The door of the manger is always open

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.”

God Bless 💖

The Greatest Gift

Luke 1.39-45

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.

St. Ignatius Daily Examen

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.

The Whole World Awaits Mary’s Reply

Rejoice! Rejoice! My heart rejoices at Mary’s “YES”!

Mary’s “YES” Luke 1:26-38

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 [1966], 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.

God Bless 💖

Make Haste

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.

See the source image
Carl Heinrich Bloch’s painting – The Meeting of Mary and Elizabeth

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:

The Morning Offering

Weekday Lectionary
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:

EWTN

https://www.ewtn.com/

The Divine Mercy

https://www.thedivinemercy.org/

Bishop Barron (Word on Fire)

https://www.youtube.com/user/wordonfirevideo

Father Mike Schmitz and Ascension Presents

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVdGX3N-WIJ5nUvklBTNhAw

rest and reflection

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.

God Bless 💖

A Light In My Path

“Come to this light, the light of Christ…”

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.

God Bless 💖

I Am Fire

Meet Father Henry Kowalczyk, 1965-2020.

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.

I Am Fire – The Story of Father Frank Kowalczyk, SHM 1965-2020

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.

God Bless🌹

The First Day Of A New Beginning

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:

Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2)
Further Meditation
  1. Hope: Isaiah 11:1-3; John 1:14-18; Matthew 24:30-35; Titus 2:11-14
  2. Prophets: Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:2-7
Our Hope comes from God!
Celebrate With Candles
1st Sunday (Hope / Prophets): Purple candle
2nd Sunday (Peace / Angels): Purple candle
3rd Sunday (Joy / Shepherds): Pink candle
4th Sunday (Love / Magi): Purple candle
Christmas Day (Birth of Jesus!): White candle (the Christ candle)

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.

💖

A Stronger Me

Ephesians 2:4-10

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

A stronger me in my own existence

Above drawing is from my series on “a stronger me in my own existence”.

Meditation:

How did I get here?

I got lost in my journey

cold and dark

my deadpan eyes looked for You.

i was lifeless, but

Your hands reached out for mine and held them

my body felt the tingling flow of your warmth

Your love

You pulled me into your embrace.

Just as i am

dirty and soiled

Your healing touch

my soul refreshed

You showed me a glowing orb

Mesmerized, I held it in my hands

lifting it up high

together in the dark

we walk the road ahead

Thoughts:

The beauty of God’s mercy is in His abundant love for us. Where we were once tainted by our brokenness – our sins, by God’s grace, we have been saved by faith. What a wonderful gift He gives us.