MIRACULOUS MEDAL-SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY
The FEAR of the Lord is training for wisdom, and humility goes before honors.
To become wise, one must hear and integrate perspectives contrary to one’s own, which means accepting “reproof.” Wisdom does not isolate one but places one in the company of the wise. When we have failed to live up to the vision of God for us let us remember that to be truly wise and loving and have a true fear of the Lord our return to honor requires us to 1) say I am sorry; 2) acknowledge that it is our fault-no excuses and most importantly 3) to take actions to correct the fault or make things right-Lord help me to make the things I have done poorly right!
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
In the year 1830, Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, a Daughter of Charity in Paris, and told her that God had a mission for her. Standing upon a globe, the Virgin Mary held a golden ball which she seemed to offer to God, and on her fingers were rings with gems that emitted rays of light. She told St. Catherine, "These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask. The Blessed Virgin instructed St. Catherine to have a medal made of these images, and she promised many graces to all who wear it.
Meaning of the Medal
Here, we see a woman, the Mother of God, encircled by a short and famous prayer: "O Mary conceived without sin. . . . " Being conceived without sin—the mystery of her Immaculate Conception—means that from the beginning this woman was full of grace. Mary stands on a globe, the world. Around her feet a twisted serpent, the devil, struggles for mastery. It is a conflict between good and evil. Satan's is a world of darkness and disgrace; Mary's is a world of light and grace. But hers is the victory won by Christ—the light of the world. So, we see the light and grace of Christ flowing from her hands; and those who choose grace rather than darkness turn to her for help: "pray for us who have recourse to thee."
On the back of the medal we see a large letter M with a cross above it. M is for Mary and Mother because she is indeed the Mother of God's people—a people founded on the twelve Apostles, signified by the twelve stars arranged around the rim. The two hearts are those of Jesus and Mary. God's message for Mary was one of suffering "a sword will pierce your heart too"—just as the heart of her Son would be pierced by a soldier's lance. The showing of the two hearts in one grand alliance is a reminder of God's love for us. Mother and Son are united in the work of redemption as Christ offers himself on the cross and Mary stands compassionately at his feet, assenting in faith so that the world might be saved. The medal, then, is a summary in itself of the Church's teaching on Our Lady—a mini-catechism of the faith for everyone.
The MI Movement
One of the most celebrated cases of a conversion, through the use of the Miraculous Medal, was that of the agnostic, Alphonse Ratisbonne. In January 1917, while still a seminarian at the Conventual Franciscan Friars' Seraphicum in Rome, St. Maximilian Kolbe heard the Miraculous Medal conversion story of Ratisbonne. This wonderful account inspired St. Maximilian to recognize the powerful role that God had given Mary in the work of leading people to conversion and growth in holiness. He understood that the Miraculous Medal symbolized her active presence in the Church as Mediatrix of All Graces. For the next nine months St. Maximilian meditated upon the Miraculous Medal, the apparition of Our Lady to St. Catherine Laboure, and the marvel of Ratisbonne's conversion.
On the evening of October 16, 1917, St. Maximilian was ready to put these Marian insights into a concrete plan of action. He gathered six Franciscan companions in a room at their seminary on Rome's Via San Teodoro to establish what he called in Latin the Militia Immaculatae (MI), that is, the "Knights of the Immaculata." This movement, which now numbers millions of members worldwide would bind people together around one compelling and fruitful ideal: spiritual union with Mary the Immaculata. This ideal would attract various kinds and classes of people (clergy, religious, and laity), stirring each to form a person-to-person relationship with Mary by means of the "Act of Total Consecration," and entrustment of self to her.
St. Maximilian made the Miraculous Medal the insignia of the MI movement. He recommended that people wear it as an external sign of their Total Consecration to the Immaculata. Mindful of Mary's promise to St. Catherine that "all who wear it will receive great graces," St. Maximilian saw the medal as a means of safeguarding the consecration. It reminds MIs that by their consecration they are to belong to Mary, work for her, and become one with her, so that she might act through them as her instruments.
The Miraculous Medal helps MIs to love Jesus through Mary, so as to hasten the transformation of individuals, families, and society into a "civilization of love."
Purpose of the MI:
Pursue the conversion and growth in holiness of all people, under the sponsorship of the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary.
May I join the MI?
All Catholics are welcome to join. One's "work" in the MI is simply to live the spirit of Total Consecration to Mary as taught by the saints and popes. MIs try to bring the presence of Mary into daily life, by offering up daily duties, prayers, sufferings, and good works for the conversion and sanctification of souls. MIs need not attend meetings, nor pay dues, nor follow complicated rules.
Miraculous Medal Invocation Prayer
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, and for all who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to you.
