- fear of the Lord
2 Maccabees, Chapter 8, Verse 12-13 When Judas learned of Nicanor’s advance and informed his companions about the approach of the army,...
Sunday, December 30, 2018
Monday, December 31, 2018
ST SYLVESTER-NEW YEARS EVE
Exodus, Chapter 9, Verse 20
Those of Pharaoh’s servants who feared the word of the LORD hurried their servants and their livestock off to shelter.
Even Pharaohs servants when they heard the word of God took action. Blessed are we that hear the word of the Lord!
Today we are a community living in the fulfillment of faith in Christ and He asks us to do something unthinkable, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Mt. 4:19)
This gospel is read to-day because it is by practicing what it contains that the saints have gained the eternal kingdom.
Explanation of the Eight Beatitudes
I. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “The poor in spirit are:
1. Those who, like the apostles, readily forsake all earthly things, and for Christ s sake become poor.
2. Those who, happening to lose their property by misfortune or injustice, suffer the loss patiently, in resignation to the will of God.
3. Those who, like Jesus (Matt. viii. 20), are content with their poor and humble position, seek no higher or happier one, and would rather suffer want than enrich themselves by unlawful acts, by fraud or theft.
4. The rich and noble who set not their hearts upon the riches and greatness of the world (Ps. Ixi. 11; i. Cor. vii. 30), but who use their riches and influence to relieve the misery of the needy and oppressed.
5. Finally, the truly humble, who, convinced of their weakness, their helplessness and misery, think lowly of themselves, and regard themselves but as beggars, who are always in need of the grace of God. To all these, therefore, in whose hearts the world has no place, there is assured, as their inheritance, the kingdom of heaven; here the kingdom of grace there the kingdom of glory.
II. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.” That man is rneek who does not murmur against God for sending afflictions upon him, who is not angry at men who do him injury, but who rather suppresses impatience, anger, envy, and revenge, nay, who seeks to recompense the evil done him by his neighbor with good. Such a one is greater than he who takes by storm fortified cities (Prov. xvi. 32); he possesses an unfailing fountain of peace, quiet, and cheerfulness; by his meekness prevails over the most hostile minds, is by such means truly a ruler upon earth, and will one day, for his portion, obtain heaven, the land of the living, there to enjoy eternal peace.
III. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” By them that mourn we are not to understand such as grieve and lament over a death, a misfortune, a loss of worldly goods, or the like; but those who are grieved that God should be in so many ways offended by themselves and by others that His Church should be so heavily oppressed, and thereby so many souls lost that have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. The only evil really to be grieved for is sin, and the tears shed on account of sin are the only tears that are profitable, for they shall be recompensed with everlasting joy.
IV. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill.” Hunger and thirst denote the most ardent longing after those virtues which constitute Christian perfection; such as humility, meekness, the love of God and of our neighbor, penance. Whoever longs for these virtues as the hungry man does for food and drink and prays to God for them with perseverance and earnestness, shall have his fill that is, he shall be enriched with them, and one day shall be satisfied with eternal happiness.
V. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” The merciful here spoken of are: 1. Those who willingly forgive the injuries done to them. 2. Those who have compassion on their poor neighbors, and, according to their ability, sustain them by alms. These shall obtain mercy that is; God will forgive them their sins and endow them abundantly with the goods of this world and of the world to come. Thus, God deals with us as we deal with others (Matt. vii. 2).
VI. “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. The clean of heart are those who preserve with care the innocence with which they are invested at holy Baptism, or seek to regain it, when lost, by penance; those who keep their hearts and consciences unspotted from all sinful thoughts, particularly from all unchaste thoughts, desires, words, and acts, and who endeavor in all things to have a pure intention directed to God alone. They shall see God, that is, they shall know Him even here upon earth, for as the eye that is to see must be clean, so only souls that are pure and unstained can behold God. But further, our knowledge is like our hearts; the purer the heart the clearer and greater is the knowledge of God. But in the world above they shall see, know, and possess Him as He is. “What blessedness! Strive, therefore, to keep your heart clean.”
