Category Archives: Daily Liturgy

SUNDAY LITURGY PREPARATION


 CONTENTS OF THIS SUNDAY LITURGY PREPARATION PAGE:  
See Below in the following Order — Use the Table of Contents Links to find the Resources you want.

  1. RESOURCE: At Home with the Word 2018, LTP, pages 40-43.
  2. RESOURCE: Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary,  LTP, pages 8-9.
  3. RESOURCE: Living Liturgy™ For Sundays and Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, Online Pages 12-15.
  4. RESOURCE: The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, litpress.org, pages 8-9..
  5. RESOURCE: Guide to Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, pages 16-17.
  6. RESOURCE: Lectio Divina
  7. RESOURCE: Magnificat Reflections, December 2017, pages 262 & 267-269.
  8. RESOURCE: Give Us This Day® Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, December 2017, pages 180-181.
  9. RESOURCE: Homily for Sunday, December 10, 2017
  10. RESOURCE: Holy Father’s Intention For The Month Of December 2017  —The Apostleship of Prayer
  11. RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletin’s, One-Liners in Faith For December 2017.
  12. RESOURCE: Suggested Prayer of the Faithful: Faith Catholic Online;   Daily Prayer 2017;   OCP;   Magnificat;  Liturgical Press.
  13. RESOURCE: Prayer of the Faithful Last Sunday, Second Sunday of Advent, December 10, 2017 – Cycle B – Saint Peter Parish, Kirkwood


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At Home with the Word 2018

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT                     December 17, 2017

READING I         Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11                                                                                                                                                                     The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me;                                                                                          he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted,                                                                                            to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul;                                                                                                                   for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels.                 As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM                  Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54 (Isaiah 61:10b)

R: My soul rejoices in my God.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the LORD; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,                                                                                for he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed. R.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.                                                                                                             He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. R.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.                                                                                      He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy. R.

READING II         1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.

GOSPEL        John 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it,

but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said:  “I am <<the voice of one crying

out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord,>> as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Practice of Hope

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the LORD / my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” sings the mother of our Lord. Gaudete means “Rejoice!” Today, Gaudete Sunday, we pause in our more solemn preparations to rejoice with Mary in the promise of God’s coming. At Mass we mark the day with rose-colored vestments and at home, with a rose-colored candle in the Advent wreath. Christ is our first and greatest gift, source of our hope and joy! • Whenever you decorate your Christmas tree, gather the household to bless it, with your own prayer or with this one from the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/ prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/sacramentals-blessings/objects/blessing-of-a -christmas-tree.cfm. Afterward, share in Mary and Joseph’s journey of hope. Watch the film, The Nativity Story (2006; rated G; with Keisha Castle-Hughes). • At Christmas time, opportunities abound to spread the hope of Christ. Invite someone to your home for Christmas dinner who might otherwise be alone, or volunteer at a local soup kitchen over the holidays. Reflect on your experience and consider extending yourself in this way on a more regular basis. • For an unusual and energetic musical experience, listen to the Choir of Clare College Cambridge perform the centuries-old Latin Advent carol “Gaudete” at https://www.youtube.com /watch?v=11NgHonWNEO.

Download more questions and  activities for families, Christian  initiation groups, and other adult  groups at                     http://www.ltp.org/t­productsupplements.aspx.

Scripture Insights

Today’s readings continue the preparation theme we heard in the previous two weeks of Advent. But now the focus shifts somewhat to the joy that awaits us in God’s coming Kingdom. This Sunday is Gaudete (Latin, “rejoice”) Sunday or, as Pope Francis calls it, the Sunday of Joy.

In today’s First Reading, the prophet writes about the mission conferred upon him by God—to bring glad tidings to the lowly and to heal the broken hearted—and about the joy he experiences in God who clothes him in justice and salvation. Early Christians appropriated this text to describe Jesus’ mission (see Luke 4:18-19). By virtue of our Baptism in Christ, this ought to be our mission as well. As the prophet suggests, there is no greater joy than doing God’s work.

The Gospel presents John the Baptist as the one who testifies or gives witness to the Light who is coming into the world (John 1:8). We can rejoice because he is the Light that darkness cannot overcome! As the story unfolds, we see John testifying on Jesus’ behalf before the priests and Levites of Jerusalem and declaring that Jesus is already among them, though they do not recognize him. John declares he is lower than the lowest household servant by comparison to Jesus, the revealer of God. This is cause for great joy!

On the theme of joy, the Church has wisely paired these two readings with a reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. Paul admonishes us to always live in joy, praying and giving thanks, because this is God’s will for us. Everything we do and say should be inspired by this Spirit as we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Carefully read and reflect on today’s First Reading. What makes the prophet’s call to mission and the work it demands a source of joy? How does this reading relate to your own sense of mission?
  • Where do you see Jesus already in our midst today? Describe the joy that this knowledge brings to you.
  • What does it mean to you to always live in joy?

At Home with the Word, LTP, pages 40-43.

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Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT                 The Voice Testifies to the Word                                      LECTIONARY #8B

ISAIAH 61:1-2A, 10-11          As ancient Israel saw the end of its exile, a glorious future opened before the Chosen People. Those who refused to lose hope saw their dreams fulfilled. The spirit of the Lord fell upon the prophet who faithfully announced the good tidings of healing, liberty, and vindication.

God makes justice and praise spring up. Justice signifies the restoration of a community in its social dignity, and also in its spiritual union. Praise results from these actions. It is the only fitting response of a people redeemed.

Many Christians recognize this passage as the one that Jesus read in the synagogue at the beginning of his ministry in Luke’s account of the Gospel. Today it stands on its own to further the character of Advent.

LUKE 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54 (ISAIAH 61:10B)    Mary’s can­ticle, the Magnificat, proclaims the greatness of a God who has upended the injustices of the world. The hungry are filled; the rich are empty. God has returned to lift Israel from slavery to mercy.

Normally the response that follows the First Reading is drawn from the Book of Psalms, but there are occasions when a canticle from another book fills in. Today’s passage might seem more fitting as a Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, which recounts the events immediately preced­ing the birth of Christ. In fact, it is the Gospel whenever December 22 falls on a weekday. Today, however, it joins with the First Reading to serve as a prophecy for the signifi­cance of the coming of Jesus Christ. He will bring justice to a world in need.

So tightly connected are the themes of these first two elements of today’s Liturgy of the Word that one verse from the First Reading is the refrain for the responsory. The Lectionary links Mary’s canticle to the Book of Isaiah to connect the prophecies for the coming of justice to the coming of Jesus Christ.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-24     St. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to rejoice always and constantly give thanks. By retaining what is good and refraining from evil, the Thessalonians may be preserved “blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:23). That phrase explains why this passage has been chosen for our meditation this week­end. The people were awaiting the coming of the Lord, just as Christians today do. As Paul encouraged his readers to be blameless, so we receive the same advice.

This letter is possibly the very first piece of literature composed for the New Testament —the oldest of Paul’s epistles, older than each of the four Gospel accounts. In it can be seen the early anticipation of the imminence of Christ’s return.

The opening word, rejoice, sounds the traditional theme of this Gaudete Sunday. The same word appears in the refrain for the responsory, which in turn comes from the First Reading.

JOHN 1:6-8, 19-28          Today’s passage from John parallels the account heard last week from Mark. It is in two parts—the body following a brief introduction. The intro­duction is taken from the prologue of the Gospel according to John, a poetic proclamation of the mystery of the divine Word. Embedded into the prologue is a narrative about John, distinguishing him from Christ. Those few verses are proclaimed today ahead of the actual appearance of John in the unfolding account of Jesus’ ministry. John the evange­list provides information about the conversation between John the Baptist and the priests and Levites from Jerusalem. They probe to find out just who he is. John cannot answer that without proclaiming who Jesus is.

The Third Sunday of Advent sounds two concurrent themes. One of them is gaudete (rejoice), as seen in the other elements of today’s Liturgy of the Word. The other is the message of John (the Fourth Gospel never calls him “John the Baptist”). So central is John’s preaching to Advent that the Gospel readings for both the Second and Third Sundays always tell of him. Historically, he was preparing his contemporaries for the arrival of Jesus. Biblically, he prepares us to meet Christ at the end of time.

CONNECTIONS TO CHURCH TEACHING AND TRADITION

        “The candles [of the wreath] represent the four weeks of Advent, and the number of candles lighted each week corresponds to the number of the cur­rent week of Advent. The rose candle is lighted on the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday” (Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers, p. 73).

∞         “Looking to the heart of Mary, to the depth of her faith expressed in the words of the Magnificat, Christ’s disciples are called to renew ever more fully in themselves ‘the awareness that the truth about God who saves, the truth about God who is the source of every gift, cannot be separated from the manifestation of his love of preference for the poor and humble, that love which, celebrated in the Magnificat, is later expressed in the words and works of Jesus”‘ (CSDC, 59).                                     John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Mater, 37: AAS 79 (1987), 410.

Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 8-9.

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 LIVING LITURGY™ FOR SUNDAY’S AND SOLEMNITIES 2018, 

Astoria, OR – Mouth of Columbia River

 Reflecting on the Gospel

On this “Gaudete” (Rejoice) Sunday, other readings and the gospel acclamation may speak more directly to joy or glad tidings than the gospel, which gives us its version of the story of John. Of course, he is often referred to as John the Baptist in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but not in this gospel. Here he is clearly and simply called a “man” (John 1:6), and when he is named, it is merely “John” without modifier (e.g., 1:6, 15, 19, 26, 28, 32). In this way, and in many others in this gospel, he is distinguished from Jesus.

The Fourth Gospel states clearly and unequivocally that John was not the light, but was sent from God to testify to the light (John 1:8). John admits that he is not the Messiah; he is not Elijah. (In both Matthew [11:14] and Mark [9:13], John is considered the Elijah figure, said to be so by Jesus himself.) In the Fourth Gospel, John is not even the prophet. His role is to cry out in the desert, “make straight the way of the Lord.” Such a deflection away from any attention or claims to himself seems to reflect the interests of the evangelist more than the historical situation of the time. Indeed, there are other clues in the Fourth Gospel and other New Testament writings that tell us that John continued to have a following years, perhaps decades, after his death. Today we recognize that John prepared the way for Jesus.

