DAY OF PRAYER FOR PROTECTION OF UNBORN CHILDREN

 

OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE PATRONESS OF THE UNBORN

O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life

Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult,

of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killedby indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life.

The miraculous image produced on the apron or tilma of Saint Juan Diego is rich in symbolism. The luminous light surrounding the Lady is reminiscent of the “woman clothed with the sun” of Rev. 12:1. The light is also a sign of the power of God, who has sanctified and blessed the one who appears…. more powerful than the sun god of the natives.

The girdle or bow around her waist is a sign of her virginity, but it also has several other meanings. The bow also demonstrates plenitude and fecundity to the native Indians. The high position of the bow and the slight swelling of the abdomen show that the Lady is “with child”.

At the time of Mary’s appearance 1531, Mexico was in the throes of human sacrifice where blood of infants were offered up to appease the pagan gods. When Mary appeared, she brought a message of compassion, “I am the merciful Mother, the Mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate their suffering, necessities, and misfortunes.”

Mary holds within her the unborn Christ proclaiming the sanctity and blessedness of life within the womb. In her appearance to Juan Diego there is such simplicity and reverence expressing calm in a turbulent world. She patiently bears our Savior and soon humanity will be reunited in relationship with divinity. Within just a few years, 11 million native Americans were converted, and the practice of human sacrifice stopped, along with the promotion and practices of Cultures of Death.

No more did the people need to cower in abject terror before the bloodthirsty gods who demanded the death of their children. They found refuge beneath the gracious protection of a gentle Mother. How much we need her intercession today. Since 1973 Roe V Wade there have been over 60 million abortions in the United States, alone and over a billion worldwide.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal designates January 22 as a particular day of prayer and penance, called the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”: “In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.”

As individuals, we are called to observe this day through the penitential practices of prayer, fasting and/or giving alms. Another way to take part is through participating in special events to observe the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Call your local diocese or parish to find out what events might be taking place in your area.

Contact your representatives state and federal. While our efforts to change hearts, minds and laws through courageous public witness are essential to ending abortion, our most powerful weapon is prayer.

Pope Benedict XVI, Emeritus addressed lawmakers about this issue, “Children truly are the family’s greatest treasure and most precious good. Consequently, everyone must be helped to become aware of the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion. In attacking human life in its very first stages, it is also an aggression against society itself. Politicians and legislators, therefore, as servants of the common good, are duty bound to defend the fundamental right to life, the fruit of God’s love.”

We must shout it from the rooftop “that all life is sacred.”We are all evangelizers by virtue of our Baptism. All of us are commissioned through our baptism to be other Christs in the world. Baptism means for us exactly what it meant for Jesus when He was baptized by John before entering His public ministry. His baptism was his initiation. He emerged from the water commissioned by the Father to do His work. Similarly – In our own waters of baptism – we have been initiated, called, and commissioned. Trusting in God we must fearlessly go forward in our quest to support a culture of Life.

Abortion is often a temptation when expectant mothers face the challenges of loneliness, of spiritual emptiness, of unstable relationships and absent families. Poverty is often a factor in choosing abortion, but spiritual poverty, isolation, and hopelessness are far more powerful factors. The Lord calls on all of us to be present in support in the lives of women and families who might be tempted to consider abortion.

The earliest Christians used as their “moral guide of behavior” the admonition God made to his chosen people, through Moses, His Prophet, Deuteronomy 30:19. I” am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live

CHOOSE LIFE!

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JESUS IN SCRIPTURE PUBLIC LIFE MIRACLE WORKER

 

JOHN 2:1-11 THE WEDDING AT CANA
There was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew).
The headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

REFLECTION:
Mary, Jesus, and his disciples were invited to this wedding banquet. Must have been a pretty big affair to run out of wine…wedding celebrations lasted days back then and preparations were made…Could it be that it was not an accident but Divine Providence…Jesus addresses his mother as Women. Is He insulting her of course not! Could it be the title Women represented all mankind in need….Seek and you will find…Mary had no doubt her request would be answered; she told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”.Mary did not know what her Son would do, but she trusted Him. Do we trust Jesus to answer our prayers…

My hour has not yet come“…God’s time is not our time…Jesus had not yet begun his public ministry…but then who can turn down a mother’s request….Jesus discerned this as a sign from his Father that it was time to let the rest of us in on the Good News..Jesus performed this first of His signs and revealed His glory… and so the disciples began to believe in Him…the kingdom of heaven is at hand…what are our expectations,,..what are the signs of Jesus’ intervention in my life…look closely… give thanks…

 

SILENT PRAYER


MARK 4:35-41 JESUS REBUKES THE SEA

On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, “Let us cross to the other side of the lake.”

Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.

