DAY 38 - MARY, QUEEN OF ANGELS, PRAY FOR US
LOVE DEMANDS EFFORT
PRAY A ROSARY
- Rosary of the Day: Glorious Mysteries
- Traditional 54 Day Rotation: Sorrowful Mysteries
Those who would like to pray with others via The Telephone Rosary, call 1-951-799-9866 daily at 6 pm Eastern.
Golden mass-Las Posadas
John, Chapter 5, Verse 45
For the last couple of months, we have focused on peace and love which is the natural fruit of being “Not Afraid”. Those who are not afraid place their FAITH and HOPE in Christ. For the next month we will focus on faith and hope to help us sustain our courage in the Lord therefore Be Not Afraid.
Hope for a Hopeless Time
As Pope Pius XI once said, the contemporary world is so morally depraved that at any moment it could be plunged into a deeper spiritual misery than that reigning in the world when Our Blessed Redeemer was born. In consideration of so many crimes, the idea of divine vengeance naturally comes to mind. When we view this sinful world, groaning beneath the weight of a thousand crises and a thousand afflictions but nevertheless unrepentant; when we consider the alarming progress of neo-paganism, which is on the verge of conquering humanity; and when, on the other hand, we consider the lack of resolve, foresight, and unity among the so-called remnant, we are understandably terrified at the grim prospects of catastrophes that this generation may be calling upon itself.
The reality is otherwise, for God does not abandon His creatures. Rather, He continuously assists and supports them with sufficient grace to aid them in choosing the right path. If they choose to follow a way other than His, the responsibility is theirs. Behold the grim picture of the contemporary world: on one hand, an iniquitous and sinful civilization and, on the other, the Creator holding high the divine scourge. Is there nothing left for mankind but fire and brimstone? As we face the dawn of the new millennium, can we hope for a future other than the scourge foretold by Sacred Scriptures for the final impenitence of the last days? Were God to act solely according to His justice, there is no doubt what we should expect. Indeed, could we even have made it as far as this twentieth century?
Nevertheless, since God is not only just but also merciful, the gates of salvation have not yet been shut against us. A people unrelenting in its impiety has every reason to expect God’s rigor.
However, He Who is infinitely merciful, does not want the death of this sinful generation but that it “be converted...and live.” His grace thus insistently pursues all men, inviting them to abandon their evil ways and return to the fold of the Good Shepherd. If an impenitent humanity has every reason to fear every catastrophe, a repentant humanity has every reason to expect every mercy. Indeed, for God’s mercy to be poured on the contrite sinner, his repentance need not have run its full course. Even while still in the depths of the pit, if the sinner but sincerely and earnestly turn to God with a budding repentance in his heart, he will immediately find help, for God never disregards him. God is charity, so the simple mention of the Most Holy Name of Jesus evokes love. It is the infinite, limitless love that drove the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity to become man. It is the love expressed in the utter humiliation of a God Who comes to us as a poor infant, born in a cave. It is the love shown in those thirty years of hidden life spent in the humility of the strictest poverty, in the three grueling years of evangelization, when the Son of Man traveled highways and country roads, climbed mountains, crossed valleys, rivers and lakes, visited cities and villages, walked through deserts and hamlets, spoke to rich and poor, dispensing love and, for the most part, reaping ingratitude. It is the love manifested in that supreme moment of the Last Supper when, after generously washing the feet of His apostles, He instituted the Holy Eucharist. It is the love of that last kiss bestowed on Judas, of that poignant look at Peter, of those insults received and born patiently and meekly, of those sufferings endured until the last drop of blood was shed.
