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Saturday, December 18, 2021

Sunday, December 19, 2021

 Fourth Sunday of Advent 

Wisdom, Chapter 5, Verse 2

Seeing this, the wicked shall be shaken with dreadful FEAR, and be amazed at the unexpected salvation.

 

This verse is about the reaction of the wicked upon discovering that Christ is real and that they have chosen poorly and now they are to pay up for their crimes.

What Will Hell Be Like? THOUGH many of the pagans were true atheists, considering Hell a fable invented to frighten the wicked, the more renowned of the ancient philosophers such as Socrates, Xenophon, Aristotle, Plato and others had no difficulty in admitting the existence of a future life— a Heaven where the good would be rewarded, and a Hell where the evil are to be punished. Only the most perverted of men will deny that there is a God, the Creator and Governor of all things. Such men would prefer to deny the existence of God than to face the just chastisement of their own misdeeds.[1]

ON KEEPING THE LORD'S DAY HOLY[2] 

Other moments of the Christian Sunday 

52. Sharing in the Eucharist is the heart of Sunday, but the duty to keep Sunday holy cannot be reduced to this. In fact, the Lord's Day is lived well if it is marked from beginning to end by grateful and active remembrance of God's saving work. This commits each of Christ's disciples to shape the other moments of the day — those outside the liturgical context: family life, social relationships, moments of relaxation — in such a way that the peace and joy of the Risen Lord will emerge in the ordinary events of life. For example, the relaxed gathering of parents and children can be an opportunity not only to listen to one another but also to share a few formative and more reflective moments. Even in lay life, when possible, why not make provision for special times of prayer — especially the solemn celebration of Vespers, for example — or moments of catechesis, which on the eve of Sunday or on Sunday afternoon might prepare for or complete the gift of the Eucharist in people's hearts? 

This rather traditional way of keeping Sunday holy has perhaps become more difficult for many people; but the Church shows her faith in the strength of the Risen Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit by making it known that, today more than ever, she is unwilling to settle for minimalism and mediocrity at the level of faith. She wants to help Christians to do what is most correct and pleasing to the Lord. And despite the difficulties, there are positive and encouraging signs. In many parts of the Church, a new need for prayer in its many forms is being felt; and this is a gift of the Holy Spirit. There is also a rediscovery of ancient religious practices, such as pilgrimages; and often the faithful take advantage of Sunday rest to visit a Shrine where, with the whole family perhaps, they can spend time in a more intense experience of faith. These are moments of grace which must be fostered through evangelization and guided by genuine pastoral wisdom. 

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). 

Prayer. 

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). 

Aspiration. 

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 scepter being taken from Juda, the long-expected Messiahs 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. 

Aspiration. 

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 

Spiritual Crib[3] 

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. 

·       9th day, December 19th: THE OX—Silence Today we may speak nothing unnecessary, much less give way to distracting thoughts. On the contrary, hold interior converse with God by loving aspirations to Him. 

God’s Handiwork[4] 

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. 

Humility the first of Our Lady’s virtues 

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

“These are the few ways we can practice humility: To speak as little as possible of one's self; to mind one's own business, not to want to manage other people's affairs; to avoid curiosity, to accept contradictions and correction cheerfully; to pass over the mistakes of others, to accept insults and injuries; to accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked, to be kind and gentle even under provocation; never to stand on one's dignity, to choose always the hardest.”Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living

 

Evergreen Day[5]

Every year one thing remains the same around the holidays, people everywhere have to decide at what point before the big day they’re going to go out and hunt down a Christmas tree. Look for an Evergreen Day is about the last opportunity you have if you haven’t already gotten yours to ensure you have a tree for the Holidays. Even if you’ve already got your tree for this year, this is a great opportunity to go out and familiarize yourself with the other types of Evergreens in your neighborhood, and discover that these regal giants are around you all year round. Look for an Evergreen Day was originally established by the National Arborist Association to create a day to appreciate the beauty of these trees outside of the confines of merely being bedecked with glittering lights and ornaments even in the depths of winter these noble trees keep their foliage, providing that wonderful green and white contrast that is so representative of deep winter. Evergreens have played an important role in many societies throughout the ages, selected for religious observances due to their seemingly eternal nature even in a season of death, ·but that’s not the only place they’re represented, the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest were entirely reliant on the red cedar for multiple aspects of their culture. Whether they were making clothing, fishing line, ropes, or building their homes or canoes, the red cedar was vital a vital part of their lives. Going back even further, most people have heard about how Socrates was made to drink a glass of hemlock tea, which he did with his normal unflinching nature. Hemlocks are a shade tolerant evergreen with short striped needles. As you can tell, knowing the difference between your evergreens could one day save your life!

How to celebrate Look for an Evergreen Day

·        The best way to celebrate is to grab a book of local flora/fauna, and head out to identify all the different types of evergreen plants that grow in your part of the world· There are literally thousands of different varieties from every place in the vegetable kingdom, so there are certain to be multiple examples in your local area.

·        Obviously, if you haven’t gotten your tree yet, then Look for an Evergreen Day is when it should happen· By understanding the difference between Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, and the dozens of other varieties of Christmas Tree available, you’ll know which ones will have the most even spread, which ones will be the most dense, and will best compliment your home and decorating scheme.

Christmas Tree[6]

The Christmas tree has become one of the most accepted traditions of the modern world at Christmas. Here we have a short explanation of the Christian symbolism.

It's not always possible to set up a tree at Christmas Eve but waiting until the 3rd or 4th Sunday of Advent is a good compromise.

DIRECTIONS

There is a beautiful symbolism in the traditional Christmas tree which is so popular in our country. The tree represents the long period of waiting for the coming of the Christ, Who is represented by a star or some other shining ornament at the top of the tree. The ornaments, candles and lights represent His gifts and graces to us. This meaning of the Christmas tree should be made clear to all the children of the family — they will love the element of mystery they find here.

In Germany and in many other countries, candy, cookies and nuts are hung on the branches. The children love this. These articles represent good things which can be eaten as well as looked at.

Therese Mueller suggests that the best time to put up the tree is on Christmas Eve, and not before. All of the symbolism points to the Nativity of Our Lord and premature erection of the tree and crib takes something from the meaning of these things (Cf. Family Life in Christ, Liturgical Press: Collegeville, MN, p. 15).

Activity Source: How to Make Your House a Home by Rev. Bernard Stokes, O.F.M., Family Life Bureau, Washington D.C., 1955

Daily Devotions

·       Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after 6 pm Saturday till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.

·       Jesse Tree ornament: Jesus is Flower of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1-3 Symbols: flower, plant with flower

·       Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: Conversion of Sinners

·       Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·       Make reparations to the Holy Face

·       Drops of Christ’s Blood

·       Christmas Novena

·       Rosary



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