December 25, 1997 vol 8,
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"For today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, Who is Christ the Lord . . . Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of good will."
THURSDAY, December 25, 1997 - SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD
With the Vigil of Christmas begins the Christmas Season in the Liturgical calendar. It officially ends with the Feast of the Epiphany. The Feast of the Nativity, or the Incarnation, or Christmas is a holy day of obligation and one of the most joyous in the Church. In celebrating this glorious event we commemorate the birth of the Christ child as related in Luke 2: 1-20. It was the culmination of the long-awaited coming of the Messiah foretold throughout Scripture. Such as Isaiah 7:14 where the prophet foretold the Coming of Emmanuel; from Abraham to the Root of Jesse, father of David who continued the line as the Key of David - the Savior's lineage which came all the way down to Jacob, father of Joseph as transcribed in Matthew 1: 1-16. The story of a child born of a virgin in a poor, run-down stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem while lowly shepherds tended their flocks because there was no room at the inn is well-known by all detailed in Matthew 1:24-25, Luke 2: 1-20, and John 1: 14 wherein the beloved Apostle says it so eloquently: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." The feast, originally celebrated on the Feast of Epiphany in the East, was transfered to December 25 in 354 by Pope Liberius for the universal Church in the West where it was called "Christmas." Many believe this date was set to observe this wondrous feast to offset the observance of pagan ceremonies held simultaneously. These pagan feasts celebrated the winter solstice. There is credence for this supposition because at the time Liberius instituted Christmas on December 25 he was embroiled in debate with Julian the Apostate who, as Emperor, was trying to establish a universal pagan church. A special privilege of allowing the priests to say three Masses on Christmas day reverts back to around the 4th Century when the Holy Father celebrated Midnight Mass in the Basilica where the original Bethlehem manger was preserved. He then said a second in the church of St. Anastasia at dawn for her feast day was on December 25th as well, and followed that up with a day Mass at the Basilica in the Vatican. Today there are three different texts/readings for the three Masses on Christmas. The etimology of "Christmas" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Cristes Maesse which means "Christ's Mass." In fact, most of the present customs in many countries evolved over the centuries as a result of Holy Mother Church's "Christianizing" of pagan celebrations during that time of year.
December 25: CHRISTMAS MIDNIGHT MASS
First Reading: Isaiah 9: 1-3, 5-6
Psalms: Psalm 96: 1-3, 11-13
Second Reading: Titus 2: 11-14
Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 1-14
December 25: CHRISTMAS DAWN MASS
First Reading: Isaiah 62: 11-12
Psalms: Psalm 97: 1, 6, 11-12
Second Reading: Titus 3: 4-7
Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 15-20
December 25: CHRISTMAS DAY MASS
First Reading: Isaiah 52: 7-10
Psalms: Psalm 98: 1-6
Second Reading: Hebrews 1: 1-6
Gospel Reading: John 1: 1-18
FRIDAY, December 26, 1997
First Reading: Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59
Psalms: Psalm 31: 3-4, 6-8, 17, 21
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10: 17-22
December 26: FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN, First Martyr
The first deacon of the Church, Saint Stephen was hand-picked by the Apostles to help the original twelve to minister to the poor. He was of Jewish descent who spoke Greek fluently from his education in Alexandria. Returning to Jerusalem he was converted to Christianity, many feel by Jesus Christ Himself during Our Lord's public ministry. After the descent of the Holy Spirit the Apostles ordained the seven deacons by laying their hands upon them while they prayed with Stephen being the first ordained. The deacons main ministry was to the Hellenic Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and Stephen, with his expertise in Greek and oratory, led the deacons in converting numerous Jews which caused great consternation among the Sanhedrin who accused Stephen of blasphemy because their best could not debate the brilliant Stephen who was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Chapter 6 and 7 of the Acts of the Apostle relate the events that took place leading up to Stephen's martyrdom. When brought before the Sanhedrin as a prisoner, the assembled body thought that if they threatened punishment, he would recant and cease his activities. Were they in for a surprise when Stephen defended Christ and His teachings. When the Sanhedrin denounced the Holy Spirit as a lot of hogwash and ordered him to stop preaching, Stephen smiled and described the instantaneous beautiful vision he had of Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father, continuing about Jesus that he did not die but rose from the dead and ascended bodily into Heaven. In short, he not only refused to abandon his Savior, but also pinged the consciences of the Sanhedrin by reminding them of what God had intended with His chosen race of Israel, but which they had abandoned. This infuriated the pompous rulers; so much so that they siezed him in a fit of anger and dragged him outside the city where they stoned him to death, as Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit...Lord, do not lay this sin against them" (Acts 7:59-60). As Scripture accounts, there was a young soldier standing by who approved of the zealots violence. His name was Saul who would go on to become the great Paul, but for now he was still mired in the darkness as the lifeless Stephen laid in his own spilled blood, crushed to death. It was the first martyrdom of the Church after Christ's death on the Cross and it set a precedent and pattern that would be the seeds of Christianity for all time. His relics were discovered near the north gate of Jerusalem and the bishop of Jerusalem transferred them to Saint Sion. In 439 a new basilica was built in his honor, but was destroyed in 614 by the Persians. However the relics were preserved and the ruins became an oratory only to be destroyed again in 1187. His relics were preserved and separated, some going to northern Africa, others to Prague, some to Constantinople and the rest to Rome where they were preserved in the church of St. Stephen in Rome. It wasn't until 1882 that the original church in Jerusalem was rebuilt near the Dominican Biblical School, where it was consecrated at the turn of the century. His feast has been celebrated in the universal Church since the 5th Century.
