Thursday, December 22, 2022

 


Thursday in the Fourth week of Advent 

John, Chapter 17, Verse 23-26

23 I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you LOVED them even as you loved me. 24 Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. 26 I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” 

It would be a good practice to make a prayer of praise to our God when we get up and when we go to bed. 

For the evening prayer might I suggest sitting quietly before bed reflecting on Psalm 40:11 “Be still and know I am God.” Offer to our Lord your good works, and your failings, and praise Him for the graces He has given in regard to your concerns. 


Coming of the Lord and the Last Judgment[1]


As Catholics, we are mindful and profess in our Creed that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. The Second Vatican Council's "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church" states, "Already the final age of the world is with us and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect" (No. 48). To try to grasp the when, what and how of this Second Coming and last judgment, we really need to glean the various passages in Sacred Scripture to see how our Church has interpreted them. They are united in one drama. Our Lord in the Gospel spoke of His second coming. He indicated that various signs would mark the event.

1.     Mankind would suffer from famine, pestilence, and natural disasters.

2.     False prophets who claim to be the Messiah will deceive and mislead people.

3.     Nations will wage war against each other.

4.     The Church will endure persecution.

5.     Worse yet, the faith of many will grow cold and they will abandon the faith, even betraying and hating one another.

6.     St. Paul describes a "mass apostasy" before the Second Coming, which will be led by the "son of perdition," the "Man of Lawlessness," the "adversary who exalts himself above every so-called god proposed for worship." This "lawless one" is part of the work of Satan, and with power, signs, wonders, and seductions will bring to ruin those who have turned from the truth.

7.     However, "the Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and annihilate him by manifesting His own presence." The Catechism affirms, "God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the last judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world" (No. 667).

8.     Our Lord will come suddenly. "The Son of Man in His day will be like the lightening that flashes from one end of the sky to the other" St. Peter predicts, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief and on that day the heavens will vanish with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire and the earth, and all its deeds will be made manifest" (2 Pt 3:10).

9.     Death will be no more. The dead shall rise and those souls who have died will be united again to their bodies. All will have a glorious, transformed, spiritualized body as St. Paul said, "He will give a new form to this lowly body of ours and remake it according to the pattern of His glorified body...".

10.  At this time, the final, or general judgment will occur. Jesus said, "Those who have done right shall rise to life; the evildoers shall rise to be damned". Our Lord described this judgment as follows: "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, escorted by all the angels of heaven, He will sit upon His royal throne and all the nations will be assembled before Him. Then He will separate them into two groups, as a shepherd separated sheep from goats" Here each person will have to account for his conduct and the deepest secrets of his soul will come to light. How well each person has responded to the prompting of God's grace will be made clear. Our attitude and actions toward our neighbor will reflect how well we have loved our Lord. "As often as you did it for one of My least brothers, you did it for Me". Our Lord will judge us accordingly. For those who have died and already have faced the particular judgment, their judgment will stand. Those living at the time of the Second Coming will receive judgment.

a.      Those who have rejected the Lord in this life, who have sinned mortally, who have no remorse for sin and do not seek forgiveness, will have condemned themselves to hell for all eternity.

b.     "By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one's works and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love (Catechism, No. 678).

c.      The souls of the righteous will enter heavenly glory and enjoy the beatific vision and those who need purification will undergo it.

We do not know when the Second Coming will occur. Jesus said, "As to the exact day or hour, no one knows it, neither the angels in heaven nor even the Son, but only the Father. Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake! You do not know when the appointed time will come"

God’s Handiwork[2] 

Every Christmas although the same in many ways is always new for each Christmas expresses a hope learned from a lifetime of praising God. For every Christmas if we open our eyes to truth, we will see the handiwork of God, the rock of our salvation. Perhaps in these final days of anticipation it would do us well to reflect on the virtues of Mary Christ’s very own mother and in these final days in some way reflect them in our own lives. 

Mary carried Jesus in her womb with great patience. As a child I remember Christmas was always a great strain on my patience. Can you imagine the strain on this poor young girl from Nazareth? She of course could not have done this without first having the virtues of humility, generosity, and a chase heart which led her to have great patience. 

Patience the courage of a serene soul 

This world being a place of merit is rightly called a valley of tears; for we are all placed in it to suffer, that we may, by patience, gain our own souls unto life eternal, as our Lord Himself says, in your patience you shall possess your souls. [Luke 21 19] God gave us the Blessed Virgin Mary as a model of all virtues, but more especially as an example of patience. St. Francis de Sales, amongst other things, remarks, that it was precisely for this reason that at the marriage-feast of Cana Jesus Christ gave the Blessed Virgin an answer, by which He seemed to value her prayers but little: Woman, what is that to thee and to Me? [John 2:4] 

And He did this that He might give us the example of the patience of His most holy Mother. But what need have we to seek for instances of this virtue? Mary's whole life was a continual exercise of her patience; for, as the Angel revealed to St. Bridget, "as a rose grows up amongst thorns, so did the Blessed Virgin grow up amongst tribulations." Compassion alone for the Redeemer's sufferings sufficed to make her a martyr of patience. Hence St. Bonaventure says, "that a crucified Mother conceived a crucified Son." In speaking of her dolor’s, we have already considered how much she suffered, both in her journey to Egypt, and during her residence there, as also during the time she lived with her Son in the house at Nazareth. What Mary endured when present at the death of Jesus on Calvary is alone sufficient to show us how constant and sublime was her patience: There stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother. 

