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ST. WENCESLAUS John, Chapter 5, Verse 20 For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he w...

Monday, December 24, 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Christmas day

Exodus, Chapter 1, Verse 17
The midwives, however, feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live.

The book of Exodus retells the story of the leaving of the children of Abraham from the land of Egypt. God blessed Abraham’s descendants and they prospered and overpopulated the land. Egyptians then oppressed the Israelites and took action to control their population by commanding midwives to kill the male children born to the Israelite’s.

Nothing ever changes it seems the midwives, were the king of Egypt’s version of our Planned Parenthood. Yet, they the midwives feared God more than the King and spared life. I do not think anyone in the Planned Parenthood organization has any fear of God. The midwives of Egypt were ordered to kill only the male children of the Israelites. In our modern world I wonder who the equivalent of the King of Egypt is. I wonder who or what sex and races are the equivalents of the Israelite children?

Let us pray that those within the Planned Parenthood organization and those who support the existence of organizational weapons for the destruction of innocent unborn life may have an awakening to the voice of conscience and fear God: thus, preserving life first, then liberty and then the pursuit of happiness. For is not life more, precious than liberty; and is not liberty more precious than the pursuit of wealth. It can be in no other order. As a people and as a nation we have dulled our consciences for too long; this is why the soul of this nation can find no peace. We like the midwives of ancient Egypt must fear God more than Pharaoh. Then and only then will our consciences as a people become unsullied and we will have the strength, courage and loyalty to follow what is right. 

The Three Feasts of the Nativity[1]

When we celebrate Christmas, we are commemorating the three nativities of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the reason for the three Masses celebrated on this day. The first is the eternal begetting of God the Son from all eternity within the mystery of the Blessed Trinity by the Father, “You are My Son. Today I have begotten You.”

This first nativity was before the seven days of Creation, when everything was darkness. This is why the first Mass is at midnight to recall the darkness that prevailed during that first eternal birth of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. The first nativity reminds us of the Spirit of poverty, the Spirit that tells us that all the things God created is His, to be used for His glory and not for man’s enjoyment. Even man was to use himself for the glory of God. This represents the six days of creation. If Adam, being the head of creation, had observed the spirit of poverty and used all of creation for the glory of God, then he would have entered into the Sabbath, God’s rest… i.e. eternal happiness. But Adam messed up everything. And the consequence: the whole of mankind could not enter God’s rest.


The second nativity, or birth, of the Second Person of the Trinity is commemorated on Christmas day when He became man, born of the Virgin Mary, in Bethlehem. For the world, the darkness was beginning to be dispelled. This is why the second Mass is celebrated at dawn when the dawn is beginning to dispel the darkness. The second nativity reminds us of the Spirit of chastity. That Spirit reminds us to give up all physical comforts, pleasure and conveniences. And Christ in the manger is a clear example of this. It is a continuous reminder that true happiness can only be found in God and that we are on earth to seek God. All the rest will come with that find. True rest can only be found in God.


The third nativity of Christ is when He is born in our souls, through His in-dwelling, when man, through grace, becomes enlightened. Thus, the third Mass is celebrated during the day when the sun is bright. For man is truly enlightened when he has Christ in his soul. The third nativity reminds us of the Spirit of obedience. It is only when we can say, “Not my will but Your will be done,” can Christ be born in our souls. The apostolic commission at the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel reiterates this, reminding us of the role of the Church and the men of the Church: “… teach all My commands and how to observe them.”


Christmas reminds us of one lesson. Christ was born to die. For us the message is clear. We are born to die to oneself. And to die to oneself means reaching a point in our lives when we no longer do our own will but the will of the Father in heaven. This is to lose one’s life in order to find it. If we have learned the lessons of the first nativity, if we have learned the lesson of the second nativity, our reward is the third nativity, when Christ is born in our souls…. indeed, our eternal Christmas. This is truly a Merry Christmas.

Christmas Customs[2]

Christmas Greeting

The popular American greeting "Merry Christmas" is generally taken as a wish for a joyful feast, but in reality, it has a different meaning. "Merry" originally meant "peaceful or blessed," not jocular or happy; it was an adjective for heavenly serenity, not earthly mirth. The phrase, "Merry England," for example, referred to the spiritual character of the country. And in the carol, "God rest you merry gentleman," the word "merry" does not refer to "gentleman." Rather, it should be read, "God rest you merry, gentleman," -- "that is, God rest you peacefully, gentleman."

