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Christmas Eve Meditation from In Conversation With God, Vol. 1

29. Waiting for Jesus

29.1 Mary. Spirit of Recollection. Spirit of Prayer.

Through the tender mercy of our God, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:78–79). Jesus is the Dawn who gives light to our existence. If we want everything we do to have meaning, it must be done with reference to him.

In a very special and extraordinary way Our Lady’s life centres around Jesus. And especially so on this, the eve of her son’s birth. We can hardly begin to have any idea of what the spirit of recollection within her soul was like.

She was always recollected. And that is how we must learn to be; we, whose thoughts are so dissipated and so distracted by things of little importance! Only one thing is really important in our lives: Jesus, and everything that refers to him.

After original sin, the soul lost its dominion over the senses and its natural orientation towards the things of God. It was not so in Our Lady: but it is in us. In her, who had been preserved from original sin, all was harmony, as at the beginning of creation. Moreover, she was adorned by the presence, altogether singular and extraordinary, of the Blessed Trinity in her soul.

Mary is always at prayer because she does everything with reference to her Son: when she talks to Jesus she prays, for prayer is ‘to talk to God’. She prays each time she looks at Him that is prayer too — to look with faith at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, truly present in the tabernacle. She prays when she asks him for something or whenever she smiles at him. Her life was determined by Jesus, and her thoughts were set permanently on him.

Her interior spirit of recollection was constant. Her prayer blended with her very life, with her work and with her attention toward others. Her interior silence was richness, fullness, and contemplation.

Today we ask her to give us this interior spirit of recollection, which is necessary if we are to see and to talk to God, who is also very close to our lives.

Prayer: O Antiphons

O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end ot end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

O LORD AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come, and redeem us with outstretched arm.

O ROOT OF JESSE, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come to deliver us, and tarry not.

O KEY OF DAVD, and Scepter of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: Come, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of the light eternal, and Sun of Justice: Come, and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O KING OF ALL NATIONS and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.

O EMMANUEL, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: Come to save us, O Lord our God.

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Hope in the darkness of Advent waiting

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Am I not here, who am your mother?
— Our Lady to Juan Diego, 1531

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Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to be a great sign of Christ’s nearness to us today. She extends an invitation to all men and women to enter into communion with the Father. At the same time, Mary encourages all of us to enter into greater communion with one another. — Pope Saint John Paul II, December 13, 1987 address

Hymn Honoring Our Lady
Mary, Woman of the Promise by Mary Frances Fleischaker

Mary, woman of the promise;
Vessel of your people’s dreams,
Through your open, willing spirit,
Waters of God’s goodness streamed.

Mary, song of holy wisdom,
Song before the world began,
Faithful to the Word within, you
Carried out God’s wondrous plan.

Mary, morning star of justice,
Mirror of the radiant light,
In the shadows of life’s journey,
Be a beacon for our sight.

Mary, model of compassion;
Wounded by your offspring’s pain,
When our hearts are torn by sorrow,
Teach us how to love again.

Mary, woman of the Gospel,
Humble home for treasured seed,
Help us to be true disciples,
Bearing fruit in word and deed.

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Zechariah 2:14–17

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people,
and he will dwell among you,
and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
The LORD will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land,
and he will again choose Jerusalem.
Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!
For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.

Responsorial Psalm: excerpts from Judith 13

Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God,
above all the women on earth;
and blessed be the LORD God,
the creator of heaven and earth.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.

Your deed of hope will never be forgotten
by those who tell of the might of God.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.

Gospel: Luke 1:26–38

‘The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

The Apparitions on Tepeyac Hill

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
by Pope Saint John Paul II, January 29, 1979,
during his visit to Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.

Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.

Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.

Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.

Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.
We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.

Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Walking dead, with life himself

Third Sunday of Easter
Jesus cares deeply about those who have lost hope,
and goes out of his way to restore them to life

Excerpts from Saint Augustine’s Sermon on today’s Gospel reading: Luke 24:13–35
The Appearance on the Road to Emmaus

The disciples were so shattered by the crucifixion
that they forgot all Christ’s teaching and promises

2. So what benefit has this reading bestowed on us? A very considerable one if we understand it rightly. Jesus appeared. He was seen with their eyes, and wasn’t recognized. The Master was walking with them along the way, and he himself was the way. And they weren’t yet walking along the way; he found, you see, that they had wandered off the way. After all, when he had been with them before the passion, he had foretold everything; that he was going to suffer, to die, to rise again on the third day. He had foretold it all, but his death had erased it from their memories. They were so shattered when they saw him hanging on the tree, that they forgot about him teaching, they were not expecting him to be rising, nor holding on to what he had been promising.

We, they said, were hoping that it was he that would redeem Israel (Luke 24:21). O my dear disciples, you were hoping! So now you’re no longer hoping? Look, Christ is alive; is hope dead in you? Certainly, certainly, Christ is alive. Christ being alive, found the hearts of his disciples dead, appearing to their eyes, and not appearing. He was at one and the same time seen and concealed. I mean, if he wasn’t seen, how could they have heard him questioning them, and answered his questions? He was walking with them along the road like a companion, and was himself the leader. Of course he was seen, but he wasn’t recognized. For their eyes were held, as we heard, so that they wouldn’t recognize him (Luke 24:16). They weren’t held so that they wouldn’t see him, but they were held so that they wouldn’t recognize him.

We break bread, and we recognize the Lord

3. Ah yes, brothers and sisters, but where did the Lord wish to be recognized? In the breaking of the bread. We’re all right, nothing to worry about; we break bread, and we recognize the Lord. It was for our sakes that he didn’t want to be recognized anywhere but there, because we weren’t going to see him in the flesh and yet we were going to eat his flesh. So if you’re a believer, any of you, if you’re not called a Christian for nothing, if you don’t come to church pointlessly, if you listen to the word of God in fear and hope, you may take comfort in the breaking of bread. The Lord’s absence is not an absence. Have faith, and the one you cannot see is with you. These two, even when the Lord was talking to them, did not have faith, because they didn’t believe he had risen, nor had they any hope that he could rise again. They had lost faith, lost hope. They were walking along, dead, with Christ alive, they were walking along, dead, with life itself. Life was walking along with them, but in their hearts life had not yet been restored.

You too, then, if you want to have life, do what they did in order to recognize the Lord. They showed him hospitality. The Lord, you see, was like someone who still had a long way to go, but they held him back. When they reached the place they were making for, they said, Stay with us now, the day has faded toward evening (Luke 2:29). Constrain the stranger, if you want to recognize the Savior. What had been lost through infidelity was restored through hospitality. So the Lord made himself present in the breaking of the bread. Learn where to look for the Lord, learn where to have him, learn where to recognize him. It’s when you eat him. The faithful you see, know something which they can understand better in this reading than those who don’t know it.

Faith is built up by the Lord’s absence; sight when he comes again will be the reward for faith now

4. The Lord Jesus was made known, and after being made known, he appeared no more. He withdrew from them in the body, since he was held by them in faith. That indeed is why the Lord absented himself in the body from the whole Church, and ascended into heaven, for the building up of faith. After all, if you only know what you can see, where does faith come in? But if you also believe what you cannot see, when you do see it you will rejoice. Let faith be built up, because it will be paid back with sight. It will come, what we cannot see, it will come, brothers and sisters, it will come. Mind how it finds you.

…You may be quite sure, he will come. Not only will he come, but he will come even if you don’t want him to. Woe to those who haven’t believed, and great joy to those who have believed! Believers will rejoice, unbelievers will be confounded. Believers are going to say, “Thank you, Lord, what we heard is true, what we believed is true, what we hoped is true, what we now see is true.” Unbelievers, though, are going to say, “Where has the fact of our not believing got us to, where the fact that we used to think that what was read was all lies!” That’s how it will happen, and confusion will be paid with punishment, while joyful thankfulness will receive its reward; because those will go into eternal burning, and the just into eternal life (Matthew 25:46).

— Saint Augustine, Sermon 235, Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons

Prayer: Act of Hope

O my God, relying on Your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Your grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

 

Very well done, Ed Lantzer

To know the Father’s love and share it with the world

Scripture of the Day: Isaiah 54:10

Though the mountains fall away
and the hills be shaken,
My love shall never fall away from you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Question of the Day

Where will these panels find a permanent home?

More Info About Ed and His Murals

 

 

 

To remain free and faithful citizens

Novena for Our Nation Friday Prayer Intention:
Religious Freedom in Society

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.

Dignitatis Humanae, Pope Paul VI, 1965

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The first amendment was written not to protect the people and their laws from their religious values, but to protect those values from government tyranny. — Ronald Reagan, Campaign Address on Religious Liberty, 1980

May the God and Father of all grant that the human family, through careful observance of the principle of religious freedom in society, may be brought by the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to the sublime and unending and “glorious freedom of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:21). — Dignitatis Humanae, Pope Paul VI, 1965