This first chapter of the Fourth Gospel reminded the early Christian community that John was merely a precursor, a forerunner, to Jesus the Messiah. We have heard these stories so often, and fre­quently from the Synoptic point of view. When we read the Fourth Gospel on its own terms we see that John says he baptizes with water. We might expect him to say, “but the one coming after me baptizes with the Holy Spirit” as we hear in the Synoptics. Instead, John says, “I baptize with water; / but there is one among you whom you do not recognize.” There is nothing in this gospel about Jesus bap­tizing with the Holy Spirit. Instead, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Even the use of the term sin in the singular rather than the plural is deliberate. Rather than merely taking away individual sins, Jesus takes away the cosmic force of sin. The Fourth Gospel reflects a different but congru­ent theological thought world than the Synoptics. The differences in details may seem minute but they point to profound theological emphases.

Once John points the way to Jesus, once he testifies to the Lamb of God, John in effect disappears from the gospel (there are some minor passing references). His role is basically confined to chapter 1 of the Fourth Gospel, and it consists in testifying to Jesus.

Living the Paschal Mystery

When we see how John gave testimony to Jesus we recognize him as a model for ourselves. John is not the center of attention. When he receives attention he deflects it to Jesus. John will not even claim the title of prophet. He is merely a pointer to Jesus. After accomplishing his role John recedes into the background so that the one who is already in their midst might be made more fully known.

Where do we find Jesus in our midst? Are we pointing to that reality, and tes­tifying to it? Once having done so, do we then recede into the background?

Focusing the Gospel           John 1:6-8, 19-28

Today’s gospel is the Fourth Gospel’s portrait of John’s baptismal ministry. In a scene unique to the Fourth Gospel, a delegation of priests and Levites from the city confront John about his preaching and baptizing. John responds that he is not Elijah, the great prophet who was expected to return in the last days of time to announce the coming of the Messiah; John claims to be only the “voice of one crying out in the desert.” But, John says, the Messiah they have waited for has already come and is “among you.”

There is serenity about this portrait of John: there are no descriptions of wearing camel hair and eating locusts or wild honey; there are no rantings to re­pent or angry confrontations with official Jerusalem. The Baptist of the Fourth Gospel is a figure of peace and humility. John preaches that God has revealed himself to his people through the incarnation of his Word, Jesus the Christ, and John has been called to testify (to witness) to this revelation as standing “among you whom you do not recognize.”

Forms of “baptism” were common in the Judaism of gospel times. But John’s baptism was distinctive: his baptism at the Jordan was a rite of repentance and metanoia—a conversion of heart and spirit. John’s ministry fulfilled the promise of Ezekiel (Ezek 36:25-26): at the dawn of a new age, the God of Israel would purify his people from their sins with clear water and instill in them a new heart and spirit.

Focusing the First Reading               Isa 61:1-2a, 10-11

Today’s first reading is the prophet Isaiah’s proclamation of his mission to the exiles returning to Jerusalem in the sixth century BC, after decades of slavery in Babylon. It is the beginning of a new era of hope for Israel: Judah, con­demned to exile because of the injustice of its economic and social systems, will be restored by the Spirit to a new commitment to justice for the poor. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus himself reads these words at the beginning of his preaching and healing ministry (Luke 4:16-20).

Focusing the Responsorial Psalm            Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54 (Isa 61:10b)

Today’s response to the first reading is not from the psalms but a weaving of Mary’s song of praise in Luke’s gospel upon her greeting from Elizabeth with images from the prophet Isaiah’s canticle of hope for the returning exiles (Isa 61, today’s first reading). Both Mary’s song and Isaiah’s prophecy celebrate that God is recreating humankind in his goodness and mercy.

Focusing the Second Reading              1 Thess 5:16-24

Paul’s exhortation to rejoice gives this Third Sunday of Advent its traditional name Gaudete Sunday. Today’s second reading is the conclusion of what scholars recognize as the oldest surviving documents of Christianity, Paul’s first letter to the Christian church at Thessalonica (written around 51 AD). The apostle Paul has spoken sternly to the Thessalonian community about their passivity as they await the Lord’s return. He concludes his letter urging them to embrace the joy that is experienced in following the Spirit’s prompting to create the ideals of Christian community: joy, thanksgiving, wise discernment, seeking and maintaining the common good.

Homily Points

  • In our own individual Advents of poverty and despair, in our struggle to find mean­ing and purpose in this life we have been given, God is with us. Advent faith calls us to approach God not in fear but in joy: not a Pollyanna, happy-face, sugarcoated denial of anything bad or unpleasant, but a constant awareness that God is always present to us. That despite the heartaches, there is always healing; that despite our forgetting and abandoning God, God neither forgets nor abandons us; that despite the cross, there is the eternal hope of resurrection.
  • Light is the opening image of today’s gospel: John proclaims Jesus as the light who will shatter the darkness that envelops our world, the light who illuminates our vision with compassion and justice. In our own baptisms, that light is ignited within us, melting the winter cold of despair and self-absorption and opening our eyes to see God’s goodness in our midst. We are called to “testify” to the light we have seen in the compassion and for­giveness of others, to become the means to straighten the roads we travel that have been made crooked and dangerous by injustice and greed. We have been entrusted by God to transform our deserts into God’s vineyard of mercy and peace.
  • The coming of Christ calls us to the work of making a straight road for him, of trans­forming the barren deserts around us into harvests of justice and peace, of making the light of his presence in our midst known to all. As God gives himself so completely and unreservedly to us in the birth of his own Son, may we find our life’s joy and fulfillment in giving completely and unreservedly of ourselves to others.

About Liturgy

Liturgy doesn’t lie: In today’s gospel, John the Baptist testifies to the light “so that all might believe through him.” In other words, he was to tell the truth about the light.

At the midway point of Advent, today’s liturgical texts overflow with joy. “Rejoice” appears in the first and second readings and the responsorial psalm, and the gospel acclamation speaks of “glad tidings.” This Sunday is obviously meant to communicate the joy of our faith in Christ the Light.

Now take a look around you at Mass at the faces of those present, especially of the liturgical ministers and other parish leaders. Do their faces “testify” to the light, to that joy? Or do they look like the Christians Pope Francis described as those who “have expressions like they’re going to a funeral procession rather than going to praise God” (homily in Casa Santa Marta, May 31, 2013)?

As liturgical ministers, we must not give in to what Pope Francis calls the “disease of a lugubrious face” that “weakens our service to the Lord” and conveys an untruth in the liturgy (address to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2014). If we are homilists, lectors, or music ministers, when we say “rejoice,” let us mean it and, more impor­tantly, look it! Our faces and demeanor need to be a silent proclamation to the truth of Christ—a proclamation that can be even more powerful than our words. If ushers, let us radiate joy with a sincere greeting not just to those we know by name but most of all to those we do not recognize. To those who arrive late, may our attitude convey to them that in Christ’s eyes, latecomers are as richly blessed as those who come early. If we are Communion ministers, let us use the most of our few seconds with each person to express joy through our eyes and faces, testifying to our love for the Body and Blood of Christ in our hands as well as in the person before us.

Of course we all know this, but sometimes we may not be aware of what our faces actually communicate. So it may be useful to ask someone to take video of you as you minister (and throughout the liturgy) so that you can assess how well you are silently conveying the joy of your faith.

At every Sunday liturgy, and most especially on this Gaudete “Rejoice” Sunday, let us testify to the truth of Christ the Light who radiates through our faces, words, and actions.

A “short” Advent: In 2017, the Fourth Sunday of Advent falls on December 24, which makes this coming week the last week of Advent! This means there are only three full weeks of Advent this year. Be aware of this as you schedule liturgical prepa­rations, especially for environment ministers and music ministers, who will need to make a quick changeover from Advent to Christmas next Sunday.

About Liturgical Music

Rejoice! Rejoice!: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a musical staple of Advent, and the season feels incomplete without it. The verses of this song come from the antiphons of Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours from December 17 to 23. The final weeks of Advent are the perfect time to include this hymn at every liturgical gathering. However, take care to be authentic witnesses to the message of this text. Sometimes we tend to think that Advent’s sound is quiet, slow, and contemplative—and at times it is. Yet when the first words of the refrain of this song are “Rejoice! Rejoice!” we should make the sound of our music match the message. Therefore, be careful to avoid falling into the trap of singing this piece too slowly or timidly. Experiment with a livelier tempo, and consider adding more joyful accompaniment and instrumentation so that these words truly may usher in the joyful anticipation of these last days of the season.

Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities, Liturgical Press, Pages 12-15.

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THE WORD ON THE STREET, SUNDAY LECTIONARY REFLECTIONS

WAITING ON HOPE          Third Sunday of Advent

Readings: Isa 61:1-2a, 10-11; Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54; 1 Thess 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

“Who are you?” (John 1:19)

Christians read the Old Testament today, understandably, in light of Christ’s fulfillment of the promises and prophecies found there. It is a simple thing to do, since the early church read the Old Testament in the context of Jesus’ incarnation and teaching and the experience of Easter, and then formalized these readings and understandings in the texts of the New Testament.

But what if you were a Jew in the first century, eagerly hoping for the Messiah, a successor to David? These hopes, shared with the whole nation, had been growing since the return from Babylonian exile. As you searched through the panoply of prophecies, you began to wonder, when will these hopes be fulfilled? Who do you look for and where do you start looking? It would be like reading a mystery novel, knowing every clue, studying every sign, but seeing only in retrospect how the whole fits together.

Isaiah 61, for instance, is most often dated to the period just after the return from Babylonian exile, and the author of the passage is generally considered to be the speaker in the text. This prophetic passage emerged, therefore, some five centuries before the birth of Christ. In it the speaker says, “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, / because the LORD has anointed me; / he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, / to bind up the brokenhearted, / to proclaim liberty to the captives, / and release to the prisoners.” In its original historical context and literal mean­ing, the author speaks of the conditions that the returning Babylonian exiles found, especially when he promises that those returning exiles “shall build up the ancient ruins, / they shall raise up the former devastations; / they shall repair the ruined cities, / the devastations of many genera­tions.” It also seems that the postexilic prophet is speaking of his own role in the restoration of Jerusalem when he says, “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me.”

Yet there is also an eschatological edge to the hopes imagined, especially in the proclamation of “the year of the LORD’S favor,” an event still to come.

Christians see the spiritual fulfillment of these proclamations in the person and ministry of Jesus, centuries after they were uttered. The reason is simple: Jesus himself read this passage, according to Luke 4, in the syna­gogue in Nazareth.

