Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas eve


Luke, Chapter 1, verse 67-75:
67 Then Zechariah his father, filled with the holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.69 He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant, 70even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old:71salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, 72to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his holy covenant 73and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, and to grant us that,74rescued from the hand of enemies, without fear we might worship him75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

My prayer is that the Lord our God will rescued the Christians in the Middle East so they might worship him in holiness and righteousness. Indeed this prayer is needed in our own country where our government and the media have shown they hate us as we are a basket of deplorables. In America, we have until now had no fear in worshiping him in holiness and righteousness. In fact the model in America since its founding has been one of “Many religions, but one covenant”. We are certainly a blessed people because we as a whole have not abandoned the covenant, nor shall we if the vision of George Washington at Valley Forge is true. In it he saw that American would remain true to our creator. "Son of the Republic…Three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful is the third, but in this greatest conflict the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and the Union." With these words the vision vanished, and I started from my seat and felt that I had seen a vision wherein had been shown to me the birth, progress, and destiny of the United States.[1]


Dignity-Viktor Frankl[2]

John McCain in his book “Character is Destiny” points out the work of Viktor Frankl as a man who best portraits the virtue of dignity. Viktor before World War II was a prominent Jewish psychiatrist who lost everything during the Nazi takeover of Germany. The Nazis had taken his freedom, his vocation and everyone he loved. They starved him, beaten him, cursed him and worked him almost beyond human endurance. They had set his life upon a precipice from which at any moment they chose, they could push him as they had pushed thousands. Yet as they drove him out one winter morning into the fields like an animal, striking him, his mind rose above his torment and his tormentors, taking leave of the cruelty to contemplate the image of his wife. He did not know if she was alive or dead, but in his heart he heard the words of the eighth Song of Solomon; Set me like a seal upon thy heart, love is as strong as death. “My mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with uncanny acuteness…Real or not, her look was more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise…Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: the salvation of man is through love and in love,” Frankl relates in Man’s Search for Meaning. Throughout his captivity he held on to his love and with his love he kept from his captors the thing they thought they destroyed, the one thing that no human being can take from another, for it can only be surrendered, but not taken: his dignity.
Here are 12 thought-provoking passages from his book:[3]

1.      “Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself, or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
2.      “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
3.      “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
4.      “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”
5.      “The prisoner who had lost his faith in the future — his future — was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.”
6.      “I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, “homeostasis,” i.e., a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
7.      “Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
8.      “Man has suffered another loss in his more recent development inasmuch as the traditions which buttressed his behavior are now rapidly diminishing. No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism).”
9.      “A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how.’”
10.  “What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment. To put the question in general terms would be comparable to the question posed to a chess champion: “Tell me, Master, what is the best move in the world?” There simply is no such thing as the best or even a good move apart from a particular situation in a game and the particular personality of one’s opponent.”
11.  “When we are no longer able to change a situation — just think of an incurable disease such as an inoperable cancer — we are challenged to change ourselves.”
12.  “Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”



Love compels us to “Be Not Afraid”[4]

1. "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy.... For to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2: 10-11).  On this Holy Night, the liturgy invites us to celebrate with joy the great event of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. As we have just heard in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is born into a family poor by material standards, but rich in joy. He is born in a stable, for there is no place for him in the inn (cf. Lk 2: 7); he is placed in a manger, for there is no cradle for him; he comes into the world completely helpless, without anyone's knowledge, and yet he is welcomed and recognized first by the shepherds, who hear from the angel the news of his birth. The event conceals a mystery. It is revealed by the choirs of heavenly messengers who sing of Jesus' birth and proclaim glory "to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased" (Lk 2: 14). Through the ages their praise becomes a prayer which rises from the hearts of the throngs who on Christmas Night continue to welcome the Son of God.

2. Mysterium:  event and mystery. A man is born, who is the Eternal Son of the Almighty Father, the Creator of heaven and earth:  in this extraordinary event the mystery of God is revealed. In the Word who becomes man the miracle of the Incarnate God is made manifest. The mystery sheds light on the event of the birth:  a baby is adored by the shepherds in the lowly stable, at Bethlehem. He is "the Saviour of the world", "Christ the Lord" (cf. Lk 2: 11). Their eyes see a newborn child, wrapped in swaddling cloths and placed in a manger and in that "sign", thanks to the inner light of faith, they recognize the Messiah proclaimed by the prophets.

