A Nativity Scene

A Rosary Meditation: The Third Joyful Mystery, The Nativity.

“And she laid him in manger … ” Luke 2:7.

Think about these few simple words, about the nature of Christ, and we’ll try to grasp just a little of what this means. Or can mean.

How did the Babe react to being placed in a manger? We aren’t told, but if we know something of Jesus’ nature, from study or personal experience or from whatever inner or outer source, we can imagine. I think, and this is just my thought, that he was peaceful, calm. The Creator of Heaven and earth, Author of Life, THE Perfect Being deserving of … He’s beyond deserving isn’t he? As though he lacks something and needs someone to supply him with fill-in-the-blank because he’s worthy. He is by nature eternally worthy whether we ever know it or not, and we can’t really give him anything he doesn’t already have. With the exception of a childlike heart, our heart, given by us to him. And here he is placed in a rough hewn box of sorts. But I see him reacting peacefully. Why shouldn’t he? What, really, could ever threaten him? Would he lose his self confidence because he was being treated as less than what he was? Of course not. That sort of reaction would more likely pertain to us, but not to him.

We are told that we must become like little children in order to enter into Heaven. We need to be innocent, joyful, trusting. Which means that we set the wrong kinds of ego and fear aside along with hardheartedness. And we can. With his help. When we’re laid in a manger of rough wood, when life becomes uncomfortable, we remain calm. Because we know he’s there in that “manger” with us. After all, is there any place, any set of circumstances when and where he isn’t with us?

“And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Accepting crosses is a part of our existence as followers of Christ. It takes a real Christan to carry a cross. And it takes a child-like heart to be content with rough hewn mangers.

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Family Matters

A Rosary Meditation: The Third Joyful Mystery, The Nativity.

“She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged.” – Luke 2:7.

You know, Jesus gave us all Mary as our mother as he was dieing on the cross. Every Christian, whether they know it or not, is a child of Mary’s. Every child of God’s is one of Mary’s children too.

If we’re children of Mary’s, and we are, we share a family tree and a family history. The tree includes every other Christian living now or who has ever lived. Want to know more about your ancestors? Read a copy of the Lives of the Saints. The family history is Church history, and there are plenty of good books about that. I say, “about that”. More precisely I should say, “about us”. Because the saints and the history of the Holy Roman Catholic Church is about us if we’re part of God’s family.

So we have a family tree and family history. Is that all? What else do we have? Well, you’d think we’d have shared family traits. We ought to look like our Mother and our Elder Brother, her first born. And we resemble them more and more as we practice the virtues. That’s not hard to understand. Its also not easy to do. But working towards a goal and not giving up, getting up each time we fall down, because we will fall down, builds up strength of character. Without that I suppose the virtues would be nothing more than wishful thinking.

But there’s one other thing that we have and we might as well get used to it because its going to be a part of our lives as long as we’re a part of this family. ” … there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged.”

The more we begin to look like our Mother and Elder Brother the less room we’ll find in this world. Sometimes we’ll be excluded because of the family resemblance. That’s because we make others uncomfortable. We remind them of things that they’d just as soon not think about. Sometimes we’ll need to excuse ourselves. There are certain things, given family traits, that we just can’t. We just can’t.

What’s to be done? There really isn’t a place in this world for us as family. So now what? Well, the answer isn’t complicated but it does take work. We work at being a close nit family. How? Go to Mass, that’s primary. But there are other things. Go to the potluck. (Yea, I know. I don’t like their casserole either. But one small serving every few months ain’t gonna kill either of us.) Join in a family enterprise. (Knights of Columbus, the Thursday evening Bible study, whatever.) If someone comes up missing and you don’t see them at Mass for a while send them a card letting them know they’re missed. (And no, not knowing them isn’t an excuse. People almost always set in the same spot. How much you wanna bet Father knows their name and the church secretary has their address? And if they don’t, well, at least you tried.) And (This ones a doosey.) Pick out a victim, er, I mean pick out someone and start a conversation before or after Mass. Maybe even invite them to coffee at whatever local coffee drinking place. And in doing any or all of the above? Treat the other people like family. Because they are.

For the rest, BRETHREN, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … There was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn. There is no real place for any of us, brothers and sisters, in this world. Unless we make a place for each other. And making room begins in the heart.