There Jesus says of the Isaian passage, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). This we might identify with what Catholic biblical scholarship has called the sensus plenior, or “fuller sense,” since it does not obviate the original historical meaning and context but points to a fulfillment of which the original human author was unaware.

This is why the questioning of John the Baptist by some representatives of the Pharisees makes historical and theological sense. The Pharisees, like most Jews of this period, were awaiting the Messiah. Because of the attractiveness of John’s prophetic message of repentance to the people, and his popularity, he was someone who had to be examined. They asked, “Who are you?” In response, John confesses that he is not the Messiah, not Elijah, not the prophet and cites Isaiah 40:3, a passage dated to the end of the Babylonian exile: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, / ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ ” John identifies himself not as the Messiah, but as the fulfillment of long-ago prophecies, as the one who prepares the way for the coming Messiah.

But the questions still remained, even for John. Who ever thought that it would happen through a young, unmarried woman, that God would look “with favor on the lowliness of his servant,” Mary? God asks that as we wait for fulfillment we be prepared for God to do new things, un­expected things, and be ready for the unlikeliest of answers.

Reflect on the surprises of God’s ways. How has God surprised you in the past? How do you wait in hope for the Messiah at Advent? Do you expect God’s surprising ways at Advent?

The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, Martens, Liturgical Press, pages 8-9.

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  SACRED READING, THE 2018 GUIDE TO DAILY PRAYER,

 Sunday, December 17, 2017 Third Sunday of Advent

Know that God is present and ready to converse.

“Light of the world, light of my life, let me see you in your Word.”

As the candles in the Advent wreath continue to burn during this time of hopeful anticipation, our longing for the Lord grows. We love the infant Jesus. We love the triumphant Messiah who is to come. But, best of all, for now and for eternity, we love the coming and abiding of Jesus Christ in our hearts. The kingdom of heaven is already within us.

“I welcome you into my day, Lord, though you are always with me. I am here with you.”

Read the gospel: John i:6-8, 19-28.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. . . .

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said,

“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,” as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Notice what you think and feel as you read the gospel.

John has a positive message, for he proclaims the imminent coming of the Lord. Those who hear him press him for more, so he has to declare plainly that he is not the Messiah, Elijah, or the prophet. He declares also that he is not worthy to untie the thong of the sandal of the one who is to come after him.

Pray as you are led for yourself and others.

“How human we are, Lord, as we dispute about your words. Let me avoid dispute and with simple heart and mind receive you. I pray others do as well . . .” (Continue in your own words.)

Listen to Jesus.

You see why I have said that intelligent people cannot understand, while children can. Study to be a child, for you are my child. Love and trust your Lord and God. All shall be well with you and yours. What else is Jesus saying to you?

Ask God to show you how to live today.

“By your grace, let me learn and practice simplicity, love, and trust today. Let it bring honor to you, Lord. Amen.”

Pray as you are led for yourself and others.

“How human we are, Lord, as we dispute about your words. Let me avoid dispute and with simple heart and mind receive you. I pray others do as well . . .” (Continue in your own words.)

Listen to Jesus.

You see why I have said that intelligent people cannot understand, while children can. Study to be a child, for you are my child. Love and trust your Lord and God. All shall be well with you and yours. What else is Jesus saying to you?

Ask God to show you how to live today.

“By your grace, let me learn and practice simplicity, love, and trust today. Let it bring honor to you, Lord. Amen.”

SACRED READING, The 2018 Guide to Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, pages 16-17.

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LECTIO DIVINA – A PRAYERFUL READING OF SACRED SCRIPTUREE

Guide to Lectio Divina:

Choose a word or phrase of the Scriptures you wish to pray. It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as you have no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text. The amount of text covered is in God’s hands, not yours.

Read. Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow says, “I am for you today?’ Do not expect lightning or ecstasies. In lectio divina, God is teaching us to listen, to seek him in silence. God does not reach out and grab us but gently invites us ever more deeply into his presence.

Ponder. Take the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas. Do not be afraid of distractions. Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself that, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.

Pray. Whether you use words, ideas, or images—or all three—is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. Give to God what you have discovered during your experience of meditation. Give to God what you have found within your heart.

It is not necessary to assess the quality of your lectio divina, as if you were “performing” or seeking some goal. Lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.

—Fr. Luke Dysinger – Luke Dysinger, OSB, is a Benedictine monk of Saint Andrew’s Abbey, Valyermo, California. Give Us This Day®, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, April 2017, Liturgical Press, page 441.

THE 4 STEPS OF LECTIO DIVINA OR PRAYERFUL READING

      1. ctio: Read a Scripture passage aloud slowly. Notice what phrase captures your attention and be attentive to its meaning. Silent pause.
      2. Meditatio: Read the passage aloud slowly again, reflecting on the passage, allowing God to speak to you through it. Silent pause.
      3. Oratio: Read it aloud slowly a third time, allowing it to be your prayer or response to God’s gift of insight to you. Silent pause.
      4. Contemplatio: Read it aloud slowly a fourth time, now resting in God’s word.

      Throughout his life, Jesus taught the impor­tance of forgiveness, offering it even to those who had crucified him. Important as universal forgiveness is, Jesus’ instruction here explains a process of reconciliation within the church, bringing a sinful member back into communion.

      RESOURCE: 2017 Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word® LTP, page 242.

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       MAGNIFICAT,DECEMBER 2017, REFLECTIONS

      Third Sunday of Advent   –    In this Mass, the color violet or rose is used.

      “Rejoice in the Lord,” for as miserable as life can seem at times, the reality is that God has clothed us “with a robe of salvation” that heals all our poverty, our broken hearts, our bondage. “He has mercy on those who fear him,” that is, those who fear only one thing: losing their relationship with the Lord. Therefore, “be preserved blameless for the coming of Jesus.” Even though in the troubles of life you may not recognize him, “the one who calls you is faithful.”   Magnificat, December 2017, page 262.

      Testifying to the Light

      As John announced Christ even before his birth, so he was the forerunner of his public life. Now, after the desert, came the culminating moment of his life, while he was preparing the way of Christ: There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came fora witness to give testimony of the Light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the Light, but was to give testimony of the Light. John the Baptist’s essential work, then, was to give testimony of the Light, to show Christ. He had a most important part to play in the preparation for Christ’s coming, and Christ’s work itself. He it was who laid the ground for our Lord’s pub­lic life, and for his teaching, by making people’s souls ready for it. He was to some extent educating souls, taking the first steps towards laying them more open to receive what Christ was to tell them. Christ’s words would have been too much for souls not prepared for them. They had to have some previous education. Their interests had to be given a new twist away from their earthly concerns and customs; they must be made to feel that all was not well.

      That was John the Baptist’s task. Among people to­tally unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to understand Christ when he came.

      In this he was in the same position as all who had earlier shared in the work of preparing for the Lord’s coming; they, too, were separated from earthly things by God, and mysteriously given to see his plans, so that they might trace his ways to people. Saint John came in his turn to trace his ways to people, to make the rough ways plain, to bring the mountains low. But in order to do this he must first be completely caught up by his inward vision, he must belong to the Lord utterly, for the ground he had to break was hard: he was com­ing amongst the people of his day, who were mainly engaged, like those of our own, as Saint Luke tells us, the soldiers in doing violence and spreading calumny, the publicans in taking more than their due (3:2-14).

      Human beings are like that—they were then, and they are now. They are busy about earthly affairs. They are completely heedless of God, and our chief feeling as we move among them is one of anguish at seeing the world’s utter indifference to anything higher.

      To shake the world out of this indifference we need prophets, that is to say, people whose souls are cap­tured by the divine vision of things and who can shake the mass of people out of their inertia, and be, in truth, “witnesses.” Now a witness is someone to whom it is granted to see things as God does, and who has this inner vision himself in such a way that he can hand it on to mankind. Such a man was John the Baptist.

      CARDINAL JEAN DANIELOU  —  Cardinal Danielou (†1974) was a Jesuit priest, theologian, liturgist, historian, and member of the Academie Francaise.         Magnificat, December 2017, pages 267-269.

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    GIVE US THIS  DAY REFLECTION

  • Reflection – Instruments of Joy
  • I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul.At this midpoint in Advent, we might ask ourselves: What or who is “the joy of my soul?” Do we rejoice in the victory of a favorite football team, in the performance of a grandchild at a Christmas concert, in a political victory? John the Baptist experienced joy in the womb when Mary greeted Elizabeth, his mother. St. Paul experienced joy in his great calling to be an evangelist, proclaiming God’s love and mercy revealed in Jesus. Pope Francis has given the world his papal smile, an expression of his interior joy and faith.Joy has fallen on hard times in this turbulent world. Too easily is our soul overwhelmed by the sheer volume of suffering of so many innocent people. Is joy possible in such a broken world? St. Paul was keenly aware of a turbulent, messy, chaotic world. Yet he tells us to rejoice always, to pray day in and day out, to be grateful. Paul’s faith in God’s presence enabled him to have joy and peace far beyond our limited understanding. The Holy Spirit empowered Paul to be prayer­ful, grateful, and yes, joyful.As we reflect on human joy we might also ask about divine joy. Does God rejoice? In several of his great parables—the stories of the lost son, the lost coin, the lost sheep—Jesus tells us how much his Father rejoices when the lost are found. It’s all about relationships being restored; it’s all about realizing that redemption is the restoration of unity and oneness. Herein lies our joy.As we draw closer and closer to the feast of the Nativity, let us recommit ourselves to being instruments of God’s joy.Bishop Robert E Morneau  —  Robert F. Morneau is pastor of Resurrection Parish in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and auxiliary bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Green Bay.This Is The Day, Liturgical Press, December 17, 2017, pages 180-181.

     

     

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    Homily for Sunday, December 10, 2017

     by Fr. James J. Hogan, Missoula, Montana                                                                                           Isaiah 4: 1-5, 9-11 + 2 Peter 3: 8-14 + Mark 1: 1-8 2 Advent B ‘18

    Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. As winter darkness deepens and surrounds us, we light two candles reminding ourselves that we and all of creation are being drawn forth by that Gracious Mystery we name God into a future of unknown possibilities. Yes, Advent is a season of anticipation, but not focused on a past event — the child in the manger. With the scripture texts as our guides, we hear Advent direct our focus to the future, the eternal cosmic Christ.

