If you have an Advent wreath, you’ll light the first of four candles today. If you don’t have one, you can watch the priest light it just before Holy Mass.
What did Mother Teresa say about Advent? Something beautiful.
“Advent is like Springtime in nature when everything is renewed, fresh and healthy. Advent refreshes us, makes us healthy and able to receive Christ in whatever form He may come to us. At Christmas He comes as a little child, small, helpless and in need of His mother and all that a mother’s love can give. His mother’s humility enabled her to serve. If we really want God to fill us, we must empty ourselves through humility of all the selfishness within us.”
Jesus calls us to invite the needy to our banquet table. His message doesn’t discourage us from welcoming friends, family and wealthy neighbors, but asks that we bear in mind our intentions. It’s against human nature to give lavishly without looking for repayment. But Jesus insists that we give without expectations. How do we do that?
Perhaps we can start by practicing generosity toward those with no means of reciprocation. Consider the young lady in prison without loved ones to send money for an occasional luxury such as a soda or bag of chips. The retired nun on a small income, standing in the grocery checkout line. The father of nine, longing to take all of his children to a ballgame, but can’t afford one ticket. The poor beggar with nothing but her clothes and unassuming nature. We may find it’s easier to give without the prospect of receiving, when we give to such persons.
But something wonderful happens to us when we give of ourselves to the least of these. Jesus rewards us by bringing joy to our hearts. We become the needy ones; constantly looking for opportunities to encourage, until giving becomes a beautiful habit. Jesus’ gifts also begin to increase, as we find ourselves offering our support to the poor and affluent alike, with no expectation of receiving. Ultimately, we find ourselves longing to be like Him in love, and sharing that love with everyone.
So, as we enter this beautiful season of giving, let us be generous with all our brothers and sisters and recognize that our repayment comes from God alone. Our most precious reimbursement . . . His amazing grace.
BOOK REVIEW: Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s, “The Kiss of Jesus – How Mother Teresa and the Saints Helped Me to Discover the Beauty of the Cross”
It takes something greater than guts to give the world carte blanche to look deep into the story of your soul the way Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle does in her latest book, “The Kiss of Jesus.”
Donna-Marie’s one-after-another life combats bring her to the knowledge that her sufferings were permitted by our Lord as opportunities to share in the weight of His Cross. Her acceptance of His lessons in love drew her closer and more trusting of Him with each travail. Unfailingly, she would call upon His name, then use His grace to choose love and charity where there was none.
“The Kiss of Jesus” is really about the extent to which God thirsts for us and how our “yes” brings about the miraculous courage to do His will.
As with each of Donna-Marie’s writings, I highly recommend this can’t-put-it-down read…thank you and God bless you, Donna-Marie!
“I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7).
In His lost sheep parable, Jesus illustrates His concern for the lost and His love for the repentant sinner.
It takes courage to return to the confessional and reveal long-hidden failures to a priest. We draw back when we imagine how ugly the words will sound when they hit the air. But we must remember that when we’re truly sorry for our sins and seek forgiveness, it’s the Good Shepherd who leads us to the confessional, who comforts and forgives us and who dispenses His grace to us through the priest. When the priest says, “I absolve you of your sins,” we’ll know it’s the Good Shepherd Himself, for there’s no mistaking His forgiveness. The sinful secrets we were so frightened to confess are gone forever.
Back in His flock, we are restored. We begin to sense God’s favor upon us. His grace helps us avoid committing the same sins and we learn that we are forgiven only to the extent we forgive others. Jesus, the Good Shepherd has left His Spirit to guide us and will never leave us alone—we have His word, His peace. Our hearts are free!
Today’s Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary takes me to a day long ago just before our class was to let out for Easter break. I knew something special was in store when Sister Jacinta asked us to clear our desks of everything but crayons. Excitedly, I lifted my creaky desktop and stuffed my things inside. Holding the heavy lid open with my elbow, I hunted around for my 8-pack of Crayolas then ran my sleeve over the desktop to clear away all trace of pink eraser dust.
