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“The story of Jesus in the Temple tells us that one’s primary family is not our only goal. Another responsibility, one for which our family can prepare us, is the call to follow God in fulfilling our unique mission. In responding to God’s call, we sometimes feel it necessary to do something that will not be understood by family members. Responding to this inner urge can be difficult, especially when close bonds tie together family members. Indeed, the decisions we make as a result of God’s call may cause other family members turmoil and may even lead to ruptured relationships. While the family prepares us for God’s special call, it must never stand in the way of our response.”

—from the book Your [Imperfect] Holy Family

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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 would 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

 

 

“Pope Benedict, who addressed 250 artists in the Sistine Chapel before Michelangelo’s half-naked, and often grotesque, images, said quite brilliantly, “An essential function of genuine beauty is that it gives humanity a healthy shock!” And then he went on to quote Simone Weil who said that “Beauty is the experimental proof that incarnation is in fact possible.” If there is one moment of beauty, then beauty can indeed exist on this earth; if there is one true moment of Incarnation, then why not incarnation everywhere? The beauty of Christmas is enough healthy shock for a lifetime, and it leaves the shocked ones dumbly struggling for utterance. Once the Eternal Word has become human flesh it is very hard to put it back into words—only music, poetry, and art can begin to suffice.”

—from the book Yes, and… Daily Meditations

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Saint Thomas Becket’s Story

A strong man who wavered for a moment, but then learned one cannot come to terms with evil, and so became a strong churchman, a martyr, and a saint—that was Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his cathedral on December 29, 1170.

His career had been a stormy one. While archdeacon of Canterbury, he was made chancellor of England at the age of 36 by his friend King Henry II. When Henry felt it advantageous to make his chancellor the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas gave him fair warning: he might not accept all of Henry’s intrusions into Church affairs. Nevertheless, in 1162 he was made archbishop, resigned his chancellorship, and reformed his whole way of life!

Troubles began. Henry insisted upon usurping Church rights. At one time, supposing some conciliatory action possible, Thomas came close to compromise. He momentarily approved the Constitutions of Clarendon, which would have denied the clergy the right of trial by a Church court and prevented them from making direct appeal to Rome. But Thomas rejected the Constitutions, fled to France for safety, and remained in exile for seven years. When he returned to England he suspected it would mean certain death. Because Thomas refused to remit censures he had placed upon bishops favored by the king, Henry cried out in a rage, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!” Four knights, taking his words as his wish, slew Thomas in the Canterbury cathedral.

Thomas Becket remains a hero-saint down to our own times.


Reflection

No one becomes a saint without struggle, especially with himself. Thomas knew he must stand firm in defense of truth and right, even at the cost of his life. We also must take a stand in the face of pressures—against dishonesty, deceit, destruction of life—at the cost of popularity, convenience, promotion, and even greater goods.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-thomas-becket/?utm_campaign=Saint%20of%20the%20Day&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=68647727


Story of the Holy Innocents

Herod “the Great,” king of Judea, was unpopular with his people because of his connections with the Romans and his religious indifference. Hence he was insecure and fearful of any threat to his throne. He was a master politician and a tyrant capable of extreme brutality. He killed his wife, his brother, and his sister’s two husbands, to name only a few.

Matthew 2:1-18 tells this story: Herod was “greatly troubled” when astrologers from the east came asking the whereabouts of “the newborn king of the Jews,” whose star they had seen. They were told that the Jewish Scriptures named Bethlehem as the place where the Messiah would be born. Herod cunningly told them to report back to him so that he could also “do him homage.” They found Jesus, offered him their gifts, and warned by an angel, avoided Herod on their way home. Jesus escaped to Egypt.

Herod became furious and “ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.” The horror of the massacre and the devastation of the mothers and fathers led Matthew to quote Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children…” (Matthew 2:18). Rachel was the wife of Jacob (Israel). She is pictured as weeping at the place where the Israelites were herded together by the conquering Assyrians for their march into captivity.


