“There are two ways of knowing how good God is: one is never to lose Him, and the other is to lose Him and then to find Him.”

— Archbishop Fulton Sheen

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“It is, then, in following the will of God, in spite of all the difficulties that may arise both from within and from without, in the constant offering of ourselves to God as the creatures of His hand to do and to be what He would have us, in the surrender of one thing after another that comes between us and Him and holds us back—it is in such acts that we unite ourselves with those glorious beings who cast their crowns before the throne and with those unfallen creatures who have never known what it is to have a wish or thought apart from the will of God. Amongst those glorified saints there are, indeed, many whose wills were for a long time in revolt against God’s will and who brought themselves at last into subjection, many to whom the will of God here on earth meant the sacrifice of everything the heart most loved, many to whom it meant the sacrifice of life itself. But all that is past and over, and its fruits remain—the eternal life of oblation and union with God, where one will rules those countless multitudes and binds them together and to God, where each one of those countless millions lives his own complete and perfect life yet never jars on any other, where each is perfect in itself and all together compose one perfect whole—the Body of Christ.”

— Fr. Basil Maturin

 

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“Pope Francis writes, “In our personal history too, there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows.” As you watch the light of Christmas—twinkling tree lights, the soft glow of candlelight, the tasteful (or garish!) house displays—let your heart recall the lights and shadows of your life and the ways in which God’s love and mercy have been present in both light and darkness.”

—from the book The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

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“Upon receiving Holy Communion, the Adorable Blood of Jesus Christ really flows in our veins and His Flesh is really blended with ours.”

— St. John Vianney

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“The works of her, who was to be the Mother of the God-man, were altogether and in every way most perfect, and even to understand them exceeds the capacity of all human creatures and of the angels. Her interior acts of the virtues were so precious and of such great merit and favor, that they surpass all that the seraphim can do . . . But it is my Will, that during thy pilgrimage in thy mortal body thou place most holy Mary as the beginning of thy joy, and that thou follow her through the desert of renunciation and abnegation of all that is human and visible. Follow her by a perfect imitation according to the measure of thy strength and of the light which thou receivest. Let her be thy guiding star and thy Directress: she will manifest to thee my Will and will let thee find my holy law which is written in her by the power of my right hand: meditate upon it day and night.”

— Ven. Mary of Agreda

 

 

“The journey through Advent brings us to the Christmas celebration of God’s intimate presence in human existence. What we discover is that in our waiting for Christmas, God is with us all the way along the journey. In ancient times, people traveled together for safety and support. Often they needed to set aside differences and overcome a fear of unknown traveling companions because the world outside their caravans held too many threats to travel alone. We too find that the more we try to set ourselves apart from others, the more we are threatened by a world “out there.” We need companions on this journey.”

—from the book The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

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“Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in carrying it. God is helping us. And in God who is comforting us, as St. Paul says, we can do anything.”

— St. Gianna Molla

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“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Even though the Disciples suffered persecution, they were filled with joy. One would have expected them to be depressed or angry or resentful. The very fact that they responded to persecution with joy is a sign that the Spirit was guiding their actions. We can use that same test with our own words and actions.”

— Rev. Jude Winkler

 

We might find it easier to imagine the first coming of Jesus as an infant at Nazareth than his “coming to us each and every day. We know through faith his presence in the Eucharist. We may have glimmers of awareness of a divine presence with us as we move through our daily routines. As we recall the event of his birth, we might pray for the grace to see his face more frequently. The Gospels give us some clues where to look: in the poor, the homeless, the naked, the hungry, the imprisoned, the oppressed. And once we see him there, how can we not do whatever we can to serve him there? This is the grace for which we pray when we say, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

—from The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

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“Every pious desire, every good thought, every charitable work inspired by the love of Jesus, contributes to the perfection of the whole body of the faithful. A person who does nothing more than lovingly pray to God for his brethren, participates in the great work of saving souls.”

— Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich

**

“Learn to be humble by doing all the humble work and doing it for Jesus. You cannot learn humility from books; you learn it by accepting humiliations. Humiliations are not meant to torture us; they are gifts from God. These little humiliations—if we accept them with joy—will help us to be holy, to have a meek and humble heart like Jesus.”

— St. Teresa of Calcutta

 

 

“In Matthew’s version of the annunciation story, in this case telling Joseph that the events in his life are part of God’s plan, we can imagine what Joseph has been going through. We’ve had similar difficulties in our own lives. At the time, we may have longed for a sign as clear as the one Matthew describes.

Pope Francis reminds us that at times such as these, we need to have a kind of desperate faith that says yes in the midst of darkness. What helps more than anything is to be immersed in the stories of the Bible, the stories of God’s presence with his people.”

—from The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

**

“Only he will receive, will find, and will enter who perseveres in asking, seeking and knocking.”

