Tuesday of the Third week of Advent
St. john of the
cross-roast chestnuts day
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 9, Verse 2
Everything is the same for everybody: the same lot for the just and the wicked, for the good, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who offers sacrifice and the one who does not. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner; as it is for the one who takes an oath, so it is for the one who fears an oath.
God seems to bestow divine favor or disfavor (love or hatred) indiscriminately on the just and wicked alike. More ominously, the arbitrariness and inevitability of death and adversity confront every human being, whether good or bad. Human reason and experience end at death with its finality and annihilating power often cruelly negates the supreme value—life, and with it, all possibilities. Faith in eternal life has its foundation only in hope and trust in God’s promise and in God’s love. The author confesses his inability to imprison God in a fixed and predictable way of acting. Thus, he ponders a practical and pragmatic solution: Seize whatever opportunity one has to find joy, if God grants it.
Be joyful in the Present
If you want to win friends and influence people, don’t mention the cross. It is an unlikely enticement to attract us to someone, and yet, it is precisely what Jesus Christ offered us. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself” (Luke 9:23). Although the prospect of self-denial and suffering is repellent, the attraction to unite ourselves with Christ helps us to overcome our reluctance and even choose to deny ourselves in order to draw nearer to Him. Fr. Wayne Sattler, Missionaries of Charity; points out that we must put our spiritual lives in perspective by facing that our bodies will one day die but our souls live on for eternity. Thus, it is important to take good care of our soul by strengthening our internal spiritual muscles. He identified three ways in which we can do this: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
· “Prayer is to the soul as food is to the body,” “If you don’t pray every day, your soul will get weaker and weaker.” But prayer is only part of what is needed to take proper care of our soul.
· Fasting is not just for Lent but something that should be done at least once a week in order to develop our interior muscles for doing God’s will. It is through self-denial that we strengthen our spiritual muscles, which serve to subdue our passions–much like the taming of a wild horse. As with the wild horse, taming happens gradually and through persistent work. “But we don’t want to kill the horse, we just want to tame him,” And so it is with our passions. We are called to be the master of our passions and self-denial gives us the discipline to do so but be cautioned in overdoing with severe penances because it is like being so harsh that the horse bucks back. So, begin where we are by simply increasing whatever we are doing now rather than striving for a drastic life change that our passions buck back. Acts of self-denial—which can include simply not eating in-between meals, giving up smoking or abstaining from any pleasure—can often tempt one to be irritable. In such a case, “If you can’t to do it for love, then don’t do it. If the fast is making you grumpy, then eat something and be kind.” Don’t give up fasting altogether but work up to it and use it as a vehicle to holiness rather than endure with resentment and irritability. “It’s not the sack cloth and ashes and being miserable that is pleasing to God,” fasting is about healing our will to conform to God’s will, for in God’s will is our greatest happiness. Fasting ultimately brings us to a fuller enjoyment of life. Over-indulging in pleasures actually inhibits us from truly enjoying what our passions desire and we become slaves to them. Self-denial, however, opens a space for God in our lives, builds discipline, and increases our enjoyment of life’s pleasures. “By voluntarily denying ourselves pleasures, we also strengthen ourselves for resisting illegitimate ones, and, through sacrifice and self-denial, we begin to trust more in God’s Providence, that He will provide what we need.”
· Almsgiving should not be considered optional. “We need to be a good steward of God’s gifts”; the early Christians understood how “Everything is from God and is given for the good of all.” “If we neglect alms, we will not be able to enter into the rest from our work that God invites us into and will exhaust ourselves with financial worries.” Fr. Sattler cautions us against giving God our leftovers and suggested instead, to give him our first 10% and to trust he will take care of us. Sattler reminded everyone of the story of Cain and Abel. Both offered sacrifices to God, but Abel gave God his first and best while Cain gave his leftovers. God accepted the gift of Abel and rejected Cain’s. Sattler pointed out that ironically, it’s often the case that the more God gives us, and the harder it is for us to be equally as generous. The larger our income, the larger our 10% becomes, and if God has decided to entrust to us more, shouldn’t we be just as eager to return the favor?