3. This is Emmanuel, God-with-us, who comes to fill the earth with grace. He comes into the world in order to transform creation. He becomes a man among men, so that in him and through him every human being can be profoundly renewed. By his birth he draws us all into the sphere of the divine, granting to those who in faith open themselves to receiving his gift the possibility of sharing in his own divine life. This is the meaning of the salvation which the shepherds hear proclaimed that night in Bethlehem:  "To you is born a Saviour" (Lk 2: 11). The coming of Christ among us is the centre of history, which thereafter takes on a new dimension. In a way, it is God himself who writes history by entering into it. The event of the Incarnation thus broadens to embrace the whole of human history, from creation until the Second Coming. This is why in the liturgy all creation sings, voicing its own joy:  the floods clap their hands, all the trees of the wood sing for joy, and the many coastlands are glad (cf. Ps 98: 8; 96: 12; 97: 1). Every creature on the face of the earth receives the proclamation. In the astonished silence of the universe, the words which the liturgy puts on the lips of the Church take on a cosmic resonance:  Christus natus est nobis. Venite, adoremus!

4. Christ is born for us; come, let us adore him! My thoughts already turn to Christmas next year when, God willing, the Church will inaugurate the Great Jubilee with the opening of the Holy Door. It will be a truly great Holy Year, for in a completely unique way it will celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of the event and mystery of the Incarnation, in which humanity reached the apex of its calling. God became man in order to give man a share in his own divinity. This is the good news of salvation; this is the message of Christmas! The Church proclaims it tonight, by means of my words too, for the peoples and nations of the whole earth to hear:  Christus natus est nobis Christ is born for us. Venite, adoremus! Come, let us adore him!

Fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve[5]

Read: The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Mass on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (January 8th this year). During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts and reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with him . . . including the fact that he was born to die for us.

Reflect: Take time to reflect on today's readings by practicing the ancient art of Lectio Divina.

Pray: Offer up these words to the Heavenly Father for a renewed spirit of evangelization, so you might live as a missionary disciple this liturgical year.

Act: Take some extra time with this passage today and remember the true spirit of Christmas. "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus . . . and of his kingdom there will be no end." (Lk 1:31-33)

Vigil of the Nativity or Christmas Eve[6]

CHRISTIAN, for the love of Christ, and for thine own salvation, occupy thy mind, during this holy night, with holy thoughts and aspirations, in order to make thyself worthy of all the graces which Christ will grant thee on His coming. Consider how St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in obedience to the edict of Cesar, and in perfect submission to the will of God, went to Bethlehem, and, finding no room there, at last entered an open stable, where they were content to stay. Does not the Son of God deserve all our love when He thus humbled Himself for us?

Christmas Eve was my father’s time to celebrate and open the presents and later we would go to midnight mass. Mom and Dad always put the presents under the tree as they got them; wrapped of course and I think this was done to create a sense of anticipation for Christmas. It was remarkable we didn’t break the gifts from all the shaking we gave them to try to figure out what the gift was. Mom and Dad never had much money but Mom would start going to the garage sales in October and get tons of stuff on the cheap. We never knew what Mom would find but she never gave us anything that would take away from our dignity or disappoint us with an awful Christmas sweater. After all Christmas is celebrating the greatness of a God that took it upon Himself to raise the dignity of man.

The Christmas Tree [7]

Much confusion surrounds what is arguably the season's most famous symbol. Christmas trees start appearing in shops, homes, and even some churches soon after Thanksgiving. Traditionally, however, the Christmas tree was not put up until Christmas Eve and was not taken down until the Vigil of the Epiphany. (Thus, it was only around for the Twelve Days of Christmas.) The reason for this will be explained in the section on Christmas customs; for now it suffices to point out that the Christmas tree is not meant to be a part of the Advent landscape. However, because finding a tree on December 24 can be difficult, one practical measure is to buy the tree early and leave it in the home undecorated until the 24th. An undecorated evergreen brought indoors is not a Christmas tree but a "Yule" tree, a harmless, pre-Christian reminder of life to help dispel the gloom of winter. When the tree is decorated, it will then be transformed from a natural token to a Christian statement rich with supernatural symbols for the season.

