Fourth Sunday of Advent
FEAST OF THE EXPECTENCY
5Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of FAITH, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, 6among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; 7to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christmastide reminds us we called to be holy: Paul often refers to Christians as “the holy ones” or “the saints.” The Israelite community was called a “holy assembly” because they had been separated for the worship and service of the Lord (see Lv 11:44; 23:1–44). The Christian community regarded its members as sanctified by baptism (Rom 6:22; 15:16; 1 Cor 6:11; Eph 5:26–27). Christians are called to holiness (1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thes 4:7), that is, they are called to make their lives conform to the gift they have already received.
ON KEEPING THE LORD'S DAY HOLY
The Celebration of the Creator's Work
"God blessed the seventh day and made it holy" (Gn 2:3)
14. In the first place, therefore, Sunday is the day of rest because it is the day "blessed" by God and "made holy" by him, set apart from the other days to be, among all of them, "the Lord's Day".
In order to grasp fully what the first of the biblical creation accounts means by keeping the Sabbath "holy", we need to consider the whole story, which shows clearly how every reality, without exception, must be referred back to God. Time and space belong to him. He is not the God of one day alone, but the God of all the days of humanity.
Therefore, if God "sanctifies" the seventh day with a special blessing and makes it "his day" par excellence, this must be understood within the deep dynamic of the dialogue of the Covenant, indeed the dialogue of "marriage". This is the dialogue of love which knows no interruption, yet is never monotonous. In fact, it employs the different registers of love, from the ordinary and indirect to those more intense, which the words of Scripture and the witness of so many mystics do not hesitate to describe in imagery drawn from the experience of married love.
Fourth Sunday of Advent
THE nearer we approach to the coming of Christ the more the Church sighs in her prayers for the Savior of mankind. She sings, therefore, at the Introit, drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just (Is. xlv. 8); “The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of His hands” (Ps. xviii. 2).
Stir up Thy might, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come and succor us with great power, that, by the help of Thy grace, the indulgence of Thy mercy may accelerate what our sins impede.
EPISTLE, i. Cor. iv. 1-5.
Brethren: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful. But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man s day, but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything: yet I am not hereby justified: but lie that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore, judge not before the time, until the Lord come: Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise from God.
How should priests be regarded by the faithful?
The Church wishes to inspire us with respect and veneration towards priests, who are ministers of Christ, dispensers of the mysteries of God, and advocates of religion. The Scripture says, “Let the priests that rule well be esteemed worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine” (i. Tim. v. 17). “He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me”; (St. Luke x. 16).
Why is this epistle read to-day?
The Church wishes, by pointing to the second advent of Christ, to remind the faithful to avoid judging their neighbors, but to judge themselves, and to cleanse their hearts for the reception of Jesus as our Savior, that they may not have to shrink from Him when He comes as Judge.
Can priests administer the holy sacraments as they please?
No, for, as the stewards of Jesus Christ, they must observe His will, which is that they should administer the sacraments for the glory of God and the salvation of the faithful. They are not permitted to “give that which is holy unto dogs” (Matt. viii. 6), and cannot, therefore, give absolution, or any sacrament, to those who are unfit, lest they thereby condemn themselves.
Why should they esteem it a small matter to be judged by men?
Because men generally judge by appearances, and not by reality. St. Paul says: “If I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (Gal. i. 10). But not only priests, the faithful also, must seek to please God more than men. How foolish are they who follow all silly and scandalous fashions in dress, gesture, and manners; who neglect the holy exercises of religion, and ask constantly, “What will the world say?” but never, “What will my God and Savior say?” if I do this or that”.
Why does St. Paul say, “But neither do I judge my own self”?
Because he could not know how God would judge him, “For man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred (Eccles. ix. 1); therefore, he adds, “I am not conscious to myself of anything, yet am I not hereby justified, but He that judgeth me is the Lord.” We should, therefore, examine ourselves thoroughly whether we are in sin; but if we find nothing in us which displeases God we are not on that account at liberty to think ourselves better than others, for before the mirror of our self-esteem we look quite different to what we are in truth before God, Who cannot be bribed. Oh, how many, who now think themselves innocent and holy, shall appear at the day of judgment stripped of their disguises, and the most secret workings of their hearts revealed by God to their eternal disgrace! This should determine us not to judge before the time, either ourselves or anyone else, of whose hearts we must know even less than of our own. “Let us therefore work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. ii. 12).
O Lord enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight no man living shall be justified (Ps. cxlii. 2).
