Wednesday, December 20, 2023

 


Ember Wednesday

SHORT GIRL-GO CARROLLING DAY 

Job, Chapter 41, Verse 7

When he rises up, the gods are AFRAID; when he crashes down, they fall back. 

Don’t wish for what you can’t handle.[1] 

Before Job accepts the challenge to govern the moral order, God warns him that it is far more difficult than governing the natural and physical order. Therefore, Job must first consider what power he has over, for instance, the beasts. Two examples are sufficient to impress upon Job that he faces an impossibility. The first of these is the monster Behemoth, generally thought to be the hippopotamus. It is among the strongest creatures of God’s creation (15-18), all-powerful on the land, untroubled in the water and very difficult to capture (19-24).

The second beast described to Job is Leviathan, the mythical sea monster or, possibly, the crocodile. Can Job catch one with a hook as he catches a fish? Can he make it talk, or make it work for him, or make a pet of it? Can he sell it in the market (41:1-6)? Even if Job were able to catch one, he would be sorry. He would never do it again (7-8)! If then, no person in his right mind would dare stir up Leviathan, how unthinkable to try to stand up against God (9-11).

God then describes some fearsome features of this dragon-like beast: its armor of tough skin, its strong jaws, its terrible teeth (12-17). When it blows air and water out of its nostrils, it appears to be blowing out fire and smoke (18-21). The animal is so fearfully strong that just the sight of its movements fills even the strongest with terror (22-25). No weapon can pierce its iron-like skin (26-29). When it moves from the land into the water its movements dig up the mud like a threshing-sledge and whip up white foam on the water (30-32). This fearsome creature is the king of beasts, unconquerable by human power, yet it is part of the world God has created (33-34). 

Ember Wednesday[2] Commemoration of the Annunciation 

Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) are known as "Advent Embertide," and they come near the beginning of the Season of Winter (December, January, February). Liturgically, the readings for the days' Masses follow along with the general themes of Advent, opening up with Wednesday's Introit of Isaias 45: 8 and Psalm 18:2:

 

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior. The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the work of His hands. Wednesday's and Saturday's Masses will include one and four Lessons, respectively, with all of them concerning the words of the Prophet Isaias except for the last lesson on Saturday, which comes from Daniel and recounts how Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago are saved from King Nabuchodonosor's fiery furnace by an angel. This account, which is followed by a glorious hymn, is common to all Embertide Saturdays but for Whit Embertide. The Gospel readings for the three days concern, respectively, the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-28), Visitation (Luke 1:37-47), and St. John the Baptist's exhorting us to "prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths" (Luke 3:1-6). 

Associations and Symbols of the Advent Ember Days[3]

 

·         Winter is characterized by "wet and cold," and is associated with the golden years of old age; remember them this season. Get your children to think of what changes atmospherically and astronomically during this season. Why is it so cold? How does the cold affect the earth's air and waters?

·         Remember that lore says that the weather conditions of each of the three days of an Embertide foretell the weather of the next three months, so the weather seen on Wednesday of Advent Embertide predicts the weather of the coming January, Friday's weather foretells the weather of February, and Saturday's weather foretells the weather of March. Make a note of the weather on those three days and see if the old tales are true! What stars can be seen during the Winter months? Do your children know the traditional names for this season's full Moons?

·         Ask your children to consider how the seasonal changes of Winter affect the plants and animals. How have the trees changed? What are the animals doing now? Which are hibernating? Which are gone, having migrated? What do the animals that aren't hibernating or gone eat now? Have any stored-up food to eat during the cold months? Which have fur that has grown thicker to protect them? Do any have fur that has changed color to match the snow?

·         Ask them to consider how the seasonal changes affect (or traditionally affected) the activities of man. What can we do now that we couldn't do at other times of the year? What can't we do? How do modern conveniences affect the answers to those questions?

·         Ask them how they would ensure they had shelter, food, and water if they were put into the middle of the woods right now, with the season as it is. What plants and animals would be available to eat? How would they keep themselves dry and warm and protected from the winds? In the Middle Ages, the months are almost always uniformly depicted by showing the "Labors of Man" throughout the seasons. In stained glass windows, in illuminated manuscripts, one sees over and over the same human activities used to portray the months.

·         In addition to these things, now is the time to make snow angels, build snowmen and snowforts and ice sculptures, sled, ski, skate, ice fish, sit around hearths and tell tales, make crafts indoors, watch for and feed the Winter birds, and, most of all, praise God for His artistry and providence... Get to it! -- and know that just when you tire of this season, Spring will be here! 

