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First Sunday of Advent


Psalm 119, Verse 120
My flesh shudders with dread of you; I fear your judgments.

Samekh (Verses 113-120)[1]
The letter samekh is a prop, support, fulcrum or lever, and it has a meaning of leaning upon something or supporting yourself with something. Leverage and support give stability. The closed circle also represents a shield used for protection. And, it is a visual image of the eternal spiraling of God’s Truth and ever-increasing glory.

113 I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore, I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.

Trusting in a false worldview, like leaning on a splintered staff, will cause chaos and end in disaster. And this is exactly what happens to the double-minded man (113). Only those who are committed to God’s Truth will experience God as their refuge and shield (114), and God is well able to shelter and shield those who hope in his Word. The psalmist wants nothing to do with double-minded evildoers (115) because their ways will neutralize the leverage and support (116, 117) that God’s promises and decrees provide on this earth. The double-minded philosophies of man provide no true support or assistance, but instead splinter and collapse like weak levers, which should be rejected and discarded (118-119). It is an awesome thing to understand the looming danger of worthless worldviews when compared to the awesome potential of God’s word in our temporal world (120).

1040 The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God's justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God's love is stronger than death.


Advent[2]

A sudden announcement that the lord is coming

WHAT does Advent mean?
Advent means the coming, and is used by the Church to represent the four thousand years of preparation for the coming of the Redeemer, and at the same time points us to His second coming as our judge.

When is the season of Advent?
The season of Advent comprises the four weeks preceding Christmas.

When was the first coming of our Redeemer?
When the Son of God was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was made flesh, to sanctify the world by His coming.

Was a redeemer necessary?
Yes; for all men sinned in Adam, and needed to be reconciled to God.

Could not the just under the Old Law be saved before the coming of Christ?
Yes; through the expectation of Him and through His future merits all might be saved under the Old Law who made themselves worthy of the grace of Christ by innocence and penance, though they could not be admitted to heaven until Our Lord’s ascension.

When will be the second coming of Christ?
At the end of the world, when Christ will come with great power and majesty to judge the living and the dead.

Why has the Church appointed the holy season of Advent?

1. That we may consider the wretched state of mankind before the coming of Christ, and bring before our minds the mercy of God, Who sent His only-begotten Son down from heaven for our redemption.
2. That we may prepare ourselves worthily for Christmas, that Christ may then enter our hearts in the fulness of His grace, to renew them and to dwell in them.
3. That we may so prepare ourselves for the second advent that He may be to us a merciful judge. “Watch ye, therefore, because you know not what hour your Lord will come (St. Matt. xxiv. 42).

Prayer.

O God, Who hast brought joy to the world through Thy gracious advent, grant us, we beseech Thee, Thy grace, that we may prepare ourselves by sincere penance for its celebration and for the Last Judgment. Amen.

First Sunday of Advent

THIS is the first day of the ecclesiastical year; on it the Church begins to contemplate the coming of Our Savior, and, with the prophets, to long for Him ; she exhorts the faithful to true penance for their sins, which oppose Christ s entrance into their hearts; she sings, therefore, at the Introit of the Mass, in the words of the psalmist: “To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul.

Prayer.

Raise up Thy power, O Lord, we pray Thee, and come, that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins, and to be saved by Thy deliverance. Amen.

EPISTLE. Rom. xiii. 11-14.

Brethren: Knowing the season, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now, our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is understood here by sleep?
Sin, in which man, as if sunk in a torpor, no longer sees the light of the Gospel, no longer hears the warning of his conscience, neglects the means of salvation, and lives without care, until he awakes, alas! too late, as from a dream.

What is understood by night and day?
By night is to be understood ignorance, infidelity, and sin. The day represents faith, grace, and reconciliation with God.

What are the works of darkness?
All sin, especially that which is unknown to men, but seen and known by God, of Whose grace it deprives us.

What is the armor of light?
It consists in faith, hope, charity, and good works, the spiritual arms with which we have to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil.

What does it mean to put on the Lord Jesus Christ?
It means that Christians should think, speak, and act like Jesus, adorning themselves by the imitation of Him as with precious garments.

Prayer.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who became man for us, grant that we may in all things comply with the admonitions of this epistle; that we may arise from the slumber of our sins, and walk in the light of grace by the diligent performance of good works, and adorn our souls by putting on Thee, through the imitation of Thy virtues.

GOSPEL. Luke xxi. 25-33.

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: There shall be Signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves: men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world, for the powers of heaven shall be moved ; and then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand. And He spoke to them a similitude: See the fig-tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh. So, you also when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away.

