At the beginning of the Catholic Church’s day of prayer for peace in Ukraine, Pope Francis made an earnest appeal to those in power: “Please, no more war.”
“I invite you to pray for peace in Ukraine and to do so often throughout this day,” the pope said at the end of his general audience on Jan. 26.
“Let us ask the Lord insistently that this land may see fraternity flourish and overcome wounds, fears, and divisions.”
The pope urged people not to forget the more than five million people who died in Ukraine during World War II.
“Think that more than five million were annihilated during the time of the last war. They are a suffering people; they have suffered hunger, they have suffered so much cruelty and they deserve peace,” Francis said.
“May the prayers and invocations that are being raised to heaven today touch the minds and hearts of those in positions of authority on earth, so that dialogue may prevail and the good of all be put before the interests of one side. Please, no more war.”
Pope Francis called for Jan. 26 to be a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine during his Angelus address last Sunday amid fears of a potential deeper Russian incursion into the Eastern European country.
Let each of us take the time today to pray and fast (giving up something today) for world peace . Let us each especially pray for the situation in the Ukraine.
Looking within without being self indulgent and being honest with myself is a humbling experience.
SIN – not my favourite topic, but necessary as I lay bare my soul to God – it is because I don’t like it that I must look at my sin and the impact it has to those around me – because sin has consequences.
SIN – the realization that my sinful acts have consequences not only in my relationship with God, but it also impacts those around me – “Sins of the Father” – is a huge responsibility that I never thought deeply about.
My sins sets a bad example for my own children to follow – a bad role model. It may inadvertently lead others astray. Hence my very action – negative thoughts or anger acted upon influences those around me – creating a snowball effect of negativity.
God doesn’t want to punish me – He is all about love. Instead, God want me to be aware of my sinfulness through the grace of inward reflection and examen of my conscience. My loving God gives me freedom to chose – to sin or not to sin!
Here is where I deeply need the help of the Holy Spirit to help me battle my inner demons – sin. Here is when I need decide is it worth it to commit the sin and be eternally damned, or I seek God’s help to walk sin free.
I sin, you sin, we all sin – it is the reality of our human condition – our fallen nature. God’s gift of His son, Jesus Christ – whose death freed us from our sins:
Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness, today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery to Your mercy — to Your compassion, O God; and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out. Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles! O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding, Who are acquainted with our misery through and through, and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You: anticipate us with Your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in us, that we may faithfully do Your holy will all through our life and at death’s hour. Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your children, await Your [Son’s] final coming — that day known to You alone. And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite of all our wretchedness. For Jesus is our Hope: through His merciful Heart, as through an open gate, we pass through to heaven (St Faustina Diary, 1570).
From personal experience, praying the rosary is my spiritual weapon. This is especially needed, for the closer I draw near to God’s embrace, the more sneaky the evil one is in attacking me. Think Eve in the garden of Eden, especially upon how the serpent seduced her with tricky words:
Being on guard to how my wandering thoughts, words and heart can betray God through Satan’s tricky is something I need to be aware off. This is why praying the rosary (“Hail Mary”) stops me before a sinful desire or a licentious thought can entrap or take hold of me. When I want to read a trashy romance, I ask myself – is it worth it to give up heaven for temporal pleasure? Is it worth giving up heaven for my addiction to my devices and spending hours on end on social social media (time once past is gone forever). It’s easy to fall into Satans grasp! That’s why the rosary (a mother’s fighting stance) and verses from the Bible are my spiritual weapon.
Genesis 3:1-5 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition
The First Sin and Its Punishment
3 Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When we invite Holy Mary into our lives through the rosary, we are using a weapon given to us by God – for she will crush Satan’s head with her feet:
Genesis 3:15 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
We have the Immaculate Heart of Mary battling for us! I want to share with all my readers a must watch video with Fr. Luke:
Since the closure of all churches in Quebec (Canada) since Christmas, I have no other choice but to celebrate my faith via the internet or zoom. Tuning in for daily Mass and making an Act of Spiritual Communion and Thanksgiving within the confines of my home has started to take its toll on me. I miss going to Mass! I miss being in God’s Home.
