Today’s Catholic Blog honors the Holy Family and in so doing I hope gives support to all parents and children who are making their way home to their heavenly home and the “wedding feast of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9)

As I look at the picture of the Holy Family, many themes come to mind for this Catholic Blog. Love and faithfulness stand out… Mary’s words of obedience to God’s messenger, the angel, Gabriel, “Be it done to me according to thy word,” at the Annunciation comes as a strong flashback of where it began. Before there was a Holy Family there was Mary, God’s choice to become the Mother of His Son.

This young teenage maiden submitted to God’s will without fully understanding the consequences of her “yes.” This says so much about trust in a benevolent God who only wishes us well! Do we have that kind of trust??? Well, do we? When in situation with choices, do we run it by God with a quick prayer, Do we listen!

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” Luke 1:35 Just as in the Testament of Old where God’s presence was noted in a cloud, “the glory of God appeared in a cloud.” Exodus 16:10, now a cloud overshadows Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant.

Mary conceives a Son by the Power of the Holy Spirit….the Son Mary conceived was no ordinary Son but the Son of God…Mary will bring God to the world… the Word Incarnate…God will dwell once again among His people…What was lost by Eve’s disobedience is now gained by Mary’s obedience…The Garden is refreshed….Do not be afraid…

Joseph, Jesus’ foster father had his own qualms to deal with when his wife to be became pregnant and not by him. Joseph was already a righteous man in relationship with God and did not want to do anything to embarrass or jeopardize Mary so he planned to separate quietly… “Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,* yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.” Matthew 1:19

Then God intervened, “behold, the angel of the Lord* appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” Matthew 1:20


Because of the love of Mary and Joseph, the Christ child in the picture is able to hold out his arms and embrace the whole world in blessing. A child lives what he experiences. Be careful your children are listening and watching!

A loving family that images the relationships in the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the core of God’s plan for salvation. Attached to God our Creator, we spread that love and embrace of God the Father to others. Embrace your family! Spread that love! There is always one special pray-er in the family, praying for all the members. Maybe it is you!

At one point, Jesus got separated from Mary and Joseph. When found teaching in the temple, he willingly left His Father’s house and went back to his earthly home in Nazareth. “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Luke 2:49-51) Jesus honored His Father’s will in obeying his earthly parents….how am I honoring God in my daily duties….

Do we ponder, like Mary, God’s activity in our family, maybe catch in hindsight that some past event had more meaning than you thought at the time or some good really did come out of that stressful situation…

Mary and Joseph would have provided for their family in traditional roles of feeding and caring for their child. In his human nature Jesus would be learning and not taking any “divine” short cuts as he assisted his earthly foster father, Joseph, in his carpentry trade.

We do know the Holy Family were all devout practicing Jews honoring and worshiping God according to Jewish practices, especially holy days like Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost and the like.

Is this something we do as a family, pray together, worship together, teach the little ones the stories of Jesus like our parents did…certainly our children’s eternal home is more important than this temporary one and we don’t want them to be strangers when they meet God..

We bless your name, O Lord
for sending us your own Incarnate Son to become part of a family
so that as He lived its life, He would experience its worries and its joys.

Lord, protect our family so that in the strength of Your grace,
we may possess the priceless gift of Your peace

and as the Church alive in this home,
may we bear witness in this world to Your glory.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.

In time the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you… Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God… Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High


At Bethlehem, humanity sees not only God-Made flesh but also receives an invitation to become God-like. God offers to make men and women by grace what Jesus Christ is by nature, namely, a beloved child of our heavenly Father. In Christ, God took on human attributes, in Christ humans can now take on the divine qualities of mercy, love, insight, and immortality.

In exchange for the humanity He takes, the Incarnate Word gives us a share in his divinity. God is born in time so we can be reborn in eternity. The Son of God becomes the Son of Man so men and women can become children of the one same Father in heaven.


