One day when Francis was in a lonely place by himself, weeping for his misspent years in the bitterness of his heart, the joy of the Holy Spirit was infused into him and he was assured that all his sins had been forgiven. He was rapt in ecstasy and completely absorbed in a wonderful light, so that the depths of his soul were enlightened and he saw what the future held in store for himself and his sons. Then he returned to the friars once again and told them, 'Have courage, my dearly beloved, and rejoice in God. There is no need to be upset because there are only a few of us, nor any need to be afraid because we have no experience. God has shown me beyond all shadow of doubt that he will make us grow into a great multitude and that the Order will spread far and wide, by the favor of his blessing.'"
—from the book Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi
"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."
"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 Peter Canisius
(May 8, 1521 – December 21, 1597)
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.
Peter was one of the most important figures in the Catholic Reformation in Germany. He 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 of 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 imprisoned, 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 that 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 of 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 of Luke (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:
Friday of the Third Week of Advent
Reading 1 Sg 2:8-14
Hark! my lover–here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices. My lover speaks; he says to me, "Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come! "For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance. Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!
"O my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff, Let me see you, let me hear your voice, For your voice is sweet, and you are lovely." or Zep 3:14-18a
Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21 R. (1a; 3a) Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song. Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises. Sing to him a new song; pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness. R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song. But 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. R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song. Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield, For in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust. R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God! R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:39-45
Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
Meditation: Psalm 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21
3rd Week of Advent
Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)
Advent is all about waiting. Like young children waiting to open their presents under the Christmas tree, we wait for the coming of the Lord into our hearts. During these four weeks, we try to prepare ourselves spiritually for that joy-filled anniversary of the day when Jesus came into the world to redeem us.
But now there are only four days until Christmas, and we may be feeling as if we didn't prepare well enough! Perhaps we focused so much on the practical preparations for Christmas that we didn't carve out enough time to spend with God. We may still feel the burden of all we still have to do. If the list is long, it's easy to become discouraged.
If this is how you are feeling, don't lose heart! In his mercy, God can accomplish in a moment what sometimes requires four long weeks of Advent to achieve. That's how great his longing is for us. He is like the hind described in the first reading: "Here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills" (Song of Songs 2:8). God can still break into our lives, so be expectant.
Perhaps God will prepare your heart as you quiet yourself before the crèche in your home for a few moments and ponder the love made manifest by the child in the manger. You might be touched by a scene from a favorite Christmas movie or by the Christmas lights in your neighborhood. It might happen while you are reflecting on a word or phrase from one of the Advent readings over the next few days. It could even happen at the last minute—at the Gloria during Christmas Mass!
Don't underestimate God's desire to draw close to you and to reveal more of his love at Christmas. Advent miracles really do happen, even in the midst of our busyness and stress. So ask God to give you what you need to embrace him on Christmas Day. Be open to his grace in those ordinary moments so that as Christmas dawns, you can say with the psalmist, "In him my heart rejoices; in his holy name I trust" (see Psalm 33:21)!
"Jesus, as my soul waits for you in these last days of Advent, help me to be open to your grace."
Song of Songs 2:8-14 Luke 1:39-45
2 cents : "The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love...". Let us be reminded of the Holy Spirit. The Lord, Your God. He is in our midst!! Does this not make you happy? Glad? Rejoicing? Relieved? Because it does to Him. He is invisibly among us and visibly if necessary to change the whole world as He did when He touched the earth. All the controversy has been initiated. And we ask, "where is He?". He is in our midst!
Let us pray and sing: "Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song. Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield, For in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust." This whole week has been about rejoicing, and we are still going to rejoice more, for God came with the flute and He will come again with the dirge, a time for dancing and a time for mourning. But rejoicing comes in the morning.
In the Holy Gospel, our Blessed Mother in Heaven made haste to see her cousin Elizabeth, imagine, a teenager, going to see a 40 or 50 yr. old relative both expectant mothers, and now they are going to meet, Psalm 85:10 "Love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will embrace.". God is love. Jesus is Love. Saint John is faithful. Mary and Elizabeth are faithful and in love with God. Here, righteousness meets embrace. This is a memory that will last forever, that joyous day, never to be forgotten.
"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. " How had the conversation gone down? How did Elizabeth know she was pregnant with our Lord? We weren't there to know all the details, but she was revealed at the moment of their greeting, in their embrace, by their look, as our Lady of Guadalupe looked to the Aztecs, clear and perfect language.
Do you remember those days when you were little and you were soy joyfully expecting to open Christmas gifts? Why was it so joyful to unwrap gifts? Because something new was coming into your life, a surprise. Right? The best part was the surprise, right? To live life in the Spirit, we must be expectant. Life is full of surprises. Its how we deal with them that makes the difference. Expect all with joy and peace, and the Lord will be revealed. "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." For a believer, we believe what is to come will come. As I write, I know who I am writing to. A busy mother. Another, a busy mother who is facing divorce. Another a busy mother who has lost her parent. Another a busy mother who has struggled with faith. And the busy mothers goes on and on. And fathers? A father who has no time to be with his kids. A priest, busy as ever this time. Another, a busy deacon and father trying to make ends meet. And another busy father struggling with faith. And the list of busy fathers goes on.
Can I suggest something? What best gift can we give to Jesus? Life? Right? Time. Right? Spend more time, make special time to be with Him. What a gift, to be with Him. In silence, in adoration, and in meditation. A silent night is a holy night. And in the morning comes rejoicing.....