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.
Today marks the first day of the beginning of a new liturgical year. As it ends, I can only thank the Lord our God for all the love and graces He has bestowed upon me and those around me.
Today is a new day! This is also a special day for me, as it marks my first Advent as a Catholic. It also marks the first time my family and I celebrate it in a spiritually meaningful way – full of joy in God’s embrace.
It is a time for us to prepare spiritually as we wait upon Jesus – for the return of Jesus Christ. It is a time to recall His humanity and divinity. We are reminded of His humble birth, for the world (inn) was not prepared for His arrival. It is a time for reflection as we ready ourselves with HOPE, because God is faithful.
We pray for the conversion for those trapped in our secular world as we recall the prophets of old:
Today and as we head into a new week, let’s light a purple candle or wear something purple and reflect on HOPE and pray:
Dear Jesus, you are the hope of our world. Help us to slow down and turn off all the white noise around us. Help us to mindfully and quietly listen to your voice, and to focus on what’s really important. We place our hope and trust in you as we prepare our hearts to celebrate your birth on Christmas. Amen.
This is a seemingly simple statement. In fact, it can be very difficult to do.
What is will? How do I define it?
I needed a day in reflection and pray to understand more deeply what God wanted me to understand in this prayer. I had a challenging time praying this prayer yesterday, and had to make a conscious effort to buckle down and pray it 15 times. I actually felt a glimmer of rebelliousness in me, and I procrastinated until I summited to God’s will and made the time to pray the Christ the King Novena – Day 6 – My will verse God’s will. This is a very real phenomenon in my prayer life. It is when I feel my rebellious nature surface that I inwardly recognize I must submit to God, because there are worldly factors coming into play to create a division between me and Him.
What does the concept of “will’ means to me? I had to reflect upon its meaning in my life. My will – my human ability to make decisions of outward expressions or actions, from what is amplified from within. At the most basic level it is my personal selfishness.
I See, I Want, I Act
At the most basic level – let’s follow the basis understanding that – my will is one based on one characteristic of my humanity. Let’s look at my selfishness. When I think about it, I can define will as the inner action or desire which moves me to act outwardly. Sometimes, my inward desire can lead me to an impulsive bad action, like it did the other night when I saw a plate of Ferrero-Rocher on the counter. I liberally helped myself to 3, and ate it one after the other. What motivated me? Well, I love the taste of milk chocolate. Seeing the half empty plate of Ferrero-Rocher, I didn’t even try to control my impulse. Why eat three in a row? I was greedy to eat it and one was just not enough. Let’s not forget I was being gluttonous, “I better eat them now before they all disappear!”
Wow this also made me think of impulse shopping, but will not mention it here, but my point is we are flawed human beings that act on instinct and sometimes we don’t have the control mechanism to stop.
How often has my own desires lead to actions contrary to the will of God. What is God’s will? What does it mean God’s will mean to me?
Yes, I am ashamed to admit that instead of reining in my inward desires, I let my outward behavior act out.
When I think about God’s will, I think of the Lord’s Prayer which we pray daily.
Pray, then, in this way:
“Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven . . .”
Matthew 6:9-10 (NASB)
Your will for me is for me to abide by Your will, and live it as if your Kingdom is already here. It means for me to take action first by inviting you into my life. First, I confess to my Lord Jesus that I am a sinner. I cannot control my own impulses, and I am flawed through and through. It is only by Your redeeming grace I am saved.
As I have freedom of will, and it is my choice to acknowledge my sins, and confess it. It is also based on my freedom to chose that I invite the Holy Spirit to come into my heart (being) and guide me.
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven,” is my clear invitation for Your guidance, and to open my eyes so that I can see clearly the difference between right and wrong. I invite Your grace to give me the strength to abide in the will of God – His will and His alone.
Yes, I will falter, and I am ashamed to admit it. However the next time I am tempted, I will have a better understanding and awareness of my flaws. The next day my husband included in his grocery bag, 4 cans of Pringles. After nagging him to not buy junk food anymore, I refrained from eating any (actually said a silent prayer asking for self control), for if I start, I will eat the whole can in one sitting. I realize this is a very silly example, but it is something that came to mind as I spend the day reflecting upon my will verse God’s will. These two examples are also my way to include a dose of honest humor. After all, in our walk with Jesus there are often funny anecdotes, just as there are deeply moving ones.
I know if we think about it, there are many examples in our lives that can highlight examples when our will and God’s will clashes, just as there are many examples of how when we sincerely ask for God’s Holy Spirit to work in us, there are also many example of His grace at work in our lives. I pray that we continue to pray for “His kingdom come, and His will be done” in our lives.
This Advent is a time for me to really reflect and draw closer to Jesus, and to prepare my life from a proactive standpoint to receive and truly live my life with Him with sincerity and love.
