Wednesday, January 2, 2018


Psalm 23, verse 4:
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.

Saint Pope John Paul II was an example of someone who walked through the valley of the shadow of death and feared no evil. The Lord’s rod and staff sustained him through the nightmare of the Nazis and the Communists. Both were evil empires devoted to the destruction of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all except for the few selected elite.  These empires systematically replaced God with the rule of the chosen ones of the State. People from both the Fatherland and the Motherland sat by and watched the evil grow without taking decisive action, making the adage ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (or women) do nothing.’ Remember to measure our nation and our politics with Gods Rod (Rods were often used in ancient times to measure) and not the political States or the media nor the opinion of the rich and the powerful. Let us be ever ready to speak up for what is righteous using Gods rod, which are His laws of justice and mercy, working tirelessly and remember Saint Pope John Paul II words of encouragement, “I plead with you – never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”

Let us also carry with us for the journey the Staff of God which is truth, not worldly truth but Gods truth. “The word of truth, publicly, indeed almost liturgically, proclaimed was the antidote the Rhapsodic Theater sought to apply to the violent lies of the Occupation. The tools for fighting evil included speaking truth to power.” [1]

9th day of Christmas and the nine lady’s dancing is a sign of the fruits of the Holy Spirit for those who are not afraid:  love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

For Catholics today is the Feast of St. Basil who stated, “

When I think of all this, I am left terrorized and swallowed up with fear that, because of fickleness of heart or preoccupation with things of no importance, I may weaken in my love of God and even become a reason of shame or disorder for Christ.”

Christmas Calendar[2]

Read: Today we read about St. Basil the Great, revered as a Doctor of the Church.

Reflect: "St. Basil, in a much-quoted homily, once declared that the bread we clutch in our hands belongs to the starving, the cloak we keep locked in our closet belongs to the naked, the shoes we are not using belong to the barefooted. In these ways in the post-biblical age Christians strove to keep a religious perspective on their use of material things." 

Pray: As many prepare to return to work today, say a prayer for work.

Act: St. Basil once wrote, "Do everything possible to make yourself worthy of the Kingdom. Do not disdain the invitation you have received" (Exhortation to Baptism, 7-8).

St. Basils Bread[3]

In the Eastern Churches St. Basil's Bread is blessed on his feast day. This blessing has been adapted for home use. The family gathers at the table where the bread is placed along with an icon of St. Basil (if available). The parts marked leader are done by the father or other suitable person.


Leader: Through the prayers of our holy fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us!

All: Amen.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (three times) Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.
Most holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us of our sins. Master, forgive our transgressions. Holy One, come to us and heal our infirmities for Your Name's sake.

Lord, have mercy. (three times)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

Leader: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever.

All: Amen.

Troparion - Tone 1 Your voice resounds throughout the world * which has excepted the lessons so well taught by you. * You have given explanation of divine truths. * You have clarified the nature of created things. * You have made a rule of life for men. * By your royal priesthood, O venerable father Basil, * intercede with Christ to save our souls.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.

Kondakion - Tone 4 O venerable and heavenly inspired Basil, * you were a firm foundation of the Church * by giving to all treasure * and impressing them with your teachings.

Leader: Let us pray to the Lord. All: Lord, have mercy.

Prayer of Blessing

Leader: O Lord, King of the Ages and Creator of all things; You are abounding in mercy and plenteous in goodness! You accepted the gifts of the Wise Men in Bethlehem. You are the Bread of Life Who came down from heaven. You put times and years under Your authority and hold our lives in Your hands. Hear us on this auspicious day of the beginning of this New Year of (name the year) and bless + this sweet bread which is offered for Your glory and honor and in memory of our Father among the Saints Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappodocia. O Generous One, look down from heaven and send down Your heavenly gifts upon us, those who prepared this bread and all who shall partake of it, because we have placed our hope in You, the Eternal Living God! Bless our coming and going, enrich our lives with Your abundant blessings and direct our steps in the working of Your Divine commandments, because we shall not live by bread alone. Through the intercessions of Your all-pure and holy Mother, of our Father amoung the Saints, Basil the Great, and of all Your Saints, who have pleased You over the ages.

All: Amen.

The leader takes a knife and incises the sign of the Cross in the bottom of the loaf. It is then cut. It is eaten after the prayers are complete.

Closing Prayers

All: Lord, have mercy. (three times)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.
More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who, a virgin, gave birth to God the Word, true Birth-giver of God, we magnify you!

Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, circumcised in the flesh, through the prayers of His most pure Mother, of Saint Basil the Great, whom we honor this day and of all the saints, have mercy on us and save us.

All: Amen.

