Keep your eyes open!...


Christmas, 2017  



(Luk 2:15-20)  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. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

: Christmas Around the World

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THE CATHOLIC THING: A Christmas Reflection by Msgr. Robert Batule


POPE FRANCIS:  “The joy of the Christian comes from faith and from the encounter with Jesus Christ, the reason for our happiness. The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we find inner serenity, even in the midst of everyday contradictions."“The joy of the Christian comes from faith and from the encounter with Jesus Christ, the reason for our happiness,” the Pope continued. “The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we find inner serenity, even in the midst of everyday contradictions.”

ST. PETER CANISIUS ON CHRISTMAS: In the light of all this approval from Sacred Scripture, let me ask my listeners once more: “Has anybody the right to criticize us even if we seem to be beside ourselves with joy to-day over the birthday of our King?” If the princes and rulers of this world are privileged to make merry over the sons of their flesh, what a mountain of reasons we have for exulting over the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior!

Never was a whimpering bit of humanity so powerful that, while lying on His bed of straw, He could command the very stars to direct whom He wished to visit Him. Never a child so wise or so rich as this little Infant who was full of grace and incarnate truth. Never anyone so marvelous as to be at once so small and so great, true God and true Man, the Uncreated Word and weak human flesh, mighty King and a lowly slave. Never had any child so emptied himself of all that he really was in order to become a tiny, speechless, naked, unknown babe.

Christmas Day is nothing if not a day of universal joy. Children should rejoice because on this day God Himself became as one of them; virgins, because a Virgin brought forth and remained unstained even after giving birth; wives, because one of their number became the Mother of God; sinners, because their Mediator and Savior and Healer has come to redeem them; the just, because their Reward exceeding great has been born into the world. In fine, all faithful Christians should rejoice that their Creator and Lord has taken on human flesh and begun His reign over the hearts of men, not only as God, but also as the Son of Man among the children of men.

UNIVERSALIS: A sermon of Pope St Leo the Great

Christian, remember your dignity Dearly beloved, today our Saviour is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness.

No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life.

In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind.

And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to men of good will as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvellous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men?

Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.

Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.

Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 20- "On bodily vigil"

9. Long sleep produces forgetfulnes, but vigil purifies the memory.

Third Week of Advent, 2017

(Joh 1:19-23) And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias.

CATHOLIC CATECHISM (525): “Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The church never tires of singing the glory of this night.”

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OFFICE OF READINGS: A pastoral letter by St Charles Borromeo The season of Advent

Beloved, now is the acceptable time spoken of by the Spirit, the day of salvation, peace and reconciliation: the great season of Advent. This is the time eagerly awaited by the patriarchs and prophets, the time that holy Simeon rejoiced at last to see. This is the season that the Church has always celebrated with special solemnity. We too should always observe it with faith and love, offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the mercy and love he has shown us in this mystery. In his infinite love for us, though we were sinners, he sent his only Son to free us from the tyranny of Satan, to summon us to heaven, to welcome us into its innermost recesses, to show us truth itself, to train us in right conduct, to plant within us the seeds of virtue, to enrich us with the treasures of his grace, and to make us children of God and heirs of eternal life.

Each year, as the Church recalls this mystery, she urges us to renew the memory of the great love God has shown us. This holy season teaches us that Christ’s coming was not only for the benefit of his contemporaries; his power has still to be communicated to us all. We shall share his power, if, through holy faith and the sacraments, we willingly accept the grace Christ earned for us, and live by that grace and in obedience to Christ.

The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace.

In her concern for our salvation, our loving mother the Church uses this holy season to teach us through hymns, canticles and other forms of expression, of voice or ritual, used by the Holy Spirit. She shows us how grateful we should be for so great a blessing, and how to gain its benefit: our hearts should be as much prepared for the coming of Christ as if he were still to come into this world. The same lesson is given us for our imitation by the words and example of the holy men of the Old Testament.

