Keep your eyes open!...


December 21, 2010   



(Luk 2:15)  And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.


LIFESITENEWS.COM: Pope's Christmas warning: 'the future of the world is at stake'

: Christmas Sermon, Stonyhurst 1904

LINK: The History of Midnight Mass

Throughout the years, Midnight Mass has been a popular Christmas Mass choice for many Catholics. But how did the tradition of this Mass begin?

In the early history of the Church, vigils were held before every feast for the purpose of preparing for the feast itself. Mass would be held in the evening, followed by a period of prayer and contemplation. Solemn services were then held the next morning. As more feasts arose, the number of vigils kept was decreased. In the current Roman Calendar, there are six Masses designated as vigils to proceed the feasts the next day: vigils for Easter, Christmas, Pentecost, Ascension, Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and the Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul. Vigil Masses are so designated because their propers and readings differ from the Masses for those feasts themselves, while remaining tied to the feasts. Vigil Masses therefore differ from normal anticipated Masses, which are the same as the Mass taking place the next day, but held the preceding evening.

The vigil Mass for Christmas, held Christmas Eve, also differs from the Christmas Midnight Mass. Christmas Day actually has three separate Masses that are or can be held, in addition to the vigil – at midnight, at dawn, and during the day. It is not known exactly how the tradition of the three Masses originated, as even the origin of the feast of Christmas itself isn't certain – depending on the city, something resembling a Christmas celebration started in different years (and at varying times of the year, as well). By the end of the fourth century it was almost universally held on December 25, with Rome having started celebrating it on that date before 354, and Constantinople not before 379. The celebration of Epiphany on January 6 had previously been the major Christmas-like celebration, but once December 25 became the widely agreed-upon date of Christmas the celebrations moved to that date as well.

In the 380s, a Christian woman named Egeria made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, observing for three years and keeping a journal of the customs and liturgies she saw there. She witnessed the Christians celebrating the birth of Christ on January 6, since it appears the tradition of celebrating Christmas on December 25 had not yet begun there, beginning with a midnight vigil in Bethlehem, which was followed by a torchlight procession to Jerusalem culminating with a gathering in Jerusalem at dawn. When the basilica of St. Mary Major was built in Rome around 430, Pope Sixtus III included a replica chapel of the Bethlehem cave where Jesus was born, and much like had been the practice in Jerusalem when Egeria visited, he instituted the celebration of a midnight Mass in this chapel.

Around 550 AD, the Pope began to celebrate a Mass in the Church of St. Anastasia before dawn on Christmas Day, initially because the feast of St. Anastasia was celebrated on December 25. Eventually, though, this evolved into a second Christmas Mass that seemed to replicate the dawn celebrations that Egeria witnessed in Jerusalem. This Christmas Mass would be followed by the Pope going to St. Peter's to celebrate the dawn office of Christmas with the faithful. Until sometime before 1156, only Popes were allowed to celebrate the three Christmas Masses, but by 1156 there is evidence that priests began to say all three as well, which still occurs today. A single priest can celebrate all three Christmas Day Masses, provided they follow the correct times (midnight, dawn, and sometime during the day). The midnight Mass is different from Christmas vigil Masses held earlier in the evening of Christmas Eve. Any of the four types of Christmas Masses (vigil, midnight, dawn, or day) is valid for fulfilling the Christmas Mass obligation."

CARDINAL KEITH O'BRIEN: "Perhaps it is at a time of increasing austerity in our country that we might realise that we are being called to a more simple form of lifestyle and that a more simple way of life could even help us should more difficult economic times face us in the years which lie ahead.

"Our greatest example in all of this is the birth of Jesus Christ," he said. "That is the event which should continue to inspire us now and in the years ahead. There was no pomp and ceremony in connection with the birth of Jesus - rather the opposite: it took place in simplicity and in poverty."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

18. Shut the door of your cell to your body, the door of your tongue to speech, and the inner gate to evil spirits.

December 20, 2010   

(Gen 1:14-18) And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: To shine in the firmament of heaven, and to give light upon the earth, and it was so done. And God made two great lights: a greater light to rule the day; and a lesser light to rule the night: and The stars. And he set them in the firmament of heaven to shine upon the earth. And to rule the day and the night, and to divide the light and the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

IN THE NEWS: A Celestial Trifecta on Tuesday

On Tuesday, Dec. 21, we will hit the celestial trifecta with three red-letter events on the same date. It begins with the first total lunar eclipse since 2008, and the last visible here (weather permitting) until 2014. The period of totality begins at 2:40 a.m. EST and ends at 3:54 a.m.

In mid-eclipse, at 3:14 a.m., the moon will be full – a moon known to some as the Long Night Moon. And about 15 hours later, at 6:42 p.m., we’ll mark the winter solstice, and the official start of winter.


