Posted by: Fr Chris | December 24, 2019

CHRIST IS BORN!

Christ is born! Glorify Him! These words open the Canon of the Nativity in the Divine Office, and we use them for the next days to greet one another.

I want to look at all the familiar figures of the story tonight:

Star – heavens subject to God – this moving star leads the Magi directly to Bethlehem and the house where Mary and Jesus are found by them.

Census – Romans subject to God so that Jesus is born in the right town, to fulfill the promise of the Messiah.

Birthing a Godman - Nativity of Jesus

The animals in the Nativity Scene must include the  ox and donkey – fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy in 1:3 The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”

 The animals definitely know their master: what animal will Jesus ride on Palm Sunday: The colt of a donkey, one never ridden before. That colt also knows Jesus and does not buck or resist Him but welcomes Him.

Back to the stable: the other animals in the nativity are the sheep: the shepherds come with their sheep and dogs from the field where the wool of the sheep is used to make the vestments of the temple’s priests and lambs are raised for the Passover sacrifice, but the shepherds are kept on the fringe of society because they could not keep the complicated rituals of purity. Here they come, having seen the night sky lit up by angels who commission them to be the first Jews to behold the true Lamb of God, the true High Priest. They become the first evangelists, going from fringe to preachers, into the hill country of Judea, the region where the most devout Jews lived at the time, announcing the birth of a baby put into a manger.

Bible Stories Visit of Magi | Bible Vector - 10 Full Versions of the Holy Bible

Magi – They are foreigners who had interactions with Jews but would never be invited to a meal with them. But they are the ones who see this unique moving star, and when they see the Child and His Mother they prostrate in worship of this unique Infant Who is both God and Man.

Gifts of the Magi – gold for a king, frankincense to use in worshipping Jesus as God, myrrh for preparing the bodies of the dead but myrrh and frankincense also were used in healing medicines: this Child comes to bring healing to everyone, physical and spiritual, and will die so as to save the entire human race.

Beit-Lechem: The House of Bread | Ladder of Jacob

Bethlehem means:  “House of bread” because the town’s main industry was making bread for the residents of Jerusalem. Micah wanted the great cities to see the world differently, and most importantly, he wanted the cities to live differently. God does not work according to our plans.

 The greatest of all the rulers of Israel would come not from their ranks but from the least of the least of towns. In Chapter 5 of Micah, the prophet says:  But you Bethlehem are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come the ruler who will be the shepherd of My people, Israel.

One Prayer a Day: A Prayer for the First Sunday After Christmas

Jesus in the feed trough, Jesus in the hay that animals ate, is laying in that manger as a prefiguring of Him giving Himself to us as food, the gift of all gifts, the greatest present anyone has ever given to another person: His entire self, Humanity, Divinity, Body and Soul, His entire Personhood in the Holy Eucharist.  All that is lying in that wooden feed trough of a manger when Mary puts Him in there to keep Him warm, and that is exactly Who we will receive tonight in Holy Communion. Christmas is indeed CHRIST’s MASS!

On The Feast of the Holy Innocents, A Meditation on the Sins Committed Against Children ...

There is also violence in the story. Herod actually arranged for prominent men to be killed at his death so people would weep at his passing because the Jews hated him so much he knew that no one would mourn his passing. He’d gladly have some little boys killed the boys of Bethlehem and surrounding area so as to kill another opponent for His throne. The deaths of 20 or 30 little boys, the slaughter of the Holy Innocents occasioned great grief in the area in what is possibly the most powerful sign of our fallen world which Jesus came to redeem.

Laura's Icons: St. Joseph

Saint Joseph – gets up every single time the angel of the Lord comes to him, and does it constantly out of love for Mary and Son of God. As I said Sunday, he had such great love for Our Lady that he planned to divorce her quietly, which meant he would take the blame as having forced himself on her. He would be the bad guy, and willingly abandon Nazareth and all he had there so as to spare her from being stoned to death. He loved Mary so much that he would give up everything for her. God loves us so much that He gives up being only in heavenly glory and becomes one of us so as to save our lives from the curse of sin and death.

After the Presentation in the Temple, they have to go to Egypt. The Holy Family were refugees who fled into exile, just like so many millions do today all around the world. Egypt was both the ancient homeland of the Jews, but also in Jewish history provided a sanctuary for those in need. And again, a prophecy is fulfilled: out of Egypt I have called my Son: the prophet Hosea, chapter 11.