: A letter of Pope St Leo the Great The mystery of our reconciliation with God

To speak of our Lord, the son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as true and perfect man is of no value to us if we do not believe that he is descended from the line of ancestors set out in the Gospel.

Matthew’s gospel begins by setting out the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, and then traces his human descent by bringing his ancestral line down to his mother’s husband, Joseph. On the other hand, Luke traces his parentage backward step by step to the actual father of mankind, to show that both the first and the last Adam share the same nature.

No doubt the Son of God in his omnipotence could have taught and sanctified men by appearing to them in a semblance of human form as he did to the patriarchs and prophets, when for instance he engaged in a wrestling contest or entered into conversation with them, or when he accepted their hospitality and even ate the food they set before him. But these appearances were only types, signs that mysteriously foretold the coming of one who would take a true human nature from the stock of the patriarchs who had gone before him. No mere figure, then, fulfilled the mystery of our reconciliation with God, ordained from all eternity. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon the Virgin nor had the power of the Most High overshadowed her, so that within her spotless womb Wisdom might build itself a house and the Word become flesh. The divine nature and the nature of a servant were to be united in one person so that the Creator of time might be born in time, and he through whom all things were made might be brought forth in their midst.

For unless the new man, by being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, had taken on himself the nature of our first parents, unless he had stooped to be one in substance with his mother while sharing the Father’s substance and, being alone free from sin, united our nature to his, the whole human race would still be held captive under the dominion of Satan. The Conqueror’s victory would have profited us nothing if the battle had been fought outside our human condition. But through this wonderful blending the mystery of new birth shone upon us, so that through the same Spirit by whom Christ was conceived and brought forth we too might be born again in a spiritual birth; and in consequence the evangelist declares the faithful to have been born not of blood, nor of the desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.



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


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 20- "On bodily vigil"

8. The preparing of the table exposes gluttons, but the work of prayer exposes lovers of God. The former skip on seeing the table, but the latter scowl.

Second Week of Advent, 2017  

(Mar 1:6-8) And John was clothed camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins: and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying: There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

FATHER RON: "The Messiah can only be born from a chaste womb and come to life fully only inside of a chaste heart. Christmas allows for no shortcuts".


UNIVERSALIS: A sermon by St Bernard Let the word of the Lord come to us

We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold: the third coming is between the other two and it is not visible in the way they are. At his first coming the Lord was seen on earth and lived among men, who saw him and hated him. At his last coming All flesh shall see the salvation of our God, and They shall look on him whom they have pierced. In the middle, the hidden coming, only the chosen see him, and they see him within themselves; and so their souls are saved. The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.

This middle coming is like a road that leads from the first coming to the last. At the first, Christ was our redemption; at the last, he will become manifest as our life; but in this middle way he is our rest and our consolation.

If you think that I am inventing what I am saying about the middle coming, listen to the Lord himself: If anyone loves me, he will keep my words, and the Father will love him, and we shall come to him. Elsewhere I have read: Whoever fears the Lord does good things. – but I think that what was said about whoever loves him was more important: that whoever loves him will keep his words. Where are these words to be kept? In the heart certainly, as the Prophet says I have hidden your sayings in my heart so that I do not sin against you. Keep the word of God in that way: Blessed are those who keep it. Let it penetrate deep into the core of your soul and then flow out again in your feelings and the way you behave; because if you feed your soul well it will grow and rejoice. Do not forget to eat your bread, or your heart will dry up. Remember, and your soul will grow fat and sleek.

If you keep God’s word like this, there is no doubt that it will keep you, for the Son will come to you with the Father: the great Prophet will come, who will renew Jerusalem, and he is the one who makes all things new. For this is what this coming will do: just as we have been shaped in the earthly image, so will we be shaped in the heavenly image. Just as the old Adam was poured into the whole man and took possession of him, so in turn will our whole humanity be taken over by Christ, who created all things, has redeemed all things, and will glorify all things.

