Reach Out to Others "O Key of David, O Royal power of Israel, controlling at your will the gate of heaven: Come break down the prison walls of death
Reach Out to Others
"O Key of David, O Royal power of Israel, controlling at your will the gate of heaven: Come break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death."
At this festive time of year, when all our attention seems focused on gathering with loved ones, those who are grieving face a most difficult challenge. They may feel locked out of the brightness around them. Be the key that releases those who are grieving, while still respecting their own journey. Reach out to those who have lost special people in their lives. Be creative. Spending a quiet evening with a friend may be more consoling than an invitation to share in festivities with a heavy heart.
—from the book Advent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek
✞"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
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:9-11
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Saint Dominic of Silos
Saint of the Day for December 20 (c. 1000 – December 20, 1073)
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 who experienced difficult pregnancies 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—Dominic Guzman, the one who founded the Dominicans.
For hundreds of 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.
Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
Reading 1 Is 7:10-14
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.
Meditation: Luke 1:26-38
3rd Week of Advent
Nothing will be impossible for God. (Luke 1:37)
As we ponder the story of the Annunciation today, let's turn to our heavenly Father, who delights in accomplishing the impossible:
"Father, nothing is impossible for you. You spoke a word, and everything came to be. Out of the chaos of nothingness, you brought forth life and light. You promised the barren Abraham numerous descendants, and your word was fulfilled. Time and time again, you pour out your life where there seems to be only death. No obstacle is too great for you.
"I consider Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. Sometimes I can feel just like her, with very little to show for all her years, no legacy that would earn her praise or preserve her memory. But Elizabeth's emptiness, her very biology, wasn't an obstacle to you. You promised that she would bear a son and be filled with joy, and it came to be. So today, Father, I won't be afraid to look at the places in my life that seem unproductive or barren. I ask you to bring life and fruitfulness into those empty places.
"I think, too, about the Virgin Mary. She had her whole life ahead of her, with so many possibilities. I can see unexplored possibilities in my life too. I have hopes and dreams that I cherish, even if I don't know how to see them through. You brought life to Mary in an unexpected way. Her inexperience was not an obstacle to you, and neither was Joseph's hesitancy. So I trust you to help me bear fruit in the way that you desire it. I will try to say yes to you today, and wait expectantly to see how this will come to be.
"Lord, nothing is impossible with you! I choose to believe that truth more than the impossibilities I see in my life. Like Mary, I will believe even when I can't see how you will make me fruitful. Like Elizabeth, I will trust when hopelessness knocks at my door. Thank you for all the ways you have already brought your life to me. I look with joyful anticipation to see how you will continue!"
"Heavenly Father, you have made everything out of nothing. I praise you because you can do all things."
Isaiah 7:10-14 Psalm 24:1-6
my2cents: The Word Spoke: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel."
The virgin was engaged, she was and forever will be the virgin, pure, and holy, because the Psalms proclaim the truth of the Ark of the Covenant ". 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." Jesus.
Who can contain Him in all His Glory? Mary. Who gave her blood and soul for Him? Mary. Full of grace. The perfection of creation to hold and behold the spotless "lamb of God" that would feed the world forever.
In the Holy Gospel Mary asks the angel humbly ""How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" She was, by tradition, as Blessed Anne Emerich says "raised in the temple since she was a little girl". She was to serve the temple and be devoted as a pure virgin. Joseph was said to have been a very holy man. She would now forever be sealed in virginity and consecrated to God through Jesus. She is forever with God. Mary loves us, because she loves Jesus so intensely, it is unimaginable. A love beyond lovers could ever have in the world, a true love, more than a real mother we know, she is real. She said these words that I always reflect on during the 1st Sorrowful Mystery of the Holy Rosary when Jesus was agonizing in the Garden. The Lamb of God was being hunted for slaughter. He knew His time was coming close and fast. And He suffered tremendously, because the all-knowing knew. An angel was there to comfort. Mother's words prevailed " "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. Jesus ends His prayer the same way, "not my will, Father, but Yours" and the prayer ends, and the onslaught ensues. An offering begins. A love sacrifice begins. The lamb to feed the world begins. Eat of this and you shall not die. And the world of darkness ridicules and scorns the believers. But the blood remains. Jesus remains. I write to you so that you will remain. Christmas is all about Jesus. Not the sappy worldly songs, and not the glitz and glamour, but of a real woman and a real child with no place to stay and their father, poor but ready to provide. If Jesus was poor, the Father was poor. Poverty in the world of Spirit means more than we care to imagine. "Blessed are the poor in Spirit" Jesus proclaims from the mountain. For they will be satisfied, the hungry, the poor, the suffering. Last night a brother in Christ asked me "Adrian, how long have you been doing these posadas?" I never count things I do for the Lord, not the retreats, not the days nor the hours, but I had to reply, and I remembered I've been doing it since before I got married, so "about 15 years I guess" I said and continued "Time flies when you are having fun". Enjoying, loving, fun. I had been telling him earlier about stories of past years "I remember back when we would travel for seemingly miles in the bitter cold and snow, but we had to do it". LOL, like the old people recalling their younger school days going to school, and the brother said "and all uphill!" Yep.
It is uphill, and the struggle makes for the better more fonder memories. If something don't cost you, you don't value as much. It cost Jesus everything. The Son of God paid for everything. How can we pay? Living out His life as He continues to live................