The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom…a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing.” (Isaiah 9:1-2)

“The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.” (Matthew 4:16)

“Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Jesus is the Word made flesh…the Word Incarnate….Through Him comes Life….And this Life is the Light of the World ….darkness cannot keep out the Light….those who choose Light….become children of the Light….and testify to the Light…do I hide my light under a bushel or do I let it shine everywhere even where inconvenient in the public square…are there things hidden in my own life that needs the light of Christ…

Is this the Advent that lights up my soul to receive Jesus as Mary and Joseph did….The night the Christ Child was born, there was no room in the Inn….Is there room in my heart for the Christ Child…shepherds came and saw, then worshiped and spread the Good News…do I spread the Good News…Mary pondered all these mysteries in her heart…do I ponder the birth of Jesus in my heart…what other mysteries in my life do I ponder…


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As we continue to wait on the Lord in this Advent Season, it is important to increase our times of prayer to make ready to receive Jesus in our hearts. One group of prayers often overlooked in modern times is found in Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. You can easily find them on the internet, in your Bible, or at a Catholic bookstore. Psalms were the most common prayer of Jesus in the New Testament and loved singing them with his disciples. As they left the Last Supper they sang psalms on their way to Gethsemane. “Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30)


The book of the Psalms is not a single book, in and of itself, but a collection of many poems and other similar works composed mostly by King David but include many other authors such as Moses and Solomon. In the Psalms, joy, suffering, the desire and fear of death are all interwoven and expressed. On Calvary, Jesus recalled Psalm 22:1, “And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:48

In general the Psalms fall into two areas, praise and petition. Petition is animated by the certainty that God will respond, and this opens up to praise and thanksgiving from the experience of salvation received. In petition, the one who prays describes his situation of distress or, as in the penitential psalms, he confesses guilt and sin, and asks to be forgiven. He lays bare his neediness before the Lord, in the confidence of being heard and answered.

The Psalms are given to us as the inspired word of God. Though God used human instruments, God is the true author of the Bible. Since they are the Word of God, the pray-er who prays the Psalms speaks to God with the very words that God has given to us. Thus, in praying the Psalms we learn to pray. They are a school of prayer.

By teaching us to pray, the Psalms teach us that, even in the midst of desolation, God’s presence remains and is the source of wonder and of consolation; we can cry, beg, intercede, lament, but we do so in the knowledge that we are walking toward the light. Each Psalm acquires a new light in Christ and the Psalter is able to shine in all its infinite richness.

From time to time I will post Psalms in my blog for inspiration and prayer. I will include a few examples from Psalms in this post. There are seven penitential Psalms, 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 142. Penitential psalms all recognize sin as the source of corruption and trouble.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offense. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. My offenses truly I know them; my sin is always before me….

From my sins turn away your face and blot out all my guilt. A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me that I may teach transgressors your ways and sinners may return to you….

O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! You have set your majesty above the heavens!….What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet: O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!….

Hear, LORD, my plea for justice; pay heed to my cry; Listen to my prayer spoken without guile. From you let my vindication come; your eyes see what is right. You have tested my heart, searched it in the night. You have tried me by fire, but find no malice in me….Show your wonderful love, keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the violence of the wicked….The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought….
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A feast called the Conception of Mary arose in the Eastern Church in the seventh century. It came to the West in the eighth century. Many theologians, including St. Thomas Aquinas, throughout Christian history debated this dogma now declared by the Catholic Church.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed it to be an essential dogma in the Catholic Church. Since then, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the belief that Mary was born without sin and that God chose her to be Jesus’ mother

In 1854, Pius IX solemnly proclaimed: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved free from all stain of original sin, from the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race,.”

The Immaculate Conception should not be confused with the perpetual virginity of Mary or the virgin birth of Jesus; it refers to the conception of Mary by her mother, Saint Anne.

In Luke 1:28 the angel Gabriel, speaking on God’s behalf, addresses Mary as “full of grace.” The Greek verb and tense, chosen with great specificity by Luke means that Mary was “full of grace” all of her life.

Luke could have used a different word to show that Mary was full of grace only at that particular moment. But Luke insists by his careful choice of words that Mary was full of grace all her life, so indirectly we get a hint of Mary’s Immaculate Conception in the account of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary in the Gospel today.

Back in those days, after greeting a person with Hail, you would give them a title. Names were very important in that part of the world because your name told something about who you were. So “full of grace” describes Mary’s very being. Mary was full of grace from the first moment of her existence when she was immaculately conceived. Rightly understood, the incomparable holiness of Mary shows forth the incomparable goodness of God.

From the moment her soul was created and infused into her body, it was free from original sin and filled with sanctifying grace. Her soul was neither stained by Original Sin, nor by the depraved emotions, passions, and weaknesses consequent to that sin, but created in a state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice. She had the graces of the first Eve before the Fall and more.


As I reflect on this dogma of the Roman Catholic Church that we celebrate Friday December 8, I know it refers to Mary and the deferential treatment she received due to the future merits of her Son, Jesus Christ’s Passion and death but what does it mean for me and you.