I find myself having self talk dissertations with God about the craziness we find ourselves in, and asking if the Hybrid (in person/internet) the future of worship? Is this the new normal? What happens if there is a blackout? Has anyone ever thought about what would happen if there was a world wide cyber outage?
I think back to Jesus, His apostles and the beginnings of the early Christian church, from small in home gatherings to the feeding of 5000. It is about community, socialization, communication, and it also is about being present – it is about one another – people. I thought about organizing in home worship, but in Quebec, the restrictions limit the numbers of “bubbles” allowed. Not only that, but most are living in fear – of catching Covid, or one of it’s variant. People have become afraid of getting together.
So I sit here and muse about the early church, and feel a sense of sadness, as I reflect on what I miss most about being in God’s house. I miss seeing the faces I always see during the week – mostly the elderly, along with young mothers. I miss the occasional crying of a child in the background. I miss walking through the church and taking some time in each area – the Divine Mercy statue, pictures of past popes, the stations of the cross, and saying a silent prayer after I light a candle. I miss greeting members of the congregation, “How are you?”
I miss standing before the altar and kneeling – giving thanks to God. I miss adorating the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I miss watching the candles flicker on the altar, and I miss being in awe.
No virtual mass can replace the feeling of Holiness in God’s house. No virtual mass can replace the feel of the Holy Spirit moving through the congregation. No online service can reproduce the tactile feel of receiving the body of Jesus. I miss gnawing and chewing the Holy Host and saying to myself, “You are mine, and I am Yours”.
We are part of the family of God, and being present in Mass is very much about love for one another, community, along with all the dynamics of social interaction. I pray for an end to forced isolation and vaccine passports. I pray for the right of each Christian to some way, somehow, connect again socially – not by zoom, or via online mass, or chat boxes, but in person so that we can lift up our praise, adoration and love of Jesus and worship him as a family.
I hold on to the belief that we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and, whose death on the cross as given us the way to the Father. So the little struggles I have now of being isolated from my family in Christ, is making me stronger (Romans 5:1-11):
5 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we[c] boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Let us remain strong in Jesus. I know that it has been hard for many around the world who are experiencing the same lockdowns and restrictions. I also know many are suffering emotionally, mentally, socially and financially. Let us give our suffering to Jesus, for that little pain is nothing compared to the suffering our beloved Jesus went through when He died for me and you.
Let us lift our voices, and ask God to ensure that each of us is provided for – that our daily bread is met.
Borrowing a phase coined by the Archbishop of Montreal, Most Reverend Christian Lépine, “The door to the manger is always open”, I wish to greet all with a joyous and “Happy Christmas Eve”.
Let us unite together from all across our globe and rejoice with a melody in our heart as we let the light of the Bethlehem star warm our hearts with faith, hope and love .
As in a time in antiquity when three wise men journeyed afar to meet Baby Jesus, and as Shepard minding their fields heard the joyful proclamation by the choral of angels – let us welcome our Saviour into the world with joy and thanksgiving.
Luke 1:10 – 14
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
As Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal reminds us,
Through this pandemic, let us always keep the door of our heart open, constantly keeping a look of kindness, inspired by the look of goodness that the child Jesus has for us,”
Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal
Let us start our day with a a prayer of thanksgiving, a smile and an inner glow within and without, as well as a spirit filled song in our hearts.
From Christmas Novena Prayer
The Birth Of Jesus In The Stable Of Bethlehem (Ninth Day)
O Adorable Infant Jesus! I should not have the boldness to cast myself at Your feet if I did not know that You Yourself invites me to draw near You.
It is I who by my sins have made You shed so many tears in the stable of Bethlehem. But since You have come on earth to pardon repentant sinners, forgive me also, now that I am heartily sorry for having spurned You, my Savior and my God, who are so good and who has loved me so much.
In this night, in which You bestowest great graces on so many souls, grant Your heavenly consolation to this poor soul of mine also.
All that I ask of You is the grace to love You always, from this day forward, with all my heart. Set me all on fire with Your holy love. I love You, O my God, who has become a Babe for love of me. Never let me cease from loving You evermore.
O Mary, Mother of Jesus and my Mother, You can obtain everything from Your Son by Your prayers. This is the only favor I ask of You. Do You pray to Jesus for me. Amen.”
