FEAST OF ST THOMAS-WINTER SOLSTICE
Proverbs, Chapter 19, Verse 23
The fear of the LORD leads to life; one eats and sleeps free from any harm.
A genuine relationship with God is based on love, not fear. The gift of fear of the Lord enables a person “to avoid sin and attachment to created things out of reverence and love of God.” Primarily, this gift entails a profound respect for the majesty of God who is the Supreme Being. Here, a person realizes his “creatureliness” and dependency upon God, has a true “poverty of spirit,” and never would want to be separated from God, who is love.
As such, this gift arouses in the soul a vibrant sense of adoration and reverence for God and a sense of horror and sorrow for sin. This gift of fear of the Lord is sometimes misunderstood because of the word “fear.” “Fear of the Lord” is not a servile fear whereby a person serves God simply because he fears punishment, whether some sort of temporal punishment in this life or the eternal punishment of hell.
Therefore, this “fear of the Lord” is a filial or reverential fear that moves a person to do God’s will and avoid sin because of love for God, who is all good and deserving of all of our love. In a similar way, a child should not be motivated to obey a parent simply because of fear of punishment, but because of love and respect; a person who loves someone does not want to disappoint or to break the other person’s heart. One should fear hurting a loved one and violating that person’s trust more than one should fear punishment.
Nevertheless, one should have a healthy sense of fear for the punishment due to sin, including the fires of hell, even though this should not be the motivating factor for loving God.
Therefore, this gift motivates the person in three ways:
· first, to have a vivid sense of God’s infinite greatness;
· second, to have a real sorrow for sin, even venial sins, and to do penance to atone for sins committed;
· third, to be vigilant to avoid the near occasions of sin, to struggle against personal weakness and fight temptation.
The gift of fear brings to perfection the virtue of hope. A person respects God as God trusts in His will, and anchors his life in Him. He approaches the Lord with humility, docility and obedience. He believes in His promises of forgiveness of sin and eternal life in heaven. Also, this gift is the launchpad for the other gifts. As sacred Scripture attests, “Happy the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands” (Ps 112:1), and “the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord” (Sir 1:12).
This gift also perfects the virtue of temperance, which seeks to use all things wisely and in moderation, neither in excess nor in defect, especially those sensible pleasures. With reason enlightened by faith, temperance controls the passions. Temperance is related to the gift of fear because one’s respect for God, and one’s awareness of being made in His image and likeness, and being redeemed by Christ motivate a person to give glory to God by being temperate in actions and desires, not using, doing, or indulging in anything to excess or defect. For example, chastity is a virtue of temperance, which respects the goodness of one’s own sexuality, the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of marital love.
A person moved by the gift of fear strives to live a chaste life because God is the creator of these goods, and a chaste life gives glory and praise to Him. This gift also prevents us from being too familiar with God. We are the victims of original sin and suffer from concupiscence; therefore, each of us struggles with a rebellious heart. A person could easily take God’s love for granted and presume forgiveness without real contrition; or forget God’s majesty by taking His holy name in vain; or make demands of God and then be angry when He does not meet them; or forget that every gift is from God and be selfish; or neglect prayer and worship because there is not enough time for Him; or disregard God’s commandments and the teachings of His church. And without fear of the Lord, such a person might say, “God loves me just the way I am, and I am going to heaven.” One has to ask, “Does such a person really love God?” While the Lord will never spurn a humble and contrite heart, He will humble the haughty.
A good way to cultivate this gift is through
1. Daily prayer and worship at Mass.
2. Regular and careful examinations of conscience also are important, as well as the regular use of the sacrament of penance.
3. Meditating on the infinite majesty of God.
Ember Saturday"Holy impatience" over the coming of the Lord, both in the manger and in glory at the end of time.
Psalm 147:12, 16-17 "Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem: praise thy God, O Sion. Who giveth snow like wool: scattereth mists like ashes. He sendeth his crystal-like morsels: who shall stand before the face of his cold?"
Read Explore the benefits of going to confession during Advent.
Reflect "If we say that we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 Jn 1:10).
Pray Add this "O Antiphon" to your daily or meal-time prayer today: "O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness." (Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, Revised Edition, 76)
Act Make going to confession a priority before Christmas.
Feast of St. Thomas
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Thomas, now celebrated July 3.