Pageants

Like other high points of the liturgical year, Christmas was the occasion of devout mystery plays, dramas held in church after Mass which explained the meaning of the mystery being commemorated. By the late Middle Ages these plays had become elaborate pageants, public entertainment (usually held outside the church on a movable stage) that consisted of various scenes from history or legend.

Gift Giving

Many Americans may be surprised to learn that the Christmas custom of exchanging gifts does not always occur on Christmas morning. In some countries, the Feast of St. Nicholas (December 6) is the traditionally preferred date, while in France -- for adults at least-- it is January 1st. Still other countries, such as Italy, imitate the Magi by presenting their gifts on the Feast of the Epiphany. (Epiphany is also the day when gifts are exchanged in the Eastern churches.) Finally, some areas of Europe exchange their gifts on Christmas Eve before or after attending Midnight Mass. The giving of gifts may also be spread over the duration of Christmas (hence, the carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas:" see below). December 26, for example, is called Boxer Day in England and Canada because on this day the poor boxes of the church were emptied by the priest and their contents distributed to the needy. The day after Christmas has thus become a traditional day for giving gifts to servants or to one's paperboy, mailman, barber, etc. In some places, some of the gifts are withheld on Christmas to be given on Epiphany. This has the advantage of prolonging children's delight in receiving presents, as opposed to over-saturating them on Christmas Day.

Plants

It is only fitting that the season celebrating the Flower that comes from the root of Jesse (Is. 11.2) should be so strongly associated with various plants, some of which are included below:


Holly: Why do we deck the halls with boughs of holly? Simple but profound in its symbolism, holly represents two sacred events: the revelation of God's Holy Name to Moses on Mt. Sinai and the Crucifixion of our Lord. On the one hand, the prickly leaves and red berries of holly call to mind the burning bush from which Yahweh spoke; on the other they symbolize the Crown of Thorns and the drops of Blood shed by our Lord during His Passion. The point seems to be that in order to recognize the infant in the manger as the God-man, one must look backward to His self-revelation in sacred history and forward to His saving action on the Cross.

IvyIvy was originally banned from Christmas celebrations because of its pagan associations with bacchanalia. It took several centuries for the distaste of this symbolism to wear off, but when in the Middle Ages it finally did, its natural qualities could be appreciated anew. Seeing in its desperate clinging to rock an allegory for human dependence on divine strength, Christians made ivy became a popular Christmas symbol, as well as a favored indoor plant year-round.

Mistletoe: Mistletoe was considered to be a powerful and sacred healing agent by the Druids. It was considered so sacrosanct, in fact, that enemies who met under it were forced to lay down their arms, embrace each other, and vow not to fight until the following day. When England became Christian, mistletoe was retained as a token of good will and friendship (along with the custom of kissing under the mistletoe), while its association with healing was transferred to Christ, whom the Advent hymn for Vespers calls the "Cure for a sick world" (languidi mundi Medela).


Laurel (Bay): Whereas ivy suffered from its pagan meaning, laurel benefited. As the ancient Roman symbol of victory, laurel became the first plant to be used as a decoration for the newborn King. The Christmas wreath hung on our doors also comes from this symbolism. The Romans considered wreaths symbols of victory and celebration, placing them on their doors when an occasion merited it.


Rosemary: As a Christmas symbol, rosemary is almost as old as laurel. An ancient legend, explaining the reason for its use at Christmas time, states that when the Holy Family was fleeing to Egypt Mary stopped along the way, washed Jesus' tiny clothes, and spread them out to dry on a rosemary bush. Since then God has rewarded the bush with a pleasing fragrance.


Poinsetta: The most recent addition to the Christmas plant pageant is the glorious poinsettia from Central America or, as it is called in Mexico, the flower of Holy Night. It is of no consequence that the plant's flaming red "petals" are actually its leaves; the poinsettia is a perfect reminder of the fiery star that led the wise men to Bethlehem.