GOSPEL. Luke iii. 1-6.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina, under the high priests Annas and Caiaphas: the word of the Lord was made unto John the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins, as it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His paths. Every valley shall be filled: and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Why is the time at which St. John began to preach so minutely described?
Because in that happy year the prophecy of Jacob was fulfilled, and the scepter being taken from Juda, the long-expected Messiahs showed Himself to the world, was baptized by John, and declared by His heavenly Father to be His beloved Son, Whom men should hear. Accordingly, that this time should never be forgotten, the evangelist, contrary to his usual custom, describes it particularly, mentioning the names both of the spiritual and temporal rulers.
Oh, that Thy way, Jesus, may be well prepared in my heart! Alas! assist me, O my Savior, to do what I cannot do by myself. Fill up the valley of my heart with Thy grace, and straighten my crooked and perverted will, till it shall conform to Thine own. Soften my rough and unruly mind; bring low, destroy, and remove whatever in me impedes Thy way, that Thou mayest come to me without hindrance, and possess and govern me forever. Amen
Feast of the Expectancy
This feast, which in recent times has been kept not only throughout the whole of Spain, but also in many other parts of the Catholic world, owes its origin to the bishops of the 10th Council of Toledo, in 656. These prelates thought that there was an incongruity in the ancient practice of celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation on the 25th of March, inasmuch as this joyful solemnity frequently occurs at the time when the Church is intent upon the Passion of Our Lord, so that it is sometimes obliged to be transferred into Easter time, with which it is out of harmony for another reason. They therefore decreed that, henceforth, in the Church of Spain there should be kept, eight days before Christmas, a solemn Feast with an octave, in honor of the Annunciation, and as a preparation for the great solemnity of Our Lord's Nativity.
In the course of time, however, the Church of Spain saw the necessity of returning to the practice of the Church of Rome and of the whole world, which solemnize the 25th of March as the day of Our Lady's Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God. But such had been, for ages, the devotion of the people for the Feast of the 18th of December, that it was considered requisite to maintain some vestige of it. They discontinued, therefore, to celebrate the Annunciation on this day; but the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the Holy Mother of God during the days immediately preceding Her giving Him birth. A new Feast was instituted, under the name of "the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin's Delivery."
This Feast, which sometimes goes under the name of Our Lady of O, or the Feast of O, on account of the great antiphons which are sung during these days, and, in a special manner, of that which begins O Virgo virginum (which is still used in the Vespers of the Expectation—together with the O Adonai, the antiphon of the Advent Office), was kept with great devotion in Spain. A High Mass was sung at a very early hour each morning during the octave, at which all who were with child, whether rich or poor, considered it a duty to assist, that they might thus honor Our Lady's Maternity, and beg Her blessing upon themselves.
It is no wonder that the Holy See approved of this pious practice being introduced into almost every other country. We find that the Church of Milan, Whose Advent fast lasted 40 days, long before Rome conceded this Feast to the various dioceses of Christendom, celebrated the Office of Our Lady's Annunciation on the sixth and last Sunday of Advent, and called the whole week following the Hebdomada de Exceptato (for thus the popular expression had corrupted the word Expectato). But it, too, has given way to the Feast of Our Lady's Expectation, which the Church has established and sanctioned as a means of exciting the attention of the faithful during these last days of Advent.
Most just indeed it is, O Holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire Thou hadst to see Him, Who had been concealed for nine months in Thy chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the Heavenly Father, Who is also Thine; to come to that blissful hour of His birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men of good will. Yes, dearest Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy Thy desires and ours. Make us redouble our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by Thy powerful prayers for us, that when the solemn hour has come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to His entrance into our hearts.
O Virgin of virgins! How shall this be? For never was there one like Thee, nor will there ever be. Ye daughters of Jerusalem, why look ye wondering at Me? What you behold is a divine mystery.
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.
· 8th day, December 18th THE MULE—Patience To practice this virtue, we must complain of no one or nothing. No shade of impatience should be seen on our countenance, nor an impatient word heard. Be brave. The Infant Jesus suffered much more for you.
Come and redeem us with outstretched arm.
O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with outstretched arm.
· As Moses approached the burning bush, so we approach the divine Savior in the form of a child in the crib, or in the form of the consecrated host, and falling down we adore Him. "Put off the shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground . . . I am who am." "Come with an outstretched arm to redeem us." This is the cry of the Church for the second coming of Christ on the last day. The return of the Savior brings us plentiful redemption.