Day 6 and Day 7 Christ the King Novena 2020 Links:
I pray for the grace to place You above the powers of this world in all things.
Christ the King Novena
We live in a world today ridden by not only Covid-19 fears, but this narrative is continuously being supported by governments of all nations, our main stream media, and social media platforms. As soon as we turn on our news, one is confronted by all the negative that arises from this pandemic.
In the same instance, as the anticipated second wave of the Covid-19 hits Canada, in my province, Christmas has been cancelled. Those living in the red zone will not be allowed to gather during this festive season. The exception are those in yellow zones, 10 people can gather for Christmas, and in orange zones, the limit is 6. But nearly all of Quebec is currently red.
This is the new norm in our lives, and as responsible citizens we need to follow these protocols.
The second wave of the Covid – 19 pandemic is now upon us. It continues to separate families, and separate the Church from it’s people, we cannot let this deter us from remembering and celebrating the birth of Christ, nor can we stop ourselves from asking for the Grace to open our eyes so that we see Jesus. I am grateful for zoom. It will be a zoom Christmas with my family across Ontario and Quebec. I will participate with my family and watch the live streaming of Mass.
More so than ever, I think I need to be diligent and help out in any ways I can. This starts with my family, my neighbors, and my community at large. This is a time to reach out to family members. Call one another, and if there are any bad feelings between one another, it is the time to reach out and say, “I am sorry.” “Forgive me!” “I love you!”
This is the time to drop some food off to your local parish or to the organization helping those in need. This is the time to let those around you know you care and are thinking of them.
For the power that be in our world, it is a time for prayer. Asking in a sincere heart that the Hand of God will moved our hearts towards peace and love. It is also the time to ask for the God’s Hand to be in the heart of decision makers, asking specifically they act with calm and wisdom before making rash decisions that can effect the well being of all citizens.
On a more personal level, do I see Jesus offering love and redemption in the middle of all the noise from the powers of this world? During a time when I am bombarded from all sides by the powers that be in our world, from the mainstream media, and from all our social networking platform sending out narratives of doom and gloom, am I asking Jesus to open my eyes?
Live Your Best Life
Let me resound this and ask, are we asking our beloved Savior to open our spiritual eyes to see?
Do we see Christ everywhere in our lives?
Are we asking Him to help us judge wisely of all the things of this earth?
Are we asking Him to give us the strength, courage, and faith to stand firm with God?
Last night after my prayers, I found myself scrolling through my media feeds, and the majority of the news was NEGATIVE. To discern if what I am reading is fake or real, I find myself doing research that often can take me down a rabbit hole with no end in sight. Sometimes, there are news I really don’t want to know about, because it touches on the real evil that exists in our world.
“Ignorance is bliss”, is my husband’s motto. I on the other hand have a natural curiosity. “Curiosity killed the cat” idiom comes to mind. Urgh! Sometimes I have to abandon threads as they really are scary and sacrilegious.
“I pray for the grace to place You above the powers of this world in all things.“
The above quote came to mind last night and again a glimpse of it in my prayer this morning, which tells me it’s something for me to address, discuss and share. It’s so easy to fall prey to the powers of this world – whether it be reading something that is totally left field from the word of God and deemed so evil, it is better for me to stop. If my heart and head is not able to handle the profane, it is best I mentally stop delving deeper. Why? False teachings is Satan’s way of planting seeds that can bear the fruits of doubt and lead one astray.
During this advent, more than ever before, let me live my best life in Christ Jesus!
I pray for the grace from my Savior to open my spiritual eyes, so that I may discern what is the truth and positive from what is not good for my soul. Most of all, I ask Christ the King for the spiritual eyes to see your grace around me, so that I can judge wisely the things of this earth and stand firm in Godliness.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen
(….I’ll edit later for grammar…my Chinglish comes through sometimes….)
Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to your Kingship
Praying Christ the King Novena
I was playing Black Desert Mobile well passed midnight. For those of you who don’t know some of my less attractive habits, I am an avid gamer, and in the past 20 years, I have played and beta tested a lot of online mmo (Massively Multiplayer Online (gaming)). It started with the Atari 520 ST computer back in the days when having a computer at home was a new phenomenon. To win in a mmo, my character needs to have the best gear and weapon to be able to compete with NPC (Non-Player Character) or against other players. Getting the best gear is one of the basic premise of a game. This often means patience. It is also time consuming, as most of the game is gathering material to craft your gear, or “farming”. Farming is the boring part of a game. Farming is killing mobs of evil monsters in the hope that items will drop. Items that drop can be material for crafting, silver for buying in game goods (like potions for stamina or extra boost), and sometimes if you are lucky, a good piece of gear. I love Korean and Chinese games for their auto play features in them. I often have the game on auto play while I work (don’t ask, it’s a gamer thing. My own kids think it’s idiotic to play a game that’s on auto…they say “what’s the use of playing it?” )
This morning as I was reflecting on “Christ the King” Novena, I was thinking how in “real” life, we need to also gear up against the “evil” that permeates our society and lives. When I ask in the “Christ The King Novena” to “renew in me allegiance to your Kingship”, it also suggest I need to make changes in my life before I can put God first. A commitment to the game so to speak (gamer talk). What? Yeah, it means I need to be proactive.