THOMAS, also called Didymus, or the twin, was a fisherman of Galilee. After having been received among the apostles he accompanied Jesus in all His journeys, and uniformly showed docility, zeal, and love towards Him, particularly on the occasion of His going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. For when the apostles were afraid to go thither, because the Jews desired to kill Jesus, Thomas, full of courage, said, “Let’s also go, that we may die with Him” (John xi. 16). His faith, indeed, wavered for a moment in regard to the resurrection of Christ but no sooner had Christ satisfied him thereof by showing His wounds, than he cried out with firm faith, My Lord and my God. St. Gregory thereupon says, “God overruled the doubting of Thomas to our good, since that very doubt has profited us more than the ready belief of the other disciples, inasmuch as thereby Christ was induced to give so much clearer proofs of His resurrection, in order to confirm us in the belief of it. Thomas showed the firmness of his faith by the innumerable labors which he undertook, and by the sufferings that he endured for Christ. He traversed the most extensive and remote countries, and preached Jesus to the Armenians, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Hyrcardans, Bactrians, and other barbarous and wicked nations, enduring in the course of his labors, with astonishing firmness, the greatest sufferings for the honor of God and the salvation of men. Finally, he came to India, when, in the city of Calamina, or Meliapor, he underwent a glorious martyrdom, being pierced through with lances, by order of the idolatrous priests, as he was praying at the foot of the cross. So much did the apostle do to repair a single fault but we, who every day commit so many what do we do to repair them?
The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year as the Northern Hemisphere is angled the farthest away from the Sun on this day.
Winter Solstice Facts
· On the Winter Solstice, there are 24 hours of sunlight in the Antarctic Circle, and 24 hours of darkness in the Arctic Circle.
· Many pagan rituals have revolved around the Winter Solstice. The short days and long hours of darkness prompted rituals intended to lure the Sun back.
· 10 inches of snow melt down into only 1 inch of rain.
Winter Solstice Top Events and Things to Do
· Eat more Vitamin-D rich foods to balance out the lack of sunlight.
· Light some candles and enjoy the early evening.
· Finish some last-minute Christmas shopping.
· Purchase a Christmas tree. Tip: For a more environmentally friendly Christmas, purchase a Live trees in a burlap root sack that can be planted after the holiday.
· Watch the lunar eclipse which happens within several days of the winter solstice.
Short Girl Appreciation Day My wife is 5’1’
There’s something about a short girl, that delightfully compact and curvy phenomena that happens when a blessing of genetics realizes that less is more. It seems like evolution did them a favor and made up for their lack of vertical stature by packing those delightful frames with enough vim and vinegar to take on the world. They may be physically smaller, but they sure seem to live larger. Short Girls are all the rage, and Short Girl Appreciation Day is our opportunity to raise them up above the crowds.
How to celebrate Short Girl Appreciation Day
· No matter who you are, you have to hand it to the Short Girls (if only because they can’t reach it themselves.)
· Let Short Girl Appreciation Day be your inspiration to truly let these compact little gems know how much you appreciate them.
· Take your favorite short girl out to lunch, buy them a step-stool, or just generally let them know how awesome they are.
· If you know one of these beauties that is suffering from standard short-girl problems, then you can take this opportunity to help them out with that. To really let them know how fantastic they are, you can also organize a party for your favorite pack of short-girls themed around those things that are small. Tiny cakes and cookies, even meals in small portions (but make sure there’s a lot of them, short girls can pack it away when they get a hunger on), and round it all up with a short girl fashion show.
· It’s bound to be interesting since so many of them have to shop in the children’s section!
One wonders if Mary was a short girl
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 (Humility, Generosity, and Chastity) of Mary Christ’s very own mother and in these final days in some way reflect them in our own lives.
Chastity a pouring out of the soul to God
After the fall of Adam, man's senses became rebellious to reason. As a consequence, chastity is the most difficult of all the virtues to practice. Saint Augustine says: "Of all inner conflicts the most arduous are concerned with chastity. These battles are of daily occurrence, but victory is rare." however, Mary is a shining example of this virtue. Saint Sophronius replies: "God chose a pure virgin for his mother, that she might be an example of chastity to everybody." That is why Saint Ambrose calls Mary "the standard-bearer of virginity." Because of Mary's purity the Holy Spirit declared that she is as beautiful as the turtledove: Your cheeks are beautiful as the turtledove's (Cant 1:9). "A most pure turtledove" is what Aponius calls her. She inspired everybody who saw her with chaste thoughts. Saint Thomas confirms this when he says that the beauty of the Blessed Virgin incited to chastity all who looked at her. Saint Jerome maintains that Saint Joseph remained a virgin as a result of living with Mary. Saint Gregory of Nyssa says that the Blessed Virgin loved chastity so much, that to preserve it she would have been willing to renounce even the dignity of Mother of God. This seems evident from her reply to the archangel: How shall this happen, since I do not know man? (Lk 1:34). And from the words she added then: Be it done to me according to your word (Lk 1:38), signifying that she gave her consent on the condition that, as the angel had assured her, she should become a mother only by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Saint Ambrose says that "anyone who preserves chastity is an angel; anyone who loses it is a devil." Our Lord assures us that those who are chaste become angels: They...shall be as the angels of God in heaven (Mt 22:30). But the unchaste become hateful to God, like devils. Saint Remigius used to say that the majority of adults are lost by this vice. We have quoted Saint Augustine as saying that a victory is very seldom gained in this combat. Why is this? Because the means by which the victory may be gained are very seldom used. These means are threefold, according to Bellarmine and the masters of the spiritual life: fasting, the avoidance of dangerous occasions of sin, and prayer.
