Saturday, December 2, 2017

SEASON OF ADVENT & CHRISTMAS



The Advent season coincides with the month of November-December which in the Northern Hemisphere is normally cold, dark and the days are short. Traditions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas have been established to help dispel the psychological fear that develops as a result of the darkness. However, in the Southern Hemisphere the days are long and warm.
This is a good time if you have the means to take a winter’s break and go to a warmer climate to give you a chance to create a brighter spirit. However, if this is not possible we can greatly reduce our fears by getting some sun for 10 or 15 minutes a day. Try to walk at the brightest time of the day, or if you have a sun window to sit in the sun. This would also be a good time to pray.  Through prayer the Holy Spirit strengthens us from the inside and the sun charges us from the outside.
Also spending some time exercising daily will definitely dispel our fears. We are both physical and spiritual and having a balance of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual activities will make us resilient to the darkness in the world. I find hiking a wonderful anecdote to the blues and fears. I hike as often as I can; using the Beatitudes as discussed in the Preface as a meditation as I hike.

It is also important to reach out to others. We can strengthen ourselves by being with and for others. No matter what your cultural background this season will provide many cultural opportunities to celebrate together. Think of the giant Redwoods they are the largest trees in the world. These trees survive by intertwining their roots because the ground is so hard the Redwood cannot strike a taproot to hold itself up but by supporting each other they become the largest trees in the world.


First Saturday December 2

Sirach, Chapter 4, Verse 20
My son, watch for the right time; fear what is evil; do not bring shame upon yourself.

Shame is generally connected with sexual ungodliness. Leviticus which is the book of the law on holiness in chapter 18 lists every sort of sexual sin. Sex is good and was invented by God and carries no shame if it is done at the right time open to life between a husband and a wife.

Leviticus 18 begins with:

My decrees you shall carry out, and my statutes you shall take care to follow. I, the LORD, am your God. Keep, then, my statutes and decrees, for the person who carries them out will find life through them. I am the LORD.

None of you shall approach a close relative to have sexual intercourse. I am the LORD.  (Lv. 18:4-6)

Leviticus 18 ends with:

You, however, must keep my statutes and decrees, avoiding all these abominations, both the natives and the aliens resident among you—because the previous inhabitants did all these abominations and the land became defiled; otherwise the land will vomit you out also for having defiled it, just as it vomited out the nations before you. For whoever does any of these abominations shall be cut off from the people. Heed my charge, then, not to observe the abominable customs that have been observed before your time, and thus become impure by them. I, the LORD, am your God. (Lv. 18:26-30)

Catechism of the Catholic Church


I. "MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM . . ."



2331 "God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image. God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. "God created man in his own image male and female he created them"; He blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and multiply" "When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created."

2332 Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.

2333 Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.

2334 "In creating men 'male and female, God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity." "Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God."

2335 Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator's generosity and fecundity: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." All human generations proceed from this union.

2336 Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins. In the Sermon on the Mount, he interprets God's plan strictly: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.

The tradition of the Church has understood the sixth commandment as encompassing the whole of human sexuality.

First Saturday Devotion[1]

Five consecutive Saturdays in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The practice of the First Saturday devotion was requested by Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, multiple times starting in 1917. She said to Lucia, the oldest of the three children: “I shall come to ask . . . that on the First Saturday of every month, Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins of the world.” Years later she repeated her request to Sr. Lucia, the only one still living of the three young Fatima seers, while she was a postulant sister living in a convent in Spain: “Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at very moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me, and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the rosary, and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the 15 mysteries of the rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.” 

Conditions to Fulfill the First Saturday Devotion

There are five requirements to obtain this promise from the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On five consecutive first Saturdays of the month, one should:

1. Have the intention of consoling the Immaculate Heart in a spirit of reparation.
2. Go to confession (within eight days before or after the first Saturday).
3. Receive Holy Communion.
4. Say five decades of the Holy Rosary.
5. Meditate for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary with the goal of keeping Our Lady company (for example, while in church or before an image or statue of Our Lady).

Read How to Make Your First Saturday Rosary Meditation According to Sr. Lucia

Why Five Saturdays?

Our Lord appeared to Sr. Lucia on May 29, 1930 and gave her the reason behind the five Saturdays devotion. It is because there are five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:


1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
2. Blasphemies against Our Lady’s perpetual virginity
3.  Blasphemies against her divine maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize her as the Mother of men
4.  Blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children, indifference or scorn or even hatred of their Immaculate Mother
5.  Offenses of those who outrage Our Lady directly in her holy images
Never think that Jesus is indifferent to whether or not His mother is honored!

God Comes To Meet Man

50 Through an utterly free decision, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. This he does by revealing the mystery, his plan of loving goodness, formed from all eternity in Christ, for the benefit of all men. God has fully revealed this plan by sending us his beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

51 "It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature."