VII. “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” By peace-makers we are to understand those who have peace with themselves, that is, a quiet conscience, and who endeavor to maintain peace among others, or to restore it when broken. Such are called the children of God, because they follow God, who is a God of peace (Eoin. xv. 33), and Who even gave His only Son to reconcile the world with Him (Korn. v. 10), and to bring down upon earth that peace which the world itself could not give (Luke ii. 14; John xiv. 27).
VIII. “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Hereby all those are declared blessed who, on account of the true faith, of virtue, of the fear of God, of purity, are persecuted, calumniated, and even put to death, and who bear all this with Christian patience and constancy, nay, with joy. Thus, have the saints done, and thereby they have gained the heavenly crown. Do we desire to be crowned with them; we must also suffer with them. And in truth, if we would apply ourselves zealously to virtue, occasions will not be wanting to us, for c all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (n, Tim. iii. 12).
Read: The Christmas season carries on into the New Year and ends with the Baptism of the Lord (January 8th this year). Take time to read about how you can .
Reflect: "For me, the important thing is to open my heart in each moment, to remember that my own inadequacy is where God will meet me, always beginning again." Reflect on a Catholic News Service columnist's ideas for heras you begin to plan your own.
Pray: It's New Year's Eve! Say thistoday.
Act: Make a list of faith-based New Year's resolutions for 2019 and pray about them at Mass tomorrow.
Seventh Day of Christmas Seven Swans a-Swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
Also, the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith [Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony]
Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas - Day Seven
The last day of the year is also the feast of St. Sylvester — bishop of Rome in 314. Constantine gave him the Lateran Palace, which became the cathedral church of Rome. Many legends exist about Sylvester. He supposedly cured Constantine from leprosy and later baptized him on his deathbed. New Year's Eve, along with its innocent gaiety, is really a day for serious reflection. On the eve of the civil New Year the children may join their parents in a holy hour, in prayer and thanksgiving for the gifts and benefits which God has given them in the past year, and to pray for necessary graces in the forthcoming civil year.
Saint Sylvester/New Year’s Eve
The night of the Holy Saint Sylvester, the last night of the year, has always been the night of fun. Every year Berlin hosts one of the largest New Year's Eve celebrations in all of Europe, attended by over a million people. The focal point is the Brandenburg Gate, where midnight fireworks are centered. Germans toast the New Year with a glass of Sekt (German sparkling wine) or champagne. The saint of this day, Pope Sylvester I, according to legend is the man who healed from leprosy and baptized the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.
Sylvester I and Constantine
Sylvester was a Roman, the son of Rufinus. He was ordained a priest by Marcellinus. Chosen Pope in 314, he continued the work of organizing the peacetime Church so well begun by St. Miltiades. Sylvester saw the building of famous churches, notably the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. John Lateran, built near the former imperial palace of that name. It is quite probable too that the first martyrology or list of Roman martyrs was drawn up in his reign. St. Sylvester died in 335. He was buried in a church which he himself had built over the Catacomb of Priscilla on the Via Salaria. His feast is kept on December 31.
Bleigiessen ("Lead pouring") an old German New Year tradition
In many of the German-speaking areas the change of the year is celebrated noisily and merrily. Guests are invited, and groups attend a "Sylvester Ball." There is eating, drinking, dancing and singing. It may be accompanied by the popular "Sylvester" custom of Bleigiessen. A small piece of lead will be melted over a flame in an old spoon and dropped into a bowl of cold water. From the shape you can supposedly tell your fortune for the coming year. For instance, if the lead forms a ball (der Ball), that means luck will roll your way. The shape of an anchor (der Anker) means help in need. But a cross (das Kreuz) signifies death. At midnight, when the old year is almost gone, and the New Year is about to start, glasses are filled with champagne or wine, and toasts and hugs go with wishing each other "ein gutes neues Jahr". Some go out into the streets and listen to the bells ringing throughout the land. Others participate in shooting in the New Year or put on their private fireworks.
St. Sylvester's Day Celebrations
The day that celebrates the first pope to enjoy civic peace is appropriately marked by family customs petitioning peace for the New Year. On New Year's Eve it was traditional in France and other countries for the father to bless all members of the family, and for the children to thank their parents for all of their love and care. In Spain, it was considered good luck to eat twelve grapes at the twelve strokes of midnight. Services thanking God for the blessings of the year and seeking blessings for the new one were not uncommon, and neither were special .
