December 26-28, 1997 vol 8,
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Is this weekend for the Birds?
You bet it is! And in the best of senses for it is the Days after Christmas and a chance to reflect on the glorious birth of Our Lord and Savior Who is the "Partridge" in the pear tree. As we indicated in our Christmas issue, the actual Twelve Days of Christmas were a secret "catechism" code sung by persecuted Roman Catholics from the Protestant Reformation through the French Revolution in which the faithful could communicate much in the sense the early Christians did via symbols. The symbolism will be explained on each of the twelve days in these pages. The first four symbols refer to God's feathered friends and Saturday is the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist, symbolized by the eagle. So one would definitely have to say this weekend is for the birds - in a very good sense!
Friday, December 26
"On the second day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, two turtledoves."
The two turtledoves represent the Old and New Testaments - the Word of God which over the years has been so watered down by "interpretations and political correctness" that often it loses its true meaning.
Saturday, December 27
"On the third day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, three French hens."
The three French hens represent the Three Theological Virtues of FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY which enabled Catholics to stay in the state of grace by practicing and promulgating these vital virtues when the sacraments were not readily available.
Sunday, December 28
"On the fourth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, four calling birds."
The four calling birds represent the four Gospels where truly the Word of God through Jesus and His life for all of us to emulate was recorded. Since Catholics were not allowed to keep bibles or preach during those times, they reinforced others through the song to read the Gospels in private and live it.
Monday, December 29
"On the fifth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, five Golden Rings."
The five golden rings represent both the first Five Books of the Old Testament which reminded fellow Catholics of the roots and, after the devotion became more widespread and known, the Five Decades of the Rosary.
Those times of persecution could return as we face the pivotal times ahead, but if we are prepared, we can outrun the devil and win the race as we point out in this weekend's commentary. Click on CATHOLIC PewPOINT
Coming down the stretch
The last few days of 1997 will be gone before we know it and then begins the year of determination: 1998 - The Year of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Father's countdown to the Millennium. We could look back on this year and review all that has happened, but, in the words of Satchell Paige, "Don't look back because somebody may be gaining on you." That somebody, of course, has a forked tail and horns. You know him better as ol' satan and he is furious right now for his time is oh so short. Not short enough as far as we're concerned, but short enough to realize the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart is nearer every day. The message to Father Don Stefano Gobbi given to him by Our Lady at Lourdes in September 1988 spoke of the next ten years. This message can be found in the Tenth Edition of Our Lady Speaks to Her Beloved Priests. With the year 1998 those ten years are up. Now comes time for the atonement. All the Blessed Mother foretold in that message has come to pass. 1998 is the pivotal year. In addition, Fr. Gobbi also received a follow-up message from Our Lady that her Triumph will occur before the Jubilee Year 2000!!!
Therefore, each and everyone of us need to intensify our evangelization efforts as we enter this pivotal year. We can't look back and say "what if" for we must live with what we have, who we are, and what God has given us and be grateful to Him for everything...and be obedient to Him in everything. The Persecutions of the faithful will increase world-wide and we must be ready. That's why we have escalated this publication to a daily because of the urgency of the situation. Our faith is too vital, too precious, too important to hide under a bushel basket or to allow to be watered down. We must stand and fight, pick up our cross daily and follow Him wherever He leads us as we come to the crossroads of civilization as we know it. Christ didn't look back, neither should we. The soul does not look back, but rather looks ahead, yearning to be reunited with God in Heavenly Bliss forever. Let us take to heart and put into action the counsel of Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 9: 24 and run the good race. "Do you not know that those who run in a race, all indeed run, but one who receives the prize? So run as to obtain it. And everyone in a contest abstains from all things - and they indeed to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one." No wonder the Blessed Virgin Mary has asked us in everyone of her messages during this last century to fast and pray. Have you ever noticed that the larger your cross the better you run? Rather than bogging us down, when we willingly carry His cross He gives us wings of fortitude to not only finish the race, but win it! Through the sacraments, prayer, fasting, penance and conversion of heart we will be in perfect shape for that extra spurt at the end. That is the only way we will be in spiritual shape for the race of our lives. So quicken your step and fasten that cross firmly on your shoulders in the relay race of your life, lest ol' hornhead gain on you as we head down the backstretch this coming year toward the finish line. Willingly carrying our cross will get us through the final obstacles with Heavenly colors as we fly down the stretch toward the Ultimate Prize!