52 God, who "dwells in unapproachable light", wants to communicate his own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them as his sons in his only-begotten Son.3 By revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity.

64 Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts. The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations. Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel's salvation. The purest figure among them is Mary.

There will be no further Revelation

66 "The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ."

67 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

68 By love, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. He has thus provided the definitive, superabundant answer to the questions that man asks himself about the meaning and purpose of his life.

69 God has revealed himself to man by gradually communicating his own mystery in deeds and in words.

70 Beyond the witness to himself that God gives in created things, he manifested himself to our first parents, spoke to them and, after the fall, promised them salvation (cf. Gen 3:15) and offered them his covenant.
71 God made an everlasting covenant with Noah and with all living beings (cf. Gen 9:16). It will remain in force as long as the world lasts.

72 God chose Abraham and made a covenant with him and his descendants. By the covenant God formed his people and revealed his law to them through Moses. Through the prophets, he prepared them to accept the salvation destined for all humanity.

73 God has revealed himself fully by sending his own Son, in whom he has established his covenant forever. The Son is his Father's definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him.

Today get ready your Christmas decorations.

Advent wreath and calendar[2]
Advent Wreath

Many Catholics may be surprised to learn that the Advent wreath actually came from Lutherans living in East Germany. Yet though this custom is relatively recent as far as tradition goes, it has rightly earned a place of prominence among our Advent customs. A simple wreath made of evergreen (yew or fir or laurel) is adorned with four candles equidistant from each other. These candles may be of any color: in some European countries they are all white, though in the U.S. they generally correspond to the liturgical colors of the four Sundays of Advent (three purple and one pink or rose). In a dark room, a purple candle is lit on the First Sunday of Advent, another on the Second, the rose candle on the Third Sunday (in commemoration of Gaudete Sunday), and the last purple candle on the Fourth Sunday. Thus, all four candles will be lit for the week before Christmas. There is no formal ceremony for the lighting of the wreath or for the prayers that are said around it; there is not even an official Roman formula for blessing the wreath. Catholic families simply pray together for a holy preparation and a holy Christmas, concluding with a traditional Advent hymn. The symbolism of the Advent wreath is simple but effective. The wreath, with its crown-like character, reminds us of the King, while its circular shape betokens the "fulfillment of time" that both Comings bring about. The candles, on the other hand, represent the prophets whose inspired words pierced the darkness under which mankind groaned while waiting for the Messiah; they also represent the elects' hearts burning for Christ.
Blessing of an Advent Wreath

The use of the Advent Wreath is a traditional practice which has found its place in the Church as well as in the home. The blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on the evening before the First Sunday of Advent.
When the blessing of the Advent Wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family.

All make the sign of the cross as the leader says:
Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Response (R/.) Who made heaven and earth.
Then the Scripture, Isaiah 9: (lines 1-2 and 5-6) or Isaiah 63 (lines 16-17 & 19) or Isaiah 64  (lines 2-7) is read:
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
R/. Thanks be to God.
With hands joined, the leader says:
Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.
The blessing may conclude with a verse from
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:
O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

Advent Calendar

Another popular Advent custom, also from Germany, creates a similar build-up of anticipation. Advent calendars are colorful pieces of cardboard on which is depicted a many-windowed house. Behind the shutters of each house is a picture or symbol that points to the coming of Christmas. Beginning December 1, the children are allowed to open the shutters of one window per day. Finally, on December 24, the front door of the house is opened, showing the nativity.

Jesse Tree[3]

The Jesse Tree dates back to the middle ages and came from Europe. Even some ancient cathedrals have Jesse Tree designs in their stained glass windows. The "tree" is usually a branch or sapling and is decorated with various symbols that remind us of the purpose and promises of God from Creation to the Birth of Jesus Christ. Jesse was the father of King David and God promised David that his Kingdom would last forever. Two centuries after the death of King David, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2) Each Jesse Tree ornament usually consists of a handmade symbol or drawing that represents one of the major stories of the Old Testament along with a brief verse of Scripture from that story.
Jesse Tree Ornaments

If you decide to use one symbol each day during December, there are 24 symbolic ornaments to make for your Jesse Tree, so each family member will need to make several. Making the ornaments is a good project for Sunday afternoons during Advent. To make an ornament, first read the Scripture verses for the day. Then pick out one or two short verses that give the main idea. Copy these verses on the back of the ornament. By this time you will probably be thinking of various ways to illustrate your Scripture verses. Use lots of creativity in making your ornament! You can use pictures from magazines or old greeting cards. Or draw pictures or symbols yourself. Color them with crayons, pencils, markers or paint. Look around the house for bits and pieces that will make your design beautiful! If you prefer to have a pattern already made, Caryn Talty, at Organic Living for a Healthy Family, has created 26 excellent ornaments which she graciously offers free – both full color and black and white.
Jesse Tree Scriptures (The Symbols Are Only Suggestions)

