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Friday, December 1, 2023


We turn our attention indoors with Advent prayers and preparations for the birth of Christ; for most of us, the indoors makes up the part of our environment in which we spend the most time. It is also the most unregulated and can be the most polluted part of the total environment –due to new home cleaning products and tighter ventilation. Consider a simpler home environment, where houseplants purify the air, where fresh air is plentiful, and where chemical products are limited and controlled. The yearly cycle of twelve months can make us more aware of our human environment and should help us as individuals and as a community to conduct a monthly examination of conscience.

Overview of December[1]

The liturgy of Advent focuses on remembering Christ's first coming at Bethlehem which then directs our mind to Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. The readings focus on the people of the Old Testament awaiting the Messiah, John the Baptist, heralding the way for Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary and her maternal preparations.

The feasts on the General Roman Calendar celebrated during the month of December are:


6. Nicholas, Opt. Mem.

7. Ambrose, Memorial


9. Juan Diego (USA), Opt. Mem.


11. Damasus I, Opt. Mem.

12. Our Lady of Guadalupe (USA), Feast

13. Lucy, Memorial

14. John of the Cross, Memorial


20. Ember Wednesday

21. Peter Canisius, Opt. Mem.

22. Ember Friday

23. John of Kanty; Ember Saturday, Opt. Mem.


25. NATIVITY OF THE LORD (Christmas), Solemnity

26. Stephen, Feast

27. John, Apostle, Feast

28. Holy Innocents, Feast

29. 5th Day in the Octave of Christmas; Thomas Becket, Opt. Mem.

31. Feast of the Holy Family, Feast

Christmastide begins with the First Vespers (Evening Prayer) of Christmas on December 24th and ends on the Sunday after Epiphany. Christmas and Easter are the only solemnities with octaves attached in the revised calendar. The Christmas octave differs from Easter in that it includes some major feasts: St. Stephen (December 26), St. John the Evangelist (December 27), the Holy Innocents (December 28) and St. Sylvester I (December 31). The octave closes on January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

The Reason for the Season

The month of December is filled with expectation and celebration. Preparation is the key word for the first 24 days of December. Everyone is getting ready for Christmas — shopping and decorating, baking and cleaning. Too often, however, we are so busy with the material preparations that we lose sight of the real reason for our activity.

Christmas is a Christian feast — and we must reclaim it as such! In the same way that a family eagerly prepares for a baby, so in Advent should we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child. We should keep Advent as a season of waiting and longing, of conversion and of hope and keep our thoughts on the incredible love and humility of our God in taking on the flesh of the Virgin Mary. Let us not forget to prepare a peaceful place in our hearts wherein our Savior may come to dwell.

The best person we can turn to for help during Advent is Mary, Christ's and our Mother. She awaited the day of His birth with more eagerness than any other human being. Her preparation was complete in every respect. Let's crown our preparation and borrow something of Mary's prayerfulness, her purity and whole-hearted submission to God's will. 

December Travel and Events[2]

National Christmas Tree

Kick off the month with a tour of the National Christmas Tree. Located on the White House’s South Lawn, a towering 40-foot evergreen spruce has been a seasonal fixture of the nation’s capital since 1923.

San Antonio River Walk

Keep the Christmas spirit going in San Antonio. Every December, more than a mile of the San Antonio River Walk comes alive with over 100 underwater lights, as well as LED rope lighting crossing from one side of the river to the other.

Hobbit Tour

Besides being a great time to visit (December is the start of New Zealand’s summer season), the country has a Hobbit movie set tour on upper North Island. 

Ice Fishing, Colorado Style

This December, put Colorado on your outdoors adventure map: Colorado's robust winters lure ice-fishing enthusiasts to gear up and head out for the thrill of the catch. Prime spots include Wolford Mountain Reservoir, a 1,550- acre reservoir, about 100 miles west of Denver.  