In Quebec, due to new government restrictions, all participants must show a vaccine passport to attend worship. Not many religious has spoken out on this government protocol except for a few sane voices.
I am sharing here a message from the Bishop of Pembroke, Quebec. At a time when the Catholic Church is getting more and more ruptured – Bishop Pembroke’s call for spiritual unity is heartfelt and inspiring.
December 20, 2021
An unusual Christmas!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s a funny title to use as we approach the great feast of Christmas, considering that it has always been an unusual and extraordinary feast on its own! This year, however, the Christmas celebrations in Quebec are shaping up to be very different because of the new restrictions recently imposed by the Quebec government.
The announcement of new measures reducing the number of people allowed in churches as of Monday, December 20, and the exclusion of the unvaccinated from the usual celebrations, are creating even more division and resentment among the members of those parish communities. Not to mention the fact that the government is also imposing on them the task of acting as a police officer at the entrance to their churches, in order to check whether the faithful have their vaccination passport or not! And please note that the Bishops of Quebec were not even consulted before the publication of this announcement which seems to me to be totally unfair to a part of our faithful, and which has no scientific basis whatsoever, since even the vaccinated can be contaminated and contaminate others, as scientists and the media have revealed again recently. If this is the case, how can we justify imposing a vaccine passport, as if by magic the vaccinated could avoid any contamination?
Since the very beginning of the pandemic, our churches have scrupulously followed the multiple standards of the health authorities and have helped to prevent any spread of the virus in our congregations. Now, it is as if the government suddenly had no confidence in the measures it has imposed on places of worship. We are treated more harshly than supermarkets and many other businesses, yet at one point we were recognised as “essential” to the welfare of the public, particularly to the faithful.
I seriously wonder whether the line between what the State can and cannot dictate to the various religious communities has been crossed with this obligation to present vaccination passports at the entrance to our churches. The Code of Canon Law is clear: no member of the faithful should be deprived of the Sacraments. But our governments are making a mockery of the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church. Dare to challenge your government representatives to change this latest law which in fact oversteps their role and duty in our society. Their role is earthly, and we recognise that it is God Himself who has entrusted them with this responsibility, but ours is heavenly, for Christ Himself entrusts us with the spiritual stewardship of His Kingdom. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s, our Master and Saviour has taught us.
Archbishop Lépine of Montreal recently published a very eloquent letter. He asks us to fight the virus instead of fighting each other with judgment and resentment towards those who do not think as we do, between the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated. Otherwise, the virus will win over us and hurt us not only physically and psychologically, but will divide us spiritually to the point of hatred towards our neighbour, instead of the unconditional love that Christ wants to give us by taking on our mortal condition on this great Christmas Day.
May we rediscover our childlike hearts as we contemplate the Child in the manger. See how he opens wide his little arms and hands, as if to say to each of us: “Will you let me into your heart at Christmas?”
Sincerely yours in Christ our Redeemer,
I pray that the hand of God surrounds His people from the fears that permeates our secular world. We need to hear more attestation of Biblical faith: Jesus, I trust in You!
As part of my St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises (The Ignatian Adventure, Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life, by Kevin O’Brien, SJ.), I have been praying and mediating on a “grateful awareness of the many ways in which God calls me”, and the past week, I have been reading, rereading, reflecting, and praying on Luke 5:1-11. The depth of it’s meaning came to light a few days ago – “God, how can I be a fisher of men? Moreover, I ask myself how can I serve You in our world today? Next week begins a new challenge – I won’t be able to attend Mass and the Holy Eucharist due to new government restrictions. I was feeling so down about it. How do I live in the new normal – a world of Covid-19 fears and now Omicron restrictions? How can I continue to be a disciple of Jesus?
Luke 5:10 reminds us:
Jesus always said to us, “And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.”
I was greatly comforted by Luke’s reminder.
I have low immune system, and I am very careful, especially mindful of those around me, and isolate myself at the first signs of illness. Today, was one of those days, when I felt a migraine and under the weather. Being the last day I could attend Mass before new restrictions set in, I felt guilty and terrible that I did not go.