“It’s a contest!” Sister announced in her melodious voice – I was fascinated by her. She was the nicest and prettiest nun in school, and I felt lucky to have her as my second grade teacher. She was soft-hearted and regarded everyone with affection while most of the other nuns were serious – yet, even the most austere of them would speak of Sister Jacinta’s constant inner joy.
When the handouts finally reached the back row where I was seated, I took mine and looked it over, enchanted. It was a drawing of a mother duck boasting an oversized Easter bonnet with her ducklings behind her, running after the Spring flowers that were spilling out of her basket. Sister announced that a special prize would be given for the most beautifully colored picture.
Focused on winning, I colored with passion, doing my utmost to bring the drawing to electrifying life with 8 crayons. At last, we held up our pictures for Sister to see, but I knew my efforts were lost behind the rows of upstretched arms in front of me. Still, I hoisted my masterpiece as high as I could, hopeful she’d catch a glimpse of it.
“ELIZABETH,” she announced my name. “Come up, please.” My heart jumped, then my feet after it as I marched to the front clutching my work of art, thrilled at having been selected. With a smile, Sister reached into her drawer and pulled out a white plastic lace case and gave it to me. I unsnapped it and gasped at the “big girl” rosary inside. I took it out of the case and felt its weight as the pink glass beads and silver crucifix shone under the fluorescent lights. Even then, my young mind knew it had been impossible for her to see and critique my work from such a distance. But with God all things are possible, so perhaps, I considered, this was Our Lady’s doing.
Now I’m certain it was, and my beautiful rosary is still with me today, bringing me special graces and protection as our Lady promised. It’s brought me peace, strengthened my faith, hope and my love for God and others, and that’s why today’s Memorial evokes for me one of the most treasured memories of my life.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou oh prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
In 2010, I wrote this poem for my husband on his birthday and now five years later, it’s time to pull it from the archives. Happy Birthday, Mike…I’m so happy you were born!
“Truly You have formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother’s womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works” (Psalm 139:13-14).
Roars the wind.
Stirred from slumber,
crisp flora swirl
outside our window,
but only I hear their last.
Dark this night.
Gone the moon.
I want to tell you I love you.
But you sleep.
Gone your voice.
Gone the stars.
Where are they now?
They’re in His Hands.
I visited Holy Family Church in Port St. Lucie for Mass last Sunday and was amazed at this life size statue of St. Padre Pio. The sun lighting up his Rosary gave me hope and reminded me that when we pour out our hearts to God, He comforts us, and then we are strengthened. Trust in Him first – He is always our refuge.
“Only in God be at rest, my soul,
for from him comes my hope.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed.
Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him;
God is our refuge!” (Psalm 62:6-7, 9)
Today’s First Reading from St. Paul to the Thessalonians is a verse that is special to my soul. When my Sister-In-Law’s beloved Mother died, she asked that I choose and give one of the Readings at the funeral Mass. While I was honored that she wanted me to participate, I saw it as complete obedience to our Lord – to share the immense hope that can only be found in Him.
As a catechist and disciple of Christ, I am moved by the Holy Spirit to bring this good news to those He puts in front of me. My heart ached for my dear Sister-in-Law and her family, but at the same time was burning to share the hope that’s in our own Resurrection. Yes! Our own Resurrection. I knew that although many there were Christians, they did not know. So I chose this verse by St. Paul because it consoles us with hope. Hope, because like Christ, we will rise.
“We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day. Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity.” (Catechism, Para. 989)
Today the Reading came up in the Liturgy again, and once more it ignited the flame in my heart to share it. But remember, to receive God’s great mercy, we must repent and believe in the Gospel.
Did you know?
“We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words” (1 Thes 4:13-18).
Fr. John Anthony Hardon’s writing on the young rich man is one of the best I’ve read, and since I can’t say it better, I’m sharing it with the hope that you’ll notice that, like Jesus, Fr. Hardon doesn’t sugar coat the Commandments (or any part of the Faith) because as disciples, we aren’t here to win popularity contests...no kidding! We’re here to proclaim the Truth of Christ, which will still be Truth long after we’re gone.
Take it, Fr. Hardon!
