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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

“You will be able to support one another”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/02/27 at 12:00 AM
When you love other people and you spread that affection – Christ’s kindly, gentle charity – all around you, you will be able to support one another, and if someone is about to stumble he will feel that is being supported, and also encouraged, to be faithful to God through this fraternal strength. (The Forge, 148)

When the fullness of time comes, no philosophical genius, no Plato or Socrates appears to fulfill the mission of redemption. Nor does a powerful conqueror, another Alexander, take over the earth. Instead a child is born in Bethlehem. He it is who is to redeem the world. But before he speaks he loves with deeds. It is no magic formula he brings, because he knows that the salvation he offers must pass through human hearts. What does he first do? He laughs and cries and sleeps defenseless, as a baby, though he is God incarnate. And he does this so that we may fall in love with him, so that we may learn to take him in our arms.

We realize once again that this is what Christianity is all about. If a Christian does not love with deeds, he has failed as a Christian, besides failing as a person. You cannot think of others as if they were digits, or rungs on a ladder on which you can rise, or a multitude to be harangued or humiliated, praised or despised, according to circumstances. Be mindful of what others are — and first of all those who are at your side: children of God, with all the dignity that marvelous title entails.

We have to behave as God’s children toward all God’s sons and daughters. Our love has to be a dedicated love, practiced every day and made up of a thousand little details of understanding, hidden sacrifice and unnoticed self‑giving. This is the “aroma of Christ” that made those who lived among our first brothers in the faith exclaim: See how they love one another! (Christ is passing by, 36)

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“Christ tells you and me that he needs us”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2013/12/16 at 12:00 AM
Christmas devotion.–I don’t smile when I see you making cardboard mountains around the crib and placing simple clay figures near the manger.–You have never seemed more a man to me than now, when you seem to be a child. (The Way, 557)

Every time Christmas comes around, I love to look at representations of the child Jesus. Statues and pictures which show a God who lowered himself remind me that God is calling us. The Almighty wants us to know that he is defenseless, that he needs men’s help. From the cradle at Bethlehem, Christ tells you and me that he needs us. He urges us to live a christian life to the full — a life of self‑sacrifice, work and joy.

We will never have genuine joy if we do not really try to imitate Jesus. Like him we must be humble. I repeat: do you see where God’s greatness is hidden? In a manger, in swaddling clothes, in a stable. The redemptive power of our lives can only work through humility. We must stop thinking about ourselves and feel the responsibility to help others.

It can sometimes happen that even well‑intentioned people create personal problems — really serious worries — which have no objective basis whatsoever. These problems arise in persons whose lack of self‑knowledge leads to pride and a desire to be the centre of attention, to be favoured by everyone. They want to appear always in a good light, to be personally secure. They are not content simply to do good and disappear. And so, many who could enjoy a wonderful peace of soul and great happiness become, through pride and presumption, unhappy and unfruitful.

Christ was humble of heart. Throughout his life he looked for no special consideration or privilege. (Christ is passing by, 18)

“Married life: an occasion for God’s presence on earth”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2013/01/11 at 9:30 AM
There are many good reasons to honor Saint Joseph, and to learn from his life. He was a man of strong faith. He earned a living for his family – Jesus and Mary – with his own hard work. He guarded the purity of the Blessed Virgin, who was his Spouse. And he respected – he loved! – God’s freedom, when God made his choice: not only his choice of Our Lady the Virgin as his Mother, but also his choice of Saint Joseph as the Husband of Holy Mary. (The Forge, 552)

When I think of christian homes, I like to imagine them as being full of the light and joy that were in the home of the holy family. The message of Christmas is heard in all its forcefulness: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will” [1]. “And may the peace of Christ triumph in your hearts,” writes the Apostle [2]. It is a peace that comes from knowing that our Father God loves us, and that we are made one with Christ. It results from being under the protection of the Virgin, our Lady, and assisted by St Joseph. This is the great light that illuminates our lives. In the midst of difficulties and of our own personal failings, it encourages us to keep up our effort. Every christian home should be a place of peace and serenity. In spite of the small frustrations of daily life, an atmosphere of profound and sincere affection should reign there together with a deep‑rooted calm, which is the result of authentic faith that is put into practice.

