FEAST OF JUAN DIEGO-CHRISTMAS CARD DAY
Proverbs, Chapter 1, Verse 33
But whoever obeys me dwells in security, in peace, without fear of harm.”
We must move toward inward peace!
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hands of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
In modern times, with all the violence that is going on in the whole world and with America at the center of any response to terror and terrorists, and rogue nations how should we respond? First and foremost, without fear for the Lord is our King. We should search our hearts and seek to retain a heart of peace. Our response must be measured and used with no malice. We must stop evil but not with hatred. We should love the humanity of our enemies, pray for them and do good to them if we can.
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink." (Romans 12:20)
According to the CIA world fact book many of the countries in which we have the greatest troubles have the lowest per capita income per person in the world. For example, per capita in the US is $57,400 a year versus $1700 in North Korea (note the US is 20th in per capita (Hong Kong is 19); it is interesting to note the number one nation in per capita is Liechtenstein (big money launders) at $139,100). Our enemies are hungry and used or abused by ruff creatures of men. Imagine what could happen if we could use the great economic power of this country and other countries of goodwill to raise the good men in these regions up: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty: to empower men of goodwill and remove the ruff creatures of men from power.
716 The People of the "poor" - those who, humble and meek, rely solely on their God's mysterious plans, who await the justice, not of men but of the Messiah - are in the end the great achievement of the Holy Spirit's hidden mission during the time of the promises that prepare for Christ's coming. It is this quality of heart, purified and enlightened by the Spirit, which is expressed in the Psalms. In these poor, the Spirit is making ready "a people prepared for the Lord."
2559 "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or "out of the depths" of a humble and contrite heart? He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer, only when we humbly acknowledge that "we do not know how to pray as we ought," are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. "Man is a beggar before God."
Rediscovering the Faith
Have you been away from the Church? Are you thinking about coming back? Do you know someone who wants to come home to the Catholic Church, but is struggling with their faith? Maybe you or someone you know has experienced one of these thoughts:
· I grew up Catholic, but for some reason I just sort of stopped going to Church…
· I just moved to a new city, I tried going to a couple different parishes, but I never really felt welcomed...
· After my marriage ended, I felt uncomfortable around my family, friends and parish…
· I just don't understand why the Church teaches what it does! Some teachings seem so outdated…
· I tried to contact my parish about getting married, but no one got back to me…
If you have experienced one of these situations or thoughts, you are not alone. The Church wants you to know that you are a child of God, called by name, precious in his eyes and loved by him (Is. 43:1,4). The Church also wants you to know that you are missed. When one member of the Body of Christ suffers, the entire Body of the Church suffers.
This website contains resources to help you rediscover the faith and answer questions about the Church and Church teachings. We invite you to explore this site and contact your local parish.
Octave of the Immaculate Conception
DECEMBER 8. ON this and the following eight days the Church celebrates, with particular solemnity, the immaculate conception of the ever-blessed Virgin Mary, who, from all eternity, was chosen to be the daughter of the heavenly Father, the spouse of the Holy Ghost, the Mother of the divine Redeemer, and, by consequence, the queen of angels and of men. The consideration of these prerogatives convinced the most enlightened fathers and teachers of the Catholic Church that she was conceived immaculate, that is, without original sin. It is very remarkable that among the shining hosts of saints who have, in every century, adorned the Church no one wrote against this belief, while we find it confirmed by the decisions of the holy fathers from the earliest times. Pope Pius IX., forced, as it were, by the faith and devotion of the faithful throughout the world, finally, on December 8, 1854, sanctioned, as a dogma of faith falling within the infallible rule of Catholic traditions, this admirable prerogative of the Blessed Virgin. It is, therefore, now no longer, as formerly, a pious belief, but an article of the faith, that Mary, like the purest morning light which precedes the rising of the most brilliant sun, was, from the first instant of her conception, free from original sin. In the Introit of the Mass the Church sings: “Hail, holy parent, who as a happy mother brought forth the King Who rules heaven and earth from eternity to eternity.” “My heart hath uttered a good word, I speak my works to the King.”
We beseech Thee, O Lord, to bestow on Thy servants the gift of heavenly grace, that, for those to whom the Blessed Virgin’s maternity was the beginning of salvation, the votive solemnity of her immaculate conception may procure increase of peace. Amen.
EPISTLE. Prov. viii. 22-35.
The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His ways, before lie made anything from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived, neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out: the mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth: He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was present: when with a certain law and compass He enclosed the depths: when He established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters: when He compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters that they should not pass their limits: when He balanced the foundations of the earth, I was with Him forming all things; and was delighted every day, playing before Him at all times; playing in the world, and My delights were to be with the children of men. Now, therefore, ye children, hear Me: Blessed are they that keep My ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth Me, and that watcheth daily at My gates, and waiteth at the posts of My doors. He that shall find Me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.
This lesson is, in the literal sense, a eulogy on the divine and uncreated wisdom, which before all things was in God; through which all things were made, disposed, and preserved; which rejoices in its works, and calls upon all its creatures, especially on men, to render to it love and obedience. Most of what is here said is also to be applied to Mary, of whom it may with truth be said that, as the holiest and most admirable of all creatures, she occupies the first place in the heart of God. Therefore, the Church also refers to her those words of the wise man: “I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the first born of all creatures.”
