We're approaching the end of the Christmas season. Soon we will be back to the ordinary routines of our life. But if we have celebrated the feast of the incarnation well, our lives will be changed. We don't know what the new year will hold for us, for our families, for the world. But we know that God will continue to be with us. As we look back at the significant events of the past year, both the joys and the sorrows, the highs and the lows, we can see how God has shaped us and strengthened us for what lies ahead. Perhaps we're a bit relieved that Christmas is over for another year. But perhaps we discover that something has changed in us because of an encounter, a gift, a new insight into the meaning of the incarnation. We can keep a little bit of that with us through the coming year and let it bring light and peace to our everyday lives. Our journey with God doesn't end with the Christmas season. Jesus is forever, not just for Christmas.
—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis
†Saint Quote "When we serve the poor and the sick we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus." — St. Rose of Lima
† MEDITATION OF THE DAY "If you would suffer with patience the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer. If you would obtain courage and strength to conquer the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer. If you would mortify your own will with all its inclinations and appetites, be a man of prayer. If you would know the wiles of Satan and unmask his deceits, be a man of prayer. If you would live in joy and walk pleasantly in the ways of penance, be a man of prayer. If you would banish from you soul the troublesome flies of vain thoughts and cares, be a man of prayer. If you would nourish your soul with the very sap of devotion, and keep it always full of good thoughts and good desires, be a man of prayer. If you would strengthen and keep up your courage in the ways of God, be a man of prayer. In fine, if you would uproot all vices from your soul and plant all virtues in their place, be a man of prayer. It is in prayer that we receive the unction and grace of the Holy Ghost, who teaches all things." — St. Bonaventure, p. 25-26 AN EXCERPT FROM The Ways of Mental Prayer
† VERSE OF THE DAY "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." Hebrews 12:22-24
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St. Anysia of Salonika (d. c. 298 A.D.), also known as St. Anysia of Thessalonica, was born to wealthy and pious Christian parents near Thessalonica, Greece. After the death of her parents, while she was still a young lady, Anysia dedicated her life completely to Christ. She made private vows of chastity and poverty, spent her days in fasting and prayer, and gave her wealth to the poor. She lived under the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Maximian, who declared that anyone who met a Christian could kill them without trial. One Sunday while on her way to church, St. Anysia was harassed by a Roman soldier. In one account he attempted to force her to make sacrifice to the pagan sun god. Anysia refused, declared her commitment to Christ, and spat in the soldier's face. Enraged, the soldier ran her through with his sword, winning Anysia the crowns of virginity and martyrdom. Her feast day is December 30.
The Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Lectionary: 203 Reading 1
1 Jn 2:12-17
I am writing to you, children, because your sins have been forgiven for his name's sake.
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the Evil One.
I write to you, children, because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the Evil One.
Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.
Ps 96:7-8a, 8b-9, 10
R.(11a) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice! Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and praise; give to the LORD the glory due his name! R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice! Bring gifts, and enter his courts; worship the LORD in holy attire. Tremble before him, all the earth. R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice! Say among the nations: The LORD is king. He has made the world firm, not to be moved; he governs the peoples with equity. R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
R. Alleluia, alleluia. A holy day has dawned upon us. Come, you nations, and adore the Lord. Today a great light has come upon the earth. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
There was 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.
Catholic Meditations Meditation: Luke 2:36-40
6th Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord
She was advanced in years. (Luke 2:36)
If you want to see an example of the vital role that senior women can play in the family of God, just look at Anna! Her story is so short, yet very compelling. A prayerful widow, she spent all her days in the Temple. So let's imagine what her days could have been like.
Perhaps Anna had children and grandchildren, but by this time, they had grown up and moved out of her home. Maybe that's why she was free to spend all her time in the Temple. And with all that time of prayer, she likely had an effect on the people she met there.
Imagine Anna's faithfulness and devotion, which encouraged the young men still learning their priestly duties. Her hope and anticipation of the Messiah invigorated the older priests who were beginning to grow weary of offering daily sacrifices.
Surely her prayerful attitude drew others into worship as well. If someone looked troubled, she might have offered to pray with them. Or maybe she offered her fasting for their intentions. Just seeing Anna's aged hands lifted in prayer helped people who were distracted to refocus their own prayers.
Anna probably worked also to bring reconciliation. When people brought conflict or anger into the Temple, she may have discreetly prayed for God to help them forgive one another. Her serene face would have soothed their spirits when they were having a rough day.
So when she came to the Temple on this special day, Anna's years of prayerful waiting had sharpened her awareness so that she recognized Jesus as her long-awaited Messiah. With the boldness that comes from prayer, she wasn't shy about pointing him out to people. And because they knew her so well, they listened.
You can probably identify some seasoned parishioners like Anna in your church. Their stories remind you of God's goodness and faithfulness. They listen attentively to your concerns. They intercede and help lift the burdens of the people around them.
So keep your eyes open for the "Annas" out there. Take the time to thank them for all the ways they act as a positive influence on their surroundings—and on you.
"Father, thank you for all the ways you have blessed me through mature believers."
1 John 2:12-17 Psalm 96:7-10
The Catholic priesthood, founded by Christ, is not based on the changing human circumstances but on the immutable mystery of the priest and the Church and of Christ himself. —Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler from The Case for Clerical Celibacy
my2cents: "Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." An image flashed as I meditated upon the Holy Scriptures today, and it was of the countless souls that have come and passed through this world. So many, faces, that have gone on to see what is to come. And what is to come is more serious and more real than what we face today, a fleeting pass. And Our Lord experienced this with us. He grew up in a flash.
We pray today: "Bring gifts, and enter his courts; worship the LORD in holy attire. Tremble before him, all the earth. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!" What gifts do you bring to the Lord? What gifts do you bring to His court? And how do you dress to go see the Lord? Do you tremble before Him?
And is all of this a temporal affair? Or is Scripture speaking about the Spiritual world to come? What if today is tied with the forever now? Then what? Then today actually matters. All things contrary to the world. The world says without saying "nothing matters because we are nothing". But our Lord says everything matters because we are something...somebody, a flash to you may be the very gift He desires...your life.
In the Gospel, the prophetess Anna is brought in: "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." What she did mattered. Nowadays, if you see a little old lady slaving away at church, what do you think about her? I see many little old ladies, especially in daily Mass in my town and other cities. For worldly eyes, what they do, it doesn't matter, it may seem cute even. "Eh, it keeps them busy". But, since they are not contributing to society in economical terms, they are dismissed.
The same could be said of me, all that I do (in Church), in worldly eyes, does not matter. Someone once said that I get to do all I do as a luxury. Weird comment (if you only knew the sacrifice). Some see me as a holy roller, or holy roller wannabe. Does what I do (for the Lord) matter then? Does all the fasting matter? Does all the praying matter? Does it make a difference? The answer to all of these questions is Yes..God matters. To some, God matters are more apparent than others. There in today's last verse we have to consider what was said about our Lord today: "The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him." 3 Things the Lord was said to have in His upbringing: Strength. Wisdom. God's favor.
What is strength? Physical strength? Like Samson? Saint John The Baptist was also said to have grown up strong IN THE SPIRIT. Ahh. Forget temporal matters...think God matters. Strength in resisting evil. Strength in justice.
What is wisdom? You may read the book of Wisdom to learn about her. Jesus was filled with Wisdom. And they say wisdom comes from understanding and experience. Does true wisdom still exist in our world, in this day in age? Jesus exists, He is in our midst, so yes, God's wisdom exists, even though darkness tries to make people less wise...less like God, less in his image. They say evil spirits do not look human at all. They say saints look more human than most.
What is God's favor? If you ask modern protestants, they will point to temporal favor, wealth, health, and prosperity. That is not God's favor, but temporal favor. God's favor is grace. Jesus was full of Grace, being from the Mother of Grace. God's favor is having His glance upon you.
From Acts: "1As God's fellow workers, then, we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. 2For He says: "In the time of favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." Behold, now is the time of favor; now is the day of salvation! 3We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no one can discredit our ministry.…" From Job: "…25then his flesh will be renewed like a child's, and he will return to the days of his youth. 26He will pray to God and find favor; he will see His face and shout for joy, and God will restore the righteousness of that man. " Are you beginning to taste God's favor? It tastes like holiness. It tastes like righteousness.
About the first Martyr since Jesus came: "So the word of God continued to spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem grew rapidly, and a great number of priests became obedient to the faith. 8Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. " In many translations the new "favor" comes from the word Grace! Jesus was filled with this Grace from God.
God came to triumph. We wish we could see it in temporal terms, a mighty warrior like the Jews expected, and went unfulfilled, and why? Because, they had eyes but did not see, and ears but did not hear. The same is today for you and I.
All of our expectations can be fulfilled or be left unfulfilled. They asked a random street guy "what has God done for you?" The young man replied "he ain't ever done anything for me..." and when the interviewer said "but He gave you life" and the young man walks away mad, in disbelief.
This mentality is represented well, for the ones who do not believe. But what about those who say they believe?
What does God expect of me and you? To be a little old lady in church? Yes. A prophet, as your baptism calls for. To be a sacrificer, giving your life to God? Yes. A priest, as your baptism calls for. To be the unseen mighty warrior? Yes. A king, as your baptism calls for. Keep in mind, all things are leading to the Baptism of our Lord. A new life....for the whole world!
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Random Bible Verse 1
The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Thank You Lord
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