    We have come to be through a process of evolution. Evolution is never a straight line. It is an active, ongoing process, a movement toward greater wholeness, fullness and union in love.   Gradually we are beginning to realize the plan of that Gracious Mystery we name God whose hope seems to be that one-day humanity and all of creation will recognize that Gracious Mystery is “incarnate” and present in all that exists.

    In Jesus of Nazareth those first-generation Christians experienced a concrete and personal embodiment of universal, non-violent, unconditional love. I slowly am beginning to understand what they named — “The Christ Mystery.” The adult and cosmic Christ is drawing us, and all creation, beyond space and time toward greater wholeness, fullness and union in love.

    Mark announced: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ.” A leading American Scripture scholar always emphasized two words: “the beginning.” These two words imply there is more to come. That is my point today. There is more to come!  Perhaps Mark is exaggerating when he tells us, “the whole Judean countryside, and all the people of Jerusalem went out to” John. His point is that people got excited about John’s vision and message because it is for everyone. John awakened his peers to a dream of how life will be when the “one more powerful than I” comes. That is how Mark introduces us to Jesus.

    Those early generations of Christians were convinced that in Christ everything changed. “God’s new reality” is emerging among us. They understood Christ is the hinge of our history, the center of our time, the norm of what we are to become and how we are to live. This is why I offer the William Butler Yeats’ poem, “ THE SECOND COMING ” as our Advent guide.

    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst  Are full of passionate intensity.” The poem is dark and negative. It certainly fits this time in which we live.  When “the falcon [you and I] cannot hear the falconer [Christ]”. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world …..Evolution is a slow process. On our Earth clock, two thousand years seems a long time. It is not.    On the clock of cosmic time, we really are still at the “beginning of the gospel!” The good news is that “God’s new reality” is emerging among us. “The falconer” is calling us to embrace his path of non-violent, unconditional love; to carry on and extend his life and spirit into the darkness of the Cosmos. God is with us, drawing us forward into an unknown future full of hope.”

    That is what that now deceased American Scripture scholar tried to get us to understand when he `was so emphatic about such a simple text. “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ.”

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     GIVE US THIS DAY® DAILY PRAYER FOR TODAY’S CATHOLIC,   Liturgical Press.

    Teach Us to Pray – Being Still in Advent, Father James Martin, page 7.

    This may sound almost heretical, but with each passing year I like Christmas less and less. At the same time, with each passing year, I like the feast of the Nativity more and more. Maybe you feel the same. The craziness surrounding the secular season of Christmas—the endless ads on TV and on­line, the crowded stores, the glut of often crass holiday-themed movies—sometimes seems to drown out the real meaning of the season.

    That’s why I treasure silence during Advent. Silence is a gift that we can give to ourselves in the middle of a noisy season. And silent prayer is something we can all afford—it costs nothing. Of course many people—parents of young children, children of aging parents, and people with hectic working lives—may not have much time to spare, but even a few minutes of quiet may help to center oneself.

    In busy times it’s important to let quiet be your prayer. This can be as simple as “withdrawing:’ as Jesus did, from the busyness of life and just sitting in the presence of God. Or it could be a simple meditation, reflecting on a single word from the stunning readings of Advent: from the Book of Isaiah, the Psalms, or the Gospels.

    Sometimes people feel guilty for taking a break in the weeks before Christmas—there’s often so much to do. But think of silence as a gift you give not only to yourself but to God, who wants to meet you in the silence as you wait for Jesus to enter your heart in a new way this Advent.

    James Martin is a Jesuit priest and author of many books, including Jesus: A Pilgrimage and a collection of essays from Give Us This Day entitled In All Seasons, For All Reasons.

    Reflections:

    Calendars, Deadlines, and Timeless Love Do not become drowsy from the anxieties of daily life.

    Here’s what a friendship with our dearest Companion, our holiest God, is like. In it, intimacy is always possible and can’t be stopped, except on our side, for God is always open to us. Nothing can come between us and God, our Spouse, and we can be alone with God whenever we want, as long as we want. All we have to do is desire it.

    So let us close the door on our worldly calendars and dead­lines and live instead in paradise with the God of love. If we desire this closeness that comes from closing the door on the world, we must realize that that door is our hearts. We don’t have to be mystics to accomplish this communion. We only need to focus on God with our will. That’s all. It’s our own choice, and because God loves us, we can do this.

    Don’t confuse this state with empty silence. I am speaking of a turning inward and a listening.     St. Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection – Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) was a mystic, religious reformer, and the foundress of seventeen convents. In 1970 she was the first woman to be named a Doctor of the Church.

    This Is the Day, December 2017, pages 32-33.

    Reflection — Willing to Begin Again

    Advent is my favorite liturgical season, as its readings en­compass so much of both the Old and New Testaments. In order to prepare to celebrate the birth of the infant Jesus, we revisit the whole of salvation history. With Isaiah as our guide, we can’t go wrong. We journey forth on a highway where even fools can’t go astray.

    But Advent is also a challenge, as it requires us to begin again. We go to great lengths to attain status as experts, and not beginners. We regard repetition, going back to stories we’ve heard a thousand times over, as a waste of our precious time. The familiarity of the readings of Advent and Christmas can deaden our hearts.

    Maybe that’s why today’s readings insist that we wake up from our self-absorbed stupor. The Collect asks us to “run forth” towards Christ; Isaiah asks God to return to us with awesome deeds. The psalmist prays to God: “rouse your power, and come to save us.” St. Paul reminds us that our job is to wait, not only for the incarnation of Jesus but for his second coming. And in the Gospel Jesus says: “Be watchful! Be alert!”

    Advent reminds us that God’s ways are not our own. It asks us to take a realistic look at who we are, people in need of God’s grace, beginners who must start all over again in this season to be reminded of the good news that is our salvation in Jesus Christ.

    Kathleen Norris — Kathleen Norris is an oblate of St. Benedict and the author of many books, including The Cloister Walk and Acedia and Me.                                                    This Is the Day, December 2017, pages 43.

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    Blessing for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

    Pope Francis has decided to institute in the Catholic Church an annual “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” to be celebrated on September 1. Pope Francis explains:     As Christians, we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation. We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si’, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (ibid., 217). For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (ibid.).

    A Prayer by Pope Francis
    from the Encyclical Laudato Si’

    Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
    They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
    they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
    Praise be to you! Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made.
    You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
    you became part of this earth,
    and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.

    Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory.
    Praise be to you! Holy Spirit, by your light
    you guide this world towards the Father’s love
    and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
    You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good.
    Praise be to you!

    Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
    teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe,
    for all things speak of you.
    Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.
    Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
    God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love
    for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.

    Enlighten those who possess power and money
    that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
    that they may love the common good,
    advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
    The poor and the earth are crying out.

    0 Lord, seize us with your power and light,
    help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future,
    for the coming of your kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.

    Praise be to you! Amen.

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    HOLY FATHER’S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR DECEMBER 2017:

    The Elderly

    That the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities supporting them on the path of growth and openness to the communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.

    Mature experienced members of our families, parishes and societies have much to offer to the formation of young people today. Experience matters. The elderly are a treasure who inform our minds and spirits with lessons of the past so that we might better approach our future.

    In the medical field, risk-taking among the young is seen as a great risk factor for injury or unhealthy behavior. Because the young have energy and ideals, they can accomplish much in the arenas of family, social and work life. On the other hand, without experience, the young tend to take risks not cautioned by the school of hard knocks. Here is where our elders can be of great help in spiritual and personal formation.

    Pope Francis, in a radio address in 2016, proclaimed: “The Church regards the elderly with affection, gratitude, and high esteem. They are an essential part of the Christian community and of society: in particular they represent the roots and the memory of a people… Your maturity and wisdom, accumulated over the years, can help younger people in search of their own way, supporting them on the path of growth and openness to the future.”

    It is a duty, an honor, and a privilege to share our holy faith with those who come behind us. It is likewise a duty, honor, and privilege to learn from those who have gone before us. How many of us have experienced firsthand the lessons of wisdom from a grandmother, grandfather, or elder among our acquaintances? All of us must lower our pride and open our hearts to listen to our elders: elders at the same time, can learn from listening to the young.

    Reflections

    Consider yourself kneeling before Christ on His Cross. Ask yourself: How have I shared the faith with young people? How am I sharing the faith? How ought we share the faith? (Conversely, younger people might ask how they share the faith with their elders.)

    Scripture

    Mt 19:13-14 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    Prayer of the Month     Prayer of Pope Saint John Paul II for the elderly:

    Grant, 0 Lord of life…that we may savor every season of our lives as a gift filled with promise for the future.                       Grant that we may lovingly accept your will, and place ourselves each day in your merciful hands. And when the moment of our definitive “passage” comes, grant that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind. For in meeting you, after having sought you for so long, we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known here on earth, in the company of all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and lope.                                                                Mary, Mother of pilgrim humanity, pray for us “now and at the hour of our death”. Keep us ever close to Jesus, your beloved Son and our brother, the Lord of life and glory. Amen!

    Saint of the Month   

    Saint Edmund Campion, Memorial on December 1

    Edmund Campion is one of the greatest saints of the Jesuit Order. In 1566, Queen Elizabeth I heard him speak at Oxford University. He was a protestant, but investigation of the faith ultimately led him to question his theological positions. After studying in Douai, France, he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1572. He entered the Jesuit Order in Rome and began studying for the priesthood. It is said that in the novitiate he had in a vision of Our Lady in which she told him of his martyrdom in England. Father Campion returned to England in 1580. He was captured in 1581. During interrogations, his torturers stretched him on the rack. On December 1, 1581, the martyr was drawn and quartered at Tyburn Hill, London. He is the patron of numerous schools, parishes, colleges and religious communities.

    Traditional Offering Prayer

    O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.

    To register as a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, to subscribe to leaflets, or to order additional leaflets for distribution to others, please contact us. Thank you for your generous support of our ministry.

     

    Apostleship Of Prayer
    1501 S. Layton Blvd.
    Milwaukee, WI 53215-1924
    www.apostleshipofprayer.org
    414-486-1152

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    KNOM RADIO MISSIONS ONE-LINERS for DECEMBER 2018,

    RESOURCE:  KNOM Radio Mission’s  Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners in Faith For December 2017. 

    Lavender Iris

    KNOM Radio Mission One-Liners for December 2017:

    The hope of this season is a passion for the onion seemingly impossible. Our hope is rooted in the promise of God. With God, nothing is impossible.