Ember Wednesday Commemoration of the Annunciation
Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) are known as "Advent Embertide," and they come near the beginning of the Season of Winter (December, January, February). Liturgically, the readings for the days' Masses follow along with the general themes of Advent, opening up with Wednesday's Introit of Isaias 45: 8 and Psalm 18:2:
Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior. The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the work of His hands. Wednesday's and Saturday's Masses will include one and four Lessons, respectively, with all of them concerning the words of the Prophet Isaias except for the last lesson on Saturday, which comes from Daniel and recounts how Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago are saved from King Nabuchodonosor's fiery furnace by an angel. This account, which is followed by a glorious hymn, is common to all Embertide Saturdays but for Whit Embertide. The Gospel readings for the three days concern, respectively, the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-28), Visitation (Luke 1:37-47), and St. John the Baptist's exhorting us to "prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths" (Luke 3:1-6).
Associations and Symbols of the Advent Ember Days
· Winter is characterized by "wet and cold," and is associated with the golden years of old age; remember them this season. Get your children to think of what changes atmospherically and astronomically during this season. Why is it so cold? How does the cold affect the earth's air and waters?
· Remember that lore says that the weather conditions of each of the three days of an Embertide foretell the weather of the next three months, so the weather seen on Wednesday of Advent Embertide predicts the weather of the coming January, Friday's weather foretells the weather of February, and Saturday's weather foretells the weather of March. Make a note of the weather on those three days and see if the old tales are true! What stars can be seen during the Winter months? Do your children know the traditional names for this season's full Moons?
· Ask your children to consider how the seasonal changes of Winter affect the plants and animals. How have the trees changed? What are the animals doing now? Which are hibernating? Which are gone, having migrated? What do the animals that aren't hibernating or gone eat now? Have any stored-up food to eat during the cold months? Which have fur that has grown thicker to protect them? Do any have fur that has changed color to match the snow?
· Ask them to consider how the seasonal changes affect (or traditionally affected) the activities of man. What can we do now that we couldn't do at other times of the year? What can't we do? How do modern conveniences affect the answers to those questions?
· Ask them how they would ensure they had shelter, food, and water if they were put into the middle of the woods right now, with the season as it is. What plants and animals would be available to eat? How would they keep themselves dry and warm and protected from the winds? In the Middle Ages, the months are almost always uniformly depicted by showing the "Labors of Man" throughout the seasons. In stained glass windows, in illuminated manuscripts, one sees over and over the same human activities used to portray the months.
· In addition to these things, now is the time to make snow angels, build snowmen and snowforts and ice sculptures, sled, ski, skate, ice fish, sit around hearths and tell tales, make crafts indoors, watch for and feed the Winter birds, and, most of all, praise God for His artistry and providence... Get to it! -- and know that just when you tire of this season, Spring will be here!
Today's Mass was historically called the "golden Mass" and celebrated with special solemnity, because it focuses on the role of Mary in the Incarnation. The first reading is the famous prophecy from Isaiah about the virgin who will conceive and bear a son. The Gospel is the Annunciation account. Mary is a special Advent figure. The expectant mother is a sign to us of what our Advent waiting is all about: the coming of Christ, our Savior. Today's first reading from Isaiah is Ahaz, the king, had entered into political alliances in an attempt to save Israel from her enemies. But the prophet Isaiah was telling him not to trust in politics, but in God. Only God could deliver Israel. In refusing to ask for a sign, Ahaz was not being humble, but tricky. He was keeping his options open, so to speak, by refusing to trust the Lord. Mary, instead, was completely committed to doing God's will. By her "yes" to the angel Gabriel, Mary totally surrendered to what God was asking of her. She didn't know exactly what would happen. It was very risky--in those days a woman in an irregular pregnancy could suffer severe penalties. What would Joseph think? Mary turned all those worries over to God. And God made it all work out. Whatever problems we face, God will help us also to work them out, if we turn to him in trust.
Here is a wonderful description of the tradition of the nine-day custom Posadas, that commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
· Banuelos are the big crisp fried cakes that Mexicans have for Christmas Eve supper. They are eaten either plain, with cinnamon and brown sugar syrup, or sometimes with honey. But before supper there is the traditional Misa de Gallo, or Mass of the Cock, at the village church. And for nine consecutive nights before that, there are the posadas to commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their search for lodgings.