They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”

The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

REFLECTION:

Jesus was crossing the Sea of Galilee with his disciple…He was exhausted from all the teaching He had done to the multitudes, worn out emotionally too with the needs of the people and demands placed on him for healing…. Jesus fell asleep in the back of the creaky old fisherman boat. Afierce storm came up that terrified his disciples. Jesus must have really been tired since it didn’t awaken him or else He wasn’t worried by nature’s unpredictability.

So often storms come into our lives…We feel all alone…frightened…how long do I thrash about in the storm by myself…am I able to make the storm go away by myself…do I invite Jesus into the eye of the storm…He is my refuge, my only refuge…his disciples (fishermen) were afraid in the boat and woke Jesus..Jesus saw and heard their fear…He rebuked the wind and told the sea to Be still…the wind ceased and the sea became calm…Why child are you so terrified…I am with you…Be still and know that I am God….can we respond Yes, Lord, I trust you!

SILENT PRAYER

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SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE THE GOODS OF MARRIAGE

Last week I wrote a blog reflecting on the Feast of the Holy Family including trust, fidelity, and the importance of parenting. Today I want to extend those reflections supported by Catholic Church Teaching on the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage.

Marriage was one of the first gifts to mankind when God presented Adam with his wife, Eve, flesh of his flesh and they would become one flesh and produce and fill God’s kingdom with the fruit of their love. Marriage is probably the greatest human metaphor for the Most Holy Trinity, God in relationship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirity.

                                    MARRIAGE FEAST AT CANA

At the Marriage feast in Cana, John 2:1-12, Jesus raised marriage to a sacrament that gives grace. We are now in the midst of a heated debate about what marriage is. When Jesus was asked by some Pharisees about whether divorce was possible, in Matthew chapter 9, Jesus gave a clear teaching about the real meaning of marriage that is as relevant to the debate about whether homosexuals can marry as it was to the subject of divorce-and-remarriage.

Have you not read that in the beginning God ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:3-12

Later His disciples asked Jesus, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

Wow! Even Jesus says marriage is not for everyone, some may even be born not able to fulfill the procreative and unitive requirements of marriage. The Catechism of the Catholic Church continues to expound on God’s awesome plan for mankind with emphasis on the unitive and procreative role of Marriage, neither of which can be fulfilled by a homosexual couple.

“In the beginning, God made them male and female.” There is great meaning to our masculinity and femininity in God’s plan. God didn’t clone Adam, but made Eve, who was equal to him in dignity, but complementary. God’s plan is not that a man leave his parents and cling to whomever he wants, but to cling to a wife.

ROMAN CATHOLIC BELIEFS ROMAN CATHOLIC TEACHINGS

“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament. CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH #601

THE GOODS OF MARRIAGE
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1643), there are three goods of marriage. They are: unity, fidelity, and openness to children

The choice of contraception denies the intrinsic meaning of giving and receiving which is proper to the conjugal sexual act and closes it arbitrarily to the dynamics of transmitting a new human life. “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife and they become one body.” (Genesis 2:24)

This unity is beyond mere unity of the flesh; it demands permanence (indissolubility) for the entire life of the married couple. The union is so profound and total that only death can dissolve it.

The very nature of conjugal love, total union for life of a married couple, demands fidelity and prohibits any disorder such as adultery. This “good” of married fidelity is a sign of the faithful union between Christ and His Church.

The good of “openness to children” is the fruit of total self-giving love. Accepting children and nurturing them leads the married couple to a deeper union and exclusive commitment to one another.

The conception of new life is the ultimate perfection of marital union itself. Contraception renders this perfection impossible. One aspect of man in the image and likeness of God is procreator, sharing in God’s creative work, the completion of the human race.
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FEAST OF THE MOST HOLY FAMILY

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY SUNDAY DECEMBER 31, 2017

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)

REFLECTION
WHERE DOES THE HOLY FAMILY BEGIN
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!

HOW WILL THE WORD OF GOD BECOME INCARNATE (TAKE ON HUMAN NATURE)
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…

THE HOLY FAMILY NEEDS AN EARTHLY FATHER
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

THE HOLY FAMILY EMBRACES THE WORLD 

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..

PRAYER FOR OUR FAMILIES
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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CATHOLIC FEAST DAYS THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL!

 

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

THE GREATEST EXCHANGE OF GIFTS

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.

BEHOLD A GREAT LIGHT SHATTERS THE DARKNESS!

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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PRAYING THE PSALMS FROM THE HEART

LORD TEACH US TO PRAY!

KING DAVID, SONG WRITER, SINGER, AUTHOR OF PSALMS

INTRODUCTION
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)

BACKGROUND

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.

CONCLUSION
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.

PSALM 51: MISERERE (PENITENTIAL PSALM)
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….

PSALM 8 (PRAISE)
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!….

PSALM 17 (PETITION)
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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FEAST OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

FEAST OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION DECEMBER 8

BACKGROUND
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.

