Ecclesiastes, Chapter 12, Verse 5-7
5 When one is AFRAID of heights, and perils in the street; When the almond tree blooms, and the locust grows sluggish and the caper berry is without effect, Because mortals go to their lasting home, and mourners go about the streets; 6 Before the silver cord is snapped and the golden bowl is broken, And the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the pulley is broken at the well, 7 And the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.
This chapter of Ecclesiastes is a tribute to life and is a poem on old age and death. The poem’s mysterious imagery has often been interpreted symbolically. Above all it seeks to evoke an atmosphere as well as an attitude toward death and old age. The poet references to the human body—“guardians”: the arms; “strong men”: the legs; “women who grind”: the teeth; “those who look”: the eyes; “the doors”: the lips; “daughters of song”: the voice; “the almond tree blooms”: resembling the white hair of old age; “the locust…sluggish”: the stiffness in movement of the aged; “the caper berry”: a stimulant for appetite. The golden bowl suspended by the silver cord is a symbol of life; the snapping of the cord and the breaking of the bowl, a symbol of death. The pitcher…the pulley: another pair of metaphors for life and its ending. Death is portrayed in terms of the description of creation in the body corrupts in the grave, and the life breath (“spirit”), or gift of life, returns to God who had breathed upon what he had formed.
How to Finish Well
By God’s grace we all hope to finish well. The poet gives us his plan on how to finish well.
1. Don’t lose sight of the big picture (entire situation), especially when you are young.
2. Do what is right before it is too late to correct yourself.
3. Use your words like tools to shepherd and add value to others.
4. Don’t try to master everything in life, just what is important.
and obey God, because He is the ultimate judge.
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:
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.
The Mystery of Man's
Reconciliation with God
Lowliness is assured by majesty, weakness by power, mortality by eternity. To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that was incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in the other.
He who is true God was therefore born in the complete and perfect nature of a true man, whole in his own nature, whole in ours. By our nature we mean what the Creator had fashioned in us from the beginning, and took to himself in order to restore it.
For in the Savior there was no trace of what the deceiver introduced and man, being misled, allowed to enter. It does not follow that because he submitted to sharing in our human weakness he therefore shared in our sins.
He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself invisible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.
Thus, the Son of God enters this lowly world. He comes down from the throne of heaven yet does not separate himself from the Father's glory. He is born in a new condition, by a new birth.
He was born in a new condition, for, invisible in his own nature, he became visible in ours. Beyond our grasp, he chose to come within our grasp. Existing before time began, he began to exist at a moment in time. Lord of the universe, he hid his infinite glory and took the nature of a servant. Incapable of suffering as God, he did not refuse to be a man, capable of suffering. Immortal, he chose to be subject to the laws of death.
He who is true God is also true man. There is no falsehood in this unity as long as the lowliness of man and the preeminence of God coexist in mutual relationship.
As God does not change by his condescension, so man is not swallowed up by being exalted. Each nature exercises its own activity, in communion with the other. The Word does what is proper to the Word, the flesh fulfills what is proper to the flesh.
One nature is resplendent with miracles, the other falls victim to injuries. As the Word does not lose equality with the Father's glory, so the flesh does not leave behind the nature of our race.
One and the same person - this must be said over and over again - is truly the Son of God and truly the son of man. He is God in virtue of the fact that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He is man in virtue of the fact that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
Receive, O Virgin Mary, the word
which the Lord has made known to you
by the message of the angel:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
both God and man,
--and you will be called blessed among women (alleluia).
A virgin, you will indeed bear a son;
ever chaste and holy, you will be
the mother of our Savior.
--And you will...
God our Father,
your Word became man and was born of the Virgin Mary.
May we become more like Jesus Christ,
whom we acknowledge as our redeemer, God and man.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
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.
· 5th day, December 15th: THE STRAW—Mortification Today the infant Jesus desires mortification from us; therefore, let us watch for opportunities with a joyful heart. Not look about when we are walking; not lean back when sitting; not warm ourselves when cold; not satisfy the taste at table; when tempted to impatience not to show it and yield our own opinion to that of others. Today really listen to others
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.
· Today's Fast: Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: Families of St. Joseph.
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
John Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible.