Psalm 119, Verse 74
Those who fear you rejoice to see me, because I hope in your word.
This section of the Psalm begins with the Hebrew letter Yodh, which is a symbol of a cupped or bent hand. The image may also be of a closed fist or a hand that is holding something. It indicates power or guidance.
73 Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.
74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.
75 I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.
78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts.
79 May those who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes.
80 May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.
The psalmist uses the fact that he has been made and formed by God as the basis for asking God to help him understand his Word (73). He is a man in affliction caused by other men who unjustly come against him (78) and who are the enemies of Truth since they reject the Word of God and in their arrogance advance their own plans and the world’s views. In this unjust affliction the psalmist realizes that the creator who formed him with His hands still holds him and has allowed this undeserved affliction through the hands of men (75-76). He counts on God’s unfailing love and compassion to comfort him and allow him to live (76-77). The result will be that other men who fear God will rejoice when they see the psalmist’s deliverance by the hand of God (74). The arrogant who oppose God’s Word will be put to shame (78), while those who renew their minds by meditating on God’s Word will continue to find comfort in the midst of their afflictions (78, 75, 76).
Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days in the United States. It is marked by massive crowds and discounted prices that mean the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Black Friday events in the United States date back to 1932. There are two ideas as to the origin of the name Black Friday, the first one is thought to have originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the burden of traffic that left black track marks on roads. The second claims that Black Friday may also have stemmed from business accounting in the 1930s. During this time, businesses noted losses using red ink and their profits in black ink. Therefore, Black Friday may have been used to imply that businesses became profitable on this day as they go from being in the red to the black. Black Friday is the fourth Friday of November or the day after Thanksgiving Day in the US.
Black Friday Facts & Quotes
• According to IBM, for the first time in history smartphones and tablets outpaced desktop computers for generating consumer traffic to websites during Black Friday in 2015.
• According to consumerreports.org, heavily discounted televisions and other electronic items sold on Black Friday can be derivative models. Derivatives are products that have been manufactured specifically for sale at events like Black Friday. These products vary in specifications, quality and have less features than standard merchandise sold all-year long.
• Mall of America, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the largest mall in the US with 4,870,000 square feet retail space and more than 520 stores. The mall is also home to the largest indoor amusement park in the US.
• With a net worth of more than $136 billion, the six @Wal-Mart heirs own more wealth than the bottom 42% of Americans. #BlackFriday , @Walmart shouldn’t be allowed to pay workers wages so low that many qualify for Medicaid, food stamps, and government housing. #BlackFriday . - Tweets by Senator Bernie Sanders in 2015
Black Friday Top Events and Things to Do
• Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude. Given that Black Friday follows Thanksgiving Day, use this day to spread gratitude and cheer to others. If you have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving Day, then use it to make sandwiches. You and your family can deliver these to the homeless people in your community.
• Hours before Black Friday sales, most retailers send emails and secret offers to their subscribers. Sign up and subscribe to your favorite retailers mailing list before this date. Most stores will also send coupons specifically to use for Black Friday.
• Make sure you have sufficient funds in cash or on credit cards. Given that many will be shopping on Black Friday, ATM machines may run out of funds or bank networks can be down intermittently. Make sure to carry some cash in case this happens.
• In 2015, more than 11 states across the U.S. provided free access to State Parks. Rather than Black Friday shopping, explore the great outdoors with free passes to State Parks. Our top parks picks:
1) Olympic Park, Washington
2) Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California
3) Nickerson State Park, Massachusetts
• Carpool or take an Uber to your favorite shopping destination. There will be limited parking space available on Black Friday and some bus routes will be operating on a holiday schedule.
Advent begins Sunday-get ready
It may seem strange that in a calendar with only one annual cycle of readings, two of the Sundays share virtually the same Gospel; and it may seem stranger still that these two Sundays occur consecutively. The Gospel for the Last Sunday of Pentecost, taken from St. Matthew, contains Christ's twofold description of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the world. That same speech reemerges the following week on the First Sunday of Advent, though in the abridged form that appears in the Gospel of Luke. Why this redundancy?
