Joy Is the Essence of the Christmas Message If anything marks the Christmas season in the words of Pope Francis, it's simplicity, smallness, and humi
Joy Is the Essence of the Christmas Message
If anything marks the Christmas season in the words of Pope Francis, it's simplicity, smallness, and humility. He rejoices in the gifts of lights and Christmas trees, carols and crèches, and the happy faces of children who gather to be blessed. Joy is always part of his Christmas message. But it's a joy that comes from the heart rather than from the external trappings that we sometimes mistake for essentials. —from Diane M. Houdek's The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis
✞ "Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did." — St. Maximilian Kolbe
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Write: I am Thrice Holy, and I detest the smallest sin. I cannot love a soul which is stained with sin; but when it repents, there is no limit to My generosity toward it. My mercy embraces and justifies it. With My mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths, and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me. I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart and rejoice at their return. Tell sinners that no one shall escape My Hand; if they run away from My Merciful Heart, they will fall into My Just Hands. Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart . . . when will it beat for Me?" — St. Maria Faustina, (1728) AN EXCERPT FROM Diary of St. Maria Faustina
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible." Hebrews 11:3
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Our Lady of Guadalupe
The feast in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe goes back to the 16th century. Chronicles of that period tell us the story.
A poor Indian named Cuauhtlatohuac was baptized and given the name Juan Diego. He was a 57-year-old widower, and lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning December 9, 1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio to attend Mass in honor of Our Lady.
Juan was walking by a hill called Tepeyac when he heard beautiful music like the warbling of birds. A radiant cloud appeared, and within it stood an Indian maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The bishop was to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared.
Eventually the bishop told Juan to have the lady give him a sign. About this same time Juan's uncle became seriously ill. This led poor Juan to try to avoid the lady. Nevertheless the lady found Juan, assured him that his uncle would recover, and provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop in his cape or tilma.
On December 12, when Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop's presence, the roses fell to the ground, and the bishop sank to his knees. On the tilma where the roses had been appeared an image of Mary exactly as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac.
Mary's appearance to Juan Diego as one of his people is a powerful reminder that Mary–and the God who sent her–accept all peoples. In the context of the sometimes rude and cruel treatment of the Indians by the Spaniards, the apparition was a rebuke to the Spaniards and an event of vast significance for the indigenous population. While a number of them had converted before this incident, they now came in droves. According to a contemporary chronicler, nine million Indians became Catholic in a very short time. In these days when we hear so much about God's preferential option for the poor, Our Lady of Guadalupe cries out to us that God's love for and identification with the poor is an age-old truth that stems from the Gospel itself.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patron Saint of:
The Americas Mexico
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Reading 1 Zec 2:14-17
Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they shall be his people, and he will dwell among you, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. The LORD will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land, and he will again choose Jerusalem. Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD! For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.
Or Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed."
Responsorial Psalm Judith 13:18bcde, 19 R. (15:9d) You are the highest honor of our race. Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the LORD God, the creator of heaven and earth. R. You are the highest honor of our race. Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by those who tell of the might of God. R. You are the highest honor of our race.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are you, holy Virgin Mary, deserving of all praise; From you rose the sun of justice, Christ our Lord. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:26-38
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.
Or Lk 1:39-47
Mary set out 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."
And Mary said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior."
Meditation: Zechariah 2:14-17
Our Lady of Guadalupe (Feast)
Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord. (Zechariah 2:15)
Today we celebrate one way that God has fulfilled this promise from Zechariah. In December of 1531, God sent his special messenger, the Virgin Mary, to the native peoples of what is now Mexico and to the Spanish colonizers who found it easy to exploit them. She appeared in a familiar form, as a pregnant woman dressed in everyday native garb. And because of her appearance and the miracles that followed, the peoples of yet another nation and another culture bound themselves to the Lord.
But there's more to the story of Guadalupe than dramatic conversions. Missionaries from Western Europe have sometimes been tempted to impose their culture on peoples with very different ways. Of course, accepting the gospel means changing your life. You can't become a Christian and continue to practice polygamy or engage in drunken brawls. But you don't have to sing Gregorian chant or celebrate Mass in a grand cathedral. Jesus came to liberate people from sin, but he also set them free so that they could express their worship in their own way, in line with their own culture.
Have you ever gone to Mass with people from a different background than your own? This can be a powerful experience of how our Church is both local and universal. You may not understand the language. You may find the hymns unfamiliar. But you will still be able to follow along with everyone there—with your brothers and sisters.
Try to grab opportunities like these whenever they present themselves. It may be a televised liturgy. It may be as you are traveling. Perhaps there is a parish in your city where Mass is celebrated in a different language or according to the Byzantine Rite or Coptic Rite. Or perhaps you can expand your horizons through music or art. For example, you can research the many different ways Our Lady has been portrayed in paintings and sculptures, from Nairobi to Nagasaki, from Czestochowa to Chechnya.
God is so much bigger than we think, and he has called us into a family that is spread throughout the world.
"Holy Mary, help me to learn from all your children how to magnify the Lord."
(Psalm) Judith 13:18-19 Luke 1:26-38
my2cents: All these Holy Scriptures speak of our Blessed Mother and in particular to Our Lady of Guadalupe: "Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day" He sends His mother among us and nations join the Lord, Indian nations, Indegenous, natives, and the continuation of nations joining continues through the centuries afterwards...til today. "A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet" and this is how our Mother appeared at Guadalupe to convert millions and millions in a very short time to Christianity: the sun rays wrap around her, and the moon under her feet, all signs the Indians understood perfectly well, she was greater than all their gods. She was about to bear the Son, the King of KINGS. She would bring the true light to the world. Everything in the image spoke thousands of words that we could only hope to know. Stars, constellations, nature depictions, a belt of pregnancy, a great honor, wrapped with the universe, and in such humble servitude and position, her eyes spoke volumes and still do today, some scientists can't explain how the tilma still survives, what should've lasted 20 years is going on 500 years....a miracle in of itself, the inks are unexplained, the microscopic images in the pupils and the stories go on and on.
We pray today "You are the highest honor of our race. Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the LORD God" The Archangel Gabriel says HAIL FULL OF GRACE. Saint Elizabeth calls her "mother of our Lord".
In the Holy Gospel we heard: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." She wouldn't look to the angel directly said Sister Ann Emerich. The angel noticed this humble fear of the Lord. The angel spoke with the softest of words, the kind that changes the world. God's favor here meant something for the whole world, not for oneself. That is God's favor. Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." These words Jesus learned from Mary, and repeated them when suffering in the garden, "not my will Father, but yours be done". Isn't this the hardest part of living in faith? Discerning God's will. But I think we make it harder. The cross, the will is more simple than we think...it is humble obedience, like Mary, Our Mother. Today, the patron of the Americas is celebrated, this morning we sang at 6am and I posted pics I took on our parish blog (click to see). Very proud to have served by trying to sing being drowned out by so many voices, and visiting musicians from 100 miles away that's what I enjoy, and I got to push the button to make fog smoke for that apparition but we were happy on the backdrop designed by our future deacon "Pepe" whose name is Guadalupe. I actually look forward to seeing him serving the Virgen de Guadalupe every year.
These are signs of love, of faith, and gestures that lead to salvation. Mary is off to a side, perfectly, giving the greatest honor to God our Father. What an awesome role model for Christianity. I love it, and every year more and more. Let us follow this humble example from Heaven. Jesus is everything. We are honored to love Him...and the more....the better