“It’s easy to become discouraged that we do not pray as often or with the intensity that Saint Francis had. Yet prayer is the last place where we should compare ourselves to others. We don’t know if another person’s prayer reflects a life already turned over to God’s grace or a life with much to be relinquished to God’s grace. Long prayers are not necessarily better. What matters is the integrity of prayer, the openness the person praying shows to conversion to the Lord’s

“ways. 

–from Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi by Pat McCloskey, OFM

**

“He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His. He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.”

– St. Ambrose

**

“A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God. Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example, for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter. In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived in remote caves to escape the esteem of men. The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men, to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul, and evil that causes us to forget our God; it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others.”

— St. Alphonsus Liguiori

 

 

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“Traditional Catholic prayer is fundamentally oriented to Christ and his body, the Church, and its sacraments.

It recognizes that Christ continues to live out his paschal mystery in the lives of the faithful and understands that prayer is the key to remaining united to him at all times.”

—from the book Prayer in the Catholic Tradition by Robert J. Wicks

**

 

“O God, who created beings both visible and invisible, we praise you for the service and protection of your angels. Through the intercession of your archangel Raphael, guide us on our journey and guard us on our way. We pray for your merciful cure upon those most in need of the care of your angel Raphael, and we implore your healing from all our afflictions in body, mind, and spirit. May we rejoice with all your angels and saints as we praise your glory forever. Amen.”

–from the book Saint Junipero Serra’s Camino: A Pilgrimage Guide to the California Missions by Stephen J. Binz

**

“Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.”

— St. Thomas Aquinas

**

“You judge me, O Lord, for, although no one ‘knows the things of a man but the spirit of man which is in him,’ there is something further in man which not even that spirit of man which is in him knows. But you, Lord, who made him, know all things that are in him. Although I despise myself before your sight, and account myself but dust and ashes, yet I know something of you which I do not know about myself. In truth, ‘we see now through a glass in a dark manner,’ and not yet ‘face to face.’  … Let me confess, then, what I know about myself. Let me confess also what I do not know about myself, since that too which I know about myself I know because you enlighten me. As to that which I am ignorant of concerning myself, I remain ignorant of it until my ‘darkness shall be made as the noonday in your sight.'”

— St. Augustine

 

“As the pilot of a vessel is tried in the storm; as the wrestler is tried in the ring, the soldier in the battle, and the hero in adversity: so is the Christian tried in temptation.”

— St. Basil the Great

**

“Our confidence in God must be founded on His infinite goodness and on the merits of the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, with this condition on our part: that we should preserve and recognize in ourselves an entire and firm resolution to belong wholly to God, and to abandon ourselves in all things, and without any reserve, to His Providence. Observe that I do not say that we must feel this resolution to belong wholly to God, but only that we must have it and recognize it in ourselves; we must not concern ourselves with what we feel or do not feel, since the greater part of our feelings and satisfactions are only the movements of self-love. Neither must it be supposed that in all this practice of abandonment and indifference, we shall never have desires contrary to the will of God, or that nature will never shrink with repugnance from the dispositions of His good pleasure, for these will often occur. The virtues of abandonment and indifference reside in the higher region of our soul; the lower region, generally speaking, has nothing to do with them. We must remain at peace, and paying no attention whatever to what that lower nature desires, we must embrace the divine will and unite ourselves to it—whatsoever this may entail. There are very few persons who reach this height of perfect self-renunciation; nevertheless, we must all aim at it, each according to his little measure.”

— St. Francis de Sales

“Saint John Vianney taught that we should imitate the angels in their consciousness of the presence of God. In his “Sermon on Holy Communion,” he said, “We ought to ask the Blessed Virgin, the angels, and the saints to pray for us that we may receive the good God as worthily as it is possible for us to receive Him.”

Ponder these words and pray that your own guardian angel will enlighten you and guide you on the path to heaven. Here is a simple prayer:

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.”

—from Our Lady of Fatima: 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

**

“Christ made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue. I belong to Him whom the angels serve.”

– St. Agnes

**

“With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence: ‘For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. How would anything have endured, if you had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all things for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living’ (Wisdom 11:24-26).”

— (CCC, 301)

 

 

“As our mother, Mary cares about every aspect of our lives, past, present, and future. She cares about our joys and sorrows, successes and failures, dreams and desires. She cares about where we have been and where we are going. She cares about who we are and who we would like to become. She cares about the seemingly insignificant details of our daily routines and the huge life events. She cares about all that is important to us and even about what is not so important. She cares about everything.”

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

**

“Trials, tribulation, anguish, anxiety are permitted by the very One Who gives peace.”

— Archbishop Fulton Sheen

**

“Our Lord never intended that we should merely learn by heart the Our Father and recite it day and night. No doubt it is very beautiful and very simple, and can be meant quite easily by anyone who cares to use it. But that is not the purpose (although it is one purpose) of His gift of it to us. He evidently desires that we should take it to pieces, study its composition, and make it the model of our conversation with Him and the Father. … I must study it carefully, petition by petition, noting the distinct meaning of the words, the arrangement of the order, and the gradual development of the ideas of fatherhood, and so forth. … Indeed, this prayer is little else than a series of remarks made by a child to his Father. The very want of connection between each petition, the staccato notes that mark off phrase from phrase, seem to suggest that it should be said very slowly, pausing after each group of notes to let their meaning and harmony echo to the base of the soul.”