The Law of Love[8]



Our Lord Jesus himself clearly taught us the first principles of Catholic morality: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22:37-40) Love, or charity, is the great commandment of the Lord. Love of God and love of neighbor are the source & summary of Catholic morality. “All the law and the prophets” flow from this starting point. This means that what love requires is the essence of all moral rules, all of the Ten Commandments, and all aspects of morality spoken of by the prophets and even by Christ himself. The only things needed are those things which love makes necessary. It is also important to say that love does, indeed, require many things! In fact, it takes only a few simple steps of logic to deduce the Ten Commandments and most of the rest of Catholic morality from this starting point. Those moral precepts describe the minimum that love requires.



“What do you mean the minimum?”

Catholic morality’s basic moral code describes the minimum necessary to live in union with Christ. If we fall below that level, then the life of Christ cannot live within us. That’s the meaning of mortal sin: an action which shows God that we refuse his offer to become “children of God” (John 1:12) and “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4). So if that’s the minimum, then what’s the maximum that love requires? Again, Jesus provides the answer: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)  The maximum, then, is to completely give ourselves for others, even as Christ did for us. To put it more simply: there is no maximum! We’ll always find that we can give more.

Love demands we care about human rights but we must begin with the protection of the unborn.

Christmas is ultimately about faithfulness. The faithfulness we celebrate is not ours but God’s. Despite Adam and Eve’s bad choice in the garden of Eden, Cain’s murder of his brother Abel, and the sins of Noah’s generation, God did not forget. Even, though mankind sinned greatly at Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jacob’s sons against Joseph when they sold him into slavery, God remembered. After the Exodus, the Jews grumbled against Moses over the forty years he led them through the desert. Under the Judges, Israel thought not of God but only longed for a King. Though Saul became filled with his power and even the beloved David strayed from God’s law, the Lord God renewed his oath to David and his descendants. Though eventually both kingdoms of Israel would betray God, live for themselves and worship the idols of foreigners, God remained true. While many forgot Him in their exile, and after their return took up the ways of their neighbors, God remembered what he had uttered to Adam and Eve. While the Maccabees and their descendants (including Herod) tried to raise up a new nation of Israel that thought only of power and independence, God did not forget. On a cold night in Bethlehem, through a young virgin aided by her courageous spouse, a child was born. The Word of God himself took on our flesh. In that moment God kept his promises to all generations who had come before the child, and all who would come after. God would redeem mankind from its sins. Once again man would be given the possibility to live according to God’s plan. Human beings would know their true dignity. In human life the Spirit of God would dwell anew. Christmas is ultimately about faithfulness, because it is about love. Though we turned away from God as a people, he never stopped loving us nor did his love for us ever despair. Because he has loved us in his Son, we can love Him and one another. As we prepare for this Christmas night, let us embrace faithfulness born of God’s love. Let us be faithful to our families and spouses, true friends. May we always honor the Word of God who has come to dwell in us. Let us never dishonor this child by lies, or jealousy, anger, or greed. Let us pray to be faithful as God has been faithful to us. Then may we know the truth of Christmas night: Peace, Joy, Hope and Love.[9]

49 Godly Character Traits[10]

During this 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:

Joyfulness vs. Self-pity

The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11)

1439 The process of conversion and repentance was described by Jesus in the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the merciful father: the fascination of illusory freedom, the abandonment of the father's house; the extreme misery in which the son finds himself after squandering his fortune; his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, and still worse, at wanting to feed on the husks the pigs ate; his reflection on all he has lost; his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey back; the father's generous welcome; the father's joy - all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The beautiful robe, the ring, and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life - pure worthy, and joyful - of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of his family, which is the Church. Only the heart of Christ who knows the depths of his Father's love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way.

2579 David is par excellence the king "after God's own heart," the shepherd who prays for his people and prays in their name. His submission to the will of God, his praise, and his repentance, will be a model for the prayer of the people. His prayer, the prayer of God's Anointed, is a faithful adherence to the divine promise and expresses a loving and joyful trust in God, the only King and Lord. In the Psalms David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the first prophet of Jewish and Christian prayer. The prayer of Christ, the true Messiah and Son of David, will reveal and fulfill the meaning of this prayer.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         30 Days with St. Joe
·         Catholic Christmas Calendar
·         Christmas Novena
·         Spiritual Crib
·         Please pray for me and this ministry



[2]McCain, John and Salter, Mark. (2005) Character is destiny. Random House, New York
[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thai-nguyen/12-thoughtprovoking-passa_b_7278396.html
[6]Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.
[9] Fouth Sunday of Advent weekly message, Rev Kieran Kieczewski
[10]http://graceonlinelibrary.org/home-family/christian-parenting/49-godly-character-qualities/ 

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