Keep your eyes open!...


December 24, 2004


(Isa 7:14) Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

Reading I (Isaiah 7:10-14) Reading II (Romans 1:1-7) Gospel (St. Matthew 1:18-24)

Now as we look at this extraordinary mystery of the Incarnation of Our Lord, we recognize also that as God He has no beginning and He will have no end. Yet, because He took a human nature to Himself, in His humanity He has a beginning. He became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He created her so that He could become created in her. As God, of course, He is uncreated; but, in His humanity, He has a created nature. He did not need to have a mother (and as God He does not have a mother), but because God decreed from all eternity that His Son would become man and would be born of a woman, it became necessary because it was the Will of God. Our Lord humbled Himself to share in our humanity in every way, to begin as the tiniest little baby in His mother’s womb and to be born of a woman. In this way, it helps each one of us to be able to see that we have been incorporated into the mystery of the Incarnation, because in Baptism we become members of Jesus Christ. Jesus, Who is God from all eternity, takes on our human nature; in Baptism, we, who are human by nature, take on the divine nature. As the saints have told us: God became man so that man could become God. Not that we become God per se, but rather we become partakes, as Saint Peter tells us, of the divine nature. We share in His nature as He has humbled Himself to share in ours; the difference being that His is a substantial union and ours is not. Nonetheless, it is a real participation in the divinity of Christ.

Our Lord, in taking on our humanity, has come into this world to save us from our sins; but, in His mercy and generosity, that was not enough for Him. He did not just take away our sins, but He elevated us to a divine level, which means we have the capacity to act as divine beings, that is, to act in a divine manner. Not that we are ever going to be God (again, we cannot), but because we share in His divinity we can act the way Jesus did, we can continue to live the life of Jesus even now. And so the Church gives us these readings right before Christmas so as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord into this world that we will meditate deeply and profoundly upon this mystery of the Incarnation, that we will consider the reality of Who Jesus Christ is, not only in His divinity but particularly in His humanity, and that we will recognize the miracle of Who He is in His birth, the miracle beyond the normal miracle of every child who is conceived and born, the absolute and extraordinary miracle of God becoming man, of a virgin being a mother, of a woman having seed, of Him being of the flesh according to David because of a father who was not part of His conception.

As you meditate upon these things in this upcoming week, ponder also the reality that is you, that is, the reality that you are part of this mystery, that you have been incorporated into the Incarnation, and that you are invited by Our Lord to share in this glorious mystery. That is your dignity. As He humbled Himself to become one of us, He has exalted us to become part of Himself. This mystery of the Incarnation and of the Birth of Our Lord is not something that we merely look at from a distance of two thousand years and hold at an arm’s length, but rather it is something into which each one of us is fully incorporated. It is something of which we are a part, and it tells us the very essence of the dignity and reality of who we are. So use this last week to prepare your hearts, your souls, for the birth of our Savior. But recognize the reality, not only of Who He is, but of who you are and of your invitation to enter into and to be part of the very mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

24. As often as you can, make the following aspiration: I adore Thee and love Thee, O divine Heart of Jesus, living in the heart of Mary; I beseech Thee to live and reign in all hearts and to perfect them in Thy pure love.

December 23, 2004


A call to join the Confraternity of the Benedict Community of the Blessed Disciple, from Mother Mary John.

We are the Community of the Beloved Disciple. The Community is made up of two folds, the Mother Community and the Confraternity. The Confraternity is the lay associate group affiliated to the Mother Community.

The Confraternity 0f The Servants of Jesus in Mary

The Confraternity of the Servants of Jesus in Mary is a school of the Lord's service, a union of souls, a Community of prayerful support along the way.

The purpose of the Confraternity is the Christian Perfection of its members. To gather to gether infraternal charity lay men and women, religious and clerics whom the Holy Spirit has infused with of Jesus in Mary, who have an appreciation of the Benedictine way. As members of a structured association they may strive together in mutual support to reach that Christian perfection which is holiness, whilst maintaining their duties and lives in the world.

Our aim is to help members of the Confraternity, who are already striving for a life of Christian Perfection, deepen their relationship and union with Christ Jesus, Our Lord.

The Way is by union with Jesus, in, through and with Mary, Our Mother, guided by the Holy Rule of St Benedict in the little way of transcendent love.

How to Join

You can become a member by request to the Mother Community, address, The Community of the Beloved Disciple. The Monastery of Dewi Sant, P.O. Box1116, Kalamunda, 6926, Western Australia, 6076.

Or via the Internet

VIA Sue Taylor: Would you create a link from your website to ours at least until May next year?
Thank you as we are all servants for Our Lord and His Mother...

VIA: DAVID J SHEEHAN: The details for the 2005 trip have been just posted on the website. See

I know that with the cost of air travel rising that it would help Jeff out if volunteers could commit early so he can reserve the seats. I am going to send in a deposit as soon as possible even though I don't know what my work situation will be in June 2005. We do our part and let God in His incorrigible way do His part.

And yes, I have asked Jeff if we can have the CBS cameras rolling and call this workcamp "Survivor: Rakija Island"! Here are two links about Badija Island and the surrounding islands. this looks to be quite scenic.

Anyhow, God bless you all this Christmastide and make you smile!

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

23. He will reign in spite of His enemies, and will make Himself master of the hearts which He desires to possess; for the principal end of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to convert souls to His love.

December 22, 2004


After a painful year of church bombings, death threats and assassinations, Iraq’s 800,000 Christians have all but canceled Christmas.

“Officially, we are not celebrating this year,” said Father Peter Haddad, head of the Virgin Mary Church in Baghdad.

Haddad, who will keep his church doors open for Christmas services, said the hard times would encourage Christians to reflect on the religious significance of the holiday, rather than on gifts and parties. His Christmas Eve sermon - for those who show up to hear it - will draw parallels between the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the Roman occupation of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus Christ, a message he said he hopes will inspire worshipers.

“There are very bad days,” he said, “but they will pass.”

Fearing insurgent attacks in this predominantly Muslim country, bishops around the country recently announced they would call off the usual Christmas festivals and celebrations.

Some churches will also forgo Christmas Eve Mass, an unheard of step even during the Saddam Hussein regime.

Attendance has plummeted. More than 700 people once packed Haddad’s church during the holiday. Last Sunday, 27 brave worshipers showed up.

Christians have lived in Iraq for hundreds of years, enjoying peaceful relations with Muslims for most of that time. But after the U.S.-led invasion, insurgents began targeting the community, accusing Christians of cooperating with American “infidels” by working as translators, house cleaners and merchants. Harassment by Islamists became so bad that many Christian women took to wearing Muslim hijab to cover their heads.

“We are the agents of no one, and we don’t accept being linked to the occupiers because of our religion,” Kirkuk Archbishop Luis Saco recently told parishioners as he announced the cancellation of Christmas celebrations in that northern city. “Blowing up our churches and frightening our sons will not solve the problems of Iraq.” Christian leaders estimate as many as 50,000 Christians have fled the country since last year, mostly to Jordan and Syria.

Despite the problems, many Iraqis said they are determined to keep a Christmas spirit.

“Our beliefs will never fade,” said Hazim Jameel, 47, a taxi driver who was buying a Christmas tree on his day off. “It’s vital that people live their normal lives.” His wife, Fadia Issa, 31, said the family would still prepare a traditional Christmas dinner and give gifts to the

RELATED: We Shall Celebrate Christmas Even Amidst All the Violence, Chaldean Patriarch Says

MORE FROM IRAQ: Chaplain, others look to lift Christmas spirit in war zone

CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE: Boston chaplain, photographer brighten Christmas for troops overseas

FAST AND PRAY!: Day of Fasting Urged for Peace in Holy Land- Appeal by Bishops of North Africa and Arab Countries

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

22. In spite of all opposition, this divine Heart will eventually triumph. Satan with all his adherents will be confounded. Happy will they be who have been the means of establishing His empire.

December 21, 2004


Pope John Paul has warned against rampant materialism which he says suffocates the spirit of Christmas.

Speaking to thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square on Sunday, the 84-year-old Pope urged Christians to keep the symbols of Christmas, the nativity crib and the tree, at the centre of their celebrations.

"The message of the Christmas tree is that life is always green if you give, not many material things, but of yourself through friendship and sincere affection, through help and forgiveness, by spending time together and listening to each other," he said.

"The feast of Christmas, perhaps the most dear of the popular traditions, is rich in symbols related to many cultures. Among them all, the most important is certainly the crib," the Pope said, overlooking the life-size nativity scene that stands in St. Peter's Square each year.

The Vatican is waging an increasingly high-profile campaign to remind Roman Catholic Italy not to compromise the spirit of Christmas through excess or dumb it down out of fear of offending a growing Muslim population.

Vatican officials in recent weeks have criticised the Madame Tussaud's nativity scene which shows David Beckham and his wife Victoria as Joseph and Mary, and an Italian school that swapped its traditional nativity play for Red Riding Hood.

A poll released by a marketing magazine on Sunday revealed more than 50 Italian priests had demanded a ban on what they called trash television until after the New Year to show respect for the holiday's Christian roots.


Social and political evil is spreading through the world, causing war, injustice, violence and desperation, Pope John Paul said in his annual peace message on Thursday.

The Pope said Iraq seemed locked in insecurity and uncertainty, the Middle East sometimes appeared to be broken beyond repair, Africa was mired in desperation, and terrorism had hung a cloud of anguish over the globe.

The 84-year-old Pope's message for the Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, celebrated on January 1, was more glum than usual. It's title: "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good," was one of its few optimistic points.

"If we look to the present state of the world, we cannot help but note the disturbing spread of various social and political manifestations of evil, from social disorders to anarchy and war, from injustice to acts of violence or killing," he said.

The Pope, now in the 27th Christmas season of his pontificate, lamented "the tragic scenario of violent fratricidal conflicts in different parts of the world, and the untold sufferings and injustices to which they have given rise."

Evil, he said, "is not some impersonal, deterministic force in the world" but always bears "the name and the face of those men and women who freely choose it."

The message, 16 pages this year, is traditionally sent to all world leaders, the Rome diplomatic corps and heads of major international organisations such as the United Nations.

RELATED: Full text of World Day of Peace Message

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

21. I think our Lord is like a king who does not give rewards whilst he is engaged in fighting battles and overcoming his enemies, but when he reigns victorious on his throne.

December 17, 2004


(Luke 2:10-11) And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

VIA Elisabeth Maria: Let us not forget that "Jesus is the reason for the season"...

Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room, and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out. What are you doing? I started to ask him.

The words choked in my throat, as I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager boisterous soul we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement, TEACH THE CHILDREN! I was puzzled: What did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood there bewildered, Santa said, Teach the Children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that a now-a-day Christmas has forgotten!

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it on the mantle. Teach the Children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind. All the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven.

He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. Teach the Children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of that promise.

He then reached into the bag and pulled out a CANDLE. Teach the Children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness.

Once again he reached into his bag and then removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree. Teach the Children that the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection.

He then pulled out from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF. Teach the Children that Santa Claus symbolizes the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December.

He reached in again and pulled out a HOLLY LEAF. Teach the Children the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent blood shed by Him.

Next he pulled out a GIFT from the bag and said, "Teach the Children that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. Teach the Children that the wise men bowed before the holy babe and presented Him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We should give gifts in the same spirit as the wise men."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree. Teach the Children that the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the shepherd's staff helps bring back strayed sheep from the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper.

He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. Teach the Children that it was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang 'Glory to God in the highest, on earth, peace and good will.

Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL. Teach the Children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of a bell, it should ring people to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.

Santa looked at the tree and was pleased. He looked back at me and I saw the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, Remember, teach the Children the true meaning of Christmas, and not to put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the One who is, and I bow down and worship Him, our Lord, our God.

~ Author Unknown ~

VIA DAVID J SHEEHAN: In case you are scratching your heads about what to give to that special someone, you could try for Bishop Sheen's entertaining and insightful outlook on life.

Although our last names have the same Irish source, I get no commission here on Earth for divulging this info.

I have a few of his videos and his books and have found them very good.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

17. You can hardly realize what pleasure you give me by your zeal for the glory of the Sacred Heart. It is, I think, one of the quickest means of sanctifying oneself.

December 16, 2004

COMMENTARY BY ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT:The Meaning of the Season is the Birth of Jesus Christ

No room for Christ at Christmas
by Andi Cook

No room for Christ at Christmas

"No room, only a manger of hay.

No room, here in this world turned away.  .  ."

The rarely sung Christmas song reflects Jesus' inauspicious beginning.  On the first Christmas morn, no room was available for the child whose name would become part of the most celebrated holiday in the world.

Mary gave birth in a stable and her divine son had a manger for a bed.  Though the heavens resounded with praises sung by angels, only shepherds took note.  They worshipped and eagerly told their tale to apathetic, disinterested people more worried about traveling woes and a census than about a miraculous birth heralded by a celestial choir.

The star that appeared at Jesus' birth attracted the attention of a few eastern astrologers who undertook an arduous journey to find a child that the very firmament welcomed.  When they sought the help of King Herod, he plotted to rid the world of the child the star promised.

Jesus grew up in obscurity because the world had no room for the Son of God.  When he reached manhood and his true identity was revealed, he was despised and rejected.  The world still had no room, so they crucified him like a common criminal.

Long after his resurrection, Jesus' divine identity was finally officially acknowledged.  The Roman calendar signals the acceptance of Jesus' importance by dividing time into segments before and after Christ.

