Genesis, Chapter 15, verse 1
Sometime afterward, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: Do not FEAR, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.
Let us take heart for the word (Christ) appeared to Abram and told him to not to fear the world. Abram was sore afraid because he had just been in battle with four Kings to rescue Lot his nephew and he feared retribution. Christ is our shield against the world (the four kings east, west, north and south) and he has rewarded us the spiritual children of Abram with eternal life. Our shield is our Faith.
Do you believe? Do you really believe? Think of a shield it protects the heart from the arrows of the devil-which is doubt. But notice the shield does not protect the eyes and the head unless it is raised. When doubt comes around raise your shield of Faith and after the assault lower the shield and advance using your reason and your head and eyes in faith to make a difference in the world.
Additionally, Proverbs 2 it states that he is a shield to those who walk in integrity; let us resolve to walk resolutely in integrity by using faith and reason in the battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. True integrity is being willing to lay down your life for what you hold fast as the truth without wavering. Having integrity means avoiding the sins of envy and having a true love for God our creator and to love our neighbor as ourselves and our fellow humans treating them with kindness.
of the Month
Integrity is defined as the adherence to moral principles. Congruence in thought, spoken word, and deed. Honesty or trustworthiness. It comes from the Latin word integrare, which means to make whole; to present something in its entirety. Integrity is the virtue of practicing what one preaches. Or more importantly, practicing what one believes is right. “Actions speak louder than words. Let your words teach and your actions speak.” -Anthony of Padua. A ‘person of principle’ is not a person who understands a principle, but rather one who understands, accepts, and lives by a principle.
The first and most important reason to practice one’s beliefs is that if they are right, you will be benefiting your own life. To understand other virtues or principles, and not act by them, is destructive. It is an act against your own best interest. Another reason to practice integrity is in dealing with others. Trust can develop, since others will come to realize you are consistently virtuous. To act without integrity, even occasionally, will leave others distrustful. This can negatively impact one’s life in a number of ways. People won’t allow themselves to become emotionally close to you. They won’t trust that you’ll pay back debts. They’ll always fear your betrayal.
In the bible, Jesus encountered a dishonest man who did not practice what he preached. This man, Zacchaeus was dishonest and shady and stole from people but his encounter with Jesus changed him. From that moment on, he knew he had to be a person of integrity and honest with God and others. He started to put into practice what he knew was right. There was no middle ground in the truth for Jesus. He gives this lesson on integrity to his apostles because life is made up of little decisions which make up the bigger picture of who we are. Honesty and integrity go hand in hand. If someone is dishonest, you don’t trust them, and Jesus needed to trust his apostles for the missions they had. Christ shows us that integrity was something he thought was very important for his apostles to live and learn. He knew it would be hard to tell the truth always.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
II. THE VOCATION TO CHASTITY
2337 Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.
The integrity of the person
2338 The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.
2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. "Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end."
2340 Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascetic adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God's commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer. "Indeed it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity."
2341 The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of temperance, which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason.
2342 Self-mastery is a long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life. The effort required can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence.
2343 Chastity has laws of growth which progress through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin. "Man day by day builds himself up through his many free decisions; and so he knows, loves, and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth."
2344 Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society." Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life.
2345 Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort. The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.
The Twelfth Night
But what exactly are the Twelve Days of Christmas? They are the days between Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany that constitute an unbroken period of joy and celebration. Epiphany is considered the twelfth day of Christmas (in fact it is sometimes called "Twelfth Day") while the Eve of Epiphany is called "Twelfth Night." Shakespeare's play, "Twelfth Night," takes its name from the Vigil because during this period festivals (such as the Feast of Fools or the Feast of the Ass) used to be held in which everything was turned upside-down -- a little like the reversed identities of the characters in the play. These "preposterous" observances, incidentally, were a joyful mimicry of the inversion of almighty God becoming a lowly man, of the King appearing as a humble infant.
The twelve nights of Christmas were primarily a time of rest from unnecessary labor and joyful prayer. On each of these nights the Christmas tree lights and the Christmas candle would be lit, while the family would gather around the manger to recite prayers and sing carols and hymns. Similar services are held in some churches during these nights as well.
Twelfth day of Christmas is represented by the Twelve Drummers drumming in the song which of course represents the twelve points of the Apostles Creed. It is interesting to note that these 12 points are indeed pointing to the abode of God and that our Lord is the gate of heaven.
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and the life everlasting.
Additionally, the 12th Station of the Cross Jesus dies. Today would be a good day to do the Eucharistic Stations of the Cross.
Activities for the Twelfth Day of Christmas
At the time of St. John Neumann's episcopate there was a strong anti-Catholic sentiment in Philadelphia and having had two churches burned and another barely saved, priests were advising the Bishop, not to proceed with introducing the 40 Hours of continual adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, believing it would somehow increase the hostility already directed against the Church. The Bishop had a decision to make and then something happened to make up his mind to proceed with the devotion of the 40 Hours of Adoration:
One night, he was working very late at his desk and fell asleep in his chair. The candle on the desk burnt down and charred some of the papers, but they were still readable. He awoke, surprised and thankful that a fire had not ignited. He fell on his knees to give thanks to God for protection, and heard His voice saying, "As the flames are burning here without consuming or injuring the writing, so shall I pour out my grace in the Blessed Sacrament without prejudice to My honor. Fear no profanation, therefore; hesitate no longer to carry out your design for my glory." He introduced the practice of 40 Hours Devotion at the first diocesan synod in April 1853, and the first devotions began at St. Philip Neri Parish, an appropriate place since that St. Philip had begun that very devotion in the city of Rome. The holy Bishop then introduced the program for the whole diocese, so that each parish would have Forty Hours Devotion during the course of the year. He wrote a booklet for the devotions and obtained special indulgences for the faithful attending them. The Forty Hours Devotion was so successful it spread to other dioceses. At the Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866, the Forty Hours Devotion was approved for all Dioceses of the United States. Excerpted from St. John Neumann and the 40 Hours Devotion by Joseph Mary
We suggest that today would be an excellent time to make a family holy hour (or holy half hour) at an adoration chapel or in your parish church. If you can't make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament your family can pray this litany at home. The activity can by brought to conclusion by singing Christmas carols and enjoying Christmas cookies and the Christmas bread, Vanocka.
St. John Neumann - Day Twelve
· Day Twelve activity (Visit to the Blessed Sacrament)
· Day Twelve recipe (Vanocka)
Tuesday: Litany of St. Michael the Archangel