Friday, December 29, 2017

This Child Is Destined


Follow Mary's Example

We've all had experiences that have been so overwhelming that we have no words for them. We hold them close to protect them from the ordinary push and pull of everyday life. We turn them over and reflect on them until we find a way to share what can be shared. Like Mary, we need to learn to treasure all these things as gifts from a gracious God.

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


✞ "The human soul has so much likeness to God its creator that I surely know of no other way by which one can more easily mount to a knowledge of God than from reflection on one's own soul."
— St. Robert Bellarmine

"Let us pass on now to the other question—namely, what you can do to strengthen your resolutions and make them succeed? There is no better mean than to put them into practice. But you say that you are still so weak that, although you often make strong resolutions not to fall into the particular imperfection of which you want to cure yourself, no sooner does the occasion present itself than down you go. Shall I tell you why we are still so weak? It is because we will not abstain from food that does not agree with us. It is as if a person who wished to be free from pains in the stomach were to ask a physician what he should do. The doctor replies, 'Do not eat such and such food, because it brings you pain'; and yet the person will not abstain from it. We do the same. For example, we should like to love reproof, and yet we obstinately cling to our own opinions. That is foolishness. You will never be strong enough to bear reproof courageously while you are nourishing yourself with the food of self-esteem. I wish to keep my soul recollected, and yet I will not restrain all sorts of idle thoughts: the two things are incompatible. Ah! How much I wish that I could be steadfast and regular in my religious exercises; at the same time I wish not to find them so trying—in fact, I want to find the work done for me. That cannot be in this life, for we shall always have to labor."
— St. Francis de Sales, p. 97
The Art of Loving God


"Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin."
James 4:17


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Saint Thomas Becket

(December 21, 1118 – December 29, 1170)

A strong man who wavered for a moment, but then learned one cannot come to terms with evil, and so became a strong churchman, a martyr, and a saint—that was Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his cathedral on December 29, 1170.

His career had been a stormy one. While archdeacon of Canterbury, he was made chancellor of England at the age of 36 by his friend King Henry II. When Henry felt it advantageous to make his chancellor the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas gave him fair warning: he might not accept all of Henry's intrusions into Church affairs. Nevertheless, in 1162 he was made archbishop, resigned his chancellorship, and reformed his whole way of life!

Troubles began. Henry insisted upon usurping Church rights. At one time, supposing some conciliatory action possible, Thomas came close to compromise. He momentarily approved the Constitutions of Clarendon, which would have denied the clergy the right of trial by a Church court and prevented them from making direct appeal to Rome. But Thomas rejected the Constitutions, fled to France for safety, and remained in exile for seven years. When he returned to England he suspected it would mean certain death. Because Thomas refused to remit censures he had placed upon bishops favored by the king, Henry cried out in a rage, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!" Four knights, taking his words as his wish, slew Thomas in the Canterbury cathedral.

Thomas Becket remains a hero-saint down to our own times.

No one becomes a saint without struggle, especially with himself. Thomas knew he must stand firm in defense of truth and right, even at the cost of his life. We also must take a stand in the face of pressures—against dishonesty, deceit, destruction of life—at the cost of popularity, convenience, promotion, and even greater goods.

Saint Thomas Becket is the Patron Saint of:
Roman Catholic Secular Clergy


The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

Reading 1 1 Jn 2:3-11

The way we may be sure that we know Jesus
is to keep his commandments.
Whoever says, "I know him," but does not keep his commandments
is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
This is the way we may know that we are in union with him:
whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you
but an old commandment that you had from the beginning.
The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
And yet I do write a new commandment to you,
which holds true in him and among you,
for the darkness is passing away,
and the true light is already shining.
Whoever says he is in the light,
yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother remains in the light,
and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.
Whoever hates his brother is in darkness;
he walks in darkness
and does not know where he is going
because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 5b-6
R. (11a) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
The LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty go before him;
praise and grandeur are in his sanctuary.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Alleluia Lk 2:32
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A light of revelation to the Gentiles
and glory for your people Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 2:22-35

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

"Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel."

The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
"Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
(and you yourself a sword will pierce)
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."


Meditation: Luke 2:22-35

5th Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord

The parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. (Luke 2:22)

Why did Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple? The reason stretches back to the original Passover. God had told the Israelites to put the blood of a lamb on their doorposts so that their firstborn sons would be spared from the plague that was going to hit Egypt. From then on, all firstborn children had to be consecrated to the Lord (Exodus 13:2). The offering of a lamb—or a turtledove or pigeon, for the poor—was given to "redeem" the child, to spare him from evil.

Of course, we may protest that Jesus didn't need to be redeemed. He is the Lamb who redeemed all of us! But true to a lamb's nature, that redemption was accomplished by submission—submission to his Father's will. And God's will included being taken to the Temple, to be presented to his heavenly Father! So the consecration of Jesus was more than symbolic. It was the beginning of a life totally given to God, a life dedicated completely to glorifying the Father.

Think about the Presentation when you go to Mass this weekend. As you see the priest consecrate the Host, think about what he is doing—offering Jesus to the Father. Joseph and Mary offered Jesus as a helpless infant. But now he appears even more helpless, in the form of a mere wafer of bread. But like Mary and Joseph, we know how much power, love, and grace are contained in that small Host: enough to cover the sins of the whole world! Enough to make every one of us a child of God!

If you have time, you may want to arrive early at Mass and pray about what you will offer to God today. It might seem very small in comparison to Jesus' offering of his whole life. But whatever it is, that offering will become something greater than anyone could ever expect. Your gift to the Lord, united in prayer to his own sacrifice, will bring him great glory and bear witness to his name. As Jesus said, a grain of wheat is just a seed, "but if it dies, it produces much fruit" (John 12:24).

"Lord, I offer you my life. Give me the faith to follow you today, knowing that you will work all things together for my good."

1 John 2:3-11
Psalm 96:1-3, 5-6


The Holy Word said: "The way we may be sure that we know Jesus
is to keep his commandments. " The word "know" meant more back in the days of our Lord. Mary our mother asked Archangel Gabriel "how can this be since I do not know man". This meant being intimate with man. She was, is, and forever will be a consecrated soul to God. So, how can we be sure to "know" Jesus? Being intimately in love with His commandments is for sure. Love the law. Love this religion. Love it because God is in it. But do not look past God in this love as the Jews did when Jesus lived on earth as a human man. Religion is meant to bring us to God. His commandments are meant to keep us intimate with Him, and if you will hear me, His Holy Sacraments sanctify this covenant, grace upon grace!
Let us pray again: " Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice! Sing to the LORD a new song; Announce his salvation, day after day. Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds." Every day we tune in don't we? Here in His holy Word. Now...let us sing the song that is new...the good new. They say in Heaven things are always new. They say depressed people like to always get new things to get a little joy. And so they fill their house with junk and it is never enough. Until...they fill their life with JESUS! I've seen this first hand. It is real, a man stopped taking 22 different anti-depressant pills when He encountered our Lord in a retreat. My loved one last week was prescribed anti-depressants. That is the world's solution. But God offers more. No need for harmful drugs that keep you doped. How can millions upon millions of people need that? Say nope to dope. Say Yes To Jesus!

In the Holy Gospel, our Lord comes the temple. He comes in through conception, life begins in the womb. He is born, from the womb, comes out of the womb, and this gift is presented to the the temple. The temple would sanctify Him, be consecrating Him as the Messiah, the savior...Good News indeed for the whole world. Simeon prophecied speaking to God outloud "... you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel." Prepared in the sight...a light, to reveal you to the nations! And Glory of your people. The most cherished gift of Israel, the Messiah. Such a perplexing dilemma. Some accepted the Messiah, and many to this day have not. Why not? Because He was not what they wanted Him to be. Isn't that why many choose not to believe? Many because "he didn't answer my prayer". He didn't do as you asked and believed. What does glory mean? Guts. Jesus poured out His on the cross. It takes guts to love the commands of God. God the Father told Jesus the Son to die on the cross, that was the way He wanted. Today's saint was slaughtered in England for refusing government mandated beliefs. Slaughtered in the temple. That's how evil works, it doesn't care where you're at, it will attack. What's more, Jesus says our bodies are a temple. What's going on inside is an inner battle. Jesus wins...if you let Him in. Let Him in and take over. Why anything or anyone else?
So it is this moment before beginning a new year that I fantasize about something (fantasy because doubts come in on making it a reality), about bringing in the new year. How awesome it would be to be at the Blessed Sacrament as the clock strikes "12:01 AM". New year's day is nothing about new year, it already started in Advent in the liturgical calendar. From
"New Year's Day was formerly the feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, then it changed to the Holy Name of Jesus, but now it is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.... Liturgically this great feast commemorates the first shedding of His blood for our redemption. On the same day, along with celebrating the giving of His Name Jesus, which means Savior, we also honor Mary's divine Motherhood. Today's Epistle bids us to circumcise our hearts, as it were, "to live soberly, justly, and godly in this world."
And so, would I choose to be sober bringing in the new year? Justly? Godly? On my knees? That would mean several things:
† I would have to choose God over family (gathering)
† I would have to go out into the cold (coldest nights in forecast)
† I would choose a dark lonely and quiet place (church at night)
♥ But this would be against the worldly current
♥ But this would bring warmth to the heart of Jesus living in Me
♥ I would be bringing light to the world by going through the darkness for God.
Think about Jesus.
Think about Mary.
Think about Joseph.
They brought Jesus after He was born, soon to flee for their lives and suffer darkness...but with Jesus now.
Jesus would now grow up and be chased again, threatened to be thrown off a cliff, enticed by the devil to jump off a cliff in the desert, He would have to suffer a darkness like no other the night He was betrayed by His chosen brother.
This darkness hurt Him tremendously, the betrayal only sealed the deal and made it real. He knew. He was already suffering an agony in the garden, the garden of Adam and Eve....JESUS suffered for the betrayal.
For all of us who like to think our sin does not hurt Jesus, think again.

"Choose Life" they say (I even got it on the back of my daily work truck).
This means Choose Jesus.
Before all else Choose Him.
Choose then...Love.
Let's pray better, for real. Let's be real. The devil dresses in fake. Let's reveal to the world who we really are....God's Child and chosen
This will be the Light Simeon spoke of, because a prophecy lasts forever and reveals the truth....



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