A date in December was arbitrarily set to celebrate Christ's birth, since no actual record of his birthday existed.  For centuries, the birth of the Christ child has been celebrated on December 25.

Carols were penned and words like "Joy to the world, the Lord is come," fill the airways for the month of December.  Nativity scenes blossom; festive decorations deck doors and halls.  Wars cease for a day to honor the message of the angels, "peace on earth, goodwill toward men."

Despite the decorations, the music and the hoopla, the world still has no room for the Christ child.  We are now immersed in the Christmas rush, but the reason for the celebration has been forgotten by many.

For many, happy holidays and season's greetings have replaced merry Christmas as the seasonal salutation of choice.  Some have shortened Christmas to Xmas, taking Christ out of the name of the holiday that celebrates his birth.

While X is the Greek symbol for Christ, those who write Xmas do not usually know that.  They are not harking back to the original language.  They are indicating that there is no longer any room for Christ.  X is faster to write and the shortened name makes the holiday more politically correct, universal and tolerant.

Santa and his reindeer have replaced the baby in the manger as the dominant symbol of the season.  Few ponder that the tradition of gift giving mirrors the Magi who brought presents to the Christ child.

In the commercialization of Christmas, Christ has been lost.  The jingle of sleigh bells has replaced the solemn deep tones of church bells ushering in a day of remembrance.

"City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style," is the seasonal ditty that best represents what Christmas has become in the 21st century.

We have kept the festivity - everybody parties.

We have kept the surface joy - everyone sings.

We have kept the pretence of peace - all take a day off from hostility.

But we have discarded the one who gives meaning to the celebration.

The song "No Room" concludes with, "No room here in the hearts of mankind, no room."

Truly there is no room in the hearts of mankind for Jesus.  We have filled our hearts with substitutes for the peace Christ offers.  Our hearts are full of seeking after prosperity, fame, and power, all the things we think will bring peace and happiness and security.

Yet our hearts ache for more.  Underneath the façade of joy and peace, our hearts cry out, "Is this all?  There must be more."

There is more - but there is no room.

VIA [email protected]:

It certainly didn't begin in the fifties, but since then, the Infant Christ has increasingly been ushered out of the public eye.  How many of you remember when magazine covers like Time and Look would feature beautiful pictures of the Madonna and Child during this holy season.  Television would broadcast shows and movies which celebrated the story of Christmas.  Religious shows were presented and repeated back-to-back on the "Million Dollar Movie", while even the run-of-the-mill television shows would attempt to present religious programming and "Christmas Specials".

Yes, in recent memory religion in America was not only acceptable, but celebrated - in public places - on air-waves, in schools and in shopping centers.  Yet silently and slowly the Christian holy day was secularized and stretched this way and that.  It is now beyond recognition.  Of course, the original intent was to celebrate the Incarnation, that is, the enfleshment of Almighty God in Jesus Christ.  Now look at the lawns - we slowly went from Christ to cartoon characters.  When Christians began to celebrate Santa, it silently slid downhill - first to Frosty, then to the Grinch, now to Winnie-the-Pooh.

Don’t think for a moment I am blaming this secularization on Hollywood or any irreligious people – we have only ourselves to blame.  When a person gets sick, they should not get angry at the cold weather or their sniffling co-worker; not dressing, eating or resting properly is the real problem.  When we allow the wall of our natural resistance to get so low that germs and viruses simply step up and into us - well, whose fault is that?

Why so many Christian homes display large lit-up mythical figures and not the newborn Messiah is a good question - to which many of you know the answer.  Getting Christ out of the public eye didn't begin in the 50's - it started on "day one" with King Herod.  The effort continued and failed with Pilate; but the battle will continue on.  The question we must ask ourselves is this -Whose side am I on?  The answer?  Easy!  Look on your lawn.

Fr.  Glenn Sudano,
CFR Community Servant, residing at St.  Felix Friary in Yonkers, New York

RELATED HEADLINE: How the Politically Correct Grinch is Stealing Christmas

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

16. Endeavor to take all your delight in this divine Heart, and beg the most Holy Trinity to make It known and loved by all hearts that are capable of so doing.

December 15, 2004

(Mat 28:19-20) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."


“Is there a patron saint of the Internet?” is the most common question Sister Judith Zoebelein has to answer. “Not yet,” replies this diminutive, no-nonsense nun from New York City.

Vatican WebpageSister Judith, 55, is a self-taught computer expert. And there was no heavenly help at hand when she was first asked to create the Vatican’s web site, back in 1995.

Yet with a claimed maximum of 10 million hits per day, is now one of the world’s most visited web sites.

“Catholics all over the world are very interested in our pope. Many of them want to know all sorts of details about his private life,” she told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa.

The Holy See first went online during Christmas 1995 and Sister Judith says the current pope has always been an enthusiastic supporter of using new media to spread the gospel.

In a 2002 document, for instance, he said the Internet offered ”magnificent opportunities for evangelisation if used with competence and a clear awareness of its strengths and weaknesses”. And a year earlier this pope had become the first ever to send out an official document via e-mail, to prelates and priests in Australia and New Zealand. The Vatican’s Internet site now regularly publishes daily ”bulletins” listing the pope’s speeches and activities while Vatican Radio programmes are streamed over the world wide web.

The heart of the Vatican’s computer network is the server room, which is located inside the Apostolic Palace, four floors below the private quarters of the pope. Here, technicians are currently at work installing 50 new servers - expanding the Vatican’s current capacity more than tenfold - to deal with a new mega-project: a “virtual portal of the catholic community” that will allow Catholics worldwide to chat and take part in news groups.

Sister Judith says her task here is to guarantee that the ”sacredness of the Church” is not in any way jeopardised by modern technology. The Vatican, after all, safeguards tradition very thoroughly. Its three main servers, for instance, have been named after the archangels Gabriel, Michael and Raphael. “We needed the extra protection of the archangels,” she said, adding that no viruses have infected the Vatican to date.

Incidentally, Saint Isidore of Seville, credited with having written the world’s first encyclopaedia, is being considered as a major contender for the role of patron saint of the Internet.

RELATED: Orthodox Church seeks virtual saint



Christian communities native to the Middle East are passing through turbulent times. In Egypt, where the Copts constitute the largest concentration of Christian Arabs anywhere in the region, the community finds itself caught in the crossfire between an authoritarian government and radical Islamist groups. The Copts, despite sharing strong sentiments of Egyptian nationalism with the Muslim majority, are often beset upon by both the authorities and the fanatics because they are perceived as a convenient scapegoat. In southern Sudan, though a peace agreement may be near, Christians were locked in a 20-year civil war with an Islamist government in Khartoum bent on imposing Sharia on them by force.

