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!
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.”
I love reading and rereading the Gospel of Luke as we head into Christmas. There is much joy resounding from these passages. The birth of Jesus is our greatest gift from God. As I meditate on the union of Mother Mary and Elizabeth, I think about their Spirit filled inner joy and blessings from our Almighty God. It also brings to mind all the blessings and gifts from God in my life. I may not always recognize God’s blessing amidst the din in my busy life. It is often when I take the time during the end of the evening when I do my Daily Examen that I see the beauty of God’s hand in my life.
I would like to invite all of you to think about the beauty of God’s hand and gift in your life. How can we be give back to God? How can we be like Jesus? Sometimes, all it takes is a smile. Praying for those around us – our family, friends, to the sick. Praying for the homeless, those we don’t know in need, and for souls in purgatory. At other times, it is leading a hand to those around us. It may be helping our neighbors, or volunteering. I found today’s homily by Fr. Anthony inspiring – casting our eyes not upon ourselves, but upon another with love and the joy of giving:
God Bless 💖Let us step outside of our comfort zone and give our gift of Jesus to another.
Rejoice! Rejoice! My heart rejoices at Mary’s “YES”!
As I reflect on my little “yes” to God, there is a wonderful homily written by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux hundred’s of year ago that reflected on the importance of Mary’s “YES”, and it has such insight, I share it below:
The Whole World Awaits Mary’s Reply On the Annunciation and Mary’s “fiat” Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
This homily excerpt of St. Bernard is in the Office of Readings for December 20, the fourth week of Advent.
You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.
The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.
Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.
Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.
Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.
Hom. 4, 8-9: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 4 , 53-54
My Little “yes”!
I ask myself, have I said “yes” to God? “Can I really do that? Often doubt and fear clouds my judgement, and that’s when I need God to help me over come my insecurities. Last week, I almost said no to helping drive food baskets to the needy in my parish, but at the last minute, I said, “Yes!”. My hesitancy was fear – of meeting people I didn’t know. God gave me a chance to say, “yes”, and it was one of the most humbling and happy thing I could have done. There was a joy in sharing with those in need the love of Jesus, and giving a helping hand. As I knocked on doors, God opened my heart to see His people, and to give them much needed food so that they may have a Merry Christmas.
Let each of us reflect on our “YES” to our Almighty God.
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.
As the year devoted to St. Joseph comes to an end, and as we prepare our hearts in preparedness for the birth of Jesus, many obstacles has popped up creating turmoil in my world, and in different parts of our globe. In my part of the world, my province has mandated many restrictions that will take place this coming Monday. One of which is our place of worship. Last year, all churches were shut down. Now, 10 days before Christmas, there will not only be a reduction of 50% of attendees, but those present must show their vaccine passport. All I can say is that as we head towards more restrictions in every aspect of our lives, I cannot express enough the importance of creating a place of refuge. What do I mean? I mean ensuring that we are prepared spiritually – in Jesus. To trust in Jesus, and know that we were meant to live in this time as His disciples. To continue to love as Christ did. To know that our faith in Jesus is our foundation. Fear not! The hand of God will provide for us. Creating a sacred place of refuge is a start. This can be our own home.
For me this means creating a space in my home for my family as a refuge from the sinful and crazy world outside – a home within which all four walls are filled with prayer (by keeping prayer alive daily and unceasingly). I have the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Crucifix hanging on my walls as a reminder of His sacrifice for our sins. It also means having objects or pictures of faith around that each member of the family can look upon and meditate on the Holy Family and God. It means creating a blessed space. Isn’t this extreme? Well the ever changing protocols, restrictions, and lost of freedom upon all of us demands deep faith in God to overcome the fears that Satan rains upon us.
As we head into difficult times in our changing world, I want to share with you the following prayer: The Rosary of Provision. “Anyone who prays this Rosary with faith and devotion will not lack the bread of every day. It is the promise of Jesus of Mercy.”
The rosary of provision (for times of scarcity and famine)
“O infinite Mercy of God, which you provide to men of good will, to those in need, to widows and orphans, covering their material and spiritual needs; Open the pantries of heaven and in the Name of the Father, (blessing) in the Name of the Son, (blessing) and in the name of the Holy Spirit, (blessing) send me the provision I need to accomplish my needs of this day (make request). Creed and Our Father.”
In the big beads say:I can have grace and mercy even in times of need. (Hebrews 4, 16)
In the small beads say:In the name of God One and Triune, Divine Mercy, provide for me. 10 times
(depending on your rosary beads) At the end of each dozen, pray: 1 Our Father and you start as in the beginning.
I can have grace and mercy… and so on until the end of the five dozen.
At the end of the rosary, pray the Psalm 136
God’s Work in Creation and in History
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. 3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
4 who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; 5 who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; 6 who spread out the earth on the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; 7 who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; 8 the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; 9 the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;
10 who struck Egypt through their firstborn, for his steadfast love endures forever; 11 and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures forever; 12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever; 13 who divided the Red Sea[a] in two, for his steadfast love endures forever; 14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures forever; 15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,[b] for his steadfast love endures forever; 16 who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever; 17 who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love endures forever; 18 and killed famous kings, for his steadfast love endures forever; 19 Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his steadfast love endures forever; 20 and Og, king of Bashan, for his steadfast love endures forever; 21 and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever; 22 a heritage to his servant Israel, for his steadfast love endures forever.
23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever; 24 and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever; 25 who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.
26 O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
I want to share his story. It’s the story of Fr. Henry, and his transformation from a hard rocker to a priest whose vocation moved the souls of all who crossed his path.
I was personally moved and felt God was talking to me through this film (just released a today). There were many moments when Fr. Henry spoke to me, especially his love for Jesus and our Blessed Mother, as well as his love of the Eucharist and the real presence of Jesus.
Fr. Henry is also an exemplification of Jesus – giving his ministry and pain all to Christ. His life is a testament to each of us to strive to be holy and saintly.
God has a plan for each of us:
11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 RSVCE
Fr. Henry embraced God with his all. Let us trust in God’s plan for each of us.