Keep your eyes open!...



December 25, 2012 


(Luk 2:10-14) And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people: For, this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. 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.


Sermon 21 – On the Lord's NativityHumility is Born!

Our Saviour, dearly beloved, is born today: let us rejoice. No trace of sadness may be permitted on this birthday of Life. This day abolishes the fear of death and fills us with joy by reason of the promise of eternal life. No-one is excluded from a share in this eagerness. The joy is for one and all: our Lord is the Destroyer of sin and death; he finds no-one free from guilt, so he comes to set every-one free.

Let the Saint rejoice, for he shall soon receive his palm; let the sinner be glad, for he is offered his pardon; let the Gentile awake, for he is summoned to life. When the fulness of time was come, that time ordained by the high and inscrutable counsel of God, the Son of God took flesh from our human nature, that he might reconcile that nature to its Creator, and that the devil, the inventor of death, might be overcome by that same flesh which had been the means of his victory.

God joins battle on our behalf, and there is a great and wonderful equity in the battle-array; for Almighty God comes forth to meet our raging foe, armed, not in his majesty, but in our weakness. He meets him with the same body, the same nature, even with a share of our mortality, yet with no spot of sin. How different is this Child's birth from all others; it is written: No-one is free from tainting sin, not even an infant that has lived but one day on the earth. Now no spot of the concupiscence of the flesh had penetrated into this unique Birth, no trace of the law of sin remained. A royal virgin of the stem of David was chosen; she who was to be pregnant with holy Fruit, conceived mentally before bodily that Offspring of hers who was both human and divine. While the counsels of heaven were yet unknown to her she was troubled at the strange annunciation, and so she learned from her conversation with the Angel that it was by the cooperation of the Holy Ghost that this thing was to happen to her: so she believed that without loss of her virginity she was soon to be the Mother of God.

Let us give thanks, dearly beloved, to God the Father, through his Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit; for God who is rich in mercy towards us, even when we were dead in our sins hath quickened us together with Christ, and made us to be a new creature in him, and a new workmanship. Let us put off the old man with his deeds: and let us obtain a share in Christ's sonship, laying aside the works of the flesh. O Christian, learn how great you have become, you who have been made a partaker of the divine nature. Do not return to the former vileness of your old and corrupt conversation. Remember the Head and Body of which you are a member. Never forget that you have been delivered out of the power of darkness and translated into the light and kingdom of God.


Church Lobby after Adrianna's Confirmation                                        Bathed in the Spirit on Confirmation Night

Zambrano Family in Church Foyer after Adrianna Maria's Confirmation                           Mother and daughter bathed in the Holy Spirit

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Love of One's Neighbor, Charity, Humility

16. Avoid over-eagerness and strive to model your interior and exterior upon the humble sweetness of the loving Heart of Jesus, doing each of your actions with the same tranquility as if you had but that alone to do.

December 23, 2012 

(Luke 1:41-45) And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

VATICAN RADIO: The Holy Father spoke of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elisabeth – the episode narrated during the Gospel reading for the day. “The episode,” said Pope Benedict, “does not represent a mere gesture of courtesy, but dramatises with great simplicity the encounter of the Old Testament with the New Testament.” The Holy Father explained that the elderly and yet miraculously fertile Elisabeth represents Israel awaiting the Messiah. Noting that the expression with which Elisabeth greets Mary, “Blessed art thou among women,” is one that in the Hebrew Scriptures is spoken to the warrior women Jael and Judith, whose efforts saved the nation of Israel from peril, Pope Benedict says, “Now, it is spoken to the gentle young woman who shall before too long give birth to the Saviour of the World.” Pope Benedict went on to say that the scene of the Visitation also expresses the beauty of welcoming. “Wherever there are those who welcome one another, where there is careful attention, wherever there are people who make room for another,” he said, “there is God – and the joy that comes from Him."