“What’s our responsibility? To pray, pray on bended knees, pray for the conversion of these intoxicated people who are living in a worldly dream from which they will awaken the moment their souls leave their bodies. What’s our responsibility? To sacrifice everything in this world no matter how precious that may be in our lives to bring these millions of souls into the treasures of a blessed eternity with God.” – Fr. John Anthony Hardon…FULL ARTICLE HERE…
August 15, 2015 – Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
“With Elizabeth we marvel, ‘And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: ‘Let it be done to me according to your word.’ By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: ‘Thy will be done.’ (Catechism, Para. 2677)”
Can you recall a time when the Mother of our Lord came to you?
For me she came often and by way of my own Mom, who’s always had a remarkable devotion to Our Lady. In fact while growing up, I don’t think a day passed without her proclaiming, “Mother Mary, with your Son, bless us each and every one.” She knew that the demands of raising five children would take the divine help of our Lord, but what she didn’t know was the effect the prayer was having on me, and how her constant reliance upon Mary’s grace would become a stronghold for us both in years to come.
In writing this, I’d spent too much time searching the Catholic websites for the author of that prayer. Finally, I called my Mom to see if it had been written by one of the saints.
“It’s my own prayer,” she shared. “I’ve been saying it as long as I can remember.”
I was surprised and delighted to know that the author of the illustrious prayer was my Mom – a prayer that was answered repeatedly and assisted us in all our needs. Each time the little prayer would pass my Mom’s lips, Mary would show herself a Mother and lead us to her Son. As children, we relied on her deep faith as she abandoned herself to Mary, and we knew for certain our Lord was with us.
Now, the Mother of our Lord visits me regularly through my personal prayers and, without ever having ceased, through the daily, faith-filled petitions of my own devoted Mother.
Mother of Jesus, be a Mother to my Mother. Amen.
When we recite the Holy Rosary, we are reflecting deeply on the lives of Jesus and Mary as written in the Gospels. Therefore, we must clear our minds of all things temporal to hear what God is saying to us as we meditate on His life, His death and His glory.
It’s not always easy to set aside twenty minutes to pray the Rosary, but when we do, God amazes us with His grace; He rewards us for offering our time and energy as sacrifice for Him. If we find it impossible to pray five Mysteries after a tiring day, we may discover that praying with others can be encouraging and uplifting; peaceful and comforting, like a mother singing softly to her child. We’re never alone. Jesus’ Mother is ours; He gave her to us as she stood at the foot of the Cross and watched Him suffer and die. Now, through her historical messages to the world, she has taught us how to know Her Son through the events of His life and honor Him by imitating His virtues found in each of the Mysteries she asks us to pray daily.
Reciting the Rosary not only teaches, it gives us a sweet taste of Heaven as we begin to fall in love with our Savior and grow in grace and holiness. The more wisdom and understanding we receive, the more joyful we become and the brighter our lights shine.
I invite you to add a new method of prayer to yours by giving your weariness to Our Lady and consider praying the Rosary along with me. In no time you’ll discover how much you are loved by God, who is Love and Truth itself. Here’s the link to the videos on my new Facebook page, Catechist Daily.
[Originally published at Amazing Catechists.]
How can we expect to fall in love with Jesus if we don’t read His Word?
Today Jesus teaches that if we cling to this world, we’ll lose everything at the moment of our death. But if we live our earthly lives serving Him, the Father will honor us. The best part of this Gospel is Jesus’ own words, “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be” (John 12:26).
When I first began reading Holy Scripture, my heart would beat a little faster because it recognized the One it longed for – Jesus. But I was afraid to follow Him completely because of the unknown. Yet whenever I would open His Word, He would remind me: “Do not be afraid.”
As I write this years later, I am no longer afraid. I am serving Him, thus the Father honors me. And I follow Him at each moment, even when my cross is heavy, because I know He is with me, “…where I am, there also will my servant be” (John 12:26).
How beautiful it is to love Him. How beautiful it is to be His servant.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me” (John 12:24-26).
” The decree of the Lord is trustworthy; giving Wisdom to the simple” (Psalm 19:8).
i wish for
a flower in my vase,
a penny in my jar,
a smile in my heart,
for my soul.