Christ came to save every person, and creation itself is redeemed from the sin of Adam: earth gives a cave, heaven gives the star, humanity gives the Virgin Mary, nature gives the animals: AND JESUS GIVES HIMSELF ALL FOR US! 

“On the Eighth Day of Christmas: The Circumcision and Name of Jesus” (Sermon on Luke 2:21, by Pr ...

Christmas comes with an octave liturgically, of eight days to New Year’s, the day on which Jesus is given His Name publicly. From there it is four more days to Epiphany or Theophany, for a total of twelve days. February 2nd is the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, forty days from now. Christmas music will no longer be on the radio, lights and trees and Nativity sets will be gone, and no one will speak about the “spirit of Christmas.” It is up to us to keep the true spirit of Christmas alive on the 26th, the 27th, and all year. That spirit is the self-emptying gift that God gives us so as to save us, Jesus Christ.

San River - WikiVisually

We live in a nation where church attendance is dropping, where young adults have been raised by parents who failed to bring them close to God, where too many people think they know what the Catholic Church is all about, but actually know very little of our Faith. We as a parish have been privileged to watch a father and son prepare this year to receive the holy mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation, and Eucharist on Theophany. One-fourth of young Americans in Colin’s age group have no church affiliation, but he and his dad have been drawn into this great mystery of Emmanuel, God is with us.

We give presents in imitation of the Magi who gave gifts to Christ, the shepherds who praised Him, the animals who kept Jesus warm and gave up their food trough, Mary and Joseph who protected Him and gave Him both enormous love and the witness of their pure love for each other.

This year we can each give important gifts to anyone we know who has stopped attending church, never attended, or is searching for something to give comfort in a cold and confusing world:

– The angels said, Be not afraid, we have news of great joy. Each parishioner here has news of great joy: there has been born for this fallen world a Savior, Who is born FOR EACH OF US HERE. This is really and truly GREAT JOY.

– there is an enormous present waiting for everyone: the fullness of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, as our priests do EXACTLY what Jesus ordered the apostles to do; Christmas after all means Christ’s Mass, which is the real center of the holiday;

In a nation that is changing so fast, we belong to the original Church, using a fantastically beautiful worship brought over by immigrants, with rituals that still speak to the soul;

– Our parish offers a community that is rooted in that Faith, that Eucharist, that certainty. Kings, bishops, presidents, popes come and go but the Faith founded by this little crying baby boy in a manger of straw endures.

17 Best images about Byzantine Catholic on Pinterest | Nicholas d'agosto, Holy spirit and Saints

This is the gift of our Byzantine Catholic Church, that everyone who comes here finds a family ready to welcome them, offering a Liturgy that is meant to confirm in our hearts that God is absolute Love Who always welcomes us back to Him, and a worship style that should leave us having had a taste of heaven on earth.

Greek eastern orthodox byzantine icon of the Annunciation of Theotokos, Panagia, Virgin Mary ...

Through the power of the Holy Spirit Who made the Eternal Word in the virgin womb of the Blessed Mother of God, may we have the courage, wisdom, and love for others in 2020 that will impel us to invite others to come home not only for Christmas, but forever, in the embrace of the Church, the Church which has endured sin and scandal while still holding on to the apostolic truth for 2,000 years. Despite the sins of popes, bishops, clergy, nuns, and laity the Church is still here, and is still the Bride of Christ Who is born tonight.

The old English Christmas carol, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, is not saying may :merry gentlemen have a holy repose: but rather that God gives a happy rest to the people.

Let nothing you dismay/ For Jesus Christ our Savior / Was born upon this day / To save us all from Satan’s power / When we were gone astray.

This salvation is all possible because of this unique and holy birth tonight. May we all have a happy and blessed Christmas, and may we be open to this Christ Child bringing us His grace always.

January 01 – Naming and Circumcision of Jesus

Light of the world, Lamb of God

Posted by: Fr Chris | December 23, 2019

O Jesus living in Mary!

Image result for znamenie

O Infant Jesus living in Mary! To Thee I surrender

myself totally, with body and soul and all that I am and

have, and all that I am capable of being or having.