Golden Mass 

Today's Mass was historically called the "golden Mass" and celebrated with special solemnity, because it focuses on the role of Mary in the Incarnation. The first reading is the famous prophecy from Isaiah about the virgin who will conceive and bear a son. The Gospel is the Annunciation account. Mary is a special Advent figure. The expectant mother is a sign to us of what our Advent waiting is all about: the coming of Christ, our Savior. Today's first reading from Isaiah is Ahaz, the king, had entered into political alliances in an attempt to save Israel from her enemies. But the prophet Isaiah was telling him not to trust in politics, but in God. Only God could deliver Israel. In refusing to ask for a sign, Ahaz was not being humble, but tricky. He was keeping his options open, so to speak, by refusing to trust the Lord. Mary, instead, was completely committed to doing God's will. By her "yes" to the angel Gabriel, Mary totally surrendered to what God was asking of her. She didn't know exactly what would happen. It was very risky--in those days a woman in an irregular pregnancy could suffer severe penalties. What would Joseph think? Mary turned all those worries over to God. And God made it all work out. Whatever problems we face, God will help us also to work them out, if we turn to him in trust. 

The Mystery of Man's Reconciliation with God[4] 

Lowliness is assured by majesty, weakness by power, mortality by eternity. To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that was incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in the other.

He who is true God was therefore born in the complete and perfect nature of a true man, whole in his own nature, whole in ours. By our nature we mean what the Creator had fashioned in us from the beginning and took to himself in order to restore it.

For in the Savior there was no trace of what the deceiver introduced and man, being misled, allowed to enter. It does not follow that because he submitted to sharing in our human weakness he therefore shared in our sins.

He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself invisible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.

Thus, the Son of God enters this lowly world. He comes down from the throne of heaven yet does not separate himself from the Father's glory. He is born in a new condition, by a new birth.

He was born in a new condition, for, invisible in his own nature, he became visible in ours. Beyond our grasp, he chose to come within our grasp. Existing before time began, he began to exist at a moment in time. Lord of the universe, he hid his infinite glory and took the nature of a servant. Incapable of suffering as God, he did not refuse to be a man, capable of suffering. Immortal, he chose to be subject to the laws of death.

He who is true God is also true man. There is no falsehood in this unity as long as the lowliness of man and the preeminence of God coexist in mutual relationship.

As God does not change by his condescension, so man is not swallowed up by being exalted. Each nature exercises its own activity, in communion with the other. The Word does what is proper to the Word, the flesh fulfills what is proper to the flesh.

One nature is resplendent with miracles, the other falls victim to injuries. As the Word does not lose equality with the Father's glory, so the flesh does not leave behind the nature of our race.

One and the same person - this must be said over and over again - is truly the Son of God and truly the son of man. He is God in virtue of the fact that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He is man in virtue of the fact that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

RESPONSORY

Receive, O Virgin Mary, the word

which the Lord has made known to you

by the message of the angel:

You will conceive and give birth to a son,

both God and man,

--and you will be called blessed among women (alleluia).

A virgin, you will indeed bear a son;

ever chaste and holy, you will be

the mother of our Savior.

--And you will...

PRAYER

God our Father,

your Word became man and was born of the Virgin Mary.

May we become more like Jesus Christ,

whom we acknowledge as our redeemer, God and man.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

God’s Handiwork[5] 

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.

Generosity[6] the mode of Our Lady’s soul 

Our Lady puts all she has at God’s disposal. In an instant, all her personal plans – and no doubt she had many – were discarded so that she could do everything God wanted her to. She made no excuses, had no reservations. From the very first moment, Jesus is the one great ideal of her life. Throughout her life on earth Our Lady showed limitless generosity. Among the few episodes of the Gospel that refer to her, two of them speak directly of her attention to the wants of others. She generously gave of her time to look after her cousin St Elizabeth until the birth of her son, John, and she was solicitous for the well-being of the young couple and their guests at the wedding reception in Cana of Galilee.  Such attitudes were second nature to her. Her neighbors in Nazareth would have much to tell us about Mary’s innumerable little services to them in their everyday lives. The Blessed Virgin never thought of herself, but of others. She did her household chores with the greatest simplicity and happiness while maintaining the deepest interior recollection, for she knew that God was within her. In Elizabeth’s house everything was sanctified by Our Lady and the Child she carried in her womb. In Mary we confirm the truth that generosity is a virtue of great souls, who know how to find their reward in the act of giving: you received without pay, give without pay.  A generous person knows how to be loving and understanding and how to give material help ­without demanding love, understanding or help in return. He gives and forgets he has given, and in this lies his riches. He has understood that it is better to give than to receive.  He realizes that to love is in its essence to give oneself to others. Far from being an instinctive inclination, love is a conscious decision of the will to draw close to other people. To be able to love truly it is important to be detached from everything and, especially, from self, to give gratuitously … This detachment from self is the source of a balanced personality. It is the secret of happiness. 

Christmas gift suggestions 

·         to your enemy, forgiveness.

·         To an opponent, tolerance.

·         To a friend, your heart.

·         To a customer, service.

·         To all, charity.

·         To every child, a good example.

·         To yourself, respect.”

— Oren Arnold 

Short Girl Appreciation Day[7] My wife is 5’1” 


There’s something about a short girl, that delightfully compact and curvy phenomena that happens when a blessing of genetics realizes that less is more. It seems like evolution did them a favor and made up for their lack of vertical stature by packing those delightful frames with enough vim and vinegar to take on the world. They may be physically smaller, but they sure seem to live larger. Short Girls are all the rage, and Short Girl Appreciation Day is our opportunity to raise them up above the crowds. 

How to celebrate Short Girl Appreciation Day

 

·         No matter who you are, you have to hand it to the Short Girls (if only because they can’t reach it themselves.)

·         Let Short Girl Appreciation Day be your inspiration to truly let these compact little gems know how much you appreciate them.

·         Take your favorite short girl out to lunch, buy them a step-stool, or just generally let them know how awesome they are.

·          If you know one of these beauties that is suffering from standard short-girl problems, then you can take this opportunity to help them out with that. To really let them know how fantastic they are, you can also organize a party for your favorite pack of short-girls themed around those things that are small. Tiny cakes and cookies, even meals in small portions (but make sure there’s a lot of them, short girls can pack it away when they get a hunger on), and round it all up with a short girl fashion show.

·         It’s bound to be interesting since so many of them have to shop in the children’s section! 

One wonders if Mary was a short girl. 

Go Caroling Day[8]

Any fan of old classic movies knows that carolers were one of the hallmarks of any Christmas themed movie. Whether it was “It’s a Wonderful Life” or Charles Dickens “Christmas Carol”, you could be certain at some point some warmly bedecked singers would arrive at someone’s door belting out the traditional songs for Christmas. While caroling is slowly falling out of style, there’s still time to preserve this time-honored tradition, and Go Caroling Day is your call to arms. Caroling has a long history in the world, potentially existing longer than Christmas itself and having moved into that religious practice from much older roots. This is no surprise, given that the act of singing has long been a form of religious observance, and religious hymns are certainly not a new way of honoring one’s faith. Caroling itself, however, is specifically used to reference those songs and traditions of Christmas, and for many years was a heavily practiced tradition that many people eagerly took part in, whether by joining the carolers or by avidly awaiting their arrival at their doorstep as avatars of Christmas cheer. Wassailing was another tradition that was quite similar in many ways but was actually used to travel to the orchards and other places where cider was produced. It was believed that singing to the trees would promote a good harvest for the year and was almost exclusively practiced in England.

How to Celebrate Go Caroling Day

Well, one might suppose that the answer is right there in the name, might they? The best way to celebrate Go Caroling Day is to organize a group of friends and relations and get out there and get your songbird on for this holiday! All of the songs you might want to sing have to be familiar after all these years, you’ve sung them growing up, as part of your school choir, and they’re on the radio in multitudinous variations starting from before Thanksgiving. (That’s another issue, don’t get me started). However, if you are more of the non-traditional sort, you can still get your songster on each year by learning the many variations of these holiday songs. The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society has released three albums all dedicated to Lovecraftian rewrites of the holidays, and they are nothing short of fantastic. The point of Go Caroling Day is to get out and share the spirit of the season, however, you celebrate it, with everyone.

Now get singing!

Spiritual Crib[9] 

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. 

·         10th day, December 20th: THE SHEPHERDS—Works of Mercy These are so pleasing to our Lord, and we must therefore practice them corporally as well as spiritually. Pray much for poor sinners and for God's dear missionaries who are trying to convert them. 

Evening Antiphon 

Come, and bring forth the captive from his prison. 

O Key of David, and Scepter of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts, and no man opens; Come and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

“Beware the Pogonip”

Definition: The word pogonip is a meteorological term used to describe an uncommon occurrence: frozen fog. The word was coined by Native Americans to describe the frozen fogs of fine ice needles that occur in the mountain valleys of the western United States in December. According to Indian tradition, breathing the fog is injurious to the lungs.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST

SECTION ONE-MAN'S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

                        CHAPTER ONE-THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

Article 5-THE MORALITY OF THE PASSIONS

I. Passions

1763 The term "passions" belongs to the Christian patrimony. Feelings or passions are emotions or movements of the sensitive appetite that incline us to act or not to act in regard to something felt or imagined to be good or evil.

1764 The passions are natural components of the human psyche; they form the passageway and ensure the connection between the life of the senses and the life of the mind. Our Lord called man's heart the source from which the passions spring.

1765 There are many passions. The most fundamental passion is love, aroused by the attraction of the good. Love causes a desire for the absent good and the hope of obtaining it; this movement finds completion in the pleasure and joy of the good possessed. The apprehension of evil causes hatred, aversion, and fear of the impending evil; this movement ends in sadness at some present evil, or in the anger that resists it.

1766 "To love is to will the good of another." All other affections have their source in this first movement of the human heart toward the good. Only the good can be loved. Passions "are evil if love is evil and good if it is good."

Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph

The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous, you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.

·         Do the St. Joseph Universal Man Plan.

·         Devotion to the 7 Joys and Sorrows of St. Joseph

 Daily Devotions

·         Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: Reparations for offenses and blasphemies against God and the Blessed Virgin Mary

·         Jesse Tree ornament: Jesus is Flower of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1-3 Symbols: flower, plant with flower

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         Monday: Litany of Humility

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Universal Man Plan

·         Christmas Novena

·         Rosary



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