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Catholic Caucus: Sunday Mass Readings, 12-22-13, Fourth Sunday of Advent ^ | 12-21-13 | Revised New American Bible

Posted on 12/21/2013 9:16:23 PM PST by Salvation

December 22, 2013


Fourth Sunday of Advent



Reading 1 Is 7:10-14

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (7c and 10b) Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.

Reading 2 Rom 1:1-7

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus,
called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God,
which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh,
but established as Son of God in power
according to the Spirit of holiness
through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship,
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel Mt 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS: advent; catholic; prayer
For your reading, reflection, faith-sharing, comments, questions, discussion.

1 posted on 12/21/2013 9:16:23 PM PST by Salvation
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To: All

From: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8-10

The Sign of Immanu-el (Continuation)

[7:10] Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, [11] “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let
it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” [12] But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I
will not put the Lord to the test.” [13] And he said, “Hear then, O house of David!
Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? [14] Therefore
the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and
bear a son, and shall call his name Immanu-el, [8:10] which means ‘God is with


7:10-17. Even though the king did not listen, the Lord offers him a sign that he
has no reason to fear the threats made by the kings of Israel and Syria: a mai-
den will conceive and bear a son, who will be called Immanuel; within a few years,
before the boy reaches the age of reason, the two kingdoms that Ahaz fears will
be laid low, and Judah will enjoy even greater prosperity than it had prior to the
Assyrian threat.

The prophet’s words, which at the time and taken literally would have been easy
enough for the protagonists to understand, can have further significance: and as
Revelation develops this becomes clearer. Verse 14 has three elements in it
which, taken separately and together, can be read as a sign of peace and sal-
vation—the mother, the child, and his name, “Immanuel”. The mother is a maiden,
that is, a young woman who has had no children previously. This could refer to
the young wife of Ahaz or to some other young woman. In any event, by setting
her pregnancy in the context of a sign given to the king, the point is that some-
thing quite important is involved. It is not surprising, therefore, that, to stress
this, later interpreters, particularly those who translated the text into Greek in
the second century BC, translated the Hebrew word for “young woman” into the
Greek word for “virgin”. Later, the evangelists St Matthew (Mt 1:23) and St Luke
(Lk 1:26-31) indicated that the virginity of Mary was the sign that her son was
the Messiah, the true God with us, who brings salvation.

The child, the son, is the most significant part of the sign. If the prophecy refers
to the son of Ahaz, the future King Hezekiah, it would be indicating that his birth
will be a sign of divine protection, because it will mean that the dynasty will con-
tinue. If it refers to another child, not yet known, the prophet’s words would mean
that the child’s birth could manifest hope that “God was going to be with us”, and
his reaching the age of discretion (v. 16) would indicate the advent of peace; the
child’s birth would, then, be the sign that “God is with us”. In the New Testament,
the deeper meaning of these words find fulfillment: Mary is Virgin and Mother,
and her Son is not a symbol of God’s protection but God himself who dwells
among us.

The word “Immanuel” is a prophetic indication of the revelation that the child’s
birth implies, just as the names of Isaiah’s sons also contain revelation — Shear-
jashub, which means “a remnant shall return” (7:3), and Maher-shalal-hash-baz,
meaning “the spoil speeds, the prey hastens” (8:1-3). In the New Testament, the
name conveys the joyful news that Jesus is truly “God with us”.

Christian tradition has treated this lsaian oracle with great reverence: “Learn from
the prophet himself how all this could come to pass. Does it, perhaps, follow the
laws of nature? Absolutely not, replies the prophet: ‘Behold, a virgin.... What a
miracle! A virgin will become a mother and remain a virgin! [...] It is fitting that he
who enters into human life to save all mankind [...] should be born of a woman of
perfect integrity who has given herself wholly to Him” (St Gregory of Nyssa, “In
Diem Natalem Christi”, 1136).

Therefore, expounding the Church’s interpretation, the Second Vatican Council
has this to say: “The Holy Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testament, as
well as ancient Tradition, show the role of the Mother of the Savior in the econo-
my of salvation in an ever clearer light and draw attention to it. The books of the
Old Testament describe the history of salvation, by which the coming of Christ in-
to the world was slowly prepared. These earliest documents, as they are read in
the Church and are understood in the light of a further and full revelation, bring the
figure of the woman, Mother of the Redeemer, into a gradually clearer light. When
it is looked at in this way, she is already prophetically foreshadowed in the pro-
mise of victory over the serpent which was given to our first parents after their fall
into sin (cf. Gen 3:15). Likewise she is the Virgin who shall conceive and bear a
son, whose name will be called Immanuel (Is 7:14; Mic 5:2-3; Mt 1:22-23). She
stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and
receive salvation from Him. With her the exalted Daughter of Sion, and after a
long expectation of the promise, the times are fulfilled and the new economy es-
tablished, when the Son of God took a human nature from her, that He might in
the mysteries of His flesh free man from sin” (”Lumen Gentium”, 55).

The fact that the oracle was spoken in a specific historical context does not
mean that it does not have a more transcendental, that is, messianic meaning;
in the light of salvation history, past events should be read as part of God’s plan
of salvation and of its climax, the advent of Jesus Christ. Only by adopting this
viewpoint can we see that what happened in the Old Testament, taken as a
whole and many of the stages in it, are a prophecy of New Testament events,
a “preparation for the Gospel”. Therefore, a Christian reading of the text, which
in a way enjoys “hindsight” and gives a messianic interpretation to the Imma-
nuel Oracle, is perfectly compatible with its literal meaning.

The words of the prophet, which find fulfillment in Christ, have been given many
lovely spiritual interpretations: “This Immanuel, born of the Virgin, eats curds and
honey, and asks each of us to provide him with the curds that he eats [...]. Our
good deeds, our sweet and noble words, are the honey eaten by the Immanuel
born of the Virgin [...]. For truly he consumes our good words and intentions and
actions, and feeds us, in turn, with a spiritual food that is greater and divine. As
soon as we realize that to welcome the Savior is a blessing, and open wide the
doors of our hearts, we will prepare for him the ‘honey’ and all his feast, and he
will bring us to the great feast of the Father in the kingdom of heaven, that is in
Christ Jesus” (Origen, “Homilae In Isaiam”, 2, 2).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

2 posted on 12/21/2013 9:18:19 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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3 posted on 12/21/2013 9:19:20 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Romans 1:1-7


[1] Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gos-
pel of God [2] which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy
scriptures, [3] the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David
according to the flesh [4] and designated Son of God in power according to the
Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, [5]
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obe-
dience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, [6] including your-
selves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ: [7] To all God’s beloved in Rome,
who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ.


1-15. These opening verses of the letter are a combination of greeting, introduc-
tion of the writer and the prologue to the entire text. The passage deals with
themes in no particular order — in line with the style of some other Pauline let-
ters, especially Romans itself.

Three matters are being covered here — Paul’s introduction of himself, and his
plans to visit Rome (vv. 1, 5, 9-15); who the immediate recipients are and their
particular situation (vv. 6-8, 11, 15); and, finally, Paul’s purpose in writing to the
faithful at Rome (outlined in his greeting — vv. 2-4, 15 and, to a lesser degree, v.

1-2. The word “gospel”, which St Paul uses very often, here refers to the purpose
of his vocation: he has been designated to preach the Gospel of God. This is ob-
viously not a reference to the written Gospels; he is speaking of something com-
plex and profound, already articulated by Christ in his preaching. Jesus said of
himself that he had come to bring Good News (cf. Mt 11:15; Mk 1:14-15; Lk 4:18;
etc.), as the prophets had foretold (especially is 61:1, which Jesus quoted). “As
an evangelizer, Christ first of all proclaims a kingdom, the Kingdom of God; and
this is so important that, by comparison, everything else becomes ‘the rest’,
which is ‘given in addition’ (cf. Mt 6:33).

“As the kernel and center of this Good News, Christ proclaims salvation, this
great gift of God which is liberation from everything that oppresses man but which
is above all liberation from sin and the Evil One” (Paul VI, “Evangelii Nuntiandi”,
8 and 9).

When he was about to ascend into heaven, Jesus charged his Apostles to pro-
claim the Good News (Mk 16:15; cf. Mt 28:19-20) which was to be “the source
of all saving truth and moral discipline” (Vatican II, “Dei Verbum”, 7). For the Apo-
stles this Good News was nothing more or less than Jesus Christ and his work
of salvation. That is why the Gospel (which the Church is given to hand on to all
generations) is centered on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, as passed on
to us by the Apostles. “The promises of the New Alliance in Jesus Christ, the
teaching of the Lord and the Apostles, the Word of life, the sources of grace and
of God’s loving kindness, the path of salvation — all these things have been entrus-
ted to her. It is the content of the Gospel, and therefore of evangelization” (”Evan-
gelii Nuntiandi”, 15). Thus we can say with St Thomas Aquinas (cf. “Summa Theo-
logiae”, I-II, q. 108, a.1; “Commentary on Rom.” 1, 1) that the core of the Gospel
has to do with uniting men and God, a union which takes a perfect form in Christ
but an imperfect one in us. The superiority of the Gospel over the Old Law con-
sists in the grace of the Holy Spirit, which Christ confers on us. Therefore, the
Gospel, to which the Apostles dedicated themselves, is, at one and the same
time, a series of truths revealed by our Lord, the saving power of grace and the

1. In addressing the Christians at Rome the Apostle uses, of his two names —
Saul and Paul — the one he has used since his first missionary journey (cf. Acts
13:9), a Roman name indicating his Roman citizenship (cf. Acts 16:37; 22:25-28).
It was in fact quite common for Jews to use two names — a national name, He-
brew or Aramaic, and another name, Greek or Latin, for dealings with people from
other countries in the Empire. We find a number of examples of this in the New
Testament — John-Mark, Symeon-Niger (Acts 13:1), Tabitha-Dorcas (Acts 9:36),
et cetera.

Paul, who had been born a Roman citizen, was deeply conscious of his Jewish
roots. He was of the tribe of Benjamin (Rom 11:1; Phil 3:5) and bore the name of
one of the most famous members of that tribe — King Saul, son of Kish (Acts 13:
21). He was well able to show his pride in his Jewish descent (cf. 2 Cor 11:22;
Gal 1:13-14) yet was ready to become all things to all men in order to save even
some (cf. 1 Cor 9:22).

St Paul wants to speak about Christ and his saving Gospel, but he cannot avoid
making reference to himself and the mission entrusted to him; this he does by
using three words which are full of meaning: he is a “servant” of Jesus Christ,
called by God to be his “apostle” (envoy), “set apart” or designated by God to
preach the Gospel. These three words tell the whole story of his vocation, and
each of them encapsulates something of the mystery which Paul will expound in
his epistle — the mercy of God, who saves men, justifies them, sanctifies them
and sends them out.

“Servant”: this title, also used by St James (Jas 1:1), St Peter (2 Pet 1:1) and St
Jude (Jud 1), comes from the Old Testament. There the great prophets and guides
of the chosen people described themselves as “servants” of Yahweh (cf., for exam-
ple, Samuel: 1 Sam 3:9f; Abraham: Ps 104:6; David: 2 Sam 24:10; Moses, Aaron,
Solomon, etc.), and the entire people of Israel is called the “servant” of God (Is 49:
3); but most prominently there is the Messiah, the “Servant” of God to the extent
of actually giving his life (Is 41:9; 42:1; 49:6; 53:11). In the world of the Hebrew
religion “servant of God” is the equivalent of “worshipper of God”, one who offers
religious worship: this notion of servant did not carry the overtones of inhuman
debasement that it had in Greco-Roman culture. When St Paul says that he is
a “servant” (or “slave”) of Jesus Christ he is implicitly saying that he renders him
religious adoration.

“Apostle”: this word designates preachers of the Gospel, particularly the twelve
chosen disciples of Jesus (cf. Mt 10:24 and Mk 3:16-19) it was quite logically ap-
plied to Matthias when he became one of the Twelve (Acts 1:25). Christ himself
designated Paul an apostle when he appeared to him on the road to Damascus
(Acts 26:16-18; Gal 1:15-16), called him to the faith and charged him with his
mission to preach. By describing himself as “called to be an apostle”, St Paul is
saying that he is on an equal footing with the Twelve — for example, Peter, James
and John, whom he calls “pillars” of the Church (Gal 2:9) — since he received his
calling from Christ himself, as had been the case with the other Apostles (cf.
Acts 9:3-18), and not from the leaders of the community of Antioch (Acts 13:2-3).

“Set apart”: this refers to the mission entrusted to St Paul of preaching the Gos-
pel to the Gentiles. Possibly it also refers to Paul’s place in God’s eternal plan;
in this sense he can say that he was “set apart” ever since he was in his mo-
ther’s womb (Gal 1:15; cf. Jer 1:5; Is 49:1).

St John Chrysostom comments on this verse as follows: “If Paul constantly re-
calls his vocation it is in order to show his gratitude. This gift, which he did not
solicit, took him by surprise; he simply obeyed and followed the divine inspiration.
As regards the faithful, they too, as he himself says, have been called to holiness”
(”Hom. on Rom”, 1).

3-4. Scholars are now confident that in Rom 1:3-4 St Paul is quoting from a Chris-
tological formula or hymn (like that in 1 Tim 3:16 or Phil 2:6-11) — probably used in
the very earliest Christian liturgy. In these two verses St Paul offers, as it were, a
summary of Christology: Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, is the Son sent by
his Father God (v. 3). From all eternity he is God, equal to the Father, and in the
fullness of time he has taken up a human nature which was initially capable of ex-
periencing pain (v. 3) and was later glorified (v. 4).

The Incarnation did not involve any change, as far as the Word was concerned,
either in his divine nature (which he did not shed and which did not alter) or in his
being a Person distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. However, by the Incar-
nation he assumed a human nature, being born of a Virgin (cf. Lk 1:27, 35): and
so the Son of God became the Son of David, of the lineage of David. The phrase
“according to the flesh” actually emphasizes the lowliness which the Incarnation
implied — fragility, suffering, self-emptying, humiliation (cf. Jn 1:14 and note; Phil

During Christ’s life on earth prior to his Resurrection, although it was united to
the Word, his human nature, especially his body, was not fully glorified. More-
over, although it is true that during that period of his life he showed his divinity by
his miracles (cf. In 2:11) and by words confirmed by those miracles (cf. Jn 10:37
ff), it is also true that his human nature was to the forefront most of the time. After
the Resurrection, his human body and soul were fully glorified and therefore from
then on his divine nature was the more apparent. This real change which took
place in Christ’s human nature when he rose from the dead, and the fact that his
divinity became more manifest and he was more easily recognized to be God,
are captured in what St Paul says here in v. 4.

The words “according to the Spirit of holiness” can refer both to Christ’s divine na-
ture (in the same way as “according to the flesh” refers to his human nature) and
to the action of the Holy Spirit, whose effects were more easily seen after the
Resurrection, especially from Pentecost onwards (cf. Jn 7:39 and note on same).

5. Here St Paul refers to the mission given him by God the Father through Jesus
Christ at the time of his conversion (cf. Acts 9:15) and which he mentions explicit-
ly in his letter to the Galatians (cf. Gal 2:7). Within the world-wide mission implied
in being an apostle called by Christ himself, St Paul was given a special mission
of his own — to be the Apostle of the Gentiles; he mentions this mission at the
beginning of this letter to show why he should be addressing the Christians at
Rome, a church which he had not founded.

The purpose and effect of the apostolic ministry is to bring about the “obedience
of faith”: when a person believes, he submits his mind and will to God’s authority,
freely accepting the truths which God proposes. Apropos of this obedience proper
to faith the Second Vatican Council says: “’The obedience of faith’ (Rom 16:26; cf.
Rom 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) must be given to God as he reveals himself. By faith man
freely commits his entire self to God, making ‘the full submission of his intellect
and will to God who reveals’ (Vatican I, “Dei Filius”, chap. 3) and willingly assen-
ting to the Revelation given by him. Before this faith can be exercised, man must
have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior help of
the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes
of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth’ (Second
Council of Orange III, “De Gratia”, can. 7; “Dei Filius, ibid.”)” (Vatican II, “Dei
Verbum”, 5).