Christians in growing numbers are daily fleeing the chaos in Iraq, where their churches have been bombed and their livelihoods threatened by Islamist militants leading the armed insurgency against U.S. and coalition forces. In the Holy Land, in places where ancient Christian communities reside, like Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, the Christian presence has shrunk dramatically due mainly to emigration, as Christians see themselves being marginalized by a conflict increasingly defined in terms of Jews versus Muslims. And in Lebanon, following 15 years of war that resulted in open-ended Syrian domination, the Christians, who number close to 40 percent of the population, have seen their freedoms steadily erode, their numbers dwindle, and their political influence shrivel.

Two distinct historical narratives define the way of life and the destiny of the Middle East's diverse indigenous Christian communities: a narrative of subjugation and a narrative of freedom. On one side lies the vast majority of Christian Arabs - over 90 percent - in their respective regional and cultural contexts. Since the rise and spread of Islam these communities have been relentlessly reduced to dhimmi status, or second-class status in their own homelands, being forced to forfeit any semblance of free existence. The Christians of Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Syria and the Holy Land belong to this vanquished category.

On the other side stand the Christians of Lebanon, numerically a minority, but with a unique historical experience of freedom that was defended and preserved over the centuries at a high cost in terms of blood and treasure. Here the entrenched Maronites, affiliated with Rome since the year 1180, serve as spearhead for a host of other lesser denominations who have thrown in their lot with them to form an exceptionally rooted and tenacious Christian community largely resistant to the ravages of "dhimmitude." However, the combined toll in recent years of war, foreign occupation, economic deterioration, and attrition through emigration has weighed heavily on Lebanon's Christians, causing them for the first time since the mid-19th century to experience an appreciable loss in the precious freedoms to which they have clung so fiercely for so long.

The future will remain bleak for Christian Arabs if their plight continues to be neglected by the rest of the world; if the so-called war on terror falters and fanaticism gains the upper hand against moderate forces in the Muslim world; if something remotely resembling democracy does not strike root in a pacified Iraq; and if the line of freedom's erosion is not held in Lebanon, where a homegrown exception to the freedom-starved regional norm managed to flourish in the face of overwhelming odds.

Thus stand the spiritual descendants of the apostles 2,000 years later in the lands surrounding the sacred spot where Jesus chose to appear as a lowly carpenter.

OF INTEREST: The Story of the Maronite Catholics

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

15. What are the joys of life where nothing is lasting? They pass like a dream, and I cannot understand how a heart which loves God and which seeks Him can take any pleasure save in Him alone.

December 14, 2004

(Mat 23:37-39) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

(Zec 12:10) "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.

(Rom 11:25-26) Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob";


In a dramatic but unpublicized move, members of the newly established Sanhedrin ascended the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, this past Monday.

Close to 50 recently ordained s'muchim, members of the Sanhedrin, lined up at the foot of the Temple Mount Monday morning. [The word s'muchim comes from the same root as s'michah, , rabbinic ordination.] The men, many ascending the Temple Mount for the first time, had immersed in mikvaot (ritual baths) that morning, and planned to ascend as a group. Despite prior approval from the Israeli police who oversee entry to the Mount, the officers barred the group from entering the Mount all together, and allowed them to visit only in groups of ten.

The Sanhedrin, a religious-legal assembly of 71 sages that convened during the Holy Temple period and for several centuries afterwards, was the highest Jewish judicial tribunal in the Land of Israel. The great court used to convene in one of the Temple’s chambers in Jerusalem.

This past October, the Sanhedrin was reestablished for the first time in 1,600 years, at the site of its last meeting in Tiberias.

A tradition is recorded in the Talmud (Tractate Megillah 17b, Rashi) that the Sanhedrin will be restored after a partial ingathering of the Jewish exiles, but before Jerusalem is completely rebuilt and restored.

Another Talmudic tradition (Eruvin 43b; Maharatz Chajas ad loc; Rashash to Sanhedrin 13b) states that Elijah the Prophet will present himself before a duly-ordained Sanhedrin when he announces the coming of the Messiah. This indicates that despite common misconceptions, a Sanhedrin is a pre-, not post-messianic institution.

"The Messiah will be a king of Israel, and as such, he can only be recognized by a duly ordained Sanhedrin" (Tosefta, Sanhedrin 3:2; Yad, Sanhedrin 5:1)


St. Thomas Aquinas in Commentary on Epistle to the Romans:

"The blindness of the Jews will endure until the fullness of the gentiles have accepted the faith. And this is in accord with what the Apostle says below about the salvation of the Jews, namely, that after the fullness of the nations have entered, 'all Israel will be saved', not individually as at present, but universally." ...

"What, I say, will such an admission effectuate, if not that it bring the Gentiles back to life? The Gentiles would be the believers whose faith has grown cold, or even that the totality, deceived by the Antichrist, fall and are restored to their pristine fervor by the admission of the Jews."

SEE ALSO: Pope John Paul II and the Jews

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

14. I admire the mercy of God with regard to the dear departed one... Happy the soul who has quitted this miserable life where there is nothing but suffering and affliction of mind, and where our salvation is constantly endangered through sin, the greatest enemy of the soul.

December 11, 2004



Straight Answers: Our Lady of Guadalupe By Fr. William P. Saunders
Hold a candle to Holy Mary
Festival de Guadalupe - an Evening of Faith and Tradition
Hispanic Catholics to honor Virgin


When we reflect on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we learn two important lessons, one of faith and one of understanding.

Missionaries who first came to Mexico with the conquistadors had little success in the beginning. After nearly a generation, only a few hundred Native Mexicans had converted to the Christian faith. Whether they simply did not understand what the missionaries had to offer or whether they resented these people who made them slaves, Christianity was not popular among the native people.

Then in 1531 miracles began to happen. Jesus' own mother appeared to humble Juan Diego. The signs -- of the roses, of the uncle miraculously cured of a deadly illness, and especially of her beautiful image on Juan's mantle -- convinced the people there was something to be considered in Christianity. Within a short time, six million Native Mexicans had themselves baptized as Christians.

The first lesson is that God has chosen Mary to lead us to Jesus. No matter what critics may say of the devotion of Mexicans (and Mexican descendants) to Our Lady of Guadalupe, they owe their Christianity to her influence. If it were not for her, they would not know her son, and so they are eternally grateful. The second lesson we take from Mary herself. Mary appeared to Juan Diego not as a European madonna but as a beautiful Aztec princess speaking to him in his own Aztec language. If we want to help someone appreciate the gospel we bring, we must appreciate the culture and the mentality in which they live their lives. By understanding them, we can help them to understand and know Christ.


O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.
Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.

Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.

Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.
Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.

We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.

Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.