— St. Louis de Montfort

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“Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few cross-bearers. Many desire His consolation, but few His tribulation. Many will sit down with Him at table, but few will share His fast. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few will suffer for Him. Many will follow Him to the breaking of the bread, but few will drink the bitter cup of His Passion. Many revere His miracles, but few follow the shame of His cross. Many love Jesus when all goes well with them, and praise Him when He does them a favor; but if Jesus conceals Himself and leaves them for a little while, they fall to complaining or become depressed. They who love Jesus purely for Himself and not for their own sake bless Him in all trouble and anguish as well as in time of consolation. Even if He never sent them consolation, they would still praise Him and give thanks. Oh how powerful is the pure love of Jesus, when not mixed with self-interest or self-love!”

— Thomas à Kempis

 

“Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope.”

— Pope Benedict XVI

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“Advent reminds us that Jesus was born into a human family. It was important that he took on our flesh and blood, but it was equally important that he took on the social relationships that both complete and complicate our lives. We can sometimes think that it would be easier to be holy apart from the people with whom we live and work. But the incarnation reminds us that God calls us to be holy in the midst of those very relationships.  What we learn from Mary and Joseph is that as long as we say yes to God, he will guide us through the darkness with a sure hand.”

—from Diane M. Houdek’s The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis 

**

“The most important and most fruitful acts of our freedom are not those by which we transform the outside world as those by which we change our inner attitude in light of the faith that God can bring good out of everything without exception. He is a never-failing source of unlimited riches. Our lives no longer have in them anything negative, ordinary, or indifferent. Positive things become a reason for gratitude and joy, negative things an opportunity for abandonment, faith, and offering: everything becomes a grace.”

— Fr. Jacques Philippe

 

“If anything marks the Christmas season in the words of Pope Francis, it’s simplicity, smallness, and humility. He rejoices in the gifts of lights and Christmas trees, carols and crèches, and the happy faces of children who gather to be blessed. Joy is always part of his Christmas message. But it’s a joy that comes from the heart rather than from the external trappings that we sometimes mistake for essentials.”

—from Diane M. Houdek’s The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis

**

“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”

— St. Maximilian Kolbe

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“Write: I am Thrice Holy, and I detest the smallest sin. I cannot love a soul which is stained with sin; but when it repents, there is no limit to My generosity toward it. My mercy embraces and justifies it. With My mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths, and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me. I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart and rejoice at their return. Tell sinners that no one shall escape My Hand; if they run away from My Merciful Heart, they will fall into My Just Hands. Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart . . . when will it beat for Me?”

— St. Maria Faustina

 

 

 

“The image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is familiar to most Christians. We can imagine what it must be like to wander away from the flock, to be lost and cold and out of reach of all that’s familiar. Few of us have a direct experience of God caring for us as the Good Shepherd. For most of us, that loving presence comes from the flesh-and-blood people in our lives. God reaches out to others through us just as he reached out to us through others.”

—from the book The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

**

“He who carries God in his heart bears heaven with him wherever he goes.”

— St. Ignatius of Loyola

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“Little by little, we can make our daily life more and more prayerful, as we are able, over time, to incorporate those suggestions that work with our schedule and that we are ready for spiritually. There is a particular spiritual practice that Francis [de Sales] highly recommends that is possible for all of us: even on those ‘impossible’ days when we are perhaps unable to undertake our normal spiritual practices, we can stay rooted in prayer by constantly addressing brief prayers to the Lord. These can be acts of love, of adoration, of faith, of hope, of petition, or simply saying the name of Jesus—throughout the course of the day. Francis places a very high value on these simple utterances, traditionally called ejaculatory prayers or aspirations.”

— Ralph Martin

 

“The prophet Isaiah wrote at a time when violence and war were the order of the day. The people of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrians and would later be taken into exile. And yet Isaiah could speak of a hope rooted in the Lord’s call for justice and for peace. Our own world seems to be increasingly violent. We might think that Isaiah’s vision is further away than ever before.

The Internet brings violence from the far corners of the world into our lives, but we also know that there is violence in our cities, our neighborhoods, and even, at times, in our own homes. But we also hear of hopeful and heroic actions, often by a few individuals standing in the face of darkness and offering what light they have.”

—from The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

**

“He who enters into the secret place of his own soul passes beyond himself, and does in very truth ascend to God. Banish, therefore, from thy heart the distractions of earth and turn thine eyes to spiritual joys, that thou mayest learn at last to repose in the light of the contemplation of God.”

— St. Albert the Great

**

“St. Augustine says, that to prevent the sheep from seeking assistance by her cries, the wolf seizes her by the neck, and thus securely carries her away and devours her. The Devil acts in a similar manner with the sheep of Jesus Christ. After having induced them to yield to sin, he seizes them by the throat, that they may not confess their guilt; and thus he securely brings them to Hell. For those who have sinned grievously, there is no means of salvation but the confession of their sins.”

— St. Alphonsus Liguori

 

 

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