Total Lunar Eclipse and Winter Solstice to Collide for First Time in 456 Years
The 12 Stages of Monday's Total Lunar Eclipse

OF INTEREST: 2010's world gone wild: Quakes, floods, blizzards

REFLECTION by Father Ted – December 18, 2010

My dearest Lord Jesus, as we begin our final preparations for the celebration of Your birth, You reveal to us how desirous You are for us to experience the depth of You Divine love for each one of us.

You truly want us to know within the heart the incredible peace You have come to offer to us on Christmas Day.

You know that so many of us are not aware of Your love nor of Your peace. And so You approach us in diverse ways to exhort us to ask You for a sign – a sign which will enable us to begin to respond to Your love and to begin to experience Your peace.

Some You approach through others - sent by You as You did to King Ahaz through Your prophet Isaiah. You tell us – ask for a sign.

Yet like King Ahaz so many of us ignore Your request.

None the less, You give us signs as You did to King Ahaz. He did not grasp the significance of the sign. And sad to say he did not change his way of life.

May we recognize the signs that You give to us, Lord. May we be willing to change so that we can experience both Your love for us and Your peace.

Help us to become more like Saint Joseph who, when he learned of the pregnancy of Mary, his young wife, through the Holy Spirit, was initially puzzled how to respond to such a sign.

Without a doubt he truly felt most unworthy to be the husband of the woman who conceived You through the power of Your Most Holy Spirit.

Yet when You spoke to him in a dream through one of Your archangels, he realized that his relationship to Mary as her beloved husband was so essential for Your well-being; and he simply obeyed.

He had a most important mission as the husband of Mary, as the foster-father of You – a mission of incredible love and service. He fulfilled that mission – that he why You have made him the Patron of Your Church.

Help us, especially this week, dearest Jesus, as we prepare for Your Birth, to become more and more like Saint Joseph.

For many times we do not grasp the importance of nor the significance of the mission that You have offered to us. We do not understand – and thank God we do not have to understand.

What You want from us and for us is to live like Saint Joseph – open to Your signs and always willing to do whatever You ask of us.

Come Lord Jesus! Come; set us free by the power of Your love. You truly are the Prince of Peace – the Lamb of God who has taken away our sins. Alleluia!

CNA: Pope looks to St. Joseph's example of faith as Christmas approaches 

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

17. The monk is an earthly image of an angel who, with the paper of love and letters of zeal, has freed his prayer from sloth and negligence. The monk is he who openly declares: O God, ready is my heart (Ps 61:10). The monk is he who says: I sleep, but my heart waketh (Song 5:2).

December 17, 2010    


(Gen 49:8) Juda, thee shall thy brethren praise: thy hand shall be on the necks of thy enemies; the sons of thy father shall bow down to thee.


Prophecy Report

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VIA David: You can thank our troops overseas- Xerox has created a free service to print up and send a postcard to our troops.


VIA BHLA2: *The "O" Antiphons*

There are seven short verses sung before the Magnificat during Evening Prayer of the Church on the seven days before the vigil of Christmas.  They each begin with the exclamation "O".  Each of them ends with a plea for the Messiah to come.  As Christmas approaches the cry becomes more urgent.

The antiphons were composed in the seventh or eighth century when monks put together texts from the Old Testament which looked forward to the coming of our salvation.  They form a rich mosaic of scriptural images.  These seven verses, or antiphons as they are called, appear to be the originals although from time to time other texts were used.  They became very popular in the Middle Ages.  While the monastic choirs sang the antiphons the great bells of the church were rung.

A curious feature of these antiphons is that the first letter of each invocation may be taken from the Latin to form an acrostic in reverse.

So the first letters of Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel, provide the Latin words: ERO CRAS .  The phrase spells out the response of Christ himself to the heartfelt prayer of his people: "Tomorrow I will be there".

Why not join with the Prayer of the Church each evening and reflect on these words preparing for Christmas day by day:

*December 17th:*
O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High.  You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner.  O come to teach us the way of truth.

*December 18th:*
O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai.  O come and save us with your mighty power.

*December 19th:*
O stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim.  O come to deliver us, and do not delay.

*December 20th:*
O key of David and scepter of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open.  O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

*December 21st:*
O Rising Sun, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice.
O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

*December 22nd:*
O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one.  O come and save man whom you made from clay.

*December 23rd:*
O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the peoples await and their Savior.  O come and save us, Lord, our God.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

16. I have seen monks who insatiably nourished their flaming desire for God through stillness, generating fire by fire, love by love, desire by desire.

December 16, 2010

(Luk 2:6-7) And it came to pass that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn.

PADRE PIO: "Let us open our hearts to the Baby Jesus whose soul was without the stain of sin and we will taste how sweet and soave it is to love Him."

BLOG: Baby Jesus was seen to appear in Padre Pio's arms

VIA Frank Rega: Padre Pio's Christmas Meditation

Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time.

There are none who clamor around him: only an ox and an ass lending their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired man, in adoration beside him.

Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God. And by means of his crying and weeping he offers to the Divine justice the first ransom for our redemption.

He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had alerted them to the wondrous event, inviting them to approach his cave.