First it says to me Almighty God can do anything He wants, to anybody He wants. He took a murderer and adulterer, David and made him king over a kingdom that will last forever. From this “Root of Jesse” would come our Savior, Jesus Christ. So it’s not just Holy people like Mary that receives special gifts. It can happen to anyone, even us.

The Immaculate Conception shows how thorough God is in his salvation plan. Things do not just happen randomly in God’s time. He prepared the best human home for His only begotten Son. As Father, He could choose, a tabernacle unstained and full of Divine Grace…the divine grace we all hope to share in one day in heaven when our eyes and ears and hearts are fully opened to the blessedness of the Beatific Vision.

While we don’t worship Mary as Catholic Christians, we honor her for her intimacy with God and her intercessory powers on our behalf. This dogma of the Catholic Church emphasizes Mary’ place and importance in God’s salvation plan. Mary is the New Eve!

This promise of a New Eve is introduced very early in Scriptures, Genesis 3:15, “I will put my enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise thy heel.”

Eve by her disobedience of God’s will brought death into this world. Mary’s “Yes,” however, brought life to the world in the Divine person of the Word Made Flesh, Jesus Christ. Eve still a virgin, spouse of Adam was disobedient. Eve became for herself and the whole human race the cause of death. Mary, also a virgin, through her obedience became both for herself and the entire human race the cause of eternal life. What Eve had bound by her unbelief, Mary has loosed by her faithful obedience.

“Just as the former Eve was seduced by the words of an angel so that she turned away from God by disobeying his word, so the latter, Mary, received the good news from an angel’s announcement in such a way as to give birth to God by obeying his word….and as the human race was subjected to death by a virgin (Eve) it was liberated by a virgin (Mary.)” (St. Iranaeus)

I am grateful that my Church did not rush to judgment in making this feast a solemnity that it is today, but rather, over the centuries, with the pious belief of the People of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit came to this remarkable conclusion and sealed it as Catholic dogma.

Our country is dedicated to its patroness the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Immaculate Conception and is honored this day in Washington D.C. in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. How blessed we are to have Jesus’ church and Mary our Mother to guide us on our journey home.

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Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone…'” Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve…'” Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and: ‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”

Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.'” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

Like us in every way but sin, Jesus is tempted in the desert….temptations are similar to what we face every day…tempted to pleasure the flesh…tempted to pride that we are in control…and tempted to power to rule the world…

.we too are tempted in the desert of our souls…do I fortify myself like Jesus with prayer and fasting…fasting means much more than not eating food…do I fast from making judgments…do I fast from anger, from unkind thoughts and words…. do I deny myself and choose God’s holy will over mine… do I seek power and glory for myself…or give all glory to God who is all Good and provider of all…

Lord God, thank you for all your gifts. Teach me to be humble and to be grateful to you and share my gifts with others for the love of your Son, Jesus Christ who is my Savior!

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went, according to his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus goes to his hometown to pray…He is also chooses his hometown to make a very important announcement…how will the crowd respond…He is given a scroll of Isaiah that prophecies the Messiah will come and set justice on the earth…Jesus proclaims, I am He…today this prophecy is fulfilled…

Jesus has announced his arrival in his hometown…they reject him because they think they know him by what he does…not who He says He is…the stage is set for Jesus to reveal himself and the Father to the world through his disciples and his church…Will I accept Jesus for who He is…or will I make him into something I want to Him to be…Are we seekers of the Truth or someone who makes up his own Truth…

Lord Jesus, you have shown me who you are in Sacred Scripture and in so many other ways through your inspirations to prayer and in my neighbor who is sometimes the one receiving your love through me as an instrument of your peace and sometimes sharing your love with me with their kindness and care for me. Open my eyes…let me see your activity in my life and in the world…

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“Do not be afraid Mary for you have found favor with God
Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son
And you shall name him Jesus” Luke 1:30

Advent is a time of waiting on the Lord, his time, his place when God enters human history. Waiting is hard just ask the children waiting for Christmas gifts or adults waiting for a raise or promotion or healing. God’s time is not our time nor should it be since He knows so much better when to interact, when to answer our prayers and how best to answer them for best results.

The Advent season in its liturgical observance is not only a remembrance of the Incarnation, God becoming flesh, but also anticipatory of God coming at the end of history in the Person of Christ the King who rules over everything forever and ever. The season of Advent reminds us that history is not complete until the second coming of Jesus. All will end well and if it isn’t then it is not the end. Howm we deal with time was addressed by Jesus telling us to remain awake and always be prepared.