7. “Called to be saints”: literally “called saints”. This is not just a way of spea-
king: St Paul really is saying that Christians are “called” in the same kind of way
as the Israelites were so open called through Moses (Num 10:14). In the Chris-
tians’ case, the calling is to form the new people of God, one of whose characte-
ristic features is holiness. Basing itself on this and other Pauline texts, the Se-
cond Vatican Council has this to say: “As Israel according to the flesh which
wandered in the desert was already called the Church of God (cf. 2 Ezra 13:1;
cf. Num 20:4; Deut 23:1 ff), so too, the new Israel, which advances in this pre-
sent era in search of a future and permanent city (cf. Heb 13:14), is called also
the Church of Christ (cf. Mt. 16:18) [...]. The followers of Christ, called by God
not in virtue of their works but by his design and grace, and justified in the Lord
Jesus, have been made sons of God in the baptism of faith and partakers of the
divine nature, and so are truly sanctified” (”Lumen Gentium”, 9 and 40).

This is in fact the basis of the “universal call to holiness”. All Christians, by vir-
tue of their Baptism, should live in line with what that means: they are called to
be saints and their whole life should be a pursuit of holiness: “In baptism, our
Father God has taken possession of our lives, has made us share in the life of
Christ, and has given us the Holy Spirit” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By,
128). “We are deeply moved, and our hearts profoundly shaken, when we listen
attentively to that cry of St Paul: ‘This is the will of God, your sanctification’ (1
Thess 4:3). Today, once again, I set myself this goal and I also remind you and
all mankind: this is God’s Will for us, that we be saints” (St. J. Escriva, “Friends
of God”, 294).

The formula “grace and peace” seems to be St Paul’s own: it is a combination of
the usual Greek greeting at the start of letters and the Hebrew shalom (peace).
The Apostle uses this double greeting very often (cf., for example, 1 Cor 1:3 2 Cor
1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; etc). It is a Christian greeting, referring to the gifts the Holy
Spirit brings us. Jewish and pagan greetings wished people material prosperity or
good fortune; the Apostle’s are wishes for something higher — divine benevolence,
which comes in the form of the gift of sanctifying grace and the virtues and gifts
of the Holy Spirit, and interior peace, which derives from reconciliation with God
brought about by Christ. These gifts, according to the Apostle, come to us from
God our Father, and from Jesus Christ, the Lord, who is equal to the Father. Thus
we see Christian life as being inserted in the intimate life of the Blessed Trinity,
for “grace and peace” came from the goodness and mercy of God, by way of the
Incarnation of the Word and the Redemption wrought by him.

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 12/21/2013 9:21:15 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Matthew 1:18-24

The Virginal Conception of Jesus, and His Birth

[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary
had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be
with child of the Holy Spirit; [19] and her husband Joseph, being a just man and
unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. [20] But as he
considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,
“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is con-
ceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; [21] she will bear a son, and you shall call His
name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” [22] All this took place
to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
[23] “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and His name shall be called Emmanuel”
(which means God with us). [24] When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the
angel of the Lord commanded him; he took (her as) his wife.


18. St. Matthew relates here how Christ was conceived (cf. Luke 1:25-38): “We
truly honor and venerate (Mary) as Mother of God, because she gave birth to a
person who is at the same time both God and man” (”St. Pius V Catechism”,
I, 4, 7).

According to the provisions of the Law of Moses, engagement took place about
one year before marriage and enjoyed almost the same legal validity. The mar-
riage proper consisted, among other ceremonies, in the bride being brought so-
lemnly and joyously to her husband’s house (cf. Deuteronomy 20:7).

From the moment of engagement onwards, a certificate of divorce was needed
in the event of a break in the relationship between the couple.

The entire account of Jesus’ birth teaches, through the fulfillment of the prophecy
of Isaiah 7:14 (which is expressly quoted in verses 22-23) that: 1) Jesus has Da-
vid as His ancestor since Joseph is His legal father; 2) Mary is the Virgin who
gives birth according to the prophecy; 3) the Child’s conception without the inter-
vention of man was miraculous.

19. “St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great
things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event
that went to make up his life. That is why Scripture praises Joseph as ‘a just
man’. In Hebrew a just man means a good and faithful servant of God, someone
who fulfills the divine will (cf. Genesis 7:1; 18:23-32; Ezekiel 18:5ff.; Proverbs 12:
10), or who is honorable and charitable toward his neighbor (cf. Tobias 7:6; 9:6).
So a just man is someone who loves God and proves his love by keeping God’s
commandments and directing his whole life towards the service of his brothers,
his fellow men” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 40).

Joseph considered his spouse to be holy despite the signs that she was going
to have a child. He was therefore faced with a situation he could not explain. Pre-
cisely because he was trying to do God’s will, he felt obliged to put her away; but
to shield her from public shame he decided to send her away quietly.

Mary’s silence is admirable. Her perfect surrender to God even leads her to the
extreme of not defending her honor or innocence. She prefers to suffer suspicion
and shame rather than reveal the work of grace in her. Faced with a fact which
was inexplicable in human terms she abandons herself confidently to the love
and providence of God. God certainly submitted the holy souls of Joseph and Ma-
ry to a severe trial. We ought not to be surprised if we also undergo difficult trials
in the course of our lives. We ought to trust in God during them, and remain faith-
ful to Him, following the example they gave us.

20. God gives His light to those who act in an upright way and who trust in His
power and wisdom when faced with situations which exceed human understan-
ding. By calling him the son of David, the angel reminds Joseph that he is the
providential link which joins Jesus with the family of David, according to Nathan’s
messianic prophecy (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12). As St. John Chrysostom says: “At the
very start he straightaway reminds him of David, of whom the Christ was to
spring, and he does not wish him to be worried from the moment he reminds him,
through naming his most illustrious ancestor, of the promise made to all his line-
age” (”Hom. on St. Matthew”, 4).

“The same Jesus Christ, our only Lord, the Son of God, when He assumed hu-
man flesh for us in the womb of the Virgin, was not conceived like other men,
from the seed of man, but in a manner transcending the order of nature, that is,
by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the same person, remaining God as He
was from eternity, became man, which He was not before” (”St. Pius V
Catechism”, I, 4, 1).

21. According to the Hebrew root, the name Jesus means “savior”. After our La-
dy, St. Joseph is the first person to be told by God that salvation has begun.

“Jesus is the proper name of the God-man and signifies ‘Savior’ — a name given
Him not accidentally, or by the judgment or will of man, but by the counsel and
command of God” [...]. All other names which prophecy gave to the Son of God
— Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (cf.
Isaiah 9:6) — are comprised in this one name Jesus; for while they partially sig-
nified the salvation which He was to bestow on us, this name included the force
and meaning of all human salvation” (”St. Pius V Catechism”, I, 3, 5 and 6).

23. “Emmanuel”: the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, quoted in this verse, foretold about
700 years in advance that God’s salvation would be marked by the extraordinary
event of virgin giving birth to a son. The Gospel here, therefore, reveals two truths.

The first is that Jesus is in fact the God-with-us foretold by the prophet. This is
how Christian tradition has always understood it. Indeed the Church has officially
condemned an interpretation denying the messianic sense of the Isaiah text (cf.
Pius VI, Brief, “Divina”, 1779). Christ is truly God-with-us, therefore, not only be-
cause of His God-given mission but because He is God made man (cf. John 1:
14). This does not mean that Jesus should normally be called Emmanuel, for this
name refers more directly to the mystery of His being the Incarnate Word. At the
Annunciation the angel said that He should be called Jesus, that is, Savior. And
that was the name St. Joseph gave Him.

The second truth revealed to us by the sacred text is that Mary, in whom the pro-
phecy of Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled, was a virgin before and during the birth itself. The
miraculous sign given by God that salvation had arrived was precisely that a wo-
man would be a virgin and a mother at the same time.

“Jesus Christ came forth from His mother’s womb without injury to her maternal
virginity. This immaculate and perpetual virginity forms, therefore, the just theme
of our eulogy. Such was the work of the Holy Spirit, who at the conception and
birth of the Son so favored the Virgin Mother as to impart fruitfulness to her while
preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity” (”St. Pius V Catechism”, 1, 4, 8).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

5 posted on 12/21/2013 9:22:06 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Jerusalem Bible published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd

Readings at Mass

First reading

Isaiah 7:10-14 ©

The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’

  Then Isaiah said:

‘Listen now, House of David:

are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men

without trying the patience of my God, too?

The Lord himself, therefore,

will give you a sign.

It is this: the maiden is with child

and will soon give birth to a son

whom she will call Immanuel,

a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’


Psalm 23:1-6 ©

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,

  the world and all its peoples.

It is he who set it on the seas;

  on the waters he made it firm.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?

  Who shall stand in his holy place?

The man with clean hands and pure heart,

  who desires not worthless things.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

He shall receive blessings from the Lord

  and reward from the God who saves him.

Such are the men who seek him,

  seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

Second reading

Romans 1:1-7 ©

From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.

  This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead. Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ. To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.

Gospel Acclamation


Alleluia, alleluia!

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son

and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.



Matthew 1:18-24 ©

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son

and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.


6 posted on 12/21/2013 9:26:04 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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7 posted on 12/21/2013 9:26:49 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Plan for Joy in Advent
The Jesse Tree
Advent Wreath & Candles
On the First Sunday of Advent [Angelus]

WDTPRS 1st Sunday of Advent: true Advent preparation
A Recipe for Readiness – A Sermon for the Frist Sunday of Advent
Advent Series: A Look at the Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke [Ecumenical] Following the Truth: Avoiding Advent Pitfalls
The Awkwardness of Advent
Cloistered Benedictines top charts with Advent album
Advent: Jesus is Coming!
Why Do Catholics Celebrate Advent? The Call to Begin Again (Ecumenical Caucus)
Resources for Liturgy and Prayer for the Seasons of Advent and Christmas [Catholic Caucus]
New prayers for Advent season [Catholic Caucus[ (Read and Rejoice!)
Father Cantalamessa's 3rd Advent Homily, "The Christian Response to Rationalism"

Father Cantalamessa's 2nd Advent Sermon, "The Christian Response to Secularism"
Evangelization Needs Belief in Eternity, Says Preacher, Father Cantalamessa Gives Advent Sermon to Pope and Curia
Father Corapi: How Do We Prepare Well for the Coming of the Lord
Father Cantalamessa's 1st Advent Sermon: "The Christian Answer to Atheist Scientism"
A Simple Way to Pray around the Advent Wreath: Prayers for Every Day During Advent
Advent 2010 -- Day by Day
History, Customs and Folklore of Advent [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Ready or Not: Here Advent Comes
The Journey To Bethlehem is Not Comfortable! (Last week of Advent)
Humble Praise and Joyful Anticipation: Fourth Sunday of Advent

Celebrating Advent in a Culture of Fear
Grave of the Craving (Do We Embrace our Dependence on God during Advent?)
Advent -- A Season of Hope
A New Holiday Tradition -- Construct a Jesse Tree with your family during Advent
Pope on Advent: With Jesus, there is no life without meaning
Advent: Awaiting God's Justice -- Pope Benedict XVI
St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
Advent Reflections for 2008
Bringing our fallen-away relations back to Church during Advent
History and Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

Rediscovering Advent in the (St.) Nick of Time
Catholic Traditions for Advent and Christmas
Mary's Gift of Self Points the Way, "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 1 of 4
The Perfect Faith of the Blessed Virgin "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 2 of 4
Theotokos sums up all that Mary is: "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 3 of 4
Reclaiming the Mystery of Advent, Part One: The Meaning of Advent
Renewing the Mystery of Advent, Part Two: The Witness of John the Baptist
Why “Gaudete?”, Part Three (Third Sunday of Advent)
Sunday before Nativity
Holy Mary and the Death of Sin - "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 4 of 4

Catholic Liturgy - Rose-Colored Vestments on Gaudete Sunday
Advent through Christmas -- 2007
Immaculate Conception Novena -- starts November 30th [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Advent 2007 -- Day by Day
Making Advent a Reality (the seasons are out of whack)
The Advent Workshop -- lots of information and activities
Jesse Trees (genealogy of Jesus activity for families)
Advent Wreath & Candles (Prayers for the Family)
Advent Overview
Reclaiming the Mystery of Advent, Part One: The Meaning of Advent

Celebrating Christ’s Advent [Archbishop Raymond Burke]
Praying through Advent -- 2006
The Paradox of Advent
Experience the Joy of Advent
Advent: the Reason for the Season
The Advent Wreath
Advent Activity - The Jesse Tree
That incredible shrinking Advent-Christmas season (Christmas should start, not end, Dec. 25)
Advent Thoughts: Some of the Church Fathers on the Divinity of Christ
The Relationship Between Advent and the Change in the Seasons (Dom Guéranger)

8 posted on 12/21/2013 9:29:13 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Advent Series: A Look at the Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke [Ecumenical]
9 posted on 12/21/2013 9:29:52 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Perpetual Novena for the Nation (Ecumenical)
10 posted on 12/21/2013 9:39:07 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Prayers for The Religion Forum (Ecumenical)
11 posted on 12/21/2013 9:42:01 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Jesus, High Priest

We thank you, God our Father, for those who have responded to your call to priestly ministry.

Accept this prayer we offer on their behalf: Fill your priests with the sure knowledge of your love.

Open their hearts to the power and consolation of the Holy Spirit.

Lead them to new depths of union with your Son.

Increase in them profound faith in the Sacraments they celebrate as they nourish, strengthen and heal us.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant that these, your priests, may inspire us to strive for holiness by the power of their example, as men of prayer who ponder your word and follow your will.

O Mary, Mother of Christ and our mother, guard with your maternal care these chosen ones, so dear to the Heart of your Son.

Intercede for our priests, that offering the Sacrifice of your Son, they may be conformed more each day to the image of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saint John Vianney, universal patron of priests, pray for us and our priests

This icon shows Jesus Christ, our eternal high priest.

The gold pelican over His heart represents self-sacrifice.

The border contains an altar and grapevines, representing the Mass, and icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney.

Melchizedek: king of righteousness (left icon) was priest and king of Jerusalem.  He blessed Abraham and has been considered an ideal priest-king.

St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests.

12 posted on 12/21/2013 9:43:01 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Pray a Rosary each day for our nation.

Pray the Rosary

1.  Sign of the Cross:  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

2.  The Apostles Creed:  I BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

3.  The Lord's Prayer:  OUR Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

4. (3) Hail Mary:  HAIL Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen. (Three times)

5. Glory Be:  GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Fatima Prayer: Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.

Announce each mystery, then say 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, 1 Glory Be and 1 Fatima prayer.  Repeat the process with each mystery.

End with the Hail Holy Queen:

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve! To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears! Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus!

O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Final step -- The Sign of the Cross


The Mysteries of the Rosary

By tradition, Catholics meditate on these Mysteries during prayers of the Rosary.
The biblical references follow each of the Mysteries below.

The Glorious Mysteries
(Wednesdays and Sundays)
1.The Resurrection (Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-18, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-29) [Spiritual fruit - Faith]
2. The Ascension (Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:6-11) [Spiritual fruit - Christian Hope]
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13) [Spiritual fruit - Gifts of the Holy Spirit]
4. The Assumption [Spiritual fruit - To Jesus through Mary]
5. The Coronation [Spiritual fruit - Grace of Final Perseverance]

13 posted on 12/21/2013 9:44:10 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle
 Be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the devil;
May God rebuke him, we  humbly pray,
 and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
 by the power of God,
 Cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

14 posted on 12/21/2013 9:45:04 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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A Prayer for our Free Nation Under God
God Save Our Country web site (prayer warriors)
Prayer Chain Request for the United States of America
Pray for Nancy Pelosi
Prayer and fasting will help defeat health care reform (Freeper Prayer Thread)
Prayer Campaign Started to Convert Pro-Abortion Catholic Politicians to Pro-Life
[Catholic Caucus] One Million Rosaries
Non-stop Rosary vigil to defeat ObamaCare

From an Obama bumper sticker on a car:

"Pray for Obama.  Psalm 109:8"



Evening Prayer
Someone has said that if people really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless.
Did you know that during WWII there was an advisor to Churchill who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every day at a prescribed hour for one minute to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people and peace?  

There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America. If you would like to participate: Every evening at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (8:00 PM Central) (7:00 PM Mountain) (6:00 PM Pacific), stop whatever you are doing and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, and for a return to a Godly nation. If you know anyone else who would like to participate, please pass this along. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have.    Please forward this to your praying friends.

15 posted on 12/21/2013 9:45:38 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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December Devotion: The Immaculate Conception

Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. The month of December is traditionally dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first moment of her conception, by a singular privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior and hers, was preserved from all stain of original sin. This age-old belief of the Church was defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854 as an article of revealed truth.