Last 10 Things
Today would be a good day to review the 10 Last things in preparation for the New Year. The Four Last Things refer to death, judgment, heaven and hell. The 10 Last Things as a phrase does not exist, but all are found in Scripture and Tradition.
So, when is Jesus coming back to earth? The answer: At the end of the world. When is the end of the world? Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”—Mt 25:13. A theologian of Scripture here in the USA said he believes one reason why so many men have left the Catholic faith for Protestantism is because the Catholic pulpit is silent on the apocalypse. It’s sad, especially since we have the clearest and richest tradition. Although we’ll be discussing no specific dates, the Sacred Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) both name the ten things that must come at the end of the world:
1. The Gospel must first be preached to the whole world. The extent of the level of the orthodoxy of the proclaimer is not clear, nor is it clear if every person or simply every nation will have heard the truth of Christ and His Church before the end of the world. At least every land will have heard the basics by the second coming of Christ.
2. The Jews will return to the Holy Land and ultimately enter the Catholic Faith. Obviously, the first of these has happened (1948) and the second has not yet happened. I had thought that the first was only a vestage of Protestant dispensationalism, but I recently discovered in Yves Dupont’s Catholic Prophesy that Saints like Alphonsus Liguori had taught that the Jews must return to Israel before Christ’s second return.
3. The Great Tribulation and Apostasy. Before the end of the world, CCC 675 speaks of “the Church’s ultimate trial” which will be both “apostasy from the truth” and “persecution.” Perhaps this one has been fulfilled. Indeed, many Catholics have apostatized, formally or informally. However, many Catholics and other Christians are being persecuted for following Christ. Since Christ’s birth, there have been 70 million Christian martyrs. Of these, the past hundred years have witnessed the majority— 45,500,000 of all 70,000,000 martyrdoms! Granted, most of these were Orthodox at the hands of communists; it’s still persecution of Christians. Jesus said this tribulation would also be accompanied by an increase in earthquakes (Mt 24:7.) Even CNN admits a marked increase in earthquakes the past 100 years.
4. The Anti-Christ or the man of lawlessness. Although there have been many anti-Christs (1 John 2:18) we’re going to have to experience the big one, “the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”—2 Thess 2:3-4. See CCC 676–680.
5. The Restrainer. Mercy is defined as the divine limit to evil. The anti-Christ will deceive so many people that God will send someone to limit evil. His name in the Bible is “The Restrainer.” (I know “the Restrainer” sounds like the coolest Marvel Comic book hero. But he’s right in the Bible, which might explain why our Protestant brothers and sisters speculate about him more than Catholics.) Anyway, this mysterious good-guy will come along at the end of the world as an agent of Divine Mercy so that the man of lawlessness doesn’t win. “Only he who now restrains it will do so until [the man of lawlessness] is out of the way.”—2 Thess 2:7. Some Catholic theologians speculate the Restrainer will be St. John the Baptist or St. Michael the Archangel. But he is unknown at this point.
6. Widespread disturbances in nature. “Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”—Mt 24:29-30
7. Second Coming of Jesus Christ. There’s an actual “day and hour” (Mt 24:36) to Christ’s return to earth. This day has definitely not yet come. “As the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”—Mt 24:27. Once, at a lunch, a priest with several impressive degrees snickered at me for taking these words literally. Then, I have to wonder: If Jesus doesn’t return with power, maybe he’ll return on a My Little Pony Cutie Mark Magic Princess Twilight Sparkle Charm Carriage Playset? (That’s an actual toy at Target! I have to wonder who named that…An 8-year-old girl in love with a cutie named Mark who was allowed to combine her eleven favorite words randomly?) Anyway, my point isn’t to rally tough-guy fundamentalism. I just can’t imagine a fitting middle ground between Christ coming as a baby and then coming in glory. Unless…Jesus comes strolling into Seattle with corduroy pants and a Dockers short-sleeve at His awful second coming. For my part, I’ll believe the Apostle’s description of the last day: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”—1 Thess 4:16. See CCC 681 and the 13th century hymn Dies Irae, “Day of wrath and doom impending…heaven and earth in ashes ending.” Google it. The rest of it gets even more terrible, in the ancient Latin sense of the word.