Why does the Church cause this Gospel concerning the Last Judgment to be read to-day?
To prepare our hearts by penance for the coming of Jesus as our judge.

What signs shall precede the Last Judgment?
The sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give light, the stars shall fall from heaven; the heavens themselves shall pass away with a great noise, the elements shall melt with heat, and the earth with all that is in it shall be burned up. At the command of God, the world shall be shaken to its center; fearful tempests shall arise; the sea and waves shall roar, and wild struggle and destruction take the place of quiet and order. Men shall wither away with fear, not knowing whither to fly. Then shall appear the holy cross, the sign of the Son of man a terror to sinners who have hated it, a consolation to- those who have loved it.

How will the Last Judgment begin?
At the command of God, the angels, with the round of the trumpet, shall summon all men to judgment (i. These, iv. 15). The bodies and souls of the dead shall be again united, and the wicked shall be separated from the righteous, the just on the right, the wicked on the left (St. Matt. xxv. 33). The angels and the devils will be present, and Christ Himself will appear in a bright cloud with such power and majesty that the wicked, for fear, will not be able to look at Him, but will say to the mountains, “Fall on us,” and to the hills, “Cover us” (St. Luke xxiii. 30).

Why will God hold a general and public judgment?
1. That all may know how just He has been in the particular judgment of each one.
2. That justice may at last be rendered to the afflicted and persecuted, while the wicked who have oppressed the poor, the widow, the orphan, the religious, and yet have often passed for upright and devout persons, may be known in their real characters and be forever disgraced.
3. That Jesus Christ may complete His redemption, and openly triumph over His enemies, who shall see the glory of the Crucified, and tremble at His power.

How will the Last Judgment proceed?
The books will be opened, and from them all men will be judged; all their good and bad thoughts, words, and deeds, even the most secret, known only to God, will be revealed before the whole world, and according to their works men will be rewarded or be damned forever. The wicked shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting (St. Matt. xxv.46).


Exhortation.

The Church, during the season of Advent, reminds thee, O Christian, of the coming of Christ to judgment, that thou mayest with the more zeal apply thyself to profit by His first coming; for they only will be justified and glorified who have acknowledged and received Him as their Redeemer. Examine thyself, therefore, to-day, and during this week, whether thou hast believed in Him, loved Him, admitted Him into thy heart, and kept His holy commands. Begin at once penance and good works, that thou mayest with confidence await the judgment-day of the Lord.

Aspiration.

Thou art just, O Lord! and just is Thy judgment. Oh, penetrate my soul with holy fear, that I may be kept from evil deeds, and incited to good works. Would that I could say, with St. Jerome, “Whether I eat or drink, or whatever I do, it is as if I heard the awful summons of the trumpet, Ye dead, arise, and come to judgment!”

First Sunday of Advent[3]     #Advent

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 lifestyle 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)


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 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.

World AIDS Day[5]


World AIDS Day serves to remember those who have died from AIDS and to bring about awareness of HIV/AIDS through education and publicly held events. HIV is a virus that attacks the body's immune system and makes it progressively more difficult to fight infections and diseases. Once HIV advances and becomes so severe that the body's immune system is too weak to fight off many infections and diseases, it is called AIDS. There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS and if left untreated by antiretroviral medication, patients' immune systems fail leading to death. World AIDS Day is also an opportunity for people to show their support for people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is one of the eight WHO Global Health Days. The day was created by the World Health Organization in 1988. Since its inception over two decades ago, the world has managed to halt and reverse the spread of HIV. According to the WHO, the occurrence of new cases has decreased 35% between 2000 and 2015, while AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 24% over the same time frame, all thanks to antiretroviral treatments and widespread AIDS education and awareness. World AIDS Day is observed on December 1st of each year.

World AIDS Day Facts

·         The Red Ribbon is the universal symbol of support for those living with HIV/AIDS.
·         The AIDS Memorial Quilt Project allows friends and family members of someone who has died from AIDS to construct a quilt panel and have it placed in the quilt. The quilt travels and is displayed throughout the US.
·         The first case of what is now known as AIDS was reported in the US in June 1981.
·         According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than a million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 5 are unaware of their infection.
·         According to World Health Organization, AIDS has claimed over 39 million lives globally.

