Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 7th Lk. 5:17-26 “Astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, ‘We have seen incredible things today.’”
- Today Jesus heals a man of his paralysis. In front of everyone, the man immediately stands up, picks up what he was lying on, and heads for home, glorifying God. And they are struck with awe.
- Remember, Jesus has already forgiven the man’s sins. Now Jesus asks them, “Which is greater to say ‘Your sins are forgiven?’ or ‘Rise and walk?’”
- Let us turn the question around. Which is greater for us to hear, “Your sins are forgiven”… “This is my Body” and “This is my Blood”—Jesus Mercy for the sinner and His Real Presence among us, the means of our growth in virtue and our eternal salvation?
- Or the equivalent of “Rise and walk” meaning that today’s problems and sufferings are gone, only to be replaced by new problems and sufferings tomorrow? Don’t think that all the problems in that man’s life were solved because he could walk!
- A man once asked Padre Pio to cure his blindness and restore his sight. The saint said he could do that, but if the man’s sight was restored, he would lose his soul for all eternity! The man chose to remain blind.
- Because of original sin, everything material in our life, including our body, is tending toward decay and death. While everything spiritual in our life – our soul, grace, and virtue have the potential to grow from glory to glory until we die and are judged.
- Maybe this is the time when we are ready to simplify our lives, get rid of all the excess material things that clutter our homes and our minds, and truly relish and grow in the spiritual riches of our faith and share them with others. This article can help us!
CHRISTMAS IS A TIME OF GIVING AND LOVING by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
The Advent Season that culminates in Christmas, the birth of Jesus, Our Lord and Savior, is a time of giving and loving. Actually, the Gift of Gifts—the Gift of all Gifts is Jesus Himself. With a limitless love, care and concern for all of humanity, and for each and every one of us individually, God the Father gave Jesus to us as the Gift beyond all price.
Due to the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, the Original Sin, the gates of Heaven were slammed and locked shut for all of humanity until God intervened in a most powerful, but also a most humble, manner. God, in the Person of Jesus, became man, so as to transform us into Sons and Daughters of God.
Never in a million years could we have reasoned it out and come to the conclusion that God would decide to save us by means of the Incarnation. Nobody could have ever imagined God becoming man in the Incarnation through the consent of the Virgin Mary. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus became one of us in all ways with the exception of sin. Jesus indeed is the Way, the Truth and the Life who shows us the way to the Father in Heaven.
Therefore, let us manifest our gratitude towards our all-good and generous God by the way we treat others. Jesus said: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me.” (Mt. 25:40) Also, our charitable expression of love must be manifest first towards our family members—indeed, charity begins at home.
Perhaps the traditional manner of giving material gifts to our relatives and friends can be supplanted by spiritual gifts. In a word, instead of giving many material gifts and receiving many material gifts, maybe we can offer gifts of a spiritual nature.
Call to mind the abject poverty that characterized the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Cold, damp, musty, dark, cobwebs, the foul stench of animals and animal dung, hard rocks and straw—all these are words that describe to a limited degree the place where Jesus was born: the Stable of Bethlehem. In a real sense, our souls often reflect the same atmosphere. We are at times cold, dirty, musty, hard of heart, and emit the foul stench of sin. But it was precisely for that reason that Jesus came into the world—to save us from sin and all that is related to sin. The name “Jesus” means Savior!
Therefore, this being the case, what are some gifts that we can offer to Jesus and to our relatives and friends this Christmas?
First, why not offer to the Lord Jesus a Good Confession? Why not make an excellent examination of conscience, beg for true sorrow and a firm purpose to change, and confess your sins to the priest who represents Christ, the Divine Physician? Three qualities of a good confession: be transparent, be humble, and be obedient! Then be gone! A good Sacramental Confession is the best way to clean out the dirty stable of our soul so that Jesus can be born with great joy.
Second, reconciliation with family members. All too often, due to past wounds, family members have never really practiced mercy by forgiving from the heart hurtful offenses. Consequently, there exists a somewhat tense atmosphere at home. Sarcastic and cutting words or expressions, sardonic smiles, gossip and back-biting, and at times an icy-coldness—all are symptoms of a lack of true and total forgiveness. If we want God to forgive us, then we must forgive our brothers and sisters who have hurt us. There is no clearer expression of this than in the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us….”
Third, prepare, make and give a Spiritual Bouquet. If you have never been exposed to the term, as well as the gift, of a Spiritual Bouquet, this merits a brief explanation. The bride places at the feet of the Blessed Mother a bouquet of roses so as to bless her marriage. The Spiritual Bouquet is essentially roses that are of a purely spiritual nature. Spiritually, decide what you are willing to do and to offer as your Spiritual Bouquet of roses.