REFLECTION

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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JESUS IN SCRIPTURE JESUS IS TEMPTED AND JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF AS MESSIAH

LUKE 4:1-13 JESUS IS TEMPTED IN THE DESERT

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.

REFLECTION:
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…

SILENT PRAYER
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!

LUKE 4:16-21 THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME
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.”

REFLECTION:
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…

SILENT PRAYER
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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ADVENT REFLECTION PRAYING WITH JESUS IN THE WOMB

“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

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT DECEMBER 3, 2017
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.

 

PRAYERFUL REFLECTION PONDER WELL!
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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DOES GOD EXIST IN THE 21ST CENTURY

 

GOD THE CREATOR OF ALL
I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY
MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

As we prepare for Advent, a season of waiting on the Lord, I humbly ask us to reflect on the need for God in this world more than ever. We remember the birth of Christ over 2000 years ago but we must invite Him today and everyday into our hearts. We must assist in this birthing in our hearts by preparing a suitable place for him to reside. In that first Christmas the Christ child was placed in a manger because there was no room in the Inn. Is there room in your heart for the Christ child today? Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of the world Alleluia!

Throughout history and culture, dependant mankind, noting his limits, attempts to create gods to meet his needs, like harvest god for crops and fertility god for children. The Christian God is fully perfect and complete in Himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is that Supreme Being that is being itself had no beginning and has no end. Yes God exists in the 21st Century! He needs nothing. Everything but God is dependent on something else, the baby on Mom and Dad, the chair, the carpenter, the cook on the ingredients from her garden…you get the idea.

Man continues today to fill up that lack of wholeness with substitute gods such as money, pleasure, and power. It is in our very nature to seek completion. These fake gods will fail us like always. St. Augustine says it best, “our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”

Back in the New Testament era in Acts 17 when travelling through Athens St. Paul remarked that the people were very much into worshipping gods (temples to Appolo, Poseidon, and Aphrodite) and even had placed an altar to an unknown god who Paul explicitly told them is the Christian God he represents.

Men of Athens I perceive that you are in every way religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” The unknown God of the Greeks is he in whom “we live and move and have our being,…the God who made the world and everything in it.”

Some people will argue against God because of all the evil in the world. They argue, if a God exists He would never allow it to happen. That is a pretty simplistic dismissal of God who we live and move and have our being. It shows a lack of understanding of the effects of sin in this world. There are consequences to sin, sometimes heinous ones. God never wills sin but He also respects our free will. Sometimes, the evil, God allows brings a greater good, like conversion, reconciliation and forgiveness. What some perceived as the humiliating, shameful death of Jesus became our lifeline to eternity.

Some reject Jesus as divine. They get hung up on the transcendence of God and can’t believe a God so above and superior to man could ever stoop so low to become man. I suggest they read the passage from Phillipians Chapter 2 to see God’s great love for us that he would humble us to save us.
PHILLIPIANS 2:6
Who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God’s transcendence is consistent with God being immanently present in all things as creator. He can reveal who he truly is to us in a singular human life (Jesus Christ) without diminishing himself in any way. Why should God be excluded from His creation? He certainly wasn’t excluded in the Garden of Eden in walks in the cool of the evening accompanied by Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3)

God was certainly present in the Old Testament Book of Exodus as he delivered his people from slavery in Egypt. . In the book of Exodus, God overawes Egypt’s Pharaoh, who is representative of the paganism of the nations. God destroys the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, sustains Israel in the wilderness, and eventually delivers them into the Promised Land.

God incarnate in Christ Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity, employs his omnipotence in a different way. His triumph comes about through suffering and death of His only begotten Son. God is intimately involved in His creation. He has a lot invested in us in a very complex, salvation plan evolving over centuries. God takes upon himself and overcomes the consequences of human evil, suffering, and death. In return he gives all human beings offers of grace, the forgiveness of sins, and participation in eternal life.

Some say faith is less reliable than science. I say what about the daily leaps of faith each day such as that when you flush the toilet it won’t overflow.. that you won’t fall and break your leg on the way to your car…that there is a road to take you to your destination…that your destination exists…that the bridge you cross will not collapse under you…that your family will still be there when you return…and so forth How is faith in God any less reasonable than the daily leaps of faith we make?.

When people dismiss or ignore God’s existence and involvement in this world they ignore His graces and dismiss His support for times of stress, grief, despair, and reject the inspiration to pray for others in need, especially loved ones who may have taken a wrong turn on their journey “home.”
CLOSING PRAYER FROM PSALM 145
I will extol you, my God and king;
I will bless your name forever and ever.

Great is the LORD and worthy of much praise,
whose grandeur is beyond understanding.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in mercy.

The LORD is trustworthy in all his words,
and loving in all his works.

LORD is just in all his ways,
merciful in all his works.
My mouth will speak the praises of the LORD

and will bless his holy name forever and ever.

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