Friday, December 22, 2023


Ember Friday 

Job, Chapter 41, Verse 25

Upon the earth there is none like him, he was made FEARLESS. 

This verse is about a Leviathan but was Job who was born with mortal fear made fearless in God by his trials and faith. I think we all can be fearless if we trust in, HE that is.

Do Not Let Doubts Eclipse Your Faith[1]

·         2 Timothy 4:17 – Live as a fearless witness. 

“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me…”

·         Psalm 125:1-2 – Live fearless because you are surrounded by God. 

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, from this time forth and forever.”

·         1 Timothy 6:11-12 – Fight the good fight of faith fearlessly. 

“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

·         John 16:13-14 – Live fearlessly guided by the Spirit. 

“However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify me, for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you.”

·         Isaiah 45:3 – Live fearlessly called by God. 

“I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.”

·         Philippians 1:6 – Live fearlessly finishing the work of Christ. 

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

·         Psalm 40:2 – Fearlessly walk along the path God has established. 

“He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.”

·         Isaiah 44:8 – Live fearlessly trusting God as your Rock. 

“Do not fear nor be afraid. Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? Indeed, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

·         Psalm 91:4-5 – Live fearlessly under the provision of God. 

“He shall cover you with His feathers and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler, you shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day.”

·         1 Corinthians 16:13-14 – Be strong – fearlessly. 

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” When you believe in truth and remember the promises of God, fear takes a back seat. Sure, it’s a process. And sure, you’re still human so fear may not totally be gone until the glory days in the kingdom. But work on believing. Work on trusting. Work on hiding these words in your heart so that the impact of Christ is greater than your fear.

Ember Friday[2]

The purpose of these “mini-Lents” is to pray, fast and to thank God for the gifts He gives us through nature.  They follow the four seasons of the year with the beauty and uniqueness of each particular season.   They are here for us to teach us to use, with moderation, what God gives us through nature, and to also share these gifts with the poor.

So what does this mean for you?

Well, because of the changes in Church law, not a whole lot; at least not officially. The mandatory observation of Ember days was excised from Church practice during the pontificate of Pope Paul VI. But as a voluntary practice, there is much that is salutary in observing the Ember days of the Church.

How do we observe Ember days?

On Wednesday and Saturday, we observe partial fast and abstinence – two small meatless meals, and one full meal that can include meat.

On Friday, we may take two small meals and one full meal, but observe total abstinence from meat even at the main meal. This is identical to the currently observed fasts of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

God’s Handiwork[3] 

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[4] 

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. 

Catechism of the Catholic Church






1771 The term "passions" refers to the affections or the feelings. By his emotions man intuits the good and suspects evil.

1772 The principal passions are love and hatred, desire and fear, joy, sadness, and anger.

1773 In the passions, as movements of the sensitive appetite, there is neither moral good nor evil. But insofar as they engage reason and will, there is moral good or evil in them.

1774 Emotions and feelings can be taken up in the virtues or perverted by the vices.

1775 The perfection of the moral good consists in man's being moved to the good not only by his will but also by his "heart."

Fitness Friday[5] 

3 Healthy Things to Do Every Winter Solstice 

1. Sleep deep. Shortest day = longest night. Take advantage of this and plan for it to be a perfect night of sleep. 

Check in with yourself to evaluate your sleep hygiene. Sleep experts recommend that you establish a simple ritual before you go to bed to tell your body it is time to rest. 

Brush your teeth, wash your face, read a book or meditate for several minutes before you close the light. Make your slumber environment clear of stressors by making your room as dark as possible, turning off the television and silencing your phone. 

Set yourself up to be successful by making your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep.  

2. Sweat often. It’s dark when we leave for work and dark when we return home. It’s only normal that motivation to move wanes without the friendship of the sun. 

While it’s tempting to skip the gym in favor of extra time hunkered down, do your best to move each day, especially today. 

Walk an extra few minutes to a bus or subway stop further away, take the stairs and walk the mall to incorporate a little more movement into your daily routine. 

Also, you don’t have to be a weekend warrior to enjoy an hour or two of cross-country skiing, a few minutes on the ice rink, or an afternoon sledding with the kids. Make time during the week for simple, active pleasure. 

The benefits will show in your mood first. Remember these little bits of movement can not only add up but can also motivate us to move more and get in a “real” workout.  

3. Live consciously. We spend a lot more time inside when it’s dark and cold outside. Spending time making your home or office a space that you like to be in will deflect some of the stress and help you lead a well and healthy life. 

Winter cleaning isn’t so bad when you play your favorite music, and the result often makes you feel great. Carve out an hour to freshen up your space today. 

Light scented candles and shift some furniture around so that you can enjoy it in a new way. Take a minute to look at what is and isn’t working in the space you live in so that you can feel empowered in your world. Take time to appreciate your surroundings today – those in nature and those you created for yourself. 

Acknowledge the winter solstice this year, and every year going forward. Honor yourself and your work as you pursue your personal Nutritious Life ambitions for another season. Make it a day every year that you press the reset button amid the chaos of the holiday season and focus on you. 

As you look forward to sunnier days, remember to enjoy the darker days, too!

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.

 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.

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Iceman’s 40 devotion

·         Universal Man Plan

·         Christmas Novena

·         Operation Purity

·         Rosary



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