P.S. … Thank you, everyone, who’s been praying for me and my back. Its much better and its starting to look like I just agitated a nerve. *whew* I’d have been glad to go through another surgery if need be but I’d just as soon not, you know? Besides, the cat misses me when I’m gone. 😉

The Whim of Jesus … Monday, July 1

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity. “I made the resolution never to consider whether the things commanded me appeared useful or not…. it is love alone that counts. Forget about whether something is needed or useful; see it (the demand, rule, obligation, etc.) as a whim of Jesus.” St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

Who would have thought that a baby, born into poverty, born under the heel of an oppressor like the Roman Empire, hunted down with murderous intent as soon as it entered into the world, born of a race despised by other races, born in a manger, could or would make any difference in the world? And who would have thought that 2,000 years after the birth the world would still be reeling because of that Baby? Make the resolution not to worry about any of these things. It is Love alone that counts. Forget about whether or not we understand or the world appreciates what happened on that first Christmas. Forget about it not being December 25th today. Just take joy in the fact that God is Love and that through that Baby the Love is shared with you.

Today …

St. Felix of Como

St. Felix of Como

Saint Felix of Como (died c. 390 AD) is venerated as the first bishop of Como, Italy. He was a friend of Saint Ambrose, who praised him for his missionary activity and ordained him a priest in 379. When Saint Bassianus built a church dedicated to the Apostles at Lodi, he consecrated it in the presence of Ambrose and Felix. The name Felix is Latin for happy. And I’m sure our saint was happy. At every Mass he got to hold the Baby.

Consider … ““Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” Therefore, according to the Gospel, any citizen can be a good Catholic – that is, side with Jesus Christ and the Pope, and do good to his fellow-men – and at the same time side with Caesar, namely, observe the laws of the land, except when the rulers persecute religion or tyrannize the consciences and minds of citizens.” ~ Saint John Bosco ~

The Wisest Gift of All … Thursday, June 13

English: Adoration of the Wise Men by Murillo

Adoration of the Wise Men by Murillo.

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity. “And falling down they worshiped Him. And they offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11. Here are three wise men, magi, some call them kings, from the east, kneeling down and worshiping a Baby. Sadly, now our “wise men” and “kings” (aka misguided politicians) tell us that babies are just lumps of tissue that can be discarded without guilt or second thought. But these wise men? They were truly wise. They looked beyond things that seemed to be obvious, like poverty and lack of social status, and perceived the real. This was no ordinary baby and they knew it. It was proper to kneel down to Him. He outranked them and they knew it. Do we really understand that Jesus outranks us? When we genuflect before Him do we realize that this isn’t just some nice guy with kind words and loving advice but God Almighty, the One Who created us, the One we belong to? And when we bow the knee what sort of gifts do we bring? Because He has no needs. We can offer Him things like gold, and that’s fine so long as our heart is in the right place, but do we honestly realize that our heart being in the right place is actually the only gift He truly wants? Or do we fool ourselves into believing that outward show is enough? Remember that Judas, when he said “Is it me, Lord?” to the statement made by Jesus that one of the Twelve would betray Him, was making a very fine show of it. We need to do some soul-searching when we approach this Child. We need to remember that the only gold He really wants from us is the love of our hearts with the heart-felt proofs that go with it.

Today …

St. Anthony of Padua
Doctor of the Church

St. Anthony of Padua<br>Doctor of the Church

St. Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church. Saint Anthony was canonized (declared a saint) less than one year after his death. Who doesn’t love St. Anthony? It’s fairly often that I wander around my cabin muttering “St. Anthony, please help me find fill-in-the-blank” because he’s good at helping locate lost objects and I’m really good at misplacing fill-in-the-blank. There is perhaps no more loved and admired saint in the Catholic Church than Saint Anthony of Padua, a Doctor of the Church. Though his work was in Italy, he was born in Portugal, where our Lady would appear centuries later at Fatima. He first joined the Augustinian Order and then left it and joined the Franciscan Order in 1221, when he was 26 years old. The reason he became a Franciscan was because of the death of the five Franciscan protomartyrs — St. Bernard, St. Peter, St. Otho, St. Accursius, and St. Adjutus — who shed their blood for the Catholic Faith in the year 1220, in Morocco, in North Africa, and whose headless and mutilated bodies had been brought to St. Anthony’s monastery on their way back for burial. St. Anthony became a Franciscan in the hope of shedding his own blood and becoming a martyr. He lived only ten years after joining the Franciscan Order. He is generally depicted holding the Child Jesus. St. Anthony brought real gold to Jesus. He gave God the gift of his heart fully. And if your gift to God of your heart seems somehow misplaced in the rush of the world ask Anthony to help. He’s good at finding things that are lost.