A Special Christmas Message
from the Blessed Mother
In honor of the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord, Our Lady presents a very special Christmas message to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart reprinted here from 1991 and which is timeless. Click on "I Solemnly Tell you. . ."
Messages One Hundred Thirty Five
Special CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: December 25, 1991
(Imparted to the Hidden Flower from the Immaculate Heart of Mary)
(Solemnity of the Feast of the Birth of Our Lord -Christmas)
Beloved Hidden Flower, I bless you. To all my children, Peace, dear little ones. How my Immaculate Heart rejoices that you have earnestly sought my Son to be truly born in your hearts. By your faithful practice all I have asked shall never leave you.
Cling to the Prince of Peace. Call upon Him with utmost reverence and He shall hear and answer your just petitions. Beloved, satan despises this Holy Season. Therefore, I solemnly tell you those who believe, live and promote my messages must belong to my Son through me, His Immaculate Mother.
I desire all to know that my plan rapidly unfolds. The time is now that mankind shall experience ever-greater trials. Be at peace. Fear not.
This Christmas pray for the peace of God to descend into every heart and if all are joined in this endeavor the Justice shall be mitigated, though it
shall still come.
Behold, I present to you, my little ones, the Holy Infant, the new born babe. I bring Him anew and will not reject any who seek Him with a free heart made clean of all sin through Confession.
He reigns, now and forever. Praise God, now and forever, for He brings signs to His people out of Love to prepare all for His coming.
Many still reject my words, but do not fear. The great schism will avert many from the Light. Jesus is the Light. I lead all to Him. Persevere.
Rejoice. Recall the angel's words: "Peace on earth to men of good will."
Change your hearts, convert your will by fervent faith and believe. All I have foretold comes to pass.
Peace, my little ones. The Blessings of the Christ Child, Prince of Peace. Be of God and abide in His Laws for there can be no other way.
I remain among you. I give all my motherly blessing. Praise to the Holy Trinity, now and forever. I love you.
Thank you for responding to my Call!
NEXT WEEK: Message One Hundred Thirty Eight: Special New Year's Message
A Christmas Wish from all of us:
Christmas Message from Father Al Svobodny, OMI
Recently I read a story about a little African boy named Emmanuel. He was always asking questions. One day he asked his teacher, "What language does God speak?" His teacher scratched his head and said, "I really donít know." So Emmanuel asked the... Click on Father Al Svobodny, OMI to read the rest.
Recently I read a story about a little African boy named Emmanuel. He was always asking questions. One day he asked his teacher, "What language does God speak?" His teacher scratched his head and said, "I really donít know." So Emmanuel asked the learned people of his village, but they didnít know either. Now he really became curious and traveled around his country asking learned people of other villages. No one could give him the answer. He then set out for other countries and even to other continents, but the answer was always the same. One night, exhausted by his travels, he came to a village called Bethlehem. He tried to get a room in one of the inns but the rooms were all filled up. So he decided to look for a cave outside of town. In the early hours of the morning he finally found one. When he stepped inside the cave he saw it was occupied by a couple and a child. When the young mother saw him, she said, "Welcome, Emmanuel, weíve been expecting you." The boy was stunned. How did this woman know his name? He was even more amazed when she said, "For a long time you have been searching the world over to discover what language God speaks. Now your journey is over. Tonight you see with your own eyes what language God speaks. He speaks the language of love. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to the world."