In the face of challenges, it is a miracle the way God’s hand is constant in my life. Not only did I feel uplifted and full of joy watching online mass this morning, but I felt renewed. Today’s lectionary reading Luke 1:39-45 touched me, and I was reflecting upon it since last night when I flipped open my Bible and read it while procrastinating rereading Luke 5: 1-11. God is ahead of me! God knows my worries.
Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
Three key words come to mind – “Mary set out and went with haste…”, the second is the power of the Holy Spirit in the bonding these two woman with inner and outer joy – “For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy...”
I am reminded that in Jesus, there is joy. His birth into this world and walking among us is a testament of God’s eternal love and plan for us. Hence, no matter how many obstacles the world may throw my way that prevents me from going to Mass to worship, I can still praise and sing glory to my God, because I take the time today to keep the Sabbath Holy in my home – my place of refuge.
How to keep the sabbath holy
Making my home a sancturay for God
Making my home a refuge, and adorning it with objects that reminds me of the Blessed Family, God, Jesus, our Blessed Mother, and Father Joseph. Sanctified with Holy Water is also a good idea.
The point here is having a quiet place to spend time with God.
Spend time in prayer and read the day’s Mass reading
Daily reading from the Catholic Calendar is a special contemplation I do on top of my own personal Bible journey. Daily readings are centered around liturgical themes, and they help guide the believer into a better understanding of the Old and New Testament, as well as insights from all Saints, religious, and all who have gone before us. The following two sites are a great resource for daily Catholic readings:
Make a Spiritual Communion and Thanksgiving
I can’t make it to Mass for the Eucharist, and instead of getting stressed out about it, I watch the Mass online and make an act of spiritual communion and thanksgiving. God doesn’t want us ridden with anxiety and stressed out. Jesus loves us, and wants us to be near to Him and filled with inner joy.
watch the mass online or on tv
Here is a list of some of my favorite Catholic organizations:
Remember God rested on the 7th day. Enjoy a day of stillness, rest and reflection on God’s day.
In all things, remember to give thanks
Make the day beautiful, peaceful, and joyful. I like to spend part of God’s day smiling and thinking of how wonderful my God is, and am thankful for His hands in my life and the lives of those around me. I love to listen to music of praise and worship on God’s day of rest. Just as I am sitting here sharing with each one of you my love for our Immortal God. Jesus, I trust in you❤️
I love to listen to the Virgil Project:
May the hand of God hold each of you in His warm and protective embrace, and know that as long as we focus our attention on Him, we do not need to feel fear! God is faithful, and knows our hearts more than we do. Let each of us take the time to pray on a greater awareness of the many ways in which God calls each and every one of us.
My soul rejoices and I am overwhelmed with a sense of inner peace reading todays Lectionary. The readings flow and enlightens my mind and soul. Especially beautiful today is the proclamation in the Old Testament of the the arrival of our blessed light coming into the world, and in the New Testament, it tells us of Joseph’s thoughts as well as how his trust in God, lead to his hand in helping usher the light into our broken world.
Jesus’ birth is the light entering a dark and tumultuous world under Roman oppression. Today, Jesus lights our path in an era of cancel culture, government restrictions, and medical tyranny. Christmas has been cancelled by political correctness, and replaced with commercialism and secularism – “Happy Holidays”.
Old Testament Jeremiah 23:5-8
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: “The LORD our justice.”
Therefore, the days will come, says the LORD, when they shall no longer say, “As the LORD lives, who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt”; but rather, “As the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of the house of Israel up from the land of the north”– and from all the lands to which I banished them; they shall again live on their own land.
Gospel matthew 1:18-25
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
There is hope! No matter how dark it feel, the light of baby Jesus repairs our brokenness. It reunites us with God. Today’s reading touches a core within me especially as the Year of St. Joseph comes to an end. It gives me the hope that God has everything under control. Just as God used St. Joseph to protect Mary and baby Jesus, I know God is with us.
St. Joseph makes me think of God’s steadfast hand in our lives, and His loyalty knows no end. To those of us who put Him above all things, God is ever present. So regardless of the circumstances my family and I may face during this crazy time in our lives, God is with us.
Jesus is the light of my world. If I let it, it will shine in me and through me.
Let the light of Jesus shine in YOU! Let all OUR light, light a path in our darken world.