8. Final Judgment. The Church teaches that every one of us on earth will be judged by Christ at the end of life, be it our particular judgment or the general judgment. The particular judgment is what you will experience if you die before Jesus returns in glory. It’s simply your judgment when you come before God a bit after cardiac arrest. A great Spanish priest described that moment as a 2-dimensional instantaneous download of your entire life, replete with Christ’s judgment of you (heaven or hell). The general judgment, or the Last Judgment, however, is what everyone will experience when Christ returns to earth. This will also affect those who have already died. For everyone, it will be like a 3-dimensional instantaneous download of every good and evil action committed by every person on the planet (Luke 8:17) and how it affected you and vice-versa. In short, during your death and/or Christ’s return, your chance for mercy will be done. That’s what the confessional is for. On judgment day, you will answer for any unconfessed sins, and you will see how every one of your actions affected the whole world, for better or for worse. I’m not trying to scare you. This is Our Faith: You matter. See CCC 1021 and CCC 1038–1041.
9. Resurrection of the Body. Simultaneous to #5, everyone will get their body back. It will be physical, spiritual and hopefully glorified. I write “hopefully” because even those even in hell will get a body back for eternal torture (John 5:29.) Happily, 100% of those in purgatory will go to heaven and also get their glorified body back. But most adult Catholics think of heaven as an amorphous reality for the soul…kind of like a nursing home hot tub where billions of doped-up soul’s stare in a smiley bliss. Rather, let’s consider Jesus’ resurrection: He could eat fish but walk through walls; He shined with glory, but He had wounds. In fact, the four Catholic doctrinal points of the resurrection is that your new body will be: 1) Glorified (like Jesus at the Transfiguration), 2) Agile (not subject to gravity. I promise I’m not making this up.), 3) Subtle (from the Latin, meaning the body will obey the soul as the essential form of the body…meaning you won’t accidentally burp in your new body.) and 4) Impassible (unable to suffer.) Does this all sound just a little fantastic? CCC 996 says: “From the beginning, Christian faith in the resurrection has met with incomprehension and opposition. On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body.” Wait. No other point met with more opposition? What about contraception and same-sex marriage? You see, the resurrection of the body is the foundation of all other Catholic morality since “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”—2 Cor 5:10. Apparently, man’s notion of once-saved always-saved doesn’t fool God. See CCC 988–1019.
10. New Heavens and a New Earth. First, this earth will burn (2 Pt 3:10.) Then God will make a New Heavens and a New Earth (Is 65:17.) Where else did you expect to use your new body? Notice that the physical reality of eternity is already found in the Old Testament. For the Jews, the “age to come” will not be any more nebulous than this age. But it will be an era of peace. That era of the Messiah’s peace will permeate so deeply into creation that even the lion will lie down with the calf. (Show off that Bible trick at parties since 99% of you thought I should have written “lamb.” You’re wrong! See Isaiah 11:6.) There’s a solid section on the New Heavens and the New Earth in CCC 1042–1060. Finally, since I made fun of a goofy notion of heaven in #5, I really should highlight all of Christian history’s most beautiful description of heaven. It’s composed by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John. This description of heaven spans from Revelation 21 to 22 (the last two chapters of the Bible) but here’s my favorite, the beginning of the end, literally and eschatologically: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more.—Rev 21:1-4a
49 Godly Character Traits
During this Christmas 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:
Patience vs. Restlessness
Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to remove it (Romans 5:3–4)
30 "Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice." Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, "an upright heart", as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God.
You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised: great is your power and your wisdom is without measure. And man, so small a part of your creation, wants to praise you: this man, though clothed with mortality and bearing the evidence of sin and the proof that you withstand the proud. Despite everything, man, though but a small a part of your creation, wants to praise you. You yourself encourage him to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.
2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.
2772 From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which "it does not yet appear what we shall be." The Eucharist and the Lord's Prayer look eagerly for the Lord's return, "until he comes."
The Way Mortification
"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."
Let us drink to the last drop the chalice of pain in this poor present life. What does it matter to suffer for ten years, twenty, fifty... if afterwards there is heaven for ever, for ever... for ever? And, above all — rather than because of the reward, propter retributionem — what does suffering matter if we suffer to console, to please God our Lord, in a spirit of reparation, united to him on his Cross; in a word: if we suffer for Love?...
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.
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