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Sunday, December 2, 2018


First Sunday of Advent


Psalm 25, Verse 12-14
12 Who is the one who fears the LORD? God shows him the way he should choose. 13 He will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. 14 The counsel of the LORD belongs to those who fear him; and his covenant instructs them.

Today is a day for any last-minute shopping. Remember that “A happy heart is better than a full Purse.”

Ponder on the thought that God wants us to study the world, fall in love with its creator, and live happily forever after. “Lord my God, teach my heart where and how to seek you, where and how to find you.” Anselm of Canterbury

So, what are the covenants of God that instruct us?

Covenants in the Bible[1]


Covenant comes from the Latin word "convenire" which means to come together.  A covenant is basically an agreement between people, or between God and His people, that binds one to the other. This is much different than a contract, which involves the exchange of goods or services for money. A good way to remember this distinction is to examine Holy Matrimony between a husband and a wife, and contrast that with prostitution. In the former, the two become one flesh at the marriage ceremony, with vows taken before God, each other, the priest, friends, and family, and they have sexual relations with each other that are holy and good.  In the latter, money exchanges hands for sex.  A covenant can be thought of as a sacred family bond, taken with an oath before a higher power, whereas a contract can be thought of as an agreement to pay someone for services rendered, which involves a promise to each other, rather than an oath. Covenants most often involve a ceremony with witnesses, invoking God, and a communal meal. The covenant therefore unites flesh and blood, as well as ensuring a common family name. So why did God decide to make covenants with mankind?  Well, we are God's family, and through sin, we have separated ourselves from the eternal love of God, preferring instead the temporary pleasures of this world. Hell awaits us if we fail to unite ourselves to Him while we are still alive. To help show us the way, God our loving Father initiated 6 major covenants in the Bible to bring us back into His family.  Notice the 4 things similar in these covenants - A blessing, a condition/curse, a sign, and the resultant form of God's family. 


God's Covenants with man

First, is God's covenant with Adam and Eve.  God created Adam and Eve to be joined together as one flesh: Genesis 2:23-24: Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" Malachi 2:14: You ask, "Why does he not?" Because the LORD was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.


·         The Blessing - Their descendants will fill the earth and subdue it.
·         The Condition/Curse - Do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil/death will result.
·         The Sign - The Sabbath - Keep it holy
  • ·         The Family Form - Marriage


Second is God's covenant made with Noah and his family. God promises to never again destroy mankind through a flood, and the rainbow is his constant reminder of that: Genesis 9:9-17: "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will look upon it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth." God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth."


·         The Blessing -God will never flood the entire earth again.
·         The Condition/Curse - Do not drink the blood of animals or shed human blood
·         The Sign - A Rainbow
·         The Family Form- Traditional Family

Third is the God's Covenant made with Abram: Genesis 17:1-10:  When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.  And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly."  Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.  I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.  And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."  And God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.


·         Blessing- Land and many blessed descendants
·         Condition/Curse- Circumcision
·         Sign- Circumcision
·         Family Form - Tribe

Fourth is God's Covenant made with Moses:


Exodus 34:10, 24: And he said, "Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been wrought in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD; for it is a terrible thing that I will do with you..... For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither shall any man desire your land, when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year.

·         Blessing- Becoming God's chosen people
·         Condition/Curse- They MUST keep God's law and the Commandments
·         Sign- The Passover
·         Family Form - A holy nation

Fifth is God's Covenant made with David: 2 Samuel 7:9-16:Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David, `Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled, and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established forever.


·         Blessing- God becomes our Father, and we become his child
·         Condition/Curse- Chastisement with the rod of men
·         Sign- Solomon's Temple
·         Family Form - An eternal royal kingdom

Sixth is the Covenant promised through Jeremiah, fulfilled by Jesus: Jeremiah 31:31-34: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."


·         Blessing - God's Law will be written on our hearts.  Believers become the new chosen people.
·         Condition/Curse - Belief in Jesus as the son of God, Baptism, eating His Flesh and drinking His blood at Communion, and living as Christians, not pagans.
·         Sign - The Eucharist
·         Family Form - A universal worldwide Kingdom, or His Church

Notice how the family form progressed with each of God's six covenants - Man and wife, family, tribe, nation, kingdom, universal worldwide kingdom.  What God is doing here is not only building up man's relationship to Him using signs and other humans, he is revealing more and more of Himself to us with each and every covenant, until at last He has revealed Himself fully in Jesus Christ.  Sadly, man broke each covenant and had to endure the curses associated with each one.  But God has been true to each one of His covenants with us, and that is really good news for us all.
So now that you know you belong to a universal (catholic) worldwide Kingdom, are you being true to your part of the last covenant, namely, living a Christian life following baptism and consuming the Eucharist?  Or, are you living like a pagan?  The choice is yours to make, right now. If you choose God's way, the benefits are literally out of this world.  If not, you will have hell to pay.... Choose Wisely!

Notice the evil ones assaults of these Covenants 1) against the church with the protestant reformation 2) against the kingdoms in the age of enlightenment 3) against the holy nations in communism and atheism 4) against the tribe (local community) with TV/Computers/games which isolate us 5) against the family with divorce, contraception, abortion, etc. and 6) against holy union with same sex unions, prostitution, pornography and pedophilia. Yet, God is good He has and will overcome evil not with evil but with love.


