Fourth Sunday Of Advent
CHANUKAH Begins at Sunset
Proverbs, Chapter 22, Verse 4
The result of humility and fear of the LORD is riches, honor and life.
In reflecting on this stanza; the first thing I noticed is that the rewards listed in this proverb are reversed. In that riches are not more important to obtain for oneself than honor and honor is not as valuable as life…. or is it. In thinking about this I questioned are we talking about material riches or some other kind of riches? Gandhi has said, wealth without work is one of the great evils in the world. It has also been said that even if a poor person was suddenly rich, they often again lose their wealth like the story of the prodigal son. True riches it seems actually comes from having sound and grounded thoughts, habits and philosophies; being humble and submitting all to God. Steve Siebold noted author of “How Rich People Think,” noticed that yes rich people do think differently than the middle class or even the poor. If we can maintain our fear of the Lord, and develop these habits of thought, we can not only bless ourselves but also all those around us. Here are some of my favorite norms Steve lists from the 100 in his book.
1. Middle class focuses on saving…World class focuses on earning. Imagine if instead of building up barns of wealth a blessed person used their excess to benefit others and sought the general wealth fare of mankind and focused on earning souls and true happiness for others by serving and solving problems.
2. Middle class believes building wealth is a solitary effort…World class believes building wealth is a team effort. We cannot bring about the kingdom of heaven without a team effort; we must have the help of a team of saintly persons from all three churches help us here is the corporal church on earth; in the suffering church in purgatory and in the glorified church in heaven. The world class knows it takes a team to build wealth, and they focus much of the effort on finding the right people to leverage their actions and ideas.
3. Middle class believes money is negative…World class believes money is positive. The love of money must be avoided but money is a necessary tool that can be used to create great good and it must be managed while maintaining a spirit of poverty. Money is seen by the rich a a positive tool that has the power to create freedom and opportunity for themselves and their families; whereas the heavenly class see it as a tool to bring the kingdom for God.
4. Middle class believe rich people are shallow…World class believes rich people are strategic. We are in a battle and I like the word strategic. Note that the Catholic Church is one of the wealthiest organizations in the world we must use our resources in the battle for the Lord and souls. Being poor is not virtuous; you should not be giving your money to God if you cannot pay your rent. Like the rich we can build an empire but not for ourselves but for the Lord. We should use our resources like the rich, in honest and strategic ways, to serve others.
5. Middle class believes money is earned through labor…World class believes money is earned through thought. Independent creative thinking is the most valuable asset anyone can acquire. Steve Forbes has said, “The real source of wealth in this new era is not material things. It is the mind, and human spirit, the human imagination, and our faith in the future.” Imagine the power of the creative mind inspired by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God!
Fourth Sunday Of Advent
THE nearer we approach to the coming of Christ the more the Church sighs in her prayers for the Savior of mankind. She sings, therefore, at the Introit, drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just (Is. xlv. 8); “The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of His hands” (Ps. xviii. 2).
Stir up Thy might, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come and succor us with great power, that, by the help of Thy grace, the indulgence of Thy mercy may accelerate what our sins impede.
EPISTLE, i. Cor. iv. 1-5.
Brethren: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful. But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man s day, but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything: yet I am not hereby justified: but lie that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore, judge not before the time, until the Lord come: Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise from God.
How should priests be regarded by the faithful?
The Church wishes to inspire us with respect and veneration towards priests, who are ministers of Christ, dispensers of the mysteries of God, and advocates of religion. The Scripture says, “Let the priests that rule well be esteemed worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine” (i. Tim. v. 17). “He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me”; (St. Luke x. 16).
Why is this epistle read to-day?
The Church wishes, by pointing to the second advent of Christ, to remind the faithful to avoid judging their neighbors, but to judge themselves, and to cleanse their hearts for the reception of Jesus as our Savior, that they may not have to shrink from Him when He comes as Judge.
Can priests administer the holy sacraments as they please?
No, for, as the stewards of Jesus Christ, they must observe His will, which is that they should administer the sacraments for the glory of God and the salvation of the faithful. They are not permitted to “give that which is holy unto dogs” (Matt. viii. 6), and cannot, therefore, give absolution, or any sacrament, to those who are unfit, lest they thereby condemn themselves.