· The word, posada, means an inn. To the humble Mexican the re-enactment of the Holy Family's quest for lodgings is a ritual of deep religious significance. The posadas, which start on the sixteenth of December and end on Christmas Eve, take place at different houses each night. Since Christmas, to the Mexican, is a community rather than a family affair, relatives and friends in a neighborhood often club together to defray posada expenses. The climax of each is the breaking of the Pinata.
· Pinatas are pottery jars, filled with trinkets, candies, and miniature toys. The jars are ingeniously decorated with bright paper to represent birds of paradise, dancing girls in gaudy ruffled skirts, or clowns with grotesque costumes and chalkwhite faces. Since Christmas is not a time for gift-giving, pinatas, with their bright baubles and inexpensive trifles, are as important to Mexicans as Christmas trees to their neighbors, north of the Rio Grande.
· Posada ceremonies begin after dark on December 16. They start with a procession of pilgrims, led by two children. With poles on their shoulders, the little ones support a platform. with figures of Joseph, the Virgin riding a small burro, and a number of protecting angels. Green branches and paper stars adorn the platform. Each member of the procession has a lighted candle. As the pilgrims approach the door of the house assigned to the first posada, they chant traditional verses in which Joseph wakens the master of the place and asks for lodgings for Mary. From behind closed doors the master threatens beatings unless the company moves on. Once more Joseph pleads for admittance. At first, the owner of the house scoffs, but finally, convinced of his guests' identity, he joyously opens the door and bids the pilgrim’s welcome. Then everyone kneels before the Nacimiento, or miniature manger — often loaned to, the host for the evening — and offers prayers and Christmas hymns. When the religious ritual ends, there are refreshments. Then the children start a gay little song:
"Scatter the candies, scatter the sweets, for we are children who want to eat."
· Generally, the pinata is suspended by a long rope or pulley cord hung from a tree in the patio. Each child in turn is blindfolded, given a stout stick, and told to break the jar. But just as Lola or Jose is about to hit, a yank on the rope takes the pinata out of reach. This tantalizing performance continues for some time while everyone — except the blindfolded victims shouts, jeers, and claps. Finally, the pinata is shattered. With shouts and whoops, the guests drop to all fours and dart about after the booty, scattered in every direction.
· In this mingled atmosphere of religious fervor and childlike enjoyment, posadas and pinata-breakings continue until Christmas Eve. Then the search for lodgings ends and the Babe is born, with great rejoicing on the part of the pilgrims. Shortly before midnight, they sing nine Ave Marias and address a song to the Virgin, telling her that the night of her confinement is at hand.
· At some posada’s small children, dressed as shepherds, stand at either side of the Nacimiento on this last night. Two of the guests, acting the parts of godfather and godmother, walk between the shepherds with an image of the Baby Jesus. As the pilgrims kneel, they chant a litany to lull the Little One to sleep.
· At midnight on Christmas Eve everyone surges into the churches to celebrate the Mass of the Cock. After the service, whistles blow, fireworks explode, bells ring, and magnificent processions form, for Jesus' birth is the occasion of unbounded demonstration.
· In the midst of the happy tumult families hurry home to, supper. For the poor there are special holiday foods such as tonight bean soup, revoltijo, a traditional dish made with shrimp, potatoes, chili, and prickly pears, and a salad of nuts and fruits. Then come the Banuelos, the festal fried cakes that are puffed, brown, and delicious.
Activity Source: Feast-Day Cakes from Many Lands by Dorothy Gladys Spicer, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960
May the coming of our humble Lord help us to focus on our loyalties that are due to our God, Church, Nation, family and neighbors during this season and our own journey of life!
It is nine days before Christmas. Today start a Christmas Novena with your family or someone you love.
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.
· 6th day, December 16th. THE HAY—Meekness Prepare a soft little bed of Hay for the Divine Infant by practicing this beautiful virtue. Do not yield to anger today; and speak very kindly to such as are repulsive to you. When tempted to speak harshly, say this little prayer instead. O Jesus meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph
The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus