Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Proverbs, Chapter 23, Verse 17-18
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but only those who always fear the LORD; 18 For you will surely have a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
Those whom one admires or associates with exercise enormous influence. Do not join the wicked, who are a doomed group. Nor desire to be with them for the mind is a terrible thing to waste. Let your hope be in Christ.
Vision: Hope for a Preferred Future
Leaders understand the importance of their minds to the future of their organizations. Consider some of the timeless principles offered in Proverbs 23 about our minds and a godly vision for tomorrow:
1. Your thoughts determine your character.
2. Be careful of your thoughts; they may break into words at any time.
3. Don’t waste your thoughts on those who don’t hunger for them.
4. The first person you lead is you, and the first organ you master is your mind.
5. Don’t let your mind drift away from God’s truth and into vain envy.
6. Stay confident that your vision will come to pass.
7. Discipline your thoughts to remain steadfast in what you know is right.
A special devotion that can be performed during Advent to prepare for the coming of the Infant Savior. It can be adapted for adults and/or children and applied as is appropriate to your state in life.
· 13th day, December 23rd: THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY—Chastity Pray much today for the virtue of holy purity. Guard your eyes, ears, tongue, and. heart. Pray fervently: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Every Christmas although the same in many ways is always new for each Christmas expresses a hope learned from a lifetime of praising God. For every Christmas if we open our eyes to truth we will see the handiwork of God; the rock of our salvation. Perhaps in these final days of anticipation it would do us well to reflect on the virtues of Mary Christ’s very own mother and in these final days in some way reflect them in our own lives.
Temperance the power of the soul
THE Church teaches us that the Christian must all submit in expiation of our sins. Our divine Redeemer Himself impressed upon us this great truth when He said: "Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish." (Luke xiii. 3.)
The object of penance is, in the first place, to lead us to refrain ourselves, in so far as reason and faith demand, from the inordinate desire of sensual pleasure, to which our fallen nature is inclined. So strong is this inclination, that we are ever in danger of falling into the slough of vice. How many Christians, alas, by following their unbridled imagination, lose both soul and body together!
Wherefore, Holy Church imposes upon us the obligation of fasting, putting us in mind of the advantages which accrue from this salutary penance to which we practice. Fasting, in effect, "represses vices, raises our thoughts heavenward, makes easy the practice of virtue, and is a constant source of merit." (Preface for Lent.)
As Mary was not tainted with original sin, she did not experience in herself this disorderly proneness to the pleasures of sense, the baneful consequence of the sin of our first parents. Being full of grace, she maintained always the just balance of the powers of her soul. She performed all her actions with ease and delight, not having to use violence with herself, in order to preserve that even poise of the faculties, which reason arid the law of God demand. Nevertheless, Mary subjected herself willingly to the law of penance and mortification, denying herself those. Her life was one long series of privations and self-denials. Her fasting and abstinence was continual. She only allowed herself what was necessary to maintain life. She mortified all her senses, so that it was hard to say in what particular kind of mortification she excelled, in modesty of the eyes, in lowliness of demeanor, in the sparingness of her words or in the dignity of her gestures. It was natural, then, that her Heavenly Bridegroom should find in her all His delight. And as the fruit of this temperance, Mary acquired an extraordinary facility in conversing familiarly with her Well-Beloved, a heavenly joy which was depicted on her countenance, a virginal beauty which radiated from her whole presence, a something so indescribably sweet and majestic, that it gave to her an aspect rather divine than human: "How beautiful art thou my love, how beautiful art thou! Thine eyes are as doves' eyes, besides what is hid within!" (Cant. iv, 1.)
Reflect: "To be fully a disciple of Jesus means not only accepting and believing his message, but also taking up and participating in the mission of encountering and inviting others to join our pilgrim journey to his heavenly kingdom." —His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
Pray: Add this "O Antiphon" to your daily or meal-time prayer today: "O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!" (Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, Revised Edition, 77)
Act: Pope Francis said of evangelization: "It is not the mission of only a few, but it is mine, yours and our mission." Carry the lessons learned about evangelization into the Christmas season and beyond.
· Decide which Mass you will attend tomorrow.
The Three Feasts of the Nativity
When we celebrate Christmas, we are commemorating the three nativities of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the reason for the three Masses celebrated. The first is the eternal begetting of God the Son from all eternity within the mystery of the Blessed Trinity by the Father, “You are My Son. Today I have begotten You.”
· This first nativity was before the seven days of Creation, when everything was darkness. This is why the first Mass is at midnight to recall the darkness that prevailed during that first eternal birth of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
o The first nativity reminds us of the Spirit of poverty, the Spirit that tells us that all the things God created is His, to be used for His glory and not for man’s enjoyment. Even man was to use himself for the glory of God. This represents the six days of creation. If Adam, being the head of creation, had observed the spirit of poverty and used all of creation for the glory of God, then he would have entered into the Sabbath, God’s rest… i.e. eternal happiness. But Adam messed up everything. And the consequence: the whole of mankind could not enter God’s rest.
· The second nativity, or birth, of the Second Person of the Trinity is commemorated on Christmas day when He became man, born of the Virgin Mary, in Bethlehem. For the world, the darkness was beginning to be dispelled. This is why the second Mass is celebrated at dawn when the dawn is beginning to dispel the darkness.
o The second nativity reminds us of the Spirit of chastity. That Spirit reminds us to give up all physical comforts, pleasure and conveniences. And Christ in the manger is a clear example of this. It is a continuous reminder that true happiness can only be found in God and that we are on earth to seek God. All the rest will come with that find. True rest can only be found in God.
· The third nativity of Christ is when He is born in our souls, through His in-dwelling, when man, through grace, becomes enlightened. Thus, the third Mass is celebrated during the day when the sun is bright. For man is truly enlightened when he has Christ in his soul.
o The third nativity reminds us of the Spirit of obedience. It is only when we can say, “Not my will but Your will be done,” can Christ be born in our souls. The apostolic commission at the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel reiterates this, reminding us of the role of the Church and the men of the Church: “… teach all My commands and how to observe them.”
Christmas reminds us of one lesson. Christ was born to die. For us the message is clear. We are born to die to oneself. And to die to oneself means reaching a point in our lives when we no longer do our own will but the will of the Father in heaven. This is to lose one’s life in order to find it. If we have learned the lessons of the first nativity, if we have learned the lesson of the second nativity, our reward is the third nativity, when Christ is born in our souls…. indeed, our eternal Christmas. This is truly a Merry Christmas.
— Excerpted from Fr. Odon de Castro, Bo. San Isidro, Magalang, Pampanga, Philippines
Ask for the Prayers and assistance of the Angels
John Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.