Motivation and Inspiration Day[4]

It’s January 2nd, the beginning of a whole new year, and you’ve just gotten over your hangover—what time could possibly be better to be motivated and inspired? You have a whole 365 days ahead of you, and now is the time to start making them count! Even though to many, January 2nd is in fact just about finally getting over your New Year’s Party hangover, the history of Motivation and Inspiration day is much more somber. National Motivation & Inspiration Day was passed by The United States Congress on December 18th, 2001, after the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. That was when Kevin L. McCrudden became the first and so far, only motivational and leadership speaker to ever have had such a day passed by Congress, acknowledging the importance of “motivation” and “inspiration” in our daily lives. After the tragedy that was September 11th, 2001, McCrudden felt that all Americans needed something to remind them that there were still many things to live on for. The reality was bleak at that time, and many people felt sad, scared or lost—especially those whose family members or friends had gotten killed suddenly in the World Trade Center attacks of just a few months before. McCrudden originally intended for this day to be dedicated to helping people become the best they can be and maximize their potential through the creation of annual goals. The idea caught on quite quickly, and Motivation and Inspiration Day is now celebrated in different places across the world as well as in the United States, encouraging people everywhere to change their lives for the better.

How to Celebrate Motivation and Inspiration Day

There are a few things you can do to celebrate this special day. Firstly, taking into consideration the events of September 11th, 2001 that led to the creation of Motivation and Inspiration Day, it would be good to just spend a minute or two in silence out of respect for the men and women who lost their lives to terrorism so suddenly that day. And then honor their memory by appreciating your own life and making it better! There are many ways to do this. One is to think of someone in your life who inspires you, whether it’s your mother, father, spouse or friend and find a way to show them an appreciation for being who they are. The gesture doesn’t have to be a grand one—take your mother, father or friend out to lunch and talk about their life and what helped to make them as strong as they are, thank them for showing you how to deal with life’s challenges. Buy a nice bottle of wine for your spouse and be sure to spend the evening with him or her, telling them how glad you are to be able to share your life with them. All too often in life, people take their close ones for granted, but we should never miss a chance to tell people who are special and inspirational to us just how much we appreciate them. You can also start doing something you’ve wanted to do for a long time but have kept putting off. Sign up for a martial arts class, start learning a new language, make a list of books to read, or buy a cookbook full of healthy recipes to make for your family instead of eating takeout every evening. Whatever way you decide to celebrate Motivation and Inspiration Day, make sure it changes your life for the better and helps you appreciate life more!

 49 Godly Character Traits[5]

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:

Punctuality vs. Tardiness

Showing high esteem for other people and their time (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

2708 Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.

1866 Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called "capital" because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.

Complete My Joy[6]

God’s Remarkable Plan: Image the Trinity, Domestic Church

7. Let us begin: God has a plan for your good and for your family’s healing, renewal and mission. This is not to say that your family life will look at any point like a sales brochure model! It doesn’t have to. In fact, to an almost comical degree, simply looking at the people the Bible names in the bloodline of Jesus—the difficult and fractured family situations that God used to give us our Savior—should assure all of us that He in no way sees our family situation as irredeemable. Far deeper than the appearances, God wants to increase a profound communion of love in your family that corresponds to the deepest desires of your hearts.

8. Is this truly possible? Yes. How? Because of what you are. I want to remind you here of who and what you are, Catholic families of the Diocese of Phoenix. What you are is beautiful and exciting, at the deepest possible level! And the challenge to become what you are even more is therefore worth our time to discuss, and worth any required sacrifice.

9. A bit of theology is needed here. Theology is pondering God’s mystery, the truth he reveals about Himself. St. John Paul II, in his magnificent 1981 exhortation to the Christian family, The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World, reminded all of us that “the family has the mission to guard, reveal, and communicate love,” and so become “a living reflection of, and a real sharing in God’s love.”2 Through the family, husband and wife—and any children God gives them—are a living image or icon of the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity!

10. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI makes this point even more explicitly when he says, “God is Trinity. The human family is, in a certain sense, the icon of the Trinity because of the love between its members and the fruitfulness of that love.” As the concrete image of God to the world, every family—your family—is, by its nature, a communion of love and life.

11. When the world’s coldness, monotony, or malevolence cause other people to wonder—as they now often do—whether God exists at all, where has He placed the clearest sign that He is indeed present, and that He is love? He placed it in the family, man and woman united in life-long marriage, bringing the child, a fruit of their love or foster/adoptive generosity, into their little community, growing love in the world, growing visible light to counter the darkness.

12. To this awe-inspiring truth—that the little icon of the family images the Trinitarian God in a unique way—we can add this: the Christian family is also the littlest living cell of the Church—the domestic church, in fact. This is another indicator of your dignity and the adventure of your mission! Your home is, and is called to grow, as an outpost of the mission of the Church militant on earth, in union and service with your parish. “Thus, the little domestic Church, like the greater Church, needs to be constantly and intensely evangelized: hence its duty regarding permanent education in the faith…the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates…the future of evangelization depends in great part on the Church of the home.”
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."

Why look around if you carry 'your world' within you?

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

[1] George Wiegel, Witness to Hope, 1999, p66.


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