Chanukah (Hebrew: חנוכה) is an eight-day Jewish festival, also known as the festival of lights. On each day a Menorah (an eight branched candelabra) is lit with an ascending number of candles to match the day. The reason for Chanukah is based on the story of the Maccabees battle with the Greeks. It is told that one pure bottle of olive oil lasted for eight days in the Holy Temple. It should have lasted only for the first day.
· It is customary to eat fried foods on Chanukah because of the significance of oil to the holiday. Among Ashkenazic Jews, this usually includes latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil) and doughnuts.
· A popular game during Hanukkah is dreidel. The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with one Hebrew letter inscribed on each face/side. These letters are Nun (like N), Gimel (like G), Hei (Like H) and Shin (like Sh). These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, a great miracle happened there, referring to the miracle of the oil.
· There is a special prayer called for the Miracles said during all prayer sessions and grace after meals. In this prayer the Lord is thanked for allowing the Jewish minority to overcome their much larger and stronger enemies (a recurrent theme in Jewish survival).
· Chanukah is not one of the Biblical festivals and Jews are permitted to work on Chanukah.
Hanukkah Top Events and Things to Do
· An event that gathers much attention is the White House Hanukkah Party. Watch it on TV (some parts are broadcast) or YouTube.
· Play a dreidel game, which consists of spinning a special four-sided block with Hebrew letters. Once you're out of game pieces, you can either get a loan or you're out until one person collects all of the game pieces.
· Make latkes and donuts at home. Many recipes can be found online.
· Listen to a special song is sung after the lighting of the candles, called Maoz Zur, 'the Rock of our Salvation'. Many renditions of it can be found on YouTube
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST
SECTION TWO-THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
"Teacher, what must I do . . .?"
2052 "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" To the young man who asked this question, Jesus answers first by invoking the necessity to recognize God as the "One there is who is good," as the supreme Good and the source of all good. Then Jesus tells him: "If you would enter life, keep the commandments." and he cites for his questioner the precepts that concern love of neighbor: "You shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother." Finally Jesus sums up these commandments positively: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
2053 To this first reply Jesus adds a second: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." This reply does not do away with the first: following Jesus Christ involves keeping the Commandments. the Law has not been abolished, but rather man is invited to rediscover it in the person of his Master who is its perfect fulfillment. In the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus' call to the rich young man to follow him, in the obedience of a disciple and in the observance of the Commandments, is joined to the call to poverty and chastity. The evangelical counsels are inseparable from the Commandments.
2054 Jesus acknowledged the Ten Commandments, but he also showed the power of the Spirit at work in their letter. He preached a "righteousness [which] exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees" as well as that of the Gentiles. He unfolded all the demands of the Commandments. "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill.' . . . But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment."
2055 When someone asks him, "Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?" Jesus replies: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. and a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets." The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law:
the commandments: "You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
The Decalogue in Sacred Scripture
2056 The word "Decalogue" means literally "ten words." God revealed these "ten words" to his people on the holy mountain. They were written "with the finger of God," unlike the other commandments written by Moses. They are pre-eminently the words of God. They are handed on to us in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. Beginning with the Old Testament, the sacred books refer to the "ten words," but it is in the New Covenant in Jesus Christ that their full meaning will be revealed.
2057 The Decalogue must first be understood in the context of the Exodus, God's great liberating event at the center of the Old Covenant. Whether formulated as negative commandments, prohibitions, or as positive precepts such as: "Honor your father and mother," the "ten words" point out the conditions of a life freed from the slavery of sin. the Decalogue is a path of life:
If you love the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply.
This liberating power of the Decalogue appears, for example, in the commandment about the sabbath rest, directed also to foreigners and slaves:
You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
2058 The "ten words" sum up and proclaim God's law: "These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. and he wrote them upon two tables of stone and gave them to me." For this reason these two tables are called "the Testimony." In fact, they contain the terms of the covenant concluded between God and his people. These "tables of the Testimony" were to be deposited in "the ark."
2059 The "ten words" are pronounced by God in the midst of a theophany (“The LORD spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire."). They belong to God's revelation of himself and his glory. the gift of the Commandments is the gift of God himself and his holy will. In making his will known, God reveals himself to his people.
2060 The gift of the commandments and of the Law is part of the covenant God sealed with his own. In Exodus, the revelation of the "ten words" is granted between the proposal of the covenant and its conclusion - after the people had committed themselves to "do" all that the Lord had said, and to "obey" it. The Decalogue is never handed on without first recalling the covenant (“The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.").