LINK: Padre Pio's Christmas Meditation

MEDITATION: Advent – The Time for our Spiritual Awakening by Sr. Maximiliana Kroczak, CSMJ

EXCERPT FATHER CANTALAMESSA'S 3rd ADVENT SERMON: "I Bring You Tidings of Great Joy": Evangelizing Through Joy

Let us return to the theme of joy. Where does happiness come from? The ultimate source of joy is God, the Trinity. But we are in time, whereas God is in eternity. How can joy flow between two so distant points? Actually, if we delve more deeply into the Bible, we discover that the immediate origin of joy is in time: it is God’s action in history. God who acts! A divine action, at the point where it “falls” upon history, causes a vibration and a wave of joy that resounds for generations; indeed, when dealing with actions bequeathed by Revelation, it resounds forever.

God’s action is always a miracle that fills heaven and earth with wonder: “Sing for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done it” – exclaims the prophet – “shout O depths of the earth!” (Is 44:23; 49:13). The joy breaking forth from Mary’s heart, and from the hearts of the other witnesses of the beginnings of salvation, is wholly based on this: God has come to the help of Israel! God has done it! He has done great things!

How can this joy in God’s action reach the Church today, infecting her with the same jubilant gladness? First, it reaches her by way of remembrance, in the sense that the Church “remembers” God’s marvelous works accomplished on her behalf. The Church is invited to make her own the Virgin’s words: “The Almighty has done great things for me”. The Magnificat is the canticle which Mary first intoned - as the coryphaeus preceding the chorus- and has left to the Church, that its singing might be prolonged through the centuries. Truly the Lord has done great things for the Church over these last twenty centuries!

In a certain sense, we have greater reason for rejoicing than Zachariah, Simeon, the shepherds and the early Church in general. She went forth “bearing the seed for sowing”, as Psalm 126 says. She had received God’s promises: “I am with you!” and his commands: “Go out to all the world!” But we have seen these fulfilled. The seed has grown, the tree of the Kingdom has become immense. The Church today is like the sower who “returns with shouts of joy, bearing his sheaves”.

How many graces, how many saints, what great wisdom of doctrine and wealth of institutions, and what salvation has been wrought in her and through her! Which of Christ’s words has not found perfect fulfillment? This word of his has been certainly fulfilled: “In the world you will have tribulation” (Jn 16:33); but so has his other word: “The powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18).

How rightly may the Church make her own the wonder of ancient Sion, and say before the innumerable multitude of her children: “Who has borne me these? I was bereaved and barren, but who has brought up these?” (Is 49:21) Who, looking back across the centuries with the eyes of faith, would fail to see perfectly fulfilled in the Church the prophetic words addressed to the new Jerusalem rebuilt after her exile: “Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar […] Your gates shall be open continually; that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations” (Is 60:4.11).

How many times over the course of these last twenty centuries has the Church had to enlarge the “space of her tent”; that is, her capacity to receive and to allow the human and cultural wealth of diverse peoples to enter in! - even if this has not always happened promptly and without resistance. To us - the children of the Church who are nourished “from the abundance of her breasts” - the prophet’s invitation is addressed: Rejoice and be glad for her, “shine with joy for her” after having mourned over her (cf. Is 66:10-11).

Joy in God’s action reaches therefore believers today by way of remembrance, for we see the great things the Lord has done for us in the past. But it also reaches us in another and no less important way: by way of presence, for we find that even now, in the present, God is acting in our midst. He is acting in the Church.

: Praying for the grace of presence

The Visitation, this is the prototype experience of presence. As Elizabeth listens—or as John listens—they recognize the presence of the Savior, perhaps the first two persons, aside from Our Blessed Mother and presumably St. Joseph, who recognize this presence.

As they listen, they continue to go beyond themselves and let go. And, as Fr. Thomas Green, S.J., used to say often years ago in his talks and in his book with a similar title, to “Let Go and let God.” John listened, recognized, let go and “leaped for joy.” Elizabeth listened, recognized, let go and “filled with the Holy Spirit cried out in a loud voice” and praised Mary and announced the presence of the Savior.

This is one of the graces of Christmas. It is a season of special grace to help us renew our sense of presence, the presence of the Savior in our midst, in our life and work, in our families and communities. He is truly God with us.