A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:
“He spoke to them at length in parables” (Matthew 13:3).
The teaching technique Jesus used was established by His Father, who gave Jesus everything. Stories or parables were the method God chose to reveal the unseen to us through His Son. This way, we identify with what’s familiar to us so we can see more clearly the mysteries of Heaven. But before we can understand anything, we must do what Jesus taught those gathered around Him in today’s parable of the sower: listen.
In this story, Jesus shows a relationship between us and soil. Like soil, we become richer by what God reveals to us. The more we listen, the more He reveals—the richer we become, and we begin to produce fruit that brings joy to both God and us. But if we only listen for awhile and then allow ourselves to be drawn in by earthly pleasures, we’ll resemble the first three kinds of soil in the parable, and wither for lack of roots. If we don’t listen at all and let sin take over like weeds, God’s Truth gets choked out altogether and we stop growing. Jesus is teaching us how to develop and deepen our relationship with Him so we won’t be like the shallow or unfertile soil where nothing ever grows.
Certainly, our objective is devotion to God and love of neighbor. Jesus only uses images from our everyday life such as seed and soil to help us understand and become rich in the ways of Heaven, not in the ways of this world. When we cultivate our own will, Jesus, the Master Sower will take care of tending our minds and hearts. e.
“Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus…were the first to encounter the Risen One. Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves. They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers, and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!'” (Catechism, Para. 641)
[Today’s morning walk photos]
Today is the Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
“Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: “The world was made for the glory of God.” St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things “not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it,” for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: “Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand.” – Catechism, Para. 293
“If there is anyone who is not enlightened by this sublime magnificence of created things, he is blind. If there is anyone who, seeing all these works of God, does not praise Him, he is dumb; if there is anyone who, from so many signs, cannot perceive God, that man is foolish.” – St. Bonaventure
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
Oh good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds, hide me.
Separated from You, may I never be.
From the evil one, protect me.
At the hour of my death, call me.
Close to you, bid me.
So that with your angels and saints I may be praising You forever and ever, Amen.
A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:
“What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).
I just sat down with a cup of tea to write this meditation when I noticed a message on the tea bag label: “Your choices will change the world.”
In his mission to the ends of the earth, St. Paul frequently made choices that changed the world around him and that continue to change our world today. In fact, in today’s First Reading in Acts, I can count five occasions where St. Paul chose to stay faithful to his mission, despite the bleak conditions around him.
Instead of giving in to hopelessness or escaping when he had the chance, St. Paul used his grim prison experience to advance his mission. He stayed behind, not only to keep the jailer from taking his own life, but to help influence the jailer’s eternal life, with the Word of God and the Sacrament of Baptism. St. Paul didn’t think twice about his own needs because of his resolve to preach the Gospel to every soul in need of healing.
God rescued St. Paul time and time again simply because he chose to be faithful in the face of his physical and emotional sufferings. This must be our choice as well, for we find favor with God when, instead of running away or despairing in our own trials, we go on with a hopeful approach. Like St. Paul who, after being stripped, beaten and imprisoned, chose to pray and sing hymns to God while staked to his prison cell, we must trust that when we call to the Lord, He will answer us and build up strength within us.
The Lord completes what He has done for us through our own mission to the world. He saves us so that we too may share the message St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
This verse in the Book of Acts brings an image to my mind of a street activist holding a sign with these words scrawled across it — a scenario many would turn away from. But those who heard St. Peter’s speech at Pentecost were “cut to the heart by it,” and that day, three thousand were baptized and received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
How many of us were “cut to the heart” these past days of Lent and now seek forgiveness for our part in Christ’s death? Every one of us who has heard St. Peter’s message must also turn away from sin and allow the Holy Spirit to change us.
