Saturday, December 17, 2022
John, Chapter 5, Verse 45
For the last couple of months, we have focused on peace and love which is the natural fruit of being “Not Afraid”. Those who are not afraid place their faith and hope in Christ. For the next month we will focus on faith and hope to help us sustain our courage in the Lord—Be Not Afraid.
Hope for a Hopeless Time
If there is an age whose sole hope lies in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is our own. The evils committed by mankind today can scarcely be exaggerated. To mention just a few, these include blasphemy, the destruction of the family through abortion, divorce, euthanasia, widespread pornography, immoral fashions and lifestyles, homosexuality and so on. As Pope Pius XI once said, the contemporary world is so morally depraved that at any moment it could be plunged into a deeper spiritual misery than that reigning in the world when Our Blessed Redeemer was born. In consideration of so many crimes, the idea of divine vengeance naturally comes to mind. When we view this sinful world, groaning beneath the weight of a thousand crises and a thousand afflictions but nevertheless unrepentant; when we consider the alarming progress of neo-paganism, which is on the verge of conquering humanity; and when, on the other hand, we consider the lack of resolve, foresight, and unity among the so-called remnant, we are understandably terrified at the grim prospects of catastrophes that this generation may be calling upon itself. The reality is otherwise, for God does not abandon His creatures. Rather, He continuously assists and supports them with sufficient grace to aid them in choosing the right path. If they choose to follow a way other than His, the responsibility is theirs. Behold the grim picture of the contemporary world: on one hand, an iniquitous and sinful civilization and, on the other, the Creator holding high the divine scourge. Is there nothing left for mankind but fire and brimstone? As we face the dawn of the new millennium, can we hope for a future other than the scourge foretold by Sacred Scriptures for the final impenitence of the last days? Were God to act solely according to His justice, there is no doubt what we should expect. Indeed, could we even have made it as far as this twentieth century? Nevertheless, since God is not only just but also merciful, the gates of salvation have not yet been shut against us. A people unrelenting in its impiety has every reason to expect God’s rigor. However, He Who is infinitely merciful, does not want the death of this sinful generation but that it “be converted...and live.” His grace thus insistently pursues all men, inviting them to abandon their evil ways and return to the fold of the Good Shepherd. If an impenitent humanity has every reason to fear every catastrophe, a repentant humanity has every reason to expect every mercy. Indeed, for God’s mercy to be poured on the contrite sinner, his repentance need not have run its full course. Even while still in the depths of the pit, if the sinner but sincerely and earnestly turn to God with a budding repentance in his heart, he will immediately find help, for God never disregards him. God is charity, so the simple mention of the Most Holy Name of Jesus evokes love. It is the infinite, limitless love that drove the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity to become man. It is the love expressed in the utter humiliation of a God Who comes to us as a poor infant, born in a cave. It is the love shown in those thirty years of hidden life spent in the humility of the strictest poverty, in the three grueling years of evangelization, when the Son of Man traveled highways and country roads, climbed mountains, crossed valleys, rivers and lakes, visited cities and villages, walked through deserts and hamlets, spoke to rich and poor, dispensing love and, for the most part, reaping ingratitude. It is the love manifested in that supreme moment of the Last Supper when, after generously washing the feet of His apostles, He instituted the Holy Eucharist. It is the love of that last kiss bestowed on Judas, of that poignant look at Peter, of those insults received and born patiently and meekly, of those sufferings endured until the last drop of blood was shed.
Ember Saturday"Holy impatience" over the coming of the Lord, both in the manger and in glory at the end of time.
Psalm 147:12, 16-17 "Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem: praise thy God, O Sion. Who giveth snow like wool: scattereth mists like ashes. He sendeth his crystal-like morsels: who shall stand before the face of his cold?"
Read Explore the benefits of going to confession during Advent.
Reflect "If we say that we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 Jn 1:10).
Pray Add this "O Antiphon" to your daily or meal-time prayer today: "O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness." (Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, Revised Edition, 76)
Act Make going to confession a priority before Christmas.
Christ’s Seven Messianic Titles
December 17 marks the beginning of the O Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with seven magnificent Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ. The Church in this seven Golden Nights travels through the centuries recalling the longing for the Redeemer.
For more information on the O Antiphons, see
- O Come! The O Antiphons
- Rejoice the Lord is Near!
- Build an O Antiphon House by Jennifer Gregory Miller.
O Antiphons The "Octave" Before Christmas and/or the Golden Nights
Today also marks the beginning of the O Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy in preparation of Christ. With each new Sunday heightening our sense of anticipation and with every Advent custom doing the same, it is little wonder that the eight days before Christmas became a semi-official octave of impatient expectation. This is expressed liturgically in the Divine Office's special Magnificat antiphons for this period. Beginning on the evening of December 17 during Vespers, a "Greater" or "O" antiphon (so named for its opening vocative) is said which explicitly invokes the Son of God under various titles and begs Him to come. The Gregorian chant for these antiphons is exquisite, as are the antiphons themselves, which call attention to the Word's different manifestations to man in the Old Testament and to several of His divine attributes. The antiphons are also noteworthy for their "code."