    That the elderly, sustained by families in Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.”            – Pope Francis’ monthly prayer intention for December 2017

    Just as Jesus at his birth drew wise men from afar, today he draws people of all backgrounds to Himself. People all over the world, whether consciously or unconsciously, are searching for the Truth and Life found in Jesus. There is not one person to whom Jesus does not wish to manifest His Presence and His Love.

    Is there someone in your life who prays for you? Is there someone who makes tough times easier to bear, by knowing that they’re on their knees, pleading to the Lord on your behalf? We are all blessed by people who pray. They comfort us and help us to keep our faith strong.

    The hope of this season is a passion for the seemingly impossible. Our hope is rooted in the promise of God. With God, nothing is impossible.

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    RoseIIISUGGESTED INTERCESSIONS FOR SUNDAY – The Third Sunday of Advent

           (Each local community should compose its own Universal Prayer,  but may find inspiration in the texts proposed here.)

     

    FOR THE CHURCH

     

    That, in our church and parish’s ministries of compassion and care, we may bring glad tidings and proclaim the Lord’s favor to all

    That the Church will be zealous in bringing good news to the poor, healing to the brokenhearted, and liberty to captives,

    For the Church during this holy season of Advent, that we testify to Christ by rejoicing in him always,

    For all members of the Church, the people of God, may we strive always to be a reflection of Christ’s light to all people who seek the Lord,

    For the Church, the body of Christ, may she always be a steadfast voice challenging the faithful to live the Gospel message with courage and conviction,

    For those who shepherd our Church, may they continue to listen closely to the voice of the Holy Spirit as they guide the faithful on the path of life,

    That the Church may be strengthened by women and men who continue to give from the heart, as Mary did, for the sake of God’s kingdom,

    That those who serve our Church, including Francis, our pope, and all bishops, clergy, religious and lay leaders, may be renewed by the joy of God’s presence,

    For the Church, may her teachings stir joy and thanksgiving for the gift of life into the hearts of all people,

    For the Church, as we long for the coming of Christ, may the Lord truly prepare each and every one of our hearts for that day,

    For wise leaders in Church, government, and communities,

    For a profound respect for the unspeakable name of God—Adonai,

    For missionaries, evangelists, and volunteers who bring increase to the Body of Christ,

    For an end to ideologies that threaten nations and peoples,

    For the Church, the bride of Christ, as she seeks to be a faithful spouse,

    For vocations to a dedicated life in the Church as consecrated men and women religious,

  • FOR THE WORLD

     

    That God’s justice, liberty, and peace may “spring up” before all nations

    That under the protection of Christ our times may be peaceful,

    For our country during these winter months,

    For all civic leaders, may there be a greater willingness to resolve disputes nonviolently so that peace may reign on earth,

    For Catholic families throughout the world, may they reflect the love of the Holy Family, and be a source of healing and hope for others,

    For our government leaders, may they work to protect the religious freedom of all people,

    That parents all over the world may be blessed as they work to nurture the love of God in their children,

    That those in positions of authority may be guided by God’s justice in their work to protect those who can’t protect themselves, especially the unborn,

    For our world, may its leaders work to end terror and hostility by promoting messages of nonviolence and love,

    For all who serve in public office, and in public capacities, may they turn to God for guidance to enact laws and policies that promote the good of all,

    For ambassadors and diplomats who work to avoid international conflicts,

    For world leaders, that they may be drawn to work for peace,

    For wise and just men and women to lead the world’s nations,

    For the willingness of young people to discern God’s will as they consider marriage, ordained ministry, religious life, or other calls,

  • FOR THE OPPRESSED  / ANY NEED

     

    That as witnesses to Christ’s love before all we may abide in the truth,

    For the grace this week to be free of anxiety and to be generous in showing kindness,

    that we serve the poor and needy in a spirit of Christian charity,

    For all who are alienated from God and his Church, may they open their hearts and respond to Christ’s message of love and healing,

    For all who are persecuted for their faith in Christ, may they find comfort from the prayers and support of their Christian brothers and sisters,

    That pregnant women facing difficult circumstances may look to Mary for strength and comfort,

    For those struggling to conceive, may they trust in the Lord as his will is revealed to them,

    For those who have sad memories during the holidays,

    For humility that reflects our true selves and not pretense,

    For a faith that is always steadfast and joyful,

    For Mary’s intercession upon all expectant mothers,

    For infertile couples who long for children,

    For charitable agencies that rely on holiday giving to support their work,

    For those who doubt God when troubles come,

    For the humility to cooperate with God’s grace instead of insisting on our need to be in control,

    For teenage girls and boys who are left unguided during this challenging stage of their lives,

    For prisoners, hostages, victims of sexual trafficking, and all who are held captive,

    For the gift of forgiveness and healing among families,

    For detachment from any sense of entitlement as we receive material gifts from relatives and friends,

    For childless couples who have chosen to fulfill their parental desires through adoption,

    For those who do not share our faith in Christ,

     

    FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY 

     

    That the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new genera­tions, (Holy Father’s Intention)

    For those in this community who are discouraged or depressed, that they persevere in prayer and find strength in God’s loving care,

    That the joy and peace of this holy season may illuminate every home in our community in every season of the year,

    For this faith community, may our children experience God’s presence and grow in their love and commitment to God,

    For members of this faith community, may we have the courage to be Christ’s presence in the world around us,

    For all members of our parish, may we continue to observe Advent with a spirit of joy and anticipation, in preparation for celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ,

    That those suffering due to external circumstances or inner turmoil may experience God’s presence through the loving outreach of his people,

    For our parish community, may we imitate Mary’s model of faith in the way we say “yes” to God with our lives,

    For women pressured to terminate their pregnancies,

    For engaged and married couples as they encounter the mountains and valleys of love,

    For a renewed appreciation for the gift of human life, especially for children,

     

    FOR THE ASSEMBLY

     

    For all who form this worshipping assembly, that we may be united in prayer and thanksgiving to God,

    For each of us, in these last days of Advent, may our hearts become a more welcome home for Jesus,

    That we here today, when faced with challenging decisions, may act with trust and confidence in God, following the example of Mary,

    That those of us gathered here who have brokenness in our families and communities may have the grace necessary to restore relationships and bring reconciliation and forgiveness to all,

    For relatives and friends preparing to gather with us in celebration of Christmas,

     

     FOR THE SICK

     

    That Christ the light of God may be the health and hope of the sick and dying, the ad­dicted and recovering

    For those who experience any kind of hardship or sor­row during the holidays: that the Father’s compassion will provide for them in every way,

    For the sick members of this community of faith, that they be comforted and encouraged in God’s love,

    For those facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, may people of faith embrace them and strive to meet their physical and spiritual needs,

    For those who suffer from physical ailments, that God will grace their caregivers to help bring them comfort and relief,

     

    FOR THE DECEASED

     

    For our beloved dead, may they be welcomed into God’s heavenly presence with the saints and angels,

    For our loved ones who have died, may they experience the fullness of life in heaven,

    For those who have died, may they dwell with joy in God’s presence,

    That those who have died may rejoice forever at the banquet of the Lord,

    That those who have gone before us may enjoy the peace of resting in God’s loving presence,

    For all the faithful departed, may they find peace and rejoice in the Father’s unending love,

    For those who have died, may they receive a place at the eternal banquet in heaven,

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    RESOURCE:    INTERCESSIONS  FOR NATURAL DISASTERS FOR U. S ET AL   

    Chihuly Glass

    Universal Prayers for Victims of Recent Natural Disasters

     1)   For those in our country and around the world affected by recent natural disasters, may the support of relief agencies , neighbors and loved ones who come to their aid provide them the care and hope needed to recover and rebuild from the devastation they have experienced, let us pray to the Lord.
    2)   For all those who have died recently as a result of flooding, hurricanes, earthquake and other natural disasters throughout the world, may they live in the light and warmth of God’s love for all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.

    3)   For those whose homes and businesses have been destroyed by floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires or other natural disasters, that, as they struggle to rebuild, they will experience the loving assistance of communities of faith, let us pray to the Lord …

    4)   For all rescue workers and volunteers, that they will be blessed with energy and courage as they help their brothers and sisters who have been injured or left homeless by recent natural disasters, let us pray to the Lord …

    5)   For all of us, that we will reach out in love to those who are suffering due to the recent earthquakes, floods and tornadoes, let us pray to the Lord …

     Universal Prayers for Opioid Crisis:    

    1) For members of the health professions, first responders and civic leaders, may the Holy Spirit inspire them to work together to help all those who are affected by the scourge of addiction, let us pray to the Lord.

    2) For those struggling to break free from addiction to opioids, may they find hope and healing in Jesus and his Church on their path to recovery, let us pray to the Lord.

    3) For those who have died because of their addictions, may they now rest in the peace and joy of God’s love through all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.

    Universal Prayers for the Shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas

    1) For the innocent victims killed in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and for all who die as a result of violence, may they find perpetual peace and joy in heaven, let us pray to the Lord.

    2) For the families and friends of those who were killed or wounded in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, and for all those who have experienced violence in their lives, may they be comforted by the love of God and the compassion of all members of our Church, let us pray to the Lord.

    3) For members of churches everywhere, may God help us find practical and meaningful ways to overcome dysfunction, evil and violence in our world, let us pray to the Lord.

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    Faith Catholic Online;    Daily Prayer 2017;    OCP;    Magnificat;   Liturgical Press.

     

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     INTERCESSIONS ON THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

        Sunday,  December 10, 2017 – Cycle B

  • Presider:           God of hope, you raised up John the baptizer as a herald who calls us to conversion. Seeking the consolation of God for all in distress and need, we open our hearts to that Divine Grace by which we prepare a way for the Lord. 
    1. For the Church: that, during this Advent season, it may be a model of holiness, inspiration and life in a world where right values often seem confused and compromised;                    We pray to the Lord.

     

    1. For an easing of tensions between nations and within nations: that God will open a high­way of peace for communication and the resolution of disputes so that life may be protected;            We pray to the Lord.

     

    1. That those who have separated themselves from the grace of God may find this season a time of reconciliation and peace;            We pray to the Lord.

     

    1. Jesus, be with us this day as we are your hands, face and voice for the homeless. Help us to be Your love for them and for each other;               We pray to the Lord.

     

    1. That all the defeats and setbacks of our daily lives, small and large, be turned around and made sources of life, learning and wisdom;                     We pray to the Lord.