Meditation Prayer with the Miraculous Medal
Mary, this medal is a sign and a guarantee of your presence. You are present because your power is present, your voice is present, and your love is present. Therefore, O wonderful Sinless Woman and our Mystical Mother, we call on you now to fulfill your guarantee. Bring us the great graces you promised to those who carry this medal, especially to those who wear it around their neck. Make us perceive our presence now and always. Make us consciously experience your power, your love and your guidance, that in their strength we may begin to share in your perfect response to God and to each of his creatures, and join in your war with the ancient Serpent. Help us utterly abandon our self-centered feelings and preoccupations. Help us hear and understand you. Teach us to listen and learn. Help us respond to you today and always;, that made one with you we might more fully respond with the rest of the Church to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, participating in their life and unity.
Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday serves to
support and promote small and local businesses. Small businesses are an
important part of the American economy, providing 66% of all new jobs and
accounting for 54% of all US sales.
Small Business Saturday was created by the American Express Corporation. Small Business Saturday was first held on November 27, 2010 with help from American Express' advertising campaigns to support the day. The following year, in 2011, political figures such as President Obama, voiced their support for Small Business Saturday. Since then, Small Business Saturday has been observed annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Small Business Saturday Top Events and Things to Do
- Do your daily or holiday shopping a local or small business to support your community.
- Watch a movie about entrepreneurship and general business. Building a business from an idea, into a small business and perhaps into something larger is difficult. Our recommendations: The Wolf of Wallstreet, The Pursuit of Happiness, Jerry Maguire, The Social Network and You've Got Mail
- Participate in Small Business Saturday as a business owner or encourage those you know who own small business to participate. American Express provides material online to further assist small businesses with business promotion for the day.
- Take a look on Groupon for some local deals. Groupon always offers deals to small local businesses.
- Contribute to a local cause and donate to a small non-profit organization within your community. Many of these organizations organize activities for local children or help those in your community who are most in need.
- Check these small businesses
Advent begins Sunday-get ready
It may seem strange that in a calendar with only one annual cycle of readings, two of the Sundays share virtually the same Gospel; and it may seem stranger still that these two Sundays occur consecutively. The Gospel for the Last Sunday of Pentecost, taken from St. Matthew, contains Christ's twofold description of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the world. That same speech reemerges the following week on the First Sunday of Advent, though in the abridged form that appears in the Gospel of Luke. Why this redundancy?
The answer to this question teaches us much about the season of Advent. Advent (from the Latin word for "coming") is generally considered to be the sober yet joyful time of preparation for the Lord's nativity, and rightfully so. This is the beginning of the Church year that corresponds to the ages before Christ, when the world pined away in darkness, waiting for the Messiah. It is also why the closer we come to the Feast of the Nativity, the more we are called by the liturgy to reflect on the events that led up to it, e.g., the Annunciation, the Visitation, and so on. And it is why the season of Advent is marked by an ever-greater urgency in its prayers, begging the Lord to come and tarry not. Yet like the closing Sundays after Pentecost, which strike a predominantly apocalyptic note, the season of Advent also goads us to prepare for the glorious Second Coming of the Lord at the end of time. That is why the last and first Sundays of the liturgical year have the same divine admonition: one is picking up where the other left off. This focus remains throughout Advent, despite the season's increased attention on the Christ Child: in fact, during Advent the traditional Roman Rite frequently speaks of both in the same breath. This double commemoration of the first and second Comings makes sense, since the prophets themselves never distinguished between the two.
Yet there is a more profound reason behind the conflation. The Church is teaching us that in order to be ready for the Lord's triumphant return as Judge of the living and the dead, we must prepare as our holy fathers once did for His nativity. The lessons we learn from the season of Advent are to be applied throughout our lives in preparation for our soul's Bridegroom. By liturgically preparing for the Nativity of our Lord, soberly and vigilantly, we prepare ourselves for the Final Judgment.
Thus, Advent is a season marked by a pious gravitas. Yet it should not be overlooked that it is also a time of restrained joy. The more we are prepared for our Lord's coming, the more we will truly welcome it, moving beyond our well-deserved sense of unworthiness to an exultation in His arrival. In the collect for the Vigil of the Nativity, for example, we read: "Grant that we who now joyfully receive Thine only-begotten Son as our Redeemer, may also, without fear, behold Him coming as our Judge."
The goal that the Church holds up for us during this important season is to have our hearts so ready for Christ that they will do nothing but leap for joy when we appear before Him. Let us therefore prepare for our Redeemer and our beloved Judge by heeding St. Paul's advice through Advent, casting off the works of darkness, putting on the armor of light, and draping ourselves in the virtues and graces poured forth upon us by almighty God.
Advent wreath and calendar
Many Catholics may be surprised to learn that the Advent wreath actually came from Lutherans living in east Germany. Yet though this custom is relatively recent as far as tradition goes, it has rightly earned a place of prominence among our Advent customs. A simple wreath made of evergreen (yew or fir or laurel) is adorned with four candles equidistant from each other. These candles may be of any color: in some European countries they are all white, though in the U.S. they generally correspond to the liturgical colors of the four Sundays of Advent (three purple and one pink or rose).
In a dark room, a purple candle is lit on the First Sunday of Advent, another on the Second, the rose candle on the Third Sunday (in commemoration of Gaudete Sunday), and the last purple candle on the Fourth Sunday. Thus, all four candles will be lit for the week before Christmas.