— Fr. Bede Jarrett,

 

 

“Today we celebrate the Epiphany. The popular carol “We Three Kings” echoes in our heads and exotic images of the East swirl around us. It’s easy to distance ourselves from the story of the Epiphany, to see it as a movie set or a grand opera. But our tradition and our Scriptures remind us that we, too, have a part to play in the great story of salvation.

Our roles might not be center stage, but we each have unique gifts to offer the world. We are called, first and foremost, to bring those gifts to the newborn King, the Messiah, the Christ Child, the Lord of all who was born in a humble stable in Bethlehem. If we take away the costumes and the drama and the decorations of this feast, we see the story at its finest: the gifts we offer to God are transformed into something far greater than anything we could ever imagine: the gift of eternal life in communion with the divine.”

—from the book Advent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek

**

Reading 1 Is 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13.

  1. (cf. 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
    O God, with your judgment endow the king,
    and with your justice, the king’s son;
    He shall govern your people with justice
    and your afflicted ones with judgment.
    R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
    Justice shall flower in his days,
    and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
    May he rule from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
    R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
    The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
    the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
    All kings shall pay him homage,
    all nations shall serve him.
    R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
    For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
    and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
    He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
    the lives of the poor he shall save.
    R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Reading 11 Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Alleluia Mt 2:2

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    We saw his star at its rising
    and have come to do him homage.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

**

“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all of our neighbors’ defects—not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.”

— St. Therese of Lisieux

**

“The life of prayer calls for continuous battles. It is the most important and the longest effort in a life dedicated to God. This effort has been given a beautiful name: it is called the guard of the heart. The human heart is a city; it was meant to be a stronghold. Sin surrendered it. Henceforth it is an open city, the walls of which have to be built up again. The enemy never ceases to do all he can to prevent this. He does this with his accustomed cleverness and strength, with stratagem and fury … he succeeds all along the line to distract us and entice us away from the divine presence. We must always be starting again. These continual recoveries, this endless beginning again, tires and disheartens us far more than the actual fighting. We would much prefer a real battle, fierce and decisive. But God, as a rule, thinks otherwise. He would rather we were in a constant state of war.”

— Dom Augustin Guillerand

 

“This wonder-inspiring power of the night sky is the backdrop to the traditional picture of the Christ coming into the world and also the light that makes the night sky not so dark and blank. The star serves as a companion image to the solstice—light appearing in the dark. And so it is a perfect image for the spirit of Christmas, a time when we are particularly overtaken by darkness and in need of light.

The star gives image to our potentiality. It is out there in space, up and away from the earth. It’s a shining beacon, another world, utopia. Christmas, too, is a kind of utopian interlude set between the harsh realities of contemporary life. Allow yourself some foolish celebrating, some unreal and sentimental goodness. If someone asks, say that you’re following that star in the sky.”

—from the book The Soul of Christmas by Thomas Moore

**

“Let each of us accept the truth of the following statement and try to make it our most fundamental principle: Christ’s teaching will never let us down, while worldly wisdom always will. Christ Himself said that this sort of wisdom was like a house with nothing but sand as its foundation, while His own was like a building with solid rock as its foundation.”

— St. Vincent de Paul

**

“Christians long ago concluded that each individual human being has his or her own particular guardian angel. Though the Church has never defined the teaching about individual guardian angels, the Catechism of the Catholic Church sums up the matter this way, quoting St. Basil: ‘From infancy to death human life is surrounded by [the angels’] watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life’. In this light, we can turn to our guardian angels for help in spiritual warfare, especially to resist the temptations of the Enemy. Yet angels are more than guardians; they are also warriors.”

— Paul Thigpen

 

 

“As the Christmas season draws to a close, we reflect not so much on the birth of Jesus as on the impact that birth had on all those who heard of it—the shepherds, the magi, the villagers, and us. By taking on our human reality, God shows us how to move beyond our ordinary routines into lives that can make a difference in our world.

The coming of the Magi to visit the holy family was a sign that Christ had come not only for the people of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, but for all people in all times and places. It is a reminder that we’re called to be ever more inclusive, to be open to questions from all those who seek the love and the mercy and the peace of God.”

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

**

 

“Pope Francis reminds us that creation—including the weather—is a gift to be celebrated, not something simply to be controlled and altered. We lose our sense of wonder in nature when we become too absorbed in the structures of everyday life. 

Jesus’ parables reflect a deep knowledge of flocks, fields, and fishing. We can understand these stories better if we grow in our awareness of creation. Pope Francis, like his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, calls us to read God’s presence not only in our holy books but in the holiness of the world around us, plant and animal as well as human.”

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

**

“If I am distracted, Holy Communion helps me to become recollected. If opportunities are offered by each day to offend my God, I arm myself anew each day for the combat by the reception of the Eucharist. If I am in special need of light and prudence in order to discharge my burdensome duties, I draw nigh to my Savior and seek counsel and light from him.”

— St. Thomas More

**

“Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts, and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. When she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.”

— Blessed Pope Pius IX

 

 

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