Quote … “Attribute to God every good that you have received. If you take credit for something that does not belong to you, you will be guilty of theft.” ~ St Anthony ~

“What Child is this?” … Monday, May 27

English: The Church of the Nativity in Bethleh...

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Place of Jesus’ birth.

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity. “For today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11. Savior? Christ? The Lord? Like the song says, “What Child IS this?” After the various and wonderful introductions He got, both prior to and after His birth, we might well ask. Certainly here is One that’s, well, different to say the least. The real question then is: Different how? And the answer is as multifaceted as the universe. And more, infinitely more. Not being infinite ourselves lets content ourselves for a few minutes with the differences found in this verse. It mentions David. Jesus is a descendant of David. Certainly not everyone can say this. And it means? Jesus is of royal lineage, and has descended from a man described as having been a “man after God’s own heart.”  “I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills.” Acts 13:22b. He is said to be “Savior”. In the past I’ve mentioned a friend of mine who is a Nam vet. He was a Marine (still is on the inside, and always will be) medic. He crawled out into the battlefield, bullets and grenades and etc. all around, and pulled the wounded back to safety. He saved them. A big part of that consisted of bravery. It takes guts and a willingness to sacrifice self to be a savior. And then there’s the title “Christ”, or Messiah, it’s the same thing. The Anointed One. In ancient Israel there were two who were anointed. The king and the high priest. Here is One who fulfills both functions. That doesn’t happen every day. In fact its only happened once. That’s different, isn’t it? Last of all there is the title “Lord.” Lord is what a good Jew would call God rather than pronounce a Name so Holy that it didn’t belong in the mouth of man. Jews still don’t say it and we’ve been asked by Holy Mother Church not to use it ourselves out of consideration for our Elder Brethren. That’s different too, isn’t it? All of this put together? What Child is this? Most precious, very special, One of a kind.

Today …

St. Melangell

 

 


St. Melangell

St. Melangell was a Welsh virgin, also listed as Monacella. The daughter of an Irish or Scottish king, she went to Powys, in central Wales, to become a hermitess. Ysgythrog, the prince of Powys, granted her land after meeting her on a hunting trip, and she founded a community of women, serving as abbess for thirty-seven years. Her shrine remains at Pennant Melangell.

What Child is this? … Important, special, precious, pure, filled with hope and promise, one of a kind, a gift from God to each and every one of us. Never, NEVER, !NEVER! vote for any politician, regardless of party, who has EVER voted for ANY bill, regardless their excuses and rationalizations, that is pro-abortion/murder/infanticide.

Pondering … Monday, April 22

English: A Discalced Carmelite nun sits in her...

Meditation. Ponder on the good things, whether you understand them or not.

A Rosary Meditation … The third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity. “And Mary kept in mind all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19. There was a lot about the birth of Jesus that people didn’t understand. We probably know more about it now than they did then. We’ve 2,000 years of theological hindsight while they stood in the middle of the forest making it hard to see the trees. But Mary, as always, sets our example. There are lots of things hard to understand. There are things that don’t need to be understood. They require faith, not understanding. But whatever category things fall into its good to tuck them away in our hearts and ponder over them. How to do that? Well, we’re doing it right now. The Rosary and meditating on its Mysteries is a wonderful way to imitate our Mother. And when you consider that this gift of the Rosary came from God through Her it becomes very obvious that this is the way we are to copy her here. Thinking about the things of God, whether we understand them or not, and we’ll never fully understand them, makes them a part of our lives and so gives the Holy Spirit opportunity to make certain things clearer to us, to give us personal insights that might not mean much to anyone else but that will help bring us along on our journey towards Heaven and closer to Jesus. Lets ponder that for a while.

Today …

Bl. Maria Gabriella Sagheddu

Bl. Maria Gabriella Sagheddu

The Patroness of Ecumenism, Blessed Sister Maria Gabriella Sagheddu was a Trappist nun. She was born in Sardinia in 1914 and died of tuberculosis in the Trappist monastery of Grottaferrata in 1939. Because of her spiritual devotion to Christian unity, she was beatified by pope John Paul II in 1983. Think about what she must have thought about in regards to Christian Unity. The coming home of so many who, well-meaning as they are, find themselves removed from full fellowship with Christ’s Church because of bad decisions made not by them but by others hundreds of years ago. Now her pondering clearly went deep. She, like Mary, is a good example of a proper mindset regarding things understood or otherwise and our meditating on them.