So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes! Oh how we should burn with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of kings, greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine tenderness.

Glittering were the palaces of the proud Hebrews. Yet, the light of the world did not appear in one of them. Ostentatious with worldly grandeur, swimming in gold and in delights, were the great ones of the Hebrew nation; filled with vain knowledge and pride were the priests of the sanctuary. In opposition to the true meaning of Divine revelation, they awaited an officious savoir, who would come into the world with human renown and power.

But God, always ready to confound the wisdom of the world, shatters their plans. Contrary to the expectations of those lacking in Divine wisdom, he appears among us in the greatest abjection, renouncing even birth in St. Joseph’s humble home, denying himself a modest abode among relatives and friends in a city of Palestine. Refused lodging among men, he seeks refuge and comfort among mere animals, choosing their habitation as the place of his birth, allowing their breath to give warmth to his tender body. He permits simple and rustic shepherds to be the first to pay their respects to him, after he himself informed them, by means of his angels, of the wonderful mystery.

Oh wisdom and power of God, we are constrained to exclaim – enraptured along with your Apostle – how incomprehensible are your judgments and unsearchable your ways! Poverty, humility, abjection, contempt, all surround the Word made flesh. But we, out of the darkness that envelops the incarnate Word, understand one thing, hear one voice, perceive one sublime truth: you have done everything out of love, you invite us to nothing else but love, speak of nothing except love, give us naught except proofs of love.

The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.

This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues, so that from a world that is torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks.

Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

12. The cell of the monk is the confines of his body; he has within a shrine of knowledge.

December 15, 2010

(Luk 10:25-29) And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him and saying, Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? But he said to him: What is written in the law? How readest thou? He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said to him: Thou hast answered right. This do: and thou shalt live. But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour?

ACN: Iraq: Celebrating Christmas behind the walls

Concrete walls up to three meters high are being erected around churches in Baghdad and Mosul to protect Christmas worshippers from being targeted by extremists.
With access points for Mass-goers controlled by police with scanning equipment, the barriers are the Iraqi government’s response to reports of increased threats to churches and other Christian communities in the run-up to Christmas.

The walls, some of which are already in place, are the strongest signal yet of the Iraqi government’s determination to avoid a repeat of the 31st October massacre at Baghdad’s Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation where 58 people were killed and more than 70 others were injured.

It comes amid reports of Christmas activities in both cities being scaled back to reduce the security threat.
Normally Christmas celebrations would involve parties in church halls and parks but this year Church leaders have instructed the faithful to restrict their festivities to the absolute minimum to reduce the security risk.

Speaking from northern Iraq in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said: “The sadness of the people is everywhere. Uncertainty is everywhere. The question on everyone’s lips is ‘What’s next?’ “There is a kind of desperation. But whatever happens, the people are determined to celebrate the Christmas liturgy by any means possible.” Describing the concrete barriers and associated security measures as “making you feel you are entering a military camp”, Archbishop Warda nonetheless praised the government for taking steps to improve security.

The archbishop explained that government officials had contacted parish priests asking if they wanted the security walls around their churches.

Many clergy have given their approval to the plans while others said they felt the measures would simply intimidate an already fearful Christian community.

The archbishop was speaking after reports that at least 2,000 Christians from Mosul and Baghdad had fled since the upsurge of violence climaxing with the 31st October massacre.

Aid to the Church in Need last week announced a series of emergency aid packages for displaced Christians fleeing to the north and east of the country, with ongoing support for refugees in neighbouring Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

The charity agreed to send over $30,000 providing Christmas food packages for displaced Christians in Zakho, which borders Turkey and Syria.

The aid is being delivered by a team of volunteers – many of them youngsters – led by the Chaldean Sisters of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate.

Other ACN help includes $20,000 for the victims of the 31st October massacre and their families plus a further $13,000 for displaced Christians arriving in the northern and eastern Iraqi cities of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah.

Archbishop Warda said: “ACN’s help is being welcomed with joy by the people. They feel very grateful and they are encouraged by the fact that they are being remembered by others more fortunate than themselves.” Aid to the Church in Need is prioritising help for the Middle East in line with a request from Benedict XVI.

In 2007 the Pope asked the charity to help the Middle East where he said “the local Church is threatened in its very existence”.

MORE: Iraqi Christians Flee Wave Of Targeted Violence

Father Corapi:
Christmas Greetings An excerpt from Father's book, "Letters"

In the course of a life's journey there are often stretches of bad road. It seems that some people have an easier time than others, but it is a rare individual that never encounters a rough stretch. In recent years, perhaps that's why I have found an increasing number of people that liken themselves to old cars. One poor woman said she felt very old. When I reminded her that she was only 39, she responded that she's like a three year old car - not that old, but with over 500,000 miles - most of it over bad roads.

It is a rather well known fact that the Christmas holidays are the most difficult period many people face all year. Many of my pastor friends tell me that more people die during the week before Christmas than any other time.