For a Christian marriage is not just a social institution, much less a mere remedy for human weakness. It is a real supernatural calling. A great sacrament, in Christ and in the Church, says St Paul [3]. At the same time, it is a permanent contract between a man and a woman. Whether we like it or not, the sacrament of matrimony, instituted by Christ, cannot be dissolved. It is a permanent contract that sanctifies in cooperation with Jesus Christ. He fills the souls of husband and wife and invites them to follow him. He transforms their whole married life into an occasion for God’s presence on earth. (Christ is passing by, 22-23)

[1] Luke 2:14
[2] Col 3:15
[3] Eph 5:32

Merry Christmas

In 07 Observations on 2012/12/14 at 2:00 AM
What are we celebrating when we say Merry Christmas to each other?
Who is the this child, the Savior, who is born to us?The Incarnation is fundamentally about the Eternal Word of God who lies at the center of the Trinity.Last among God’s work of creation was man.  In Adam humanity fell; but then God took on a human nature.
In order to become perceptible to our human senses, the Word put on the form of flesh…the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us… The Word of God took on our humanity.God has come to us in a loving and personal way, making Himself visible and audible so that humanity could once again be united to God and contemplate Him.
As Eternal Word, Christ is the center of the Trinity;
As Incarnate Word, Christ is the center of creation;
As Inspired Word Christ is the center of the human heart.
The primary cause of the Incarnation is the love and mercy of God.  So, rejoice and be glad because unto us is born our Savior.
MERRY CHRISTMAS
Note: photo of Nativity scene at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.  00000013

Nativity of Our Lord

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/12/25 at 9:11 AM

• Deep within the heart of all mankind is a longing. We have an innate sense within ourselves that there is more to life than working, taking our kids to soccer games, or watching TV.

• We know that there is even more to life than all the wonderful things that money can buy, success can attain, or freedom can promise.

• Beyond all the mundane tasks that fill our days, beyond our hopes for success and desires for comfort, there is more that our hearts desire.

• At the deepest core of our hearts is a desire for that which transcends this material world and all that it can offer. Indeed, at the deepest core of our hearts is a desire for that which is eternal: God Himself.

• Try as we might to fulfill this deep longing with material goods, with money or success or fame, everything this world has to offer ultimately rings hollow and unfulfilling. This is because only God Himself can fill that void at the deepest center of our souls.

• Thus the life of the God-fearing man is a long journey or quest for that complete and total union with the Creator, which alone can bring us lasting peace.

• When God created man so long ago, He created us for this complete and total union with Him, and our first parents enjoyed this union with Him in those halcyon days in the Garden of Eden.

• But through our own monstrous pride and the deceptions of the devil, that communion was destroyed by the one thing that has the power to separate man from God: sin.

• Thus it was that the sad drama of humanity was begun. Created to live in union with God in paradise, man turned away from God in a proud quest to usurp Him.

• And from that time onward man has been engaged in this “on-again, off-again” relationship with God: repenting and being reconciled to God, then turning away again through sin, only to repent and to be reconciled once more.

• We see this drama writ large on the pages of the Old Testament as we read the stories of the ancient Israelites. But, of course, each of us has our own similar story that has played out over the course of our lives. At times our struggle with sin can seem futile.

• But we must never lose hope! Especially not today.

• Although the flesh is indeed weak, if our spirits are willing, then Christ will help us. And it’s this fact that we celebrate with the great Feast of Christmas!

• You see, Christmas is not simply the anniversary of a historical reality: the fact that Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary on a cold night in Bethlehem. It’s so much more.

• Christmas is the celebration that our Lord Jesus, veiled in human flesh, comes to us to dwell with us, to be one of us, so that He can save us from our sins.

• The Gospel for Mass on Christmas Day is the Prologue of the Gospel of John, which tells us that: “The Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among us.” And St. John tells us that, “to those who did accept Him, He gave power to become the children of God.”

• This is because in becoming man, Jesus incorporated our human nature into His own divine nature. In doing so He renews and restores human nature, giving our mortal nature immortal value.

• Thus the Incarnation shows forth the great dignity that mankind possesses. God could have united Himself to any nature He chose, but He chose our human nature, showing that man is something wonderful in God’s eyes, something more special than anything else in all of creation.