Mary was in need of redemption and she was indeed redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. The manner of Mary's redemption, however, was unique. Instead of being freed from original sin after having contracted it, she was preserved from contracting it. This was a most fitting favor for the Mother of the Redeemer.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

The Immaculate Conception from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.”  The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”. The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.

The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”.  By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.


This prayer, dedicated to Mary Immaculate, was composed by the Pope for the Marian Year (December 8, 1953-December 8, 1954), which was proclaimed to mark the centenary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Enraptured by the splendor of your heavenly beauty, and impelled by the anxieties of the world, we cast ourselves into your arms, 0 Immacuate Mother of Jesus and our Mother, Mary, confident of finding in your most loving heart appeasement of our ardent desires, and a safe harbor from the tempests which beset us on every side.

Though degraded by our faults and overwhelmed by infinite misery, we admire and praise the peerless richness of sublime gifts with which God has filled you, above every other mere creature, from the first moment of your conception until the day on which, after your assumption into heaven, He crowned you Queen of the Universe.

O crystal fountain of faith, bathe our minds with the eternal truths! O fragrant Lily of all holiness, captivate our hearts with your heavenly perfume! 0 Conqueress of evil and death, inspire in us a deep horror of sin, which makes the soul detestable to God and a slave of hell!

O well-beloved of God, hear the ardent cry which rises up from every heart. Bend tenderly over our aching wounds. Convert the wicked, dry the tears of the afflicted and oppressed, comfort the poor and humble, quench hatreds, sweeten harshness, safeguard the flower of purity in youth, protect the holy Church, make all men feel the attraction of Christian goodness. In your name, resounding harmoniously in heaven, may they recognize that they are brothers, and that the nations are members of one family, upon which may there shine forth the sun of a universal and sincere peace.

Receive, O most sweet Mother, our humble supplications, and above all obtain for us that, one day, happy with you, we may repeat before your throne that hymn which today is sung on earth around your altars: You are all-beautiful, O Mary! You are the glory, you are the joy, you are the honor of our people! Amen.

Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954

Litany of the Blessed Virgin

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, hear us
Christ, graciously hear us

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us God the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us God the Holy Spirit, ...
Holy Trinity, one God, ...

Holy Mary, pray for us
Holy Mother of God, pray for us
Holy Virgin of virgins, ...
Mother of Christ, ...
Mother of Divine Grace, ...
Mother most pure, ...
Mother most chaste, ...
Mother inviolate, ...
Mother undefiled, ...
Mother most amiable, ...
Mother most admirable, ...
Mother of good counsel, ...
Mother of our Creator, ...
Mother of our Saviour, ...
Virgin most prudent, ...
Virgin most venerable, ...
Virgin most renowned, ...
Virgin most powerful, ...
Virgin most merciful, ...
Virgin most faithful, ...
Mirror of justice, ...
Seat of wisdom, ...
Cause of our joy, ...
Spiritual vessel, ...
Vessel of honour, ...
Singular vessel of devotion, ...
Mystical rose, ...
Tower of David, ...
Tower of ivory, ...
House of gold, ...
Ark of the covenant, ...
Gate of heaven, ...
Morning star, ...
Health of the sick, ...
Refuge of sinners, ...
Comforter of the afflicted, ...
Help of Christians, ...
Queen of Angels, ...
Queen of Patriarchs, ...
Queen of Prophets, ...
Queen of Apostles, ...
Queen of Martyrs, ...
Queen of Confessors, ...
Queen of Virgins, ...
Queen of all Saints, ...
Queen conceived without original sin, ...
Queen assumed into heaven, ...
Queen of the most holy Rosary, ...
Queen of Peace, ...

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord God, 
that we, Thy servants,  may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body:  and, by the glorious intercession of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin,  be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal gladness. 
Through Christ, our Lord. 



Why Catholics Believe in the Immaculate Conception

Essays for Lent: The Immaculate Conception
"I Am The Immaculate Conception"
The Corona of the Immaculate Conception [Catholic Caucus]
Catholic Caucus: Immaculate Conception Novena Prayer Thread
New chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Lebanon at National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Feast of the The Conception by St. Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos December 9th
On the Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Mary: "Trust Jesus, he will save you" (Catholic Caucus)
I Love that Woman! My Unworthy Reflections on The Immaculate Conception

Mary as the New Eve - St. Irenaeus
Mary - the Immaculate Ark of the New Covenant [Catholic Caucus]
THE LIFE OF BLESSED JOHN DUNS SCOTUS, Defender of the Immaculate Conception [Catholic Caucus]
An Unfathomable Marian Richness [Catholic Caucus]
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: The Immaculate Conception of Mary
History of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8 [Catholic Caucus]
Preserved Sinless from the Moment of Humanity (Dogma of the Immaculate Conception) [Catholic Caucus]
I Love that Woman! My Unworthy Reflections on The Immaculate Conception [Catholic Caucus]
Father Marquette's Devotion to the Immaculate Conception (Catholic Caucus)

St. John Neumann and the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (Catholic Caucus)
Our Jewish Roots: The Immaculate Conception [Ecumenical]
And It Was Night. The Real Story of Original Sin [Ecumenical]
I Love that Woman! My Unworthy Reflections on The Immaculate Conception
Mary Immaculate: Patroness of the United States [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Catholic/Orthodox Caucus: The Immaculate Conception: A Marvelous Theme - Novena Starts Nov. 30
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION - Satan's Mighty Foe(Catholic Caucus)
Ark of the new covenant
Historian reveals how Pius IX decided to proclaim dogma of Immaculate Conception (Catholic Caucus)
The Immaculate Vs. the Proud

Immaculate Conception Novena -- starts November 30th [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Blessed John Duns Scotus Champion Of Mary's Immaculate Conception (CATHOLIC CAUCUS)
The Crusade of Mary Immaculate - St. Maximilian Kolbe (Catholic Caucus)
The Early Church Fathers on the Immaculate Conception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Three Reasons the Church’s ... The Immaculate Conception
Her saving grace - the origins of the Immaculate Conception
Mary Is a Model Who Works With Us and in Us
U.S. Catholic bishops to renew consecration of nation to Immaculate Conception
Catholic Meditation: To the Immaculate Conception on this Election Day
Saint Bernadette of Lourdes (Sermon from 1934)

My visit to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
On Solemnity of Immaculate Conception - "In Mary Shines the Eternal Goodness of the Creator"
The Belief of Catholics concerning the Blessed Virgin: the Second Eve
Pope makes pilgrimage to Mary statue in Rome, marking the feast of the Immaculate Conception
Pope: Mary the Immaculate Conception... (text of BXVI speech)
"Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te" (The Immaculate Conception)
The Immaculate Conception — Essential to the Faith
"Who Are You, Immaculate Conception?"
TURKEY Ephesus: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception at Mary’s House
Coming Dec 8th. Feast of the "Immaculate Conception"

Why the Immaculate Conception?
Catholic Encyclopedia: Immaculate Conception (The Doctrine and Its Roots)
The Immaculate Conception of Our Lady December 8
Mary's Immaculate Conception: A Memorable Anniversary
Ineffabilis Deus: 8 December 1854 (Dogma of the Immaculate Conception)
Why do we believe in the Immaculate Conception?
John Paul II goes to Lourdes; reflections on the Immaculate Conception
Your Praises We Sing--on the Dogma of the Proclamation of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8th
Eastern Christianity and the Immaculate Conception (Q&A From EWTN)
Memorandum on the Immaculate Conception [Newman]

16 posted on 12/21/2013 9:46:13 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Holy Father's Intentions: December 2013

Victimized Children That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.

Prepare the Savior's Coming That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.

17 posted on 12/21/2013 9:46:59 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Daily Gospel Commentary

Fourth Sunday of Advent - Year A

Commentary of the day
Saint Aelred of Rielvaux (1110-1167), Cistercian monk
Sermon for the Annunciation

"They shall name him Emmanuel"

“Emmanuel, which means: 'God with us'.” Yes, God with us! Until then it was 'God above us', 'God before us', but today “Emmanuel”. Today he is God with us in our nature, with us in his grace; with us in our weakness, with us in his goodness; with us in our misery, with us in his mercy; with us through love, with us through ties of family, with us through his tenderness, with us through compassion.

God with us! You, sons of Adam, were not able to climb up to heaven to be with God (cf. Dt 30.12); God comes down from heaven to be our Emmanuel, God with us. He enters our home to be Emmanuel, God with us, and do we neglect to come to God to be with him! “You sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love what is vain and seek after falsehood?” (Ps 4,3). See, truth has come: “why do you love what is vain?” See, the true and unchanging word has come: “why do you seek after falsehood?” See, God with us.

How could he be more with me than he is? Small as I am, weak as I am, naked as I am, poor as I am – he has become like me in everything, taking what is mine and giving what is his. I was lying in death, without voice, without sense; the very light of my eyes was no longer with me. Today this great man has come down, “this prophet, mighty in deed and word” (Lk 24,19). He has “placed his face on my face, his mouth on my mouth, his hands on my hands” (2Kgs 4,34) and become Emmanuel, God with us!

18 posted on 12/21/2013 9:50:20 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Arlington Catholic Herald


Unimaginable surprises


Fr. Jack Peterson, YA


As we rapidly approach the end of our Advent journey to Bethlehem, we pause for a visit to Nazareth with St. Joseph. God’s grace flows like a powerful river, and it floods the house of “a righteous man” and prepares him for a most important role as the earthly head of the Holy Family.

This brief detour in Nazareth is riveted with drama and meaning because we hear that Joseph makes plans to divorce Mary quietly. The sacred Scriptures do not give us Joseph’s rationale for this decision. Perhaps Mary had not communicated the whole story to Joseph, especially regarding the Holy Spirit, and he is making a decision without knowing the whole truth. Or, maybe Joseph is overwhelmed by humility and does not feel worthy of the enormous responsibility of serving as the foster father to the Son of God. Or, it could be that he does not yet have the faith to accept the truth that Mary was indeed overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and carrying the word-made-flesh in her womb by a unique act of grace. For whatever reason, the carpenter makes plans to divorce Mary.

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Our Father in heaven has a different plan, so He sends an angel who encourages St. Joseph to fear not and to take his wife, Mary, into his home. God personally calls Joseph this night to take a critical role in the marvelous plan of His saving work. God asks Joseph to be a husband to Mary, a foster father to Jesus and custodian of the Holy Family.

By God’s grace and the goodness that resides in his righteous heart, Joseph is obedient to God’s call. He does as the angel commands; he takes Mary under his roof. (Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof …). God’s plan proves to be wise, loving, grace-filled and precious beyond comprehension, and Joseph was privileged to be a part of that plan.

This great response to God’s grace takes place just a short time before the moment that would change the history of mankind for all eternity — the moment when the Virgin shall “bear a son, and shall name Him Emmanuel.” God is screaming to the whole world the importance of family. Mary needs a husband. Jesus needs a foster father. Joseph needs to fulfill his call to paternity according to God’s plan for him. Jesus would spend the next 30 years of His life preparing for His public ministry in the simple home of Nazareth where sacrificial love, humility, poverty of spirit and prayer were exalted and modeled.

Obedience is a door to grace, a wide-open door. On that fateful day, Joseph had other plans that were very reasonable from a human perspective. God had something else, a perfect mystery, in mind. By surrendering his will to the will of the Father, Joseph began a journey that would bring him and the world true joy, peace and eternal happiness.

This Advent, let’s pray to the Father and beg for the grace to imitate Joseph and his obedient heart. Let’s beg for the grace to trust that the Father’s perfect plan for our lives will bring us real happiness and an abiding sense of fulfillment, not offered by plans we develop on our own. Let us prepare for unexpected, unimaginable surprises from the Lord along the way.

St. Joseph, spouse of Mary, guardian of the Holy Family, obedient son of the Father, pray for us.

Fr. Peterson is assistant chaplain at Marymount University in Arlington and director of the Youth Apostles Institute in McLean.

19 posted on 12/21/2013 10:26:00 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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The Work of God

Year A  -  Fourth Sunday of Advent

Emmanuel, God is with us

Matthew 1:18-24

18 Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost.
19 Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying:
23 Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife.

Inspiration of the Holy Spirit - From the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which means God with us.

God is with you, do you realize what this means? It means that I am with you, and indeed I will be with you until the end of times. For those who don’t accept my word it is hard to believe. I feel compassion for them since they are blind and don’t see with the eyes of the spirit. They rejected me even before I came, they rejected me when I became incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary my mother, and they still reject me now because their hearts are like rocks that harden more and more by their materialism.

God is Spirit, and the Spirit was clothed with the flesh of the Virgin Mary to give life to the world. I am Spirit, the living Spirit of God that has always existed. My name is I am, therefore I existed before creation and I will always exist, because I am the Eternal Spirit, the One who has created every thing that exists. I am existence itself. Nothing can have life unless I give it, I am life and I give life with love. I came to renew your lives, which were defiled by the consequences of the original sin of Adam and Eve; I have washed them pure with my blood so that they can share in my spirit.

I am the Eternal Spirit of God, the Power of creation, the Love that binds everything that I breathe upon. Without my spirit you are nothing, therefore come closer to me, drink from my spirit and live.

The times for the harvesting are approaching and just as I have said, Judgment will come upon everyone. Live your lives for the Kingdom that I am offering, where you will enjoy peace, love, joy, holiness, justice, truth and integrity. Don’t wait until you can live no more to become spiritual, open your hearts to my Kingdom now, and begin to enjoy the gift that I am offering everyone.

From all generations there have been souls who have opened their hearts to my call and have allowed my spirit to sanctify them. I desire to fill all of you abundantly with my spirit, I desire to transfigure your wretched bodies into perfect beings in the image of my divinity, I desire all of you to become like me.

But I can not act unless you let me enter your souls, you are temples of the spirit of God and yet your reject me, your are surrounded by material things and make them your desire and treasure, you become so materialistic that you harden your hearts and end up having false gods. This is my disappointment, but I take this opportunity to remind you once more of the importance to live just for me.

Desire me above all things, need me more than your own breath, desire to be filled with my Holy Spirit, to be sanctified by my holiness and to be transfigured and divinised by my love.

I will be very happy to listen to those who burn with desire for me, I will come running to listen to their prayers, I will answer the call of all those who love me.

Author: Joseph of Jesus and Mary

20 posted on 12/21/2013 10:32:47 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Crisis At Christmas – A Homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

The Gospel today gives us some background for the Christmas feast that we need to take to heart. It speaks to us of a crisis at Christmas.

We tend to sentimentalize the Christmas story as we think of the “baby Jesus in the manger.” It is not absolutely wrong to be sentimental about Christmas but we also have to be prayerfully sober about how difficult that first Christmas was, and the heroic virtue required of Mary and Joseph in order to cooperate with God in its coming to pass.

Let’s look at the gospel in three stages: Distress, Direction and Decision.

1. DISTRESS – The text of the Gospel says, This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.

The Marriage is off – When we read in this text that Mary was found to be with child before Joseph and she were together, we need to understand how devastating and dangerous this situation is. The pregnancy prior to marriage brought forth a real crisis for both families involved in Joseph and Mary’s marriage plans. Quite simply, it put all plans for the marriage permanently off.

Why is this? We read in the text above that Joseph was “a righteous man.” To our ears this sounds akin to saying he “was a good man.” Most of the Fathers of the Church interpret “righteous” here to refer generally to his gracious character and virtue. And we surely suppose all this of him. More recent biblical scholarship also includes the notion that to say he was “a righteous man” also means that he was “an observer of the Law.” He would thus do what the law prescribed. And this explains his decision to divorce Mary on account of her apparent lack of virginity prior to the marriage. Here is an example of the Mosaic Law in reference to such a matter:

But if the tokens of virginity were not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has wrought folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. (Deut 22:20-21)

This of course is quite extreme to modern ears, but we can see too how far we have come in making light of promiscuity compared to ancient times. No one would argue that such a thing be done today, and rightly so. However this was the landscape that the Law provided Joseph.

What about stoning? It would seem that Jews of the First Century had varying interpretations about whether stoning was required or simply permitted (cf John 8). Joseph, on account of his virtue and patience, looks for, and senses some freedom in not “exposing” Mary to the full effects of the Law (stoning). But it does not seem he can find a way that he can take her into his home. Thus, as a “righteous man” (i.e. follower of the Law) it seems he decides that divorce is surely required, even if stoning is not.

