FEAST OF ST. THOMAS-WINTER SOLSTICE
Zephaniah, Chapter 3, Verse 15-16
15 The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. 16 On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, Zion, do not be discouraged!
Zephaniah like many prophets offered the Israelites a plan for repentance and invites the people to walk in it. He navigates the path back to God, outlining it this way.
1. Wait for God to remove the cancerous population. (vv. 8-11)
2. Trust God to restore a remnant of humble, obedient men and women. (vv. 12-13)
3. Look to God and rejoice that he has taken away your guilt. (vv. 14-15)
4. Hope in God to renew your peace and strength (vv. 16-17)
5. Allow God to recover the appointed feasts and the lost people (vv. 18-20)
Through Christ the lord has accomplished this for the world! The lord demonstrates his love for us by loving us into existence and by giving us freewill to love him in return. But when we reject that love he not wanting our destruction came through the virgin to woo us back to him. He came as a poor child born in a stable and upon becoming a man attracted his apostles by his power and love. We all play a role in the plan of God and are forevermore like the apostles “fishers of men.” Notice how our lord took simple fishermen and using their raw natural talent he, even in their sinfulness, was able to mold them into legends. To do this for them they had to have faith. Faith is the opposite of fear. We must have the faith of a shepherd who trusts even during the longest night that there will be a dawn and remain unsullied to our purpose and protect those entrusted to us as a shepherd does his sheep. There is no better example for us of purity of purpose then Christ’s own mother Mary.
Every Christmas although the same in many ways is always new for each Christmas expresses a hope learned from a lifetime of praising God. For every Christmas if we open our eyes to truth we will see the handiwork of God; the rock of our salvation. Perhaps in these final days of anticipation it would do us well to reflect on the virtues (Humility, Generosity, and Chastity) of Mary Christ’s very own mother and in these final days in some way reflect them in our own lives.
Chastity a pouring out of the soul to God
After the fall of Adam, man's senses became rebellious to reason. As a consequence, chastity is the most difficult of all the virtues to practice. Saint Augustine says: "Of all inner conflicts the most arduous are concerned with chastity. These battles are of daily occurrence, but victory is rare." however, Mary is a shining example of this virtue. Saint Sophronius replies: "God chose a pure virgin for his mother, that she might be an example of chastity to everybody." That is why Saint Ambrose calls Mary "the standard-bearer of virginity." Because of Mary's purity the Holy Spirit declared that she is as beautiful as the turtledove: Your cheeks are beautiful as the turtledove's (Cant 1:9). "A most pure turtledove" is what Aponius calls her. She inspired everybody who saw her with chaste thoughts. Saint Thomas confirms this when he says that the beauty of the Blessed Virgin incited to chastity all who looked at her. Saint Jerome maintains that Saint Joseph remained a virgin as a result of living with Mary. Saint Gregory of Nyssa says that the Blessed Virgin loved chastity so much, that to preserve it she would have been willing to renounce even the dignity of Mother of God. This seems evident from her reply to the archangel: How shall this happen, since I do not know man? (Lk 1:34). And from the words she added then: Be it done to me according to your word (Lk 1:38), signifying that she gave her consent on the condition that, as the angel had assured her, she should become a mother only by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Saint Ambrose says that "anyone who preserves chastity is an angel; anyone who loses it is a devil." Our Lord assures us that those who are chaste become angels: They...shall be as the angels of God in heaven (Mt 22:30). But the unchaste become hateful to God, like devils. Saint Remigius used to say that the majority of adults are lost by this vice. We have quoted Saint Augustine as saying that a victory is very seldom gained in this combat. Why is this? Because the means by which the victory may be gained are very seldom used. These means are threefold, according to Bellarmine and the masters of the spiritual life: fasting, the avoidance of dangerous occasions of sin, and prayer.
1. By fasting we mean especially mortification of the eyes and the appetite. Although our Blessed Lady was filled with divine grace, she nevertheless practiced mortification of the eyes, according to Saint Epiphanius and Saint John Damascene. Her glances were always modest and she never gazed fixedly at anyone. She was so unassuming, even from childhood, that everyone who saw her was charmed by her reserve. Saint Luke remarks that when she went to visit Elizabeth, she went with haste (Lk 1:39), in order to avoid the public gaze. Saint Gregory of Tours maintains that she fasted throughout her life. Saint Bonaventure explains this: "Mary would never have found so much grace if she had not been moderate in her meals, for grace and gluttony do not go together." In short, Mary was mortified in everything, so that it was true to say of her: My hands dripped with myrrh (Cant 5:5).
2. The second means is avoidance of the occasions of sin: He that is aware of the snares shall be secure (Prov 11:15). Saint Philip Neri coined the expression: "In the war of the senses, cowards conquer." By cowards he means those who flee from dangerous occasions. Mary fled as much as possible from the gaze of men. Remember Saint Luke's remark that, in going to visit Elizabeth, Mary went with haste into the hill country. One author calls attention to the fact that Our Lady left Elizabeth before Saint John was born: And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her own house. Now Elizabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be delivered, and she brought forth a son (Lk 1:56-57). Why did Mary not wait for Saint John's birth? Because she wanted to avoid the hubbub and excitement that usually accompany such an event.