“We forget we are not here to stay,” Fr. Sattler said. “The temptation is to turn outward to the world and only trust what we see but we need to turn inward and trust the voice that is trying to speak from within.” Trusting that voice involves clearing space in our lives so that God can speak to us and we will take the time and be spiritually connected enough to hear his voice. Through our crosses—both those given to us and those we freely choose—we can remain with Christ by freely embracing them. For this reason, Sattler said, in spite of feeling repelled by suffering, we choose to deny our self, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).
St. John of the Cross-Advent Calendar
Read: St. John of the Cross, who we honor today, was known for his deep spirituality and compassion.
Reflect: "We must dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides." —St. John of the Cross
Pray: Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy today.
Act: Brainstorm ideas for how you can live out your call to "imbue every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel" as an active citizen. For ideas, visit the Faithful Citizenship website.
Roast Chestnuts Day
In the chill of December, there’s one warming treat that is especially popular across the world to keep the cold away. Roasted chestnuts are often seen this time of year being cooked by street vendors, and the earthy, spicy scent is more than enough to get anyone into the Christmas spirit. On the 14th of December, it’s time to honor the humble chestnut. Or specifically, mark the time-honored tradition of roasting chestnuts round about the season of good cheer. Roast Chestnut’s Day is a relatively new day in the calendar, but the practice of roasting chestnuts has been around for donkey’s years. Although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when they started to become so popular, historians pencil the 16th century in as being a turning point, when the nuts would be sold by street vendors to anyone wanting a quick and warming snack. It has also long been a tradition in Portugal to eat them roasted on Saint Martin’s Day, and in Tuscany on Saint Simon’s Day. When chestnuts are carefully roasted, the natural sweetness of the nut is revealed. This makes them an ideal snack if you want something to stave off a sweet tooth that also happens to be quite nutritious, chestnuts being comparatively low in calories and being a good source of fibre. They are also very rich in vitamin C, which may come as a surprise to you. Although they are technically nuts, they taste very unlike other nuts – the sweet, earthy taste is certainly worth a try if you’ve never had one before – and Roast Chestnuts Day is the perfect time to try that first one. Chestnuts are often roasted on a grill, which helps to remove their bitter, shiny skins, but you can make them at home using your conventional kitchen oven. All you need to do is cut a cross into each nut, put them on a roasting tin and bake them until the skins open. They are eaten after peeling away that tough, shiny skin.
How to Celebrate Roast Chestnuts Day
· It’s so, so easy to make roast chestnuts, so why not roast up a batch for yourself on the 14th December? Have them as a snack on their own, add them to stuffing or pair them with roasted beef.
· And you’ll be able to find them in most supermarkets during the festive season, so you won’t have to go foraging for them in the woods!
From Latin Alcyone, daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx. When her husband died in a shipwreck, Alcyone threw herself into the sea whereupon the gods transformed them both into halcyon birds (kingfishers). When Alcyone made her nest on the beach, waves threatened to destroy it. Aeolus restrained his winds and kept them calm during seven days in each year, so she could lay her eggs. These became known as the "halcyon days," when storms do not occur. Today, the term is used to denote a past period that is being remembered for being happy and/or successful.
Today reflect on seven successes or happy times of the year then pick one to thank Our Lord for and offer to Our Lord an appropriate gift for it for his birth!
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.
· 4th day, December 14th: THE ROOF—Self-denial Today we must practice self-denial in everything great or small. We must therefore do the very things from which nature shrinks, and if opportunity permits, abstain from some amusement in whatever way it presents itself. No TV today
· Jesse Tree ornament: Joseph: Matt. 1:18-25 Symbols: hammer, saw, chisel, angle
Tuesday: Litany of St. Michael the Archangel