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Ember Saturday

Luke, Chapter 1, verse 46-55:
46 And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; 47 my spirit rejoices in God my savior. 48 For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. 49 The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. 51 He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. 52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. 53 The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, 55 according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

This canticle of Mary is often referred to as the Magnificat. We have many reasons to give due consideration and prayerful reflection to the Magnificat. It is the longest discourse recorded of Mary in Divine Revelation. Many are the stories written telling about the heart of Mary as shown in that beautiful prayer. Certainly inspired, it was pronounced by Mary herself when she was carrying the Divine Child in her womb. It is the perfect act of humility and of profound humble adoration. It is part of the Church’s liturgy and has been such since the very first centuries. It has been recited or sung daily by ancient monks and hermits and other Religious who have consecrated themselves to God. It is indeed the prayer of consecrated souls and all clients of Mary. All the great biblical masters of the ages have affirmed that there are four parts to the Magnificat. In the first strophe, Mary expresses her gratitude to God; in the second, she praises God for his power, His holiness and His mercy; in the third, she compares how differently God deals with the proud and the humble; in the fourth, she recalls that all the ancient prophecies to the Jews are now being fulfilled in the Messiah, Who was at that moment present in her womb.[1]

God’s Handiwork

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 of Mary Christ’s very own mother and in these final days in some way reflect them in our own lives.

Mary carried Jesus in her womb with great patience. As a child I remember Christmas was always a great strain on my patience. Can you imagine the strain on this poor young girl from Nazareth? She of course could not have done this without first having the virtues of humility, generosity, and a chase heart which led her to have great patience.

Patience[2] the courage of a serene soul


This world being a place of merit is rightly called a valley of tears; for we are all placed in it to suffer, that we may, by patience, gain our own souls unto life eternal, as our Lord Himself says, In your patience you shall possess your souls. [Luke 21 19] God gave us the Blessed Virgin Mary as a model of all virtues, but more especially as an example of patience. St. Francis de Sales, amongst other things, remarks, that it was precisely for this reason that at the marriage-feast of Cana Jesus Christ gave the Blessed Virgin an answer, by which He seemed to value her prayers but little: Woman, what is that to thee and to Me? [John 2:4] And He did this that He might give us the example of the patience of His most holy Mother. But what need have we to seek for instances of this virtue? Mary's whole life was a continual exercise of her patience; for, as the Angel revealed to St. Bridget, "as a rose grows up amongst thorns, so did the Blessed Virgin grow up amongst tribulations." Compassion alone for the Redeemer's sufferings sufficed to make her a martyr of patience. Hence St. Bonaventure says, "that a crucified Mother conceived a crucified Son." In speaking of her dolors, we have already considered how much she suffered, both in her journey to Egypt, and during her residence there, as also during the time she lived with her Son in the house at Nazareth. What Mary endured when present at the death of Jesus on Calvary is alone sufficient to show us how constant and sublime was her patience: There stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother. Then it was that precisely by the merit of her patience, as Blessed Albert the Great says, she brought us forth to the life of grace." If we, then, wish to be the children of Mary, we must endeavor to imitate her in her patience: "For what," says St. Cyprian, "can enrich us with greater merit in this life, and greater glory in the next, than the patient enduring of sufferings?" God said, by the prophet Osee, I will hedge up thy way with thorns. [2:6] To this St. Gregory adds, that "the way of the elect is hedged with thorns." As a hedge of thorns protects a vineyard, so does God protect His servants from the danger of attaching themselves to the earth, by encompassing them with tribulations. Therefore St. Cyprian concludes that it is patience that delivers us from sin and from Hell. It is also patience that makes Saints: Patience hath a perfect work, [James 1:4] bearing in peace, not only the crosses which come immediately from God, such as sickness, poverty, but also those which come from men---persecutions, injuries, and the rest. St. John saw all the Saints bearing palm branches---the emblem of martyrdom---in their hands; After this I saw a great multitude, and palms were in their hands; [Apoc. 7:9] thereby denoting that all adults who are saved must be martyrs, either by shedding their blood for Christ or by patience.

Happiness


Happiness is a choice; just as love is a choice. We either decide to be happy or we do not. No amount of money or material things will bring us joy, no amount of pleasure or power either. Mary knew that true happiness comes from God’s mercy. That is a choice too. God’s mercy is given to those who fear Him and then in turn honor the gift of love. We in order to accept the gift of mercy must be open to receive. We make a choice. It is funny Mary’s whose name means bitterness was just the opposite. She emptied herself to be filled to the brim with God’s love and within three days we commemorate that she gave birth to Christ our redeemer. I imagine she pondered on this day ages ago as she felt His movement within her that his mercy is overpowering. Let us empty ourselves of all our bitterness and resentments asking Mary to pray for us as we do. Let us in these remaining days before Christmas do all we can to prepare for our Lord Jesus. Let us receive God’s mercy through the sacraments which He has established through His Apostle’s down through the ages to us today. If you have not gone to confession-do. Receive His mercy. Receive the Eucharist be made whole and prepare for his birth. Give mercy in return to any you have offended, pray and do good works toward those who have offended you. In this way we emulate our God whose power is perfected in mercy. 

Be at peace. 

Ember Saturday[3]"Holy impatience" over the coming of the Lord, both in the manger and in glory at the end of time.

Psalm 147:12, 16-17 "Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem: praise thy God, O Sion. Who giveth snow like wool: scattereth mists like ashes. He sendeth his crystal-like morsels: who shall stand before the face of his cold?"
Advent Calendar[4]

Read Explore the benefits of going to confession during Advent.
Reflect "If we say that we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 Jn 1:10).

Pray Add this "O Antiphon" to your daily or meal-time prayer today: "O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness." (Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, Revised Edition, 76)

Act Make going to confession a priority before Christmas.

Spiritual Crib[5]

A special devotion that can be performed during Advent to prepare for the coming of the Infant Savior. It can be adapted for adults and/or children and applied as is appropriate to your state in life.

·         12th day, December 22nd: ST. JOSEPH—Obedience Today you must try to please the Divine Infant by cheerful, and very prompt obedience. Be obedient for the love of Jesus in great and little things or in easy ones. Do nothing without permission.


Evening Antiphon

Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.
O King of the Gentiles and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one; Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.

49 Godly Character Traits[6]

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:

Humility vs. Pride


Recognizing that it is actually God and others who are responsible for the achievements in my life (James 4:6)

1450 "Penance requires . . . the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction."

2317 Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war:

Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until Christ comes again; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished and these words will be fulfilled: "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

2554 The baptized person combats envy through good-will, humility, and abandonment to the providence of God.

The Way[7] 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."

Don't say: 'That person gets on my nerves.' Think: 'That person sanctifies me.'

Full Cold Moon


According to the almanac today is a Full Cold Moon; today would be a good day to take the children/grandchildren out in the cold and enjoy hot chocolate afterward.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Universal Man Plan

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