Friday in the Octave of the Immaculate Conception
FEAST OF JUAN DIEGO-CHRISTMAS CARD DAY
John, Chapter 14, Verse 15
“If you LOVE me, you will keep my commandments.
What are Christ’s commandments?
Man’s Need for God’s Commandments
God created Man with free will to choose between good and evil (CCC 1732) and gives consequences for those choices (CCC 1008). From the beginning, God gave “commandments” to help Man choose to enter into the “sheer goodness” of union with God and other men (CCC 1). At Eden (Gen 3:1-24), Man abused his freedom by disobeying God’s commandment and breaking harmony with God in the Fall (CCC 400, 416, 1707, 1739). After liberating Man from slavery in Egypt, God offered the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17; Deut 5:6-22) to help guide Man to peace and happiness. Man continues to be accountable to keep God’s commandments (CCC 1745; 2072).
· Modern Man has however increasingly rejected God and His Commandments, accepting instead the soggy cowardice of “tolerance” where there are no rights and wrongs.
· Like ancient Israel where “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), modern culture is falling into chaos and decay: the denial of God,
· the viral expansion of a Culture of Death which embraces contraception (literally, against life), abortion and euthanasia,
· the abuse of the sacredness of sexuality with the “hook up culture”,
o the bearing children out of wedlock and the abandonment of fatherhood,
o the pornography epidemic among men,
o the celebration of homosexual acts and “marriages”,
· the brainwashing of 24×7 personal media that distracts and drives obsessive materialism and the narcissism of social media, etc.
Tragically, Man cannot escape the consequences of breaking God’s Commandments in this life or in the life to come. The coming Judgment of Jesus Christ is inescapable.
The Commandments of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ reasserts the importance of the Ten Commandments, but also raises the bar. Jesus: Reasserts the Ten Commandments – Jesus reiterates the unchanging requirement of the Commandments (Matt 5:17-20). The Magisterium continues to provide clear teaching on the Commandments (CCC 2052-2557). The Ten Commandments (cf. Ex 20:1-17), which Jesus as a Person of the Trinity authored, are:
- I am the LORD your God: you shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not kill.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Christ commands a more rigorous adherence to the Ten Commandments – Rather than abolish the Commandments, Jesus comes to fulfill them and to reiterate that men must keep the Commandments. He commands a new and more rigorous understanding of the Ten Commandments that surpasses the teachings of the scribes and the Pharisees, proclaiming that anyone who is angry with his brother is liable to the hell of fire and that looking at a woman with lust and divorcing one’s wife is equivalent to adultery. Jesus also commands Man to give with anonymity, pray and fast in private.
Offers a new synthesis of the Ten Commandments – When asked about the greatest Commandment, Jesus offers a new synthesis, saying
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets”.
1. Proclaims the rigorous New Commandment of Love–Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. In other teachings, Jesus explains that this kind of love includes forgiveness, the love of enemies and to refrain from habitually judging others.
2. Commands the performance of the acts of mercy – In the parable of The Sheep and Goats, Jesus makes it clear that only those who perform the acts of mercy are truly worthy to enter heaven: feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned (CCC 2447). Jesus commands men to be merciful and offers the examples of mercy in The Parable of the Good Samaritan and His own “washing the feet” of the Apostles.
3. Commands Men to pray – Jesus directs men to pray the Lord’s Prayer, urges men to gather together to pray, to pray boldly and to be persistent in prayer.
4. Insists on Repentance and Confession – From His earliest public ministry, Jesus commands Man to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. He instructs Man to confess sins with contrition and turn from Sin. He gives the Apostles the power to forgive Sin (CCC 1461-1467), reconciling Man and God (CCC 1485-1498).
5. Instructs men to partake in the Eucharist – At the Last Supper, Jesus offers the Eucharist (thanksgiving), commanding all men to consume the Eucharist. To have “life”, men must eat (literally, “gnawing on”) the Body and Blood of Christ, the Bread of Life.
