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FEAST OF OUR HOLY GUARDIAN ANGELS Psalm 91, verse 5-6 5 You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies ...

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018


feast of st. Stephen-BLUE CHRISTMAS-Kwanzaa



Exodus, Chapter 1, Verse 21
And because the midwives feared God, God built up families for them.

God’s mercy is just like the drops of water which grooves stones to make gorges and canyons; small acts of mercy have a similar effect on the hearts of sinners making them into monoliths of strength. Therefore, they resisted Pharaohs decree to kill the children of Israel. Likewise, we must resist the laws that are enacted that defy the law of God.

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church[1] addresses the issue of when and how St. Peter's teaching that obedience to God comes before obedience to men applies in the modern Christian's life. Presciently, or perhaps better, prophetically, Pope Benedict XVI foresaw and foresees increasing conflict between American Catholics and a public authority increasingly secularized and increasingly hostile to the moral values of its Catholic citizens. The conflict is caused by the increasing demands of the State to "to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices." The aggressive secularist State wants freedom of religion to be limited to "mere freedom of worship," and not to "freedom of conscience" which extends beyond the realm of the four walls of a Church into the "public square" of social, civil, political, and economic life." Christians may conscientiously object to civil laws if they infringe upon one or more of three things: (1) the law violates the moral order, that is, the natural moral law; (2) the law violates fundamental human rights; or (3) the law violates the teachings of the Gospel, which is to say the teachings of the Church. Laws that trespass against one or more of these three things may not be obeyed, and obedience to them must be refused. In fact, the Christian has both a duty and a right to refuse such a law. And though it may be unrecognized, it is a right that he must exercise regardless of the consequences to him.

The full text of the Compendium on this issue merits quotation: "Citizens are not obligated in conscience to follow the prescriptions of civil authorities if their precepts are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or to the teachings of the Gospel. Unjust laws pose dramatic problems of conscience for morally upright people: when they are called to cooperate in morally evil acts they must refuse. Besides being a moral duty, such a refusal is also a basic human right which, precisely as such, civil law itself is obliged to recognize and protect. 'Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected not only from legal penalties but also from any negative effects on the legal, disciplinary, financial and professional plane.'" "It is a grave duty of conscience not to cooperate, not even formally, in practices which, although permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to the Law of God. Such cooperation in fact can never be justified, not by invoking respect for the freedom of others nor by appealing to the fact that it is foreseen and required by civil law. No one can escape the moral responsibility for actions taken, and all will be judged by God himself based on this responsibility (cf. Rom 2:6; 14:12)."  (Compendium, No. 399)

The right of conscientious objection is not the right of resistance, and the two should be carefully distinguished. Moreover, resistance which can be expressed in "many different concrete ways" should be distinguished from the last and desperate recourse of "armed resistance." The right to resist an oppressive law or an oppressive government is one that is found in the natural law. It is a right which precedes a government, and so is one that is inalienable. Resistance generally is something to be avoided, and it is justified only if there is a "serious" infringement or "repeated" and chronic infringements of the natural moral law, a fundamental human right, or a Gospel precept. "Recognizing that natural law is the basis for and places limits on positive law means admitting that it is legitimate to resist authority should it violate in a serious or repeated manner the essential principles of natural law. Saint Thomas Aquinas writes that 'one is obliged to obey . . . insofar as it is required by the order of justice.' Natural law is therefore the basis of the right to resistance." The right of resistance is not one that necessarily has the overthrow of government in mind. There may be many ways in which resistance may be expressed, and there may be many ends which resistance may have in mind: "There can be many different concrete ways this right may be exercised; there are also many different ends that may be pursued. Resistance to authority is meant to attest to the validity of a different way of looking at things, whether the intent is to achieve partial change, for example, modifying certain laws, or to fight for a radical change in the situation." (Compendium, No. 400)

Resistance in the sense of armed resistance is something which is a last resort. The Church has identified five conditions all of which must be met before armed resistance is morally justified: "1) there is certain, grave and prolonged violation of fundamental rights, 2) all other means of redress have been exhausted, 3) such resistance will not provoke worse disorders, 4) there is well-founded hope of success; and 5) it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution." As the Church observes, armed resistance, even if morally justified, is generally to be avoided, and passive resistance is to be preferred. Armed resistance is often a Pandora's Box which unleashes as much or more evil as it intended to avoid. "Recourse to arms is seen as an extreme remedy for putting an end to a 'manifest, long-standing tyranny which would do great damage to fundamental personal rights and dangerous harm to the common good of the country.'  The gravity of the danger that recourse to violence entails today makes it preferable in any case that passive resistance be practiced, which is 'a way more conformable to moral principles and having no less prospects for success.'" (Compendium, No. 401)