From that day on Emmanuel began to speak the language that God speaks. He began to speak the language of love. He made a beautiful discovery. When you speak the language of love, they begin to speak back to you. And, as Emmanuel made his way back home, you could follow his path because he left behind him a trail of towns and villages where people began to speak the language of love, too.
He knew something else. He knew that once people began to speak the language of love, wonderful things would begin to happen everywhere. Nations would begin to share their resources and talents with each other. Races would begin treating one another with dignity. Families would begin to live together in harmony and love.
And so this Christmas, I encourage all readers of the Daily CATHOLIC not only to learn the language of love, but to put it into practice and speak it day in and day out. I guarantee you will be celebrating Christmas every day of your live if you learn the art of this language.
Please continue to pray for the spiritual success of this most wonderful ministry of MIR-A-CALL Center and its new endeavor - the Daily CATHOLIC. . May God bless you abundantly this Christmas and all through the coming year and may you all receive the wonderful gift of the language of love.
Father Al Svobodny, OMI
Christmas Message from Father John Hampsch, C.M.F.
It is with great joy and sincerity of heart that I extend to you my warmest wishes for a healthy, happy and holy Christmas, Christmas Season, and New Year. I love this time of year! I love it not because it is a time of giving presents and the hustle and bustle of... Click on Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. to read the rest.
Christmas Day is a good time to remember the poster slogan: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." But remember also that every "today is itself God's gift - that's why we call it the present! Think of that while wrapping those last minute Christmas presents. For a spiritual boost at New Year's that will lift your spirits without imbibing in the spirits, be resolute in your resolutions; practing being at war with your vices and at peace with your neighbors. 'Taint easy, but it keeps your halo from becoming a noose!
So for 1998, start with a cool Yule and follow the Bethlehem Star throughout the New Year by living carefully and prayerfully. That's not just holiday advice for perpetuating the Christmas spirit; it's also a prayer from my faithful staff at CTM for all you Hampschters, echoed by yours truly. In our daily Mass we'll be praying that you make your heart a manger to couch the world's Heaven-sent Present - the One Mary gift-wrapped in swaddling clothes and now presents to you: a Gift that is all yours without asking, and all yours for the taking. And when you hold Him to your heart, while basking in Mary's smile and angel glow, whister in His ear a little prayer for me, woncha? Yule never No-el how grateful I am.
I want to leave you with a special poem I composed which I call "CHRIST-MASS":
My blessings to all this Christmas,
The Virgin who, with Sacred Leaven,
Had fashioned "Bread that came from Heaven,"
Raised Him up with blessing hands
To Magi, shepherds, angel bands,
From His crib-ciborium,
When in my hands on Christmas morn
This Bread-made-God again is born,
I'll lift HIm up that all may see
Love in mute Divinity,
And bless you, friend, with Mary's Babe.
Father John H. Hampsch, C.M.F.
Christmas Message from Sister Mary Lucy Astuto
As we near that time nearly 2000 years ago when a tiny Babe in swaddling clothes forever changed the world, let us pause and give thanks for all He has given us and remember the extreme love and care lavished on Him by His loving Mother - the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is... Click on Sister Mary Lucy Astuto to read the rest.
It is with great joy and sincerity of heart that I extend to you my warmest wishes for a healthy, happy and holy Christmas, Christmas Season, and New Year. I love this time of year! I love it not because it is a time of giving presents and the hustle and bustle of the season. Actually, I think I could pretty much forego most of that! As I grow older I would just as soon not get caught up in the materialistic side of Christmas.
I love this time of year because we remember the most special Baby ever to be born. Remembering Jesus as just a Little One, so weak and dependent on His Mother Mary and foster Father Joseph, born in a cold cave with the breath of animals to keep Him warm is to remember how far God is willing to "stoop" to show His Love for us.
As I hear the Christmas music which brings to memory the secure feelings of my childhood at Christmas, and when I see homes and businesses decorated for the Christmas Season, I tell Jesus: "Lord, I donít know if everyone who is commemorating Christmas is doing it for YOU, but I offer all of these musical notes and beautiful lights to You that YOU may be glorified and loved especially during this time. Thank You for coming to save us."
Wonít you join me in this prayer so that the REAL meaning of Christmas will not be lost in economics. Just look for my column every Friday. Hopefully it will help make your weekend just a little bit brighter. May the Star of Bethlehem shine ever bright everyday of your life for He truly is the Light. May the Christ-Child bless you and yours with every blessing of which you have need. Peace in Him! God bless you!
Sister Mary Lucy Astuto
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December 25, 1997 volume 8, no. 60   DAILY CATHOLIC