His Holiness John Paul II Mexico, January 1979. Visiting Her Basilica during his first foreign trip as Pope.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

11. Have no reserve with Him Who wishes to dwell within you as the source of eternal life. He would reign in you, to rule and govern you, by being the motive power of all your actions and the object of all your affections.

December 10, 2004

(Luke 1:28) And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

LINK: The Mother of the Son: The Case for Marian Devotion by Mark Shea

VIA Nadine: The Hail Mary of a Protestant (A true story)

A little six-year-old Protestant boy had often heard his Catholic companions reciting the prayer "Hail Mary." He liked it so much that he copied it, memorized it and would recite it every day. "Look, Mommy, what a beautiful prayer," he said to his mother one day.

"Never again say it," answered the mother. "It is a superstitious prayer of Catholics who adore idols and think Mary a goddess. After all, she is a woman like any other. Come on, take this Bible and read it. It contains everything that we are bound to do and have to do." From that day on the little boy discontinued his daily "Hail Mary" and gave himself more time to reading the Bible instead.

One day, while reading the Gospel, he came across the passage about the Annunciation of the Angel to Our Lady. Full of joy, the little boy ran to his mother and said: "Mommy, I have found the 'Hail Mary' in the Bible which says: 'Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women.' Why do you call it a superstitious prayer?"

On another occasion he found that beautiful Salutation of St. Elizabeth to the Virgin Mary and the wonderful canticle MAGNIFICAT in which Mary foretold that "the generations would call her blessed."

He said no more about it to his mother but started to recite the "Hail Mary" every day as before. He felt pleasure in addressing those charming words to the Mother of Jesus, our Savior.

When he was fourteen, he one day heard a discussion on Our Lady among the members of his family. Every one said that Mary was a common woman like any other woman. The boy, after listening to their erroneous reasoning could not bear it any longer, and full of indignation, he interrupted them, saying:

"Mary is not like any other children of Adam, stained with sin. No! The Angel called her FULL OF GRACE AND BLESSED AMONGST WOMEN. Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ and consequently Mother of God. There is no higher dignity to which a creature can be raised. The Gospel says that the generations will proclaim her blessed and you are trying to despise her and look down on her. Your spirit is not the spirit of the Gospel or of the Bible which you proclaim to be the foundation of the Christian religion."

So deep was the impression which the boy's talk had made that his mother many times cried out sorrowfully: "Oh my God! I fear that this son of mine will one day join the Catholic religion, the religion of Popes!" And indeed, not very long afterwards, having made a serious study of both Protestantism and Catholicism, the boy found the latter to be the only true religion and embraced it and became one of its most ardent apostles.

Some time after his conversion, he met his married sister who rebuked him and said indignantly: "You little know how much I love my children. Should any one of them desire to become a Catholic, I would sooner pierce his heart with a dagger than allow him to embrace the religion of the Popes!"

Her anger and temper were as furious as those of St. Paul before his conversion. However, she would change her ways, just as St. Paul did on his way to Damascus. It so happened that one of her sons fell dangerously ill and the doctors gave up hope of recovery. Her brother then approached her and spoke to her affectionately, saying:

"My dear sister, you naturally wish to have your child cured. Very well, then, do what I ask you to do. Follow me, let us pray one 'Hail Mary' and promise God that, if your son recovers his health, you would seriously study the Catholic doctrine, and should you come to the conclusion that Catholicism is the only true religion, you would embrace it no matter what the sacrifices may be." His sister was somewhat reluctant at the beginning, but as she wished for her son's recovery, she accepted her brother's proposal and recited the "Hail Mary" together with him. The next day her son was completely cured. The mother fulfilled her promise and she studied the Catholic doctrine. After long preparation she received Baptism together with her whole family, thanking her brother for being an apostle to her.

The story was related during a sermon given by the Rev. Fr. Tuckwell. "Brethren," he went on and said, "the boy who became a Catholic and converted his sister to Catholicism dedicated his whole life to the service of God. He is the priest who is speaking to you now! What I am I owe to Our Lady. You, too, my dear brethren, be entirely dedicated also to Our Lady and never let a day pass without saying the beautiful prayer, 'Hail Mary', and your Rosary. Ask her to enlighten the minds of Protestants who are separated from the true Church of Christ founded on the Rock (Peter) and 'against whom the gates of hell shall never prevail.'"

RELATED: Pope prays to the Immaculate Virgin for peace and the sacredness of life

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

10. Provided He is pleased we ought to be satisfied, and ought not to be troubled about our feelings of dissatisfaction or annoyance; these arise within us only because we are not sufficiently mortified and simple-hearted to cut off the windings and reflections of self-love.

December 9, 2004


Iraqi militants bombed two churches in Mosul Tuesday, injuring three people in a co-ordinated attack apparently aimed at stirring trouble between religious groups in this ethnically diverse northern city.

Police officials and church leaders said gunmen stormed into the churches and ordered people out of the buildings before detonating explosives in both.

Islamic militants have regularly targeted different sectors of Iraq’s multi-ethnic population, including the minority Christians, in a bid to disrupt the US-led reconstruction of the war-scarred country.

In August, four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul were blown up in a co-ordinated series of car bombings, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens more in the first significant strike against Iraq’s minority Christians since the US invasion began last year.

One person was killed and 11 injured in the August bombing of the church in Mosul, where a minority Christian community has for long lived in harmony with the city’s Sunni Arab majority, and many say they still do. Any hostility toward Christians was mostly kept in check under the toppled dictator, Saddam Hussein, who didn’t allow militant Islamists to gain clout.

But Iraq’s community of 750,000 Christians has grown increasingly anxious at the rise of Islamic fundamentalism since Saddam’s ousting and hundreds have fled to neighbouring Jordan and Syria.

Some of Iraq’s most feared Islamic militant terror networks, such as the Ansar al-Sunnah Army and al-Qaida in Iraq, have claimed responsibility for attacks in Mosul, the scene of a recent wave of violence targeting US and Iraqi forces and Kurds. Senior Muslim leaders have condemned the violence, trying to quell Christian fears they were being routed from the country.

RELATED: Pope prays for Iraqi people
MORE: Fault lines growing in conflicts with radical Islam, experts say


A Vatican diplomatic campaign to have "Christianophobia" recognised as an evil equal to hatred of Jews and Muslims is causing concern among some Christian activists and diplomats who draft new human rights rules.

The discrete drive, which the Roman Catholic Church first mentioned publicly last Friday, seeks official recognition by the United Nations and other international organisations of discrimination against and persecution of Christians.

The Holy See is pressing this point despite two setbacks this year when the European Union refused to refer to the continent's Christian heritage in its new constitution and turned down a traditionalist Catholic as a new commissioner.

In discussing religious bias, the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva now speaks of "anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Christianophobia," terms the current General Assembly in New York is due to approve later this month.

