Tuesday, December 6, 2022

 Saint Nicolas


How to be Saved as a Catholic

America’s largest religious group is mostly Protestant with 43 percent of people expressing affiliation with a Protestant congregation (Pew Research Center) . As Catholic’s we are often asked, “Have you been saved?” The answer is yes but…we must be in a state of grace. We are saved but it is not a one-time event and staying in the state of grace is a lifetime journey and that journey is full of twists and turns. To be saved as a catholic is simple; stay in the state of grace and if you sin; repent, confess your sins and act to be a better follower and maintain your journey and be a righteous person. To be a righteous person is the objective and is vital to be saved as a catholic. The former Bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmstead realized that in the current modern world it is difficult for a man to save himself and those he loves because the enemy he is fighting against is the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Bishop Olmstead has reached out to men in his diocese who are often alone and lost on a battlefield and called them to righteousness so they may be saved. Bishop Olmstead has developed a program called “Into the Breach” to follow to obtain and maintain grace and be a “saved” as a catholic and a way to save those we love (Olmstead).  

To be saved a person must have practices and habits of mind and body that support righteousness. According to Bishop Olmstead there are daily and monthly practices that will develop and form a person to love God with their whole mind, heart, soul, and strength. The daily practices are:

1.     Pray every day.  A catholic man must start his day with prayer. If we wish to love God, we must at the start of our day lift our mind and heart to our creator and the lover of our soul. Make the sign of the Cross. Say the Our Father, Hail Mary and the Glory Be. Pray before eating.

2.     Examine yourself before you go to sleep. Have you loved God, with your heart, mind, soul and with all your strength? What have you done well; not so well and what are your concerns? Ask for forgiveness for your sinfulness and ask for the grace to continue in His love.

3.     Go to Mass. In the Mass we meet our King and through the Eucharistic meal are fed to strengthen us and to aid us in building a righteous kingdom of heaven. Go to Mass as often as possible. Daily if you can. You must attend Mass on Sundays to remain in grace and honor our creator. Every Mass is a miracle.

4.     Read the bible. Reading the bible fills the mind, heart, and soul with the words of God and strengthens us for battles and fills us with awe. Via the holy word we grow in grace, peace, and wisdom.

5.     Keep Holy the Sabbath. Resting one day a week is essential to thriving in the Lord. Attend Mass and if in the state of grace receive our Lord. Listen and reflect on the homily. Ask the Lord to show you how to live the gospel daily. Do not buy and sell. Recreate yourself; live and give grace.

At least once a month Bishop Olmstead’s guidance is that we:

6.     Go to Confession. Without a change in the heart and mind of a man there can be no forgiveness of sin; we must avoid errors of sin and begin to change; to become a new person in Christ. We need to avoid the seven deadly sins and seek the beatitudes of Christ as a way of life and living. There are many theologians who state that the eighth deadly sin is fear itself (Havermale). It is fear and its natural animal reaction to fight or flight that is the root cause of our failings to create a Kingdom of God on earth. Saint John Paul II in his writings and talks also tells us to BE NOT AFRAID. In fear or anger we walk away from God. Our Lord, Jesus Christ taught us how to walk back toward God in His sermon on the mount through the Beatitudes. Each of the beatitudes is the antidote for the opposite deadly sins. Our Lord taught us to:

a.      Be not Fearful but to have faith and be of good courage.

b.     Be not Prideful but be MEEK; not assuming and inherit the earth.

c.      Be not Envious but be a COMFORT to your neighbor.

d.     Be not Slothful but HUNGER & THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

e.      Be not Angry but be patient and be a PEACEMAKER.

f.      Be not Greedy but be MERCIFUL and show generosity.

g.     Be not Gluttonous but be POOR IN SPIRIT; be a sacrifice for others.

h.     Be not Lustful but be PURE OF HEART; your heart is for God alone.

7.     Build a fellowship/fraternity with others. Soldiers alone are easy prey for the evil one. At least monthly be a brother with a good catholic organization. There are many to choose from. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17 

A catholic is saved by the grace of Christ; being saved is an ongoing process. A journey. On that journey, we must know the direction of travel (pray) and if we stray off path get back on the trail (daily examine). We must stop and eat and rest (Mass/Sabbath). We must get good directions (Bible and Confession) to get to our destination and if we are wise seek a good traveling companion (fellowship). 

Works Cited

Havermale, Richard. "Be Not Afraid 2018." Havermale, Richard. Be Not Afraid 2018. Phoenix: Amazon, 2018. iii. Document.

Olmstead, Thomas J. INTO-THE-BREACH-ROMAN-CATHOLIC-DIOCESE-OF-PHOENIX. 29 09 2015. https://www.archspm.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/INTO-THE-BREACH-ROMAN-CATHOLIC-DIOCESE-OF-PHOENIX.pdf. 04 12 2022.

Pew Research Center. In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace. 19 10 2029. https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/. 04 12 2022.



Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

feast of saint Nicholas

 John, Chapter 13, Verse 23

One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus LOVED, was reclining at Jesus’ side.

 

Lean on Him! 

Can, we say, “His mercy endures forever!” It is when we have received it (mercy) and have given it away that we find Him. Everybody needs to forgive somebody. 

Forgiveness will unleash a power in your life that is underrated and often ignored. It is underrated mainly because it is underused. We fail to capture the power of forgiveness because we are afraid of it, because we have grown comfortable in our familiar wounds, or because we are sinfully stubborn. But the power is there waiting for us.[1] 


Allen R. Hunt outlines there are three parts to forgiveness: 1) Receiving Forgiveness which involves experiencing God and forgiving yourself. 2) Deciding to Forgive. 3) Sharing Forgiveness.. 

