Friday, February 2, 2018

They returned to....

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Made in God's Image

We all live in danger of believing the lie that we are not enough like God as we are and that something other than God will give us what we need to feel full and free. But we also live ever compelled back to God by our Eden instincts, remembering who we once were when we lived naked and unashamed. So we are ever fighting to come out of hiding and stand before our God when he comes after us, looking for us even in our sin and shame.

—from the book When We Were Eve: Uncovering the Woman God Created You to Be by Colleen C. Mitchell
franciscan media


"Without a doubt, obedience is more meritorious than any other penance. And what greater penance can there be than keeping one's will continually submissive and obedient?"
— St. Catherine of Bologna

"So, if God has not resolved to cast His work back into nothingness forever, if this earth, sanctified by the footsteps of Christ, is destined, once radiant and renewed, to remain forever, then man must rise again in a future life to reconquer its scepter and kingship. Hence, once more, it follows that death means not ruin but restoration. If God has decreed that our earthly abode shall one day be dissolved, it is not for the purpose of despoiling us of it, but to render it subtle, immortal, serene. His aim may be compared to that of an architect, says St. John Chrysostom, who has the inhabitants leave his house for a short period, in order to have him return with greater glory to that same house, now rebuilt in greater splendor."
— Fr. Charles Arminjon, p. 84
The End of the Present World


February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Candlemas. It is based on the Scripture passage in Luke 2:22-40 where the Holy Family journeys to Jerusalem forty days after the birth of Jesus to present him to God and offer sacrifice in the temple. At this time Mary completes the ritual purification required of women after childbirth, and Joseph offers the sacrifice for the redemption of the firstborn, as required by the Law of Moses. The Holy Family offered two turtledoves, permitted to the poor instead of a whole lamb. During their time in the temple Simeon gave his famous prophecy about the Christ Child being a light to the Gentile nations and a sign for the Jews, and that a sword would pierce Mary's soul. On this day the Church has a special ritual involving a procession and the blessing of candles, a symbol of Christ whose birth illumined the world's darkness.

"Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things which you have not known."
Jeremiah 33: 2-3


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Presentation of the Lord

At the end of the fourth century, a woman named Etheria made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her journal, discovered in 1887, gives an unprecedented glimpse of liturgical life there. Among the celebrations she describes is the Epiphany, the observance of Christ's birth, and the gala procession in honor of his Presentation in the Temple 40 days later. (Under the Mosaic Law, a woman was ritually "unclean" for 40 days after childbirth, when she was to present herself to the priests and offer sacrifice—her "purification." Contact with anyone who had brushed against mystery—birth or death—excluded a person from Jewish worship.) This feast emphasizes Jesus' first appearance in the Temple more than Mary's purification.

The observance spread throughout the Western Church in the fifth and sixth centuries. Because the Church in the West celebrated Jesus' birth on December 25, the Presentation was moved to February 2, 40 days after Christmas.

At the beginning of the eighth century, Pope Sergius inaugurated a candlelight procession; at the end of the same century the blessing and distribution of candles which continues to this day became part of the celebration, giving the feast its popular name: Candlemas.

In Luke's account, Jesus was welcomed in the temple by two elderly people, Simeon and the widow Simeon . They embody Israel in their patient expectation; they acknowledge the infant Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. Early references to the Roman feast dub it the feast of Saint Simeon, the old man who burst into a song of joy which the Church still sings at day's end.


Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Reading 1 Mal 3:1-4

Thus says the Lord God:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner's fire,
or like the fuller's lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Responsorial Psalm PS 24:7, 8, 9, 10
R. (8) Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD of hosts; he is the king of glory.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!

Reading 2 Heb 2:14-18

Since the children share in blood and flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters
in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

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 2:22-40 or 2:22-32

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus 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:

"Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for 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."
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.


Meditation: Malachi 3:1-4

The Presentation of the Lord (Feast)

. . . refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord. (Malachi 3:3)

Today we celebrate Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to the Temple to present him to God. The prophet Malachi foreshadowed this event when he spoke of the Holy One entering his Temple. He would purify his people so that they could offer a worthy sacrifice to God—which is exactly what Jesus had come to do. And he has come to do it for you.

As part of the priesthood of all believers, we have all been "refined" in Baptism so that our everyday lives and our worship at Mass can truly honor the Lord. Unfortunately, often we arrive at Mass feeling rushed or distracted by the concerns of our week. It can be hard just to pay attention, let alone offer "due sacrifice" (Malachi 3:4). So how can we offer our hearts to him more fully at Mass? One way is to let Jesus purify us just before the Liturgy begins.

Instead of arriving breathless during the opening hymn, try to come early enough to spend a few minutes in prayer. Examine your heart, and ask God to bring to mind one thing that may be blocking your path to holiness. It may be resentment toward someone who has disappointed you. Maybe you had harsh words for a family member earlier in the morning, and you are still stewing over the encounter. You may be distracted by all the items on your to-do list for the coming week. It's important to see that legitimate concerns as well as sinful acts can detract from your worship.

When you have discovered that one thing, place it in the Lord's hands. Repent if you need to. Set it aside, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you enter into the joy and worship of the Mass. Then do your best to fix your heart on the Lord. Tell him how holy he is and how much you love him. Ask him to bless your efforts.

Our worship won't be perfect until we reach our heavenly home. But week after week, we can let Jesus draw us closer to that time when we, too, are refined as the purest gold and silver.

"Jesus, thank you for entering the temple of my heart. Lord, I place myself in your loving hands. "

Psalm 24:7-10
Hebrews 2:14-18
Luke 2:22-40



The first Holy Scripture said "... who will endure the day of his coming?" This prophetic message sounds apocalyptic doesn't it? This messiah would come to change the world....and He did. The old covenant was no more. No more circumcision after Him, no more unclean foods, no more unclean women, and no more Sabbath for man but man for Sabbath! Amen!? The old must make room for the new. The old can not contain the new and so Jesus came, through Mary. And Mary brings a child, the light, this one, light for the entire world! Mary presented herself for purification this day, and brought the Lord into the temple, and a revelation was revealed. An apocalyptic prophecy to stand the tests of time from the mouth of an expectant old man and an expectant old woman....the old Adam and Eve, the old covenant, now met the new Eve and new Adam....Jesus and Mary. The world would never be the same, and this is what happens when you have an apocalyptic encounter.

Let us pray: "Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord! Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may come in!" The Ancient Kings ushered in the new King. Surrendering all they had for the promise of fulfillment. What will you surrender? Today's deal is exactly that...surrender, trust. Obedience.

In comes the King of Glory, as a baby, 40 days old, and already causing the commotion and calamity of nations. Soon King Herod will seek his death, and kings from afar will come pay Him homage, and soon the temple will be disrupted and destroyed by all this calamity. How can this baby do this? It was God. The new temple He chooses has His name written all over...your heart. God can do as He pleases with whom and what He pleases.

Last night, we shared our faith in group reunion, and my godson and brother was asked about a close moment with the Lord, and he mentioned this past Saturday when we put on our marching boots and were loaded on the bus, and took off at 4AM to march on streets for the unborn. I was driving the bus. It was very cold, and our old bus was drafty, and it got even colder down the road, but I put on a DVD on the bus TV I installed, it was the Holy Rosary. The brother said the rosary made the cold go away. Something happened. Another brother came in late and we told him and he said he knew exactly what we were talking about, for he too felt the cold go away. And I said "I thought I was the only one feeling strangely warmed" it wasn't all physical, something spiritual, something out of this world. Saints live on without physical food, only the Eucharist. Jesus endures the worst slaughter of time, and His mother was there, a strange comfort that helps you endure. What a special gift to be presented with...the Mother of the child of God. If you want to get to know Jesus better, know His Mother, she will tell you and show you all about Him and His Way.

A thought made me smile, was it last night after our meeting, or this morning? It just made me warm up inside and I'll try to explain: The Lord is so big and great, He can see everything, and He is everywhere because of His greatness, and LOL, I'm kinda tearing up, you know, He tries to hide, now that I can see Him, and He CAN'T! LOL. He tries to disguise Himself in a beautiful sunset, in the vastness of His people, and in the tiniest of lights of love. He is so special. He really is. His love outweighs the greatest of sins. Don't cross His path though, we can't stand it. Our arms can't wrap around Him, but they can wrap around your encounter, your neighbor, your fellow family in Christ. And so think about the grandeur of God, in the baby Mary brought into the temple in obedience. He came to destroy this temple, because that's what we had Him confined to. He grew up and blew up so big....the Love. Think about the love. You have to be torn to pieces to be able to make a huge new...temple, one so great the universe is still expanding to accommodate. God's mercy and love knows no limits. How can we limit Him who is limitless? Dive into God's work...the obedience of the cross, the sword that awaits for greater glory.

What did Mary think when she was told a sword would pierce her heart? Simple answer: Not my will, but yours, Lord. Her whole of life was that, and is that and more this very day. I want you in on a secret: ser cruzado es ser afligido por amor, y Dios es amor. (to be crossed is to be afflicted for love and God is Love). I had to write it in Spanish because, it is hard to interpret in English. Translating sometimes is tricky and the bible has been translated many times over. They told me us in a retreat about a story of a "cruzado" (a crossed one), it was a man. To be crossed is like something put over fire, it is changed once put through fire, changed forever, think of your skin burned, or a piece of metal, once having crossed the fire and held to the fire. This man was a "cruzado", he was crossed. This is an affliction that has caused metanoia, a life changing of mind, and soul in mentality. He was riding in a carriage with an older priest. Something happened with the priest, he was dying there on the spot. The "cruzado" prayed and helped, and pleaded with the Lord, "take me instead". And the cruzado died. The priest lived to tell the story. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." Jesus said. Jesus is in the priest. Is He your friend? Is He a forgiven friend? Has it crossed your mind that He is often abandoned and neglected and forgotten, just as the Blessed Sacrament? Has it ever crossed your mind that he needs a friend to trust and confide in and work with for the salvation of souls?

The death of our Lord on the cross is something that afflicted, crossed Mary our Mother so severely, that it is to this day impregnated in her soul. Her devout love took from that day forth a whole new turn. Fearless love. A love that no demon can even touch. She loves beyond.

Today, I present to you, the Mother of mothers.
I present to you, the Mother of Love.
I present to you, a Mother that pleaded for God's will.
I present to you one that asked "let me be a part of salvation history" as a young girl.
I present to you a beauty created by God, and see the wound in her heart caused because of the love of her life.....Jesus. It healed, and the scar is in the shape of a cross " that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Jesus lay His life for her. His physical heart was pierced with a lance. He had all her DNA. Her heart was pierced. Think of how twins can feel what another is feeling, but this is many times more. Her spirit was pierced. She suffered a pain that you will NEVER know in your life. Why? Because she endured it for the world. She wanted to be a part of salvation history, and it costs something. It always costs something.

Greater love has no one than this......



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