Arizona Ice Fishing

The best ice fishing lakes in AZ include Show Low Lake, Sunrise Lake and Rainbow Lake. The most popular species are rainbow trout, brook trout and bluegill. See a list of lakes and species below.

Ice fishing is as basic as fishing gets. During winter, it is popular here in the state. Aside from the tools one uses to create a hole in the ice, all other gear is very basic. A simple rod, reel, line and hook or lure is all you need. Lures, live bait and prepared bait are options, depending on the fish species in the lake or pond.

Caribbean Cruise: Early December

For an impromptu December getaway, set sail for the Caribbean. The first two weeks of December are your best bet for bargain prices on cruises and hotels, before fares rise come Christmas and New Year’s. Combine your warm winter escape with cool events, like the Bahamas International Film Festival. 

Metro Phoenix: Apache Trail Tour with Canyon Lake Cruise 

This full-day Apache Trail Tour gets to the heart of the Sonoran Desert with a combined cruise and drive. Glide across Canyon Lake, visit a ghost town and rest at an old wagon stop before the day is out. 

Arizona December 8-24 

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! 

Phoenix City Skate

December 21 Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Take in the winter solstice at Stonehenge. Every year, more than 5,000 people gather at the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, to mark the time when the sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. Be sure to explore the new visitor center close to the ancient site, too.

            Sedona, Arizona. Saturday, December 23, 7:00 pm

The 11th Annual Old Town Center for the Arts Winter Solstice Concert will feature some of the world’s favorite Christmas melodies, uplifting songs of the spirit, original songs, and a special visual, musical tribute to honor our indigenous ancestors, in observation of the ancient winter solstice ritual.

Santa Claus House in North Pole

Just where does Santa Claus live? North Pole, Alaska, of course. Head to this small, wintery city in the heart of Alaska to see Santa Claus House. A storefront, built in the early 1950s, it’s the spot from which the Original Letter From Santa is mailed out, proclaiming the bearer to be “on Santa’s Good List.” 


            Flagstaff, Arizona. North Pole Experience. Your journey begins by boarding one of Santa's Magic Trolleys at the breathtaking Little America Hotel. Your Trolley Elf will whisk your family away and transport you through the Magic Portal to the enchanted North Pole destination, Santa's Grand Workshop. Once you knock on Santa's Grand Workshop doors, you'll experience a holiday family adventure unlike any other. First stop is Santa's famous Toy Hall of Fame. Next, it's all hands on deck as you help Santa's Elves build toys for children around the world!

Hit the Slopes

Hit the slopes this month at North America’s most popular ski resort. In addition to being home to more groomed terrain than any other resort in the world, Vail, Colorado, boasts the country’s largest ski school for all skill levels. For the more seasoned skier, head to Jackson Hole, where over 90 percent of the trails fall into intermediate to expert categories.

            Arizona Snow Bowl

Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Come December, the City of Brotherly Love transforms itself into a Christmas Village. This annual holiday market in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park features traditional German Christmas market items, displayed by more than 60 vendors in decorated booths and tents. Get your fill of holiday goodies like gingerbread cookies and mulled wine. 

            Glendale, Glitters 

Iceman’s Calendar 

·         December 1st MASS First Friday

·         December 2nd MASS First Saturday

·         December 3rd First Sunday of Advent

·         December 5th St. Nicolas Eve

·         December 6th St. Nicolas

o   First Wednesday

·         December 7th Pearl Harbor Day

o   Chanukah begins.

·         December 8th Feast of the Immaculate Conception

·         December 9th St. Juan Diego

·         December 10th Second Sunday of Advent

o   Our Lady of Loreto

·         December 12th Our Lady of Guadalupe

·         December 13th Santa Lucia

·         December 17th Third Sunday of Advent

·         December 20th Ember Wednesday

·         December 21st Feast of the St. Thomas, Apostle Winter Solstice

·         December 22nd Ember Friday

·         December 23rd Ember Saturday

·         December 24th Fourth Sunday of Advent

o   Christmas Eve Midnight Mass

·         December 25th Christmas Monday

·         December 26th Feast of St. Stephan

o   Full Cold Moon

·         December 27th Feast of St. John, the Apostle

·         December 28th The Holy Innocents

·         December 29th St. Thomas Becket

·         December 30th The Holy Family

·         December 31st St. Sylvester


DECEMBER 1 First Friday



Job, Chapter 6, Verse 14

A friend owes kindness to one in despair, though he has forsaken the FEAR of the Almighty.


