. Except for a brief period he spent most of his eight years as pope living away from Rome at Avignon, seat of the papacy from 1309, until shortly after his death.
Urban came close, but was not able to achieve one of his biggest goals—reuniting the Eastern and Western churches.
As pope, Urban continued to follow the Benedictine Rule. Shortly before his death in 1370, he asked to be moved from the papal palace to the nearby home of his brother, so he could say goodbye to the ordinary people he had so often helped.
Reflection Simplicity in the midst of power and grandeur seems to define this saint, as he reluctantly accepted the papacy, but remained at heart a Benedictine monk. Surroundings need not negatively influence a person.
Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent
Reading 1 Jgs 13:2-7, 24-25a
There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren and had borne no children. An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, "Though you are barren and have had no children, yet you will conceive and bear a son. Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink and to eat nothing unclean. As for the son you will conceive and bear, no razor shall touch his head, for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb. It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel from the power of the Philistines."
The woman went and told her husband, "A man of God came to me; he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed. I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. But he said to me, 'You will be with child and will bear a son. So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb, until the day of his death.'"
The woman bore a son and named him Samson. The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him; the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 71:3-4a, 5-6ab, 16-17 R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory! Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are my rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory! For you are my hope, O LORD; my trust, O God, from my youth. On you I depend from birth; from my mother's womb you are my strength. R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory! I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD; O God, I will tell of your singular justice. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds. R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. O Root of Jesse's stem, sign of God's love for all his people: come to save us without delay! R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:5-25
In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.
Once when he was serving as priest in his division's turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.
But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord."
Then Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel said to him in reply, "I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time." Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute.
Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.
After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, "So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others."
Meditation: Luke 1:5-25
But now you will be speechless. (Luke 1:20)
Imagine how difficult it must have been for Zechariah to remain silent for nine long months. How could he conduct business? How could he minister as a priest? How could he relate to his wife, Elizabeth? Scripture gives us little insight into how Zechariah spent that time, but we can be sure he spent a good portion of it learning patience and trust in God.
Whatever Zechariah did, it's clear that God used this time to prepare him for his role as father of John the Baptist. Raising any child is a challenging venture, so imagine how much higher the stakes were here: Zechariah had to form the new Elijah, the herald of the Messiah. It's a good thing he had a prolonged period of silence and reflection!
Catholic author and poet Caryll Houselander once talked about the blessings of silence this way: "God speaks silently, God speaks in your heart; if your heart is noisy, chattering, you will not hear." It's in silence that we can become aware of our emptiness and our longing for the Lord. Spending too much time caught up in the noise and clutter of the world can dull our spiritual senses. It can make us think that we are fulfilled and satisfied when we may be just bouncing from one distraction to the next. It's only in silence and emptiness that we can allow the Lord to fill us and speak to us.
In these few days before Christmas, make it a point to seek out the Lord in silence. Maybe you can steal a few moments before the tabernacle during adoration or before the crèche in your home. Don't say much; just picture Jesus sitting with you, and rest in his presence. It may not appear that anything is happening. You may feel nothing dramatically changing in you. But if you keep this up over time, you won't be disappointed. God will speak to you. He will bring you peace. He will assure you of his love. He loves to spend time with you!
After John was born, Zechariah's "mouth was opened," and he sang God's praises (Luke 1:64). His silence filled him with joy and confidence in the Lord. The same can happen for each of us as we wait before our God in silence.
"Lord, help me to seek you and find you in the silence of my heart."
Judges 13:2-7, 24-25 Psalm 71:3-6, 16-17
"...for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb. It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel..." the angel said. "...you will bear a son..." and Samson was conceived, and born, to deliver Israel, God's people, to save His people.
We pray: "For you are my hope, O LORD; my trust, O God, from my youth. On you I depend from birth; from my mother's womb you are my strength. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!"
In the Holy Gospel we heard "He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God." Three times we hear about this consecration from the womb. Three times, once for every time God is revealed in the Holy Trinity. And Jesus becomes all in one. To deliver His people. To save His people. At the Posadas last night, I asked the crowd, "What does Emmanuel mean?" and "What does Jesus mean". They knew Emmanuel because we had just read it. But there was much silence when I asked what Jesus meant. They were close, the older high school guys, "savior" they would say. It is "HE WHO SAVES". God writes slowly in the world. And sends an angel when the world is going to change. An angel is a messenger. If God doesn't speak, His angels do and the same effect is revealed because it is God's word. God speaks in the life of Jesus. He says "Listen to Him". Obey Him. As Mary our Mother said "Do as He says" and then...He reveals Himself in the wedding.
Today, He can reveal Himself. Be confident in this. Stop making religions. Stop being your own boss. Stop with bashing the temple and the womb. That is why Saint John the Baptist was outside of the temple, because inside it was not harboring the truth. As Bishop Barren says today:
"Friends, in today's Gospel, Luke tells us about John the Baptist's parents. We see with utter clarity that John is a priestly figure. Zechariah, his father, is a Temple priest and Elizabeth, his mother, is a descendant of Aaron, the very first priest. Now flash forward thirty years and see John emerging in the desert. The first question is, "Why is this son of a priest not working in the Temple?" And the second is, "Why are the people going out from Jerusalem to commune with him?" The answer to the first is that he is engaging in a prophetic critique of a Temple that has gone bad. And the answer to the second is that he is performing the acts of a purified Temple priest out in the desert. His baptism was a ritual cleansing and a spur to repent, precisely what a pious Jew would have sought in the Temple. And the picture becomes complete when Jesus arrives to be baptized and John says, "Behold, the Lamb of God." This is explicitly Temple talk. He is saying that the one who is to be sacrificed has arrived. He is the fulfillment of priesthood, Temple, and sacrifice. The priestly figure has done his work, and now he fades away." In parts of the world, the woman having children is seen as a blessing, for descendants. In our culture, having a child is fine, but, too many is seen as a curse. I prayed at Posadas "let us pray for the most persecuted people in the world...the unborn". Millions and millions tortured in this chamber....the womb. This is the real fight in the world. Between good and evil, of the gods and the true God.
Now the temple of the Lord is in the Body of Christ.
And He chooses to live in humans. Now the cleansing must begin. Now the preparations begin. The forever now awaits. Be careful what you love. Who