We pray in these final days of preparation for the great feast of Christmas that we may be blessed with the grace of presence—to listen, to go beyond and to let go and to allow the child in the manger, God-with-us to lead us to make choices for “the evolution of life,” making our world better, building more caring and loving communities; lead us to the choice to live a life of grace, love and service in the coming year and always; bring his presence into the lives of others.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Love of One's Neighbor, Charity, Humility

12. Above all, let us carefully keep silence on occasions that mortify us.  Let us be charitable and humble, both in our thoughts and words.

December 16, 2012 

(Php 4:4-7) Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

DEVOTION: Advent Cleansing Joy

ACN: Advent 2012 in Bethlehem – Christmas behind the Wall

- Gaudete Sunday reveals 'how-to' guide for Faith

TEMPO: The Third Sunday of Advent

Manila, Philippines – “REJOICE in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” This passage taken from the Entrance Antiphon in today’s liturgy sets the tone of preparations for the coming of the Lord. Today is Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday of Rejoicing, for today, the readings remind us that the Lord is indeed coming. It is the Third Sunday of Advent.

The Prophet Zephaniah in the First Reading exhorts the Chosen People for the Lord is in their midst and He is a mighty Savior – One who will rejoice over them with gladness, and renew them in His love. He will intervene on their behalf and will take away all their misery. (cf. Zep 3:14-18) In the Second Reading the Apostle Paul reminds the Philippians and he tells us all today: “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (cf. Phil 4:4-7)

In the Gospel reading, John the Baptist preaches to the people that One mightier than he will come: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. His winnowing fan is in His had to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn.” (See Lk 3:10-18)

John reminds the people and he tells us today: The coming of the Lord must lead us to prepare ourselves. We must be faithful to the values of the kingdom. We must not be attached to material possessions for God alone can give us true joy and gladness.

The season of Advent is a call to conversion. It is an invitation to turn back to God who loves us. Let us take advantage of this moment to examine ourselves and assess how far we have been missionaries of the love of God. In this Year of Faith, let us commit ourselves to be authentic evangelizers of the Good News. Let us do it with joy and love. In the Eucharist, we encounter the God who loved us first and who alone can give us the joy, a joy that cannot be taken away from us. Let us turn to him and say: “Come, Lord Jesus!”

As we enter into the Third Week of the Advent Season, may we realize that God is the source of our joy. He alone can satisfy our needs. Let us turn to Him for the times that we have forgotten Him for we have been preoccupied with the accumulation of wealth. Let us heed the call of John the Baptist. Let us prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus, the source of joy for all of humanity.


St. Augustine in his commentary addresses a question to the evangelist. "Why", he asks, "did you write your letter, if those whom you were addressing had already received the anointing that teaches all things and if they had no need that anyone instruct them? Why, indeed, do we speak and instruct the faithful?" And here is his response, which is based on the theme of the interior Master:

"The sound of our words strikes the ear, but the true Master is within […] I, for my part, have spoken to all; but they to whom that Unction within speaks not, they whom the Holy Ghost within teaches not, those go back untaught […]. There is then, I say, a Master within that teaches: Christ teaches; His inspiration teaches".

External instruction is therefore needed; we need teachers. But their voices penetrate the heart only if the interior voice of the Spirit is also present. "We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him" (Acts 5:32). With these words, addressed to the Sanhedrin, the Apostle Peter not only affirms the necessity of the Holy Spirit's interior witness, but he also indicates the condition for receiving it: readiness to obey, to submit oneself to the Word.

It is the Spirit's anointing that makes us pass from propositions to their reality. Believing which is also knowing is a theme dear to the evangelist John: "We know and believe the love God has for us" (1 Jn. 4:16). "We have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (Jn. 6:69). "Knowing" in this case, as in general throughout the whole of Scripture, does not mean what it means for us today, i.e. having an idea or concept about something. It means experiencing it, entering into relationship with the thing or with the person. The Virgin's statement: "I do not know man", certainly didn't mean "I don't know what a man is …"

What Pascal experienced on the night of the 23rdof November 1654 was a clear case of the anointing of faith. He committed it to writing with brief exclamatory phrases in a text found sewn inside his jacket after his death:

"God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob! Not of the philosophers and of the learned. Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace. God of Jesus Christ.[…].He is only found by the ways taught in the Gospel. […] Joy, joy. Joy, tears of joy. […]. This is eternal life, that they know you, the one true God, and he whom you have sent, Jesus Christ".

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Love of One's Neighbor, Charity, Humility

11. You will not dispute nor show your repugnance and aversion, for meekness makes us bear everything without complaining.

December 9, 2012 

(Php 1:9-11) And this I pray: That your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all understanding: That you may approve the better things: that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ: Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: "Our vocation is not simply to exist in the world, being inserted in history, or even just being a creature of God, it is something greater: it is being chosen by God, even before the creation of the world, in the Son, Jesus Christ."

Angelus: Preparing the way for Emmanuel


Each day in the middle of our routines, anxieties and disasters, the liturgy brings its work of healing. ‘It binds up the wounded soul’, gives us food for the journey of our lives and renews us in the truth that only faith can see and sustain. It carries us when we need to be carried and celebrates with us when we mark those moments of joy and thanksgiving, weaving them all into the fabric of God’s own eternal life, sanctifying our life in its everyday ordinariness.

In the rhythm of the liturgy the Spirit makes Christ present, so that he may draw us more deeply into His life with the Father. Each day it wakes us and summons us into His mystery, his active love at work for the sustaining and healing of our world.

Every season of the liturgy asks us to discover or refresh a disposition of heart and mind and action. Advent asks of us an openness, an attentiveness, to what God is doing in us and in our world. It orders our relationship to God in reverence, humility and gratitude.

There is a sense of the immensity of God’s glory which shows itself in a total outpouring of love: “Take, this is my body, this is my blood.” Each day in this moment we see and experience the humility of God who chooses to be present and give himself to us.

We also glimpse something of a God who is not afraid to make himself one of us that he might gather our weakness into Himself. Most people are conscious of a deep mystery in life. Advent helps us to attend to this mystery at the heart of our lives and our faith. Like the Mass itself, it is the school of humility – something the world thinks effete.

Advent points us to a different way of thinking. The humility of God in the Incarnation does not demean us but graces us. God gently exposes our weakness: he slips into our world almost unseen: he clothes our weakness with his own.

God does not force us to acknowledge Him but waits in the simplest places for us to find our way to him. He does not compel Mary to do his will, but invites her to a service which can only be her fulfillment – and ours. All he asks of her, and of us, is to see how much we are loved. His humility opens up before us the depth of that love and the wonder – full power of his weakness. He asks only that we accept that ‘nothing is impossible for God.’

We are not the masters of creation but its guests and servants. It is not our world but His; it is ours only by gift. Our minds can never exhaust its wonders. Through the Incarnation God has made our world his home. Advent gazes with joyful wonder into this mystery. It points to inner freedom.

Advent is the time between His first coming, his everyday coming, His coming at the end of time. Advent is a time to leave behind all that weighs us down, holding us back from giving ourself to God. It is our time to begin again, a season in which our own freedom is renewed. It is a time to put right whatever has gone wrong, to begin a new future guided by the light of Christ rather than our passing moods.

We should be joyfully expectant of Christ’s everyday coming, as a loving friend who knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us beyond our power to imagine. We should expect him in small things as well as big events. If our heart is right and our mind expectant we will find Christ in many places – in the face of a child, in some need of others, in our joys and in our sorrows.  Advent unfolds for us a time of promise. It shows us that patience is part of God’s loving kindness. As we wait for Him so He waits for us, even as He waits on us. This is the season of our be – coming, in which the opening dialogue of the Mass is recognised as both prayer and proclamation, fulfilled in his presence: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you” .. .forever.

MEDITATIONS: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[I Tim. 6:17-21; Luke 18:31-34]

The Lord told the disciples about His suffering, but they did not understand anything He was saying; This saying was hid from them. Later, the faithful determined not to know any thing, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified (I Cor. 2:2). The time had not come, they did not understand any of this mystery; but when the time came — they understood, and taught everyone, and interpreted for everyone.

This happens with everyone, not only with relation to this mystery, but to all the other mysteries as well. What is not understood in the beginning, with time becomes understood; it is as if a ray of light enters the consciousness and brightens what was formerly dark. Who elucidates it? The Lord Himself, the grace of the Spirit that lives in the faithful, one's guardian angel — only in no way the person himself. He is a recipient, and not the cause. On the other hand, another thing may remain incomprehensible for one's whole life — not only for individuals, but for all of humanity.