3. The third means is prayer. The Wise Man said: And as I knew that I could not otherwise be continent except God gave it...I went to the Lord and besought him (Wis 8:21). Mary revealed to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary that she did not acquire any virtue without effort and without continual prayer. Saint John Damascene calls our Immaculate Mother "a lover of purity." She cannot endure those who are content to be unchaste. And if anybody appeals to her to be delivered from unchastity she will certainly help him. All he has to do is call upon her confidently. The Venerable John of Ávila used to say that many have conquered impure temptations merely through devotion to Mary Immaculate.
The Battle of the Soul and Flesh
Beginning with Cain and Abel, there have been children of God who obeyed God's commandments, and, on the other hand, children of Satan, as Holy Scripture, call them, who seek their salvation in the pleasures of this life. Since the time of Cain and Abel, mankind has been split into two divisions, one seeking the kingdom of God, the other the kingdom of the world, the kingdom of Satan. When our Savior conquered Satan He left him power over those who make themselves slaves to the sensual pleasures, and thus there exists an evil force against the Church, and it will exist to the end of time. This is a fact that we must keep in view in order to fully understand and judge the conditions. The realm of darkness, Satan's realm, stands opposed to the realm of Christ. Satan and his adherents carry on the warfare against the Church of Christ, as they assaulted Christ Himself. "As they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you," so did Christ prophecy. The Church of Christ demands the subjection of the flesh; she preaches against luxury, pride and selfishness. She preaches chastity and submission to the commandments of God; she preaches penance alike to those of high and low station in life. This angers all those who would indulge in the evil things of this world. They cry: "Let us break her bonds asunder; and let us cast away her yoke from us." But as Christ foretold the persecution of His Church, so He also foretold that the gates of hell would not prevail against her.
Feast of St. Thomas
THOMAS, also called Didymus, or the twin, was a fisherman of Galilee. After having been received among the apostles he accompanied Jesus in all His journeys, and uniformly showed docility, zeal, and love towards Him, particularly on the occasion of His going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. For when the apostles were afraid to go thither, because the Jews desired to kill Jesus, Thomas, full of courage, said, “Let’s also go, that we may die with Him” (John xi. 16). His faith, indeed, wavered for a moment in regard to the resurrection of Christ but no sooner had Christ satisfied him thereof by showing His wounds, than he cried out with firm faith, My Lord and my God. St. Gregory thereupon says, “God overruled the doubting of Thomas to our good, since that very doubt has profited us more than the ready belief of the other disciples, inasmuch as thereby Christ was induced to give so much clearer proofs of His resurrection, in order to confirm us in the belief of it. Thomas showed the firmness of his faith by the innumerable labors which he undertook, and by the sufferings that he endured for Christ. He traversed the most extensive and remote countries, and preached Jesus to the Armenians, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Hyrcardans, Bactrians, and other barbarous and wicked nations, enduring in the course of his labors, with astonishing firmness, the greatest sufferings for the honor of God and the salvation of men. Finally he came to India, when, in the city of Calamina, or Meliapor, he underwent a glorious martyrdom, being pierced through with lances, by order of the idolatrous priests, as he was praying at the foot of the cross. So much did the apostle do to repair a single fault but we, who every day commit so many what do we do to repair them?
Winter Solstice another pagan celebration
The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year as the Northern Hemisphere is angled the farthest away from the Sun on this day.
Winter Solstice Facts
· On the Winter Solstice, there are 24 hours of sunlight in the Antarctic Circle, and 24 hours of darkness in the Arctic Circle.
· Many pagan rituals have revolved around the Winter Solstice. The short days and long hours of darkness prompted rituals intended to lure the Sun back.
· The Mayan calendar ended on the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2012.
· 10 inches of snow melt down into only 1 inch of rain.
Winter Solstice Top Events and Things to Do
· Eat more Vitamin-D rich foods to balance out the lack of sunlight.
· Light some candles and enjoy the early evening.
· Finish some last minute Christmas shopping.
· Purchase a Christmas tree. Tip: For a more environmentally friendly Christmas, purchase a Live trees in a burlap root sack that can be planted after the holiday.
· Watch the lunar eclipse which happens within several days of the winter solstice.
Come, and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
O Dawn, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice, come, and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
49 Godly Character Traits
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:
Hospitality vs. Loneliness
Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with those whom God brings into my life (Hebrews 13:2)
1971 To the Lord's Sermon on the Mount it is fitting to add the moral catechesis of the apostolic teachings, such as Romans 12-15, 1 Corinthians 12-13, Colossians 3-4, Ephesians 4-5, etc. This doctrine hands on the Lord's teaching with the authority of the apostles, particularly in the presentation of the virtues that flow from faith in Christ and are animated by charity, the principal gift of the Holy Spirit. "Let charity be genuine. . . . Love one another with brotherly affection. . . . Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality." This catechesis also teaches us to deal with cases of conscience in the light of our relationship to Christ and to the Church.
2218 The fourth commandment reminds grown children of their responsibilities toward their parents. As much as they can, they must give them material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress. Jesus recalls this duty of gratitude.
For the Lord honored the father above the children, and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure. Whoever honors his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays he will be heard. Whoever glorifies his father will have long life, and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother.
O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him. . . . Whoever forsakes his father is like a blasphemer, and whoever angers his mother is cursed by the Lord.
· Please pray for me and this ministry
 John Maxwell, The John Maxwell Leadership Bible.
Frings, Math Josef. The Excellence of the Rosary Conferences for Devotions in Honor of the Blessed Virgin