Now this leads us to two important reflections. One about Mary, and one about Joseph.

Regarding Mary, we can see into what a difficult and dangerous position her “yes” (her fiat) to the angel placed her. She risked her very life by being found with child outside the normal marital act with her husband. WE know that it is by the Holy Spirit she conceives, but her family and Joseph and his family do not yet know this, or at least cannot verify it. And even if Mary indicated exactly how she conceived, do you think YOU would merely accept such a story? Mary’s fiat placed her in a real danger, culturally speaking and it is a great testimony to her faith and trust in God that she said yes to his plans.

Regarding Joseph we can also see the kind of pressure he would be under to do what the Law and custom required. There is no mention of Joseph’s feelings at this point. But we can assume when Mary was “found to be with child” prior to the couple’s being together in Marriage, the social pressures on him from family to be legally free from Mary were likely strong, whatever his feeling or plans for her were.

As we shall see, Joseph too will undertake great risk to obey God. And thus we go to the second stage of the story.

2. DIRECTION – The text from the Gospel says, Such was his intention [to divorce] when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Be not afraid – One will note that the principle exhortation of the angel that Joseph “not be afraid” to take Mary as his wife. This exhortation is powerful since fear WAS a very big factor in this whole matter. Joseph had much to fear in taking Mary. Some of the Fathers of the Church indicate that the thing the angel said he should not fear was God’s wrath, since in fact, he would not actually be taking an adulterer or fornicator into his home. Others think the thing he should not fear was taking God’s chosen instrument (Mary) as his wife.

One can also imagine however some other fears that also needed to be consoled by the angel. For example, Joseph could easily be rejected by his family for taking Mary in. Likewise neighbors and others could shun him. As a business man Joseph needed a good reputation to be able to use his skills and ply a trade. All of these threats loom if Joseph bucks the law and custom and “brings evil into his house” rather than “purge the (apparent) evil from the midst” of his house. But the angel directs his not to fear. This will take courageous faith.

The angel’s explanation is unusual to say the least. What does it mean to conceive by the Holy Spirit? Not exactly a common occurrence! Would his family buy such an explanation? What of the others in the small town of Nazareth? Yes, people were more spiritual in those days, but it all seems so unusual.

Further, Joseph hears all this in a dream. We all know what dreams can be like. They can seem so real, but when we are fully awake we wonder if what we experienced was real at all. Joseph too has to trust that what he was told is real, and that he should not fear for God has given him direction. But as is often the case with things spiritual, we have to carefully discern and walk by faith, not by fleshly sight and certitude. Joseph has a decision to make.

3. DECISION – The text from the Gospel says, When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Now given all that we have reflected upon, we can see the strong faith of Joseph and the kind of trust he had to put in God. He had been told not to be afraid, to rebuke fear. Joseph manfully does this. He makes his decision to obey God whatever the cost. We are given no information on how his family and others in the town may have reacted. However, the fact that the Holy family later settles back in Nazareth indicates that God did come through on his promise that Joseph need not be afraid.

Heroes of Faith! But here again note the crisis of that first Christmas and the powerful faith of Joseph and Mary. Quite literally their reputations were on the line, if not their very lives. They had great sacrifices to make in the wondrous incarnation of our Lord. Quite simply Mary and Joseph are great heroes of the faith. For neither of them was their “yes” easy. It is often hard to obey God rather than men. Praise God that they made their decision and obeyed.

And, as we know their difficulties were not over in the crisis of that first Christmas. There was a badly timed census which required a journey to Bethlehem in the ninth month of Mary’s pregnancy. Imagine walking 70 miles through mountainous terrain in the ninth month! There may or may not have been a donkey, but I doubt riding a donkey in the ninth month is all that comfortable either. Then there was no room in the inn and Jesus had to be born in a smelly animal stable. Shortly thereafter they must flee through the desert to Egypt for Herod sought to kill Jesus.

Jesus is found in a real Christmas, not a hallmark one. The crisis of the first Christmas prefigures the passion. But this where Jesus is found: in the crisis of the first Christmas. You may hope for the perfect Christmas but there is no perfect Christmas. Yet, Jesus will find you where you are – in real life, in the imperfect Christmas where loved ones may have been recently lost and there is grief, where a job has just been lost and there is anxiety, where health is poor or families are experiencing stress and strife. That’s where Jesus will be found, in your real Christmas. A Christmas of Joy, yes, but also of imperfections, even crises. He is there waiting for you to find him, in the real Christmas of your life.

This song is an old African American Spiritual that reflects on the fact that true discipleship isn’t always easy. Joseph and Mary surely experience and exemplify what the these words say:

I tol’ Jesus it would be all right
If He changed my name

Jesus tol’ me I would have to live humble
If He changed mah name

Jesus tol’ me that the world would be ‘gainst me
If He changed mah name

But I tol’ Jesus it would be all right
If He changed mah name

21 posted on 12/21/2013 10:41:09 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Sunday Gospel Reflections

4th Sunday of Advent
Reading I: Isaiah 7:10-14 II: Romans 1:1-7

Matthew 1:18-24

18 Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit.
19 Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
20 Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
21 She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
24 When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Interesting Details
One Main Point

Our King, Jesus, Son of God, comes to dwell among us through such simple, struggling and heroic figures as Joseph and Mary.

  1. What do I plan to do to prepare for the arrival of Jesus into my home and my soul this Christmas, coming in a few days?
  2. Have I grown from confusion to trust and enlightenment like Joseph, or to despair and withdrawal?
  3. How do I find the will of the Lord?

22 posted on 12/21/2013 10:45:45 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Sunday, December 22, 2013
Fourth Sunday of Advent
First Reading:
Second Reading:
Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24:1-6
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-24

Instead of which things, thou didst feed thy people with the food of angels, and gavest them bread from heaven, prepared without labour; having in it all that is delicious, and the sweetness of every taste. For thy sustenance shewed thy sweetness to thy children, and serving every man's will, it was turned to what every man liked.

-- Wis. xvi. 20,21

23 posted on 12/21/2013 10:49:02 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Just A Minute Just A Minute (Listen)
Some of EWTN's most popular hosts and guests in a collection of one minute inspirational messages. A different message each time you click.

24 posted on 12/21/2013 10:49:52 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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The Angelus 

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: 
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 

Hail Mary . . . 

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 

Hail Mary . . . 

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 

Let us pray: 

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.


25 posted on 12/21/2013 10:50:51 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Information: St. Chaeremon

Feast Day: December 22

Died: 250

26 posted on 12/22/2013 7:00:23 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Intractive Saints for Kids

St. Chaeremon & St. Ischyrion & Other Martyrs

Feast Day: December 22
Born/Died: (Third century)

In the third century the Romans made Christians suffer terribly for their faith. Today's saints were martyred when Decius was Emperor of Rome.

Many Christians who lived in Egypt were driven out into the desert. There they died or were killed because of hunger, thirst, extreme cold, wild animals or by bad men.

And if the Christians tried to return to their homes, they were killed. The young, healthy Christians were sold as slaves.

St. Chaeremon was a priest and bishop of Nilopolis. He was very old when the torture of Christians became extreme. The elderly bishop and his friend went for shelter to the mountains of Arabia. They were never seen again, nor were their bodies ever found.

St. Ischyrion worked for an official in an Egyptian city and his boss wanted him to offer sacrifice to false gods. Ischyrion refused because this was against God's first commandment. This made his boss very angry and insulted and he ordered Ischyrion to be killed.

Many other martyrs like Chaeremon and Ischyrion gave their lives for Jesus at this time in Egypt.

Today, there are still many people who suffer for their faith in Jesus. Let us pray for them, that they will have the courage they need to be faithful to the Gospel.

27 posted on 12/22/2013 7:10:55 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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About the "Great O's" ("O Antiphons") [Ecumenical]
Advent "O" antiphons begin: Pray Vespers with the Church!
"O Antiphons" for the Week before Christmas (Dec. 17-23) [Ecumenical]
Praising the Names of Jesus: The Antiphons of Advent
The O Antiphons
Ego Cras (Anagram of the Messianic Titles of Christ in the "O" Antiphons)
Praying with the "O" Antiphons
The 'O' Antiphons -- Prayer Activity for Families
O Antiphons -- Scriptural Detail of these Advent prayers
The Great Advent Antiphons
What are the “O Antiphons”?
28 posted on 12/22/2013 8:23:58 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Antiphon for December 22

O King of the Gentiles and the Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one.  Come, and save man whom you fashioned out of clay.

Isaiah 28:16: "Therefore, thus says the Lord God: See, I am laying a stone in Zion, a stone that has been tested, a precious cornerstone as a sure foundation".

Ephesians 2:14: "He it is who is our peace, and who made the two of us one by breaking down the barrier of hostility that kept us apart".

The earlier antiphons have already alluded to the Messiah coming not only to Israel  but to convert the gentile nations and redeem them for his own. Now this sixth antiphon clearly addresses the savior as the king of the gentiles (Jer.10:7) and the Desired One of the nations.  The Messiah is the cornerstone on whom our spiritual foundations are laid, but on whom unbelievers stumble (Matt. 21:42).  This cornerstone unites and binds Jew and gentile into one, making peace between them.

The plea is that God save all humanity, all his creation that he formed from the dust of the earth (Gen.2:7).  We yearn for him once again to breathe the breath of his new life into us.

29 posted on 12/22/2013 8:28:48 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

30 posted on 12/22/2013 8:32:55 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
  English: Douay-Rheims Latin: Vulgata Clementina Greek NT: Byzantine/Majority Text (2000)
  Matthew 1
18 Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. Christi autem generatio sic erat : cum esset desponsata mater ejus Maria Joseph, antequam convenirent inventa est in utero habens de Spiritu Sancto. του δε ιησου χριστου η γεννησις ουτως ην μνηστευθεισης γαρ της μητρος αυτου μαριας τω ιωσηφ πριν η συνελθειν αυτους ευρεθη εν γαστρι εχουσα εκ πνευματος αγιου
19 Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. Joseph autem vir ejus cum esset justus, et nollet eam traducere, voluit occulte dimittere eam. ιωσηφ δε ο ανηρ αυτης δικαιος ων και μη θελων αυτην παραδειγματισαι εβουληθη λαθρα απολυσαι αυτην
20 But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. Hæc autem eo cogitante, ecce angelus Domini apparuit in somnis ei, dicens : Joseph, fili David, noli timere accipere Mariam conjugem tuam : quod enim in ea natum est, de Spiritu Sancto est. ταυτα δε αυτου ενθυμηθεντος ιδου αγγελος κυριου κατ οναρ εφανη αυτω λεγων ιωσηφ υιος δαυιδ μη φοβηθης παραλαβειν μαριαμ την γυναικα σου το γαρ εν αυτη γεννηθεν εκ πνευματος εστιν αγιου
21 And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins. Pariet autem filium : et vocabis nomen ejus Jesum : ipse enim salvum faciet populum suum a peccatis eorum. τεξεται δε υιον και καλεσεις το ονομα αυτου ιησουν αυτος γαρ σωσει τον λαον αυτου απο των αμαρτιων αυτων
22 Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Hoc autem totum factum est, ut adimpleretur quod dictum est a Domino per prophetam dicentem : τουτο δε ολον γεγονεν ινα πληρωθη το ρηθεν υπο του κυριου δια του προφητου λεγοντος
23 Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Ecce virgo in utero habebit, et pariet filium : et vocabunt nomen ejus Emmanuel, quod est interpretatum Nobiscum Deus. ιδου η παρθενος εν γαστρι εξει και τεξεται υιον και καλεσουσιν το ονομα αυτου εμμανουηλ ο εστιν μεθερμηνευομενον μεθ ημων ο θεος
24 And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife. Exsurgens autem Joseph a somno, fecit sicut præcepit ei angelus Domini, et accepit conjugem suam. διεγερθεις δε ο ιωσηφ απο του υπνου εποιησεν ως προσεταξεν αυτω ο αγγελος κυριου και παρελαβεν την γυναικα αυτου

31 posted on 12/22/2013 11:20:33 AM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. Having said above, And Jacob begat Joseph, to whom Mary being espoused bore Jesus; that none who heard should suppose that His birth was as that of any of the forementioned fathers, he cuts off the thread of his narrative, saying, But Christ's generation was thus. As though He were to say, The generation of all these fathers was as I have related it; but Christ's was not so, but as follows, His mother Mary being espoused.

CHRYS. He announces that He is to relate the manner of the generation, showing therein that he is about to speak some new thing; that you may not suppose when you hear mention of Mary's husband, that Christ was born by the law of nature.

REMIG. Yet it might be referred to time foregoing in this way, The generation of Christ was, as I have related, thus, Abraham begat Isaac.

JEROME; But why is He conceived not of a Virgin merely, but of a Virgin espoused? First, that by the descent of Joseph, Mary's family might be made known; secondly, that she might not be stoned by the Jews as an adulteress; thirdly, that in her flight into Egypt she might have the comfort of a husband. The Martyr Ignatius adds yet a fourth reason, namely, that his birth might be hid from the Devil, looking for Him to be born of a wife and not of a virgin.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. Therefore both espoused and yet remaining at home; for as in her who should conceive in the house of her husband, is understood natural conception; so in her who conceives before she be taken to her husband, there is suspicion of infidelity.

JEROME; It is to be known, that Helvidius, a certain turbulent man, having got matter of disputation, takes in hand to blaspheme against the Mother of God. His first proposition was, Matthew begins this, When she was espoused. Behold, he says, you have her espoused, but, as you say, not yet committed but surely not espoused for any other reason except to be married.

ORIGEN; She was indeed espoused to Joseph, but not united in wedlock; that is to say, His mother immaculate, His mother incorrupt, His mother pure. His mother! Whose mother? The mother of God, of the Only-begotten, of the Lord, of the King, of the Maker of all things, and the Redeemer of all.

CYRIL; What will any One see in the Blessed Virgin more than in other mothers, if she be not the mother of God but of Christ, or the Lord, as Nestorius says? For it would not be absurd should anyone please to name mother of any anointed son, the Mother of Christ. Yet she is alone and is called the Holy Virgin, and the mother of Christ. For she bore not a simple man as you say, but rather the Word incarnate, and made man of God the Father. But perhaps you say, Tell me, do you think the Virgin was made the mother of His divinity? To this also we say, that the Word was born of the very substance of God Himself; and without beginning of time always coexisted with the Father. But in these last times when He was made flesh, that is united to flesh, having a rational soul, He is said to be born of a woman after the flesh. Yet is this sacrament in a manner brought out like birth among us; for the mothers of earthly children impart to their nature that flesh that is to be perfected by degrees in the human form; but God sends the life into the animal. But though these are mothers only of the earthly bodies, yet when they bear children, they are said to bear the whole animal, and not a part of it only. Such do we see to have been done in the birth of Emmanuel; the Word of God was born of the substance of His Father; but because He took on Him flesh, making it His own, it is necessary to confess that He was born of a woman according to the flesh. Where seeing He is truly God, how shall any one doubt to call the Holy Virgin the Mother of God?

CHRYSOLOGUS; If you are not confounded when you hear of the birth of God, let not His conception disturb you, seeing the pure virginity of the mother removes all that might shock human reverence. And what offense against our awe and reverence is there, when the Deity entered into union with purity that was always dear to Him, where an Angel is mediator, faith is bridemaid, where chastity is the giving away, virtue the gift, conscience the judge, God the cause; where the conception is inviolateness, the birth virginity, and the mother a virgin.

CYRIL; But if we were to say that the Holy Body of Christ came down from heaven, and was not made of His mother, as Valentinius does in what sense could Mary be the Mother of God?

GLOSS. The name of His Mother is added, Mary.

BEDE Mary is interpreted, 'Star of the Sea,' after the Hebrew; 'Mistress,' after the Syriac; as she bore into the world the Light of Salvation, and the Lord .

GLOSS. And to whom she was a betrothed is shown, Joseph.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. Mary was therefore betrothed to a carpenter, because Christ the Spouse of the Church was to work the Salvation of all men through the wood of the Cross.

CHRYS. What follows, Before they came together, does not mean before she was brought to the bridegroom's house, for she was already within. For it was a frequent custom among the ancients to have their betrothed wives home to their house before marriage; as we see done now also, and as the sons-in-law of Lot were with him in the house.

GLOSS. But the words denote carnal knowledge.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. That He should not be born of passion, of flesh and blood, who was therefore born that He might take away all passion of flesh and blood.