     

    1. For the sick, the lonely, and the depressed, especially .    .    .    .          That they may find strength and hope in the love of God;              We pray to the Lord.

     

    1. For those who have passed from this Earthly life, especially .    .    .    .          That as they lived in the hope of Christ, may they now share in the joy of his glory. We also remember:

     

    5pm                 Nanette Cancila                                                      7:30am            Dr. Bill Haynes

    9am                 Janet Walter                                                           11am               our St. Peter Parish Family

    5pm                 Karen Lynn Nevins

    for whom this Mass is offered;          We pray to the Lord.

    Presider:         God of hope, you call us from the exile of our sin with the good news of restoration. You build a highway through the wilderness as a way to bring us home. Comfort us with the expectation of your saving power, made known to us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

     

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    SEE YOU IN CHURCH!   THE DOLLAR AND THE CENT…

    A big silver dollar, and a little brown cent; along together they went rolling along the smooth sidewalk, When the dollar remarked — (for the dollar can talk)  “You poor little cent, you cheap little mite! I’m bigger and more than twice as bright – I’m worth more than you – a hundredfold, And written on me in letters bold Is the motto drawn from the pious creed – ‘In God We Trust’ – which all can read.” I know,” said the cent, “I’m a cheap little mite, And I know I’m not big, nor good, nor bright” An yet,” said the cent, with a meek little sigh – ­”You don’t go to church as often as I.”
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DAILY LITURGY

 THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR OF GRACE, 2018

•           With EP I of the First Sunday of Advent the new liturgical year begins. The Lectionary cycles are as follows: Year B: Sunday cycle; and Cycle II: Weekday cycle (Ordinary Time).

•           Volume I of the Liturgy of the Hours is used until the end of the Christmas season.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2017        SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Lectionary 5: 1) Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; 2) Ps 85:9-14;  3) 2 Peter 3:8-14: 4) Mark 1:1-8

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121017.cfm

FOCUS:          As John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord, so we, too, must prepare for his coming by being Jesus’ disciples – his witnesses in the world. Our readings today give us hope that Jesus is coming, but also offer a challenge to prepare the way before him. John the Baptist’s words in today’s Gospel point us to Jesus while challenging us to repent. In order to prepare the way and make straight his paths, we must be willing to sometimes go out on a limb and be that voice crying in the wilderness, proclaiming the mightiness of our Savior. As we await new heavens and a new earth (2), let us make clear the way of the Lord (1, 3) by being servants of justice, truth, and peace (Ps).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In the first reading from Isaiah, we hear a voice that cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord. In the second reading, we are reminded that we will not know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return, so we must be ready. Today’s Gospel talks of John the Baptist proclaiming a baptism of repentance.

 

 

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Monday, December 11, 2017     MONDAY OF ADVENT- SECOND WEEK

Optional Memorial: Saint Damasus I, Pope

Lectionary 181: 1) Isaiah 35:1-10; 2) Ps 85:9ab, 10-14;  3) Luke 5:17-26.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121117.cfm

FOCUS:          God is with us. We have only to look with the eyes of our heart in order to experience God’s presence. At this time of year, we may feel pressure to “go, go, go” – do this and buy that. The beautiful season of Advent calls us to do just the opposite. Advent can help us prepare room in our hearts for the God who wants so much to dwell in our hearts. God has come to save us (1) in Christ Jesus. He offers us peace (Ps), forgiveness, and healing (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes how God will come to save all of creation. The dry, barren desert will be restored, our broken humanity will be healed and we will be led back to God along the holy way. In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a paralyzed man.

Damasus, † 384; preserved papal archives; devoted to the relics and resting places of the martyrs; combated the anti-pope Ursinus, as well as Arian and Donatist heresies; first pope to speak of Rome as the “Apostolic See”; encouraged St. Jerome to produce a new translation of the Latin Bible, later to form the main part of the Vulgate.

 

 

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017         OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE – FEAST

Lectionary 690A:  1) Zechariah 2:14-17 or Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab:  2) (Ps) Jdt 13:18bc, 19; Luke 1:26-38 or Luke 1:39-47

Note: or any readings from the Lectionary for Ritual Masses (vol. IV), the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, nos. 707-712   Pss Prop

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121217.cfm

FOCUS:          Today we celebrate the unique place of Mary in God’s plan of salvation for all nations. With the coming of Christ into our world, God enters into humanity in a new and dynamic way. Mary’s role in this great drama as mother is essential, and is yet another example of how God has chosen and blessed the people who belong to him. Today, we celebrate that blessing bestowed upon the nations of the Americas in the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Lord sends the Twelve to proclaim the kingdom (2); peace and healing of the sick testify to its advent (1, Ps). As suggested: A woman, clothed with the sun (lb), daughter of the Most High God (Ps), proclaims the greatness of the Lord (2b), the One who comes to dwell with us (1a). She is the servant of the Lord (2a).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In our reading from Revelation, we hear a vision of a woman in labor. In the Gospel from Luke, Mary travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and when Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, the child she carries leaps in her womb.

In 1531 Our Lady appeared four times to a native convert, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (meaning “the talking eagle”), at Tepeyac, near Mexico City. A member of the Chichimeca people, he was perhaps a leader of his own people and may have been involved in the area’s textile industry. Known for his holiness, he devoted himself, tradition says, to the pilgrims who came to see the miraculous image of Mary imprinted on his cloak. Pope John Paul II canonized him 31 July 2002.

Today’s feast recalls the apparitions of Mary at the hill of Tepeyac from 9-12 Dec. 1531 to the native convert, Juan Diego (see 9 Dec.); known to the Aztecs as Tecoatlaxope (or de Guadalupe in Spanish), meaning “she will crush the serpent of stone”; declared patroness of the Americas by Pope Pius XII and raised to the rank of feast for all the countries of the Americas by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 25 March 1999.

 

 

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017    WEDNESDAY OF ADVENT- SECOND WEEK

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Lectionary 183: 1) Isaiah 40:25-31; 2) Ps 103:1-4, 8, 10;  3) Matthew 11:28-30.              see 692: 2 Cor 10:17-11:2 Mt 25:1-13

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121317.cfm

FOCUS:          God invites us to rely on him for strength. Our all-powerful God will never abandon his covenant with us. As with the Israelites, God has provided for us and will continue to provide, giving strength to the fainting, and endurance to those who hope in him. Advent is the time for us to remind ourselves of this, and to prepare for the return of the Lord. Merciful and kind (Ps), the Lord gives strength to the weary (1) and to all who are overburdened (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah speaks to the Judean exiles in Babylon, and reminds them that their Lord is the eternal God and they should not lose hope. In the Gospel, Jesus invites all who are burdened to come to him for rest, and to follow his example of being meek and humble of heart.                                                                          Lucy, † probably in Sicily c. 304 under Diocletian; because of her name, she is the patroness of those afflicted with diseases of the eye and associated with festivals of light, especially in Scandinavia; mentioned in the Roman Canon; patroness of Syracuse and all Sicily.

 

 

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Thursday, December 14, 2017     THURSDAY OF ADVENT- SECOND WEEK

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Lectionary 184: 1) Isaiah 41:13-20; 2) Ps 145:1, 9-13b;  3) Matthew 11:11-15.                                                                                         see 693:1 Cor 2:1-10a; Lk 14:25-33 for Saints Day Scripture.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121417.cfm

FOCUS:          God abounds in faithfulness and love for us. Advent is a time of waiting, and promise. Throughout the Old Testament, God promised a close relationship to his people, Israel. Now is the time to stay focused on God’s promise, and prepare ourselves to be ready to receive Jesus, the fulfillment of that promise. The Lord is compassionate (Ps), Israel’s redeemer (1), whose coming John the Baptist heralded (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In the reading from the prophet Isaiah, God promises to restore Israel, and provide for their every need with great generosity. In the Gospel from Matthew, Jesus speaks of the greatness of John the Baptist, which all the prophets and the law prophesied.

John of the Cross, † 1591; born in Fontiveros, Spain c. 1542; mystic and poet; ally of Teresa of Jesus of Avila (15 Oct.) in founding the reformed (“Discalced”) Carmelite friars [O.C.D.]; suffered cruel imprisonment and privations by the unreformed Carmelites; authored The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night of the Soul, The Spiritual Canticle, and The Living Flame of Love; known as the “Mystical Doctor”; Discalced Carmelites today number some 4,000 religious.

 

 

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Friday, December 15, 2017       FRIDAY OF ADVENT- SECOND WEEK

Lectionary 185: 1) Isaiah 48:17-19: 2) Ps 1:1-4, 6; 3) Matthew 11:16-19.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121517.cfm

FOCUS:          Trust in God and remain faithful to his commands. We are called to trust in God and his promises, and also to follow his commands and teachings. If we are faithful people, we will recognize Christ in those around us. Although worldly distractions can get us off-track temporarily, we know as Jesus’ disciples that his is the one and only way. Isaiah exhorts his listeners to follow the Lord (1, Ps). Jesus exposes the lack of wisdom and obstinacy of his contemporaries (2).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

In the first reading from Isaiah, the Israelites are told that God teaches them what is for their good, and that faithfulness to his commandments will be rewarded. In the Gospel, Jesus asks the crowd what he should compare their generation to, and offers disagreeable children as the answer.

 

 

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Saturday, December 16, 2017          SATURDAY OF ADVENT- SECOND WEEK

Lectionary 186: Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11; 2) Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 3) Matthew 17:9a, 10-13.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121617.cfm

FOCUS:          As we move through Advent, let us prepare our hearts and our homes to receive the Messiah. People too often place undue burdens on themselves this time of year. Between all the busyness of the season and trying to choreograph the perfect family Christmas, we can lose sight of why we have the season of Advent. We would be well-advised to take a deep breath and a step back, and work to prepare our hearts and minds for Jesus’ coming. Elijah, a type of precursor of the Messiah (1), is identified with John whose death foretells that of Jesus (2), the Son of Man (Ps).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

The author of the Book of Sirach unfolds some of the great drama and glory surrounding the great prophet Elijah. Elijah is also a key figure in today’s Gospel from Matthew, as Jesus reflects on the connection between this great prophet and the last of the prophets, John the Baptist.