Michael Cain, editor
United we kneel, divided we're prey!
For the ravages of satan and his desperate measures in these last few years before the millennium. In today's reflection on Sacred Scripture, Cyndi Cain reflects on one passage that says it all in the fact that the Blessed Mother kept it all in her heart and pondered everything, always giving her fiat, no matter what obstacles and sorrows lie ahead, to Almighty God. This fiat was unanimous among all in the Holy Family. Click on "Come Unto Me"
The Essence of the Holy Family is Love and obedience to God's Will.
"And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them; and His Mother kept all these things carefully in her heart."
Luke 2: 51
How many times have we all heard the Gospel for Christmas Day? So many times we’ve become deaf to it?
How many homilies have we listened to with half an ear? Far, far too many for all of us. It’s time to once again reflect upon this magnificent account of the Birth of Christ, especially while it's still fresh in our hearts, and hear with the ears of our souls and hearts, and see with the eyes of our souls and hearts that which was given to the shepherds to see and hear.
Not possible! Well, if you want to look at it rationally, humanly, of course it is. But God is timeless, and nothing is impossible with God. Joy and Splendor, Grace, Mercy and Justice came to earth this day. A Babe, lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, honored and given homage by beasts, adored and worshipped by the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.
Just think - not far away, in an overcrowded town of Bethlehem many people were totally unaware of this historical and divine moment in salvation history. They were just too busy. The angels came to the shepherds. They heard, they saw, the believed. They went in haste, and they gave their hearts forever to the Christ Child. From that moment on their lives were forever changed.
They had nothing to give, but they gave their hearts. Isn’t that what we are being asked to do in this Gospel passage. What did Joseph and Mary have to give the Son of God beside their love? Can we possibly imagine the poverty of that manager setting? Surely, it rivals any poverty-stricken area on earth today. But God chose this from all eternity. Ask yourself why, and you will learn a significant part of the Mystery of Salvation, of Christ our Savior, and the sublime faith, hope and love of the Holy Family.
Look also at that passage which tells us: "But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart!"
There is wisdom. She spoke not about it. She pondered all, offering it back to God, receiving enlightenment through the Holy Spirit. Joseph did the same. Are we not to do the same? To speak of the sublime is to reduce
it, more often than not, to the ridiculous, and open it to debate.
God is not debatable. He Is, and because He Is, we are. On Christmas day, God became man for us - each and every one of us, and He lay in a manger, upon straw, wrapped in swaddling clothes, gazed at by lowly animals and honored and reverenced and adored by shepherds, who were on the bottom of the social rung of the ladder of their own day.
We are His children, heirs of His Kingdom, and this Gospel shows us the significance of words written in the Gospel at a later passage wherein we are told that unless we become as little children, we shall not enter the Kingdom of God. To be as a little child is to behold Christ the Savior as an Infant, weak, dependent upon Mary and St. Joseph, yet there for all the world. To be as an infant is not to be childish, but childlike. And today, we have Him, the Infant Jesus, to go to and to ask, from our hearts, this special grace of being a tiny little baby, trustingly held in His arms...and allowing Him to be our God in all things. That’s why He came, to show us the way.
Hearken to Him, Hear Him, Love Him, Adore Him and give Him all honor and reverence and worship…for He, the Infant, is King of Kings. This moment is as real today as it was 2,000 years ago. Hurry, lest you miss the moment. So many missed it then; let us not repeat the same mistake today.
He waits. Please go. Love will greet you, Love will fill you. This and so much more is contained in these few words from the Gospel. Ponder it in your heart, as did the Blessed Mother, that you may forever be changed.
The Holy Family is our model
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family and an opportunity to emulate the patience of Joseph, the obedience and humility of Jesus, the modesty and motherly love of Mary. In addition, we celebrate the Church's first martyr - Saint Stephen on Friday and on Saturday the Feast of the Beloved Disciple Saint John the Evangelist and Apostle, author of the Fourth Gospel, Epistles, and the Book of Apocalypse/Revelation. For this full weekend, click on LITURGY OF THE DAY
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: 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.