AUG. There was no carnal knowledge in this wedlock, because in sinful flesh this could not be without carnal desire which came of sin and which He would be without, who was to be without sin; and that hence He might teach us that all flesh which is born of sexual union is sinful flesh, seeing that Flesh alone was without sin, which was not so born.

PSEUDO-AUG. Christ was also born of a pure virgin, because it was not holy that virtue should be born of pleasure, chastity of self-indulgence, incorruption of corruption. Nor could He come from heaven but after some new manner, who came to destroy the ancient empire of death. Therefore she received the crown of virginity who bore the King of chastity. Farther, our Lord sought out for Himself a virgin abode, wherein to be received, that He might show that God ought to be borne in a chaste body. Therefore He that wrote on tables of stone without an iron pen, the same wrought in Mary by the Holy Spirit; She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

JEROME; And found by none other than by Joseph who knew all as being her espoused husband.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. For, as a not incredible account relates, Joseph was absent when the things were done which Luke writes. For it is not easy to suppose; that the Angel came to Mary and said those words, and Mary wade her answer when Joseph was present. And even if we suppose thus much to have been possible, yet it could not be that she should have gone into the hill country, and abode there three months when Joseph was present, because he must needs have inquired the causes of her departure and long stay. And so when after so many months she returned from abroad, he found her manifestly with child.

CHRYSOST. He says exactly was found, for so we use to say of things not thought of. And that you should not molest the Evangelist by asking in what way was this birth of a virgin, he clears himself shortly, saying, Of the Holy Ghost. As much as to say, it was the Holy Ghost that wrought this miracle. For neither Gabriel nor Matthew could say any further.

GLOSS. Therefore the words, Is of the Holy Ghost, were set down by the Evangelist, to the end, that when it was said that she was with child, all wrong suspicion should be removed from the minds of the hearers.

PSEUDO-AUG. But not, as some impiously think, are we to suppose, that the Holy Spirit was as seed, but we say that He wrought with the power and might of a Creator.

AMBROSE; That which is of any thing is either of the substance or the power of that thing; of the substance, as the Son who is of the Father; of the power; as all things are of God, even as Mary was with child of the Holy Spirit.

AUG. Furthermore, this manner in which Christ was born of the Holy Spirit suggests to us the grace of God, by which man without any previous merits, in the very beginning of his nature, was united with the Word of God into so great unity of person, that he was also made son of God. But inasmuch as the whole Trinity wrought to make this creature which was conceived of the Virgin; though pertaining only to the person of the Son, (for the works of the Trinity are indivisible,) why is the Holy Spirit only named in this work? Must we always when One of the Three is named in any work, understand that the whole Trinity worked in that?

JEROME; But says Helvidius; Neither would the Evangelist have said Before they came together, if they were not to come together afterward as none would say, Before dinner, where there was to be dinner. As if One should say, Before I dined in harbor, I sail for Africa, would this have no meaning in it, unless were at some time or other to dine in the harbor? Surely we must either understand it thus, that at before, though it implies something to follow, yet often is said of things that follow only in thought; and it is not necessary that the things so thought of should take place, for that something else has happened to prevent them from taking place.

JEROME; Therefore it by no means follows that they did come together afterwards; Scripture however shows not what did happen.

REMIG. Or the word come together may not mean carnal knowledge, but may refer to the time of the nuptials, when she who was betrothed begins to be wife. Thus, before they came together, may mean before they solemnly celebrated, the nuptial rites.

AUG. How this was done Matthew omits to write, but Luke relates after the conception, In the sixth month the Angel was sent; and again, The Holy Ghost shall come upon you. This is what Matthew relates in these words, She was found with child of the Holy Ghost. And it is no contradiction that Luke has described what Matthew omits; Or again that Matthew relates what he has omitted; that namely which follows, from Now Joseph her husband being a just man, to that place where it is said of the Magi, that They returned into their own country another way. If one desired to digest into One narrative the two accounts of Christ's birth, he would arrange thus; beginning with Matthew's words, Now the birth of Christ was on this wise; then taking up with Luke, from There was in the days of Herod, to, Mary abode with her three months, and returned to her house; then taking up again Matthew, add, She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately.

CHRYSOST. The Evangelist having said that she was found with child of the Holy Ghost, and without knowledge of man, that you should not herein suspect Christ's disciple of inventing wonders in honor of his Master, brings forward Joseph confirming the history by his own share in it; Now Joseph her husband, being a just man.

PSEUDO-AUG. Joseph, understanding that Mary was with child, is perplexed that it should be thus with her whom he had received from the temple of the Lord, and had not yet known, and resolved within Himself saying, What shall I do? Shall I proclaim it, or shall I overlook it? If I proclaim it, I am indeed not consenting to the adultery; but I am sinning into the guilt of cruelty, for by Moses' law she must be stoned. If I overlook it, I am consenting to the crime, and take my portion with the adulterers. Since then it is an evil to overlook the thing, and worse to proclaim the adultery, I will put her away from being my wife.

AMBROSE; St. Matthew has beautifully taught how a righteous man ought to act, who has detected his wife's disgrace; so as at once to keep himself guiltless of her blood, and yet pure from her defilements; therefore it is he says, Being a just man. Thus is preserved throughout in Joseph the gracious character of a righteous man, that his testimony may be the more approved; for, the tongue of the just speaks the judgment of truth.

JEROME; But how is Joseph thus called just, when he is ready to hide his wife's sin? For the law enacts, that not only the doers of evil, but they whom privy to any evil done, shall be held to be guilty.

CHRYSOST. But it should be known, that just here is used to denote one who is in all things virtuous. For there is a particular justice, namely, the being free from covetousness; and universal virtue, in which sense Scripture generally uses the word justice. Therefore being just, that is, merciful, he was minded to put away privately; her who according to the Law was liable not only to dismissal. For as the sun lightens up the world, before he shows his rays, so Christ before He was born caused many wonders to be seen.

AUG. Otherwise; if you alone have knowledge of a sin that any has committed against you, and desire to accuse him thereof before men, you do not herein correct, but rather betray him. But Joseph, being a just man, with great mercy spared his wife, in this great crime of which he suspected her. The seeming certainty of her unchastity tormented him, and yet because he alone knew of it, he was willing not to publish it, but to send her away privily; seeking rather the benefit than the punishment of the sinner.

JEROME; Or this may be considered a testimony to Mary, that Joseph, confident in her purity, and wondering at what had happened, covered in silence that mystery which he could not explain.

RABANUS; He beheld her to be with child, whom he knew to be chaste; and because he had read, There shall come a Rod out of the stem of Jesse, of which he knew that Mary was come; and had also read, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, he did not doubt that this prophecy should he fulfilled in her.

ORIGEN; But if he had no suspicion of her, how could he be a just man and yet seek to put her away, being immaculate? He sought to put her away, because he saw in her a great sacrament, to approach which he thought himself unworthy.

GLOSS. Or, in seeking to put her away, he was just; in that he sought it privily, is shown his mercy, defending her from disgrace; Being a just man, he was minded to put her away; and being unwilling to expose her in public, and so to disgrace her, he sought to do it privily.

AMBROSE; But as no one puts away what he has not received; in that he was minded to put her away, he admits to have received her.

GLOSS. Or, being unwilling to bring her home to his house to live with him forever, he was minded to put her away privately; that is, to change the time of their marriage. For that is true virtue, when neither mercy is observed without justice, nor justice without mercy; both which vanish when severed one from the other. Or he was just because of his faith, in that he believed that Christ should be born of a virgin; wherefore he wished to humble himself before so great a favor.

20. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

REMIG. Because Joseph was minded, as has been said, to put Mary away privily, which if he had done, there would have been few who would not rather have thought her a harlot than a virgin, therefore this purpose of Joseph was changed by Divine revelation, whence it is said, While he thought on these things.

GLOSS. In this is to be noted the wise soul that desires to undertake nothing rashly.

CHRYS. Also observe the mercifulness of Joseph, that he imparted his suspicions to none, not even to her whom he suspected, but kept them within himself.

PSEUDO-AUG. Yet though Joseph think on these things, let not Mary the daughter of David be troubled; as the word of the Prophet brought pardon to David, so the Angel of the Savior delivers Mary. Behold, again appears Gabriel the bridesman of this Virgin; as it follows, Behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph.

AMBROSE; in this word appeared is conveyed the power of Him that did appear, allowing Himself to be seen where and how He pleases.

RABAN. How the Angel appeared to Joseph is declared in the words, In his sleep; that is, Jacob saw the ladder offered by a kind of imagining to the eyes of his heart.

CHRYS. He did not appear so openly to Joseph as to the Shepherds, because he was faithful; the Stepherds needed it, because they were ignorant. The Virgin also needed it, as she had first to be instructed in these mighty wonders. In like manner Zacharias needed the wonderful vision before the conception of his son.

GLOSS. (The Angel appearing calls him by name, and adds his descent, in order to banish fear, Joseph, son of David; Joseph, as though he were known to him by name and his familiar friend.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. By addressing him as son of David, he sought to recall to his memory the promise of God to David, that of his seed should Christ be born.

CHRYS. But by saying, Be not afraid, he shows him to be in fear that he had offended God, by having an adulteress; for only as such would he have ever thought of putting her away.

CHRYSOLOG. As her betrothed husband also he is admonished not to be afraid; for the mind that compassionates has most fear; as you he were to say, Here is no cause of death, but of life; she that brings forth life, does not deserve death.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. Also by the words, Fear not, he desired to show that he knew the heart; that by this he might have the more faith in those good things to come, which he was about to speak concerning Christ.

AMBROSE; Be not troubled that he calls her his wife; for she is not herein robbed of her virginity, but her wedlock is witnessed to, and the celebration of her marriage is declared.

JEROME; But we are not to think that she ceased to be betrothed, because she is here called wife, since we know that this is the Scripture manner to call the man and woman, when espoused, husband and wife; and this is confirmed by that text in Deuteronomy, If one find a virgin that is betrothed to a man in the field, and offer violence to her, and lie with her, he shall die, because he has humbled his neighbor's wife.

CHRYS. He says, Fear not to take to you; that is, to keep at home; for in thought she was already dismissed.

RABAN. Or, to take her, that is, in marriage union and continual converse.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. There were three reasons why the Angel appeared to Joseph with this message. First, that a just man might not be led into an unjust action, with just intentions. Secondly, for the honor of the mother herself; for had she been put away, she could not have been free from evil suspicion among the unbelievers. Thirdly, that Joseph, understanding the holy conception, might keep himself from her with more care than before. He did not appear to Joseph before the conception, that he should not think those things that Zacharias thought, nor suffer what he suffered in falling into the sin of unbelief concerning the conception of his wife in her old age. For it was yet more incredible that a virgin should conceive, than that a woman past the age should conceive.

CHRYS. Or, The Angel appeared to Joseph when he was in this perplexity, that his wisdom might be apparent to Joseph, and that this might be a proof to him of those things that he spoke. For when he heard out of the mouth of the Angel those very things that he thought within himself, this was an undoubted proof, that he was a messenger from God, who alone knows the secrets of the heart. Also the account of the Evangelist is beyond suspicion, as he describes Joseph feeling all that a husband was likely to feel. The Virgin also by this was more removed from suspicion, in that her husband had felt jealousy, yet took her home, and kept her with him after her conception. She had not told Joseph the things that the Angel had said to her, because she did not suppose that she should be believed by her husband, especially as he had begun to have suspicions concerning her. But to the Virgin the Angel announced her conception before it took place, lest if he should defer it till afterwards she should be in straits. And it behoved that Mother who was to receive the Maker of all things to be kept free from all trouble. Not only does the Angel vindicate the Virgin from all impurity, but shows that the conception was supernatural, not removing his fears only, but adding matter of joy, saying, That which is born in her is of the Holy Spirit.

GLOSS. To be born in her, and born of her, are two different things; to be born of her is to come into the world; to be born in her, is the same as to be conceived. Or the word born is used according to the foreknowledge of the Angel which he has of God, to whom the future is as the past.

PSEUDO-AUG. But if Christ was born by the agency of the Holy Ghost, how is that said, Wisdom has built herself a house? That house may be taken in two meanings. First, the house of Christ is the Church, which He built with His own blood; and secondly, His body may be called His house, as it is called His temple. But the work of the Holy Spirit, is also the work of the Son of God, because of the unity of their nature and their will; for whether it be the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit, that does it, it is the Trinity that works, and what the Three do, is of One God.

AUG. But shall we therefore say that the Holy Spirit is the Father of the man Christ, that as God the Father begot the Word, so the Holy Spirit begot the man? This is such an absurdity, that the ears of the faithful cannot bear it. How then do we say that Christ was born by the Holy Spirit, if the Holy Spirit did not beget Him? Did He create Him? For so far as He is man He was created, as the Apostle speaks; He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. For though God made the world, yet is it not right to say that it is the Son of God, or born by Him, but that it was made, or created, or formed by Him. But seeing that we confess Christ to have been born by the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, how is He not the Son of the Holy Spirit, and is the Son of the Virgin? It does not follow that whatever is born by anything is therefore to be called the son of that thing; for, not to say that of man is born in one sense a son, in another a hair, or vermin, or a worm, none of which are his son, certainly those that are born of water and the Spirit none would call sons of water, but sons of God their Father, and their Mother the Church. Thus Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, and yet is the Son of God the Father, not of the Holy Spirit.

21. And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.

CHRYSOST. What the Angel thus told Joseph, was beyond human thought, and the law of nature; therefore he confirms his speech not only by revealing to him what was past, but also what was to come: She shall bring forth a Son.

GLOSS. That Joseph should not suppose that he was no longer needed in this wedlock, seeing the conception had taken place without his intervention, the Angel declares to him, that though there had been no need of him in the conception, yet there was need of his guardianship; for the Virgin should bear a Son, and then he would be necessary both to the Mother and her Son: to the Mother to screen her from disgrace, to the Son to bring Him up and to circumcise Him. The circumcision is meant when he says, And you shall call His name Jesus; for it was usual to give the name in circumcision.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. He said not, Shall bear thee a Son, as to Zachiarias, Behold, Elisabeth your wife shall bear you a son. For the woman who conceives of her husband bears the son to her husband, because he is more of him than of herself; but she who had not conceived of man, did not bear the Son to her husband, but to herself.

CHRYSOST. Or, he left it unappropriated, to show that she bore Him to the whole world.

RABAN. You shall call His name, he says, and not, "shall give Him a name," for His name had been given from all eternity.

CHRYSOST. This further shows that this birth should be wonderful, because it is God that sends down His name from above by His Angel; and that not any name, but one which is a treasure of infinite good. Therefore also the Angel interprets it, suggesting good hope, and by this induces him to believe what was spoken. For we lean more easily to prosperous things, and yield our belief more readily to good fortune.

JEROME; Jesus is a Hebrew word, meaning Savior. He points to the etymology of the name, saying, For He shall save His people from their sins.

REMIG. He shows the same man to be the Savior of the whole world, and the Author of our salvation. He saves indeed not the unbelieving, but His people; that is, He saves those that believe on Him, not so much from visible as from invisible enemies; that is, from their sins, not by fighting with arms, but by remitting their sins.

CHRYSOLOG. Let them approach to hear this who ask, Who is He that Mary bare? He shall save His people - not any other man's people - from what? from their sins. That it is God that forgives sins, if you do not believe the Christians so affirming, believe the infidels, or the Jews who say, None can forgive sins but God only.

22. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23. Behold, a Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

REMIG. It is the custom of the Evangelist to confirm what he says out of the Old Testament, for the sake of those Jews who believed on Christ, that they might recognize as fulfilled in the grace of the Gospel, the things that were foretold in the Old Testament; therefore he adds, Now all this was done. Here we must inquire why he should say all this was done, when above he has only related the conception. It should be known that he says this to show, that in the presence of God all this was done before it was done among men. Or, he says, all this was done, because he is relating past events; for when he wrote, it was all done.

GLOSS. Or, he says, all this was done, meaning, the Virgin was betrothed, she was kept chaste, she was found with child, the revelation was made by the Angel, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken. For that the Virgin should conceive and should bring forth would never have been fulfilled, had she not been espoused that she should not be stoned; and had not her secret been disclosed by the Angel, and so Joseph taken her to him, that she was not dismissed to disgrace and to perish by stoning. So had she perished before the birth, that prophecy would have been made void which says, She shall bring forth a Son.

GLOSS. Or it may be said, that the word that does not here denote the cause; for the prophecy was not fulfilled merely because it was to be fulfilled. But it is put consecutively, as in Genesis, He hung the other on the gallows, that the truth of the interpreter might be proved since by the weighing of one, truth is established. So also in this place we must understand it as if it were, that which was foretold being done, the prophecy was accomplished.

CHRYSOST. Otherwise, the Angel seeing the depths of the Divine mercy, the laws of nature broken through and reconciliation made, He who was above all made lower than all; all these wonders, all this he comprises in that one saying, Now all this has happened; as though he had said, Do not suppose that this is newly devised of God, it was determined of old. And he rightly cites the Prophet not to the Virgin, who as a maiden was untaught in such things, but to Joseph, as to one much versed in the Prophets. And at first he had spoken of Mary as your wife, but now in the words of the Prophet he brings in the word, "Virgin," that he might hear this from the Prophet, as a thing long before determined. Therefore to confirm what he had said, he introduces Isaiah, or rather God; for he does not say, Which was spoken by Isaiah, but, Which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet.

JEROME. Since it is introduced in the Prophet by the words, The Lord Himself shall give you a sign, it ought to be some thing new and wonderful. But if it be, as the Jews will have it, a young woman, or a girl shall bring forth, and not a virgin, what wonder is this, since these are words signifying age and not purity? Indeed the Hebrew word signifying Virgin (Bethula) is not used in this place, but instead the word 'Halma ,' which except the LXX all render 'girl.' But the word 'Halma' has a twofold meaning; it signifies both 'girl,' and 'hidden'; therefore 'halma' denotes not only 'maiden' or 'virgin,' but 'hidden,' 'secret'; that is, one never exposed to the gaze of men, but kept under close custody by her parents. In the Punic tongue also, which is said to be derived from Hebrew sources, a virgin is properly called 'Halma.'

In our tongue also 'Halma' means holy; and the Hebrews use words of nearly all languages; and as far as my memory will serve me, I do not think I ever met with Halma used of a married woman, but of her that is a virgin, and such that she be not merely a virgin, but in the age of youth; for it is possible for an old woman to be a maid. But this was a virgin in years of youth, or at least a virgin, and not a child too young for marriage.

ID. For that which Matthew the Evangelist says, Shall have in her womb, the Prophet who is foretelling something future, writes, shall receive. The Evangelist, not foretelling the future but describing the past, changes shall receive into shall have; but he who has, cannot after receive that he has. He says, Lo, a Virgin shall have in her womb, and shall bear a Son.

LEO; Time conception was by the Holy Spirit within the womb of the Virgin; who, as she conceived in perfect chastity, in like manner brought forth her Son.

PSEUDO-AUG. He, who by a touch could heal the severed limbs of others, how much more could He, in His own birth, preserve whole that which He found whole? In this parturition, soundness of the Mother's body was rather strengthened than weakened, and her virginity rather confirmed than lost.

THEODOTUS; Inasmuch as Photinus affirms that He that was now born was mere man, not allowing the divine birth, and maintains that He who now issued from the womb was the man separate from the God, let him show how it was possible that human nature, born of the Virgin's womb, should have preserved the virginity of that womb uncorrupted; for the mother of no man ever yet remained a virgin . But forasmuch as it was God the Word who was now born in the flesh, he showed Himself to be the Word, in that He preserved His mother's virginity. For as our word when it is begot does not destroy the mind, so neither does God the Word in choosing His birth destroy the virginity.

CHRYS. As it is the manner of Scripture to convey a knowledge of events under the form of a name, so here, They shall call His name Emmannel, means nothing else than, They shall see God among men. Whence he says not, 'You shall call,' but, They shall call.

RABAN. First, Angels hymning, secondly, Apostles preaching, then Holy Martyrs, and lastly, all believers.

JEROME; The LXX and three others translate, 'Thou shall call,' instead of which we have here, They shall call, which is not so in the Hebrew; for the word 'Charathi,' which all render you shall call, may mean, 'And she shall call,' that is, The Virgin that shall conceive and shall bear Christ shall call His name Emmannuel, which is interpreted, 'God with us.'

REMIG. It is a question, who interpreted this name? The Prophet, or the Evangelist, or some translator? It should be known then, that the Prophet did not interpret it; and what need had the Holy Evangelist to do so, seeing he wrote in the Hebrew tongue? Perhaps that was a difficult and rare word in Hebrew, and therefore needed interpretation. It is more probable that some translator interpreted it, that the Latins might not be perplexed by an unintelligible word. In this name are conveyed at once the two substances: the Divinity and Humanity in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He who before all time was begot in an unspeakable manner by God the Father, the same in the end of time was made Emmanuel, that is, God with us, of a Virgin Mother. This God with us may be understood in this way: He was made with us, passable, mortal, and in all things like to us without sin; or because our frail substance which He took on Him, He joined in one Person to His Divine substance.

JEROME; It should be known that the Hebrews believe this prophecy to refer to Ezekias the son of Ahaz, because in his reign Samaria was taken; but this cannot be established. Ahaz son of Jotham reigned over Judea and Jerusalem sixteen years, and was succeeded by his son Ezekias, who was twenty-three years old, and reigned over Judea and Jerusalem twenty-nine years; how then can a prophecy prophesied in the first year of Ahaz refer to the conception and birth of Ezekias, when he was already nine years of age? Unless perhaps the sixth year of the reign of Ezekias, in which Samaria was taken, they think is here called his infancy, that is, the infancy of his reign, not of his age; which even a fool must see to be hard and forced. A certain one of our interpreters contends, that the Prophet Isaiah had two sons, Jashub and Emmanuel; and that Emmanuel was born of his wife the Prophetess as a type of the Lord and Savior. But this is a fabulous tale.

PETRUS ALFONSUS. For we know not that any man of that day was called Emmanuel. But the Hebrew objects, How can it be that this was said on account of Christ and Mary, when any centuries intervened between Ahaz and Mary? But though the Prophet was speaking to Ahaz, the prophecy was yet not spoken to him only or of his time only; for it is introduced, Hear, O house of David; not, 'Hear, O Ahaz.' Again, The Lord Himself shall give you a sign; meaning He, and none other, from which we may understand that the Lord Himself should be the sign. And that He says to you, (plur.) and not 'to you,' (sing.) shows that this was not spoken to Ahaz, or on his account only.

JEROME. What is spoken to Ahaz then is to be understood. This Child, that shall be born of a Virgin of the house of David, shall now be called Emmanuel, that is, God with us, because the events (perhaps delivery from the two hostile kings) will make it appear that you have God present with you. But after He shall be called Jesus, that is Savior, because He shall save the whole human race. Wonder not, therefore, O house of David, at the newness of this thing, that a Virgin should bring forth a God, seeing He has so great might that though yet to be born after a long while, He delivers you now when you call upon Him.

AUG. Who so mad as to say with Manichaeus, that it is a weak faith not to believe in Christ without a witness, whereas the Apostle says, How shall they believe on Him of whom they have not heard? Or how shall they hear without a preacher? That those things which were preached by the Apostles might not be condemned, nor thought to be fables, they are proven to have been foretold by the Prophets. For though attested by miracles, yet there would not have been wanting men to ascribe them all to magical power, had not such suggestions been overcome by the additional testimony of prophecy. For none could suppose that long before He was born, He had raised up by magic prophets to prophesy of Him. For if we say to a Gentile, Believe on Christ that He is God, and he should answer, Whence is it that I should believe on Him? we might allege the authority of the Prophets. Should he refuse assent to this, we establish their credit from their having foretold things to come, and those things having truly come to pass. I suppose He could not but know how great persecutions the Christian religion has formerly suffered from the Kings of this world; let him now behold those very Kings submitting to the kingdom of Christ, and all nations serving the same; all which things the Prophets foretold. He then hearing these things out of the Scriptures of the Prophets, and beholding them accomplished throughout the whole earth, would be moved to faith.

GLOSS. This error then is barred by the Evangelist saying, That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet. Now one kind of prophecy is by the pre-ordination of God, and must needs be fulfilled, and that without any free choice on our part. Such is that of which we now speak; wherefore he says, Lo, to show the certainty of prophecy. There is another kind of prophecy which is by the foreknowledge of God, and with this our free will is mixed up - wherein by grace working with us we obtain reward, or if justly deserted by it, torment. Another is not of foreknowledge, but is a kind of threat made after the manner of men; as that, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown: understanding, unless the Ninevites amend themselves.

24. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took to him his wife.

REMIG. Life returned by the same entrance through which death had entered in. By Adam's disobedience we were ruined, by Joseph's obedience we all begin to be recalled to our former condition; for in these words is commended to us the great virtue of obedience, when it is said, And Joseph rising from sleep, did as the Angel of the Lord had commanded him.

GLOSS. He not only did what the Angel commanded, but as he commanded it. Let each one who is warned of God, in like manner, break off all delays, rise from sleep, and do that which is commanded him.

PSEUDO-CHRYS. Took to him, not took home to him; for he had not sent her away; he had put her away in thought only, and now took her again in thought.

REMIG. Or, took her so far, as that the nuptial rites being complete, she was called his wife; but not so far as to lie with her, as it follows, And knew her not.

Catena Aurea Matthew 1
32 posted on 12/22/2013 11:21:04 AM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex

The Small Nativity

Alexey Pismenny


33 posted on 12/22/2013 11:24:13 AM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: All

Sunday, December 22

Liturgical Color: Violet

Nativity scenes are visual reminders of
the true meaning behind Christmas. St.
Francis of Assisi constructed the first
nativity scene in 1223. The hay he used
in the manger was said to possess
miraculous properties, curing area cattle
of diseases.

34 posted on 12/22/2013 2:44:13 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Catholic Culture


Daily Readings for:December 22, 2013
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


o    German Cinnamon Stars


o    Christmas Tree

o    Religion in the Home for Elementary School: December

o    Religion in the Home for Preschool: December


o    Hungarian wheat

o    Advent Prayers

o    Jesse Tree Prayer Service

o    Advent Table Blessing 1


o    Christ Was Born for Our Salvation | Pope John Paul II

·         Advent: December 22nd

·         Fourth Sunday of Advent

Old Calendar: Fourth Sunday of Advent

"A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return" (Luke 19:12). This nobleman is Christ, the Son of God, King of all nations. His kingdom is over all men and over all things, both material and spiritual. He has everything in His hand as God and man. But another, Satan, has broken into His kingdom and has made himself master of many of Christ's subjects. In the old dispensation only a small part of humanity, the chosen people, remained faithful to the almighty King.

Christ, the Son of God, came into this "far country" in order to become man and, by means of humility, obedience, and poverty, to cast out the usurper who had taken His subjects. He came to reassert His dominion over all those who had left Him, both Jews and Gentiles.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today, in some places, is the feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Her feast is celebrated on November 13 in the Ordinary Rite.

O Antiphons ~ King of the Gentiles

Click here for commentary on the readings in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent
The Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel’ (Is 7:14). This well known affirmation by the prophet Isaiah announces the coming of the Messiah into human history. It already gives us a taste of the proximity of that marvelous, stupendous day which will be the ‘dies natalis’ of Jesus. It was foretold by the prophets and proclaimed throughout the whole of Sacred Scriptures that He would be the One who would fulfil and bring them to completion. Our God will be incarnated and born due to the generous willingness of the ‘Virgin’ who, from the very beginning of time, was chosen to be the Mother of the Savior.

On the one hand we see Ahaz’s weak faith as he declined God’s concession to grant him a sign. Whilst on the other hand we see God’s insistence in giving a sign so that His dwelling place amongst men could be fully realized (cf Is 7:10-14).

‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife’ (Mt 1:20). Just like in the reading from the prophet Isaiah, yet in a diametrically opposed way to Ahaz’s incredulous attitude, we see Joseph’s full adherence to God’s will. He had just decided to divorce Mary on account of her unexpected pregnancy in accordance with the Law, but upon the Angel’s reassurance ‘he did what he told him to do: he took his wife home’ (Mt 1:24). Joseph’s need for reassurance that the child was the fruit of the Holy Spirit doesn’t diminish his fatherhood but rather enhances it as ‘You must name him Jesus, because He is the One who is to save His people from their sins’ (Mt 1:21). In other words, thanks to his extraordinary fatherhood he, himself accepted and permitted the realization of God’s promise to reside amongst His people. Joseph’s great faith helps us to comprehend that faith assumes a new importance in the most intimate things that belong to us. We are reminded today that everyone of us has received our ‘apostolic mission’ to ‘obtain the obedience of faith’, and to profess our faith in Jesus Christ (cf Rm 1:1-7).

In all of these events we see the great mission that Mary undertook as a privileged instrument in the hands of God. It is thanks to her that God found His home amongst men, as she became that first resting place of the Word: ‘Today O Mary you became the book in which our rule is described. In you today is written the wisdom of the Eternal Father…. O Mary, my sweetest love, in you is written the Word, from whom we have life’s doctrine. You are the table on which that doctrine rests. I see this Word that is written in you, who is not without the holy desire of the cross. Immediately that he was delivered to you, the desire of dying for the health of men, for whom he was incarnated, was grafted and placed in Him.’1

Wake up, therefore, because the birth of the Lord is almost at hand, let us go to meet Him in His glory: to listen to him, to love Him and to follow Him!

1 St. Catherine of Siena, Prayers and Elevations

From the Congregation for the Clergy


O King of the Gentiles
"Come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of dust." What is man? He is but a particle of dust, an insignificant creature who has further separated himself from God through sin. He has been cut off from the fountain of truth and banished from God to darkness and misery. Still in the ruins there dwells a spirit that possesses a capacity for truth. In these ashes there is yet a spark that may be fanned to life to burn with the brilliance of divine life. But only God can revive this flame. For this reason the Church cries out, "Come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of dust." Save him who is so weak, so miserable and helpless. Remember his nothingness. Consider the many enemies who lay snares to rob him of divine life and to entice him into sin. Think of his obscured knowledge and his proneness to evil, of his tendency to error, and his weakness in the face of temptation. Guard him from the enticements of the world; shelter him from the poison of erroneous teaching; deliver him from the devil and his angels.

During these days before Christmas, the Church contemplates the overwhelming misery of unregenerated mankind. She cries out, "Come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of dust."

Jesus is King of all nations. "The kings of the earth stood up and the princes met together against the Lord and against His Christ. Let us break their bonds asunder, and let us cast away their yoke from us. He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall deride them. Then shall He speak to them in His anger and trouble them in His rage. But I am appointed king by Him over Sion, His holy mountain. ... The Lord hath said to Me; Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for Thy possession" (Ps. 2:2-8). Well may Herod seek the life of the newborn king. Indeed, many kings and tribes and nations in the course of time shall deprecate the divine King, Christ. But to Him has been given all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28: i8). Before Him every knee shall bend, and every tongue shall confess that He is the Lord (Phil. 2:10f.).

The more the mighty condemn the kingship of Christ, the more shall He be exalted by the Father.

Now He comes to us in the form of a lovely child. One day in the presence of the Roman governor He will assert His right to kingship. But after this one public confession of His royal origin He withdraws again into the obscurity which He had freely chosen. For the present He is satisfied with this manifestation of His royal dignity. The day will come, however, when He will manifest it with power and majesty as He comes again on the clouds of heaven. Before all nations God will declare: "I have anointed Him King of Sion. My holy mountain." All men shall pay Him homage as king; all nations shall acclaim Him the King of Glory.

Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

6th O Antiphon:
O King of the Gentiles and their desired One,
Who makest two into one,

and deliver man,
whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.

Today is Day Seven of the Christmas Novena.

35 posted on 12/22/2013 4:28:46 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
The Word Among Us

Meditation: Matthew 1:18-24

4th Sunday of Advent

She was found with child through the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18)

For the first two months of a woman’s pregnancy, the new life forms in secret. But that all changes as she begins to show. The interior growth, once hidden, makes a gentle but clear announcement to the world—“I’m pregnant.”

Maybe it was around this time that Mary was found to be pregnant. Her child, conceived before she began living with Joseph, was now announcing himself to the world. There could be no mistake: Mary was pregnant. Having been put in a similar situation, many women may have tried to conceal their pregnancy. But all the signs from Scripture portray Mary as forthright about being pregnant. She let it show.

There’s a message for all of us here, because in a sense, we’re all “expecting.” According to St. Paul, a new life is forming within us: Christ in you, the hope for glory (Colossians 1:27). And this inner growth cannot remain hidden for too long. At some point, it must show!

Don’t be afraid to let the world see the change that has taken place within you. You have experienced Jesus’ peace, his love, his mercy, and his joy. So follow Mary’s example, and let it show! Let your attitude of joy and peace show to those around you at work so that they will begin to believe that they, too, can be changed. Share the kindness and generosity you’ve received from the Lord with your family members, and they’ll see the love of Christ within you. Be forthright about the reason for your joy. Don’t try to hide it.

Sure, there will be times when you feel self-conscious or even when you’re misunderstood. But you can be confident knowing that God is with you—“Emmanuel!” His glory will show through you, and he will never leave you.

“Thank you, Jesus, for the miracle of new life that you have begun in me. May your presence flow into every part of my life so that other people will hope in you as they encounter me.”

Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 24:1-6; Romans 1:1-7

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 24:1-6; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24)

1. In the first reading, Ahaz’ weak response to the Lord speaking to him reminds us that we too can take for granted the wonderful revelation of God’s love for us that we have in the coming of Jesus in the Incarnation. How would you describe your own response to this revelation? How would you describe the impact this revelation has had on your life?

2. Isaiah’s prophecy also reminds us of the role of the Blessed Virgin in the events that have transformed our lives. In what way has her example of faith inspired your own response?

3. In the responsorial psalm, the psalmist asks the questions: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” The answers the psalmist gives are very challenging and convicting: “Someone who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up their soul to what is false.” Are you challenged by these answers to the questions?

4. We know that it is only Jesus’ sinlessness and clean heart, and his death on the cross for our sins, that allows us to be blessed by God. What steps can you and your family take to open yourself more to the graces that flow from the birth of our Savior and his subsequent work of salvation on the Cross?

5. St. Paul tells us in the second reading that we are “God’s beloved.” Do you believe this? Why or why not? Reflect on a time in the past when you have experienced God’s love in a real way.

6. The time has come at last for the prophecies to be fulfilled. In the Gospel, Joseph is presented with a monumental problem: his betrothed is with child. How do your own reactions to the unexpected mirror or contrast with Joseph’s quiet reflection and action?

7. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid,” the Angel of the Lord says to Joseph. Do you have fears regarding what God is asking in your life? What are they? How do you deal with them? Do you believe God wants to speak the same words of assurance to you that were spoken to Joseph? Why or why not?

8. In the meditation, we hear these words: “According to St. Paul, a new life is forming within us: Christ in you, the hope for glory (Colossians 1:27). And this inner growth cannot remain hidden for too long. At some point, it must show!”The Lord Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. During this grace-filled season, how can you reflect in a greater way this new life you have in Christ?

9. Take some time now to pray for a greater experience of Jesus’ presence and love in your life, so that his life in you will be a blessing to others. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.

36 posted on 12/22/2013 4:36:59 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
A Christian Pilgrim


(A biblical refection on the FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT [Year A] – 22 December 2013)

Gospel Reading: Mafthew 1:18-24

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalms: Ps 24:1-6; Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7


The Scripture Text

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife. (Matthew 1:18-24 RSV).

Advent is something like a four-act play. It began in 700 B.C. with the prophet Isaiah announcing the coming of the Messiah; then followed the prophesies through the intervening centuries; then the birth of John the Baptist. Now today we meet Mary and Joseph, and learn the Child had been conceived.

Here we are presented with the reluctance of Joseph to accept Mary as his wife. He is not only hesitant but seemingly fearful. Why? Various reasons are given. Some think that he questioned her virtue and wondered if the Child truly was conceived by the Holy Spirit, as she said, or by some other man. Another opinion is that Joseph did not doubt her, but was simply confused. A third view is that he accepted her honesty and believed that the Child was conceived by the Holy Spirit – but, being a humble and unassuming man, wanted to disassociate himself from her out of deep awe and reverence. Whatever the situation, the angel’s message in the dream confirmed Mary’s story and persuaded Joseph to take her as his wife.

Thus the scene was set for the birth of the Messiah, and Jesus was provided with two sensitive and holy people to raise Him to manhood.

Advent, especially from the 17th of December onward, is the Church’s way to help us prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Although Christ came long ago, we can always deepen our appreciation of His impressive entry into our history. When we envision the world without His teachings, we can be thankful for our Christian heritage.


With our many customs for pre-Christmas season, we should be careful not to overlook the essential elements. We can have Christmas without the snow, presents, a festival meal or midnight Mass; but there would be no real Christmas without genuine love in our lives and the sharing of it with others.

The fourth candle now burns on the Advent wreath, our churches and homes are decorated, the presents for our loved ones are being wrapped and the children whisper their requests in Santa’s ear.

We all would do well to whisper a prayer to the Savior for His eternal friendship and the precious gift of salvation which He has freely given and continues to give each day.

37 posted on 12/22/2013 6:22:47 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
A Christian Pilgrim


(A biblical refection on the FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT [Year A] – 22 December 2013)

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalms: Psalm 24:1-6; Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7; Gospel Reading: Matthew 1:18-24


Advent spirituality is most relevant to the world of today when so many people are experiencing a winter of the spirit and a wilderness where terrifying demons stalk the land. Advent spirituality hears the call of the Baptist to recognize that the source of our modern evils is sin. Advent spirituality encourages us to wait in hope and not to lose faith.

And in today’s Mass the spirituality of Advent reaches a climax of hope. The victory over sin has already been won. Matthew brings us the story behind two names, Jesus and Emmanuel.

Jesus means God-is-salvation. The Holy Spirit has begun to invade the world and the child in Mary’s womb will be the one to save His people from their sins.

Emmanuel is a name which says God-is-with-us. Centuries before, when Isaiah confronted the wavering king, Ahaz, the name Emmanuel was a sign that God was with His people and there was no need to enter into alliance with pagan powers.


Now Matthew brings up the name again. This is the first of many instances where he takes an Old Testament text to show how Jesus was the answer to Jewish expectations. And this belief that God is with us is so important to Matthew that he will close his Gospel on that same theme: Jesus, about to ascend to the Father, promises to be with the disciples always, yes, to the end of time.

By bringing the two names Jesus and Emmanuel together in one event, Matthew expresses a gigantic step forward in human history from the age of sin to the presence of God’s power on earth.

Yet here in Advent’s desert starkness we know all too well how strong is the hold of sin upon us still: how brutish and destructive are the effects of sin upon society.

But we are invited to step forward in faith. Faith believes that in Jesus the victory over sin has been won. The Holy Spirit has invaded the world in a powerful advance against the enemy. The child in Mary’s womb is Jesus, whose precious name proclaims that God can save from sin. All we have to do is lay claim to the victory already won: to come forward to receive the prize.

And we can rejoice even in the wilderness of sin for the power of the Spirit in Jesus is greater than sin. This is what we celebrate in Advent’s sacrament of reconciliation.

Note: Taken from Silvester O’Flynn OFMCap., THE GOOD NEWS OF MATTHEW’S YEAR, Dublin, Ireland: Cathedral Books/The Columba Press, 1992 Reprenting, page 23.

38 posted on 12/22/2013 6:24:46 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

Marriage=One Man and One Woman 'Til Death Do Us Part

Daily Marriage Tip for December 22, 2013:

What makes a happy marriage? Many things of course, but one glue that helps a lot of couples is being able to laugh when things go wrong. Is there a blunder that happened in your past that you’re now able to laugh about?

39 posted on 12/22/2013 6:28:23 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Sunday Scripture Study

Fourth Sunday of Advent - Cycle A

December 22, 2013

Click here for USCCB readings

Opening Prayer  

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14

Psalm: 24:1-6

Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7

Gospel Reading: Matthew 1:18-24



Closing Prayer

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  §§ 430, 437, 452, 486, 497, 1846, 2666


The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness, in sacrifice, and with extreme effort.   –St. Padre Pio

40 posted on 12/22/2013 6:31:51 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Why Did God Wait To Tell Joseph?

Pastor’s Column

4th Sunday of Advent

December 22, 2013

We are all familiar with the story: an angel appears to the Virgin Mary, requesting her permission to receive the Son of God within her. It is indeed the most awesome moment of human history! Mary is troubled by the greeting of the angel. She quickly ponders some of the implications of what she has just heard. She’s going to have a child and the child will be the son of God.

Perhaps, as she pondered, Mary asked questions like this: “What about Joseph? Who will tell Joseph? What will I say to Joseph? Will he believe me?” I find it intriguing that the angel Gabriel does not immediately go to Joseph to explain the situation after Mary says yes. And yet, the angel seems to wait until a full-blown crisis has developed, doesn't he? It would have been so much easier on both of them if he had just come to Joseph right after Mary said yes. Why did he wait?

It was only after she was found to be with child. In fact, God does not intervene in this troubling situation until Joseph is driven to the point of planning divorce papers for Mary! It seems so unnecessary when God could’ve dealt with this right away – and yet he didn’t. To me, the real question in this very interesting detail is why does God wait so long to answer some prayers? He does, in fact, sometimes seem to wait until a real crisis has occurred before he acts.

We see this same pattern happening over and over again in the Gospels and in our lives. God could’ve made it easier for St. Joseph, but he didn’t. Therefore he must’ve had a good reason for waiting to make his will clear to St. Joseph. Sometimes, we too wonder why God doesn’t make things clear right away. After all, God has all the answers – why doesn’t he share them with us?

Well, he has shared the most important answers – that we are to always trust in God, that we are to strive to do God’s will, that we are to believe in him no matter what happens. The stories in Scripture are the stories of our lives as well. How often God has a plan for us like he did for Mary and Joseph, but we have to struggle to see it. Our journey of faith glorifies God.

Sometimes we forget that the whole point of being on earth is that we can’t see God right away, that we have to grow in faith and discernment by struggling with the issues in our lives. This is exactly what Joseph did before God revealed things. The struggle was part of Joseph’s journey too, just as it is with ours.

                                                                Father Gary

41 posted on 12/22/2013 6:55:31 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Reflections from Scott Hahn

God Is With Us: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Posted by Dr. Scott Hahn on 12.20.13 |

Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24:1-6
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-24

The mystery kept secret for long ages, promised through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, is today revealed (see Romans 16:25-26).

This is the “Gospel of God” that Paul celebrates in today’s Epistle - the good news that “God is with us” in Jesus Christ. The sign promised to the House of David in today’s First Reading is given in today’s Gospel. In the virgin found with child, God himself has brought to Israel a savior from David’s royal line (see Acts 13:22-23).

Son of David according to the flesh, Jesus is the Son of God, born of the Spirit. He will be anointed with the Spirit (see Acts 10:38), and by the power of Spirit will be raised from the dead and established at God’s right hand in the heavens (see Acts 2:33-34; Ephesians 1:20-21).

He is the “King of Glory” we sing of in today’s Psalm. The earth in its fullness has been given to Him. And as God swore long ago to David, His Kingdom will have no end (see Psalm 89:4-5).

In Jesus Christ we have a new creation. Like the creation of the world, it is a work of the Spirit, a blessing from the Lord (see Genesis 1:2). In Him, we are saved from our sins, are called now “the beloved of God.”

All nations now are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to enter into the House of David and Kingdom of God, the Church. Together, through the obedience of faith, we have been made a new race - a royal people that seeks for the face of the God of Jacob.

He has made our hearts clean, made us worthy to enter His holy place, to stand in His presence and serve Him.

In the Eucharist, the everlasting covenant is renewed, the Advent promise of virgin with child - God with us - continues until the end of the age (see Matthew 28:20; Ezekiel 37:24-28).

42 posted on 12/22/2013 7:00:43 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Music (2nd box)-- Joseph's Song
43 posted on 12/22/2013 7:15:17 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

4th Sunday of Advent: Joseph, the righteous man of God


St. Joseph's dream

de Champagne


The word for Sunday:

Is 7: 10-14
Rm 1: 1-7
Mt 1: 18-24

This last Sunday before the celebration of the Christmas season begins, offers us a very human insight into an important figure that played a significant role in the birth of Jesus and beyond – Joseph, the husband of Mary.  


Joseph is silent throughout the Gospels so whatever he may have thought we can only speculate.  Yet, we can probably assume that what he felt when the news of Mary’s unexpected pregnancy was made known to him, how we don’t know, his reaction surely was what any intended spouse would have felt – disappointment and confusion.  Who was the man that Mary had relations with? Why would she have done such a thing as she was betrothed to him?  


Betrothal in ancient times was the final step before marriage.  The couple did not yet live together as husband and wife but the betrothal contract could only be broken through a legal contract. Whether the couple loved each other or not was less important that the financial arrangements between each of their families were worked out in an equitable manner.  However, whether a projection of modern expectations or pious sentimentality, Joseph was presumed to have feelings for Mary and their upcoming wedding was something both were anticipating with joy.


Nonetheless, our Gospel this Sunday offers a description of Joseph that is admirable – that he was a “righteous man.” Joseph was an upright Jew, faithful to the sacred law and lived by that law in good example.  So we read of his reaction to Mary’s pregnancy:”. . .  Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly . . .”


According to the law of their time, Mary was subject to public ridicule and shame or even worse and it was Joseph’s responsibility to inform her father that his daughter was pregnant by some other man.  Joseph, because of his obvious respect for Mary, intended to do his best to hush this up quickly so that whoever is the father of Mary’s child may be free to come along and take Mary to be his wife.  


In the midst of this human dilemma, God steps in. And the Gospel tells us of the Angel Gabriel’s visit to Joseph in a dream.  “Have no fear . . .” the angel assures Joseph.  In other words, God asks a mighty thing of Joseph – to take this child which is not his own flesh and blood and the child’s mother into his home to care for them and to unite with Mary as her husband.  Mary has conceived in a mysterious way, by the Holy Spirit’s intervention.  God has a plan far beyond what Joseph had expected.  


Our first reading from Isaiah the prophet speaks of the perfect King of Israel who would finally come.  Ahaz refuses to ask for a sign from God but God is not stopped.  The virgin will conceive and bear a son whose name would be “Emmanuel” - God with us.  This foreshadowing of Mary’s conception and the child she would bear is where Joseph is positioned to now step in as the earthly protector and provider of this Holy Family, as we call them.  When you stop for a moment and reflect on Joseph’s role here and all that Israel had hoped for over hundreds of years, it is tough to get one’s mind around this whole mystery.


So, with Christmas right around the corner it may indeed beg us to look beyond the sweetness of Christmas.  The lights, trees, cards, manger scenes, beautiful sacred music, cute songs like “Santa Baby” or the very weird “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” and good cheer are all a wonderful part of this time and season.


While the strain between secular and sacred challenges our Christian sensibility the real mystery is profound. Mary and Joseph were not pastel colored holy cards, stiff plaster statues, or bright stained glass images.  They were flesh and blood human beings whose lives were profoundly affected by God’s intervention in human history.  It was and always will be all about Jesus.  Mary and Joseph stand as examples of cooperation with God.


While God asks far less of us than he did of Joseph and Mary, he asks nonetheless.  In our second reading from Romans, Paul speaks of himself as the “slave” of Christ Jesus.  Paul knew that his entire life was to be “set apart for the gospel of God . . .”


How far am I willing to go when I sense that God is asking something of me?  How will I know?  In a dream – perhaps but maybe not.  What or who might be the sign of God’s presence in my life? What part of me still needs to embrace the gospel of God?  

Joseph, courageous and faith filled righteous man of God, pray for us.


Pour forth, we beseech you O Lord,

your grace into our hearts,

that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son

was made known by the message of an Angel,

may by his Passion and Cross

be brought to the glory of his Resurrection,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.


(Collect for Sunday)

44 posted on 12/22/2013 7:19:59 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Vultus Christi

December 22, O REX GENTIUM

Friday, 20 December 2013 08:20

The connection between this O Antiphon and the “Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization,” published six years ago (3 December 2007) by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, prompted me to illustrate my reflection with pictures of missionary martyrs: Saint Jean-Gabriel Perboyre, Saint Théophane Vénard, and Don Andrea Santoro.

O Rex Gentium

O King of the Gentiles,
and the Desired of all nations(Hag 2:8),
you are the cornerstone (Is 28:16)
that binds two into one (Eph 2:14).
Come, and bring wholeness to man
whom you fashioned out of clay (Gen 2:7).

