Keep your eyes open!...


Christmas, 2016  



(Luke 2:15-18) 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. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard wondered: and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. Nativity

POPE FRANCIS: “God fulfills his promise by coming in the flesh, (…) and He gives his people a new hope for humanity: eternal life”.


YOUTUBE: The Star of Bethlehem Documentary


CRISIS MAGAZINE MEDITATION: The Christmas Triad: Christ, Church, Eucharist


A Christmas letter from Aleppo
Naked and abandoned before the manger
Vulnerable Ukrainians receive Pope's aid in time for Christmas

Christ’s impoverished birth echoed in Nicaragua

12 Songs of Christmas (from all around the world)

A MOMENT WITH MARY: God destroyed the empire of the serpent

Christ became man through the Virgin, so that the disobedience caused by the serpent should end in the same way in which it had begun.

Indeed, Eve, virgin and intact, having conceived the word of the serpent, bore disobedience and death; the Virgin Mary, having conceived faith and joy, answered: "Let it be done to me according to your word."

So he was born of her, the One of whom so many Scriptures speak. By Him God destroyed the empire of the serpent and of those who, angels or men, have become like him; and he frees from death those who repent of their sins and believe in Him.

Saint Justin (2nd century)

ORTHODOX FATHER TED BLOG: “In the first chapter of this book I quoted Origen’s response to Celsus’s taunt, ‘What is the purpose of God’s descent to human beings?’

Origen answered that God had entered our world in the person of Christ to ‘implant in us the happiness that comes … from knowing him. . . . For the knowledge that brings happiness is ours only in love. Unlike knowledge from a distance, for example, observing an object in the world, the knowledge of God, says Origen, is ‘fellowship with God through Christ.’ . . .

Jesus did not teach, ‘It is blessed to know something about God’; he said that blessedness ‘is possessing God within oneself,’ to be known by God, not only to know God. Happiness is found not in receiving something from God but in enjoying the presence of God, what the psalmists call the ‘face of God’. Love is the one human endowment that moves us to seek the face of God.” (The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, pp 292-293)

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 9- "On remembrance of wrongs"

1. The holy virtues are like Jacob's ladder, and the unholy vices are like the chains that fell from the chief Apostle Peter. For the virtues, leading from one to another, bear him who chooses them up to Heaven; but the vices by their nature beget and stifle one another. And as we have just heard senseless anger calling remembrance of wrongs its own offspring, it is appropriate that we should now say something about this.

Fourth Week of Advent, 2016

(Mat 1:20-21) But while he thought on these things, behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins.

POPE FRANCIS: In the course of this week – I recommend – that we try to find some time to stop, take a bit of silence, and imagine the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, who are going to Bethlehem. Imagine how they go: the way, the fatigue, but also the joy, emotion, and then the anxiety to find a place, the worry …, and so on. The Nativity helps, in this way. Let us enter the true Christmas, that of Jesus, Who approaches us – God-with-us, close to us – in order to receive the grace of this celebration, and the grace of closeness, love, humility and tenderness.

OF INTEREST: Did Gen. Mattis pull duty on Christmas so a Marine could be with his family?

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT (2015): The Meaning of Christmas, This Year and Every Year

The shepherds of the Judean hills were rough and simple men. But perhaps only in their simplicity could they hear the message that drew them urgently in the night toward Bethlehem. They received the words of the angel with joy and without fear. They acted on this great revelation of God in a spirit of faith, and that faith led them to Mary and Joseph and a Child. When they found him, they understood, and they made known to others the message they had been told about this Child. And Scripture tells us that all who heard them were amazed.

Today, in our lifetimes, we need to follow in the footsteps of these shepherds. We should ask God for the grace to be astonished, as they were, as we draw close to the manger, because the truth of this Child is beyond anything we could hope for or expect. We should ask God for the grace to be simple and pure of heart, as the shepherds were; to radiate the joy of their discovery, as they did. Let us see in this infant Jesus our true Messiah and the beginning of our salvation.  And let us ask God for the faith and courage to make known to the world around us all that’s been revealed to us about this miraculous event.