"It should be recognised that the war against terrorism, even though necessary, had as one of its side-effects the spread of 'Christianophobia' in vast areas of the globe," Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, told a U.S.-organised conference on religious freedom in Rome.

A U.S. Jesuit expert on religious freedom noted Christian minorities were persecuted in countries like Pakistan and India.

"I think there is Christianophobia out there and it's not recognised," said Drew Christiansen, deputy editor of America magazine in New York. "Christians have a sense of being a privileged majority, so we don't see ourselves as victims."

COMMENTARY: Mini clash of civilizations
SEE ALSO: Ex-CIA official: Islamic terror based on Qu’ran

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

9. Let us take refuge in the Wound of the Sacred Side like a poor traveller, who seeks a safe harbor in which to shelter from the rocks and tempests of the stormy sea of this life, for here below we are continually exposed to shipwreck, unless we have the help of our all-wise Pilot.

December 8, 2004


In honor of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, 2004, the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pastoral Practices has offered the following:

On Dec. 8, 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, an action affirming that the Immaculate Conception of Mary is a truth revealed by God to the Church. The meaning of this dogma is that by God's grace Mary was preserved free from original sin from the first moment of her existence. In this way God prepared her to be the mother of his Son and our Savior.

For Roman Catholics the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a holy day of obligation, meaning that we must attend Mass on December 8. We do so in order to praise God for choosing Mary to be the mother of Jesus Christ.

As we prepare for this year's Feast, we recall that Mary, free from original sin, remained free of all sin throughout her life. This means that she always chose to be faithful to God's will, even in the most difficult times. Mary was a human being who, as the Second Vatican Council taught, was on a "pilgrimage of faith," and remained steadfast even when her faith was tested.

As the Council also affirmed, she freely cooperated "in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience." She shows us what it means to a follower of her Son. As we participate in the Eucharist on this December 8, we thank God for giving us the Blessed Virgin Mary as the pre-eminent model of discipleship and holiness.

We all come into this world in the state of original sin. This means that because of the sin of our first parents at the beginning of human history we stand in need of God's gracious mercy in order to be brought back into the union with him that he intended for us from the beginning. God has shown us this mercy most completely through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Because the Blessed Virgin Mary was to be the mother of his Son, God granted her a share in the grace of Jesus' redemptive work even from the first moment of her existence. Her perfect union with God reveals God's call to us to be his holy people.

In 1846 the Bishops of the United States placed this nation under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her Immaculate Conception. The Second Vatican Council taught that the Blessed Virgin Mary is "a mother to us in the order of grace" and that "by her manifold intercession [she] continues to procure for us the gifts of eternal salvation."

As Catholics in the United States, with a special bond to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our patroness, we turn to her this Dec. 8 to seek her intercession for our nation, that God will provide healing where there is conflict, serenity where there is anxiety and courage where life is threatened and in need of protection.

MORE: Immaculate Conception often a misconception


O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

30. This Feast of the Sacred Heart is a day of salvatona and of eternal blessing for all who honour It with a humble and sincere heart. Let us then, love this divine Heart and in all things try to conform ourselves to It.

December 7, 2004

(Luke 1:46-48) And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.


The proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which occurred 150 years ago, is in Pope John Paul II’s thoughts, including those he expressed before Sunday’s Angelus in St Peter’s Square.

The dogma asserts that Mary, Mother of Jesus, was preserved from original sin, that evil does not have power over everything, and that, in the Church and the entire world, there is a certain space and degree of liberty free from corruption.

The Pope went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes on August 14-15 to celebrate this dogma. And, many times, he commended the fate of the world to the Immaculate Conception, sign of hope.

Here are the Pope’s remarks in introducing the Marian prayer:

“It is with intimate joy that we are preparing ourselves to celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which, this year, has a special meaning. We commemorate in fact the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of this important Marian dogma.” “We shall remember it this coming December 8 with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica, where, in 1854, the Blessed Pius IX, along with many bishops from every corner the world, proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.” “We shall thus honour the Tota pulchra, She whom God chose as Mother of His only Son.

Like every year, I shall go to Piazza di Spagna for the traditional homage to the Immaculate Conception.” “I invite all of you, dear Romans and pilgrims, to join me in this act of filial veneration to our Celestial Mother”.


VIA Dan Lynch: There is an old saying, "In Adam's Fall, we sinned all." This means that all of humanity was involved in this closure towards God. So, as the Holy Father said in his address, "In view of Christ's merits, only Mary of Nazareth was conceived without original sin and was completely open to the divine design so that the Heavenly Father was able to accomplish in her the project that He had for mankind."

"The Immaculate Conception," he continued, "introduces the harmonious interlacing between the 'yes' of God and the 'yes' that Mary pronounced without reserve when the angel brought the heavenly announcement (see. Luke 1:38). Her 'yes' in the name of humanity reopened the doors of Heaven to the world, thanks to the Incarnation of the Word of God in her womb by the work of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 1:35). In this way, the original project of creation was restored and strengthened in Christ; the Virgin Mother also shares in this project."

"The keystone of history lies here," he concluded. "With the Immaculate Conception of Mary began the great work of Redemption that was brought to fulfillment in the precious blood of Christ. In Him, every person is called to achieve the perfection of holiness(see Colossians 1:28)."

VIA MTMelvin:

"Heaven's Key to Peace" is a riveting, one-hour documentary which explains how the world can achieve lasting world peace.

It will air in the United States Wednesday, December 8, 2004 on PAX TV Network at
11:00 a.m. (Central/Mountain)
12 Noon (Eastern/Pacific) and
11:00 p.m. (Central/Mountain)
12:00 Midnight (Eastern/Pacific)

It will air in Canada on Vision TV Saturday, December 4, 2004 at
5:00 p.m. Pacific, 6:00 p.m. Mountain
7:00 p.m. Central, 8:00 p.m. Eastern
9:00 p.m. Atlantic, 9:30 p.m. NFLD and Wednesday, December 8, 2004 at
12 noon Pacific, 1:00 p.m. Mountain
2:00 p.m. Central, 3:00 p.m. Eastern
4:00 p.m. Atlantic, 4:30 p.m. NFLD

You can honor Our Lady on The Feast of Her Immaculate Conception (and the 150th Anniversary of the Solemn Proclamation of this Dogma of Catholic Faith) by watching this all-important national TV viewing. If you have cable, please check your local listings for PAX or Vision TV in your area.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

29. Let us not be grieved if our desires for the glory of the divine Heart are not at once fulfilled. This delay is only permitted because He takes pleasure in seeing the increase of our zeal and eagerness for His glory.

December 4, 2004


(Rom 13:11-12) And that, knowing the season, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed And the day is at hand. Let us, therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.