SATURDAY, December 27, 1997
First Reading: 1 John 1: 1-4
Psalms: Psalm 97: 1-2, 5-6, 11-12
Gospel Reading: John 20: 2-8
December 27: SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST, Beloved Apostle
Known as the "beloved Apostle," Saint John, along with his brother Saint James were personally called by Jesus to become fishers of men. This had been his avocation before Our Lord touched his life on the shores of Galilee where he had been born, the son of Zebedee and Salome as chapter 4 of Matthew and 1 of Mark relate. John was the youngest of all the Apostles and dubbed "Sons of Thunder" by Our Lord mainly because of their volatile temperaments which, in John's case, was greatly calmed once he began to follow the Messiah. It is no secret, as Sacred Scripture attests to, that John was a personal favorite of Jesus. The Apostle was handpicked by Our Lord to accompany Him to the place of the Transfiguration, the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, the rasing of Jairus' daughter from the dead, and the agony in the garden. John rewarded his Master by being the only Apostle to follow Jesus to the foot of the Cross. He in turn was rewarded by Our Lord when He entrusted His most prized possession into the beloved Apostle's care - His very Own Blessed Mother Mary as the Apostle relates in his own gospel account, chapter 19: 25-27. John was the first to reach the empty tomb on Easter morning. After Pentecost, John accompanied Peter to Samaria to spread the Word to the people there and was present at the Council of Jerusalem in 49. After that he traveled to Asia Minor. Some believe Our Lady accompanied him there and lived in Ephesus, where she died and was assumed bodily into Heaven. Saint Paul affirms in Galatians 2: 9 that John, along with Peter and James, were "these pillars" of the Church. Church historian Tertullian holds that John traveled to Rome where he miraculously evaded martyrdom under the vile Roman emperor Domitian, emerging fresh and cool after being submerged in a boiling cauldron of oil. The Romans subsequently exiled him to the Isle of Patmos where the Apostle received the visions he recorded in the Apocalypse/Revelation - the last book of the Bible. In 96, upon Domitian's death, John returned to Ephesus where he wrote his gospel along with his three epistles. He has always been depicted with an eagle to signify the soaring majesticness of his writings which were indeed so brilliant theologically that some came to call him "John the Divine." John was totally human, however, as we know and he died in Ephesus around 104. Some historians refute this, claiming John returned to Patmos where he died just before the turn of the century. Regardless of accounts, it is fact that John lived a long life and contributed much to furthering the faith and completing Public Revelation.
SUNDAY, December 28, 1997
First Reading: Sirach 3: 2-6, 12-14
Psalms: Psalm 128: 1-5
Second Reading: Colossians 3: 12-21
Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 41-52
Feast of the Holy Family: December 29
This feast is always celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas and commemorates the holy bond of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Holy Family is the model for all homes, especiallly in this day and age when family concept is no longer held sacred and the sacred is profaned when same-sex unions call themselves family. In the Holy Family we have the ideal role models God intended for all His children: Jesus as the obedient child, observing all He can in bringing love to His Mother and foster father, contributing to the family unit; Joseph as the humble, loving, patient patriarch of the family, guiding Jesus gently but firmly, and lovingly protecting his spouse whom he respects so much he will not defile in word or action, defending her honor in all chasteness; and finally Mary, the loving Virgin Mother who never complains despite the rugged travel while with child, the harsh elements and the meager food. She tenderly cares for her Divine Son, spending sleepless hours in meditative union with God, always in joy, caring for her loving spouse Joseph by preparing the meals, washing his garments, etc. Yes, this is the ideal family and no one can perceive of such a family today - but it is the ideal to strive for and because of that, this feast is very special within the Church - a family member of the Communion of Saints. The Feast of the Holy Family first gained observance status in the 17th Century and garnered greater stature in the 18th Century when Pope Leo XIII consecrated families to the Holy Family. Pope Benedict XV extended the Divine Office and the Mass of this feast to the universal Church in 1921.
MONDAY, December 29, 1997
First Reading: 1 John 1: 1-4
Psalms: Psalm 97: 1-2, 5-6, 11-12
Gospel Reading: John 20: 2-8
Medjugorje Monthly Message for December 25th
Dear children! Also today I rejoice with you and I call you to the good. I desire that each of you reflect and carry peace in your heart and say: I want God in the first place in my life. In this way, little children, each of you will become holy. Little children, tell everyone, I want the good for you and he will respond with the good and, little children, good will come to dwell in the heart of each man. Little children, tonight I bring to you the good of my Son Who gave His life to save you. That is why, little children, rejoice and extend your hands to Jesus Who is only good. Thank you for having responded to my call!
For more on Medjugorje, Click on MEDJUGORJE
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December 26-28, 1997 volume 8, no. 61   DAILY CATHOLIC