With the erosion of family unity has come sadness, all at a time that should be joyful. Sometimes we can only be happy by willing it, often not merely by feeling it. Reality demands that at Christmas we will to be happy, after all "A Child has been born to us!"

As I look out my window the snow is falling and the pine trees are clothed in Christmas white. It is very silent, perhaps a prelude to a silent night not far off. At a time when the forces of evil are relentless in their attempts to not only take Christ out of Christmas, but to suppress Christmas altogether, we must be just as relentless in our efforts to give glory to God through his Son, Jesus Christ.

This year approach Christmas as you would approach the Christ Child himself - with reverence and with thanksgiving. Allow nothing to rob your joy at this precious time. Sadness has no place in reality, true reality, for the Word has become flesh and dwelt among us. Humanity and divinity have been joined in Jesus, now come to us as an infant. In the cold winter of human hearts there is often no room at the Inn for the Holy Family. Make room in the warmth of your heart for the infant King the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Often the greatest joy is experienced by giving something to others: A smile, forgiveness, perhaps the gift of faith itself.

Have a most blessed and merry Christmas, and may God give you the Gift who contains all gifts: the Holy Spirit.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

8. A monk living with another monk is not like a monk living as a solitary. When a monk is alone, he has need of great vigilance and of an unwandering mind. The former is often helped by his brother; but an angel assists the latter.

December 14, 2010

(1Th 5:17-18) Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all.

Introductory Prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank you for this new day and all the graces you will bless me with. I believe in you and your love for me. I wish to show my love for you by staying focused on what is most important during this time of prayer: you and your most holy will. 

: Vatican: Pope: Advent, a time to strengthen inner tenacity

CATHOLIC.NET:  Pope Urges Giving Mary the Gift of Prayer


REFLECTION by Father Ted – November 26, 2010

My dearest Lord Jesus, once again You have reminded me of another attempt by the evil one trying to weaken and destroy Your Holy Roman Catholic Church as he has been persuading the leaders of another religious community to abandon some of their sound religious practices which has enabled them to be vibrant examples of holiness.

As You have taught me one of the key strategies of the evil one is to persuade us to de-emphasize our primary task – which is to assist others to get to heaven.  He does this frequently by trying to get us to focus on the here and now – such as primarily stressing the corporal works of mercy, which are very important ministries – and minimizing the spiritual works of mercy.

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has been reminding us of how important our prayer life is - not only for us personally but also for the welfare of others.  You made me aware of this in a very special way when he met with the bishops of the United States several years ago in Washington, D.C..

During his talk with them he stressed the importance of not only of daily adoration of You in the Most Blessed Sacrament, but also of daily recitation of the Holy Rosary – just like Your Mother exhorted the 3 children from Fatima, and, of course, the daily praying of the Divine Office which responsibility they accepted when each one of them received the first of the Major Orders – in my time – Sub-deaconate.

Once again the evil one is stressing to members of some religious communities that they do not need to spend so much time in prayer.  They are being encouraged to minimize praying the Rosary.  Some are being encouraged to omit the offering of Holy Mass daily.

I learned about such strategies twenty years ago when I was staying at the house of one religious community and while I was at dinner with them one night the provincial superior of that community told me that he believed that to offer Mass only once a week was sufficient.

Fortunately for me, I had recently read what the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, had told a group of American bishops during their “Ad Limina” visit that we priests, whether by ourselves or with others, should offer Mass daily.

I have learned – again the hard way – that whenever I have diminished my prayer life, my ability to recognize Your eternal truth has been weakened; my ability to resist temptations has been weakened; and my ability to perceive the weaknesses within Your Church has been greatly exaggerated.

Without a strong daily prayer life, I cannot become the man, the priest that You want me to be.  Without a strong daily prayer life, I cannot help others to become the saints that You want them to be.

Lord Jesus, help the members of these communities that are being deceived by the evil one to recognize his tactics and to reject them.  Help them to be holy and to help others to become holy.

Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us.  Saint John Marie Vianney, pray for us.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

6. A monk is he who strives to confine his incorporeal being within his bodily house, paradoxical as this is.

December 11, 2010 


(Rom 13:12) 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.

EXCERPT PILOTCATHOLICNEWS.COM:  Confession initiative returning for Advent

Jesus came into the world to save us because "He loves us so much and wants to help us now with whatever issues we face.  He wants to fill us with love, joy and freedom.  He wants you to know that light always triumphs over darkness," Bishop Hennessey said.

"During the Advent season, we also prepare for the coming again of Jesus in glory, when he comes on the clouds to be our judge," he added.

The bishop also emphasized that Advent is a time of vigilance, waiting for the return of Christ.  "We want to be prepared.  Making a good confession regularly is one of the many steps we can take to try to be ready," he said.

WONDERFUL RESOURCE: The Sacrament of Penance

Examination of Conscience (Making a Good Confession)

LINK:  Helpful Hints For Confession! by the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.



"No soul shall be justified unless it turns with confidence to My Mercy ...