Man is surrounded by things he does not understand — some are explained to him in the course of his life, while others are left until the next life, where it will be seen. This applies even to minds enlightened by God. Why is it not revealed here? Because some things are incomprehensible, so there is no point in talking about them; others are not told out of considerations for health — that is, it would be harmful to know prematurely. Much will become clear in the other life, but other subjects and other mysteries will be revealed. For a created mind there is never a surplus of inscrutable mysteries. The mind rebels against these bonds: but whether you rebel or not, you cannot sever the bonds of mystery. Become humble, proud mind, beneath the strong hand of God — and believe!

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Love of One's Neighbor, Charity, Humility

10. The virtue of meekness will make you condescending towards your neighbor whom you will excuse, bearing charitably and in silence all the pain which may be caused you.

December 2, 2012  

(Jer 33:15-16) In those days, and at that time, I will make the bud of justice to spring forth unto David, and he shall do judgment and justice in the earth. In those days shall Juda be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell securely: and this is the name that they shall call him, The Lord our just one.

ST. CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.”

An Advent Meditation

: The world must be filled with the presence of Christ

Today the Church begins a new liturgical year, a path that is further enriched by the Year of Faith, 50 years since the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

The first Time of this journey is Advent, composed, in the Roman Rite, of the four weeks that precede the Birth of the Lord, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation. The word “Advent” means “coming” or “presence.” In the ancient world, it signified the coming of the king or the emperor into one of the provinces; in the language of Christians, it referred to the coming of God, to His presence in the world; a mystery that involves the whole of the cosmos and of history, but that recognises two culminating moments: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ.

The first is the Incarnation itself; the second is the glorious return at the end of time. These two moments, chronologically distant – and it is not given to us to know how far apart they are – touch us deeply, because by His death and resurrection Jesus has already accomplished that transformation of humanity and of the cosmos that is the final goal of creation. But before that end, it is necessary that the Gospel be proclaimed to all nations, as Jesus says in the Gospel of Saint Mark. The coming of Christ is continuous; the world must be infused by His presence. This permanent coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel requires our continual collaboration; and the Church, which is like the Betrothed, the promised Bride of the crucified and risen Lamb of God (cfr. Rev. 21,9), in communion with her Lord collaborates in this coming of the Lord, in which His glorious return is already begun.

It is to this that the Word of God recalls us today, tracing out a line of conduct to pursue in order to be ready for the coming of the Lord. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says to the disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life . . . Be vigilant at all times and pray.” So: simplicity and prayer. And the apostle Paul adds the invitation to “increase and abound in love” among ourselves and towards everyone, to strengthen our hearts and to be blameless in holiness (cfr. 1 Thess 3, 12-13).

In the midst of the turmoil of the world, or the desert of indifference and materialism, Christians accept the salvation of God and witness to it by a different way of life, as a city set on a hill. “In those days,” the prophet Jeremiah proclaims, “Jerusalem shall dwell safely; this is the name they shall call her: ‘The Lord our justice’” (Jer 33,16). The community of believers is a sign of the love of God, of His justice that is already present and working in history, but not yet fully realised, and that therefore should always be awaited, invoked, and sought after with patience and courage.

The Virgin Mary perfectly embodies the spirit of Advent, which consists of listening to God, a profound desire to do His will, and joyful service to others. Let us be guided by her, so that God who is coming may not find us closed or distracted, but might extend to each of us a small part of His kingdom of love, of justice, and of peace.

ADVENT PRAYER:  Father, in the wilderness of the Jordan you sent a messenger to prepare people's hearts for the coming of your Son. Help me to hear his words and repent of my sins, so that I may clearly see the way to walk, the truth to speak, and the life to live for Him, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Love of One's Neighbor, Charity, Humility

9. Plunge yourself often into the charity of that lovable Heart so that you may never act towards your neighbor in a manner which may, in the least, wound that virtue, never doing to others what you would not wish done to yourself.
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Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus

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