6. Makes keeping His Commandments an absolute requirement – Jesus makes it clear that Man must keep the Commandments: “If you would enter into life, keep the commandments” “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” He urges Man to perfection, saying “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” and insists that vigilance is an urgent necessity. Despite the near impossibility of “entering through the Narrow Gate”, Jesus teaches that all men can be saved saying “” With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” and the Church reaffirms that “What God commands He makes possible by His Grace” (CCC 2082).
7. Commands men to evangelize – Christ commands men to “let your light shine” and to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Saint Juan Diego
St Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548). Little is known about the life of Juan Diego before his conversion, but tradition and archaeological and iconographical sources, along with the most important and oldest indigenous document on the event of Guadalupe, "El Nican Mopohua" (written in Náhuatl with Latin characters, 1556, by the Indigenous writer Antonio Valeriano), give some information on the life of the saint and the apparitions. Juan Diego was born in 1474 with the name "Cuauhtlatoatzin" ("the talking eagle") in Cuautlitlán, today part of Mexico City, Mexico. He was a gifted member of the Chichimeca people, one of the more culturally advanced groups living in the Anáhuac Valley. When he was 50 years old, he was baptized by a Franciscan priest, Fr Peter da Gand, one of the first Franciscan missionaries.
On 9 December 1531, when Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. She asked him to go to the bishop and to request in her name that a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out her grace upon those who invoked her. The bishop, who did not believe Juan Diego, asked for a sign to prove that the apparition was true.
On 12 December, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. Here, the Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find in bloom. He obeyed, and although it was wintertime, he found roses flowering. He gathered the flowers and took them to Our Lady who carefully placed them in his mantle and told him to take them to the bishop as "proof". When he opened his mantle, the flowers fell on the ground and there remained impressed, in place of the flowers, an image of the Blessed Mother, the apparition at Tepeyac. With the Bishop's permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was placed for veneration. Here he cared for the church and the first pilgrims who came to pray to the Mother of Jesus. Much deeper than the "exterior grace" of having been "chosen" as Our Lady's "messenger", Juan Diego received the grace of interior enlightenment and from that moment, he began a life dedicated to prayer and the practice of virtue and boundless love of God and neighbor.
He died in 1548 and was buried in the first chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. He was beatified on 6 May 1990 by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Guadalupe, Mexico City. The miraculous image, which is preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, shows a woman with native features and dress. She is supported by an angel whose wings are reminiscent of one of the major gods of the traditional religion of that area. The moon is beneath her feet and her blue mantle is covered with gold stars. The black girdle about her waist signifies that she is pregnant. Thus, the image graphically depicts the fact that Christ is to be "born" again among the peoples of the New World and is a message as relevant to the "New World" today as it was during the lifetime of Juan Diego.
Things to Do
· Read Pope John Paul II's homily at the canonization of St. Juan Diego.
· Meditate on Our Lady's beautiful words to St. Juan Diego: "Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son; let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also, do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?"
· Cook some Mexican dishes for dinner and bake a Rose Petal Pound Cake or other rose theme for dessert in honor of St. Juan Diego.
· From the Catholic Culture Library:
· For music for Juan Diego's and Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast, see www.savae.org. The San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble have two cds of authentic music by Mexican medieval composers. Very beautiful!
· Visit Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas for detailed accounts on the apparition to Juan Diego.
Christmas Card Day
Way back in 1843, the first commercial Christmas card was created in England by Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant who was responsible for the idea of sending greetings scribbled into the now familiar cards we get around the season of good cheer. Christmas Card Day honors its inventor on the 9th of December. The first ever commercial Christmas card showed a family raising a toast, and in the following year’s designs showing flowers or depicting the promise of spring were favored. Lithograph firm Prang and Mayer started selling their whimsical Christmas cards, often featuring children or cartoon animals, across the pond to America in 1874. By 1880, Prang and Mayer were producing a massive five million cards a year. With so many designs, shapes and sizes, some Christmas cards have become collector’s items which have been known to shift at a pretty penny at auction. One of the world’s first cards, commissioned by Cole and produced by J. C. Horsley, saw the hammer come down at £22,250 in 2001. Another one of Horsley’s cards sold for almost £9000 in 2005 – and if you want to see a big collection of these coveted cards you can drop by the British Museum to see Queen Mary’s early 1900s collection.