World AIDS Day Top Events and Things to Do

·         Wear a Red Ribbon, an international symbol of AIDS support.
·         Learn the facts of how HIV is transmitted so you can be better prepared. Remember, HIV is spread through body fluids such as blood, semen, rectal and vaginal fluids and breast milk.
·         Get involved in a fundraising effort to support research into HIV/AIDS treatment. Many fundraisers are done in the form of HIV/AIDS day walks.
·         Watch a movie or documentary about HIV/AIDS. Some popular suggestions: Dallas Buyers Club (2013), Philadelphia Story (1993), Longtime Companion (1990), The Age of AIDS (2006) and AIDS, Inc (2007).
·         Get tested if unsure of your infection status. Local pharmacies sell HIV home test kits, or you can find free testing sites in most areas.

Walt Disney Day[1]

Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.

The name Disney is known all over the world and is the brand name of characters and stories that are cherished and beloved the world over. Behind all of this wonder, the voices of Mickey Mouse and the seemingly endless parade of characters that the company put out was the vision of one man, Walter Elias Disney. Known to his friends, which he would consider all of us, as Walt. Walt Disney Day celebrates this incredible man and the joy and laughter he brought to the world. It is perhaps no mistake that Walt Disney was born in 1901, right at the turning of the century. He would go on to turn the entire world around, changing the face of cinema and entertainment through the introduction of his incredible cast of animated characters. Born in Chicago, Walt would move multiple times throughout his life, first in 1906 to a family farm in Missouri, again in 1911 to Kansas City where he would attend grammar school. His career as an artist and illustrator would get its start in 1919 when he returned from World War I during which he served as part of the Red Cross. It would be 1928 before Mickey Mouse came into the world, the result of a sketch being done while he was on a bus. It quickly became the centrepiece of the Disney Empire, which would grow rapidly to become one of the most important names in family entertainment in the world. 90 years later Disney is a name known around the world for its beloved characters, exciting theme parks, and most recently it’s ownership of Star Wars.

How to celebrate Walt Disney Day

The best way to celebrate Walt Disney Day is to get in and watch as many Disney films as you can cram into a single day, especially if you’ve never seen them before. If you’re one of those who grew up with Walt Disney as the heart of your childhood experience, then this is a perfect opportunity to take a walk down memory lane. Get together a bunch of themed food and sweets and enjoy your day with a group of friends, because Disney has always been about family.

5 Disney movies with religious messages[2]

Disney movies are a well-known and well-loved part of most people's childhood. These stories talk and teach us things, like believing in ourselves and follow our dreams. Recently, the stories inspire courage and kindness, as well as forms of "true love." But viewers may have missed something; these popular Disney stories have religious messages.

1. Snow White is a Christian princess.
Released in 1937, the first animated story Disney made is actually about a Christian princess. It may not be explicit, but Snow White was shown briefly, praying with her head bowed down and hands clasped, asking for God's blessing to the seven dwarfs that had shown kindness to her.


2. Simba is The Prodigal Son.
The youngest son in the parable is just like Simba, King Mufasa's son who just enjoys the life of a prince. But once he realizes the part he played in his father's death, he runs away and lives with animals eating grubs. Discarding the "Hakuna Matata" lifestyle, he goes back home to face the responsibilities waiting for him.

3. Rapunzel, in Tangled, symbolizes our humanity.
Like many of the characters in the Bible, the trapped princess was able to live through the darkness in her life and find the light that sets her free. Every year following her kidnapping by the witch, who represents the devil, her parents lit up the sky through lanterns helping her find her way back home. And like God, they never got tired of doing it.

4.  God's grace in Cinderella.
We might think of this heroin as not exactly the type to look up to: most the time she just lets everyone tell her what to do. She may not have deserved the happy ending she got, because she relied solely on her fairy godmother. However, the point of God's grace is it's undeserved, as depicted in the Bible stories.

5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame involves God the most.
This could be a bit of an exaggeration, as described in crosswalk.com. But remember, the beginning of the story tells of the villain wanting to kill a baby but stopped by the Church, one way the Holy Spirit works. The heroine later sings to God, how prayer should really be. Believing he's better than others, the villain constantly clashes with his faith. Whether it is intentional or not, aren't we glad Disney incorporates God and Christianity in its stories? These scenes are rarely seen in movies, so you might want to do a re-watch. You'll never see your favorite movies the same again.


[1]https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/walt-disney-day/
[2]https://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=59303Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         54 Day Rosary day 31
·         Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after SUNSET ON SATURDAY till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.
Meditate on Creation





[1]http://galynwiemers.blogspot.com/2011/12/leverage-from-word-samekh-psalm-119113.html
[2] Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.
[4]https://www.wincalendar.com/Advent



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