Here’s what the Catechism tells us about St. Peter’s message:
“Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved ‘the world wrong about sin,’ (cf John 19:21) i.e., proved that the world has not believed in Him whom the Father has sent. But this same Spirit who brings sin to light is also the Consoler who gives the human heart grace for repentance and conversion.” (Catechism, Paragraph 1433)
Indeed, we must save ourselves from this corrupt generation! Repentance points us toward the goodness in our lives – it points us to God. Since Jesus Himself said that baptism is necessary for our salvation, we too must become sharers in His mission and stand up for St. Peter’s message – it doesn’t matter where or how we do it, but it matters that we do.
“Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you” (Matthew 7:7).
If you’ve ever experienced the power of a novena, you can truly understand these words of Jesus told by St. Matthew in today’s Gospel .
Novenas are often discovered out of despair, when your own attempts for a solution have failed. You discover one that fits your situation and you start praying like mad, knowing there will be an answer. Deep inside we all have something called faith, that awakens when called upon.
At first it seems you are praying alone. Determined to find a happy ending to your story, you persist. Then God takes over and your days become filled with Him, into the night. You recognize this as grace because you’ve never been able to sustain such prayer on your own. That combination of desperation and a little faith begin working a small miracle in your soul.
When you call on your loving Father with all your heart, as the anguished Queen Esther did in today’s First Reading, the fire of the Holy Spirit speaks to you with His presence, saying, “You have found me because you looked for me in earnest. Now I will turn your mourning into gladness, your sorrow into wholeness” (Esther C:23-25).
Peace begins, as your novena transforms itself from a cry of distress into a remembrance of your first encounter with the divine.
Everyone is invited to knock, not just the inconsolable. But when the door opens and He calls you by name, you must enter. Then you will discover the enormous love of Jesus Christ . . .
“Lord, on the day I called for help, You answered me” (Psalm 138).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus Himself teaches us how to ask not only for the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence in which they should be desired.
When we say the first petition, “Hallowed be Your name,” we’re asking the Father that His name be made holy in us so that we may be made holy before Him through our actions. God’s name is blessed when we strive to live in a way that’s pleasing to Him, but His name is cursed when we live wickedly. We’re asking then that, just as the name of God is holy, we may obtain His holiness in our souls.
Once we begin every prayer with this in mind, we feel a sting whenever we hear the holy name of God being abused with casual indifference. That’s why we don’t say hallowed be Your name in us, but we ask that His name be hallowed in everyone.
Jesus not only gives us the words to the most perfect of prayers, He gives us His spirit. So when we begin the Lord’s prayer the way He Himself did, we’re preparing ourselves to ask much more of our Father, and we can be certain that in His generosity, He will give it.
“When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret” (Matthew 6:6).
A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:
Ash Wednesday allows us to practice what Jesus taught as we observe this first day of Lent. We fast and receive God’s blessing with ashes on our foreheads to express our sorrow for offending Him. Today’s Gospel reading invites us to do this with sincerity, asking our Father for forgiveness openly and honestly, but from the inner rooms of our hearts.
When Jesus taught His disciples how to fast, pray and practice good deeds in a manner most pleasing to our Father, He said they shouldn’t act like the hypocrites who made sure others saw them, so as to win their praise. The hypocrites received the praise they pined for, but that was it for them, Jesus warned, “They have received their reward.”
When the praise of man is our only incentive to do good, then the praise of man is all we’ll get. On the other hand, if our acts are done from the heart with the intent that only our Father see them, a most excellent reward comes to us, “and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” What we receive from delighting our Father is lasting. Our recompense begins immediately with His grace and continues on for eternity—what could be better?
Not everyone can distinguish sincerity, but our Heavenly Father sees everything. Let us humbly speak with faith to the One who knows of our hunger, hears our every prayer, sees our every deed, forgives us of everything and rewards us greatly.
A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:
“Why does this generation seek a sign?” (Mark 8:12).
“Why?” we answer back. Why should we believe in Your kindness when You allow the world to suffer?
Lent begins this week, and despite the mix of heartache and joy that will accompany the faithful, they’ll hold tightly to their belief without asking God why He allows suffering – especially His Son’s. They’ll accept as true what they cannot see, cannot touch – cannot fully comprehend.