[Let] the greatest sinners place their trust in My Mercy.
They have the right before others to confidence in the abyss of My Mercy ...
Graces are drawn from the fount [Confession] of My Mercy with one vessel only, and that is trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive ... I make Myself dependent upon your trust; if your trust will be great, then My generosity

will know no limits ... Sins of distrust wound Me most painfully."

(Our Lord to Saint Faustina)

"When you go to Confession, know this, that I Myself am waiting for you in the confessional; I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in the soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of Mercy.
Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great there is no limit to My generosity."

(Our Lord to Saint Faustina)

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

5. The beginning of stillness is to throw off all noise as disturbing for the depth of the soul. And the end of it is not to fear disturbances but to remain insensible to them. He, who in actually going out does not go out, is gentle and wholly a house of love. He is not easily moved to speech, and he cannot be moved to anger. The opposite of this is obvious.

December 10, 2010

(Rev 12:1) And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: Marian faith always points to Christ

WEBSITE: Our Lady Of Guadalupe Patroness of the Americas

IN THE NEWS: Virgin Mary apparitions near Green Bay shrine recognized as first in U.S.

A Moment with MaryWhat Was Juan Diego Like?

Pope John Paul II praised Juan Diego for his simple faith nourished by catechesis and pictured him (who said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: "I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf") as a model of humility for all of us.

Juan Diego, a native Mexican, was born in 1474 in Cuauhtitlan, which was established in 1168 by Nahua tribesmen and conquered by the Aztec lord Axayacatl in 1467; and was located 14 miles north of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City).

On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego rose before dawn to walk to daily Mass in what is now Mexico City.  Juan lived a simple life as a weaver, farmer, and laborer.  That morning, as Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he heard music and a woman's voice called him to the top of the hill.  There he saw a beautiful young woman dressed like an Aztec princess.  She said she was the Virgin Mary and asked Juan to tell the bishop to build a church on that site.  (...)

The bishop was kind but skeptical.  He asked Juan to bring proof of the Lady's identity.  Before Juan could go back to the Lady, he found out his uncle was dying.  Hurrying to get a priest, Juan missed his meeting with the Lady.  The Lady, however, met him on his path and told him that his uncle had been cured.

She then told Juan to climb to the top of the hill where they first met.  Juan was shocked to find flowers growing in the frozen soil.  He gathered them in his tilma (cloak) and took them at once to the bishop.

Juan told the bishop what had happened and opened his tilma.  The flowers that fell to the ground were Castilian roses (which were not grown in Mexico).  But the bishop's eyes were on the glowing image of the Lady imprinted inside Juan's tilma (or cloak).

Soon after, a church was built on the site where Our Lady appeared, and thousands of Native Mexicans converted to Christianity.  Juan Diego died on May 30, 1548, at the age of 74.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

4. A discerning monk will have no need of words, since he is enlightened by deeds rather than by words.

December 9, 2010

(Mat 19:14) But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.

POPE BENEDICT XVI"The human person is a good in himself and his integral development must always be sought. Love for all, moreover, if it is sincere, tends spontaneously to become preferential attention to the weakest and poorest. This explains the Church's concern for the unborn, the frailest, those most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the clouding of consciences. The Church continually reasserts what the Second Vatican Council declared against abortion and against every violation of unborn life: "from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care" (ibid., n. 51). Cultural trends exist that seek to anaesthetize consciences with spurious arguments."


Jim McCrea: Dr. Jack Willke says that abortion is so unnatural that it will be gone in 50 years.

That makes sense. There is now an information wall concerning abortion. If mainstream newspapers and magazines started publishing articles that told the truth about how women are pressured and lied to to have abortions, what really happens in abortion mills, and what happens in the lives of women who have had abortions, abortion would quickly be made illegal due to overwhelming public pressure.

But that information wall cannot keep the truth locked in indefinitely. It will soon get out. News outlets such as LifeSite News are now getting the truth out to the public. As a critical mass of concerned pro-life people builds, pressure will be put on media outlets to start telling the truth, and this will in turn persuade lawmakers and judges to start ruling against abortion. This will bring more persuasion to bear on the situation as more and more commentary will be pro-life and more and more legal rulings and laws will be pro-life.

Soon it will be as indefensible to support legalized abortion as it does to support slavery (slavery was the blind spot in society 150 years ago). It will become a cultural construct that even though there may still be problems with pregnancy, no decent person would ever consider killing the unborn as a solution, just as now no decent person puts forth the idea that killing the poor is a solution to the problems of poverty.

THESUNTIMES EDITORIAL: It's never too late to say you're sorry

In September of 1900, when my great grandmother, Eliza Quillinan, was 38 years old, she made a mistake.

She was unmarried at that age and she still lived at home on the family homestead near Markdale.  Her mistake was -- she allowed herself to be seduced.

Millions of women make this kind of mistake at one time or another.  And no one ever knows.  But this was one mistake that Eliza was never allowed to forget.  Because she got pregnant.