The titles for Christ from each antiphon form an acrostic which, when read backwards, spells, "ERO CRAS" -- "I will be [there] tomorrow!" It is as if Christ were answering our prayers through the prayers themselves. Finally, the Greater antiphons are the inspiration of the beautiful medieval hymn, Veni, Veni Emmanuel. Each stanza of this famous song is a poetic rendering of an antiphon, which is why the hymn is traditionally sung only during the eight days prior to Christmas. In many places, however, the octave of preparation was extended over nine days, making a Novena. By special permission, the "Golden Mass" of Ember Wednesday was sometimes offered in the pre-dawn hours for nine consecutive days prior to Christmas. Central Europe observed the "Golden Nights," a festive season honoring the Blessed Virgin, the expectant Mother of God; in fact, December 18 was once the Feast of the Expectancy in Spain.
In the Alps, schoolchildren observed the custom of Josephstragen -- "carrying St. Joseph." Each night, a group of boys would carry a statue of St. Joseph to another boy's home. The night after the visit, the boy who had been visited would join the procession, making the number of carriers grow progressively larger. On Christmas Eve all the boys, accompanied by schoolgirls dressed in white, would process the statue through the town to the church, where it would be placed near the manger.
In Latin America, on the other hand, a Novena to the Holy Child (La Novena del Niño) was held in which prayers would be said and lively carols sung in front of the church's empty manger.
O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly, Come, and teach us the way of prudence.
Today, according to the Roman Martyrology, is the feast of St Lazarus known as the brother of St Martha and St Mary of Bethany. He was the man whom Jesus raised from the dead after having been dead and in his tomb for four days. The Bible does not trace his history after the miracle, but tradition says he became a missionary to Gaul, the first bishop of Marseilles, France, and a martyr in the persecutions of Domitian.
Things to do
· Read this account of St. Lazarus of Bethany at the The Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus website.
· Read about Bethany, where Jesus raised St. Lazarus from the dead.
· Read about the Agios Lazaros Church in Cyprus.
· Read about the translation of the relics of St. Lazarus.
The Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem
The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus is one of the orders of chivalry to survive the downfall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the attempts by the Crusader knights to win control of the Holy Land from the forces of Islam.
In theory the Order remained a military one, but with the exception of a brief period in the 17th century it played no military role after 1291. The Order of Saint Lazarus is one of the most ancient of the European orders of chivalry. At the very least it dates back to the time of the Crusader knights. From its foundation in the 12th century, the members of the Order were dedicated to two ideals: aid to those suffering from the dreadful disease of leprosy and the defense of the Christian faith.
Today the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem is an international self-governing and independent body, having its own Constitution; it may be compared with a kind of electoral kingdom. According to the said Constitution the Order is nonpolitical, oecumenical or nondenominational, as its membership is open to all men and women being practicing members of the Christian faith in good standing within their particular denomination. Its international membership consists of Roman-catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Orthodox, United, Old Catholic, New Apostolic and other Christians, upholding with their lives, fortunes and honor the principles of Christianity.
Traditionally it is organized as a Christian Chivalric Order. The Order is registered in London in accordance with the laws in England. It is both a Military Order of Mercy and a Hospitaller Order dedicated to the care and assistance of the poor and the sick. Its aim is to preserve and defend the Christian faith, to guard, assist succor and help the poor, the sick and dying, to promote and maintain the principles of Christian chivalry and to follow the teachings of Christ and His Holy Church in all its works. With the exception of the present Teutonic Order ("Deutscher Orden") the Order of Saint Lazarus is today the smallest of the orders of Christian chivalry. It is made up of approximately five thousand members in the five continents. The Order sees itself as an oecumenical Christian order whose genesis goes back to the Holy Land, to the crusades and to the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
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.
· THE CRIB—Confidence-Build the little Crib by an unbounded confidence in God. Give no way to sadness in adversity. Also think not too much of our past sins and faults, making many acts of hope in God's mercy instead. Reflect a little each hour on the great love of God, who becomes Man for us.
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 3 THE CHURCH, MOTHER AND TEACHER
2047 The moral life is a spiritual worship. Christian activity finds its nourishment in the liturgy and the celebration of the sacraments.
2048 The precepts of the Church concern the moral and Christian life united with the liturgy and nourished by it.
2049 The Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, on the basis of the Decalogue which states the principles of moral life valid for every man.
2050 The Roman Pontiff and the bishops, as authentic teachers, preach to the People of God the faith which is to be believed and applied in moral life. It is also encumbent on them to pronounce on moral questions that fall within the natural law and reason.
2051 The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.
The Ten Commandments
Exodus 20 2-17
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness
of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the
earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God,
visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those
who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless
who takes his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the
seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or
your daughter, your manservant or your maidservant or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your
gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the
seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God
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 house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or his maidservant or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before me . . .
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain . . .
Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy. . .
Honor your father and your mother . . .
You shall not kill.
Neither shall you commit adultery.
Neither shall you steal.
Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor.
Neither shall you covet your neighbor's wife .
You shall not desire . . . anything that is your neighbor's.
A Traditional Catechetical Formula
1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
3. Remember to keep holy the LORD'S Day.
4. Honor your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
· JESSE TREE: Jesus is Wisdom: Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus in old Bibles) 24:2; Wisdom 8:1 Symbols: oil lamp, open book