Today, seasonal cards are posted all over the world and can be found in hundreds of thousands of designs. The most popular messages you’ll find inside a Christmas card are ‘seasons greetings’ and ‘merry Christmas, and a happy new year’ – but many also stick to religious roots by featuring a short biblical verse or a religious blessing.
How to Celebrate Christmas Card Day
· If you’ve got time, it’s always nice to make handmade cards to send out. Get hold of some glitter and a dab of glue and see what you can come up with. The recipients are sure to appreciate it – or if you have children, get them involved in making cards for friends and family! With the advent of e-mail, it’s easier than ever to send Christmas wishes to friend and family across the world – e-cards appeared in the 90s and are frequently used in place of physical cards, so you’ve got no excuse nowadays not to send those season’s greetings. But since nothing beats the real thing, perhaps now is the right time to send out those Christmas cards so they all get to your family and friends before the last post on 23rd December! And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you could always send out some cheery cards to celebrate the coming of the new year!
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
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
1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.
1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.
1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God's gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.
1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:
Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.
2000 Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God's call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God's interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.
2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:"
Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.
2002 God's free initiative demands man's free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. the soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. the promises of "eternal life" respond, beyond all hope, to this desire:
If at the end of your very good works . . ., you rested on the seventh day, it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works, which are indeed "very good" since you have given them to us, we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life.
2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit." Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.
2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved. However, according to the Lord's words "Thus you will know them by their fruits" - reflection on God's blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.
A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: "Asked if she knew that she was in God's grace, she replied: 'If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.'"
In order to prevent dehydration, anyone who exercises (especially athletes) should drink water before, during, and after the workout.
The following tips can help ensure your body has the hydration it requires for optimum exercise performance and recovery. These are general guidelines and may need to be increased for high-intensity or endurance activities or races.
If you are a serious athlete, you may want to weigh yourself before and after workouts to keep track of your fluid losses. Doing so will help you develop an individual hydration schedule.
· Drink at 16 ounces of water about two to three hours before exercising.
· Drink 8 ounces of water about 30 minutes before exercising.
· Drink 8 ounces of water every 15 to 30 minutes during exercise
· If exercising longer than 60 minutes, drink about 12 ounces of a sports drink that contains a mixture of carbohydrates every 20 to 30 minutes.
· Drink 8 to 16 ounces of water 30 minutes after exercise.
· If you weighed yourself before exercise, weigh yourself again and drink 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound of body weight lost.
Throughout the Day
· Drink at least one-half to three-fourths of your body weight in ounces of clean water throughout the entire day.
· Drink an additional 8 ounces of water for every cup of soda, coffee, tea, or alcohol consumed. These beverages are acidic and contribute to additional water loss in the body.
· The body can only utilize about 12-16 ounces of water at one time. Thus, when rehydrating, drink 16 ounces of water every 30 to 60 minutes.
· Drink water BEFORE you get thirsty. When you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Thus, drink water regularly throughout the day.
· In preparation for a sports performance, the time to really focus on proper hydration is the three days prior to the event.
Ballet Arizona takes the Symphony Hall stage in grand fashion with this holiday classic. Celebrate the joy and wonder of the season with Ib Andersen’s The Nutcracker as Tchaikovsky’s cherished score is masterfully performed by The Phoenix Symphony. Follow Clara’s wintry adventures as she battles mischievous mice and charms the Sugar Plum Fairy. Whether this is your first Nutcracker or your 101st, this heartwarming tradition never fails to enchant and draw smiles from all!