There is no formal ceremony for the lighting of the wreath or for the prayers that are said around it; there is not even an official Roman formula for blessing the wreath. Catholic families simply pray together for a holy preparation and a holy Christmas, concluding with a traditional Advent hymn. The symbolism of the Advent wreath is simple but effective. The wreath, with its crown-like character, reminds us of the King, while its circular shape betokens the "fulfillment of time" that both Comings bring about. The candles, on the other hand, represent the prophets whose inspired words pierced the darkness under which mankind groaned while waiting for the Messiah; they also represent the elects' hearts burning for Christ.
Another popular Advent custom, also from Germany, creates a similar build-up of anticipation. Advent calendars are colorful pieces of cardboard on which is depicted a many-windowed house. Behind the shutters of each house is a picture or symbol that points to the coming of Christmas. Beginning December 1, the children are allowed to open the shutters of one window per day. Finally, on December 24, the front door of the house is opened, showing the nativity.
The Jesse Tree dates back to the middle ages and came from Europe. Even some ancient cathedrals have Jesse Tree designs in their stained-glass windows. The "tree" is usually a branch or sapling and is decorated with various symbols that remind us of the purpose and promises of God from Creation to the Birth of Jesus Christ. Jesse was the father of King David and God promised David that his Kingdom would last forever. Two centuries after the death of King David, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2) Each Jesse Tree ornament usually consists of a handmade symbol or drawing that represents one of the major stories of the Old Testament along with a brief verse of Scripture from that story.
Jesse Tree Ornaments
If you decide to use one symbol each day during December, there are 24 symbolic ornaments to make for your Jesse Tree, so each family member will need to make several. Making the ornaments is a good project for Sunday afternoons during Advent. To make an ornament, first read the Scripture verses for the day. Then pick out one or two short verses that give the main idea. Copy these verses on the back of the ornament. By this time, you will probably be thinking of various ways to illustrate your Scripture verses. Use lots of creativity in making your ornament! You can use pictures from magazines or old greeting cards. Or draw pictures or symbols yourself. Color them with crayons, pencils, markers or paint. Look around the house for bits and pieces that will make your design beautiful! If you prefer to have a pattern already made, Caryn Talty, at Organic Living for a Healthy Family, has created 26 excellent ornaments which she graciously offers free – both full color and black and white.
Jesse Tree Scriptures (The Symbols Are Only Suggestions)
December 1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbols: sun, moon, stars, animals, earth
December 2 Adam and Eve: Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24 Symbols: tree, man, woman
December 3 Fall of Man: Gen. 3:1-7 and 23-24 Symbols: tree, serpent, apple with bite
December 4 Noah: Gen. 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6-22 Symbols: ark, animals, dove, rainbow
December 5 Abraham: Gen. 12:1-3 Symbols: torch, sword, mountain
December 6 Isaac: Gen. 22:1-14 Symbols: bundle of wood, altar, ram in bush
December 7 Jacob: Gen. 25:1-34; 28:10-15 Symbols: kettle, ladder
December 8 Joseph: Gen. 37:23-28; 45:3-15 Symbols: bucket, well, silver coins, tunic
December 9 Moses: Ex. 2:1-10 Symbols: baby in basket, river and rushes
December 10 Samuel: 1 Sam. 3:1-18 Symbols: lamp, temple
December 11 Jesse: 1 Sam. 16:1-13 Symbols: crimson robe, shepherd's staff
December 12 David: 1 Sam. 17:12-51 Symbols: slingshot, 6-pointed star
December 13 Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28 Symbols: scales of justice, temple, two babies and sword
December 15 Mary: Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38 Symbols: lily, crown of stars, pierced heart
December 16 John the Baptist: Mark 1:1-8 Symbols: shell with water, river
On December 17, the Church begins to intensify the preparation for Christmas with the use of the "O" Antiphons during the Liturgy of the Hours. The symbols for the Jesse Tree from December 17 to 23 are based on the "O" Antiphons.
December 17 Jesus is Wisdom: Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus in old Bibles) 24:2; Wisdom 8:1 Symbols: oil lamp, open book
December 18 Jesus is Lord: Ex. 3:2; 20:1 Symbols: burning bush, stone tablets
December 19 Jesus is Flower of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1-3 Symbols: flower, plant with flower
December 20 Jesus is Key of David: Isaiah 22:22 Symbols: key, broken chains
December 21 Jesus is the Radiant Dawn: Psalm 19:6-7 (in older Bibles this will be Psalm 18) Symbols: sun rising or high in sky
December 22 Jesus is King of the Gentiles: Psalm 2:7-8; Ephesians 2:14-20 Symbols: crown, scepter
December 23 Jesus is Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14; 33:22 Symbols: tablets of stone, chalice and host
Activity Source: Jesse Tree Kit, A by Betsy Walter, Pauline Books and Media, Boston, MA, 1983
Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: Protection of Life from Conception until natural death.Unite in the work of the