Are we awake? Are we prepared? Or are we like the people of Noah’s time who ignored any calls to repentance even to the time Noah entered the Ark? Or are we prepared like our Blessed Mother who said to the Angel Gabriel, “Be it done according to your word.”
We know Jesus’ life on this earth began in the womb, at the moment of his conception. And, so we know that the first part of his journey among us – the first part of the Word of God taking flesh and dwelling among us – was nine months in his mother’s womb. Oh, how Mary and Joseph must have waited in anticipation!


From the moment the life of Jesus began in Mary’s womb by the power of the Holy Sprit, Jesus became one with us. He didn’t magically appear as an adult. He began his life journey as a tiny, bundle of cells. We can imagine those cells multiplying so quickly, day by day and week by week – silently, imperceptibly. We can feel the gratitude welling up within us as we contemplate the unseen journey of Jesus being “knit” in his mother’s womb.


Though Son of God, he is becoming Son of Mary. We can imagine in this very fine development, Jesus is taking on her flesh, her cells, her shape, her looks, her heart. It is so slow, and yet, so planned. It is a journey which none of us can remember, but which every one of us took.


Let us contemplate that profound solidarity with us which our Savior began even in the womb for us. This transition to a life born into this world. And, in these moments, we grow in gratitude; we grow in our longing for our relationship with Jesus to develop in intimacy and love.

Our praying is helped by our imagination. In this case, we are imagining something we know happened, but for which we have not usually had a visual image. Today we know so much more about the development in the womb through ultrasound images. Let this profound reality touch our hearts and celebrate Jesus’ entry into our world and to welcome Jesus into our hearts now. Come, Lord Jesus. We await your coming!”

in this contemplation, we want to slow down our reflection and enter into the details and to acknowledge the silence, the slow growth, the precious reality of our Lord and Savior’s taking on life as a human being.


If we begin by imagining Jesus’ foot in the womb, we can begin to savor, with wonder and awe the reality of this gift. We can picture Mary washing this little foot, right after giving birth to Jesus and laying him in the manger. We can imagine that this tiny foot became the foot which walked our earth. With this foot, he learned to walk. Perhaps this foot was sandaled most of his life. Perhaps this foot was stubbed on the carpenter’s bench in Joseph’s workshop. This is the foot which left home and headed to the Jordan to be baptized by John. This foot stumbled along the way to his Crucifixion, where this foot was nailed to a cross – all for us.

We can imagine his hands growing in the womb, slowly becoming the hands which first touched Mary’s face and Joseph’s beard. This little hand developed into the hand that learned to be a carpenter, With this hand, he embraced children and offered his tender touch to the sick and sinners , the hands that washed his disciples feet We know one day that he took the bread and the wine in this same hand and, giving thanks to God, gave it to his disciples, saying “This is my body. This is my blood.” And, the next day, His outstretched hands were nailed to a cross – all for us.

As we contemplate Jesus, growing in the womb, becoming our servant Savior, it is touching to imagine his developing face. This profile of a face in the womb is the merest suggestion of the growth of the human face of our God with us. He would already be taking on his mother’s features and developing her eyes. He’d have her nose, her chin, her ears too.

When he was a baby, he must have cried and felt hunger and he must laughed and smiled a lot. We can give thanks for the loving face of Jesus, which tenderly interacted with many who had the privilege of seeing it in his lifetime. This is the same face which was spat upon and was covered with blood from the mocking crown of thorns, all for us.


As we conclude this contemplation of Jesus in the womb, we pause for a moment to reflect upon his heart, which developed, just like our hearts did, but which became not only the organ which pumped blood to invigorate the rest of his body, but which became the very image of his self-sacrificing love.


This little heart became a heart big enough to love sinners, the sick, the marginal. and pierced for love of us. To Thomas, putting his hand in that pierced side, Jesus said, “blessed are those who have not seen yet believed!”

Lord, Jesus, we thank you for these moments of grace in which you have opened our eyes to await your coming to us with expectant hope. Just as Mary was expecting to deliver you into this world, we hope to receive you into our hearts. We give you thanks for the love you showed us on earth and in the Eucharist and the Sacraments which continue to nourish us and sustain us. Help us to open our hearts to your healing mercy and love. Come to us, Lord.Jesus!


(I would like to thank Creighton University’s Online Ministries for their format for today’s Advent reflecton.)


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