St. Nicholas Feast Day (270–343)—December 6[2] 

From the ninth century in the East and the eleventh century in the West, Nicholas has been one of the most popular saints in Christendom and in Christian art and is the patron of many countries, dioceses, churches, and cities. He was a Greek bishop of Myra in Lycia (now Turkey). According to folklore, he may have saved three girls from prostitution, restored to life three children who had been killed, and saved three unjustly condemned men from death. While some sources say that he may have been imprisoned during the Diocletian persecution, there is no historical certainty that he suffered persecution for his faith. Likewise, while some sources place him at the Council of Nicaea in 325, it is uncertain if he attended. His charity to the poor is commemorated in modern times by those who follow the tradition of stuffing a boot or a stocking with gifts on his feast day. “Santa Claus” comes from the Dutch form of his name, “Sinterklaas.” He is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, and children. 

Things to Do[3] 

·       Today is a good day to teach your children the difference between Santa Claus and St. Nicholas. This story of the origin of Santa Claus will help you. Also learn all you can about St. Nicholas.

·       Read St. Nicholas of Bari, ancestor of Santa Claus.

·       Choose some of the recommended activities — a puppet show, a party, a visit from "St. Nicholas." Make sure to include in all the activities the story of St. Nicholas, virtues to imitate, and his significance in the Advent season. Read how different countries Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas.

·       To enhance your feasting, purchase a copy of the CD by the Anonymous 4 Legends of St. Nicholas. This is medieval music, all in honor of St. Nicholas, done by four female vocalists.

·       There are numerous recipes to enhance this feast, anything from a soup to dessert, so have fun in the kitchen trying different ones.

·       St. Nicholas did his charitable works secretly. Suggest that your children do one hidden act of kindness in imitation of the saint.

·       From the Netherlands we have the most popular recipe, speculaas (or St. Nicholas Cookies; Speculaus; Speculatius; Kris Kringle Cookies; Dutch spice cookies). You can find tips for using special speculaas cookie molds by Gene Wilson. Try these sites for St. Nicholas Cookie cutters or molds: House on the Hill, HOBI Picture Cookie Molds, Rycraft, and St. Nicholas Center. You could also use Nativity Cookie Cutters, like these from Cookie Craft. 

There are three stages of man: 1st you believe in Santa Claus; 2nd you don’t believe in Santa Claus and 3rd you become Santa Claus! 

Food and Drink[4] 

It should always be remembered that like Lent, Advent is a period of penitence and sacrifice. Prior to the 1917 Code of Canon Law, in fact, the Roman church observed a fast (albeit one much less demanding than the Lenten fast), and prior to Vatican II it continued to require fasting during the Advent Embertide. It is therefore a salubrious custom to practice some kind of abstinence (e.g. giving up a favorite food) during Advent as a sober reminder of the season. Yet because it anticipates the Nativity, Advent cannot help but be suffused with joy as well. Traditional treats, especially on St. Nicholas Day (December 6) and during the "Golden Nights" (December 16 to 24), have long been a part of Advent observance. These hints of celebration have nothing to do with the ungodly bacchanalia of the annual Christmas party at the office or on the block and can therefore be made part of a holy preparation for the Lord. 

·       Cookies: traditional treat during Advent, especially on St. Nicholas Day and during the octave before Christmas. Springerles or Peppernuts (Pfeffernusse) are popular in Germany, Diples ("folds," for the infant Jesus' swaddling clothes) in Greece, and Speculaas cookies (on St. Nicholas Day) in the Netherlands. 

·       Drinks: there are special holiday drinks to toast the imminent arrival of the Christ Child. Eggnog and Rum pots are especially popular during the Octave before Christmas or the Golden Nights (see Customs), while Swedish mulled wine or Bishop's wine is drunk on St. Nicholas Day (December 6). 

·       Fruitcake: alcoholic content and heavy texture, fruitcakes are the preferred winter treat for many adults. Again, the kind of fruitcake will various according to nationality. Do not use this as a frienemy gift! 

On the eve of the St. Nicholas party the treats served are the exchange of gifts, genuine Dutch cookies and Bishopwyn (bishop's wine). For children the wine is grape juice. But the grownups welcome the mulled Bishopwyn. With the people of the Netherlands, let us toast his memory with Bishopwyn and tell the beautiful legends of the charity of St. Nicholas. To give gifts in secret so that people would render him no thanks was surely a saintly act. 

INGREDIENTS

·       1 bottle of Claret

·       6 cloves

·       4 inches stick cinnamon 

DIRECTIONS

Break cinnamon into small pieces. Simmer wine and spices for about five minutes. Strain wine. Serve hot. 

Recipe Source: Family Advent Customs by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1954, 1979

 

Jesse Tree[5]

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


Catechism of the Catholic Church

PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST

SECTION ONE-MAN'S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

CHAPTER THREE-GOD'S SALVATION: LAW AND GRACE

Article 2-GRACE AND JUSTIFICATION

I. Justification

1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" and through Baptism:

But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ's Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:

(God) gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature.... For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.

1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.

1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God's merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or "justice") here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.

1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God's grace and man's freedom. On man's part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:

When God touches man's heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God's grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God's sight.

1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God's love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that "the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth," because "heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect . . . will not pass away." He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.

1995 The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the "inner man," justification entails the sanctification of his whole being:

Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.... But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Daily Devotions

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

·       Today is National Pawn Day; go Christmas shopping.

·       Religion in the home: Preschool for December

·       Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·       Make reparations to the Holy Face

·       Monday: Litany of Humility

·       Drops of Christ’s Blood

·       Rosary





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