  • Tomorrow, the Third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday, so-called from the first word of the antiphon at the Introit. Gaudete (“Rejoice”), taken from the Latin translation of Phil 4:4-5, sets a tone of joyful expectation for the Lord’s birth and Second Coming, as does the permitted use of rose colored vestments.
  • Beginning tomorrow, the Advent weekdays are intended to serve to prepare more directly for the Lord’s birth (General Norms, 42).
  • Advent Preface II is used at Mass; proper Invitatories, hymns, daily propers, and proper antiphons at MP and EP, as well as the “O” Antiphons at the Magnificat, are used in the celebration of the Hours.
  • Tomorrow, announce holy day of obligation, The Nativity of the Lord, a week from Monday next, as well as the schedule of Christmas liturgies which will be celebrated.

PN The “O” Antiphons sung at Vespers may be used more extensively these final days of Advent (e.g., as verses for the Gospel Acclamation). The hymn, “0 Come, 0 Come, Emmanuel,” based on these antiphons, may fittingly be sung at the Eucharist and the Hours.

For the Blessing of a Christmas Tree, see BB, nos. 1570-1596, or HB, 78-81.

 

 

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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2017      THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Lectionary 8: 1) Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; 2) (Ps) Lk 1:46-50, 53-54; 3) 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; 4) John 1:6-8, 19-28.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121717.cfm

FOCUS:          Rejoice in your God, the God of hope and light. The world literally grows darker each day this time of the year. But as dark as the world grows, the darkness will not overcome the light. Jesus is the light of the world. He illumines our darkness with his love and truth. We are able to sit in the darkness with confidence that the Lord is with us. John witnesses to one who is to come, one far mightier than he (3), one who will proclaim freedom and deliverance (1) from sin and death. As we await his coming again in glory (2), let us join with Mary in singing the praises of God (Ps).

LITURGY OF THE WORD

Today’s readings are readings of hope for a future that is bright with promise. Isaiah announces a year of favor from the Lord in which all manner of suffering is soothed. Saint Paul reminds us to rejoice, to pray always and to give thanks in all circumstances. In John’s Gospel, we hear that the Light has come into the world, and it cannot be extinguished.

 

 

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Reflection – Sunday, December 10, 2017 Second Sunday of Advent   

The Gospel according to Mark has no infancy narrative. Like an archer, Mark directs his arrow to the heart of the mat­ter. John the Baptist was the herald of the Messiah. How can believers trust this? He did what Isaiah prophesied. He wore a hairy animal skin and leather girdle. He did not point to himself but to the Coming One. He lived as an ascetic to prepare himself, and he invited the people to prepare themselves through repentance. This is the essence of the spirituality of Advent. We listen to John to stir our hope. We celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We pray, fast, and give—not as exercises of conversion as during Lent but to embody and bear witness to our hope.                      Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 8.

 

 

 

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Reflection – Monday, December 11, 2017 Advent Weekday   

The people Isaiah addresses are threat­ened by drought, desert, famine, wild beasts, outlaws, and slave traders. To leave one’s village was to be extremely vulnerable. Security, peace, and free­dom were surely central to Israel’s mes­sianic longings. The Advent season challenges us to understand our deepest longings in a vastly different time. Are our ultimate yearnings worthy of God’s coming to fulfill them?                            Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 9.

  

 

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Reflection – Tuesday, December 12, 2017 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Paintings of the Virgin Mary in her pre­natal state are rare. Some theologians believe such images encouraged doubts about her perpetual virginity. The Vir­gin of Guadalupe is an exception. The black band tied high above her waist was the practice of pregnant Aztec women. The apparition that revealed the image on Juan Diego’s tilma occurred on December 12, within the liturgical season of Advent then as now. This feast ties believers to the prayerful expectancy of Mary as she prepared to deliver Jesus Christ. During Advent, we too should “sing and rejoice” that God is coming to dwell among us in the flesh.                       Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 10.

 

 

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Reflection – Wednesday, December 13, 2017                                                                                     Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

The name Lucy is derived from the Latin word for light. Her feast day aptly points to the winter solstice, when natu­ral light increases and the Light of the World will be celebrated. Legend says that Lucy, a Christian virgin, wore a wreath of candles on her head to light her way so that both hands were free to carry provisions to the needy and prisoners under cover of darkness. Named in the ancient Roman Canon, Lucy and her valorous martyrdom echo through the centuries. She embodies those praised in Isaiah whose “hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar as with eagles’ wings.”                                          Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 11.

 

 

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 Reflection – Thursday, December 14, 2017                                                                                              Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

In an interesting liturgical subtlety and contrast, St. Lucy (light) is followed by St. John of the Cross, who identified the “dark night of the soul.” A Carmelite friar entrusted by St. Teresa of Avila to reform the male branch of their order, John was subjected to incredible physi­cal and spiritual abuses. It is important in this season of festivities to be reminded of the Cross. The birth of Jesus is not a sweet fairy tale, but a por­trait of the hardships faced by many, especially the poor. John’s spiritual doc­trine, formed by personal experience, shows that even those closest to God in prayer may bear a cross.                                               Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 12.

 

 

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Reflection – Friday, December 15, 2017        Advent Weekday

Some scholars propose that the passage above refers either to a familiar chil­dren’s game of the time, or an argument among the children about which game to play. Likewise, disciples of Jesus and disciples of the Baptist apparently argued about their respective teachers and their practices (for example, John 3:25-26). Christian “wisdom” embraced the Baptist as the new Elijah long fore­told (Matthew 17:12-13).                                         Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 13.


 

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 Reflection – Saturday, December 16, 2017 Advent Weekday    

Elijah (c. 900 BC) is Judaism’s most beloved prophet. He courageously con­tended with Ahab, the king of Israel, and the false gods and prophets that had nearly eclipsed the true God of Israel. Having ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot, he became to Jews the harbin­ger of the messiah. Sabbath prayers invoke the hope of his coming and a cup of wine is poured for him at Passover. Do you look for religious signs of Christ’s coming? What inspirational customs do you have? Do you cultivate a sense of hope in your prayer and preparations?      Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 14.

 

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Reflection – Saturday, December 16, 2017 Advent Weekday

Elijah (c. 900 BC) is Judaism’s most beloved prophet. He courageously con­tended with Ahab, the king of Israel, and the false gods and prophets that had nearly eclipsed the true God of Israel. Having ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot, he became to Jews the harbin­ger of the messiah. Sabbath prayers invoke the hope of his coming and a cup of wine is poured for him at Passover. Do you look for religious signs of Christ’s coming? What inspirational customs do you have? Do you cultivate a sense of hope in your prayer and preparations?      Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 14.

 

 

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Reflection –  Sunday, December 17, 2017         Third Sunday of Advent

If someone asks, “Who are you?” it is unlikely you will answer, “I am not Santa Claus,” “I am not the president.” We identify ourselves by what we are, and not by what we are not. John the Baptist was careful to draw attention away from himself. “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30). As human beings, we want to be known by who we are and what we do. As Christians, we must not let that need crowd out Christ. Like John, let us testify to the true Light and not to ourselves.                                                                               Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 15.

 

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Faith Catholic Online  December  10-17, 2017.
      Daily Prayer 2017, pages  15-23.
          Paulist Ordo


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Advent
Human beings cannot live without hope. Unlike the animals, we are blessed—or cursed—with the ability to think about the future and to fear our actions to shaping it. So essential is this to human life, that human beings cannot live without hope, without something to live for, without something to look forward to. To be without hope, to have nothing to live for, is to surrender to death in despair. But we can find all sorts of things to live for and we can hope for almost anything: for some measure of success or security or for the realization of some more or less modest ambition; for our children, that they might be saved from our mistakes and sufferings and find a better life than we have known; for a better world, throwing ourselves into politics or medicine or technology so that future generations might be better off. Not all these forms of hope are selfish; indeed, they have given dignity and purpose to the lives of countless generations.
But one of the reasons why we read the Old Testament during Advent is to learn what’to hope for. The people of the Old Testament had the courage to hope for big things: that the desert would be turned into fertile land; that their scattered and divided people would eventually be gathered again; that the blind would see, the deaf hear, the lame walk; that not only their own people, but all the peoples of the earth, would be united in the blessings of everlasting peace. Clearly, their hopes were no different from ours or from any human being’s: lasting peace, tranquil lives, sufficiency of food, an end to suffering, pain and misery.
Thus we hope for the same things as the Old Testament people, for their hopes are not yet realized. But we differ from them in two ways. First, the coming of Jesus in history, as a partial fulfillment of God’s promises, immeasurably confirms and strengthens our hope. Secondly, we differ from the Old Testament people because Jesus has revealed to us that God is not afar off, but is already in our midst. Hence the importance in the Advent liturgy of John the Baptist and of Mary: because they recognized the new situation, they serve as models for the Church in discerning the presence of our Savior in the world.
Taken from “The Spirit of Advent,” Mark Searle, in Assembly, Volume 7:1. © Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, Notre Dame, IN
ADVENT
“Advent has a two-fold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight” (Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar [henceforth, Universal Norms], 39).
• Advent weekdays have their own proper Mass texts, and the Liturgy of the Hours draws from the Seasonal Proper as well as from the Ordinary.
• Advent begins this year with EP Ion Saturday, 2 December 2017, and ends after Midafternoon Prayer (None) on Christmas Eve.
• Prior to 17 December, Advent Preface I is used. On Memorials of the BVM and the saints, however, in this or any other season, the corresponding Preface in the Roman Missal may be used in place of the weekday or seasonal Preface.
• The Liturgy of the Hours provides an invitatory antiphon and a choice of hymns for use prior to 17 December.
• The use of the organ and other musical instruments and the decorating of the altar with flowers should be done in a moderate manner, as is consonant with the character of the season, without anticipating the full joy of Christmas (Ceremonial of Bishops [1989], 236). The same moderation should be observed in the celebration of Matrimony (Order of Celebrating Matrimony [2016], 32).
• The official color for the season of Advent is violet. The use of blue vestments for Advent is not approved for the United States.
PN Advent is a time to recall the cry of the early Christians: Maranatha! “Come, Lord Jesus!” A communal celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation according to Rite 11 of the Rite of Penance is one way of assisting the people of God in preparing for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. Such a liturgy might best be celebrated during the latter part of the Advent Season, and on a weekday rather than a Sunday.
The Advent Wreath, a popular symbol in many churches, may be placed in the narthex or gathering area, or near the ambo. Each Sunday the candle(s) of the wreath might be borne in procession, following the thurible and cross, or just ahead of the Gospel Book. Other creative uses are encouraged. For the Blessing of the Advent Wreath, see BB, nos. 1509-1540 or HB, 73-75.