The Desired of All Nations Shall Come

Today we lift our voices to Christ, calling him King of the Gentiles and the Desired of all nations. The O Antiphon draws upon the second chapter of the prophet Haggai. With the temple still in ruins after the Babylonian exile and the project of rebuilding it daunting, Haggai speaks a word of comfort to Zerubbabel, the governor; to Joshua, the high priest; and to all the remnant of the people:

Take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozodak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit abides among you; fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations — and here the Vulgate translation used by the liturgy differs from the Hebrew text — and the Desired of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with splendour, says the Lord of hosts. (Hag 2:4-8)


The antiphon uses but one phrase from this passage: the Christological title “Desired of All Nations,” but in order to grasp the significance of the title we must listen to all of Haggai’s message of comfort and hope, repeating it, praying it, and lingering over it until it inhabits us.

Truth, Beauty, Goodness

By calling the Messiah the “Desired of all nations,” Scripture and the Sacred Liturgy recognize the aspirations of every nation and culture towards the good, the true, and the beautiful, as aspirations towards Christ. In every culture there are traces of a mysterious preparation for the Gospel. Every time a human being seeks the splendour of the truth, the radiance of beauty, the purity of goodness, he seeks the Face of Christ, the “Desired of all nations.” When the missionary Church proclaims Our Lord Jesus Christ, she is proclaiming the “Desired of all nations.”

To Proclaim Jesus Christ

Without knowing His adorable Name, without having seen His Face, without having been told of His Heart opened by the soldier’s lance, the nations of the earth desire Christ and wait for Him, insofar as they desire and wait for truth, beauty, and goodness. The missionary task of Christians is to preach the Name of Jesus, to point to His Face, and to bear witness to His pierced Heart, saying, “Here is the truth, here is the goodness, here is the beauty you desire: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified, risen from the dead, ascended into glory, and coming again.”

In an important “Doctrinal Note On Some Aspects of Evangelization,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to the missionary mandate received from Our Lord. First, the document identified the problem:

There is today . . . a growing confusion which leads many to leave the missionary command of the Lord unheard and ineffective (cf. Mt 28:19). Often it is maintained that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom. From this perspective, it would only be legitimate to present one’s own ideas and to invite people to act according to their consciences, without aiming at their conversion to Christ and to the Catholic faith. It is enough, so they say, to help people to become more human or more faithful to their own religion; it is enough to build communities which strive for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity. Furthermore, some maintain that Christ should not be proclaimed to those who do not know him, nor should joining the Church be promoted, since it would also be possible to be saved without explicit knowledge of Christ and without formal incorporation in the Church.


That sums up the errors that are prevalent today, and explains the sad decline of missionary zeal within the Church. By calling Christ “the Desired of all nations” in today’s Great O Antiphon, the Church reaffirms her commitment to make Him known. The document goes on to say:

The Church’s commitment to evangelization can never be lacking, since according to his own promise, the presence of the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit will never be absent from her: “I am with you always, even until the end of the world” (Mt 28:20). The relativism and irenicism prevalent today in the area of religion are not valid reasons for failing to respond to the difficult, but awe-inspiring commitment which belongs to the nature of the Church herself and is indeed the Church’s “primary task”. “Caritas Christi urget nos – the love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14): the lives of innumerable Catholics bear witness to this truth.

Man Fashioned Out of the Clay of the Earth

For the petition of today’s Great O Antiphon the liturgy reaches all the way back to the second chapter of Genesis. We beg Christ to come and “save man whom he fashioned out the clay of the earth” (Gen 2:7). We ask to be refashioned, reshaped, reformed by Christ, the Word through whom all things were made. It is a bold petition: “Come, Christ, make me over, change me, reshape all that is misshapen in me.”


In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Our Lord answers our prayer. The Holy Ghost is sent in every Mass to change not only bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, but to change us, to reshape all that is misshapen, to restore to wholeness all that is fragmented, and to beauty all that has fallen into unloveliness. In this is the aim of all missionary activity: the recovery of unity not only within ourselves, but also among us, and among all the nations of the world, in the one Mystical Body of Christ. Veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti. Come — come in the Holy Mysteries of the Altar — “and bring wholeness to man whom you fashioned from the dust of the earth.”

45 posted on 12/22/2013 7:31:58 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Scripture Speaks: O come, O come, Emmanuel

by Gayle Somers on December 20, 2013 ·


On this last Sunday of Advent, our Gospel calls us to reflect on Joseph, not Mary or Jesus.  Why?

Gospel (Read Mt 1:18-24)

As our time of preparation and waiting in Advent draws to a close, we find ourselves listening to St. Matthew’s account of how Joseph became an important part of the first Advent.  In some ways, the example of Joseph is the perfect pivot point as move from anticipation to reality in the Incarnation, celebrated all through the liturgical season of Christmas.  How?

St. Matthew tells us that “Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.”  There is so much we would like to know about how this came about!  Did Mary try to explain to Joseph the impossible story of the Annunciation?  Or did she, instead, keep the  explanation to herself and simply acknowledge to Joseph that she was “with child”?  We don’t know for sure.  What we do know is that Mary’s pregnancy presented a challenge to Joseph, her betrothed husband.  In that day, betrothal was a binding legal relationship, like marriage, even before the couple lived together to consummate it.  A betrothal could only be ended by death or divorce.  Joseph was a “righteous man.”  He decided to “divorce her quietly” so that she would be spared public exposure.  Why did Joseph believe he had to divorce Mary?  One possibility is that although Joseph thought this mysterious pregnancy meant Mary had been unfaithful, he still loved her too much to cause her humiliation.  Another possibility is that Joseph understood that the mysterious pregnancy of his devout betrothed (remember, even an archangel addressed her as “full of grace”) made it highly unsuitable for him to marry her.  Even if Mary had not explained the cause of her pregnancy at all, her devout life would have convinced Joseph that something very magnificent was underway in her.  For that reason, he would not be able to take her into his home, out of simple reverence, but he must do all that he could to spare her any shame.  This latter scenario fits the details we do have better, but, either way, what a dilemma!

Joseph was not left alone to work this out:  “The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.”  Now we see that as the Incarnation began with an angelic visit, it would now proceed with another one.   The angel addresses Joseph as, “Son of David.” At the Annunciation, the angel’s greeting to Mary was full of prophetic meaning; this greeting, too, brings into focus the glorious promise of God that the Messiah would be of the house of David.  Joseph stood in this line of kings, very distant by his own day.  As the angel continues, it is clear that Joseph is meant to father the Child in Mary’s womb:  “Do not be afraid to take Mary into your home.”  Again, we aren’t entirely sure why Joseph feared to continue with their betrothal.  Either he suspected Mary and her story, or he so respected her that he thought she should be God’s spouse alone and that he was not worthy to take her in marriage.  The angel assures him there is no need for fear, because Joseph has a role to fulfill in God’s ancient plan for man’s salvation.  We don’t know precisely what caused Joseph’s fear, but we know he had to resist it and welcome the Child and His Mother into his home, bestowing on Him the royal lineage of David.  Joseph would be charged with naming the boy, a traditional privilege of fatherhood.  His willingness to do this would help fulfill what God had said long ago through the prophet, Isaiah:  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel” (emphasis added).

When Joseph awoke, was he thinking about this Scripture from Isaiah, which he had undoubtedly heard many times in his life?  Did he think about how the prophecy described a virgin giving birth but “they” would name him?  Did he start to understand that his obedience of faith would bring the “they” (and not just “she”) to pass?  Was there an awful lot he just didn’t understand?  Nevertheless, in spite of any misgivings he might have had, “he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.”  By faith, he received the Child and His Mother and became part of their family.

Perhaps this is why it is Joseph we meet on the last Sunday in Advent.  Aren’t we, too, now asked to receive the Child and His Mother in a fresh and loving way?  Aren’t we, too, asked to give the obedience of faith to believe that no matter what our misgivings might be, or how they arise, we are meant to join that Family?

St. Joseph, pray for us.

Possible response:  Heavenly Father, St. Joseph’s willingness to do something that must have seemed quite difficult is exactly the kind of example I need nearly every hour in my life with You.

First Reading (Read Isa 7:10-14)

We turn now from Joseph’s example of the obedience of faith to King Ahaz’s example of the disobedience of lack of faith that took place about 700 B.C.  In this episode, the very weak Ahaz, king of Judah, had been plotting to form an alliance with pagan nations to protect against military conquest.  God told him not to do this—God never wanted His people to look for help from pagan nations.  They needed to call upon Him alone.  The Lord sent Isaiah to Ahaz with a command:  “Ask for a sign from the Lord your God; let it be as deep as the nether world, or high as the sky.”  In other words, God told Ahaz to ask for such an otherworldly sign to prove God’s instruction against alliances was the one to follow that, when granted, it would demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was trustworthy.  Unfortunately, the crafty Ahaz didn’t want to be convinced that God’s plan was the right path for him; he liked his own plan.  So, in false piety, he declines to ask for that kind of sign:  “I will not tempt the Lord.”  We can just about see Isaiah rolling his eyes at this point:  “Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God?”  Isaiah knew what was behind this coy sham.

Not to be thwarted by Ahaz, the Lord Himself gave a sign, and what a sign it was!  We are still celebrating it:  “The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”  This will be the sign that our salvation, our victory over our enemies (sin, death, the devil) will come through God alone.  “Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”  This name is actually a description of the Incarnation.  The name, Jesus, given to both Joseph and Mary to be the Name of God’s Son, means “Savior.”  How appropriate!  Ahaz resisted the obedience of faith to try to save himself and his people.  Joseph and Mary gave God the obedience of faith and welcomed the only Savior men will ever know—God-with-us, Emmanuel.

O come, o come, Emmanuel.

Possible response:  Heavenly Father, thank You for making and keeping this promise to show us that our help—our salvation—is in You alone.

Psalm (Read Ps 24:1-6)

This psalm helps us get ready to leave Advent and welcome Christmas.  It sings of the glory of God’s possession of “the earth and its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it.”  God and man were always meant to dwell together (remember the Garden of Eden), but disobedience that comes from lack of faith separated them:  “Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord or who may stand in His holy place?  One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean.”  This is our Jesus!  Soon, He comes to show “the face of God” to those who seek Him, and that would be us.  After our Advent preparation, we are ready to sing, “Let the Lord enter; He is king of glory.”

Possible response:  The psalm is, itself, a response to our other readings.  Read it again prayerfully to make it your own.

Second Reading (Read Rom 1:1-7)

St. Paul, in writing to the Church in Rome, scoops together many of the themes we have seen in our other readings.  He acknowledges that Jesus, Son of David, is the fulfillment of God’s promises made so long ago.  He knows that because of what Jesus has done for us, there is Good News, the Gospel, to be preached throughout the world.  See how St. Paul’s apostleship, a grace from God, commissioned him to call Jews and Gentiles alike (in other words, everyone) to the “obedience of faith.”  We, too, are “called to be holy,” as were Mary and Joseph.  Jesus comes to make that possible.  He brings us “grace” and “peace.”

Has Advent made us willing to offer to our God the obedience of faith with renewed vigor in this new liturgical year?

Possible response:  Heavenly Father, I know the greatest and only gift I can give You is my faith.  Help me live that faith better in the year ahead.

46 posted on 12/22/2013 7:38:16 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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One Bread One Body

One Bread, One Body

Language: English | Español

All Issues > Volume 30, Issue 1

<< Sunday, December 22, 2013 >> Fourth Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 7:10-14
Romans 1:1-7

View Readings
Psalm 24:1-6
Matthew 1:18-24

Similar Reflections


"Joseph, son of David, have no fear about taking Mary as your wife." —Matthew 1:20

With all the noise and hype of Christmas, Jesus the Christ has a hard time being noticed. A baby, however, usually can attract some attention, even if overshadowed by Madison Avenue and Santa Claus. Even Mary having a baby in a stable will at least get an honorable mention. Additionally, the shepherds and the kings quaintly fit our desire for fantasy.

However, Joseph just doesn't rate. For one thing, he's quiet. In fact, we don't have even one word of Joseph recorded in Scriptures. He's described as "an upright man" (Mt 1:19). That's certainly not a newsworthy story. He just doesn't fit into a commercialized Christmas. That's just the person we need: someone to quiet us down and make us realize we've been chosen out of this world (Jn 15:19).

Therefore we too shouldn't fit so easily into the world's commercialized Christmas. We live in a culture which has everything but quiet peace and uncompromised commitment. Jesus wants to give us a "Joseph-Christmas" present. "For when peaceful stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, Your all-powerful Word from heaven's royal throne bounded" (Wis 18:14-15). Maybe if Christmas became more of a "silent night," it might become a more holy one.

Prayer: Lord, quiet my soul like a weaned child on its mother's lap (Ps 131:2).
Promise: "...the gospel concerning His Son, Who was descended from David according to the flesh but was made Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness, by His resurrection from the dead." —Rm 1:3-4
Praise: "O King of all the nations, the only Joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature You fashioned from the dust."

47 posted on 12/22/2013 8:00:25 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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48 posted on 12/22/2013 8:02:01 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Insight Scoop

St. Joseph's doubt and the angel's gift

Detail from "The Dream of Saint Joseph" by Francisco de Zurbaran (1635)

A Scriptural Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, December 22nd, Fourth Sunday of Advent | Carl E. Olson

• Isa 7:10-14
• Ps 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
• Rom 1:1-7
• Mt 1:18-24

“Looking on thee, O Unwedded One,
and dreading a hidden wedlock, O Sinless One,
the chaste Joseph was riven in mind with a storm of doubts…”

That is how the anxious state of Joseph was poetically described by the unknown author of the great Akathist hymn (c. 6th century) to the blessed Virgin Mary as he considered what to do with his young and pregnant betrothed. Joseph, following the usual Jewish practice, had been covenanted to Mary; their betrothal was, for all intents and purposes, as legally binding as marriage. According to Jewish law, this meant the betrothal could only end in one of two ways: divorce or death (Deut. 24:1-4).

Although devotion to St. Joseph has grown tremendously in recent centuries, it is still easy to overlook both the tremendous decisions he faced and the great character he demonstrated in making those decisions. Today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew describes Joseph as a “righteous man”. This is not some vague reference to Joseph simply being a nice guy, but is a direct recognition of his whole-hearted commitment to the Law. “And it will be righteousness for us,” said the Hebrews at Mount Sinai, upon being given the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, “if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us” (Deut. 6:25). Joseph was careful to follow the commandments; he desired to love and serve God completely.

Yet he was faced with a gut-wrenching, scandalous situation: a young bride who was already pregnant. However, Joseph was “unwilling to expose Mary to shame” and had decided to divorce her—or, better translated, “to send her away quietly”. Some of the Church fathers and doctors believed that Joseph had suspected Mary of adultery. Others thought he had withheld moral judgment, being genuinely perplexed by the strange situation. And some, including St. Thomas Aquinas, believed Joseph knew of the miraculous nature of Mary’s pregnancy from the start, and had sought to separate himself from her because of a deep sense of unworthiness.

So we don’t know what Joseph knew prior to the angel of the Lord appearing to him. Rather remarkably, we also don’t know what Joseph may have said, simply because not one word that he uttered is recorded! But we do learn some important things from the words of the angel, as well as from Joseph’s actions.

The angel provided Joseph with three essential gifts and truths. First, the divine messenger granted him the gift of peace: “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” The coming of the Lord is always a gift of peace to those who love and serve him.

Secondly, he told Joseph there was a divine plan in place: Mary will give birth to Jesus—which means “Yahweh saves”—who will save his people from sin. Joseph would surely have recognized this as a description of the long-awaited Messiah.

Finally, the angel provided the prophetic background to this stunning event, the passage from Isaiah 7, today’s reading from the Old Testament. This would have further reinforced the reality of the divine plan.

Joseph, in turn, did three things. He thought, first and foremost, about Mary and her wellbeing. He acted justly, without concern for himself, even though he had every legal right to be upset. A good husband puts the needs and reputation of his wife before his own.

Secondly, he placed his trust and hope in God’s promise. Although we never hear any words from Joseph, we are told of his actions. A godly man walks the talk, but with a minimum of talk!

Third, Joseph embraced the daunting task of being the foster father of the Son of God. Why? Because he trusted in God despite the strangeness of the situation.

And what is the conclusion of the verse of the Akathist hymn quoted above? “…but learning that your conception was of the Holy Spirit, he cried out: ‘Alleluia!’” Alleluia, indeed!

(This "Opening the Word" column originally appeared in the December 19, 2010, issue of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)

49 posted on 12/23/2013 6:06:41 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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50 posted on 12/29/2013 8:01:10 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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