Job now speaks and goes on to chide his frienemies for not giving kindness to him when he is destitute. Even the ungodly treat their friend with respect. I can imagine that when Job was at his height of power and prestige before the devil’s attack; his friends were sucking up to him and fondling his ego to great extremes but now they have nothing but contempt for him. True friends are faithful to the end. Job longs for a true friend. We should reflect on this that Job longed for what we have received by the grace of God; an intimate relationship with Him via the Holy Spirit and the action of the Son of God; Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ is our true friend and our closest ally he will never abandon us let us not wait until the end to discover this; trying to make a death-bed repentance.


Lessons upon Death-Bed Repentance[3]


Can the sinner rely upon being converted at the end of his life?


By no means, for this would be to sin against the mercy of God, which is much the same as the sin against the Holy Ghost. “God” says St. Augustine, “usually punishes such sinners by allowing them at the last to forget themselves, who in the days of their health and strength have allowed themselves to forget Him.” God Himself also says: “They have turned their back to Me and not their face, and in the time of their affliction they will say, Arise and deliver us. Where are thy gods whom thou hast made thee? Let them arise and deliver thee in the time of thy affliction”. It is true we have a consoling example of conversion at the moment of death in the penitent thief, but, as St. Augustine further says, while this one example is given so that no sinner may despair, it is the only one, so that no sinner may defer repentance through presumption.


What may we hope of those who are converted at the close of life?


 Everything that is good, if they be really converted; but this is a most rare thing. Of the hundreds of thousands whose lives have been wicked,” writes St. Jerome, “hardly one will be converted at the hour of death and obtain forgiveness of his sins.” And St. Vincent Ferrer says it would be a greater miracle for a person who has lived wickedly to die well than for one who is dead to be restored to life. And no wonder; for repentance at the hour of death is generally but an extorted repentance. It is not so much that the sinner forsakes his sins as that his sins forsake him; and the resolution of amendment is one which he would hardly make, were he not driven to it by the agonies of death.


What is there to expect from such a repentance? When, therefore, ought we to do penance?


While we are in possession of our reason and strength; for, as St. Augustine says, the repentance of the sick is a sickly repentance. In time of sickness, as experience teaches, the pains of disease, the hope of recovery, the fear of death, the torments of conscience, the temptations of the devil, and the care of all depending on him, so continually distract a man that he can hardly collect his thoughts at all, much less bestow them upon a work of a true repentance. If to many it is so difficult to do penance while they are yet in health and hindered by nothing from raising their thoughts to God, how much more difficult will it be when the body has already become weak! We have heard a number of persons who had been sick admit after their recovery that they had no knowledge of what happened to them during their illness, and even had no recollection of having received the holy sacraments. Accordingly, Isaias admonishes us: “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. And Christ says: You shall seek Me and shall not find Me, and you shall die in your sin” (John vii. 34; viii. 21). If, therefore, you have committed mortal sin, delay not to return to God, by perfect contrition and a good confession. Put it not off from one day to another; for repentance thereby becomes more and more difficult; for, as St. Gregory says, one unrepented sin by its own weight impels a man to still further sins, and all the while makes him the weaker, and his adversary, the devil, the stronger; so that at last he cannot be converted without the extraordinary grace of God. But how can the presumptuous sinner expect such grace? God will laugh in his destruction, in like manner as he has despised His instruction, counsel, and reproof (Prov. i. 26-28). “Therefore, whilst we have time, let us work good” (Gal. vi. 10), for who knows whether we may not be suddenly prevented, by severe sickness, from working out our salvation! 

First Friday Devotion[4]

Nine consecutive Fridays in reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alocoque (1647-1690), a French nun in the Visitation Order, and gave her the special task to spread devotion to His Most Sacred Heart at a time when religion was growing cold in the hearts of mankind. He said to her:

“Behold this heart which, not withstanding the burning love for men with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from most Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference and ingratitude, even in the sacrament of my love [the Eucharist]. But what pierces my heart most deeply is that I am subjected to these insults by persons especially consecrated to my service.” Jesus asked for special prayers and practices to make amends (reparation) for this great neglect to the proper reverence owed to God. For those who did this faithfully, he made what St. Margaret Mary referred to as the “Great Promise” which was the last and greatest of the Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

“I promise you in the unfathomable mercy of my heart that my omnipotent love will procure the grace of final penitence for all those who receive communion on nine successive first Fridays of the month; they will not die in my disfavor [the grace of final repentance], or without having received the sacraments, since my divine heart will be their sure refuge in the last moments of their life.”

Conditions to Fulfill the First Friday Devotion

The specific conditions to receive the Great Promise of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are:

1. Receive Holy Communion on nine consecutive first Fridays of the month (this assumes that the person is in a state of grace, having made a sacramental confession for any mortal sins prior to receiving communion).

2. Having the intention, at least implicitly, of making reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for all the sinfulness and ingratitude of men.

Octave of Christ the King 

·         Meditate on the virtues of Mary (Humility, Generosity, Chastity, Patience, Temperance, Understanding/love and Wisdom. One for each day.

·         attend Mass daily or via EWTN or the internet

·         Fast doing the Daniel fast (Monday-Saturday).

·         Exercise-Universal Man Plan

Life a gift[5] 

God does not require anyone to pass an exam to merit birth. Life is a gift from our creator via our parents. A child is not a trophy but a gift. Families are a communion of people essential to understanding love. At the same time, the family home can often be the scene of pain as well. We experience death through the self-taking of the world through greed, manipulation, indulgence, and infatuation, which masquerade as love. Wounded, we begin to shy away from the gift, to be coerced into choosing to fear rather than love. Attacks on marriage and the family, such as same-sex unions, no fault-divorce, free love, cohabitation, pornography, and adultery are attacks on love itself and the very identity of the human person. Healing means returning to the original form of love we were meant to learn as children. The gift of self makes love visible. As long as conflicts/anger is buried, they do not heal. Yet our hearts long for love which is our first memory. Love is the authentic surrender of self for the good of the other. A fundamental truth of Christ and the Catholic Church is this “Culture of Life” which stems from love. 

World AIDS Day[6]

World AIDS Day serves to remember those who have died from AIDS and to bring about awareness of HIV/AIDS through education and publicly held events. HIV is a virus that attacks the body's immune system and makes it progressively more difficult to fight infections and diseases. Once HIV advances and becomes so severe that the body's immune system is too weak to fight off many infections and diseases, it is called AIDS. There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS and if left untreated by antiretroviral medication, patients' immune systems fail leading to death. World AIDS Day is also an opportunity for people to show their support for people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is one of the eight WHO Global Health Days. The day was created by the World Health Organization in 1988. Since its inception over two decades ago, the world has managed to halt and reverse the spread of HIV. According to the WHO, the occurrence of new cases has decreased 35% between 2000 and 2015, while AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 24% over the same time frame, all thanks to antiretroviral treatments and widespread AIDS education and awareness. World AIDS Day is observed on December 1st of each year.

World AIDS Day Facts

·         The Red Ribbon is the universal symbol of support for those living with HIV/AIDS.

·         The AIDS Memorial Quilt Project allows friends and family members of someone who has died from AIDS to construct a quilt panel and have it placed in the quilt. The quilt travels and is displayed throughout the US.

·         The first case of what is now known as AIDS was reported in the US in June 1981.

·         According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than a million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 5 are unaware of their infection.

·         According to World Health Organization, AIDS has claimed over 39 million lives globally. 

World AIDS Day Top Events and Things to Do

·         Wear a Red Ribbon, an international symbol of AIDS support.

·         Learn the facts of how HIV is transmitted so you can be better prepared. Remember, HIV is spread through body fluids such as blood, semen, rectal and vaginal fluids and breast milk.

·         Get involved in a fundraising effort to support research into HIV/AIDS treatment. Many fundraisers are done in the form of HIV/AIDS day walks.

·         Watch a movie or documentary about HIV/AIDS. Some popular suggestions: Dallas Buyers Club (2013), Philadelphia Story (1993), Longtime Companion (1990), The Age of AIDS (2006) and AIDS, Inc (2007).

·         Get tested if unsure of your infection status. Local pharmacies sell HIV home test kits, or you can find free testing sites in most areas.


Jesse Tree[7]

The Jesse Tree dates back to the Middle Ages and came from Europe. Even some ancient cathedrals have Jesse Tree designs in their stained-glass windows. The "tree" is usually a branch or sapling and is decorated with various symbols that remind us of the purpose and promises of God from Creation to the Birth of Jesus Christ. Jesse was the father of King David and God promised David that his Kingdom would last forever. Two centuries after the death of King David, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2) Each Jesse Tree ornament usually consists of a handmade symbol or drawing that represents one of the major stories of the Old Testament along with a brief verse of Scripture from that story.

Jesse Tree Ornaments

If you decide to use one symbol each day during December, there are 24 symbolic ornaments to make for your Jesse Tree, so each family member will need to make several. Making the ornaments is a good project for Sunday afternoons during Advent. To make an ornament, first read the Scripture verses for the day. Then pick out one or two short verses that give the main idea. Copy these verses on the back of the ornament. By this time, you will probably be thinking of various ways to illustrate your Scripture verses. Use lots of creativity in making your ornament! You can use pictures from magazines or old greeting cards. Or draw pictures or symbols yourself. Color them with crayons, pencils, markers or paint. Look around the house for bits and pieces that will make your design beautiful! If you prefer to have a pattern already made, Caryn Talty, at Organic Living for a Healthy Family, has created 26 excellent ornaments which she graciously offers free – both full color and black and white.

Jesse Tree Scriptures (The Symbols Are Only Suggestions)

December 1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbols: sun, moon, stars, animals, earth

Fitness Friday- “on the sixth day God created man” 

Charles Atlas Inspired Workout[8]

While several of these movements aren’t very familiar to today’s generation of athletes and fitness enthusiasts, it can be argued that dynamic tension can have a place in the modern fitness program.

Below is a workout that can challenge the entire body and be performed in around 25 minutes. This workout will include movements and time for each. Squeeze and contract the muscle like you would with resistance. Feel a stretch before performing the next rep. Take 30 seconds of rest between each exercise before moving on to the next.




Pushup (2 Sec Hold)



Standing Chest Fly (2 Sec Hold)



Row Squeeze (2 Sec Hold)



Vertical Pull



High Elbow Row



Shoulder Press



Bicep Curl (1 Sec Hold)



Close Grip Push Up (1 Sec Hold)






Good Morning



Seated Toe Raise



Standing Calf Raise






Single Lying Leg Raise


10 Each

Give the program a shot for yourself. It can be performed as a beginner routine for up to 6 weeks.

Catechism of the Catholic Church



1699 Life in the Holy Spirit fulfills the vocation of man (chapter one). This life is made up of divine charity and human solidarity (chapter two). It is graciously offered as salvation (chapter three).

Daily Devotions

·         Today's Fast: Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: End to Abortion

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         Make reparations to the Holy Face

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Iceman’s 40 devotion

·         Operation Purity

·         Rosary

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