The questions that come into play is “What can I do to strengthen my spiritual health?”
Taking spiritual nutrients is an important part of my daily routine with God (virtually due to Covid -19) during the morning broadcast of the Eucharist during Mass). Just as I take vitamins to keep my body strong in a world ridden with Covid -19, flus and colds. I ask for the Grace of Jesus to heal me spiritually as I partake in His Holy Sacraments.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins
It is a reaffirmation of my personal covenant with God, that His Holy Spirit resides within me and heal me.
Next, I need put on The Armor of God so that I can combat and stand against all devilish schemes:
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:14-17
Wow and this is free, I don’t have to pay in game money, and I don’t need hope for drops from fighting mobs. God’s gifts are free. He only calls to us to ask for us to be proactive.
During this Advent, I wanted to really think about how I can strengthen and deepen my faith in Christ the King. To all you non gamers, understanding for me often means looking at my life and often there is an analogy for me to share. I stayed up later than usual to gear my game character. This morning this was still imprinted in mind as I started my Rosary. I quickly wrote it down so that this thought wouldn’t rain throughout my 20 minute Rosary time.
(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit)
Jesus, my Savior, and King
I humbly pray before you
May you grace my heart to love and adore you more,
to give me the grace of deepening faith
to give me the grace to place my trust upon you above all others,
and to give me the grace to be confident you are ever present in my life.
I proclaim you Prince of Peace and lift you high above all in this mortal realm.
As I wait for your second coming, let me not waste a moment
I ask that you grace me – this unworthy sinner –
with the inspiration and confidence to use the gifts you have given me
to share your story and love with others.
So that they may also rejoice in having a living God in their lives.
(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen)
I started praying the Christ the King Novena yesterday, and following the lead of my sponsor, I have reflected upon it, and personalized it. As I think in the abstract, one of my challenges is to bring it down a notch – or to bring it out of my headspace into the everyday.
Through prayer, especially the Rosary, I feel the depth and width of my love for Jesus growing with each passing day. There has been a few instances when during prayer I have been overwhelm with emotions and tears as visons of sin unrealized and unconfessed come to mind. Jesus has also shown me through prayer that He has always been with me, and He has also shielded me on numerous occasion from falling into the clutches of darkness. Just as he has opens my eyes, He also comforts.
Once a part of the darkness, the road back to the light is soul wrenching. There is no other way to describe it. I know that meeting my husband was God send – His unconditional love for me never faltered through our 30 year plus relationship. Just as my children were gifts from God – to me – a woman who fervently claimed I would never bring children into this world. God blessed me with two adopted children.
The goal is making Jesus Christ real in every facets of our lives.
Since the start of the Advent, my sponsor and I have each chosen a Novena to focus and pray on. Through the process of sharing our thoughts each day via phone or text, I have come to realize how each of us have personalized and made praying real based on our personalities and character.
Through a process of self reflection and reflecting on key words or concepts, it opens up for each something uniquely special and personal. It leads to a journey of deepening faith and love for Christ. It guides us to prepare our hearts for celebrating not only Jesus’ arrival to us through His birth, but preparing our hearts and soul to receive Him upon His second coming.
Having a partner during this prayerful period has enriched me. As I am a person of extremes, my prayer partner reminds me to maintain a balanced life. This has been an enriching experience for me, as I realize through our conversations and text messages that not only are we two unique individuals, with different approaches to prayer, she has shown me her own process of personalizing the Novena. This has helped me to bring abstract concepts from my headspace into my daily life. Coming down to earth so to speak – as I think in the abstract – personalizing my Novena, brings it down to my everyday.
From the Mouth of a Child
My daughter often says to me, “Mom, use normal words, I don’t know what you mean.” Upon which I would stop and rephrase my sentence, or explain to her what I mean.
The other day I reminded Aleeza to pray (and ask Jesus for the confidence to stand in front of her class for her oral). Her adamant response was, “Mom, I don’t pray. I talk to Jesus.” I smile now as I recall her statement. Yes, that is what we do when we pray, we talk to Jesus. I like the way she has personalized her relationship with Jesus. He is her friend.
Finally, from the mouth of a child, “Jesus is our friend”.
Aside: God has a way of grounding us through our friends and family.