November 28, 2004   First Sunday of Advent

As the Church begins Her new year today, we can look at the secular practice and perhaps learn something from it. When we begin a new calendar year, people always make resolutions. Now that the Church is beginning a new year today, I would recommend that we too should make some resolutions. Saint Paul in the second reading today tells us that we need to put aside all the things that are of the flesh: the drunkenness, the lust, the promiscuity, the rivalry, the jealousy, all these things. He tells us we need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what this season is about: becoming more Christ-like, preparing ourselves like our Blessed Lady and Saint Joseph did for the coming of the Christ child into this world.

So if I might make a few suggestions on how to prepare yourselves, start with the secular and work to the spiritual. First of all, turn off the TV and turn off the radio. Allow some silence to enter into your homes and into your hearts. Do not put up any lights or any decorations for Christmas for at least three more weeks. This is not the Christmas season yet. Let Advent be Advent and celebrate Christmas during Christmas. Simplify the way you celebrate Christmas and prepare it that way so you do not have to spend days and weeks in malls and department stores in the midst of the chaos, but rather prepare spiritually for Christmas. Imagine the amount of time you would have to spend in prayer if you did not watch TV and listen to the radio and go shopping as much.

And so pray at least one half hour a day, preferably in front of the Blessed Sacrament. There are fifty adoration chapels in the Twin Cities where the Lord is exposed 24 hours a day on the altar for your adoration. There is a chapel somewhere near you. If you can get there, that is the best. Of course, a church with the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle works perfectly fine as well. If that does not work, at least have a place set aside in your home where it is designed for prayer. And I am talking about the silent prayer of the heart. This is not the time to pray your Rosary or read a spiritual book or do anything else, it is to talk to God in your heart in silence, a half hour at least. Then pray your Rosary and read the spiritual books. If you can make it to daily Mass, what a blessing that will be for you. What better way is there to be able to receive Jesus into your heart on Christmas than to prepare by receiving Him in the Eucharist everyday? It is the greatest way to be like Our Lady, who carried Jesus in her womb for those nine months. The closest we can come is to carry Him in our hearts for a half hour at a time when we receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament.

Get to Confession. If you have not been to Confession since last Easter, do not wait until two days before Christmas. Get there this week and then go again right before Christmas. If you can put aside the time to pray and you can get to Confession, you will be astounded at the changes that will happen in your life. If you set aside some place and time for silence, the things that you will recognize and see within yourself will be quite wonderful. In the midst of the chaos, we cannot think clearly, we cannot see clearly, we cannot hear. God, remember, speaks in the silence. If we fill our hearts and our minds and our lives with noise and chaos, there is no place for God; and it does not matter how loudly He speaks, we will not be able to hear.

In the first reading, we hear about the mountain of the Lord’s house and how instruction is going to come forth from there and people of every nation are going to stream toward it. The mountain of the Lord’s house is the Church; it is Jesus Christ. Instruction has come forth; the question is whether or not we want it. The instruction of the Church is to make this a holy season of penance and preparation. It is to have a subdued attitude during this time, because if Our Lord were to come into the world today with all of the chaos, the same thing that happened two thousand years ago would happen again. We would miss Him. We would not be prepared and we would not recognize Him. But if we are taking the time to pray, if we are frequenting the Sacraments, if we are trying to develop the spiritual life and grow in virtue, then our hearts are going to be focused on Christ – not on gifts, not on lights, not even on the electric bill that we have run up because of having ten thousand lights in our front yard. Our focus will be on Jesus, the real Light. And when Christmas comes and all of these other people who are celebrating Christmas for the wrong reason unplug their lights and put them away and the darkness fills their houses and their yards – and in so many cases, tragically, their hearts as well – it will be light that will fill your hearts because Jesus is the Light that came into the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome that Light. The Light of Jesus Christ and the true light and the true joy and the true spirit of Christmas will continue to shine in your hearts long after Christmas Day has come and gone because you will have prepared yourself to receive the Light and you will be able to shine with a light that is far brighter than ten thousand lights in your front yard because you will be radiant with the love of Jesus Christ. You will bring His light into the darkness of this pagan society, into the darkness of this secular world. The real Light will shine within you if you prepare yourself properly.

So as we begin this new year, climb that mountain of the Lord. Look for the instruction of Jesus and seek Him with your whole heart and soul and strength. Spend this time as a spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord. Keep your heart fixed on Him so that when He speaks you will hear Him, when He appears you will recognize Him, and you will be prepared in the most perfect way by a heart filled with love to receive the true coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

28. If you would live entirely for Him, and reach the perfection which He desires of you, you must sacrifice yourself unreservedly with all that depends on you. You must no longer will anything but by the will of this loving Heart, and no longer love anything but by Its affections. You must act only by Its light; never undertake anything without first asking for Its counsel and help; give It all the glory thereof; return It thanks, both for failure and for success in your undertakings, and without worry be equally satisfied with all; for, provided that this divine Heart is pleased, loved and glorified, nothing else matters.

December 3, 2004

(Mat 9:37-38) Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.

VIA Frank M. Rega: The following is from volume 3 of Pio's correspondence, p. 476. It was written by Lucia Fiorentino, one of his first spiritual children in San Giovanni.

"Padre Pio was my director from 1916. All the doubts that reigned in my spirit were dispersed by him. My confessor, Don Massa, was pleased at my being directed by Padre Pio, thus my soul found rest and peace. Padre Pio understood me immediately and spoke to me in a very clear manner. Who knows how many times I went to the Friary, full of fears and anxiety, but after having confessed to Padre Pio, I felt my spirit renewed. While I spoke to him, it seemed to me that I was speaking to Jesus. Oh my God, what a potent drug Padre Pio's direction was. When my soul was sad with doubts, temptations, or even as a result of severe family problems, Padre Pio was my honey. In his affability, he knew how to remove from the soul, all bitterness with which it was permeated."

VIA TeagueFamily: This prayer was said by our Holy Father recently as he prayed before relics of St. Augustine. I highlighted a few words toward the bottom which seem to jump out at me..
We need to pray for good Holy priests!!!

The prayer prepared by John Paul II, in Italian, reads:

"Great Augustine, our father and teacher, knowledgeable in the luminous ways of God and also in the tortuous paths of men; we admire the wonders that divine grace wrought in you, making you a passionate witness of truth and goodness, at the service of brothers.

"At the beginning of the new millennium marked by the cross of Christ, teach us to read history in the light of Divine Providence, which guides events toward the definitive encounter with the Father. Direct us toward peaceful ends, nourishing in our hearts your own longing for those values on which it is possible to build, with the strength that comes from God, the 'city' made to the measure of man.

"May the profound doctrine, that with loving and patient study you drew from the ever living sources of Scripture, enlighten all those tempted today by alienating illusions.

"Give them the courage to undertake the path toward that 'interior man' where the One awaits who alone can give peace to our restless hearts."