First Sunday of Advent[2]     #Advent

A sudden announcement that the lord is coming

For us Catholics, the new Liturgical Year commences with the first Sunday of Advent. In this new liturgical year, the Church not only wishes to indicate the beginning of a period, but the beginning of a renewed commitment to the faith by all those who follow Christ, the Lord. This time of prayer and path of penance that is so powerful, rich and intense, endeavors to give us a renewed impetus to truly welcome the message of the One who was incarnated for us. In fact, the entire Liturgy of the Advent Season, will spur us to an awakening in our Christian life and will put us in a ‘vigilant’ disposition, to wait for Our Lord Jesus who is coming:


‘Awaken! Remember that God comes! Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today, now! The one true God, "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", is not a God who is there in Heaven, unconcerned with us and our history, but he is the-God-who-comes.

The Season of Advent is therefore a season of vigilant waiting, that prepares us to welcome the mystery of the Word Incarnate, who will give the ‘Light’ to the womb of the Virgin Mary, but essentially this time prepares us not only to welcome this great event but to incarnate it in our lives. We could say that the true light enters the world through the immaculate womb of Mary, but it does not stay there. On the contrary, this light flows out into our dark, obscure, sinful lives to illuminate them, so that we can become the light that illuminates the world. For this reason, let us live this time of waiting not only to celebrate a historical memory but to repeat this memory in our lives and in the service of others. To wait for the Lord who comes, means to wait and to watch so that the Word of Love enters inside us and focuses us every day of our lives. As Blessed John Henry Newman reminded us in a homily for the Advent Season: “Advent is a time of waiting, it is a time of joy because the coming of Christ is not only a gift of grace and salvation, but it is also a time of commitment because it motivates us to live the present as a time of responsibility and vigilance. This ‘vigilance’ means the necessity, the urgency of an industrious, living ‘wait’. To make all this happen, then we need to wake up, as we are warned by the apostle to the Gentiles, in Romans: ‘Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rm 13:11). We must start our journey to ascend to the mountain of the Lord, to be illuminated by His Words of peace and to allow Him to indicate the path to tread. Moreover, we must change our conduct abandoning the works of darkness and put on the ‘armor of light’ and so seek only to do God’s work and to abandon the deeds of the flesh. (Rm 13:12-14). Jesus, through the story in the parable, outlines the Christian life style that must not be distracted and indifferent but must be vigilant and recognize even the smallest sign of the Lord’s coming because we don’t know the hour in which He will arrive. (Mt 24:39-44)


Today get ready your Christmas decorations.

Advent wreath and calendar[3]


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.

Advent begins Facts & Quotes[4]

Each Sunday in Advent has a particular theme the first week is faithfulness, associated with Christ coming in final victory.  The second and third Sundays, which feature the stories about John the Baptist, represent hope and joy.  The fourth Sunday, which covers the events that led up to the birth of Jesus, represents love. Many churches light a candle on an advent wreath each Sunday to represent each theme.  The wreath is either suspended from the ceiling or sits on a table.  It is made of evergreen branches and holds four candles - three purple for the first weeks of Advent and a pink one for the last week.  A white Christ candle is placed in the center and will be lit on Christmas. A common activity for children is to make Christmas ornaments.  Many church Christmas trees are decorated with these ornaments that represent symbols in Christianity, like doves and fish. Advent starts the four Sundays before Christmas.  Church banners and cleric's stoles are purple during the season. Advent is a journey towards Bethlehem.  May we let ourselves be drawn by the light of God made man - Pope Francis via twitter on Dec 21, 2013.

Advent Begins Top Events and Things to Do

·         Decorate your home with evergreens or go to a 'Hanging of the Greens' church service.  Church members decorate the church in preparation for Christmas.

·         Hang up an advent calendar.  Many of these decorative pieces have little doors that open and reveal holiday images or have pockets with small items in them that reflect the season. They are especially popular with children who enjoy opening the little doors to reveal chocolates.

·         Sing Advent Hymns.  Two popular ones are in the Deep Midwinter, and O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

Hanukkah Begins[5]


Chanukah (Hebrew: חנוכה) is an eight-day Jewish festival, also known as the festival of lights. On each day a Menorah (an eight branched candelabra) is lit with an ascending number of candles to match the day.  The reason for Chanukah is based on the story of the Maccabees battle with the Greeks.  It is told that one pure bottle of olive oil lasted for eight days in the Holy Temple.  It should have lasted only for the first day.

Hanukkah Facts

·         It is customary to eat fried foods on Chanukkah because of the significance of oil to the holiday.  Among Ashkenazic Jews, this usually includes latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil) and doughnuts.
·         A popular game during Hanukkah is dreidel.  The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with one Hebrew letter inscribed on each face/side.  These letters are Nun (like N), Gimel (like G), Hei (Like H) and Shin (like Sh).  These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, a great miracle happened there, referring to the miracle of the oil.
·         There is a special prayer called for the Miracles said during all prayer sessions and grace after meals.  In this prayer the Lord is thanked for allowing the Jewish minority to overcome their much larger and stronger enemies (a recurrent theme in Jewish survival).
·         Chanukkah is not one of the Biblical festivals and Jews are permitted to work on Chanukkah.

Hanukkah Top Events and Things to Do

·         An event that gathers much attention is the White House Hanukkah Party.  Watch it on TV (some parts are broadcast) or YouTube.
·         Play a dreidel game, which consists of spinning a special four-sided block with Hebrew letters. Once you're out of game pieces, you can either get a loan or you're out until one person collects all of the game pieces.
·         Make latkes and donuts at home.  Many recipes can be found online.
·         Listen to a special song is sung after the lighting of the candles, called Maoz Zur, 'the Rock of our Salvation'.  Many renditions of it can be found on YouTube.

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery[6]


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.
·         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[7]

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

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