Grant me to partake of Thy innocence, rule within me

through Our Lady. Through Thy greatness in humility

confound earthly greatness in me!

Posted by: Fr Chris | December 21, 2019

Holy Infant Jesus, living in Mary!

 

O holy infant Jesus, living in Mary!

Infuse into me the spirit of prayer and grant that, in

virtue thereof, I may adore and imitate, in the still

fountain of my soul, in the innermost peace of my

heart, in the blessed quiet of my spirit, Thy sublime

silence in midst of the turmoil of the world and Thy

most profound quiet in midst of worldly noise!

 

Posted by: Fr Chris | December 8, 2019

Preaching Schedule at Our Lady of Fatima, Dec 9-11, 2019

I am preaching an Advent Mission on December 9,10, and 11 at Our Lady of Fatima Church on Lomas Blvd NE, at 6:30 pm. Confessions will be heard after each presentation.

Please share this with others, attend, and bring someone along!

Day 1 God wishes to come to each one of us

'God Comes to Us' - sermon by Dion Frasier from December 24th, 2014 | Reynoldsburg Church of Christ

Day 2 Walking with our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph

82. From Bethlehem to Calvary: God Lives on the Margins [I] – Dr. Jeffrey & Angie Goh

Day 3 Born in a Manger in the House of Bread: God is with us!

1000+ images about CCD - First Holy Communion on Pinterest | Eucharist, Communion and Catholic

COME, O JESUS, AND SAVE US!

Image may contain: 2 people

OUR LADY OF THE SIGN: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and  he will be called Emmanuel, which means, God-with-us. Book of Isaiah 7:14

Posted by: Fr Chris | December 6, 2019

Saint Nicholas Day 2019

Ten Miracle-Working Icons of Saint Nicholas | A Reader's ...

 

While Nicholas is enormously popular in both the Latin Church and the Christian East, he is especially important for us. For at least seven centuries, the head of the Byzantine Catholic Church in Subcarpathian Rus’ lived in the Saint Nicholas monastery. As a result, he has been invoked as the special protector of our Church.

Saint Nicholas Monastery (Mukachevo) - Wikipedia

St Nicholas Monastery, Mukachevo: Since 1949 this has been occupied by the Russian Orthodox Church, which has built the Russian-style church in the background. 

Born into a Christian family, his parents left him a large wealthy estate. Both as a layman and priest and later bishop, he used his wealth for others. As a Spiritual Shepherd, St. Nicholas distinguished himself for his pastoral zeal and uncommon goodness of heart. He also worked miracles which made people consider him a Saint even before his death. He had been imprisoned during the last national persecution of Christians and so was also revered as a Confessor of the faith. He strongly defended the Faith at the Nicaean Council (325) and protected his flock from paganism and the Arian heresy. He assisted the poor, saved the innocent from injustice, and comforted the suffering and the sick. Several times during his episcopacy St. Nicholas saved his people from imminent starvation with miraculous multiplication of grain. He died on December 6,  and is commemorated in the liturgical calendar on the anniversary of his holy death.

The Miracles of Saint Nicholas | ferrebeekeeper

St Nicholas intercedes for sailors at risk 

The public veneration of St. Nicholas started very early after his death. Fifth century records indicate that his grave was the site of constant pilgrimages. People came from to venerate his relics and to implore his intercession, and many miracles were recorded at the site of his tomb. In particular his body gave off a special crystalline liquid that is still used to anoint the sick. Thus St. Nicholas, after the Blessed Mother and St. John the Baptist, became the most venerated Saint in the Churches of the Byzantine tradition.

The solemn celebration of the feast of St. Nicholas was introduced in Constantinople within 150 years of his death, which testifies to his popularity and the authenticity of his miracles.

There are many miracles ascribed to St. Nicholas. The principal miracles ascribed to St. Nicholas by constant tradition are these:

1) St. Nicholas, by his prayer during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, calmed a violent storm on the open sea, and prevented certain shipwreck; from this he became the patron saint of sailors.

2) St. Nicholas, either in a dream to Emperor Constantine, or by his own personal intervention, saved three innocent officers from execution; he thus became patron of those unjustly accused.

Nikolai Mirlikiiskii saves Three Innocent, 1888 in 2019 | faith | Peinture russe, Timée, Russie

3) St. Nicholas, blessed with the charism of healing, restored health to innumerable people suffering from incurable diseases; he is a patron of the sick.

4) St. Nicholas, warned by God, secretly provided a dowry to three poor girls, destined by their own father to be sold into prostitution to provide him with a steady income. Not to expose the father’s sinful design, the Saint secretly, during the night, left a bag of gold pieces for each girl as a dowry for them and to enable each of them to lead an honest life. This money was put into stockings that had been put up to dry by the fireplace. Thus that particular practice of hanging stockings for Santa Claus to fill comes directly from that event.

Gentile da Fabriano, Stories of St Nicholas of Bari

From this rescue of the three girls, Nicholas became the patron saint of children and the practice arose of Nicholas as the gift-bringer. In many countries, December 6 was the day for presents, not Christmas Day. In Holland and Germany children put out their shoes on the night of December 5, and would awaken to find special treats in them.

5) Nicholas revives three students who had been murdered and restores them to their family.

St Nicholas Posters | Zazzle

The Protestant Dutch had to keep him due to his popularity with their children even though they had become Calvinists in the reformation. Their celebration in old New York City of Sankt Nicklaus became corrupted into Santa Claus, the bestower of gifts at Christmas time, and Santa in turn has lost all religious significance.

In icons of St. Nicholas, Christ is usually depicted on one side with a Gospel in His hands, and Our Lady is depicted on the other side with an episcopal omophorion in her hands. This has a twofold historical significance: first, it signifies the calling of Nicholas as a bishop – he was appointed bishop because Nicholas had a vision of both Jesus and Mary showing him those two symbols.

Second, according to an old tradition, at the council of Nicaea in 325 Nicholas was so outraged by the false teaching of Arius the heretic that he got up and punched him in the face. The other bishops were of course appalled at that, and denounced Nicholas, saying he should not be a bishop. But that very night they all had the same dream in which Jesus and Mary appeared with the Gospel book and the bishop’s omophorion, and they returned those symbols back to Nicholas. In the morning they apologized to him and restored him to his office, and recognized his zeal for the truth as the reason for his outburst.

A Reader's Guide to Orthodox Icons | Feeble words about powerful images | Page 10

Nicholas’ icon is always at the north end of the icon screen. His intercession for people covers a broad range, from coal miners in America saved from disaster to sailors in the navy to the miraculous rescue of children.

Feast of Saint Nicholas | Father Christopher Zugger

But he is also meant to be the model for bishops, and really for all of us. As a model bishop, he was orthodox in faith, committed to justice and charity, and above all he was a man of prayer. If we ourselves are all solidly orthodox in our Catholic faith, committed to righting injustices, willing to help the poor either personally or by donating to special causes, and are above all else people rooted in prayer and worship, then we will be faithful to Nicholas’ memory and witness. He has been venerated as an intercessor for our Church ever since the foundation of that first monastery so long ago. Let us turn to him not only today, but every day, and implore his intercession at the throne of God for holiness for our bishops; an increase in vocations to priesthood, diaconate, and  consecrated life in our Church; for the protection of children both unborn and born; and that we would all serve Christ as faithfully as he did.

A Prayer For Children Holy Card

Posted by: Fr Chris | December 2, 2019

Byzantine Catholic Breviary

Just in time for Christmas – the first English Breviary for Byzantine Catholics, for private use, $10.95
If you are Byzantine Catholic, or interested in Eastern prayer, I HIGHLY recommend this!
A Simple Byzantine Breviary
 
 Go to:   http://www.lulu.com/shop/joel-barstad/a-simple-byzantine-breviary/paperback/product-24263147.html
Contains texts for
-private Morning and Evening Prayers
-Vespers and Matins
-the Canonical Hours (6 am, 9 am, Noon, 3 pm, or First, Third, Sixth, Ninth)
– Eight Tones 
-Small Compline for night prayers
-Midnight Office (taken before going to bed) 
-Forgiveness Rite for Night Prayer 
– Commons for Saints
– Paschal and Lenten Variations in prayer
– Priestly prayers for Litanies, Panachida, Moleben, Prayers of Light
– Calendar of Saints’ Days 
This is all compiled by Joel Barstad, director of formation at the Seminary in Pittsburgh.
Sergej Rachmaninov - Vespers (All-Night Vigil), for alto, tenor & chorus, Op. 37 - YouTube
Have a blessed Saint Philip’s Fast! 
Posted by: Fr Chris | November 27, 2019

GIVING THANKS in 2019

Thanksgiving Day is the one reminder every year that, despite the American model of being self-sufficient, none of us truly  make it on our own. No one goes through life all alone.  No matter if you are a believer or an atheist, it is the one day to stop and be thankful for what we have and for the country we live in.The atheist will just be grateful and that’s that. For the believer, it is the day to acknowledge God’s benevolent mercy and His graces that have brought us safe thus far.

Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Message To Atheists, Humanists and Other Americans | FREEDOM ...

In 1864, while the Civil War was still raging, President Abraham Lincoln set the last Thursday in November as the national day to give thanks. He wrote: a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

He acknowledged God’s generosity to America in a time of war, and pointed out specifically that God ” has largely augmented our free population by Emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards.

1000+ images about The GOOD SHEPHERD on Pinterest | The good shepherd, Sheep and The shepherd

The Bible does not say that having wealth means you are blessed by God – that is a Protestant heresy. But we pray at every Liturgy for an abundance of the fruits of the earth. Christ and the writings of the prophets all emphasize that the poor are God’s special people. So how do we tie that in with a dinner that is one of the biggest of the year? The poverty that God demands is this: We should do what we can so that no one to be hungry or thirsty or naked or homeless or sick or living all alone (Mt 25:3-46). The poverty demanded of the Christian must be the desire to seek before all else the Kingdom of God, which is God’s will and plan for us, which includes love for all creation, a thirst for righteousness, and mercy. Christ promised, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things (food and drink and clothing) will be given you besides” (Mt 6:33).

Blessings to You | Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church

Above all, this is where we come to give thanks. This Divine Liturgy, any celebration of the Holy Eucharist in any of the Rites of the Church, is the primary place for thanksgiving. The very word “eucharistia” means to be grateful, to rejoice, and to give thanks. For all those taking the time to worship at God’s holy altar for Thanksgiving Day, may we most especially be grateful for our  Church and parish, our faith in Jesus Christ, and above all for the Holy Gifts we will receive today.

On Receiving the Holy Mysteries – The Morning Offering

Posted by: Fr Chris | November 23, 2019

A Dwelling Place for God

I am going to focus today on the reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. The excerpt we heard today is from chapter 2, verses 14-22, which is the epistle for the 24th Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel today is that of the 27th Sunday, so it just happens to match up to one of Paul’s themes, that of the conflict between adhering to the Jewish Law and being a Christian.

Luke 13:10-21 – Healed of Our Infirmities | Fr. Charles Erlandson Erlandson

In the Gospel, Jesus immediately heals the woman whom He sees, not waiting for her to ask Him to do so. Because that was an act of energy, of power, the rabbis are upset that He did this on the Sabbath and in the synagogue itself. They are so bound by the Law and its rules that they will not rejoice in the cure of someone who had suffered for years from either a physical deforming of her body or the curse of Satan. The Law most definitely allowed for livestock to be watered and fed on the Sabbath, since they were dependent on the owners for help. So even more so should God bring deliverance on the Sabbath to a person who was suffering. Sabbath is meant to be a day not only of rest but of renewal, and this woman is now renewed in a most dramatic way!

In Ephesians, Paul is talking to a Greek and Jewish community. Orthodox Jews rejected Greco-Roman culture and close relations with any Gentile. Gentiles thought Jews were very odd people who worshipped only one God instead of the pantheon of gods that everyone else prayed to, bound by a lot of strict laws regarding food, marriage, and connections with non-Jews. So there was little interaction between the two communities outside of necessities such as legal issues or shopping.

One of the big issues in the missionary Church was the role of these two communities and the place of Jewish restrictions. Paul is invoking a lot of imagery here that we do not necessarily get right away. Right before the section we heard, Paul writes about how the Greeks, meaning any non-Jew, were separated from the people of Israel as well as from God Himself. Now they have been brought close to God through the Blood of Christ, that same Blood which we are preparing ourselves to receive shortly in Holy Communion.

He is our peace, Who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility”  – the wall he is referring to is the symbolism of physical wall in the Temple in Jerusalem. This wall blocked off the Courtyard of the Gentiles from the inner courts where only Jews could pray. There was a large sign on that wall, warning Gentiles that if they went past that point they would be killed. That is how strict the separation was between the two communities. Now, Paul says, there is no wall, physical or symbolic,  physical or spiritual, that would block part of humanity from God’s mercy and redemption. The Church is not meant to be an isolated community, but a truly catholic, universal Church that embraces everyone.

Paul goes on to say that Jesus, through His sacrifice, abolished all those strict laws that cut off the Jews from the rest of the world and Jesus has made a New Man in His Body that was  crucified and risen, as Paul says, bringing the hostility to an end. This is the inauguration of a new age, the messianic age, which marks the union of all nations in God Himself. The Good News of the gospel of Christ was now being preached to both Jews and Greeks, uniting everyone through the Holy Spirit to the Father. He says in verse 19 that they are no longer strangers, but members of one united household.  If we are in a household, built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, then we are in one family, a family that everyone belongs to.  And we all belong to that whether or not we want it that way. We may not want certain people in our house, but that is really just too bad, since Jesus lived, died, and rose for the salvation of every human being.

Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone - Matthew 16:13-19 | God's Family Church – Cranston RI – You are ...

In the ancient world, the cornerstone was very important. For Jews, it was the foundation stone upon which the entire building would rest. Now the word that Paul uses for cornerstone is found only once in the entire Old Testament, in the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 28, verse 16 where God says, “I am laying in Zion a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation.” The Jews interpreted this as being not just a cornerstone but as being a symbol of the Messiah Himself.  It is this Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ Whose birth we are preparing for, that is the absolute foundation of the Church. Paul concludes with this: in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Now say to this ourselves: I am a dwelling place for God.  I am, everyone is. So, if everyone is united into the family of God through the preaching of the Gospel, then that shows just how important it is to continue to do missionary work in the name of the Faith, and why it is important that people convert. I read of a priest in the Amazon whose mission has been there for fifty-three years, but there has not been one  convert. No wonder there are no priests there- some the European priests think that baptizing Indian converts would somehow be a sign of European colonization and that all these indigenous tribes live a happy life of peace and harmony in the jungle. They ignore the rampant warfare which would come to an end if the Gospel of unity was preached, and they ignore the reality of how harsh life is in the jungle. Those people suffer from malaria, tuberculosis, polio, and have short lives due to the harshness of their world. The Gospel could bring peace among the tribes, and the traditional works of mercy that always accompany Catholic mission work would bring better health and longer life spans to these people. In a sense it is a new racism, saying that we have nothing to offer indigenous people and exalting them into some pure native condition living in perfect harmony with nature.

I am a dwelling place for God. Not only do the tribes of the Amazon need to hear this but so does Europe and North America, every Muslim country, and every remaining communist state. Each person is a dwelling place for God, each person is not only made in God’s image but has God living inside. The sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation/ Chrismation bring the soul into intimate union with God, deliver the soul from original sin, and infuse the soul with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is why it is a sin to kill, because we are attacking the image of God. This is why the unborn are so valuable – each is a unique person who will never be repeated again. This is why it is a sin that cries out to heaven for punishment that our Congress cannot even vote against infanticide, the deliberate killing of babies born alive after botched abortions. This is why it is another sin crying to heaven that corrupt bishops and sinful priests molested both children and vulnerable adults.  

This is why the dying are to be treated with reverence and love, and not pushed to commit suicide  so that everyone else can get on with their own lives and insurance companies can save money. This is why missionaries go about rescuing abandoned baby girls and abandoned children who are deformed or handicapped in some way.  This is why the Catholic Church has been a defender of human rights against monarchs, tyrants, communists and fascists alike: each living person is a dwelling place of God, made in God’s image, and will never ever be seen again on the face of the earth.

Image Cluster: Mother Teresa HD Natural Images Wallpapers Free Download

One of the main themes in the life of Jesus Christ is compassion. He had both great sympathy and great empathy for people who were suffering. He would perform miracles for those who had leprosy, were blind, were crippled or paralyzed, and raised the dead for those who were mourning. In His infancy and childhood, Jesus had to be taught by Our Lady and Saint Joseph how to grow as a human being. Out of respect for the independence of Jesus’ human nature and human free will, God does not force the divine nature upon the human part of Christ. Rather He grew like we all do, learning from His parents and the community around Him. He learned both what to do and what not to do.

