Sunday, January 13, 2019

First Sunday after Epiphany

Acts, Chapter 10, verse 1-4
1 Now in Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Cohort called the Italica, 2 devout and God-fearing along with his whole household, who used to give alms generously to the Jewish people and pray to God constantly. 3 One afternoon about three o’clock, he saw plainly in a vision an angel of God come in to him and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 He looked intently at him and, seized with fear, said, “What is it, sir?” He said to him, “Your prayers and almsgiving have ascended as a memorial offering before God.

Cornelius’ Cohort was an auxiliary unit of archers, men who are expert at hitting a mark or target.

Sin is the act of violating God's will. Sin can also be viewed as anything that violates the ideal relationship between an individual and God; or as any diversion from the ideal order for human living. To sin has been defined as "to miss the mark" to have a hardened heart, a loss of love for God, a disposition of the heart to depart from God because of inordinate self-love

Cornelius walked with God because he lived the Shema Israel. Every day, every action of his was metaphorically target practice aiming to love God as he understood Him with his whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Cornelius exemplifies the proper attitude toward wealth and was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving.

Cornelius was a non-Jew who would have been regarded as a righteous gentile and is assured a place in the world to come if he knowingly or even unknowingly followed the seven Noahide laws[1] as traditionally enumerated which are:

1.      Do not deny God.
2.      Do not blaspheme God.
3.      Do not murder.
4.      Do not engage in incestuous, adulterous or homosexual relationships.
5.      Do not steal.
6.      Do not eat of a live animal.
7.      Establish courts/legal system to ensure law and obedience.

Baptism of Jesus[2] A closing celebration of Christ's initial manifestations to the world through His life and early ministry, especially in His baptism by St. John.

"Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near" (Is 55, 6).

These words from the second part of the Book of Isaiah ring out on this Sunday that ends the Christmas season. They are an invitation to go more deeply into the meaning for us of today's Feast, the Baptism of the Lord. In spirit let us return to the banks of the Jordan where John the Baptist administered a Baptism of repentance, exhorting to conversion. Coming up to the Precursor is Jesus, and with his presence he transformed that gesture of repentance into a solemn manifestation of his divinity. A voice suddenly comes from heaven:  "You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased" (Mk 1, 11) and, in the form of a dove, the Spirit descends upon Jesus. In that extraordinary event, John saw realized what had been said about the Messiah born in Bethlehem, adored by the shepherds and the Magi. He was the very One foretold by the prophets, the beloved Son of the Father; we must seek him while he can be found and call upon him while he is at hand. In Baptism every Christian personally meets him; he is inserted into the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection and receives a new life, which is the life of God. What a great gift and what a great responsibility!

Blessing of Water[3]

The commemoration of our Lord's Baptism in the Jordan led to a number of impressive blessings concerning water. In Palestine, the river Jordan itself was blessed, with throngs of the faithful immersing in it three times to obtain the blessing, while in Egypt, the whole Christian population and its livestock would show up for the blessing of the Nile and do the same thing. In Byzantium, Epiphany water was blessed in church and then distributed. Rome followed this custom, instituting it on the Vigil of the feast. The formula for the blessing may be found in the Roman ritual.

Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Dear brethren, through the Paschal Mystery we have been buried with Christ in Baptism, that we may walk with him in newness of life. And so, let us renew the promises of Holy Baptism, which we once renounced Satan and his works and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church.
And so, I ask you:

V. Do you renounce Satan?
R. I do.
V. And all his works?
R. I do.
V. And all his empty show?
R. I do.

Christmas Calendar[4]

Today we celebrate the baptism of Christ in the Jordan. This is the second epiphany, or manifestation, of the Lord. The past, the present, and the future are made manifest in this epiphany.
The most holy one placed Himself among us, the unclean and sinners. The Son of God freely humbled Himself at the hand of the Baptist. By His baptism in the Jordan, Christ manifests His humility and dedicates Himself to the redemption of man. He takes upon Himself the sins of the whole world and buries them in the waters of the Jordan. The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

Operation Super Blood Wolf[5]

Novena for Life: January 14-22 - Our nation seems to be at a tipping point toward a Culture of Life, especially with this President. We need to work and pray as best we can! This is the Novena encouraged by the USCCB, and strongly promoted by the Knights of Columbus. This novena leads up to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The United States Grace Force will join forces and will be emailing (and posting on social media) to their troops the daily prayers and reflections for this Novena for Life. Our Nation began in 1776 with the "Declaration of Independence," which declared "... that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." In 1973, a majority of Supreme Court Justices concluded that since they and science could not then determine when LIFE began, they would legalize abortion on demand, up to the time of natural birth, under the premise of a woman's right of privacy. Since that ruling, more than 60 million preborn babies have been legally murdered. We, as a Nation, have now turned away from our Creator (God) and legally condone the murder of the preborn. Since that 1973 ruling, we watched as our nation's Respect for LIFE slowly degraded; many State Legislatures have legally condoned Physician Assisted Suicides for the mentally impaired, terminally ill, physically handicapped and the aged; many of our larger cities witness human trafficking and the senseless murder of hundreds of innocent people every week - yet we remain silent. We pray this NOVENA for God's grace to give us strength to speak out to our neighbors, politicians and news organizations, and tell them that these forms of Legalized Murder and assaults on human dignity are a violation of God's natural law; and that, as a Nation, we must develop a change of heart, prayerfully repent, and ultimately change these laws and the conscience of our Citizens.

·         Hmm—reflecting on the above…could this be an example of how modern America is not a righteous Nation via metaphorically eating the flesh of a live animal?

Operation Super Blood Wolf is so named because just as we are about to conclude this Novena for Life, we will be treated to a Super Blood Wolf Moon (Jan. 20-21). Very simply understood, the moon is called "Super" because it is closest to earth (so will appear larger than usual), "Blood" because it has a reddish look as it is in a lunar eclipse, and "Wolf" because it is the first full moon of the calendar year. I believe God uses "signs in the sky" to get our attention, as we see throughout the Bible. I'm not quite sure what God may be doing with this particular sign, but having it occur so close to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, while we are blessed with the most pro-life President ever, gives hope that something significant "may" occur this year. We'll wait and see ... with great hope!
So, here's what you need to do to prepare for "Operation Super Blood Wolf" that begins on January 14:

If you have not done so yet, you should enlist in the United States Grace Force HERE.

NOTE: All troops of the US Grace Force will be notified by email of FREE Epiphany Holy Water & Salt, and two Green Scapulars (touched to a Relic of the True Cross). The first email notification will occur in the week of January 13. You will be directed to order HERE.

Also, I want to strongly encourage everyone to sign-up to pre-order the all new United States Grace Force Prayer Book. It should be available to send out in early February.

You can pre-order the brand new U.S. Grace Force Prayer HERE.

49 Godly Character Traits[6]

During this New Year 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:

Truthfulness vs. Deception

Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts (Ephesians 4:25)

676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.

2486 Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.

2505 Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and guarding against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy.

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."

It has been well said that the soul and the body are two enemies who can't get away from one another, and two friends who cannot get along.

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

[2] HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II, Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 12 January 2003


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