 

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The Prophecy Fulfilled before Our Eyes  —         Pierre-Marie DumontWho still reads the great French prophets of the 201h century? Who still reads Peguy, Claudel, Bernanos, Saint-Exupery? Each, from his viewpoint, railed against the coming of the same abomi­nation: “their” civilization was dying. While this civilization ought to have been perfected, so that the Kingdom of God on earth could truly grow, all that had constituted its genius was soon to vanish. Materialism, hedonism, self-preoccupation (today it would be called “personal development”) was about to submerge beauty, goodness, and truth, along with the true Faith and the ancient virtues. The sign of the coming of the end of this world was that terrifying metropolises were already reducing rural, pastoral civili­zation to objects fit to fill their museums. Since then, this prophecy has been fulfilled. The fertile ground that nurtured our civilization has gone. Villages have been deserted. Human relationships have been virtualized. Faith and devotion are fading. The moral com­pass that, far from constraining free men, once guided them, has been distorted. The poor, humble and proud, with that magnificent nobility celebrated by Thornton Wilder, have disappeared from the social landscape.. . . .the Word of God would no longer immediately touch hearts and minds. He who, directly or indirectly, has never worked the good earth by the sweat of his brow, never experienced seedtimes and harvests, never tended sheep or saved a stray lamb, finds himself de facto distanced from the Gospel and its parables. Let us not be saddened: we find ourselves spurred on to deepen our understanding of the Word of God, to improve our prayerful reading of it—and let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ remains present to the world even until his return in glory. But why not take advantage of our vacations in the countryside to rediscover, with a touch of nostalgia, a drop of the sap that nourished the fervor of our fathers in faith?    Magnificat, July 2016, page 432. PurpleConeFlower_7(24)2009_IMG_0985

 

 

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An Independence Day Prayer     We pray you, 0 God of might, wisdom, and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to your people, over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.We pray for the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare,that they may be enabled, by your powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.We recommend likewise, to your unbounded mercy, all our fellow citizens throughout the United States, that we may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your most holy law; that we may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.Grant this, we beseech you, 0 Lord of mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.ARCHBISHOP JOHN CARROLLArchbishop Carroll (†1815) was a priest for the Society of Jesus, and the first bishop of the United States.Magnificat, July 2016, pages 62-63.  ∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞       What can I do to fast in communion with others?       Prayer is always joined to fasting. Fasting triggers in this season a remembrance to pray for those being brought to the font, to full communion or to reconciliation. Only after we have shared the absence can we come with full hearts to the paschal banquet.Nine things that Pope Francis called upon Vatican Employees to do:They apply to us all…

  • “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”
  • “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention, and love.”
  • “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
  • “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity, and worldly decadence.”
  • “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
  • “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”
  • “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred, and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.
  • “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”
  • “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker… the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

It is a good list: It’s clearly rooted in Catholic teaching, but presented in a way that other Christian denominations can embrace as well. I am reasonably sure that all of us can find on this list at least one or two resolutions that speak to areas in which we really need to grow during this Lent.Have a good week and I’ll see you in church!Monsignor Jack 1-3-5


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  HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD              Speaking the Painful Truth  —       Anthony EsolenHOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLDSpeaking the Painful Truth  —       Anthony EsolenTHE TWO WOMEN WERE FINALLY ALONE. The room WaS Spartan, with a single wooden bed, a desk, some schoolbooks, fishing tackle kept in a corner, and a couple of skiing poles. A photograph was mounted on the wall, of two tanned young men in a skiff, with the spires of Stockholm in the background. It was a boy’s room, but the boy had left home to join the Swedish army. It was May, 1940.”Sigrid,” said her friend Alice, “I have bad news for you.” She had given Sigrid a day to rest from her journey across the mountains from Norway, in a truck packed so tight with soldiers and refugees, Sigrid—a middle-aged woman with some heft to her, and a countenance that looked as if she would brook no foolishness—had to sit on the lap of one of the men. The atmosphere in the truck had been tense, with Swedish boys expressing their eagerness to fight along­side the Norwegians against the Nazi invaders, and elder men telling them to shut up. News from the war front was also unrelievedly bad. Hitler had overrun Belgium and the Netherlands, and the German armies were pushing on to­ward Paris, the jeweled queen of European civilization.”Please, tell me quickly,” said Sigrid. She had had three children. One, a daughter, had died as a very young woman. Her sons Anders and Hans were still in Norway. The elder, Anders, had a commission as captain in the Norwegian army.”Your son Anders fell in the fighting at Segelstad bridge. He was brave, Sigrid, so brave,” said Alice, trembling. Sigrid, however, set her face like flint. Of Hans, they still knew noth­ing. A few days later they received a visit from a soldier who had been under Anders’ command. The Norwegians had tried to make the Nazi advance northward as costly as pos­sible, taking positions near bridges and mountain passes, and holding off hundreds of Germans with handfuls of men and a few machine guns here and there. Had Norway been made ready for the assault—had there not been Nazi toadies like Quisling in the highest positions in government—Hitler would have regretted sending Germans into that nation of strong, self-reliant, upright, and brave men and women.”And Anders, you know,” said the soldier, “was so incom­parably kind.” The word he used was snill. Sigrid Undset said that the word was untranslatable. It named a virtue—kind­ness—but with a quiet manner, undemonstrative, reserved; not burdening your victim with your goodness.Hans arrived shortly after, and he and his mother con­tinued on their flight to freedom, from Sweden to Moscow, from Moscow by a nine-day train ride to Vladivostok, from there to Korea and imperial Japan, from Japan via the Grover S. Cleveland to San Francisco.♦ WHO SUE WAS ♦Sigrid Undset, for my money, is the greatest woman nov­elist who ever lived. Unlike George Eliot, one of her two chief competitors for that distinction, she does not rely upon the structure of Christian morality without the Christian Faith. In her stories set in modern times, Undset shows how frail that morality must be, unless we recognize our personal frailty and our desperate need for the grace of Christ. Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) had lost the Methodist faith she was brought up in; Undset had gained the Catholic Faith she was not brought up in. Unlike Jane Austen, her other competitor, she was not the comfortably stationed daughter of an Anglican clergy­man, who could therefore take faith for granted and write about Christian morals and manners in the England of her time. Undset, when she entered the Catholic Church, knew she was entering into two thousand years of history, and so her greatest works, the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter and the tetralogy The Master of Hestviken, are set in medieval Norway, Catholic but still with remnants of the old pagan ways. They are national in the best sense: they celebrate the difficult virtues of her people and the beauty of a forbidding land, with its summer so wondrous yet so heart-breakingly short, its wildflowers, its mountains and fjords and ravines, its lonely lichen-topped outcrops of rock, its sudden green valleys, and its brave men wresting the means of life from the rich and cold and dangerous seas.The contrast between Sigrid Undset’s love of country and the pranked-up nationalism of Hitler and his blustering warmongers could not be greater. She despised the Nazis. Other people, not nearly enough, saw their evil; Undset saw also their stupidity and their cowardly ingratitude. For among the invading German soldiers, the Norwegians recognized quite a few whom they had taken into their homes as little boys, back in the famine years after the First World War. She was outspoken about it, and so she, like Dietrich von Hildebrand in Austria, was on the first page of the Nazi list of people to be murdered.Wherever she went, Sigrid Undset tried to find what vir­tues she could in the peoples she encountered. Germans, alas, were the exception. She had to fight her hardest to treat that people with forbearance. For her, the essence of the German spirit was expressed in the terrifying fable of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. The “hero” took his vengeance against the ungrateful people of Hamelin by turning their children essentially into rats, marching off to their death. I forgive the mother of a fallen son her anger.Undset held out hope for the great successor of European civilization, the United States. Even if Europe should fall (she was writing in 1941), the United States would carry the torch of that civilization’s commitment to brotherhood, equality, and democracy, understood as the natural flower­ing of the Christian Faith.♦ RETURN TO THE FUTURE ♦That’s the name of the book that describes her trek from Norway to the United States. It also describes her hope for the world. The future must be a return: a recovery of the Christian Faith in nations that had lost it, and a flourishing of the human good that man experiences as one of the blessings of that faith.Should Germany be defeated, the victors must resist with all their might the temptations of hatred and vengeance. How hard that would be, Undset shows us in her own per­son. But, she says, “hatred and thirst for revenge are sterile passions.” They engender nothing. They only destroy. “The most miserable poverty, the most unthinkable filth and squa­lor, the indescribable stench of refuse and decomposition which I saw and smelled everywhere in Soviet Russia are surely the fruit of the acceptance by Russia’s revolutionary heroes of a hate-consumed old German Jewish writer named Karl Marx and their identification of their future goals with his dreams of revenge against everything that happened to awaken his enmity.”Undset was no sentimentalist. It is true, she was a woman with a woman’s eye for the delicate and the beautiful; she is fond of describing flowers, handsome dress, lovely hair; the fine straw-roofed houses of even the poor in Japan; the tasteful Japanese temples; the reverent ceremonies of prayer she witnessed from the worshipers of Shinto. She has a woman’s scorn for the garish, grubby, slipshod, and gross: nine days on a Russian train with no running water and no flush toilets; Soviet stores with nothing to sell; water that had to be boiled before you could drink it; Soviet offi­cials content to bury themselves and their petitioners under a mountain of paper. Totalitarian systems fail on their own miserable terms: they deliver poverty instead of wealth, con­fusion instead of order, misery instead of happiness, family dissolution rather than strength, dependence rather than self-reliance, cowardice rather than courage.So much the more should the West return to its roots in the Christian Faith. That Faith is not an ideology, but the antidote to ideology. It tells the truth about God and man.Nowadays we construct social policies as if God were irrelevant, and as if everything that the wisest pagans had to say about man, and likewise the Christian Gospels that soar beyond the pagans, could be dispensed with. Yet we pretend that, if we were alive in Germany during the time of Hitler, we would not have gone along with the popular wave of the future, as the Nazis styled themselves. No, we’d have seen through it. Quisling did not. Knut Hamsen, like Undset a Nobel laureate, did not. Undset did. The Faith—un­compromised, uncontaminated with the current prevailing ideologies—gave Sigrid Undset eyes, and heart, and a pen to write words as if etched in stone by fire.(Anthony Esolen is professor and writer-in-residence at Thomas More College in N.H., translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House), and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal (MAGNIFICAT).   Magnificat, October 2017, pages 211-115.

 

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