2061 The Commandments take on their full meaning within the covenant. According to Scripture, man's moral life has all its meaning in and through the covenant. the first of the "ten words" recalls that God loved his people first:
Since there was a passing from the paradise of freedom to the slavery of this world, in punishment for sin, the first phrase of the Decalogue, the first word of God's commandments, bears on freedom "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."
2062 The Commandments properly so-called come in the second place: they express the implications of belonging to God through the establishment of the covenant. Moral existence is a response to the Lord's loving initiative. It is the acknowledgement and homage given to God and a worship of thanksgiving. It is cooperation with the plan God pursues in history.
2063 The covenant and dialogue between God and man are also attested to by the fact that all the obligations are stated in the first person (“I am the Lord.") and addressed by God to another personal subject (“you"). In all God's commandments, the singular personal pronoun designates the recipient. God makes his will known to each person in particular, at the same time as he makes it known to the whole people:
The Lord prescribed love towards God and taught justice towards neighbor, so that man would be neither unjust, nor unworthy of God. Thus, through the Decalogue, God prepared man to become his friend and to live in harmony with his neighbor.... the words of the Decalogue remain likewise for us Christians. Far from being abolished, they have received amplification and development from the fact of the coming of the Lord in the flesh.
The Decalogue in the Church's Tradition
2064 In fidelity to Scripture and in conformity with the example of Jesus, the tradition of the Church has acknowledged the primordial importance and significance of the Decalogue.
2065 Ever since St. Augustine, the Ten Commandments have occupied a predominant place in the catechesis of baptismal candidates and the faithful. In the fifteenth century, the custom arose of expressing the commandments of the Decalogue in rhymed formulae, easy to memorize and in positive form. They are still in use today. the catechisms of the Church have often expounded Christian morality by following the order of the Ten Commandments.
2066 The division and numbering of the Commandments have varied in the course of history. the present catechism follows the division of the Commandments established by St. Augustine, which has become traditional in the Catholic Church. It is also that of the Lutheran confessions. the Greek Fathers worked out a slightly different division, which is found in the Orthodox Churches and Reformed communities.
2067 The Ten Commandments state what is required in the love of God and love of neighbor. the first three concern love of God, and the other seven love of neighbor. As charity comprises the two commandments to which the Lord related the whole Law and the prophets . . . so the Ten Commandments were themselves given on two tablets. Three were written on one tablet and seven on the other.
2068 The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them; The Second Vatican Council confirms: "The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments."
The unity of the Decalogue
2069 The Decalogue forms a coherent whole. Each "word" refers to each of the others and to all of them; they reciprocally condition one another. the two tables shed light on one another; they form an organic unity. To transgress one commandment is to infringe all the others. One cannot honor another person without blessing God his Creator. One cannot adore God without loving all men, his creatures. the Decalogue brings man's religious and social life into unity.
The Decalogue and the natural law
2070 The Ten Commandments belong to God's revelation. At the same time, they teach us the true humanity of man. They bring to light the essential duties, and therefore, indirectly, the fundamental rights inherent in the nature of the human person. the Decalogue contains a privileged expression of the natural law:
From the beginning, God had implanted in the heart of man the precepts of the natural law. Then he was content to remind him of them. This was the Decalogue.31
2071 The commandments of the Decalogue, although accessible to reason alone, have been revealed. To attain a complete and certain understanding of the requirements of the natural law, sinful humanity needed this revelation:
A full explanation of the commandments of the Decalogue became necessary in the state of sin because the light of reason was obscured, and the will had gone astray.
We know God's commandments through the divine revelation proposed to us in the Church, and through the voice of moral conscience. the obligation of the Decalogue
2072 Since they express man's fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. the Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart.
2073 Obedience to the Commandments also implies obligations in matter which is, in itself, light. Thus, abusive language is forbidden by the fifth commandment, but would be a grave offense only as a result of circumstances or the offender's intention. "Apart from me you can do nothing"
2074 Jesus says: "I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." The fruit referred to in this saying is the holiness of a life made fruitful by union with Christ. When we believe in Jesus Christ, partake of his mysteries, and keep his commandments, the Savior himself comes to love, in us, his Father and his brethren, our Father and our brethren. His person becomes, through the Spirit, the living and interior rule of our activity. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
· Jesse Tree ornament: Jesus is Lord: Ex. 3:2; 20:1 Symbols: burning bush, stone tablets
· Bake Cookies Day