Archive for December, 2015

#MoralStory: Now I see why You had to do it

“Once upon a time there was a man who looked upon Christmas as a lot of humbug. He wasn’t a Scrooge. He was a kind and decent person, generous to his family, upright in all his dealings with other men. But he didn’t believe all that stuff about Incarnation which churches proclaim at Christmas. And he was too honest to pretend that he did. “I am truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, who was a faithful churchgoer. “But I simply cannot understand this claim that God becomes man. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

On Christmas Eve his wife and children went to church for the midnight service. He declined to accompany them. “I’d feel like a hypocrite,” he explained. “I’d rather stay at home. But I’ll wait up for you.”

Shortly after his family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. “If we must have Christmas,” he thought, “it’s nice to have a white one.” He went back to his chair by the fireside and began to read his newspaper. A few minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. It was quickly followed by another, then another.

He thought that someone must be throwing snowballs at his livingroom window. When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the storm. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his window. “I can’t let these poor creatures lie there and freeze,” he thought. “But how can I help them?” Then he remembered the barn where the children’s pony was stabled. It would provide a warm shelter.

He put on his coat and galoshes and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the door wide and turned on a light. But the birds didn’t come in. “Food will lure them in,” he thought. So he hurried back to the house for bread crumbs, which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn. To his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction – except into the warm lighted barn.

“They find me a strange and terrifying creature,” he said to himself, “and I can’t seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me. If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety. . . .”

Just at that moment the church bells began to ring. He stood silent for a while, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. Then he sank to his knees in the snow. “Now I do understand,” he whispered. “Now I see why You had to do it.” ”

MORAL:: “Now I see why You had to do it” wrote Louis Cassels in A Christmas Parable. And indeed God had to do it, had to become one of us to make us understand because despite God’s best efforts throughout all the Old Testament we still didn’t get the message. Sometimes you have to, as we say, rub their noses in it to make them understand. Christmas is, in a sense, God rubbing our noses in it to make us understand. Christmas is God saying, “Maybe this will grab your attention.”

by Fr. Tommy Lane

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jesus birth

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It Came Upon The Midnight Clear

angels

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It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQjpDKKPDK4

#ShortNews: New church in Damascus is ‘a true Christmas present,’ says prelate

The Maronite Catholic archbishop of Damascus– the capital of war-torn Syria– said in a Christmas letter that a new chapel will be dedicated in the city’s suburbs on January 8.

“In the middle of destruction this new chapel appears like the star of the Magi which leads to the Divine Child,” said Archbishop Samir Nassar. “It is a true Christmas present, an oasis of prayer and a sign of joy and of hope in the middle of a world of violence, of intolerance, anguish, fear, and death.”

“To build a church in times of war and desolation expresses the will to overcome death and the courage of living the Faith,” he added. “Our modest faithful choose to row against the current and to renew their confidence in Jesus Christ in this dark night.”

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pursuedbytruth/2015/12/a-dark-night-christmas-letter-from-archbishop-in-syria.html

#ShortNews: At Christmas, God ‘shuffles the deck,’ Pope says in Angelus address

Reflecting on St. Elizabeth’s astonishment at the Blessed Virgin Mary’s visit (Lk. 1:39-45), Pope Francis said in his December 20 Angelus address that “to celebrate Christmas well, we are called to spend time in the ‘places’ of astonishment”: “the other,” history, and the Church.

In “the other,” the Pope said, we “recognize a brother, because since the birth of Jesus, every face is marked with a similarity to the Son of God. Above all when it is the face of a poor person, because as a poor man, God entered the world, and it was the poor, in the first place, that he allowed to approach him.”

The second place of wonder, he continued, is history. “We risk reading it backwards: it happens, for example, when history seems to us to be determined by the market economy, regulated by finance and business, dominated by the powers that be,” Pope Francis said to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “The God of Christmas is rather a God who ‘shuffles the deck’– He likes to do it, eh?– as Mary sings in the Magnificat.”

To look on the Church “with the wonder of faith means not just considering the Church only as a religious institution– which the Church is– but to feel that she is a mother who, despite her warts and wrinkles– we have so many!– lets the contours of the bride beloved of and purified by Christ the Lord shine through,” the Pope continued.

He added:

A Church that knows how to recognize herself in the many signs of faithful love that God continuously sends her. A Church whereby the Lord Jesus will never be a possession to be zealously defended; those who do this are erroneous … The Church that calls to the Lord, “Come Lord Jesus.” The Mother Church that always has the doors open, and her arms open to welcome everyone. Even more, Mother Church goes out from her own doors to seek, with the smile of a Mother, all of those who are far away and bring them to the mercy of God. This is the wonder of Christmas.

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/angelus-address-on-the-wonder-of-christmas

#ShortNews: Pope Francis’s Christmas Message Urbi et Orbi (To the City and the World)

Christmas Greetings of the Holy Father (after the Urbi et Orbi Blessing)

To you, dear brothers and sisters all over the world who have come to this Square and to all those who join us by radio, television and other media, I offer my most cordial good wishes.

It is Christmas of the Holy Year of Mercy, and so I pray that all can welcome into their lives the mercy of God which Jesus Christ has bestowed on us, so that we in turn can show mercy to our brothers and sisters.  In this way, we will make peace grow!  Happy Christmas!

Read more…

Mary’s Dream

I had a dream, Joseph.

I don’t understand it, but I think it was about a birthday celebration for our son.

The people in my dream had been preparing for about six weeks.

They had decorated the house and bought new clothes.

They’d gone shopping many times and bought many elaborate gifts.

It was peculiar, though, because the presents weren’t for our son.

They wrapped them in beautiful paper and stacked them under a tree.

Yes, a tree, Joseph, right inside their homes! They’d decorated the tree with sparkling ornaments.

There was a figure like an angel on the top of the tree.

Everyone was laughing and happy.

They gave the gifts to each other, Joseph, not to our son.

I don’t think they even knew him.

They never mentioned his name.

I had the strangest feeling that, if our Jesus had gone to this celebration he would have been intruding.

How sad for someone not to be wanted at his own birthday party!

I’m glad it was only a dream. How terrible Joseph, if it had been real!

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Jesus-birth

Saint Jerome

saint JeromeSt. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church. He was born about the year 342 at Stridonius, a small town at the head of the Adriatic, near the episcopal city of Aquileia. His father, a Christian, took care that his son was well instructed at home, then sent him to Rome, where the young man’s teachers were the famous pagan grammarian Donatus and Victorinus, a Christian rhetorician. Jerome’s native tongue was the Illyrian dialect, but at Rome he became fluent in Latin and Greek, and read the literatures of those languages with great pleasure.

In spite of the pagan and hedonistic influences around him, Jerome was baptized by Pope Liberius in 360. He tells us that “it was my custom on Sundays to visit, with friends of my own age and tastes, the tombs of the martyrs and Apostles, going down into those subterranean galleries whose walls on both sides preserve the relics of the dead.” Here he enjoyed deciphering the inscriptions.

Jerome was above all a Scripture scholar, translating most of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. He also wrote commentaries which are a great source of scriptural inspiration for us today. He was an avid student, a thorough scholar, a prodigious letter-writer and a consultant to monk, bishop and pope. St. Augustine (August 28) said of him, “What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known.”

Jerome is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible which came to be called the Vulgate. It is not the most critical edition of the Bible, but its acceptance by the Church was fortunate. As a modern scholar says, “No man before Jerome or among his contemporaries and very few men for many centuries afterwards were so well qualified to do the work.” The Council of Trent called for a new and corrected edition of the Vulgate, and declared it the authentic text to be used in the Church.

For the next 15 years, until he died, Jerome produced a number of commentaries on Scripture, often explaining his translation choices in using the original Hebrew rather than suspect translations. After these preparatory studies he traveled extensively in Palestine, marking each spot of Christ’s life with an outpouring of devotion. Mystic that he was, he spent five years in the desert of Chalcis so that he might give himself up to prayer, penance and study. Finally he settled in Bethlehem, where he lived in the cave believed to have been the birthplace of Christ. On September 30 in the year 420, Jerome died in Bethlehem. The remains of his body now lie buried in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.