The answer to this question teaches us much about the season of Advent. Advent (from the Latin word for "coming") is generally considered to be the sober yet joyful time of preparation for the Lord's nativity, and rightfully so. This is the beginning of the Church year that corresponds to the ages before Christ, when the world pined away in darkness, waiting for the Messiah. It is also why the closer we come to the Feast of the Nativity, the more we are called by the liturgy to reflect on the events that led up to it, e.g., the Annunciation, the Visitation, and so on. And it is why the season of Advent is marked by an ever-greater urgency in its prayers, begging the Lord to come and tarry not. Yet like the closing Sundays after Pentecost, which strike a predominantly apocalyptic note, the season of Advent also goads us to prepare for the glorious Second Coming of the Lord at the end of time. That is why the last and first Sundays of the liturgical year have the same divine admonition: one is picking up where the other left off. This focus remains throughout Advent, despite the season's increased attention on the Christ Child: in fact, during Advent the traditional Roman Rite frequently speaks of both in the same breath. This double commemoration of the first and second Comings makes sense, since the prophets themselves never distinguished between the two.
Yet there is a more profound reason behind the conflation. The Church is teaching us that in order to be ready for the Lord's triumphant return as Judge of the living and the dead, we must prepare as our holy fathers once did for His nativity. The lessons we learn from the season of Advent are to be applied throughout our lives in preparation for our soul's Bridegroom. By liturgically preparing for the Nativity of our Lord, soberly and vigilantly, we prepare ourselves for the Final Judgment.
Thus, Advent is a season marked by a pious gravitas. Yet it should not be overlooked that it is also a time of restrained joy. The more we are prepared for our Lord's coming, the more we will truly welcome it, moving beyond our well-deserved sense of unworthiness to an exultation in His arrival. In the collect for the Vigil of the Nativity, for example, we read: "Grant that we who now joyfully receive Thine only-begotten Son as our Redeemer, may also, without fear, behold Him coming as our Judge."
The goal that the Church holds up for us during this important season is to have our hearts so ready for Christ that they will do nothing but leap for joy when we appear before Him. Let us therefore prepare for our Redeemer and our beloved Judge by heeding St. Paul's advice through Advent, casting off the works of darkness, putting on the armor of light, and draping ourselves in the virtues and graces poured forth upon us by almighty God.
Advent wreath and calendar
Many Catholics may be surprised to learn that the Advent wreath actually came from Lutherans living in east Germany. Yet though this custom is relatively recent as far as tradition goes, it has rightly earned a place of prominence among our Advent customs. A simple wreath made of evergreen (yew or fir or laurel) is adorned with four candles equidistant from each other. These candles may be of any color: in some European countries they are all white, though in the U.S. they generally correspond to the liturgical colors of the four Sundays of Advent (three purple and one pink or rose).
In a dark room, a purple candle is lit on the First Sunday of Advent, another on the Second, the rose candle on the Third Sunday (in commemoration of Gaudete Sunday), and the last purple candle on the Fourth Sunday. Thus, all four candles will be lit for the week before Christmas.
There is no formal ceremony for the lighting of the wreath or for the prayers that are said around it; there is not even an official Roman formula for blessing the wreath. Catholic families simply pray together for a holy preparation and a holy Christmas, concluding with a traditional Advent hymn. The symbolism of the Advent wreath is simple but effective. The wreath, with its crown-like character, reminds us of the King, while its circular shape betokens the "fulfillment of time" that both Comings bring about. The candles, on the other hand, represent the prophets whose inspired words pierced the darkness under which mankind groaned while waiting for the Messiah; they also represent the elects' hearts burning for Christ.
Another popular Advent custom, also from Germany, creates a similar build-up of anticipation. Advent calendars are colorful pieces of cardboard on which is depicted a many-windowed house. Behind the shutters of each house is a picture or symbol that points to the coming of Christmas. Beginning December 1, the children are allowed to open the shutters of one window per day. Finally, on December 24, the front door of the house is opened, showing the nativity.
The Jesse Tree dates back to the middle ages and came from Europe. Even some ancient cathedrals have Jesse Tree designs in their stained-glass windows. The "tree" is usually a branch or sapling and is decorated with various symbols that remind us of the purpose and promises of God from Creation to the Birth of Jesus Christ. Jesse was the father of King David and God promised David that his Kingdom would last forever. Two centuries after the death of King David, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2) Each Jesse Tree ornament usually consists of a handmade symbol or drawing that represents one of the major stories of the Old Testament along with a brief verse of Scripture from that story.
Jesse Tree Ornaments
Jesse Tree Scriptures (The Symbols Are Only Suggestions)
December 1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbols: sun, moon, stars, animals, earth
December 2 Adam and Eve: Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24 Symbols: tree, man, woman
December 3 Fall of Man: Gen. 3:1-7 and 23-24 Symbols: tree, serpent, apple with bite
December 4 Noah: Gen. 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6-22 Symbols: ark, animals, dove, rainbow
December 5 Abraham: Gen. 12:1-3 Symbols: torch, sword, mountain
December 6 Isaac: Gen. 22:1-14 Symbols: bundle of wood, altar, ram in bush
December 7 Jacob: Gen. 25:1-34; 28:10-15 Symbols: kettle, ladder
December 8 Joseph: Gen. 37:23-28; 45:3-15 Symbols: bucket, well, silver coins, tunic
December 9 Moses: Ex. 2:1-10 Symbols: baby in basket, river and rushes
December 10 Samuel: 1 Sam. 3:1-18 Symbols: lamp, temple
December 11 Jesse: 1 Sam. 16:1-13 Symbols: crimson robe, shepherd's staff
December 12 David: 1 Sam. 17:12-51 Symbols: slingshot, 6-pointed star
December 13 Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28 Symbols: scales of justice, temple, two babies and sword
December 14 Joseph: Matt. 1:18-25 Symbols: hammer, saw, chisel, angle
December 15 Mary: Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38 Symbols: lily, crown of stars, pierced heart
December 16 John the Baptist: Mark 1:1-8 Symbols: shell with water, river
On December 17, the Church begins to intensify the preparation for Christmas with the use of the "O" Antiphons during the Liturgy of the Hours. The symbols for the Jesse Tree from December 17 to 23 are based on the "O" Antiphons.
December 17 Jesus is Wisdom: Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus in old Bibles) 24:2; Wisdom 8:1 Symbols: oil lamp, open book
December 18 Jesus is Lord: Ex. 3:2; 20:1 Symbols: burning bush, stone tablets
December 19 Jesus is Flower of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1-3 Symbols: flower, plant with flower
December 20 Jesus is Key of David: Isaiah 22:22 Symbols: key, broken chains
December 21 Jesus is the Radiant Dawn: Psalm 19:6-7 (in older Bibles this will be Psalm 18) Symbols: sun rising or high in sky
December 22 Jesus is King of the Gentiles: Psalm 2:7-8; Ephesians 2:14-20 Symbols: crown, scepter
December 23 Jesus is Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14; 33:22 Symbols: tablets of stone, chalice and host
December 24 Jesus is Light of the World: John 1:1-14 Symbols: candle, flame, sun
Activity Source: Jesse Tree Kit, A by Betsy Walter, Pauline Books and Media, Boston, MA, 1983
· Octave of Christ the King
ü I plan to attend Mass daily or via EWTN or the internet
ü Mediate on the virtues of Mary (Humility, Generosity, Chastity, Patience, Temperance, Understanding/love and Wisdom. One for each day.
ü Fast doing the Daniel fast (Monday-Saturday).
ü Exercise-Universal Man Plan.