"Many of our contemporaries seem to have lost the hope of being able to reach -- amid the numerous opposing ideologies -- the truth, of which their innermost being still keeps a burning nostalgia.

"Teach them to never cease in their search, in the certainty that, in the end, their effort will be rewarded by the satisfying encounter with the supreme Truth who is source of all created truth.

"Finally, St. Augustine, transmit to us also a spark of that ardent love for the Church, the Catholic Mother of the Saints, which sustained and animated the toils of your long ministry.

"Have us, walking together under the guidance of legitimate Pastors , reach the glory of the heavenly Homeland, where, with all the Saints, we will be able to join the new canticle of the everlasting alleluia. Amen."

IN THE HEADLINES: Pope calls for prayer for more priests

OF INTEREST: Priests continue their life's work after retirement

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

27. There is nothing sweeter and milder, and at the same time stronger and more efficacious than the gentle unction of the burning charity of this lovable Heart, to convert the most hardened souls and to penetrate the most unfeeling hearts.

December 2, 2004

(John 17:20-21) And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.


The nation's Roman Catholic bishops voted recently to join a new alliance that would be the broadest Christian group ever formed in the United States, linking American evangelicals and Catholics in an ecumenical organization for the first time.

The alliance, called Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A., is set to kick off next year. It would also include mainline Protestants, Orthodox Christians, and black and other minority churches, though with about 67 million members the U.S. Catholic Church would be the largest denomination.

"It's not to create some kind of megabody or megachurch," said Bishop Stephen Blaire, chairman of the ecumenical committee for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "It is a forum for participation so that we can pray together, grow in our understanding together and witness together our faith."

It is considered a biblical imperative for Christians to find ways to build unity among their different denominations. Pope John Paul II has made such efforts a priority of his pontificate.

COMMENTARY: Richard John Neuhaus
RELATED: Christian Churches Together in the USA
SEE ALSO: Vatican returns relics of saints to Istanbul in bid to heal rift with Orthodox Christians


The declaration calls on Christians around the world to visit the Holy Land and encourages pilgrimage. The declaration states that pilgrimage to the Holy Land is safe and builds bridges of peace amongst the nations. The declaration will be sent to Christian leaders around Israel and the world.

The Vatican's representative in Israel Msgr.Pietro Sambi, Custos of the Holy Land Fr. Pierre Battista Pizzaballa and the other Christian Denomination Church Leaders signed an historic proclamation, on November 15th in Jerusalem, encouraging Christians around the world to visit the Holy Land. Msgr. Sambi called on Christians to come to Israel on pilgrimage. Tourism and Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra participated in the event.

MORE: Hotel owners hope Bethlehem initiative drums up Christmas business
SEE ALSO: Christian tourists begin returning to Holy Land after four-year hiatus


Christian Community in Bethlehem has the Olive Wood Carving as their major source of living. Since tourism is no longer available they are seeking now to sell their carving in the States, so to maintain their livelihood, and to keep and improve their status in that Holy area as a Minority in the population. These people chose their representatives out of their own members who live in the States to accomplish their mission.

The return of this program is directly benefiting the Christian Community members in Bethlehem area, in different fields: education, health care, and preserving the religious sites in the most religious spot in the world. Let us support and pray for peace.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

26. I seem to be as a little drop of water in the ocean of the Sacred Heart, Which is a deep of every kind of blessing, an inexhaustible fount of delight; the more one draws from this source, the more abundantly It flows.

December 1, 2004

(Rev 22:12) Behold, I come quickly: and my reward is with me, to render to every, man according to his works.


How do you prepare for Christmas?

This is precisely the question that the season of Advent seeks to answer. The problem is that the question is seldom asked these days. And if it is, the answer is pursued outside of the spirit of Advent. This is a pity!

We all have to change gears. It’s good that we sometimes pause to reflect and ask some probing if not difficult questions. We need to break the inertia to see another dimension of our life that is often taken for granted.

Advent is the four-week season of spiritual preparation for Christmas. We just cannot flow with the current of material and purely human preparation. We are more important than that. Our dignity as children of God demands a lot more.

First of all, as my missal tells me, with the season of Advent we begin another cycle of liturgical year. We have to be reminded that there is such a thing as a liturgical year.

If the schools have their school year, and the governments have their fiscal year in which their concerns are addressed, the Catholic Church also has her liturgical year.

It is the time and space for all of us to be able to celebrate and proclaim the whole mystery of Christ our Redeemer. Yes, dear, if we still consider ourselves Christian, we have to do that exercise.

This may sound like a trite reminder, but I don’t think we can exaggerate the importance of developing a sense of liturgy in each one of us. With this sense, we put ourselves in step with the Catholic Church, sharing her life and concerns.

In fact, our Catechism says it more dramatically:

“Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others.

“No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.” (1070)

Let’s go further. “As the work of Christ, liturgy is also an action of his Church. It makes the Church present and manifests her as the visible sign of the communion in Christ between God and men.

“It engages the faithful in the new life of the community and involves the ‘conscious, active, and fruitful participation’ of everyone.” (1071)

Sorry to be making a ‘lecture’ here, but I feel it is necessary and timely, given what I think is the tenor of the times that seem to be aloof and forgetful of this basic truth.

With the season of Advent, the Catholic Church wants us to remember of course the birth of Christ. But Advent also wants us that with this remembrance of Christ’s first coming, we prepare ourselves for his Second Coming at the end of time.

This is the more important thing to do. We should refuse to be confined only to the present, much less to the past. We should be clear about our future, and determined to reach it.

Christ’s Second Coming, to my mind, is now hardly known by many Catholics. I meet quite a number who get surprised when I mention it to them. How can we remedy this deficiency?

Many ideas can come to us, but what I would like to suggest is first of all for everyone to go through the prayers and the readings of all the Holy Masses to be celebrated in Advent.

There we get the true savor of Advent, a sense of Christian expectation that involves our entire being. There we are given biblical, historical, traditional, as well as devotional elements that help us to have the proper focus.

It’s a practice that will surely be worthwhile. It certainly will enrich our faith, enliven our piety, and make the whole business of religion an exciting one, never dull and meaningless.

It will give us ideas and impulses, almost like electric impulses that will spring us to action. This is what the Pope is trying to tell us even in his weakening voice. We need to be more consistent to our faith.

Our faith has to be expressed in deeds, not only in the personal level, but also in the social and global level. Indeed, our faith has to be expressed in such a way that our supernatural goal is addressed.

What is more, with this practice of meditating on the prayers and readings, we will realize that our faith indeed is most relevant to our daily temporal affairs. It is never a talk to the winds. It is meant to confront us as we are now.

SEE ALSO: Advent, preparing for Christ’s coming

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

25. My divine Master has taught me to look upon myself only as the sport of the good pleasure of His adorable Heart, my sole treasure, and in this it is that I must glory.

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Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus

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