Reflection

The Holy Innocents are few in comparison to the genocide and abortion of our day. But even if there had been only one, we recognize the greatest treasure God put on the earth—a human person, destined for eternity, and graced by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/holy-innocents/?utm_campaign=Saint%20of%20the%20Day&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=68633635

 

 

“I have long felt that Christmas is a feast that largely celebrates humanity’s unconscious desire and goal. Its meaning is too much for the rational mind to process, so God graciously puts this Big Truth on a small stage so that we can wrap our minds and hearts around it over time. No philosopher would dare to predict the materialization of God, so we are just presented with a very human image of a poor woman and her husband with a newborn child. (I am told that the Madonna is by far the most painted image in Western civilization.)”

—from the book Yes, and… Daily Meditations

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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

 

 

“We need to show compassion for those in need during this season and year-round. We miss the point of the Incarnation if we feel that feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless are activities for this season only. Educational theorist John Dewey said, “All education is about making connections.” We can never exhaust the connections that the Incarnation invites. Francis recognized this by linking this feast to extra generosity for humans in need, for oxen, asses, and even the lowly larks. The Incarnation of Jesus is a testament to God’s universal love and compassion. It becomes a constant reminder of a biblical saying that Pope Paul VI made popular: “Peace is a work of justice.” Be as committed to justice for everyone as you are to peace for everyone.”

—from the book Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi

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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

 

 

“The manger was prepared, the hay had been brought, the ox and ass were led in. There simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, humility was commended, and Greccio was made, as it were, a new Bethlehem. The night was lighted up like the day, and it delighted men and beasts. The people came and were filled with new joy over the new mystery. The woods rang with the voices of the crowd and the rocks made answer to their jubilation.” Francis combined love for Christ’s crib, Christ’s cross, and the Eucharist in a way that attracted even people whose faith was lukewarm. Christmas is celebrated year-round at Greccio. The crib that Francis made there emphasized the great love and humility of the Son of God in becoming one of us so that we might share divine life. Amid the rush to prepare for Christmas, take time to thank God for the tremendous gift of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem.”

—from the book Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi

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“If we approach with faith, we too will see Jesus … for the Eucharistic table takes the place of the crib. Here the Body of the Lord is present, wrapped not in swaddling clothes but in the rays of the Holy Spirit.”

— St. John Chrysostom

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“‘And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased’ (Lk 2:12-14). According to the evangelist, the angels ‘said’ this. But Christianity has always understood that the speech of angels is actually song, in which all the glory of the great joy that they proclaim becomes tangibly present. And so, from that moment, the angels’ song of praise has never gone silent. It continues down the centuries in constantly new forms and it resounds ever anew at the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It is only natural that simple believers would then hear the shepherds singing too, and to this day they join in their caroling on the Holy Night, proclaiming in song the great joy that, from then until the end of time, is bestowed on all people.”

— Pope Benedict XVI

 

 

“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

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“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

 

“The custom of setting up a Christmas crib in one’s home—not simply outside a church—reinforces the personal challenge represented by the Incarnation. The Incarnation changes everything in human history. We become different people because of it. In Francis’s day, many thought first of Jesus dying on the cross and only later about his birth in Bethlehem. Popularizing the crib reminded people of the great love that led to Jesus’s becoming one of us without compromising his divine nature. After that celebration in Greccio, participants could well have said, “This changes everything!” We could admire Jesus’s birth as an historical moment that becomes more distant with each passing year, or with Francis’s help, we can see it as an ongoing event and act accordingly.”

—from the book Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi

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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

 

 

“Somewhere in the course of a childhood or a lifetime, we learn to balance expectations and reality. It has much to do with learning the difference between wants and needs. We rarely do this perfectly in our everyday lives. It’s even more difficult in the heightened atmosphere of Christmas, whether it’s visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads or the bells and whistles of this year’s electronics. Sometimes what we imagine as the perfect Christmas present fails to live up to its hype, and we’re disappointed. Sometimes something that seems mundane proves to be valuable in ways that go far beyond the glitz and sparkle of Christmas morning.”

—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis

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“The sacred heart of Christ is an inexhaustible fountain, and its sole desire is to pour itself out into the hearts of the humble so as to free them and prepare them to lead lives according to his good pleasure.”

— St. Margaret Mary

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