EXCERPT INSIDE THE VATICAN: “The light shineth in darkness” A meditation on Christmas, excerpted from the writing of Blessed John Henry Newman

Christ is still on earth.  He said expressly that He would come again. The Holy Ghost’s coming is so really His coming, that we might as well say that He was not here in the days of His flesh, when He was visibly in this world, as deny that He is here now, when He is here by His Divine Spirit.  This indeed is a mystery, how God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, two Persons, can be one, how He can be in the Spirit and the Spirit in Him; but so it is.

Next, if He is still on earth, yet is not visible (which cannot be denied), it is plain that He keeps Himself still in the condition which He chose in the days of His flesh. I mean, He is a hidden Saviour, and may be approached (unless we are careful) without due reverence and fear. I say, wherever He is (for that is a further question), still He is here, and again He is secret; and whatever be the tokens of His Presence, still they must be of a nature to admit of persons doubting where it is. And if they will argue, and be sharpwitted and subtle, they may perplex themselves and others, as the Jews did even in the days of His flesh, till He seems to them nowhere present on earth now...

The Church is called “His Body”: what His material Body was when He was visible on earth, such is the Church now. It is the instrument of His Divine power; it is that which we must approach, to gain good from Him; it is that which by insulting we awaken His anger.  Now, what is the Church but, as it were, a body of humiliation, almost provoking insult and profaneness, when men do not live by faith? An earthen vessel, far more so even than His body of flesh, for that was at least pure from all sin, and the Church is defiled in all her members. We know that her ministers at best are but imperfect and erring, and of like passions with their brethren.
Yet of them He has said, speaking not to the Apostles merely but to all the 70 disciples (to whom Christian ministers are in office surely equal), “He that heareth you, heareth Me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me, and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me.”...

In every age, then, Christ is both in the world, and yet not publicly so more than in the days of His flesh...

St. Paul, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, shows both how easy and how fearful it is to profane the Lord’s Supper, while he states how great the excess of the Corinthians had been, yet also that it was a want of “discerning the Lord’s Body.” When He was born into the world, the world knew it not.   He was laid in a rude manger, among the cattle, but “all the Angels of God worshipped Him.” Now too He is present upon a table, homely perhaps in make, and dishonoured in its circumstances; and faith adores, but the world passes by. Let us then pray Him ever to enlighten the eyes of our understanding, that we may belong to the Heavenly Host, not to this world. As the carnal-minded would not perceive Him even in Heaven, so the spiritual heart may approach Him, possess Him, see Him, even upon earth.


Did St. Joseph live in the Divine Will?
Was St. Joseph purified in the womb?
Was St. Joseph the first creature conceived in sin to Live in the Divine Will?
What is the difference between St. Joseph's acts in the Kingdom of the Divine Will and Luisa's acts in the Divine Will itself?
Did St. Joseph possess the kingdom of the Divine Will? Jesus says he did not; Luisa says he did.



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

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 20- "On bodily vigil"

7. The God-loving monk, when the trumpet sounds for prayer, says 'Good, good!' The lazy one says: 'Woe, alas!'

First Week of Advent, 2017

(Mar 13:33-37) Take ye heed, watch and pray. For ye know not when the time is. Even as a man who, going into a far country, left his house and gave authority to his servants over every work and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore (for you know not when the lord of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning): Lest coming on a sudden, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch.

POPE FRANCIS: “Jesus exhorts us to pay attention and to watch, to be ready to welcome him at the moment of his return. The person who pays attention is the one who, in the noise of the world, does not let him or herself be overwhelmed by distraction or superficiality, but lives in a full and conscious way, with a concern directed above all to others.”

NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER: The Joy (and Dread) of Advent

CATHOLIC CULTURE: Advent: Focusing on the Essential with Expectant Delight

EXCERPT: Father Rutler's Weekly Column

The explanation for your sense of expectation is that you have an imagination. Unlike animals guided by instinct, we can imagine past and future. Advent is the time of expectation. Since Christ is not limited by time, he can be born again in our lives at every Christmas.

Expectation requires thinking about the four most important matters of existence: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. These are the primary mysteries that arrest the attention of minds awake, more compelling than holiday shopping and attempts at partying before Christmas begins.