Faith is a supernatural gift from God to us, but in the next forty days, many will doubt because they won’t receive mighty wonders and signs, despite their fasting and prayers. How God reveals Himself to us is uniquely ours and is a part of His gift. Our gift back to Him is our complete trust in His ways, whether we receive a wondrous sign or not. In return, He deepens our faith with understanding and we begin to receive all we ask for because we stop asking with misgivings but with the Wisdom He so faithfully gives us.
“Whoever remains in love remains in God and God in Him” (1 John 4:16).
Once we get to know God, we spend more of our time in awe of Him, adoring Him, talking to Him, crying to Him—loving Him. But do we ever think about how this constant worship is delighting Him?
Continuously holding God in the highest regard pleases Him and draws Him near to us as St. John points out in today’s First Reading. When we devote ourselves in this way, we remain in His love. Imagine God being impassioned to love us back so fervently, and us filling the same, exclusive place in His heart!
The meaning in St. John’s message doesn’t stop there. He describes how, when we keep on loving God, loving our neighbor will come as naturally as God loving us. “If we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us” (1 John 4:12).
St. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, understood love—how to love and be loved, because he knew God who “is love.” That’s why his words are so passionate. When we too come to know how much God loves us, our hearts will grow for Him—and His for us!
Indeed, God loves us anyway, but St. John makes it clear that love works both ways.
A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:
“You did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time” (Luke 1:20).
Faith assures us that anything is possible with God, and The Catechism teaches us that,
“God, who created everything also rules everything and can do everything. God’s power is loving, for He is our Father, and mysterious, for only faith can discern it when it is made perfect in weakness.” (Catechism, Para. 268)
But faith doesn’t always come easy, as Zechariah discovered. He and Elizabeth had spent their lives childless; Elizabeth was barren and now they were old, so any hope of a child had gone forever and their prayers remained unanswered.
Or so it seemed.
A message of incredible hope was delivered to Zechariah by the Angel Gabriel, “Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.” But Zechariah didn’t believe, and his doubt became a lesson in faith after he was made speechless.
In time, Zechariah accepted the Angel’s message as truth and God’s promise was fulfilled. Zechariah was given a son who was great and whose name would restore his speech and change his and Elizabeth’s lives, and the lives of the children of Israel forever!
How often do we pray for what we think is impossible then doubt we’ll ever receive an answer, especially one as extraordinary as Zechariah’s? We lean toward uncertainty when our situation seems hopeless—but it’s only hopeless to us. What seemed hopeless to Zechariah was accomplished with the help of an angel, God’s grace and Zechariah’s ultimate trust and faith.
Like Zechariah, we must trust in God’s loving power and believe that He will exceed our expectations in time. Zechariah’s muteness taught us that our prayers will only be answered in fullness when we believe.
“If the Lord is our joy, our joy cannot be taken away. It cannot be lost…Joy had come to the world, and it had come to stay.” – Dr. Scott Hahn
As I turned the pages of Dr. Scott Hahn’s “Joy to the World” the light of understanding God gave each of us sparked, and soon I was experiencing the instilling gifts of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who has prayed for such gifts knows how joyful it can be when they appear…Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge – who knew this book of inspiring meditations would give such a comprehensive glimpse into the story of Christ’s birth.
Among Dr. Hahn’s scholarly reads, I was most taken with “Joy to the World,” because his usual preciseness is mingled with such childlike wonder as he takes us through this Holy season with Sacred Scripture in one hand and the Church’s life giving Tradition in the other. Already in the first chapter I was heartened when he “sees” the radiance of the teenaged Virgin Mary on his young daughter’s face during his family’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
In the end, we come to understand why he believes this wonder is the key to the New Evangelization, “Christmas sets us apart. Christmas calls us to share in divine love and then to share that love with an unbelieving world…People find it irresistible and irrefutable.”
So this year as we light the first candle on our Advent wreaths, we can do it with a deeper understanding of the events surrounding the reason for this miraculous season of God’s saving love. The Truth is here, but like the Magi, we must seek it. The Truth is Christ, and like the star, “Joy to the World” helps us find Him.
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Read more reviews at Dr. Hahn’s “Joy to the World” Blog Tour with Image Books, going on now through December 11!