Welcome Mary | The Now Word

Liturgically we are in the last weeks of the pregnancy of Our Blessed Lady. She and Joseph are going to embark on the long walk to Bethlehem. That is a long walk, which could take up to ten days to finish. Our Christmas Fast has been in place for nine days: 31 to go. We are asked to do penances, to abstain from certain foods, in order to cleanse our souls and prepare for the Birth of the Lord. Each of us has our own things to work on, but let me suggest that it would be a good idea to ask Saint Joseph and the Mother of God to intercede for us before God’s throne and flood us in particular with the grace of compassion, and with the grace to be free of any and all prejudice. We live in the richest, most powerful country ever seen in human history, but also in a country afflicted by racism and where it is almost impossible to have a calm conversation about politics. Catholics are meant to be a people constantly going through spiritual renewal, constantly learning more about both God and themselves. Catholics are meant to be people who will defend the human rights of any living person, born or unborn, sick or healthy. We are supposed to be a Church which encourages all the living to live fully, in the embrace of the Holy Spirit.

I am a dwelling place for God. This is a challenge, to believe and accept that God lives in us. For the rest of the Christmas Fast, let us strive to be more aware of this reality of God living in us and the people around us, old and young, relatives and strangers, born and unborn. Let us be more aware of the unity we have with others instead of the differences. Above all, let us work at preparing our hearts and homes to really welcome the Christ Child in a new way this year, different from any other year.

Christ is among us.

What was it like to be pregnant with the Savior? | The New Theological Movement

Posted by: Fr Chris | November 20, 2019

The Great Value of a Little Girl

Theotokos's Entry into the Temple (The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary), Mosaic.c ...

Presentation of Our Lady

This is one of the later Marian feasts to come into the calendar, originating in Jerusalem around 543. It gradually spread to the Western Church, but was put onto the general Roman calendar only in 1585.

A Syrian convert wrote a book called the Protevangelium of James around 150 AD. It is basically a mix of original Gospel accounts of the Infant Jesus mixed with speculation about the early life of Our Lady. There were several of these, mixing in the authentic Gospels, pious thoughts, and outright fantasies.

This feast has its origins in this text, which claims that after Mary’s birth to elderly parents, she was put into the Holy of Holies at the age of three and lived there for nine years. Now we know this is not true – the High Priest himself only went into that sacred space once a year to say the Holy Name of God. The person who wrote this knew little about Judaism, but these books were not meant to be historically accurate. They are a type of ancient literature that both filled popular hunger for more stories about Jesus and Mary, but also used these stories as a teaching tool.

Theotokos

So what does this feast day tell us still?

  1. Mary is a unique individual in human history: she is recognized not only as a perpetual virgin, but also as the New Eve who does not yield to the temptation of sin.

  2. In her unique holiness, in her status as the New Eve, she lived in a state of intimate connection with God Himself, as we were originally meant to be until the Fall.

  3. The Gospel for Marian feasts mixes two separate events together. One is where a Jewish woman uses a typical phrase giving honor to the mother of a rabbi: Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that nursed you! This fulfills Mary’s prediction that all generations will call her blessed. But Jesus sets this praise aside, pointing out that it is even more important that people hear His Word and act on it, which of course Mary does throughout her life. The second incident praises Mary of Bethany for listening attentively to the words of Jesus. This reflects another role of Our Lady, who in Luke, chapter 2, ponders the events of her pregnancy and the birth of Christ in her heart. So she is both the one who hears the Word of God and acts on it, and the contemplative, the one who listens closely and incorporates God’s Word into her life. Here she is the model for consecrated laywomen, cloistered nuns, and active Sisters alike.

  4. In the ancient world, little children did not have much honor. A family could lose as many as half of its children, or even more, to various diseases and epidemics. But in the protoevangelium, Mary is honored by her parents from her conception onward. The whole story of putting her in the temple as a three-year old is an early Christian praise of the holiness inherent in children, and the value that children should have for us. In an era where abortion has now led to some of our political leaders actually consenting to the murder of infants born alive, this a poignant reminder of just how we as Christians must value human life.

Heart 2 Heart: Who are The Seven Churches in the Province ...

