Thursday, December 14, 2017

if you are willing to accept it ✞


Say Yes Even in the Midst of Darkness

In Matthew's version of the annunciation story, in this case telling Joseph that the events in his life are part of God's plan, we can imagine what Joseph has been going through. We've had similar difficulties in our own lives. At the time, we may have longed for a sign as clear as the one Matthew describes.

Pope Francis reminds us that at times such as these, we need to have a kind of desperate faith that says yes in the midst of darkness. What helps more than anything is to be immersed in the stories of the Bible, the stories of God's presence with his people.

—from The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek


✞ "Only he will receive, will find, and will enter who perseveres in asking, seeking and knocking."
— St. Louis de Montfort

"Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few cross-bearers. Many desire His consolation, but few His tribulation. Many will sit down with Him at table, but few will share His fast. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few will suffer for Him. Many will follow Him to the breaking of the bread, but few will drink the bitter cup of His Passion. Many revere His miracles, but few follow the shame of His cross. Many love Jesus when all goes well with them, and praise Him when He does them a favor; but if Jesus conceals Himself and leaves them for a little while, they fall to complaining or become depressed. They who love Jesus purely for Himself and not for their own sake bless Him in all trouble and anguish as well as in time of consolation. Even if He never sent them consolation, they would still praise Him and give thanks. Oh how powerful is the pure love of Jesus, when not mixed with self-interest or self-love!"
— Thomas à Kempis, p. 88-89
Imitation of Christ

"Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save."
Isaiah 46:3-4


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Saint John of the Cross

Saint of the Day for December 14
(June 24, 1541 – December 14, 1591)

John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: "of the Cross." The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John's life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet, and theologian-priest.

Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Avila and like her, vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God.

Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John's spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.

But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly "of the Cross." He died at 49—a life short, but full.

In his life and writings, John of the Cross has a crucial word for us today. We tend to be rich, soft, comfortable. We shrink even from words like self-denial, mortification, purification, asceticism, discipline. We run from the cross. John's message—like the gospel—is loud and clear: Don't—if you really want to live!

Saint John of the Cross is the Patron Saint of:


Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Reading 1 Is 41:13-20

I am the LORD, your God,
who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, "Fear not,
I will help you."
Fear not, O worm Jacob,
O maggot Israel;
I will help you, says the LORD;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
I will make of you a threshing sledge,
sharp, new, and double-edged,
To thresh the mountains and crush them,
to make the hills like chaff.
When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off
and the storm shall scatter them.
But you shall rejoice in the LORD,
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain,
their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the LORD, will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will open up rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the broad valleys;
I will turn the desert into a marshland,
and the dry ground into springs of water.
I will plant in the desert the cedar,
acacia, myrtle, and olive;
I will set in the wasteland the cypress,
together with the plane tree and the pine,
That all may see and know,
observe and understand,
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:1 and 9, 10-11, 12-13ab
R. (8) The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Let them make known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.

Alleluia See Is 45:8
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let the clouds rain down the Just One,
and the earth bring forth a Savior.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 11:11-15

Jesus said to the crowds:
"Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.
All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."


Meditation: Isaiah 41:13-20
Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)

I will turn . . . the dry ground into springs of water. (Isaiah 41:18)

As we mentioned yesterday, you may be feeling a little worried about now. Christmas is a little more than a week away, and you may not have crossed off enough items from your to-do list.

This worry can lead us to skip our times with the Lord. We know we should be praying and reading Scripture, but we just want to hit the ground running every morning.

Yet there is a thirst deep within us that only God can quench, and in today's first reading, the prophet Isaiah urges us to drink deeply from the well of God's love. Without his rivers of grace and springs of mercy, we risk becoming like the "bare heights" and the "dry ground" described in this passage. Our hearts become dry and brittle, and we don't reflect God's love very well. Perhaps we react to people with impatience or harshness. Maybe we become self-centered or so worried about what we need to do that we forget about the needs of neighbors or coworkers.

There's no doubt that this is a busy season, but Advent can be a blessed time as well. It's a great opportunity to contemplate the faithfulness of our God, who promised the Israelites a Messiah and fulfilled that promise so gloriously in Jesus. Perhaps we can imagine Mary, pregnant and waiting in anticipation for this special child who would change the world. Or we can picture Joseph caring lovingly for his bride. We can meditate on the wonder of the Incarnation, of God loving us so much that he became a man to save us. Times of prayer like these can nourish us and prepare us for the great feast of Christmas.

Even if you can't spend as much time in prayer as you'd like, you can always turn your gaze to the Lord during the day. Doing so can help to remind you why you are buying gifts, making special foods, or decorating your home—so that you can welcome Jesus and rejoice in his coming to earth!

This Advent, try to put aside for a while all the to-do items on your list. Start first with the only task that will truly satisfy your heart: time with the Lord!

"Jesus, I want to prepare for your coming this Christmas. Help me to recognize my thirst for you so that I can drink deeply of your love."

Psalm 145:1, 9-13
Matthew 11:11-15


"It is I who say to you, "Fear not, I will help you." says the Lord our Creator....Father.

Pray: "The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
I will extol you, O my God and King, and I will bless your name forever and ever." We heard that a faithful soul praises God through thick and thin. That is Love.

Our Lord speaks: "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. "
Then, it was the most appropriate time for our Lord to come into our world. And the announcement came, not in the middle of the temple, but out in the desert where a river ran through that runs for ages until today. Upon this river salvation was announced and the soft to the Lord were baptized in repentance and cleansing and introduction into a life committed to our Lord. The same Lord they worshiped is the same Lord we worship. Isn't that amazing?

Our Lord calls him Elijah. One spanish reflection today brought up

Malachi 3:23

"Now I am sending to you

Elijah* the prophet,

Before the day of the LORD comes,

the great and terrible day;

He will turn the heart of fathers to their sons,

and the heart of sons to their fathers,

Lest I come and strike

the land with utter destruction. "

Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Elijah came in a holiness and love for God like no other. He calls to their face the evil that people are and calls them to repent: "He said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance; and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.h
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

Nowadays who preaches with this kind of Spirit? Only those who are in a holy grace of God. Only those living in the desert. I know a carmelite Abot that lets us have it when we visit him, just tells us how it is in our fancy world filled with this and that and...what about God? The nonsense has to stop. Jesus has to begin. Your sinful attitudes have to cease to exist...die. The waters of the river of baptism must be efficacious. If Elijah came, it was to prophecy, tell it how it is and realize the truth at hand...It Is Jesus!

You are not doing fully your part in your heart. That is why your world is falling apart. Why? Again, you are not fully doing your part in your heart.

We are about to celebrate the birth of our Lord but the birth already came.
Meaning this: Jesus came into the light to give us the Light.
Meaning this: John the Elijah announced the coming that was already in existence...Jesus.
Meaning this: We are to announce like Elijah, be that priest, prophet, and king, if we are so called in "communion" that is "incorporated" into Jesus.

The impossibility is made up of sin, a departure from God.
Be made one with Him in confession/reconciliation/penance. Be solidified in the glorious body in the Holy Eucharist.

Be turned into the Light of Christ's-Mass.
How many will go to Christmas, to see what they will get?

Better to go to Christmas to see how you can adore, worship, and give your life...



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