Eliza had a daughter, out of wedlock, in June of 1901.  Alone.  In Toronto.  Cut off forever from her former life and family.  At the child's baptism, in Toronto, one of the most important family Sacraments in the Catholic Church, no family members were even present.  Only the cleaning lady from the church stood up with her.

And the pressure of trying to support herself and her bastard child, all by herself, in the early 1900s, was so stressful, that Eliza had a stroke and died in 1911, at 48, when her daughter was only 10 years old.

But that was hardly the end of it.

Eliza had that one daughter.  And that daughter had three daughters.  And those three daughters had 14 kids between them.  And those 14 kids had 25 children.  And those 25 have already had 10 children of their own.

Now we'll probably never know the details of Eliza's little mistake.  Who was it with?  Was it her first time?  Was she just curious?  Willing?  Forced?  Unconscious?

It probably only lasted a few frantic minutes.  Yet it ruined her entire life.  It ruined her daughter's life.  It caused no end of trouble with her family.  And it not only changed things for Eliza, but it changed history and it altered the future forever.

Because, so far, that little mistake has created 53 new lives that never would have existed otherwise.

Eliza suffered for her mistake.  She was totally forgotten.  No one in the family knew where or when she died or where she was buried.  And no one much cared.  Even the Markdale Standard gave her the wrong surname in reporting her death, in 1911.  And her name was never put on the family tombstone, although she was buried in the family plot for over 100 years.

When I started looking, I didn't even know her name.  But with the kind help of George Black in Markdale, Marylou Roe in Waterloo, Father Les.  Szczygiel, (pronounced just as it's spelled), at St.  Joseph's Catholic Church in Markdale; Stefanie Grubb in the parish office in Durham, and Joan O'Neill, a former resident of Glenelg, I finally confirmed Eliza's death date.  And with that, I turned to Marg Meldrum, a professional researcher, ([email protected]), and finally got the full story of Eliza Quillinan.

And Eliza, let me be the very first in the family, in over 100 years, to say "Thank you." To praise you for all your sacrifice and suffering.  To celebrate your mistake.  To assure you that you did the right thing -- even though it cost you so dearly.

It was a beautiful thing -- as bringing any child to life is.

And I know, in your time, as in mine, a woman can always find a way to get rid of an inconvenient child.  But you resisted that urge -- even though you knew it would destroy your life.  And I thank you now for your courage and your sacrifice back then.

I thank you for my grandmother being here.  For my mother and my aunts being here.  For myself being here.  And for my brother and all my sisters and cousins being here.  And for my children and all of their children.  For the 53 wonderful lives you have made possible already.  And for the hundreds more that will follow.

You did the right thing, Eliza.  Even though it hurt you so much.

So, rather than put up a new stone over your grave, I've asked that your name be put on the old family tombstone.  To say we're sorry.  To bring you back into the family with gratitude and with open arms.

Welcome home Eliza, at long last.

Fifty three of us owe you so much.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

3. A friend of stillness is a courageous and decisive thought which keeps constant vigil at the doors of the heart, and kills or repels the thoughts that come. He who practises silence with perception of heart will understand this last remark; but he who is yet a child is unaware and ignorant of it.

December 8, 2010

(Luk 1:28-31) And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: "Dear friends, "our salvation rests on a coming," Romano Guardini wrote ("La santa note: Dall'Avvento all'Epifania," Brescia 1994, p. 13). "The Savior came from the freedom of God … Thus the decision of faith consists … in welcoming him who draws near to us" (p. 14). "The Redeemer," he adds, "comes to each man: in his joys and anxieties, in his clear knowing, in his perplexities and temptations, in everything that constitutes the nature of his life" (p. 15).

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, in whose womb the Son of the Most High dwelt, and for whom on Wednesday, Dec. 8 we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to sustain us in this spiritual journey, to welcome the coming of the Lord with faith and with love."

Pondering the Immaculate Conception

VIA THE PHILIPPINES: Born without sin

Do you still remember the book “The Song of Bernadette,” which was made into a movie?

“The Song of Bernadette” is about a 14-year-old girl named Bernadette Soubirous who witnessed 18 apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at a cave in the village of Lourdes, France. As a result, numerous people with serious sicknesses began visiting the site and were miraculously cured.

Few people, however, know the story behind the writing of this book.

It goes back to World War II. A well-known Jewish writer, France Werfel, and his wife had just slipped across the German border. They were fleeing from the Nazis who were pursuing them.

Working their way down through France, they hoped to cross into Spain and set sail to the United States. But Spanish border guards turned them back.

The couple sought shelter in nearby Lourdes, where the famous shrine of our Lady is located. That night Franz Werfel went to the shrine.

Standing alone in the darkness, he spoke words to this effect: “I am not a believer, and I must be honest and say so. But in my extreme need, on the chance that I could be wrong about God, I ask Him for help for me and my wife.

“See us safely to America and I promise to write the story of this place for all the world to read.”