GOSPEL. Luke i. 26-28.
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace: The Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Saint Juan Diego
St Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548). Little is known about the life of Juan Diego before his conversion, but tradition and archaelogical and iconographical sources, along with the most important and oldest indigenous document on the event of Guadalupe, "El Nican Mopohua" (written in Náhuatl with Latin characters, 1556, by the Indigenous writer Antonio Valeriano), give some information on the life of the saint and the apparitions. Juan Diego was born in 1474 with the name "Cuauhtlatoatzin" ("the talking eagle") in Cuautlitlán, today part of Mexico City, Mexico. He was a gifted member of the Chichimeca people, one of the more culturally advanced groups living in the Anáhuac Valley. When he was 50 years old, he was baptized by a Franciscan priest, Fr Peter da Gand, one of the first Franciscan missionaries. On 9 December 1531, when Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. She asked him to go to the Bishop and to request in her name that a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out her grace upon those who invoked her. The Bishop, who did not believe Juan Diego, asked for a sign to prove that the apparition was true. On 12 December, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. Here, the Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find in bloom. He obeyed, and although it was wintertime, he found roses flowering. He gathered the flowers and took them to Our Lady who carefully placed them in his mantle and told him to take them to the Bishop as "proof". When he opened his mantle, the flowers fell on the ground and there remained impressed, in place of the flowers, an image of the Blessed Mother, the apparition at Tepeyac. With the Bishop's permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was placed for veneration. Here he cared for the church and the first pilgrims who came to pray to the Mother of Jesus. Much deeper than the "exterior grace" of having been "chosen" as Our Lady's "messenger", Juan Diego received the grace of interior enlightenment and from that moment, he began a life dedicated to prayer and the practice of virtue and boundless love of God and neighbor. He died in 1548 and was buried in the first chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. He was beatified on 6 May 1990 by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Guadalupe, Mexico City. The miraculous image, which is preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, shows a woman with native features and dress. She is supported by an angel whose wings are reminiscent of one of the major gods of the traditional religion of that area. The moon is beneath her feet and her blue mantle is covered with gold stars. The black girdle about her waist signifies that she is pregnant. Thus, the image graphically depicts the fact that Christ is to be "born" again among the peoples of the New World and is a message as relevant to the "New World" today as it was during the lifetime of Juan Diego.
Things to Do
· Read Pope John Paul II's homily at the canonization of St. Juan Diego.
· Meditate on Our Lady's beautiful words to St. Juan Diego: "Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son; let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also, do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?"
· Cook some Mexican dishes for dinner and bake a Rose Petal Pound Cake or other rose theme for dessert in honor of St. Juan Diego.
· From the Catholic Culture Library:
· Recommended Reading: For children: The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola. For adults: The Wonder of Guadalupe by Francis Johnston.
· For music for Juan Diego's and Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast, see www.savae.org. The San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble have two cds of authentic music by Mexican medieval composers. Very beautiful!
· Visit Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas for detailed accounts on the apparition to Juan Diego.
Christmas Card Day
Way back in 1843, the first commercial Christmas card was created in England by Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant who was responsible for the idea of sending greetings scribbled into the now familiar cards we get around the season of good cheer. Christmas Card Day honors its inventor on the 9th of December. The first ever commercial Christmas card showed a family raising a toast, and in the following year’s designs showing flowers or depicting the promise of spring were favored. Lithograph firm Prang and Mayer started selling their whimsical Christmas cards, often featuring children or cartoon animals, across the pond to America in 1874. By 1880, Prang and Mayer were producing a massive five million cards a year. With so many designs, shapes and sizes, some Christmas cards have become collector’s items which have been known to shift at a pretty penny at auction. One of the world’s first cards, commissioned by Cole and produced by J. C. Horsley, saw the hammer come down at £22,250 in 2001. Another one of Horsley’s cards sold for almost £9000 in 2005 – and if you want to see a big collection of these coveted cards you can drop by the British Museum to see Queen Mary’s early 1900s collection. Today, seasonal cards are posted all over the world and can be found in hundreds of thousands of designs. The most popular messages you’ll find inside a Christmas card are ‘seasons greetings’ and ‘merry Christmas, and a happy new year’ – but many also stick to religious roots by featuring a short biblical verse or a religious blessing.
How to Celebrate Christmas Card Day
· If you’ve got time, it’s always nice to make handmade cards to send out. Get hold of some glitter and a dab of glue and see what you can come up with. The recipients are sure to appreciate it – or if you have children, get them involved in making cards for friends and family! With the advent of e-mail, it’s easier than ever to send Christmas wishes to friends and family across the world – e-cards appeared in the 90s and are frequently used in place of physical cards, so you’ve got no excuse nowadays not to send those season’s greetings. But since nothing beats the real thing, perhaps now is the right time to send out those Christmas cards so they all get to your family and friends before the last post on 23rd December! And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you could always send out some cheery cards to celebrate the coming of the new year!
Ask for the Prayers and assistance of the Angels
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been moved to today.Attend Mass: the
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.