The Christmas Carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas"[3]

The singing of hymns and carols, even in an age which has lost the ability to sing, remains a fixed and cherished part of Christmas. Unfortunately, we cannot adequately examine the vast history or catalog of Christmas songs. Instead, we will focus on one famous but misunderstood Christmas carol. Most holiday revelers do not realize that the popular carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," is actually a hidden catechism for Catholics. From 1558 to 1829 the Catholic Church was persecuted in England, making the transmission of the faith from one generation to the next exceedingly difficult. One solution was to veil the basic tenets of the faith in the symbols of a song. If caught, a Catholic could claim that it was merely an innocuous ditty, or even, if pushed, a Protestant catechism (since most of the song's teachings were also shared by the Reformers).

Here are the verses of the song, followed by its meaning:

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, nine ladies dancing, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, ten lords-a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eleven pipers piping, ten lords-a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords-a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

The Carol's Meaning

·         My true love = God
·         Me = every baptized person, the Church
·         A Partridge in a pear tree = The Word made flesh, Jesus Christ (The portrayal of Christ as a mother partridge is inspired by his lament: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."). The pear tree signifies the wood of the manger (and also of the cross), while the fruit reminds us of the reason for the Incarnation: God's desire to save us from the sin introduced by Adam's and Eve's consumption of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. The fruit also reminds us of the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden.
·         Two Turtle Doves = The two parts of the Sacred Scriptures [Old and New Testaments]
·         Three French Hens = The three theological virtues, given from God and poured into our hearts [Faith, Hope, and Charity]
·         Four Calling Birds = the four Gospels/Evangelists [Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John]
·         Five Golden Rings = The first five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch" [Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy]
·         Six Geese a-Laying = The six days of creation
1st Day: Creation of light and its separation from darkness
2nd Day: Creation of the firmament and division of the waters
3rd Day: Collection of waters (sea) and formation of dry land (earth); creation of plants according to their own likeness
4th Day: Creation of heavenly bodies in the firmament (sun, moon, and stars)
5th Day: Creation of sea creatures and winged fowl from the waters
6th Day: Creation of cattle, creeping things, and beasts from the dry land; creation of mankind, male and female
·         Seven Swans a-Swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
1.      wisdom
2.      understanding
3.      counsel
4.      fortitude
5.      knowledge
6.      piety
7.      fear of the Lord
Also, the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith [Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony]
  • Eight Maids a-Milking = the eight Beatitudes [Mt. 5.3-12]
1.      Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2.      Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
3.      Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
4.      Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
5.      Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
6.      Blessed are the clean of heart: they shall see God.
7.      Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
8.      Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Nine Ladies Dancing = the nine choirs of angels (in ascending order)
1. Angels
2. Archangels
3. Virtues
4. Powers
5. Principalities
6. Dominations
7. Thrones
8. Cherubim
9. Seraphim
  • Ten Lords a-Leaping = the Ten Commandments
1. I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
3. Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.
4. Honor thy father and mother.
5. Thou shalt not kill.
6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
7. Thou shalt not steal.
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.
  • Eleven Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles [Simon Peter, James the Great, John, Simon (the Zealot), Jude (a.k.a. Thaddeus), Andrew, James the Less, Matthew, Phillip, Bartholomew, and Thomas]
  • Twelve Drummers Drumming = the twelve articles of the Apostle's Creed
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
2. And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended into Hell; on the third day He rose from the dead.
6. He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
7. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. The Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints,
10. The forgiveness of sins,
11. The resurrection of the body,
12. And life everlasting. Amen.

The "Twelve Days of Christmas" is still an excellent expression of joy in the Incarnate Lord and a well-rounded summary of the life of Faith. And, by giving us something on which to meditate for each day, it is also an ideal way to spend the twelve days of Christmas. It even reminds us (by virtue of its history) of the cost many generations had to pay in order for us to receive the Good News we celebrate during this holy season.

49 Godly Character Traits[4]

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:

Justice vs. Fairness

Personal responsibility to God’s unchanging laws (Micah 6:8)

·         1807 Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the "virtue of religion." Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. "You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor." "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven."
·         1836 Justice consists in the firm and constant will to give God and neighbor their due.
  
The Way[5] 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 waste the opportunity of yielding your own judgment. It's hard..., but how pleasing it is in the eyes of God!

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


[1]Excerpted from Fr. Odon de Castro, Bo. San Isidro, Magalang, Pampanga, Philippines

[4]http://graceonlinelibrary.org/home-family/christian-parenting/49-godly-character-qualities/
[5]http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_way-point-1.htm

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