Fourth, we present to you a model for composing your own Spiritual Bouquet: “I offer these spiritual gifts for your sanctification and salvation.”
1. The recitation of the Holy Rosary ten times.
2. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy fifteen times.
3. Short prayers (aspirations) one hundred in total.
4. Sacrifices/acts of mortification or self-denial seven in total.
5. Holy Mass offered in the Church for you and your intentions —five times.
6. Holy Communions offered for you—five times.
7. The Stations/ Way of the Cross prayed for you—four times.
The above is a mere model or example of what a Spiritual Bouquet might look like. All of the gifts are of a spiritual nature. They can be of immense value in helping others on the Highway to holiness and to Heaven.
Fifth, a beautiful image or painting of Divine Mercy. Instead of purchasing some secular item, why not bestow as a gift the image of Divine Mercy. Three of the most prominent images that adorn Catholic homes today are that of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the image of Divine Mercy. Jesus promised extraordinary blessings upon those who honor, venerate, and even enthrone this beautiful image. By contemplating this image, in a mysterious and powerfully mystical way, you are drawn into the most important attribute of the Heart of Jesus, His Infinite Mercy.
Sixth, CHRISTMAS MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION—KEY TO FAMILY UNITY AND HARMONY. It must be said that some Catholics will celebrate Christmas paying attention to all of the external wrappings, while remaining oblivious to, and therefore excluding, the most important aspect of Christmas: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! Christ was born 2000 years ago in Bethlehem—the House of Bread. The prolongation of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is Jesus being born in the hands of the priest in the moment of consecration and in our hearts in the moment of Holy Communion!
Seventh, may the whole family, well-confessed, and with purity of heart, mind and soul, approach the Eucharistic banquet and receive the Child Jesus into their hearts in Holy Communion. If done, this can create great peace and harmony within the family. Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us; Jesus is also titled “The Prince of Peace”! As St. Paul reminds us: “Though we are many, we form one bread and one body in the Lord.” (1 Cor.10:17)
Eighth, cultivate the “Apostolate of Kindness”. One of the most precious gifts that family members can give to each other for Christmas and during the Christmas Season, is to cultivate a perennial habit of what we might call “The Apostolate of Kindness.” (Read the classic text on Kindness by Fr. Lovasik). Kindness is one of those social virtues that condiments life, that salts and seasons and enlivens human social dealings. Without it, family life can really become an intense battle. In all aspects of our family and social dealings may they be condimented by the salt and seasoning of kindness. A winning smile, gentle and encouraging words, a word or two of comfort and support, a helping hand to the faltering, an attentive and listening ear—all are concrete manifestations of kindness. What a splendid and superb Christmas day and Christmas Season would result from an overall milieu and practice of kindness. Indeed, kindness is a priceless gift! Let us resolve to make a habit of kindness!
Ninth, a good Catholic prayer-book. One of the gifts that I most cherished as a child when I made my First Communion was the First Communion Catholic prayer-book. If you do not know how to pray, you can go to the Psalms in the Old Testament and pray a Psalm every night, and learn how to pray by the Word of God. However, another way is to purchase a good Catholic Prayer-book and read each night one or several of the beautiful prayers presented in the book. In time try to memorize some of them. These spiritual gifts that are designed to cultivate the soul are very pleasing to God! On one occasion, my Mother showed me her First Communion Prayer Book that she had kept with her for close to eighty years! No doubt we will be lifted up on eagles’ wings, soar to the heavenly heights, if we learn and practice the art of prayer.
Tenth, Gift to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Of course, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary who said Yes to God and Jesus took on flesh in her most pure womb. Mary offered Jesus as a Gift in the Temple when He was forty days old. Mary also offered to God the Father, Jesus as He hung upon the cross on Good Friday, shedding every drop of His Precious Blood for our eternal salvation. A gift most pleasing to Mary, the Mother of God, would be the family praying the most Holy Rosary together. In the words of the Rosary-priest, Father Patrick Peyton, “The family that prays together, stays together.” Every time we say: Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, the Immaculate Heart of Mary rejoices exultantly!
To conclude, let us all make a concerted effort to live out the art of giving, especially spiritual gifts. Saint Mother Teresa insisted upon giving, so much so that she stated: “Give until it hurts.” Saint Paul stated: “There is more joy in giving than in receiving.” (Acts 20: 35) Jesus was born to give all—His Precious Body and Blood on the cross for love of you and me. Let us give generously with abundant love.
Copyright 2020 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA