Friday, January 31, 2014

St. John Bosco

From the Spiritual Testament by Saint John Bosco, priest
(Epistolario, Torino 1959, 4, 201-203)

I have always labored out of love.

First of all, if we wish to appear concerned about the true happiness of our foster children and if we would move them to fulfil their duties, you must never forget that you are taking the place of the parents of these beloved young people. I have always laboured lovingly for them, and carried out my priestly duties with zeal. And the whole Salesian society has done this with me.

My sons, in my long experience very often I had to be convinced of this great truth. It is easier to become angry than to restrain oneself, and to threaten a boy than to persuade him. Yes, indeed, it is more fitting to be persistent in punishing our own impatience and pride than to correct the boys. We must be firm but kind, and be patient with them.

I give you as a model the charity of Paul which he showed to his new converts. They often reduced him to tears and entreaties when he found them lacking docility and even opposing his loving efforts.

See that no one finds you motivated by impetuosity or wilfulness. It is difficult to keep calm when administering punishment, but this must be done if we are to keep ourselves from showing off our authority or spilling out our anger.

Let us regard those boys over whom we have some authority as our own sons. Let us place ourselves in their service. Let us be ashamed to assume an attitude of superiority. Let us not rule over them except for the purpose of serving them better.

This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalised, and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so he bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.

They are our sons, and so in correcting their mistakes we must lay aside all anger and restrain it so firmly that it is extinguished entirely.

There must be no hostility in our minds, no contempt in our eyes, no insult on our lips. We must use mercy for the present and have hope for the future, as is fitting for true fathers who are eager for real correction and improvement.

In serious matters it is better to beg God humbly than to send forth a flood of words that will only offend the listeners and have no effect on those who are guilty.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Sunday Word

The Presentation in the Temple: Simeon (holding Jesus) and Anna (on the right); Mary with the two turtle doves and Joseph.

This Sunday, February 2, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. In the past this feast was the last day of the Christmas season.

But today this feast is sometimes called Candlemas Day because on this day there may be a blessing of candles and a procession. There's a tie between the candles and the phrase, a light for revelation to the Gentiles in Simeon's canticle in Luke's Gospel.

When the Gospel writer Luke tells us that Simeon was “looking forward to the consolation of Israel,” Saint Luke is saying that Simeon was steeped in the Hebrew Scriptures. The term “the consolation of Israel” derives from references in the book of Isaiah to God comforting the people by redeeming them. So first, Simeon was basing his pronouncement about Jesus on Scripture.

And second, Luke tells us that Simeon was being guided by the Holy Spirit.

Those two sources of understanding — the outward one of Scripture and the inward one of God’s direct inspiration — still stand today as means of deciding who Jesus is. So obviously, if you are going to take a razor to the Gospels, you’re not going to get the whole picture. The first place to look to decide who Jesus is is the Bible itself.

In that regard, the question of who Jesus is isn’t that difficult. The Gospels, if we look at them in total, give us some basic answers:

• Jesus is the one, who, after he was baptized, lived up to his baptism every day by the way he honored and obeyed the heavenly Father.

• Jesus is the one who proclaimed the Good News of God, preaching repentance and announcing that the kingdom of God had begun.

• Jesus is the one who was so filled with compassion that though it sometimes seemed to get in the way of his ministry, he still took time and energy to heal the sick.

• Jesus was the one who embodied the very authority of God, and whose life embroidered the deeds of God on the fabric of human experience. This was so evident that people who heard him commented on it.

• Jesus was the one who did not shun bad company, but who called them also to repentance and a place in the kingdom.

• Jesus is the one who repeatedly withdrew to pray.

• Jesus is the one in whom his contemporaries recognized a special connection with God — a recognition that led Peter to call him “the Son of the living God."

• Jesus is the one who went to the cross, understanding that in doing so, he was being obedient to the will of God, and was doing something profound for humankind.

• Jesus is the one who arose victorious over death on Easter and is thus living today.

Those are the things the Bible tells us directly. We may not understand the implications of all that we can say about Jesus from Scripture, but those things are enough to help us frame an answer to the question, “Who do you say Jesus is?”, an answer that includes the words “example,” “teacher,” “guide” and “Savior.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Let's March for Life

Let's March for Life

More than ever, it is important to let our elected leaders know what we think about the important issues of our day — especially the paramount issue of our age, life. So, our Marianist students  traveled to Washington, D.C. to let all know.

The politicians now are listening. Agreeing? Maybe not. 

But we are making progress, otherwise, how to explain the difficulties in passing such anti-life legislation such as the health care bill? Stay vigilant. Pray, then put your prayers into action.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Marianist Mission

From the origins in France, Marianist education spread to Switzerland (1839), Austria (1857), and Italy (1888). In 1849, a year before Blessed Chaminade’s death, Marianists came to the United States. 

Today, the Society of Mary serves in thirty countries on five continents. They minister in over 100 schools in the world, including twenty-four secondary and middle schools and three universities (the University of Dayton, St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii) in the United States. Marianists also conduct parishes, retreat centers, and works in developing nations. 

Locally, the Marianists operate three schools and retreat houses in the New York area. The schools are: Chaminade High School (Mineola), Kellenberg Memorial High School (Uniondale), and St. Martin DePorres Marianist School (Uniondale). The retreat houses are: Meribah (Muttontown), Emmanuel (Uniondale) and Founder's Hollow (Accord).
As with the first ministry of Blessed Chaminade, Marianists continue the vision of their founder by carrying out Mary’s mission of bringing persons to Christ, her son.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Marianist Monday

Marianist Community!

As a consequence of our religious profession, we enter a new family, our religious community. In this religious community, we assume new relationships and responsibilities toward God, our Brothers in community, and the People of God.

By our profession in the Society of Mary, we commit ourselves to grow in holiness and to help our confreres become more Christ-like.

Because we profess public vows in the Church, we understand that we have the responsibility for giving public witness to God's saving presence in the world and to the aspiration of Blessed Chaminade that man will realize that the Gospel is just as practicable as it was in the early Church.

As a result of our membership in a religious congregation of the active life, we devote ourselves with energy and enthusiasm to the apostolic work of our communities. We devote ourselves, fully convinced that Jesus addresses us just as He commanded the Apostles to go forth and teach all nations.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Prayer

Why is it, Lord, that I so quickly
see the problem,
call to mind the hurt,
rehearse the pain,
dwell on my mistakes,
fret and stew in worry
and feed upon my fear?

Why is it, Lord, that I'm so slow
to see your grace,
treasure peaceful moments,
hold on to every healing,
listen for your whispered word,
lean upon your strength,
and place my troubled heart
in your open, loving hands?

Lift me up, O Lord,
out of all that keeps me down...

Open wide my eyes to see
the beauty of your face...

Lift my hands and heart
to you in prayer...

Open up my ears
to your Spirit's voice within me...

Touch my mind and heart
where I'm most in need of healing...

Remind me every day of my blessings,
old and new...

Give me strength to live
one day,
one hour,
one minute at a time...

Lift me up, O Lord,
out of all that keeps me down
and let my spirit find its joy
in you and in your love...


H/T A Concord Pastor Comments

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Sunday Word

This weekend's scriptures for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time lead off with a passage from Isaiah, chosen clearly because Jesus himself quotes it in the day's Gospel passage from Saint Matthew.  The reading emphasizes the Isaiah reference adding the call of Peter and Andrew and then James and John.

The text is from 1st Corinthians where Paul addresses divisions in the community based on loyalty to particular persons. Indeed, some things never change!

Jesus certainly did this when he called his first disciples along the banks of the Sea of Galilee. He sees two fishermen, the brothers Simon Peter and Andrew, casting their net into the sea. Jesus says to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they leave their nets and follow him.

Jesus is bold enough to walk up to two complete strangers and challenge them to follow him in a life of discipleship. He cannot control their response, but he believes in what he is doing and is willing to act on his beliefs. They sense that he is so authentic and committed to his mission that they drop their nets and follow him.

His word creates a new reality.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Holy Hour

Hey! – How many times have you heard that if you really want to improve your prayer life you have to start making a Holy Hour? It’s advice that I both get and have received. There is rarely ever an explanation as to why. Why a Holy Hour?

It's not magic! It is common sense and you probably know the answer already. What is the purpose of prayer? Is it in order to get things? Well, not alone. We pray for the same reason we tweet, text, email, call, and "hang out" with our friends. It's how you get to know somebody. When you want to get married you discover that desire by spending time with that person. You come to know them and what's important to them. When time is short due to a busy schedule we make time for them. They knew through this that you loved them, you knew it, and so did everyone else. “Sorry, I’m spending time with my ladyfriend today.”

Holy Hours are not much different. You're spending quality time with God. It's not a quick text message, “God, get me through this test,” or “God, get me through this and I swear I won’t do it again.” Who wants to be the friend that only makes contact when you need something and makes that contact at all time minimum at that?

Wasting time with God is anything but a waste of time. That is what we do with the ones we love. It also gives us the opportunity to just be quiet and listen. This type of prayer does not mean that all our prayers will be answered in the way we want them but carrying on this conversation with God may help us understand how God has decided to answer our prayer.

For some people an hour is way too difficult. So, start with a holy half hour. Start with a holy 15 minutes!

On Mondays our high schools sponsor adoration from after school to early evening. You can do it! You have done it to have some time with the one you love. Now do it with God.

You may not notice a difference after a day, a week, or maybe even a month. But one day everything will be different and you will look back and wonder at how things have changed.

But you have to start.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014 March for Life

I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable

— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) January 22, 2014

"The irony is that many people think of us Catholics as people of No —– don’t do this, don’t do that. In reality we are the people of Yes — yes to God, yes to life, yes to compassion for the poor and suffering, yes to the solidarity and community that make us messengers of joy even in a valley of tears." -Sean Cardinal O'Malley, Homily, National Vigil Mass for Life

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marianist Monday

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade wrote: "To pray . . . is so to open the center of yourself to God that you are filled with his presence, enveloped in his light, and made whole by his truth."

Oh, God You are constantly at work in Your Church, and through individuals and communities You manifest your spirit for the good of your people. In a special way You bestowed Your spirit on Your servant Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, so that he might live fully according to the Gospel and with love devote himself to Your saving work. You have inspired communities of men and women to follow his example by consecrating themselves to You so to serve the Church under the leadership of Mary. May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What if?

What if you were to walk by my side all day, Lord?

How might my words be softer?
my deeds more loving?
my heart more open?
my giving more generous?
my thoughts kinder and cleaner?
my judgments more honest and just?
my time better spent?
my prayer more faithful?
my attitude humbler?

Of course the thing is, Lord,
you do walk by my side all day
and every day...

So, help me spend today, Lord,
speaking, acting, giving,
thinking, judging and praying
as one who's humbled
by your walking by my side all day...


H/T A Concord Pastor Comments

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Prayer as medicine

Joking that he's like a pharmacist, Pope Francis is promoting prayer as medicine for the heart.

Appearing on one Sunday at his studio window, Francis held up a rosary in a box designed to resemble a packet of pills, before volunteers distributed thousands of those boxes, which feature a design of a human heart. Francis said he was recommending reciting the rosary prayer as a "spiritual medicine" that is "good for the heart."

Francis' down-to-earth way of speaking, in a style ordinary people can readily understand, is drawing larger than usual crowds to St. Peter's Square for his traditional weekly appearances. About 80,000 tourists and Romans packed the square on Sundays.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Sunday Word

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

Christmas decorations have all been carefully placed in their boxes and packed away in the Community storage closet for another year. We also see that the Christmas cycle is complete and this coming weekend finds us at the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time.

This Sunday's Gospel comes from Saint John which is a little bit of a difference. This Second Sunday Gospel continues to focus on manifestations of Jesus as the Christ and thus the change of seasons is softened.

The first reading is from Isaiah, from his "servant songs" which Christians have long understood in terms of Christ the Servant. The second reading introduces seven weeks of readings from 1 Corinthians. This week's brief passage is the opening salutation from this letter.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Benedictines of Mary

One of the gifts I received for Christmas this year was a music CD of the Benedictine nuns in Missouri, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.

They have topped the charts for weeks with their music.  Their last disc of music for Advent was great. They have a disc coming of music for Lent! Lent at Ephesus .

Here is a short video about the sisters and what they are up to.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

God’s love is good beyond comprehension

The focus of Pope Francis' homily at Mass on Monday morning was that God’s love is good beyond comprehension: it repairs the damage caused by our sins and errors; it makes whole our personal stories after they have been broken by sin; it heals all of history.

The Holy Father concentrated his comments on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from the Gospel according to St Mark, and which tells of Christ’s calling of the disciples, Andrew, Simon, James and John.

“It seems that Simon, Andrew , James and John are chosen once-and-for-all: yes, they were chosen! At this moment, however, they had not been faithful to the last. After being chosen, they went on to make mistakes. They proposed un-Christian things to the Lord. They denied the Lord – Peter most glaringly, and the others out of fear: they were afraid and they ran away. They abandoned the Lord. The Lord prepares – and then, after the Resurrection – the Lord needed to continue this journey of preparation, up until the day of Pentecost. Even after Pentecost, some of – Peter, for example – made mistakes, and Paul had to correct him – but the Lord prepares.”

Pope Francis went on to explain that the Lord prepares His faithful over the course of generations:

“When things are not going well, He gets Himself involved in history, he sorts the situation, and goes forward with us. Think of the genealogy of Jesus Christ , of that list: this one begets that one, and that one begets this one, and so on… In that story there are men and women who are sinners. How did the Lord [work it all out]? He stepped in, He straightened the path, He put things right. Think of the great David, a great sinner , and then a great saint. The Lord knows. When the Lord tells us, ‘With eternal love, I have loved you,’ He is referring to this. The Lord has been thinking of us for many generations – of each and every one of us.”

Pope Francis went on that the Lord awaits us in history and lovingly accompanies us through history. He said that this is the love of God, who “loves us forever, and never forsake us.” We pray to the Lord, that we might know this tenderness of His heart.”This, he notes, is “an act of faith,” – it is not easy to believe this:

“Because our rationalism says, ‘How is it that the Lord, who has so many people to think about, should think of me?’ However, he has really prepared the way for me. With our mothers , our grandmothers , our fathers , our grandparents and great-grandparents ... That’s what the Lord does. This is His love: real, eternal, and also ‘customized’ [It. artigianale]. We pray, asking for the grace to understand the love of God, but God’s love can never be fully grasped! We can feel it, we [can even] weep for it, but [in this life] it cannot be understood. This also tells us how great this love is. The Lord has been preparing us for some time, He walks with us, preparing others. He is always with us! Let us ask for the grace heartily to understand this great love.”

Monday, January 13, 2014

Marianist Monday

To Know One's Vocation

Lord, my God and my loving Father,
You have made me to know You, to love You, to serve You,
and thereby to find and to fulfill myself.
I know that You are in all things,
and that every path can lead me to You.
But of them all, there is one especially
by which You want me to come to You.
Since I will do what You want of me,
I pray You, send your Holy Spirit to me: into my mind,
to show me what You want of me; into my heart,
to give me the determination to do it,
and to do it with all my love, with all my mind,
and with all my strength right to the end.

"The Lord has his plan for each of us, he calls each one of us by name. Our task is to be listeners, capable of perceiving his call, to be courageous and faithful, so that we may follow him, and in the end, be found as trustworthy servants who have used well the gifts entrusted to us." 

Pope Benedict XVI

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Baptism of Jesus

The Baptism of Jesus - He Qi
Jesus presents Himself today for Baptism, but John the Baptist protests that he is not worthy to perform this ritual for one greater than Himself. But Jesus insists and John relents. This insistence of Jesus seems to be based upon his desire to join all those in Israel, who are not just renouncing their sinfulness, but are also declaring their readiness to receive the Lord in whatever manner he may wish to come. After all, the baptism of Jesus is not just an episode in His private life; it is the invitation of a whole people to accept God’s initiative for salvation.

In Saint Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Baptism, only the consequences are actually described and they are very rich in symbolism. The opening of the heavens clears the way for God to re-establish contact with his Chosen People. Thus, the heavens are opened from the other side as God eagerly responds to the presence of his appointed Messiah.

“The Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him” is the signal for a new creation. This same “Spirit” had hovered over the deep in the original creation; and a new beginning was signaled again to Noah when the dove returned to him after the flood. This means that the coming of Jesus also represents a new beginning. Hhistory will never be the same again.

The nature of the new creation is revealed in the final climactic words from heaven. When Jesus is called God’s “beloved Son,” it means that this new world will be filled with the love of God, radiating from his Son, who will become, in a sense, the embodiment of God’s love among us.

In today’s practice, the meaning of Baptism is expressed by the sponsors with the assumption that the baptized child will, when old enough, be expected to accept in his or her own name the profound commitments that constitute the reality of a Christian life. The first reality is a discovery and rejection of the “big lie” of Satan, the “father of lies.”  This ultimate lie is the belief that selfishness is the path to happiness. Conversely, the ultimate truth is therefore a profound recognition and commitment to a life or love and unselfishness. This path alone, though difficult at times, is the only way to true happiness.

In this way, God’s heavenly realm is opened to us and the creative Spirit calls us to a new kind of life. The possibilities of this new existence are contained in the words of the Father, “You are my beloved Son,” now understood as spoken to us also. For in our baptism we become children of God and thus join Jesus in the family of God.

This fact has two important consequences. First of all, we are told by God that we are his beloved children and this affirmation, heard throughout our lives, liberates us from the bondage of fear and guilt and doubt. Perhaps the most perfect prayer for Christians is, therefore, to ask God to tell us what we need to hear. His answer to each of us will be, “You are my beloved child.” There are no words in this world that we need to hear more than these words!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Thank you...thank you...thank you...

Below is a new P&G video for the Winter Olympics.

At the same time, something that will certainly pick you up at the end of the week.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Epiphany reflections

Pope Francis greeted tens of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, for the recitation of the Angelus Prayer and to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.

In his address, the Pope referred to Pope Benedict Emeritus’s book, 'Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives' which he said “magnificently” recounts the biblical coming of the Magi from the East to Bethlehem to pay homage to the Christ Child. The Epiphany, Pope Francis said, marks the first “manifestation” of Christ to the people and as a consequence, points to the universal salvation brought by Jesus.

In the Feast of the Epiphany, we see a “dual movement,” the Pope noted: of God who comes “towards the world, towards humanity” and of men who seek closeness to God: “the religions, the search for truth, the way of people towards peace, justice, liberty.”

God loves us: “we are His children; He loves us and He wants to liberate us from evil, from sickness, from death, and take us to His home in His Kingdom.” We too, the Pope said, are attracted by “goodness, truth, life and happiness and beauty.”

And as the two sides attract, Jesus is our point of encounter with the Lord. as His love incarnate. Pope Francis said.

Had the Magi not seen the Star pointing them to Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem, they would never have left, the Pope mused. “Light precedes us, the truth precedes us, beauty precedes us. God precedes us: it is grace; and this grace appears in Jesus. He is the Epiphany, the manifestation of God’s love.”

Departing from his notes, the Pope appealed “sincerely” and “respectfully” to those who “feel far from God and from the Church” and to “those who are fearful and indifferent: the Lord is calling you too.” The Lord is calling you to be a part of His people and He does it with great respect and love.”

“The Lord does not proselytize; He gives love,” reaffirmed the Pope. “And this love seeks you and waits for you, you who at this moment do not believe or are far away. And this is the love of God.”

Pope Francis prayed that “all the Church” may be steeped in “the joy of evangelizing” invoking the aid of the Virgin Mary so that “we can all be disciple-missionaries, small stars that reflect His light.”

The Pope recalled that the Epiphany is the missionary day for children organized by the Pontifical office for Holy Childhood and thanked young people and children whose “gestures of solidarity” towards other children “widen the horizons of their fraternity.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Wake up the world!

The Italian Jesuit journal La Civilta’ Cattolica offers an account of Pope Francis’s recent meeting with 120 superiors general of men’s religious orders in late November.

CNS has highlights:

While you can access the full 17-page article in English, Spanish or Italian at the journal’s website, here is a sampling of some of the favorite excerpts (CNS translations of the original Italian).

--Today’s religious men and women need to be prophetic, “capable of waking up the world,” of showing they are a special breed who “have something to say” to the world today.

--“The church must be attractive. Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, acting, living! (Show) it’s possible to live differently in this world. They need to live and behave in a truly different way, recognizing one’s weakness and sins, but acting with “generosity, detachment, sacrifice, forgetting oneself in order to take care of others.”

--“It’s necessary to spend time in real contact with the poor. For me this is really important: it’s necessary to know reality from experience, to dedicate time going to the periphery to truly know the situation and the life of the people.”

--Without firsthand experience with people’s lives, “then one runs the risk of being abstract ideologues or fundamentalists and this is not healthy.”

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Journey of the Magi

To help prepare for the celebration of Epiphany this coming Sunday here's T.S. Eliot's Journey of the Magi, followed by a video (below the text) in which he reads his own poem along with some interesting images.

Journey Of The Magi

by T.S. Eliot

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Holy Name of Jesus

Today us the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. It observes the naming of Jesus Christ on the eighth day of his life. It is a time to honor the revelation of Jesus' name by dream to Saint Joseph, and likewise the revelation of the same to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation. It was reinstituted by Blessed Pope John Paul II as an optional day of memorial celebrated on January 3rd.

The Holy Name refers to the name of Christ, as revealed through divine intervention to Joseph and Mary. It is most often seen in emblem form as "I. H. S.", a Latin abbreviation of Christ's name. While the letters themselves are not considered intrinsically holy, they stand as a reminder of blessings received through Christ's love and mercy.

The Feast of the Holy Name originated toward the end of the 15th century, celebrated between New Year's Day and Epiphany. In its older incarnations, the Feast was a celebration of Christ's naming and circumcision. In its modern form, it is considered to be the central feast of all the mysteries of Jesus Christ.

The greatest promoters of the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus were two Christian saints - St. Bernadino of Sienna and his disciple, St. John Capistrano. During the time of their ministry, they carried a monogrammed copy of the holy name beautifully painted on a tablet, with which they performed miracles and healed the sick. At the end of their sermons, they would ask the faithful to prostrate themselves before the emblem of Christ's name. They also began the practice of placing Jesus' monograms over gates and doorways.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Virgin and Mother,
you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,
welcomed the word of life
in the depths of your humble faith:
as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,
help us to say our own “yes”
to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,
to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

Filled with Christ’s presence,
you brought joy to John the Baptist,
making him exult in the womb of his mother.
Brimming over with joy,
you sang of the great things done by God.

Standing at the foot of the cross
with unyielding faith,
you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection,
and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit
so that the evangelizing Church might be born.

Obtain for us now a new ardour born of the resurrection,
that we may bring to all the Gospel of life
which triumphs over death.
Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,
that the gift of unfading beauty may reach every man and woman.

Virgin of listening and contemplation,
Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast,
pray for the Church,
whose pure icon you are,
that she may never be closed in on herself
or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.

Star of the new evangelization,
help us to bear radiant witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth,
illuminating even the fringes of our world.Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones, pray for us.
Amen. Alleluia!

Pope Francis

Mary, Mother of God

Years ago, my wife and I decided, just once, to spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square. We weren’t brave enough to stand outside in the cold with noisemakers and funny hats. Instead, we got a package at the Marriott, and had dinner in a ballroom overlooking the square, and at midnight, the whole place went crazy. The confetti, the balloons, the blizzard of paper cascading outside our window, the hundreds of thousands of screaming people outside – shivering and celebrating and having the time of their lives. There is nothing quite like it.

The next morning, we walked to the subway to come back to Queens. It was eerie. Times Square on the morning after New Year’s Eve is a very different place – almost a ghost town – but I was impressed at how incredibly clean it was. The crews had worked through the night and aside from a lot of paper, it was surprisingly orderly. Almost as if nothing had happened the night before. That is how we try to see our life at new year’s – almost as if nothing had happened before. We’re starting over. Let the street sweepers come in and let’s begin again. 

There’s a song by Natasha Bedingfield that captures that spirit. It’s called “Unwritten.” In part, it says:

“Drench yourself in words unspoken. 
Live your life with arms wide open. 
Today is where your book begins 
The rest is still unwritten.” 

Today is where our book begins. The rest is still unwritten.

New Year’s Day is when nothing can go wrong. This is the moment when everything is possible. Every page of the calendar is blank. Every diet is successful. Every closet can be organized. Every checkbook can be balanced. Here and now we begin anew. 

How appropriate, then, that the Church has dedicated this particular moment in time to Our Lady, as we mark the feast of Mary the Mother of God. 

In Mary, we see the ultimate vessel of possibility. In her, the world was given a new start. A clean slate. Mary’s own purity represents God’s giving us all a second chance. 

Mary is often called the New Eve. And the world, in these early hours of this new year, is our New Eden. 

On this day, we can fight any temptation. At least until it comes time for dessert. But for now, something wonderful is beginning. You can see it in the reading we just heard, too. In this gospel, the great event that Mary helped fulfill – the nativity, the birth of the savior – is over. But the shepherds have arrived at the stable to see for themselves what the angel told them. And when they have seen it, they cannot contain themselves. 

As Luke explains it: “They made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.” 

We hear a lot these days about the New Evangelization. Right here is the original version, because with this moment, the shepherds have become the very FIRST evangelists — the first to spread the news about Jesus Christ. 

This is the start of the great work that would transform the world – work that would touch billions of lives, including every one in this church.

But here, with the shepherds, is where it all began.

Mary, meantime, absorbs this, and makes of it a kind of prayer – keeping all these things, and in Luke’s beautiful words, “reflecting on them in her heart.” 

It’s customary on this day to draw up resolutions – to make promises to ourselves and to others that probably won’t last until February, if they even make it to the end of this week. We resolve to lose weight or stop smoking or exercise. What it really means is that we resolve to improve the profit margins of Jenny Craig or Lucille Roberts.

But this January first, I would challenge you to make a different kind of resolution. Resolve to learn something from the woman we honor today. Resolve to dwell in possibility. Resolve to see every day, not just this one, as a fresh beginning. Resolve to welcome every blank page, every new start, with trust that God will see you through it – and then reflect on it in your heart. Just like Mary did.

Today we celebrate Mary the Mother of God – Mary the mother of our salvation. Mary, the one who gave birth to a new beginning. Resolve to embrace what she represents. Resolve to count every day – and to make every day count. Because “Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten.”

How will you fill the pages of your book?

H/T The Deacon's Bench