December 1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbols: sun, moon, stars, animals, earth
December 2 Adam and Eve: Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24 Symbols: tree, man, woman
December 3 Fall of Man: Gen. 3:1-7 and 23-24 Symbols: tree, serpent, apple with bite
December 4 Noah: Gen. 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6-22 Symbols: ark, animals, dove, rainbow
December 5 Abraham: Gen. 12:1-3 Symbols: torch, sword, mountain
December 6 Isaac: Gen. 22:1-14 Symbols: bundle of wood, altar, ram in bush
December 7 Jacob: Gen. 25:1-34; 28:10-15 Symbols: kettle, ladder
December 8 Joseph: Gen. 37:23-28; 45:3-15 Symbols: bucket, well, silver coins, tunic
December 9 Moses: Ex. 2:1-10 Symbols: baby in basket, river and rushes
December 10 Samuel: 1 Sam. 3:1-18 Symbols: lamp, temple
December 11 Jesse: 1 Sam. 16:1-13 Symbols: crimson robe, shepherd's staff
December 12 David: 1 Sam. 17:12-51 Symbols: slingshot, 6-pointed star
December 13 Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28 Symbols: scales of justice, temple, two babies and sword
December 14 Joseph: Matt. 1:18-25 Symbols: hammer, saw, chisel, angle
December 15 Mary: Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38 Symbols: lily, crown of stars, pierced heart
December 16 John the Baptist: Mark 1:1-8 Symbols: shell with water, river
On December 17, the Church begins to intensify the preparation for Christmas with the use of the "O" Antiphons during the Liturgy of the Hours. The symbols for the Jesse Tree from December 17 to 23 are based on the "O" Antiphons.
December 17 Jesus is Wisdom: Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus in old Bibles) 24:2; Wisdom 8:1 Symbols: oil lamp, open book
December 18 Jesus is Lord: Ex. 3:2; 20:1 Symbols: burning bush, stone tablets
December 19 Jesus is Flower of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1-3 Symbols: flower, plant with flower
December 20 Jesus is Key of David: Isaiah 22:22 Symbols: key, broken chains
December 21 Jesus is the Radiant Dawn: Psalm 19:6-7 (in older Bibles this will be Psalm 18) Symbols: sun rising or high in sky
December 22 Jesus is King of the Gentiles: Psalm 2:7-8; Ephesians 2:14-20 Symbols: crown, scepter
December 23 Jesus is Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14; 33:22 Symbols: tablets of stone, chalice and host
December 24 Jesus is Light of the World: John 1:1-14 Symbols: candle, flame, sun
Activity Source: Jesse Tree Kit, A by Betsy Walter, Pauline Books and Media, Boston, MA, 1983
Christ came to free us from slavery to sin but yes unfortunately there is still slavery to men, ignorance and want. This Christmas think of one thing to improve the world for the Kingdom of Christ and do it!

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery[4]


The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery aims to end slavery in the world. Contemporary forms of slavery include sexual exploitation, forced marriage, trafficking of persons and recruitment of children for armed conflict. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are currently 21 million people enslaved in the world, a business that generates around 150 billion US dollars in illegal profits every year. The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as a day to be celebrated every December 2nd. The day marks the 1949 adoption of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery Facts & Quotes

·         The average cost of a slave globally is $90.
·         Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry after illegal drugs and arms trafficking. It generates a profit of approximately 32 billion every year.
·         In November of 2016, a new legally binding protocol designed to strengthen global efforts to eliminate forced labor comes into effect.
·         1 million children are enslaved worldwide.
·         Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here. A lot of work still remains, but I will see the end of child labor in my lifetime. – Kailash Satyarthi, Indian children’s rights advocate and founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery Top Events and Things to Do

·         Watch a movie about the horrors of slavery. Some suggestions are: 12 Years a Slave (2014), Django Unchained (2014) and Amistad (1997)
·         Donate to a charity fighting to end slavery.
·         Spread awareness by using the hashtags #InternationalDayforAbolitionofSlavery, #EndSlavery and #HumanRightsMatter.
·         Volunteer your time at a local rescue center for victims of human trafficking. These centers assist victims in sharing their stories, regaining their lives and dignity and helping to reduce this problem.
·         Read a book about the horrors of slavery. Some suggestions are: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Beloved and Chains.



49 Godly Character Traits[5]

As we begin the Advent season let us take up the nature of God by reflecting on these traits that make us a model for our children and our sisters and brothers in Christ. Today reflect on:

Cautiousness vs. Rashness

Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing  right actions (Proverbs 19:2)

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
·         of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
·         of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
·         of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:  Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.



Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         30 Days with St. Joe
·         Please pray for me and this ministry

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