1. By fasting we mean especially mortification of the eyes and the appetite. Although our Blessed Lady was filled with divine grace, she nevertheless practiced mortification of the eyes, according to Saint Epiphanius and Saint John Damascene. Her glances were always modest, and she never gazed fixedly at anyone. She was so unassuming, even from childhood, that everyone who saw her was charmed by her reserve. Saint Luke remarks that when she went to visit Elizabeth, she went with haste (Lk 1:39), in order to avoid the public gaze. Saint Gregory of Tours maintains that she fasted throughout her life. Saint Bonaventure explains this: "Mary would never have found so much grace if she had not been moderate in her meals, for grace and gluttony do not go together." In short, Mary was mortified in everything, so that it was true to say of her: My hands dripped with myrrh (Cant 5:5).
2. The second means is avoidance of the occasions of sin: He that is aware of the snares shall be secure (Prov 11:15). Saint Philip Neri coined the expression: "In the war of the senses, cowards conquer." By cowards he means those who flee from dangerous occasions. Mary fled as much as possible from the gaze of men. Remember Saint Luke's remark that, in going to visit Elizabeth, Mary went with haste into the hill country. One author calls attention to the fact that Our Lady left Elizabeth before Saint John was born: And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her own house. Now Elizabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be delivered, and she brought forth a son (Lk 1:56-57). Why did Mary not wait for Saint John's birth? Because she wanted to avoid the hubbub and excitement that usually accompany such an event.
3. The third means is prayer. The Wise Man said: And as I knew that I could not otherwise be continent except God gave it...I went to the Lord and besought him (Wis 8:21). Mary revealed to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary that she did not acquire any virtue without effort and without continual prayer. Saint John Damascene calls our Immaculate Mother "a lover of purity." She cannot endure those who are content to be unchaste. And if anybody appeals to her to be delivered from unchastity she will certainly help him. All he has to do is call upon her confidently. The Venerable John of Ávila used to say that many have conquered impure temptations merely through devotion to Mary Immaculate.
The Battle of the Soul and Flesh
Beginning with Cain and Abel, there have been children of God who obeyed God's commandments, and, on the other hand, children of Satan, as Holy Scripture, call them, who seek their salvation in the pleasures of this life. Since the time of Cain and Abel, mankind has been split into two divisions, one seeking the kingdom of God, the other the kingdom of the world, the kingdom of Satan. When our Savior conquered Satan, He left him power over those who make themselves slaves to the sensual pleasures, and thus there exists an evil force against the Church, and it will exist to the end of time.
This is a fact that we must keep in view in order to fully understand and judge the conditions. The realm of darkness, Satan's realm, stands opposed to the realm of Christ. Satan and his adherents carry on the warfare against the Church of Christ, as they assaulted Christ Himself. "As they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you," so did Christ prophecy. The Church of Christ demands the subjection of the flesh; she preaches against luxury, pride and selfishness. She preaches chastity and submission to the commandments of God; she preaches penance alike to those of high and low station in life. This angers all those who would indulge in the evil things of this world. They cry: "Let us break her bonds asunder; and let us cast away her yoke from us." But as Christ foretold the persecution of His Church, so He also foretold that the gates of hell would not prevail against her.
O Dawn, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice, come, and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
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.
· 11th day, December 21st: THE HOLY ANGELS—Attention to Inward Inspirations Have special regard for them today. Perhaps our dear Lord demands a little sacrifice, an extra prayer, an act of some virtue, an acknowledgment of your love for Him. Be watchful and faithful.
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 2019
Frings, Math Josef. The Excellence of the Rosary Conferences for Devotions in Honor of the Blessed Virgin