Then it was that precisely by the merit of her patience, as Blessed Albert the Great says, she brought us forth to the life of grace." If we, then, wish to be the children of Mary, we must endeavor to imitate her in her patience: "For what," says St. Cyprian, "can enrich us with greater merit in this life, and greater glory in the next, than the patient enduring of sufferings?" God said, by the prophet Osee, I will hedge up thy way with thorns. [2:6] To this St. Gregory adds, that "the way of the elect is hedged with thorns." As a hedge of thorns protects a vineyard, so does God protect His servants from the danger of attaching themselves to the earth, by encompassing them with tribulations. 

Therefore St. Cyprian concludes that it is patience that delivers us from sin and from Hell. It is also patience that makes Saints: Patience hath a perfect work, [James 1:4] bearing in peace, not only the crosses which come immediately from God, such as sickness, poverty, but also those which come from men---persecutions, injuries, and the rest. St. John saw all the Saints bearing palm branches---the emblem of martyrdom---in their hands; After this I saw a great multitude, and palms were in their hands; [Apoc. 7:9] thereby denoting that all adults who are saved must be martyrs, either by shedding their blood for Christ or by patience. 

Happiness is being patient with yourself 

Happiness is a choice; just as love is a choice. We either decide to be happy or we do not. No amount of money or material things will bring us joy, no amount of pleasure or power either. Mary knew that true happiness comes from God’s mercy. 

That is a choice too. God’s mercy is given to those who fear Him and then in turn honor the gift of love. We in order to accept the gift of mercy must be open to receive. We make a choice. It is funny Mary’s whose name means bitterness was just the opposite. She emptied herself to be filled to the brim with God’s love and within three days we commemorate that she gave birth to Christ our redeemer. I imagine she pondered on this day ages ago as she felt His movement within her that his mercy is overpowering. Let us empty ourselves of all our bitterness and resentments asking Mary to pray for us as we do. Let us in these remaining days before Christmas do all we can to prepare for our Lord Jesus. Let us receive God’s mercy through the sacraments which He has established through His Apostle’s down through the ages to us today. 

If you have not gone to confession-do. Receive His mercy. Receive the Eucharist be made whole and prepare for his birth. Give mercy in return to any you have offended, pray and do-good works toward those who have offended you. In this way we emulate our God whose power is perfected in mercy.  

Be at peace.  

Spiritual Crib[3] 

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. 

·       12th day, December 22nd: ST. JOSEPHObedience Today you must try to please the Divine Infant by cheerful, and very prompt obedience. Be obedient for the love of Jesus in great and little things or in easy ones. Do nothing without permission.

Evening Antiphon

Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.

O King of the Gentiles and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one; Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.

 

Catechism of the Catholic Church

PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST

SECTION TWO-THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

CHAPTER ONE-YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND

Article 1-THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

I. "You Shall Worship the Lord Your God and Him Only Shall You Serve"

2084 God makes himself known by recalling his all-powerful loving, and liberating action in the history of the one he addresses: "I brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." the first word contains the first commandment of the Law: "You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him.... You shall not go after other gods." God's first call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him.

2085 The one and true God first reveals his glory to Israel. The revelation of the vocation and truth of man is linked to the revelation of God. Man's vocation is to make God manifest by acting in conformity with his creation "in the image and likeness of God":

There will never be another God, Trypho, and there has been no other since the world began . . . than he who made and ordered the universe. We do not think that our God is different from yours. He is the same who brought your fathers out of Egypt "by his powerful hand and his outstretched arm." We do not place our hope in some other god, for there is none, but in the same God as you do: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

2086 "The first commandment embraces faith, hope, and charity. When we say 'God' we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil. It follows that we must necessarily accept his words and have complete faith in him and acknowledge his authority. He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent. Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us? Hence the formula God employs in the Scripture at the beginning and end of his commandments: 'I am the LORD.'"

Faith

2087 Our moral life has its source in faith in God who reveals his love to us. St. Paul speaks of the "obedience of faith" as our first obligation. He shows that "ignorance of God" is the principle and explanation of all moral deviations. Our duty toward God is to believe in him and to bear witness to him.

2088 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:
Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.

2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."

Hope

2090 When God reveals Himself and calls him, man cannot fully respond to the divine love by his own powers. He must hope that God will give him the capacity to love Him in return and to act in conformity with the commandments of charity. Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God's love and of incurring punishment.

2091 The first commandment is also concerned with sins against hope, namely, despair and presumption:
By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God's goodness, to his justice - for the Lord is faithful to his promises - and to his mercy.

2092 There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God's almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit).

Charity

2093 Faith in God's love encompasses the call and the obligation to respond with sincere love to divine charity. the first commandment enjoins us to love God above everything and all creatures for him and because of him.

2094 One can sin against God's love in various ways:
- indifference neglects or refuses to reflect on divine charity; it fails to consider its prevenient goodness and denies its power.
- ingratitude fails or refuses to acknowledge divine charity and to return him love for love.
- lukewarmness is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity.
- acedia or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness.
- hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and inflicts punishments.

Thursday Feast

Thursday is the day of the week that our Lord gave himself up for consumption. Thursday commemorates the last supper. Some theologians believe after Sunday Thursday is the holiest day of the week. We should then try to make this day special by making a visit to the blessed sacrament chapel, Mass or even stop by the grave of a loved one. Why not plan to count the blessing of the week and thank our Lord. Plan a special meal. Be at Peace.

Feast of the day: Round Steak and Mushrooms


Daily Devotions

·       Today's Fast: Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Increase in Religious and consecrated life.


·       Jesse Tree ornament: Jesus is King of the Gentiles: Psalm 2:7-8; Ephesians 2:14-20 Symbols: crown, scepter

·       do a personal eucharistic stations of the cross.

·       Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·       Humbug Day-watch Scrooge

·       Drops of Christ’s Blood

·       Universal Man Plan

·       Christmas Novena

·       Rosary

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