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“For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.”

— St. Teresa of Avila

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“While other martyrs suffered by sacrificing their own lives, the Blessed Virgin suffered by sacrificing her Son’s life—a life that she loved far more than her own. So she not only suffered in her soul all that her Son endured in his body. In addition, the sight of her Son’s torments brought more grief to her heart than if she had endured them all in her own person. No one can doubt that Mary suffered in her heart all the outrages that she saw inflicted on her beloved Jesus. Anyone can understand that the sufferings of children are also those of their mothers who witness them.”

— St. Alphonsus Liguori

 

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“Mary cares for our souls in a way that no human mother ever could—even the most wonderful, loving one! It is that burning charity that motivates her to work tirelessly for our salvation. She wants our salvation so desperately that she appeared many times over the centuries, sharing messages of hope and calling for prayer and conversion. Her desire that all should be saved is born of a mother’s deep and lasting love for her children.”

—from Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Peace and Healing by Marge Steinhage Fenelon

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Letting Go of Old hurts by Henri Nouwen

“One of the hardest things in life is to let go of old hurts. We often say, or at least think: “What you did to me and my family, my ancestors, or my friends I cannot forget or forgive. … One day you will have to pay for it.” Sometimes our memories are decades, even centuries, old and keep asking for revenge.

Holding people’s faults against them often creates an impenetrable wall. But listen to Paul: “For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old order is gone and a new being is there to see. It is all God’s work” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Indeed, we cannot let go of old hurts, but God can. Paul says: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not holding anyone’s fault against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). It is God’s work, but we are God’s ministers, because the God who reconciled the world to God entrusted to us “the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). This message calls us to let go of old hurts in the Name of God. It is the message our world most needs to hear.”

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“When we serve the poor and the sick we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.”

— St. Rose of Lima

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“If you would suffer with patience the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer. If you would obtain courage and strength to conquer the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer. If you would mortify your own will with all its inclinations and appetites, be a man of prayer. If you would know the wiles of Satan and unmask his deceits, be a man of prayer. If you would live in joy and walk pleasantly in the ways of penance, be a man of prayer. If you would banish from you soul the troublesome flies of vain thoughts and cares, be a man of prayer. If you woudl nourish your soul with the very sap of devotion, and keep it always full of good thoughts and good desires, be a man of prayer. If you would strengthen and keep up your courage in the ways of God, be a man of prayer. In fine, if you would uproot all vices from your soul and plant all virtues in their place, be a man of prayer. It is in prayer that we receive the unction and grace of the Holy Ghost, who teaches all things.”

— St. Bonaventure

 

 

“The Holy Family were refugees from a corrupt political situation and an unstable ruler. No matter how much Matthew focuses on the way this flight into another country fulfilled passages in the Hebrew Scriptures, the fact is they were fleeing for their lives.

Pope Francis never misses an opportunity to remind us of this reality. We may wish that our religious experience could take place in a bubble, protected from the political divisions and ideological arguments that blare into our lives from the media. But Jesus was clearly born into a world of politics and ideology, of power struggles and armed conflicts. We can learn from him that our loyalty is ultimately to the kingdom of God and to the truth, not to any one political point of view.”

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

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“The human soul has so much likeness to God its creator that I surely know of no other way by which one can more easily mount to a knowledge of God than from reflection on one’s own soul.”

— St. Robert Bellarmine

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“Let us pass on now to the other question—namely, what you can do to strengthen your resolutions and make them succeed? There is no better mean than to put them into practice. But you say that you are still so weak that, although you often make strong resolutions not to fall into the particular imperfection of which you want to cure yourself, no sooner does the occasion present itself than down you go. Shall I tell you why we are still so weak? It is because we will not abstain from food that does not agree with us. It is as if a person who wished to be free from pains in the stomach were to ask a physician what he should do. The doctor replies, ‘Do not eat such and such food, because it brings you pain’; and yet the person will not abstain from it. We do the same. For example, we should like to love reproof, and yet we obstinately cling to our own opinions. That is foolishness. You will never be strong enough to bear reproof courageously while you are nourishing yourself with the food of self-esteem. I wish to keep my soul recollected, and yet I will not restrain all sorts of idle thoughts: the two things are incompatible. Ah! How much I wish that I could be steadfast and regular in my religious exercises; at the same time I wish not to find them so trying—in fact, I want to find the work done for me. That cannot be in this life, for we shall always have to labor.”

— St. Francis de Sales

 

 

“Prayers are God-filled words in which our love and God’s love are joined. That love embraces the people for whom we are praying, and love always changes people and situations. This doesn’t mean that we will always get what we want, but Jesus does promise that we will get what we need.”

— Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM

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“At our own birth, the child of Christmas is born in us. He is our spiritual potential. But we have to let that birth find its fulfillment in a life that rises above the ordinary. You might say that we have to keep the promise of that child alive in us always. Christmas is a reminder that the child is always being born, always in the manger, and always being welcomed.”

—from the book The Soul of Christmas by Thomas Moore

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“O Holy Family—the Family so closely united to the mystery which we contemplate on the day of the Lord’s Birth—guide with your example the families of the whole earth!”

— Pope St. John Paul II

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“Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed, which alone maketh light all that is burdensome and equally bears all that is unequal. For it carries a burden without being burdened and makes all that which is bitter sweet and savory. The love of Jesus is noble and generous; it spurs us on to do great things and excites us to desire always that which is most perfect.”

— Thomas à Kempis

 

 

 

“Christmas honors what is possible in this world: the birth of a creature who can transform the entire universe by the power of his imagination and his vision for a better world.

If we could evolve to the point of global peace, the possibilities for human creativity would be astounding, and that creativity would have an impact in the universe just as human activity today affects the planet.”

—from the book The Soul of Christmas by Thomas Moore

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“In a world gone astray from God there is no peace, but it also lacks charity, which is true and perfect love… Nothing is more beautiful than love. Indeed, faith and hope will end when we die, whereas love, that is, charity, will last for eternity.”

— Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

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“We might say the whole mystery of our redemption in Christ, by his incarnation, his death and his resurrection, consists of this marvelous exchange: in the heart of Christ, God has loved us humanly, so as to render our human hearts capable of loving divinely. God became man so that man might become God—might love as only God is capable of loving, with the purity, intensity, power, tenderness, and inexhaustible patience that belong to the divine love. It is an extraordinary source of hope and a great consolation to know that, by virtue of God’s grace working in us (if we remain open to it by persevering in faith, prayer, and the sacraments), the Holy Spirit will transform and expand our hearts to the point of one day making them capable of loving as God loves.”

— Fr. Jacques Philippe

 

 

“When some new possibility for your life stirs in you, something heretofore unknown and unfamiliar, Jesus is born. It is Christmas. When suddenly you realize that you can open your heart in love, when you have kept it closed for years out of fear, it is Christmas. When you consider how to spend your time, and you go to a hospital to visit the sick, Jesus is born and it is Christmas. Christmas is an archetypal event, deep within, and outside of history. Christmas is a mystery: It is not a puzzle to be figured out but a mysterious happening that transfigures life and gives it meaning. It makes life merry and worthy of our complete devotion.”

—from the book The Soul of Christmas by Thomas Moore

“”God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family. And yet, this same God”cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him.”

— Pope Benedict XVI

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“What worthy return can we make for so great a condescension? The One Only-begotten God, ineffably born of God, entered the Virgin’s womb and grew and took the frame of poor humanity. He who upholds the universe, within whom and through whom are all things, was brought forth by common childbirth. He at whose voice archangels and angels tremble, and heaven and earth and all the elements of this world are melted, was heard in childish wailing. The Invisible and Incomprehensible, whom sight and feeling and touch cannot measure, was wrapped in a cradle.”

— St. Hilary of Poitiers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“At Christmas we don’t wish each other perfect lives but only “comfort and joy.” This is what I look for: not an end to struggle, but a level of understanding and adjustment so that we can say to each other, “Merry Christmas.”

But understand how important it is and how central to the Christmas message, to be merry, to have a hopeful, positive, and optimistic attitude, even if your health is bad or if life is not at its best. The infant Jesus is lying in a barnyard crib, and yet the emotional atmosphere is glorious and full of hope. What a lesson for us living in a time of worldwide conflict and personal challenges.”

—from the book The Soul of Christmas by Thomas Moore

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“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart.”

— St. Therese of Lisieux

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“In that blessed [Christmas] night also Joseph became the patron, the vicar, and the patriarch of the whole Catholic Church. It is certain, St. Athanasius tells us, that the stable where Jesus was born is ‘a figure of the Church, whose altar is the manger, whose vicar is Joseph, whose ministers are the shepherds, whose priests are the angels, whose great High-Priest is Jesus Christ, and whose throne is the Blessed Virgin.'”

— Edward Healy Thompson

 

 

LIght in Darkness by Henri Nouwen

We walk in a “ravine as dark as death” (Psalm 23:4), and still we have nothing to fear because God is at our side: God’s staff and crook are there to soothe us (see Psalm 23:4). This is not just a consoling idea. It is an experience of the heart that we can trust.

 

Our lives are full of suffering, pain, disillusions, losses and grief, but they are also marked by visions of the coming of the Son of Man “like lightning striking in the east and flashing far into west” (Matthew 24:27). These moments in which we see clearly, hear loudly, and feel deeply that God is with us on the journey make us shine as a light into the darkness. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. Your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

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