Werfel returned to the village. He told a friend later that he experienced a peace of mind after that prayer that he had never experienced before in his entire life.

Within days, Werfel and his wife inexplicably found a way to cross over into Spain. Shortly after, they were safely on board a ship that brought them to the US.

The first thing the Jewish writer did in the US was to write the story of Lourdes as he vowed. Thus, “The Song of Bernadette.”

December 8 is the feast of Mary who called herself the “Immaculate Conception” at the grotto of Lourdes to whom the non-believer Franz Werfel desperately went for help.

The dogma (Church’s official teaching) of the Immaculate Conception, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854, means everyone born in this world starts life in a state of "dis-grace" before God because of Original Sin.

However, God made an exception. And that was Mary.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

2. Stillness of the body is the knowledge and composure of the habits and feelings. And stillness of the soul is the knowledge of one's thoughts and an inviolable mind.

December 3, 2010


(Psa 27:13-14) But I believe I shall enjoy the LORD'S goodness in the land of the living.  Wait for the LORD, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!

David J. Sheehan: Rosaries for the Military

On October 20, 2010, I, Kristen Patterson, of the Fort Worth Rosary Guild, looked up Fort Hood military information and spoke to the Hospital Chaplain office.  Carolyn Martinez said they’ll take all the rosaries we can give them.  They work with the military and the wounded soldiers.

Send rosaries to:

CRDAMC Carl R.  Darnall Army Medical Center
Attn: Carolyn Martinez
Ministry and Pastoral Care
P.O.  Box 37
Fort Hood, Texas 76544

On October 20, 2010, I called the Archdiocese for Military Services.  I spoke with David Richardson, the receptionist.  He said that black cord knotted rosaries are needed for the military men as plastic and metal break.  But I can send him all the rosaries I have and they will make it to chaplains, hospitals and pro-life groups.

Archdiocese for Military Services
Attn: David Richardson (When we have the knotted cord rosaries, Attn: James Ryan)
1025 Michigan Ave N.E
Washington, D.C.  20017-1518

Web sites to visit: and

Father Corapi: Blessings of the Christ Child: Eternal Truth to All

An excerpt from the book, "Letters" by Father John Corapi

"Jesus [Truth] was born in a humble stable, into a poor family.  Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to [the birth of Truth].  In this poverty Heaven's glory was made manifest...."

"To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the Kingdom.  For this we must humble ourselves and become little.  Even more: To become "children of God" [children of Truth] we must be "born from above" or "born of God." Only when Christ [the Truth] is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us.  Christmas is the mystery of the "marvelous exchange"

"Oh marvelous exchange!  Man's Creator [the Truth] has become man, born of the Virgin.  We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ [the Truth] who humbled himself to share in our humanity." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #525-526; emphasis author's)

As we once again approach the beautiful time of Christmas, we see in the pure light of the Holy Spirit various facets of the same brilliant gem of God's mystery.  One of these is that Jesus, the Father's eternal and only Word, became flesh and dwelt among us.  Jesus himself told us that He is the Truth (Way, Truth, and Life).  Hence, in a mysterious way we behold the manifestation or birth of truth in a poor cave in Bethlehem.

It is of enormous importance to realize that the birth of eternal Truth took place in the most humble and poor of circumstances.  Humility is the absolute prerequisite for the clear and resonant revelation of Truth.  If we do not humble ourselves, realizing that we are nothing without God, we have no chance to recognize and comprehend the Truth, much less become one with It (Him).  No amount of money can buy the gift, no greatness of intellect can grasp that which is beyond the grasp of creatures.  Only in the humble circumstances of littleness and poverty of spirit can we ever recognize the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  May He bless you this Christmas and all the days of your life with every spiritual and temporal blessing that you could ever imagine or hope for.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "Brief Summary on Discernment"

54. If anyone is weak in body and has had some grave falls, he should take the road of humility and the qualities that belong to her, for he will find no other way to salvation.

December 2, 2010

(Luk 2:13-16) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us. And they came with haste: and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.

THOUGHTFUL: Anticipation…the Story of Advent! by Hugh McNichol

BLOG REFLECTION: Christmas Without Jesus

There have been many Christmas' in my life without Jesus. My parents didn't attend any services. My mother was a non-practicing Catholic and my dad had abandoned his Lutheran faith as well.

I was baptized a Catholic in December of 1981. A friend of mine gave me a Nativity set as a gift. It consisted of a straw manger and the Holy Family. Every year I would get another piece to add to the set and that Nativity has been under our tree every Christmas since. Until last year.

Last year we couldn't find it. I had no idea what I did with it. The remote to our lights was missing as well. We replaced that, but I couldn't bring myself to get another Nativity. I would stare at the spot under the tree where I carefully put it each year and I felt hollow. It just wasn't the same.

Over the summer we went through some boxes. I found a very pretty Christmas-looking box. When I opened it, carefully wrapped, was my Nativity! Laying next to it was the missing remote.

Today's second reading is from Romans 13:11-14 (New American Bible):

"Brothers and sisters: You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkeness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh."

Those are powerful words in this day and age of gadgets and selfishness. I am guilty of "all of the above." But that little Nativity reminds me of my beginning in faith. It was under the tree two weeks after I was baptized and it was there until it went missing last year. This year it will be back and it is a gentle reminder that I am to give up the very things I covet this year.

Lord, I wait in anticipation of your arrival. Not only will I prepare the gifts, but I will prepare my soul as well. I promise!

O' Come, O' Come Emmanuel!

Michael J. Coppi: Survival demands a Mother

When Mary’s children pray their Hail Mary’s well and gaze upon the Sacred Mysteries, her Immaculate Heart leaps with joy. We do not have to worry about winning the love of Mary, because she first loved us!

Her love for us is a love without conditions, because we are her sons and daughters: "Woman, behold thy son! Son, behold thy Mother!"

When we finally grasp Mary’s love for us, it will bring joy to our hearts amidst the times of greatest misery in our lives. The most inhuman and sorrowful thing in our world today is the cruelty of mothers who kill the infants in their womb. The heart of a mother LOVES! God made it so! In spite of the ingratitude, hate and total failure of the life of a child, a mother never stops loving that child. Hers is an unconditional love placed there by the Hand of God.

The fawn and calf depend entirely upon their mother’s care and milk. They remain at their mother’s side at all times depending on her for everything!

The mother robin prepares the nest, sits on the eggs, brings the chicks into the world, feeds them, protects them and teaches them how to fly. If the chick falls out of the nest, it will die.

Like the baby chick, if we are totally dependent on Mary, we will one day spread our wings and fly to the heights of Heaven. Nothing is so precious and necessary as a mother.

The male grizzly bear stalks the female when she is with cub and waits for the moment she is not near, so that he might devour her offspring. If the cub stays close to his mother, he has nothing to fear.

We have only to look at nature to see that survival demands a Mother!!!

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "Brief Summary on Discernment"

52. As a ship which has a good helmsman comes safely into harbour with God's help, so the soul which has a good shepherd, even though it has done much evil, easily ascends to Heaven.

December 1, 2010

(Luk 18:7-8) And will not God revenge his elect who cry to him day and night? And will he have patience in their regard? I say to you that he will quickly revenge them. But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?

EXCERPT CNA: Dublin archbishop says Church's deepest crisis is loss of faith

While in no way minimizing either the abuse scandals or the priest shortage, Archbishop Martin offered that there was a deeper crisis within the Irish Church, one that concerned “the very nature of faith in Jesus Christ,” and the question of Jesus' identity and mission.

He proposed that the Irish Church would only be able to address its more obvious problems, by returning to what he called “the fundamental question:” “Who is Jesus Christ?” “We do not create our own identity for Jesus Christ,” the archbishop emphasized. Nor, he said, could the Christian message of sacrificial love be reduced to the notion of “being nice to each other.” He stated that only a rediscovery of Jesus' real call to discipleship would enable the Irish Church to find its footing– not by returning to a past state of affairs, but by returning to the unchanging truths of faith.

“In today's society, where the message of Jesus is less and less accessible,” he said, “the Church must become a place where formation in the Word of God resounds in a way that it has not done in the Irish Church for generations.” The Church, he stressed, was not a “vague moralizing agent in society,” but a supernatural institution, with a mandate that God's grace alone could achieve.

Outside interventions and structural reform, while potentially beneficial and at times necessary, could never substitute for this type of spiritual renewal, which the archbishop acknowledged would be painful.

“There are many indications that the Church in Ireland has lost its way,” he said. “Many people of various ages, no longer really know Jesus Christ.” He suggested that this living faith, for many people, may have given way to cultural expectations and outward obedience.

“Can we be happy to celebrate first communion services which put people into debt for thousands of Euro,” he asked, “while neither the children nor their parents have been led to a true understanding of the Eucharist and … the Church? Can we be satisfied when confirmation is looked on by many as a graduation out of Church life?”

“In not addressing such issues, we are not just deceiving ourselves, but we are damaging the integrity of the mystery of Jesus.”

VIA AUSTRALIA: Faithless are coarse, uncaring and without purpose, says Cardinal Pell

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller asks Catholics to listen for God's call

“My friends, it is the Holy Spirit that enables the community of faith to proclaim the gospel, to attract a crowd, to have something to say worth hearing. The wind blows where it will. God has the power to accomplish in our midst what he wants – in spite of all obstacles.”

This is possible only when Christians are open to God’s word and are in a loving relationship with Jesus.

“We are to love God fully, holding nothing back. And to love one another as Jesus has loved us – continuously, without limits, throughout our life,” he exhorted. “My brothers and sisters, I do love you, and I am willing to lay down my life for you!”

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "Brief Summary on Discernment"

48. As one whose legs are tied cannot walk freely, so those who hoard money cannot ascend to Heaven.
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Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus

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