The newborn in the manger grows into the Redeemer who frees us from the slavery of sin and the fear of death. He comforts us. He encourages us. He teaches us. He walks with us in our sufferings. He fills us with hope. He offers us life — eternal life — without charge or obligation other than to love one another as he loves us.  Far from violating our freedom, this Child restores it, dignifies our humanity with his own incarnate holiness, and then adds immeasurably to it with his victory over death on our behalf, won by dying for our sins on the cross and then rising from the grave. This infant Jesus will give us God’s Spirit, who breathes new life into our hearts and invites us to love even our enemies and persecutors.

Whatever our burdens and worries, these days of Christmas are an amnesty.  This Christmas, in this Year of Mercy, let us go over to Bethlehem in our hearts to see this Child. And then let us share him joyfully with the world.

ALETEIA: 11 Christmas hymns & songs that are even better on YouTube (VIDEO)


Pope Francis to visit Fatima for anniversary of apparitions
Approaching the 100th Anniversary of Fatima: Peril and Promise
Three ways to obtain an indulgence for the 100-year Fatima anniversary

: The "O Antiphons" Of Advent
The Roman Church has been singing the "O" Antiphons since at least the eighth century. They are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from December 17-23. They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative "Come!" embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah.

December 17
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!

December 18
O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

December 19
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

December 20
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!

December 21
O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.

December 22
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

December 23
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!

CATHOLIC CULTURE: A unique Advent/Christmas album sets the O Antiphons to music

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 8- "On Freedom from Anger and on Meekness"

19. It is bad to disturb the eye of the heart by anger, according to him who said: 'Through wrath is mine eye become troubled' (Ps. 6:8). But it is still worse to show in words the turmoil of the soul. And to come to blows is utterly inimical and alien to the monastic, angelic and divine life.

Third Week of Advent, 2016

(Jas 5:7-8) Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth: patiently bearing till he receive the early and latter rain. Be you therefore also patient and strengthen your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

POPE FRANCIS: "Today we are invited to rejoice in the imminent coming of our Redeemer; and we are called to share this joy with others, giving comfort and hope to the poor, the sick, the lonely and the unhappy."

FR. BROOM: St. Joseph Teaches Us How to Live Out Advent

: A People of Patience

The third Sunday of Advent is commonly called "Gaudete Sunday." Gaudete -- rejoice! It might seem an odd thing that we are called to rejoice in the midst of the anticipation. We have been waiting so long, and we are not yet at the end. Why rejoice?

We rejoice because the wait is almost at an end. We know that we are near the fulfillment of God's promise, that he is coming to save his people from their sins. What better reason to rejoice could there be?

The second reading is from the Letter of James, which exhorts us to be patient. "The coming of the Lord is at hand," James tells us, so we must be patient, we must make preparations, as does the farmer who waits for the fruits of the earth.

In this passage, James also calls to mind our forebears. "The prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord" are exemplary models of hardship and patience.

And this could not be truer: If we look back at the stories recounted in the Old and New Testaments, what we hear is one overarching story of God's providence and steadfastness and countless examples of the need for his people to wait patiently.

We think of Noah and his family on the ark, waiting patiently for the rains to subside. We think of Moses leading the Israelites through the desert for 40 years, waiting to reach the Promised Land.

We think of Jonah in the belly of the whale, waiting for three days. We think of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Joel, Zechariah and the other prophets, calling on the people to wait patiently and trust in the Lord.

We think of Jesus and his incessant reminders that his time "had not yet come." We think of the apostles and disciples of Jesus, waiting for who-knew-what after the crucifixion and, following the Ascension, waiting for Jesus to come again.

And here, in that great tradition of holy men and women, we wait patiently, for the advent of our King. Gaudete -- rejoice!

MORE FROM MALAYSIA: Third Sunday of Advent: Joy

NCR: Gaudete Sunday: 11 things to know and share . . .


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DYNAMIC CATHOLIC: Best Advent Ever Rediscover Mercy! Are you Ready?

CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY'S ONLINE MINISTRIES: Praying Advent and Celebrating Christmas

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 8- "On Freedom from Anger and on Meekness"

14. If the Holy Spirit is peace of soul, as He is said to be an as He is in reality, and if anger is disturbance of heart, as it actually is and as it is said to be, then nothing so prevents His presence in us as anger.

Second Week of Advent, 2016

(Mat 3:1-3) And in those days cometh John the Baptist preaching in the desert of Judea. And saying: Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.

POPE FRANCIS: “With the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, it is God himself who has come to dwell among us, to free us from selfishness, from sin and corruption.”

CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT: St. John the Baptist, prophet of Advent and preacher of repentance

NCR: Poland's Bishops, People, and President Formally Declare Christ Their King


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Could we be entering upon a "Time of Justice"?

: The Season of Second Chances

Advent is a season of starting again, of once again focusing our lives on what is truly important and letting go of the things that cloud and distract us (and isn’t it so easy this time of year to get distracted).

One of the great things about God is the fact that He is the God of second chances. And not only second chances but third, fourth, fifth and seventy times seven chances (Mt. 18:22).

In God’s immense love and mercy, we are never stuck with our past faults and failures. We can always come to Jesus, lay our struggles and weaknesses at His feet and know that His forgiveness and grace will always be ours, simply for the asking.

Jesus says to us in the Gospel, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). We all carry heavy burdens; work, family, financial, and we also carry the burdens of our past; choices we have made, poor relationships, selfish and self-centered lifestyles. To all of this, Jesus promises rest if we but come to Him.

Jesus said “I have come so that you may have my joy and have it to the full” (Jn. 17:13). Jesus desires our true joy and knows that we can only experience the true joy He came to bring when we allow Him to remove our burdens and sins, our selfishness and conceit, when we come to Him trusting in His promises of joy in this world and for all eternity.

Advent is a great opportunity to give up the futile struggle of trying to carry the burdens of life all alone. Now is the time to come to Jesus and let Him give us His rest. May we all make use of this exciting and holy time to prepare well for the great celebration of Christmas and to come to Jesus or if we have been away, to come back to Jesus, and let Him give us His rest and joy.


All of us know how difficult it is for us to be inside the present moment, to not be asleep to the real riches inside our own lives. The distractions and worries of daily life tend to so consume us that we habitually take for granted what’s most precious to us: our health, the miracle of our senses, the love and friendships that surround us, and the gift of life itself. We are very much asleep, both to God and to our own lives.

The distractions, cares, and pressures of everyday life will invariably have their way with us and we will, in effect, fall asleep to what’s deeper and more important inside of life. But it’s for this reason that every major spiritual tradition has daily rituals designed precisely to wake us from spiritual sleep, akin an alarm clock waking us from physical sleep.

It’s for this reason we need to begin each day with prayer. What happens if we don’t pray on a given morning is not that we incur God’s wrath, but rather that we tend to miss the morning, spending the hours until noon trapped inside a certain dullness of heart. The same can be said about praying before meals. We don’t displease God by not first centering ourselves in gratitude before eating, but we miss out on the richness of what we’re doing. Liturgical prayer and the Eucharist have the same intent, among their other intentions. They’re meant to, regularly, call us out of a certain sleep.

None of us lives each day of our lives as if it was his or her last day. Our heartaches, headaches, distractions, and busyness invariably lull us to sleep. That’s forgivable; it’s what it means to be human. So we should ensure that we have regular spiritual rituals, spiritual alarm clocks, to jolt us back awake – so that it doesn’t take a heart attack, a stroke, cancer, or death to wake us up.


DYNAMIC CATHOLIC: Best Advent Ever Rediscover Mercy! Are you Ready?

CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY'S ONLINE MINISTRIES: Praying Advent and Celebrating Christmas

SAINT BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX: "We know that there are three comings of the Lord. ... In His first coming, our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming, He comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming, He will be seen in glory and majesty."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 8- "On Freedom from Anger and on Meekness"

13. It is a mark of extreme meekness, even in the presence of one's offender, to be peacefully and lovingly disposed towards him in one's heart, then it is certainly a mark of hot temper when a person continues to quarrel and rage against his offender, both by words and gestures, even when by himself.
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Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus

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