• And because of this, because God became man, we are now able, through grace, to participate in God’s own divine nature. Salvation is not something we’re waiting for; it’s not something distant and extrinsic to us. It’s something we participate in now!

• But only if we choose to receive the Christ Child into our hearts, repent of our sins, and live as He desires us to live.

• God created all of us to live with Him forever in Heaven, to be His adopted sons and daughters through Jesus Christ. And this God accomplishes through the Incarnation, the very mystery of our faith that we celebrate today with Christmas.

• Obviously, this is a beautiful feast, and it’s beautiful for many reasons. Christmas is beautiful first in what it tells us about God’s love and mercy for us. But it is also beautiful in what it tells us about our human nature.

• Through the Incarnation our human nature has been transformed by grace! Through Christ’s incarnation the divine life of grace that was lost to us by Adam and Eve is now restored, making it possible to live divinely on earth so that we may inherit Heaven.

• And while Jesus died, was resurrected from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, He remains with us still in the Eucharist. Christ continues to be made incarnate through His Church, particularly through the priesthood that makes the Eucharist possible.

• It is by no coincidence that, at His birth, our infant Lord was laid in a manger – a feeding trough. For this was the great foreshadowing of the Eucharist.

• Christ Jesus came to us not simply to suffer and die for us. He came not simply to be worshipped and adored. He came, as well, to give Himself fully. So much does He loves us that He gives us His very flesh and blood as true food and true drink.

• Through the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist – and all the sacraments – God’s saving grace is communicated to us. In this way we are transformed and made into the adopted sons and daughters of God the Father. In this way we participate in our salvation now.

• But it all starts here on this day, for without the Incarnation, there is no salvation.

• My dear brothers and sisters, there is a longing within each of us for that which is transcendent, for that which is immortal. On this night that longing is fulfilled by a tiny babe, born in Bethlehem.

• He comes to heal us of our sins, to save us from eternal perdition, and to make us holy so that we can live with Him forever in the joys of eternity.

• Let us see in Him the only answer to the deepest desires of our hearts, and there let us make room for Him so that we may live according to His will.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Christmas: Eternity Enters into Confines of Time and Space

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/12/24 at 9:11 AM

 VATICAN CITY, 21 DEC 2011 (VIS) – “The greeting on everyone’s lips during this period is ‘Merry Christmas! Happy Christmas Holidays!’. Let us ensure that, also in our modern societies, this exchange of good wishes does not lose its profound religious significance, and the feast does not become overshadowed by external factors”, said Benedict XVI.

“With the Christmas liturgy the Church introduces us into the great Mystery of the Incarnation”, the Pope told faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall. “Christmas, in fact, is not simply the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, it is the celebration of a Mystery which has marked and continues to mark the history of man: God came to dwell amongst us, He became one of us. … During Midnight Mass on Christmas Night we will intone these words in the responsorial Psalm: ‘Today the Saviour is born for us’. … By indicating that Jesus is born ‘today’, the liturgy underlines that His birth touches and permeates all of history. … Of course, the redemption of humankind took place at a specific and identifiable moment of history: in the event of Jesus of Nazareth. But Jesus is the Son of God … Who became flesh. Eternity entered into the confines of time and space, making it possible to meet Him ‘today’. … When, in liturgical celebrations, we hear or pronounce the phrase: ‘Today the Saviour is born for us’, we are not using an empty conventional expression, what we mean is that ‘today’, now, God is giving us the possibility to recognise and accept Him, as did the shepherds of Bethlehem, so that He can also be born into and renew our lives”.

Reflecting on the birth in Bethlehem in the light of the Paschal Mystery because, Pope Benedict said, “both Christmas and Easter are feasts of redemption. Easter celebrates redemption as a victory over sin and death. It marks the culminating moment when the glory of the Man-God shines like the light of day. Christmas celebrates redemption as the entry of God into history, when He became man in order to bring man to God. It marks, so to speak, the starting point when the first light of dawn begins to appear”.

“Even the seasons of the year in which these two great feasts fall, at least in some areas of the world, can help us understand this aspect. Easter coincides with the beginning of spring when the sun triumphs over the cold and the fog and renews the face of the earth. Christmas comes at the very beginning of winter when the light and heat of the sun are unable to awaken nature, covered in a shroud of cold under which, nonetheless, life is pulsating”.

“At Christmas we encounter the tenderness and love of God Who is attentive to our weakness and sin, and lowers Himself to our level. … Let us live this Christmastime with joy. … Above all, let us contemplate and experience this Mystery in the celebration of the Eucharist, which is the heart of Christmas. There Jesus is truly present, the true Bread descended from heaven, the true Lamb sacrificed for our salvation. I wish all of you and your families a truly Christian Christmas. May the exchange of greetings on that day be an expression of our joy in knowing that God is near us, and that He wishes to follow the journey of life with us”.

Copyright © Vatican Information Service Vatican City        VIS 20111221 (690)

Advent: the Coming of Christ

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/12/11 at 9:11 AM

 

• Advent is the particular time of the year in which we meditate on the two comings of Christ: one coming which has already been fulfilled in history; and another which we still await.

• While Advent is certainly a time to prepare our hearts to receive the Christ Child anew at  Christmas so that He may be incarnate in the world once again through us, there is another coming of Christ for which we must still prepare.

• It is His second coming when Christ will come again in glory at the end of time with salvation for His people, and I spoke about this at length last Sunday.

• And I also spoke about how we should prepare for these two comings of Christ by growing in love for one another and by truly striving for virtue.

• But while it is important for us to prepare for these two particular comings of Christ, St. Bernard of Clairvaux tells us that there is yet another coming of Christ which we must not neglect.

• For those of you who may not be familiar with St. Bernard, he was a Cistercian monk who lived in France during the 12th century and who was well known for his preaching and great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

• In preaching on the two comings of Christ for which we prepare during the season of Advent, St. Bernard tells us that there is also a third, intermediate coming, that exists between these two comings of Christ.

• While the first coming and last coming of Christ are visible and manifested in history, this intermediate coming of Christ is invisible, hidden, and only seen by the elect within their own selves.

• St. Bernard tells us that “in His first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness.” “In the final coming He will be seen in glory and majesty.” But “in this middle coming He comes in spirit and in power.”

• This intermediate coming of which St. Bernard speaks is Christ coming to us through the Word, which we keep in our hearts.

• You see, my dear friends, 40 days after His resurrection when our Lord ascended into Heaven with the promise that He would one day return again, He did not leave us bereft of His divine presence.

• To the contrary, our Lord abides with us even now, and not simply in the Word of Sacred Scripture, but through the sacraments, which provide us with a visible manifestation of and encounter with the Word Made Flesh!

• As Christians we know that we always have our Lord with us. He comes to us in this intermediate way first through the sacrament of Baptism, by which He enters into our souls and makes a home there, forging a covenant of love with us.

• And throughout the course of our lives Jesus comes to us again and again through all the sacraments, most especially the Blessed Sacrament: the Eucharist, by which He feeds us with His very own flesh.

• But Jesus also comes to us through the reading of Sacred Scripture, especially when it is proclaimed at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, speaking to us His word of truth.

• And so that we may never be without Him, our Lord remains with us in the tabernacle, His divine presence signaled by the glow of the sanctuary lamp, waiting for us to come to Him.

• Yet while it is true that our Lord blesses us with His presence in the tabernacle, we must remember that Jesus did not come to earth to dwell in a tabernacle of gold. He has come to earth because He wishes to dwell within something much more valuable: the tabernacle of our souls!

• While it is right and good that we prepare for our Lord’s two comings in human history

during Advent, we must not neglect to prepare for the daily coming of the Word-made-flesh in our souls. For indeed, this is the most intimate and personal way Christ comes to us.

• Just as we’ve spared no effort in making this church a suitable dwelling place for God through the use of noble materials, beautiful and theologically rich architecture and artwork, all the more must we work to make our souls suitable dwelling places for the Lord!

• Instead of the intricate stained glass, marble, and gold that adorns this church, we must adorn our souls with virtue and good works.

• Just as the light of the morning sun pours through these stained glass windows, illuminating them and providing us with a glimpse of the heavenly realities, so too must the light of faith, hope and charity pour through our words and actions so that people can get a glimpse of the Christ within us.

• Yet, my dear friends, if we wish to fully experience the grace of this intermediate coming of Christ, then we must come to Christ!

• We do this by making every effort to avail ourselves of His grace through our prayers, through our worthy participation in the sacraments, through our obedience to His Church, and through our service to others.

• My dear friends, if we are truly going to be prepared for our Lord’s coming as man in the Incarnation and His second coming at the end of time, then Christ must reign in our hearts now.

• And when we do this, when we allow Christ to reign in our hearts, He grants us the priceless gift of joy – that same joy that our first and second readings speak about today.

• As we now prepare ourselves for our Lord to come to us in the Eucharist, let us pray that we may have the courage to rid from our lives and from our souls all that prevents us from receiving our Lord as we should.

• Let us pray that we may receive Jesus now as the welcome guest of our souls, and in so doing, let us trust that when our lives on earth are over, He will receive us as His welcome guest in Heaven.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

A Christmas Play You Can Copy

In 13 History on 2011/11/26 at 8:08 AM

Last Christmas I heard of something that happened at Bloomingdale’s: A Christmas shopper dragging two too active toddlers stormed into a crowded elevator and blurted out: “The person who invented Christmas ought to be killed”.  From the back of the elevator came a strong male voice: “They already did.”

This made me think of something:years ago I assisted some teenagers who put on a program where they juxtaposed secular songs with prophecies.  (I will put it on the blog  at the beginning of Advent  2011 in case someone would like to borrow the idea)

The teenagers set up the stage as a triptych with groups of “live” shoppers with packages. On the left “live” Old Testament figures: Abraham, King David, Isaiah. On the right “live” New Testament figures: Shepherds, Three Kings. The room was darkened until the stoplight illumined a panel.  It began with the spotlight being on the shoppers to the tune of Jingle Bells.

SCENE ONE….SPOTLIGHT
CENTER/SHOPPERS “Jingle Bells”
LEFT for the PROPHECY
RIGHT for the FULFILLMENT

1 BORN IN BETHLEHEM

PROPHECY”But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2)

FULFILLED Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child…. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:4-5, 7)

SCENE TWO….SPOTLIGHT
CENTER/SHOPPERS  “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
LEFT for the PROPHECY
RIGHT for the FULFILLMENT

2 BORN OF A VIRGIN

PROPHECY”Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

FULFILLED Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary…. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb,
and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” (Luke 1:26-27, 30-31)

SCENE THREE ….SPOTLIGHT
CENTER/SHOPPERS “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”
LEFT for the PROPHECY
RIGHT for the FULFILLMENT

3 HONORED BY GREAT KINGS

PROPHECIES  Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents; The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts… So may he live; and may the gold of Sheba be given to him; And let them pray for him continually; Let them bless him all day long. (Psalm 72:10, 15)

“And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:3)

FULFILLED Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.”… And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1-11)

SCENE FOUR ….SPOTLIGHT
CENTER/SHOPPERS “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”
LEFT for the PROPHECY
RIGHT for the FULFILLMENT

4 DECLARED THE SON OF GOD
PROPHECY”I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, `Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee.'” (Psalm 2:7)

Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know! (Proverbs 30:4)

FULFILLED “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;” (Luke 1:32)

and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

SCENE FIVE ….SPOTLIGHT
CENTER/SHOPPERS “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”
LEFT for the PROPHECY
RIGHT for the FULFILLMENT

5 BIND UP THE BROKENHEARTED

PROPHECY The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:1-2)

FULFILLED “He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

SCENE SIX….SPOTLIGHT
CENTER/SHOPPERS “Here Comes Santa Claus”
LEFT for the PROPHECY
RIGHT for the FULFILLMENT

6 THE GENTILES WILL SEEK THE MESSIAH

PROPHECIES The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. (Isaiah 9:2)

Then it will come about in that day that the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)

“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name.” (Isaiah 65:1)

FULFILLED For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; (Romans 11:25)

“THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND TO THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.” (Matthew 4:16)

ENDING: “live” nativity scene with “O Silent Night” and shoppers kneeling.