The Gift of Life[2]

Questions about the life and family values of TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey have surfaced after reports emerged that she has participated in both a pro-abortion conference and made a cameo appearance in a pro-homosexual television episode. Winfrey was the keynote speaker at a luncheon held by a group whose priority this year is to ensure that minors, without parental consent, maintain their access to contraceptives and abortion. Human Life International issued a press release objecting to Winfrey’s presence saying it lent great support to the anti-life agenda of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (G-CAPP), which arranged the luncheon at the Omni Hotel at the CNN Center in Atlanta, Ga., as part of its 5th annual conference-“Building Bridges: Preparing for the Future.” In describing one of the major functions of G-CAPP, its chair, activist Jane Fonda, the now-estranged wife of CNN mogul Ted Turner, has said: “One of our missions is to help people understand that just saying ‘no’ doesn’t work anymore.” Winfrey’s cameo appearance on the “coming out” episode of the TV show “Ellen” in 1997 has also raised concerns over promotion of homosexuality.


Steven Spoke Openly[3]

Stephen, today’s Saint, like Jesus is unjustly persecuted; yet he prays for his persecutors. Can we claim ourselves Christ like if we do not love our enemies? Was not Stephen, and others who have imitated him, men like ourselves? With the grace of God, we do what they have done? Indeed, can we call ourselves Christians if we do not to do this? No; for the love of our neighbor, and of our enemy also, is the chief token of the Christian; since it is only by this love that we become like Christ, and resemble our heavenly Father, who makes His sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rains upon the just and upon the unjust (Matt. v. 45). Let us, therefore, imitate the love of God, of Christ, and of St. Stephen, and then we may one day be able to give up our souls with calmness into the hands of our Maker.

Feast of Saint Steven[4]

The deacon Stephen, stoned in Jerusalem two years after the death of Christ, has always been the object of very special veneration by the faithful. He is the first martyr. The account in the Acts of the Apostles relating his arrest and the accusations brought against him emphasize the parallel with our Saviour's trial; he was stoned outside the city wall and died, like his Master, praying for his executioners. Stephen belongs to the group of seven deacons whom the Apostles associated with their work in order to lighten their load. He was "filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit," "full of grace and strength" he showed himself as a man of God, radiating divine grace and apostolic zeal. As the first witness to Christ he confronted his opponents with quiet courage and the promise made by Jesus (Mark 13.11) was fulfilled: ". . . Disputing with Stephen they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke." In St. Stephen, the first martyr, the liturgy emphasizes the imitator of Christ even to the extent of the complete gift of self, to the extent of that great charity which made him pray in his suffering for his executioners. By establishing the feast on the day after Christmas the Church draws an even closer comparison between the disciple and the Master and thus extends his witness to the whole mission of the redeeming Messiah.

St. Stephen's Day[5]

Though there is no historical connection, St. Stephen is considered the patron saint of horses. Scholars speculate that this has something to do with the relief from work that domestic animal enjoyed during Twelfth-night; in any case, horse parades or horse races were always held on this day. One custom in rural areas was for the horses to be decorated and taken to the church, where the priest would bless them. Afterwards, they would be ridden around the church three times. Horse's food (hay or oats) is also blessed on this day.

NOTA BENE: In the eleventh century, the Church instituted special feast days during the Christmas Octave for various ecclesiastical ranks. Today, on the day in which one of the first seven deacons was martyred, was the festival for deacons.

The Twelve Days of Christmas[6]

But what exactly are the Twelve Days of Christmas? They are the days between Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany that constitute an unbroken period of joy and celebration. Epiphany is considered the twelfth day of Christmas (in fact it is sometimes called "Twelfth Day") while the Eve of Epiphany is called "Twelfth Night." Shakespeare's play, "Twelfth Night," takes its name from the Vigil because during this period festivals (such as the Feast of Fools or the Feast of the Ass) used to be held in which everything was turned upside-down -- a little like the reversed identities of the characters in the play. These "preposterous" observances, incidentally, were a joyful mimicry of the inversion of almighty God becoming a lowly man, of the King appearing as a humble infant. The twelve nights of Christmas were primarily a time of rest from unnecessary labor and joyful prayer. On each of these nights the Christmas tree lights and the Christmas candle would be lit, while the family would gather around the manger to recite prayers and sing carols and hymns. Similar services are held in some churches during these nights as well. Several saints' days which fall within the Octave of Christmas are also a part of the Twelve Days.


Two Turtle Doves


Today is the second day of Christmas: Two Turtle Doves from the song the 12 days of Christmas represent the two parts of the Sacred Scriptures: the old and new testament.

Blue Christmas[7]

Christmas normally is a time for joy. Decorations are set up, parties ensue, presents are given and laughter commences. Not many people realize that those in law enforcement work tirelessly during the holiday season to keep people safe. Blue Christmas is a holiday dedicated to those who work in that field, giving them an opportunity to be thanked for their services and celebrate Christmas their own way. While Elvis made the term “A Blue Christmas” popular to describe Christmas blues, this holiday is for those who work in law enforcement, such as police, firefighters, EMTs, and 911 dispatchers. For them, it is rough. Long nights in the wet, cold snow or long nights in the office can be particularly dangerous, especially for those who have the potential factor of being shot at, having emotional trauma from an emergency situation, and so forth. Because of their job, they keep people safe and save lives, but it comes at a cost. They miss out on spending time with their families and lose out on enjoying what Christmas is all about. That’s why when it comes to the holiday season, Blue Christmas gives people a chance to give to others by giving gifts and thanking them for their services. While some may be cheerful doing their job, because they know that Christmas is about helping others, Blue Christmas helps raise awareness for the behind-the-scenes action that the people working in law enforcement and the medical field are the ones truly making the holiday seasons special. With the potential dangers involved, they deserved their thanks and gifts the most.


How to celebrate Blue Christmas

To take part in a Blue Christmas, you can easily do so by displaying a blue light throughout the winter holidays. It can be a single porch light, blue candles in the window, or blue Christmas lights as part of the display. If you know someone who works in law enforcement or the medical industry, buy or make them a gift and take the time out to thank them for what they do to keep society and the holidays going. Share this holiday on social media using the hashtag #bluechristmas and let everyone know how important it is to see those who don’t ask for much in return.


Kwanzaa[8]


Kwanzaa is an African-American and Pan-African celebration of family, community and culture. Kwanzaa, a week-long cultural festival from the 26th of December to the 1st of January that climaxes in feasts and gift giving, was initially established to unite African-Americans with their African roots and heritage.  Nguzo Saba, the seven principles that guide the holiday, is central to Kwanzaa as a different principle is emphasized every day during the celebration. Celebrants often dress in traditional Pan-African clothing and decorate their homes in African artwork. Kwanzaa was created in 1965 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a major figure in the Black Power movement, with the intention of providing African Americans with a link to their ancestral heritage. Karenga aimed to bring together African-Americans as a community through the combination of various aspects of other celebrations such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and African Yam Festivals. Since Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one; it can be celebrated by Africans from all religious backgrounds.

Kwanzaa Facts & Quotes

·         The name Kwanzaa is derived from Matunda ya kwanza, which in Swahili means first fruits.  Kwanzaa is based on the Ashanti and Zulu traditions of first fruit harvest celebrations.
·         Each day of Kwanzaa celebrates one of 7 principles, known as Nguzo Saba.  These include Unity, Self-determination, Collective work and responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green.  Each color carries an important meaning to unify those of African descent.  Black is for the people, red for the noble blood that unites all people of African descent and green for the land of Africa. A candle holder, called a Kinara, holds the seven candles that represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa Top Events and Things to Do

·         Read about the seven principles of Kwanzaa with your family.  These principles teach about working together, learning from the past and strengthening bonds.
·         Attend a Kwanzaa celebration event.
·         Prepare a festive Kwanzaa dinner.  Include Kwanzaa foods include:

1) Shisa nyama (meat cooked over a hot wood fire).
2) Kapenta with sadza (kapenta is a freshwater fish and sadza is a maize porridge).
3) Nyama na irio (mashed potatoes, peas, corn and onion served with spicy roast meat).
·         Give festive Kwanzaa gifts to your friends and family.  Some traditional gifts include a food basket, kinara candle holder, books about African culture and handwoven items like gloves and scarves.
·         Watch “The Black Candle” (2008).  This is a vibrant and powerful documentary that illuminates the African-American experience from the perspective of Kwanzaa.  Narrated by Dr. Maya Angelou (poet), the documentary won the award for best full-length documentary at the Africa World Documentary Film Festival in 2009.

49 Godly Character Traits[9]

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:

Love vs. Selfishness


Giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward (I Corinthians 13:3)

219 God's love for Israel is compared to a father's love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mothers for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son."

Jesus said to his disciples: "Love one another even as I have loved you."

2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

The Way[10] 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."

When you see a poor wooden Cross, alone, uncared-for, and of no value... and without its Crucified, don't forget that that Cross is your Cross: the Cross of each day, the hidden Cross, without splendour or consolation..., the Cross which is awaiting the Crucified it lacks: and that Crucified must be you.

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




[1] http://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=45255
[3]Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896
[7]https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/a-blue-christmas/
[9]http://graceonlinelibrary.org/home-family/christian-parenting/49-godly-character-qualities/
[10]http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_way-point-1.htm

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