Why should they esteem it a small matter to be judged by men?
Because men generally judge by appearances, and not by reality. St. Paul says: “If I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (Gal. i. 10). But not only priests, the faithful also, must seek to please God more than men. How foolish are they who follow all silly and scandalous fashions in dress, gesture, and manners; who neglect the holy exercises of religion, and ask constantly, “What will the world say?” but never, “What will my God and Savior say?” if I do this or that”.
Why does St. Paul say, “But neither do I judge my own self”?
Because he could not know how God would judge him, “For man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred (Eccles. ix. 1); therefore, he adds, “I am not conscious to myself of anything, yet am I not hereby justified, but He that judgeth me is the Lord.” We should, therefore, examine ourselves thoroughly whether we are in sin; but if we find nothing in us which displeases God we are not on that account at liberty to think ourselves better than others, for before the mirror of our self-esteem we look quite different to what we are in truth before God, Who cannot be bribed. Oh, how many, who now think themselves innocent and holy, shall appear at the day of judgment stripped of their disguises, and the most secret workings of their hearts revealed by God to their eternal disgrace! This should determine us not to judge before the time, either ourselves or anyone else, of whose hearts we must know even less than of our own. “Let us therefore work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. ii. 12).
O Lord enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight no man living shall be justified (Ps. cxlii. 2).
GOSPEL. Luke iii. 1-6.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina, under the high priests Annas and Caiaphas: the word of the Lord was made unto John the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins, as it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet : A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His paths. Every valley shall be filled: and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Why is the time at which St. John began to preach so minutely described?
Because in that happy year the prophecy of Jacob was fulfilled, and the sceptre being taken from Juda, the long-expected Messias showed Himself to the world, was baptized by John, and declared by His heavenly Father to be His beloved Son, Whom men should hear. Accordingly, that this time should never be forgotten, the evangelist, contrary to his usual custom, describes it particularly, mentioning the names both of the spiritual and temporal rulers.
Oh, that Thy way, Jesus, may be well prepared in my heart! Alas! assist me, O my Savior, to do what I cannot do by myself. Fill up the valley of my heart with Thy grace, and straighten my crooked and perverted will, till it shall conform to Thine own. Soften my rough and unruly mind; bring low, destroy, and remove whatever in me impedes Thy way, that Thou mayest come to me without hindrance, and possess and govern me forever. Amen.
Chanukah (Hebrew: חנוכה) is an eight-day Jewish festival, also known as the festival of lights. On each day a Menorah (an eight branched candelabra) is lit with an ascending number of candles to match the day. The reason for Chanukah is based on the story of the Maccabees battle with the Greeks. It is told that one pure bottle of olive oil lasted for eight days in the Holy Temple. It should have lasted only for the first day.
· It is customary to eat fried foods on Chanukah because of the significance of oil to the holiday. Among Ashkenazic Jews, this usually includes latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil) and doughnuts.
· A popular game during Hanukkah is dreidel. The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with one Hebrew letter inscribed on each face/side. These letters are Nun (like N), Gimel (like G), Hei (Like H) and Shin (like Sh). These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, a great miracle happened there, referring to the miracle of the oil.
· There is a special prayer called for the Miracles said during all prayer sessions and grace after meals. In this prayer the Lord is thanked for allowing the Jewish minority to overcome their much larger and stronger enemies (a recurrent theme in Jewish survival).
· Chanukah is not one of the Biblical festivals and Jews are permitted to work on Chanukah.
Hanukkah Top Events and Things to Do
· An event that gathers much attention is the White House Hanukkah Party. Watch it on TV (some parts are broadcast) or YouTube.
· Play a dreidel game, which consists of spinning a special four-sided block with Hebrew letters. Once you're out of game pieces, you can either get a loan or you're out until one person collects all of the game pieces.
· Make latkes and donuts at home. Many recipes can be found online.
· Listen to a special song is sung after the lighting of the candles, called Maoz Zur, 'the Rock of our Salvation'. Many renditions of it can be found on YouTube.
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.