To look at death at the start of Advent is what we do on a small scale when we look at the end of anything, whether it be the end of the day or the end of some project we have been working on, or even the end of a movie or a song. The question is: Does the end of life have a purpose? C.S. Lewis answered that in a typically lucid way: “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

Along with the sense of expectation is the intuition that what is expected is more vital than what we now have. On the day after Christmas in 1941, Winston Churchill stood before the joint houses of Congress and spoke of “. . . my life, which is already long, and has not been entirely uneventful.” Then a full twenty-four years later, his dying words were: “I’m bored with it all.” That was really wonderful because, though skeptical about the Gospel, he knew that things as they are, are not enough. He was a bit like Benjamin Franklin who, while far from an orthodox Christian, playfully wrote his own epitaph as a printer, comparing himself to a worn old book: “For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new and more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended, By the Author.”

Padre Pio's Christmases is available in print or Kindle format at Amazon

St. Padre Pio anticipated Christmas every day throughout the year, starting from the day after Christmas that had just passed. He loved the Infant Jesus so much that in his childlike joy he could barely wait to celebrate Midnight Mass, when he would hold the Babe in his arms (the doll you see on the cover of Padre Pio's Christmases) and process through the very small antique church of San Giovanni Rotondo. The church was packed with villagers as he walked to the altar and lovingly laid the Babe in the crib.

The crib was just as much a deep part of his love of Christmas, and he'll tell you why in this book. But there are many other events concerning Padre Pio’s Christmases

. . . . . .the frustrating time he spent in the army during the First World War--it's almost comedic, except that he was desperately trying to celebrate his Christmas Masses
. . .the Christmastimes he would sit awhile with his spiritual daughters, explaining to them the immense love of our Lord in being born in such humble surroundings
. . .the miracle of a sick child many miles away during his Midnight Mass, with the help of Baby Jesus
. . .the spiritual daughter who caught sight of Padre Pio carrying the living Baby Jesus as he came down the staircase in the Sacristy just before Midnight Mass

It's good to remember St. Padre Pio especially at Christmastime, because meanwhile, in that other world beyond San Giovanni Rotondo -- the secular world, the world celebrating the “holiday” -- people are scattering about in zig-zag confusion, pressing through the noisy, crowded, glittering stores, doing their last minute Christmas shopping to the accompaniment of blaring, often jazzy Christmas music. Maybe the shoppers are going to a party later, or maybe they'll fall asleep that night on the sofa in their homes, too exhausted to appreciate the glowing Christmas tree or contemplate the Nativity scene beneath its branches -- or what had actually taken place in history that night centuries and centuries ago and changed the world. Yet in their good hearts there is the desire and intention to please, to show their love of others via the gifts as they rush and hurry in the stores at these last minutes. . .

But aren't they missing the real moment?

: Archbishop Eamon Martin launches online Advent Calendar 2017

The online Advent Calendar will offer the opening of a virtual door each day during the season of Advent. Behind each door there will be content aimed at assisting people to pray and to reflect on how best we can put Christ to the centre of our Christmas preparations during this special liturgical season. This year’s Advent calendar will provide a special focus on family as part of ongoing preparations for the hosting of the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin next August. There will be family prayers and suggestions for acts of kindness or charity that family members will be encouraged to take on during the month of December.

Launching the 2017 online calendar, Archbishop Eamon said, “The season of Advent marks the beginning of the Catholic year and the time of spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas. It is a time of waiting, conversion and hope. Advent also prepares us for the second coming of Christ at the end of time. As Christians, we must always be prepared for the coming of the Lord – ‘You must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do no not expect’ [Mt 24:37-44]. Preparation does not happen at once but over time and so each day of Advent amounts to a period of time which allows us to journey and reflect on the joy of the Gospel. Our online calendar is a helpful resource in this journey.”



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

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 20- "On bodily vigil"

6. A vigilant monk is a fisher of thoughts, and in the serenity of the night he can easily observe and catch them.
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Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus

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