Quote … “For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.” The Apostle Paul, Philippians 4:8.

To choose well all you need to do is to choose well … Thursday, April 4

Generally available Marian image created in th...

Bottom line? All Mary ever really did was make right choices. Follow her example. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill.” Luke 2:14. Only a person of goodwill would ever truly be able to accept or experience peace. Have you ever noticed how some people, when confronted by a choice between something good and something else will choose the something else? Sometimes the reason may be addictive behavior, other times it may be that the person was taught at an early age that they were unworthy. There are lots of reasons. They are, bottom line, all invalid. The fact is that there is nothing to keep any of us from choosing the good. The only thing necessary is to simply make the right choice. When confronted with good and anything else you don’t need to be deserving, you don’t need to think of yourself as entitled, its not a matter of being good enough or even needing. Its just about choosing the good. That’s all, nothing more. It isn’t complicated. When we will to choose the good we put ourselves in that group the angel mentioned. We become people of good will. And there is a peace in that. That peace stems from the Author of all that is good.

Today … St. Deifer was a Welsh abbot and founder of Bodfare in Clwyd, Wales. He didn’t have to serve God as a monk. He wasn’t obligated to accept the position of abbot. He could have chosen not to found Bodfare. He had choices. All he did was make the right ones. By God’s grace making good choices also makes saints.

Quote … “You have only always to do what is right. It will become easier by practice, and you enjoy in the midst of your trials the pleasure of an approving conscience.” ~ General Robert E. Lee ~

Substitute Angels … Monday, February 18

Angel appearing to shepherds for Nativity scen...

Angel appearing to shepherds for Nativity scene in Florida. Figure is painted by crèche artist Bill Egan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity. “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10. An angel sent by God from Heaven to bring good news to people needing it. In the Old Testament there are several stories about angels from Heaven visiting people, bringing them news, helping them. Much of the time the folks who were being visited didn’t know that the angels were angels. The angels seemed to be people like any others. Have you ever had someone show up out of nowhere, a total stranger, with much-needed help? It’s not that odd an occurrence really. What seems odd to me is that we take for granted that these people are just people. What if? What if they were really angels? It’s not like it’s never happened before. Why might it not happen again? A simple thought, something to keep in mind, something to keep in the back of our mind. If you’re ever in the hospital and a very sympathetic and helpful nurse turns up just when you’re in need and later no one can tell you exactly who she was, well? If you have a flat on the freeway and some guy stops and changes it for you and when you turn to say thank you, my, didn’t he disappear quick? When you’re checking out at the grocery store and you’re a dollar short, that person behind you who smiles, chips in a dollar and says don’t worry about it, what if? And what if there were no more angels? What if all the angels were quarantined in Heaven for whatever reason? What would happen then? Hmmm. Lets see. Are you a nurse? Do you have a tire jack? Have you got an extra dollar to spare? Could you, in a pinch, do an angel a favor and substitute?

Today … St. Charalampias. Martyr of Magnesia, in Asia Minor, with companions. He was a priest taken in the persecution of Emperor Septimius Severus. He was martyred with two soldiers and three women. There are lots of saints that we know very little about. That’s okay, we can catch up on things when we meet them later. But for a minute think about the two nameless soldiers and the three women mentioned here. Any or all of them might have been a great consolation to Charalampias. Any one of them may well have been the help he needed to stand firm in his faith during his martyrdom. They are nameless. We don’t know if they just showed up or whatever. What if? What if they weren’t human after all? What if they were … ???

Its True … “And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.” Hebrews 13:2.

Published in: on February 18, 2013 at 6:36 am  Comments Off on Substitute Angels … Monday, February 18  
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More is less/Less is more … Thursday, January 31

Key Largo (film)

Robinson’s character, Rocky, wanted “more”. What do we want? And why? Key Largo (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity. “And there were shepherds in the same district. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them.” Luke 2:6,9. A lot of people spend a lot of time wishing they had money, power, position. Some go beyond wishing and put forth great effort to attain these. People who take low-level entry jobs with companies normally have their eyes set on something higher. I remember the movie “Key Largo” with Bogart and Robinson. Robinson played a hood, a mobster with “power”. Bogart made the comment that he knew what Rocky (Robinson) wanted. Robinson countered with something like, “Okay, smart guy, tell us what Rocky wants.” And Bogie answered with, “More. Rocky wants more.” And that describes a large part of humanity. It doesn’t matter what it is, people just want “more”. And a very real question, in light of the Gospel and the lives of saints, is, “Why?” Have you ever noticed that the great majority of people chosen by God for whatever good purpose have been those with “less”, not “more”. The shepherds were the first to see Jesus. Not the Wise Men, they came later. What was David before he was king? What was Peter before Jesus called him to head His Church? What did St. Francis possess, other than God, when he died? Have you ever heard of a religious order called the Rich Clares? Which group of religious take vows of chastity, avarice, and obedience? So, why would ANYONE ever want “more”? The shepherds had next to nothing. Who was it that stood by them in the field? Does the Bible say who it was that stood by Herod, or Pharaoh, or Caesar? It doesn’t say, does it? Maybe no one stood by them because they had “more”, and in having that they had all they thought they needed. And that, that much “more”, was enough in their lives to take up all the space necessary to exclude any angel of the Lord, and the Lord Himself.

Today … St. John Bosco. In 1867 Pope Pius IX was upset with John Bosco because he wouldn’t take his dreams seriously enough. Nine years earlier when Pope Pius IX met with the future saint who worked with neglected boys, he learned of the dreams that John had been having since the age of nine, dreams that had revealed God’s will for John’s life. So Pius IX had made a request, “Write down these dreams and everything else you have told me, minutely and in their natural sense.” Pius IX saw John’s dreams as a legacy for those John worked with and as an inspiration for those he ministered to. Some people inherit money, property, position, a “name”. There’s nothing wrong with those things or having those things. You can put power and riches to good use for God. France was blessed with a king who was a saint. But all in all, well, there were more poverty-stricken saints, in the worldly sense, than rich ones. Like John Bosco, who had little more than dreams. On the other hand, how rich are those who inherit the dreams of saints?

And so …

Prospero:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158

Published in: on January 31, 2013 at 5:12 am  Comments Off on More is less/Less is more … Thursday, January 31  
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Jesus laughs … Monday, January 14

Laughing Jesus

Laughing Jesus (Photo credit: greaterumbrage)

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity. “And she laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7. I’ve heard that the wood of the manger prefigured that of the cross. I can see that. But there are times when its better to dwell on the more pleasant aspects of life. Oh, the others, the unpleasant things, can’t be forgotten. But there’s a time and place for everything. I have a small picture of “The Laughing Christ” above the head of my bed. He laughed, I know He did. How do I know? Think about the guys He hung out with. I just can’t see anybody being around Peter on a regular basis with him sticking his foot in his mouth on an even more regular basis and being able to hold in the laughter. Jesus is, after all, just like us in every way but sin. Being human, and He is, He no doubt takes after His parents, Mary His mother and Joseph His foster-father. Being human I know they laughed. And I think about the manger, the safe delivery, the nosy animals peeking over the stacks of hay, the shepherds asking if they could come in, and a new Baby. 🙂 Joy and laughter. Not only had Messiah arrived but there was a new Baby! That’s enough. It’s enough to know that joy is permissible, and that my Jesus laughs.

Today … St. Felix. “A Roman priest of whom nothing is known.” Well, that’s what it said when I looked him up. Oh, give me a break here. Of whom nothing is known? The name Felix means happy. Ah, now we’re well on our way to knowing something.  St. Felix, a Roman priest of whom these things are known: Happy to know Jesus, happy to administer the sacraments, happy at seeing conversions, happy in prayer, happy with bird-song brought to him on a cool breeze, happy with good food and drink, happy with sunshine, happy with needed rain, happy when holding a new baby as he baptized it. Happy enough in following the Christ to laugh with Him.

Pity … Pity the people who can’t laugh while holding a new baby because it was sacrificed so that they could live their lives “free” and to the “fullest”, with all the slavery to self and the emptiness of heart the world holds out to people with its false promises. The “fulfillment” that abortion brings.

Published in: on January 14, 2013 at 5:11 am  Comments Off on Jesus laughs … Monday, January 14  
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