Mary carried Jesus in her womb with great patience. As a child I remember Christmas was always a great strain on my patience. Can you imagine the strain on this poor young girl from Nazareth? She of course could not have done this without first having the virtues of humility, generosity, and a chase heart which led her to have great patience.
Patience the courage of a serene soul
This world being a place of merit is rightly called a valley of tears; for we are all placed in it to suffer, that we may, by patience, gain our own souls unto life eternal, as our Lord Himself says, In your patience you shall possess your souls. [Luke 21 19] God gave us the Blessed Virgin Mary as a model of all virtues, but more especially as an example of patience. St. Francis de Sales, amongst other things, remarks, that it was precisely for this reason that at the marriage-feast of Cana Jesus Christ gave the Blessed Virgin an answer, by which He seemed to value her prayers but little: Woman, what is that to thee and to Me? [John 2:4] And He did this that He might give us the example of the patience of His most holy Mother. But what need have we to seek for instances of this virtue? Mary's whole life was a continual exercise of her patience; for, as the Angel revealed to St. Bridget, "as a rose grows up amongst thorns, so did the Blessed Virgin grow up amongst tribulations." Compassion alone for the Redeemer's sufferings sufficed to make her a martyr of patience. Hence St. Bonaventure says, "that a crucified Mother conceived a crucified Son." In speaking of her dolors, we have already considered how much she suffered, both in her journey to Egypt, and during her residence there, as also during the time she lived with her Son in the house at Nazareth. What Mary endured when present at the death of Jesus on Calvary is alone sufficient to show us how constant and sublime was her patience: There stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother. Then it was that precisely by the merit of her patience, as Blessed Albert the Great says, she brought us forth to the life of grace." If we, then, wish to be the children of Mary, we must endeavor to imitate her in her patience: "For what," says St. Cyprian, "can enrich us with greater merit in this life, and greater glory in the next, than the patient enduring of sufferings?" God said, by the prophet Osee, I will hedge up thy way with thorns. [2:6] To this St. Gregory adds, that "the way of the elect is hedged with thorns." As a hedge of thorns protects a vineyard, so does God protect His servants from the danger of attaching themselves to the earth, by encompassing them with tribulations. Therefore St. Cyprian concludes that it is patience that delivers us from sin and from Hell. It is also patience that makes Saints: Patience hath a perfect work, [James 1:4] bearing in peace, not only the crosses which come immediately from God, such as sickness, poverty, but also those which come from men---persecutions, injuries, and the rest. St. John saw all the Saints bearing palm branches---the emblem of martyrdom---in their hands; After this I saw a great multitude, and palms were in their hands; [Apoc. 7:9] thereby denoting that all adults who are saved must be martyrs, either by shedding their blood for Christ or by patience.
Happiness is being patient with yourself
Happiness is a choice; just as love is a choice. We either decide to be happy or we do not. No amount of money or material things will bring us joy, no amount of pleasure or power either. Mary knew that true happiness comes from God’s mercy. That is a choice too. God’s mercy is given to those who fear Him and then in turn honor the gift of love. We in order to accept the gift of mercy must be open to receive. We make a choice. It is funny Mary’s whose name means bitterness was just the opposite. She emptied herself to be filled to the brim with God’s love and within three days we commemorate that she gave birth to Christ our redeemer. I imagine she pondered on this day ages ago as she felt His movement within her that his mercy is overpowering. Let us empty ourselves of all our bitterness and resentments asking Mary to pray for us as we do. Let us in these remaining days before Christmas do all we can to prepare for our Lord Jesus. Let us receive God’s mercy through the sacraments which He has established through His Apostle’s down through the ages to us today. If you have not gone to confession-do. Receive His mercy. Receive the Eucharist be made whole and prepare for his birth. Give mercy in return to any you have offended, pray and do good works toward those who have offended you. In this way we emulate our God whose power is perfected in mercy.
Be at peace.
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.
· 12th day, December 22nd: ST. JOSEPH—Obedience Today you must try to please the Divine Infant by cheerful, and very prompt obedience. Be obedient for the love of Jesus in great and little things or in easy ones. Do nothing without permission.
O King of the Gentiles and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one; Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.
· 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.