  1. The Holy Land is the western edge of Asia. We forget that much of what we do in the Byzantine liturgical tradition is affected by our Asian origins. For example, we bow instead of genuflecting to show honor to the Most Holy Eucharist. A three year old girl still has no value in much of modern Asia, and girl babies are routinely murdered in India and China. There is an area in India of 132 villages that has not seen any girls born alive in a period of three months this year: 216 boys were born, but not one girl was registered. The Church however proclaims in this feast day that this little girl is to be honored, treasured, and seen as very important to the future of the human race, something that the pagans of 150 AD would not have agreed to whatsoever, and apparently a lot of people today would not believe.

  2. Finally this feast day points to a profound central truth for us. The Virgin Mary is shown as living in the temple, a sign that she will become the true temple of God. She will be the living tabernacle, the one in whom the God-Man will live for nine months. Just as all women are affected by pregnancy in various ways, Our Lady is especially changed. Having been the living tabernacle, the only one who can be called Mother of God, she becomes the protector for Jesus along with Saint Joseph. She will teach Christ in His humanity, and advocate first for Him, then once He starts His ministry, advocating for us. We see this begin at the Miracle of Cana, where she presents Jesus with the need of the newlyweds not to be embarrassed at having run out of wine at their reception. Jesus does what she asks, and this is an important sign for us. He will make her our Mother at the Cross, presenting her not just to John but to all of us.

Virgin Mary of The Sign "Znamenie", Orthodox Icon - at Holy Trinity Store

On this day, children are blessed. Again, this affirms the value of children in a world that has become so messed up that there are people who wear shirts saying Thank God For Abortion. Children are not only our future as a nation, and as a Church, but are each made uniquely in the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity. Let us ask Our Blessed Mother to continue to pray for us as her children, for the salvation of this country consecrated to her Immaculate Conception, and that as a Church we can once again change attitudes around the world towards all children, born and unborn.

Christ is among us.

Posted by: Fr Chris | November 16, 2019

Saint Philip Fast and Advent

I will be preaching an Advent Mission December 9-11, 2019, at Our Lady of Fatima Church on Lomas Boulevard NE. That will be the second week of Advent for Roman Catholics, but halfway through the preparation season followed by Christians who adhere to the Byzantine Rite. For Byzantine Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, Saint Philip’s Fast began on November 15, forty days before Christmas.

In the East, this is still a season of fasting, penance, and reflection. Feast days of prophets abound, those brave men who heard God’s Voice and wrote about the coming Messiah. We are urged to expand our abstinence from meat from Friday to Wednesday and Monday. Above all, we are urged to prepare our hearts and souls for the Christ Child, the God-Man Who loves us so much that He willingly enters into our world, and will ascend the Cross  in order to save us.

Child Jesus/ Cross 8x10 | DEVOTIE | Pinterest | Crosses, Children and Jesus

So, how ready is my heart for Jesus? Am I prepared to welcome Him? In the rush of buying presents, going to parties, hearing countless ads on television and radio urging us to BUY, BUY, BUY MORE AND MORE – do I buy time for Him in my heart?
Will I open the depth of my heart to Him?

199 best Christian Symbolism images on Pinterest | Catholic art, Christian art and Religious art

God so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son. The Baby Whose birth we prepare for is the same Person Who will sweat blood in the Garden on Holy Thursday. He is the same Person Who will suffer incredible tortures and humiliation. Our Blessed Lady, the Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, will truly have her heart pierced beholding  her beloved Boy on the Cross. We forget all this with movies about Santa, “Christmas spirit”, Christmas love, Christmas at home, Christmas on the mountain, Christmas with snow — tons and tons of holiday films that will never once mention the true  Spirit of Christmas. That is the self-giving, the willing humility, of God becoming Incarnate in the womb of Our Lady. But even more, He wishes to enter into EACH ONE OF US at Holy Communion, through the Consecrated Gifts.
That must be our goal for Advent, for Saint Philip’s Fast, for Great Lent, for every week of the year: to be transformed by God’s grace in our reception of the Most Holy Eucharist. May God strengthen us in these days, and may we move forward in holiness first. If we put holiness first, all the other things that our culture says we “need” for a “real holiday” will fall into their proper places behind our hunger for Jesus Christ.

Lessons from the Christmas Manger – The Faith Explained with Cale Clarke

 

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories