- Epiphany Prayer (by praying hands near end)
- Sacred Art for Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Diocesan News and BEYOND)
- 10 Tips for a Better New Year's Resolution (Helpful Hints for Life)
Catholic Good News
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
The New Year and The Epiphany of our Lord
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Happy New Year!
This Merry Christmas Season has brought us into a Happy New Year! NOW is the time to lay to rest the old year with all its joys and sorrows, disappointments and surprises. We do this best if we entrust it and ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Then we need to beg of Jesus through Mary, loved by St. Joseph for all the graces we need for this new year of 2023.
Also, this coming Sunday we will celebrate The Epiphany of Our Lord. The “Magi from the east” show us that this baby is Christ the Lord as they do Him homage and bring Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. His kingly office is represented by gold, His divinity by frankincense, and His manhood by myrrh. Thus, the Magi offered him frankincense as their God; gold as their king; and myrrh as their fellow man, subject to suffering and death. "...King and God and Sacrifice..."
Notice in this coming Sunday’s readings that the Magi are not named, but their gifts to Jesus are named. What gifts do you and I bring to baby Jesus this year?
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This week’s Catholic weekly is a little different. Next e-weekly will be back to normal.
21. What is the importance of the Old Testament for Christians? (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 121-123)
a) it is fulfilled in the New Testament
b) it was written to prepare us for Jesus Christ
c) all of the books of the Old Testament are divinely inspired
d) all of the above
22. What importance does the New Testament have for Christians? (CCC 124-127, 139)
a) it is more important than the Old Testament
b) it conveys to us the ultimate truth of divine Revelation
c) it is the only part of the Bible that tells us about Jesus
d) it conveys to us the most important things to remember
23. What is the unity that exists between the Old and the New Testaments? (CCC 128-130, 140)
a) there is no clear unity between the Old and the New
b) they are two options and hopefully people will believe at least one
c) the Old prepares for the New and New fulfills the Old
d) they are one because some of the same people are found in both
24. What role does Sacred Scripture play in the life of the Church? (CCC 131-133, 141-142)
a) “ignorance of Scripture, is ignorance of Christ”
b) it is the most important
c) it is meant to give the big picture of God
d) it gives much support, but is not that necessary (Answers below at end)
The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi's coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that "the full number of the nations" now takes its "place in the family of the patriarchs", and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made "worthy of the heritage of Israel"). -Catechism of the Catholic Church #528
2. Be specific. Don't use generalities. They don't work. For example, if you need to be more humble, just saying "I am going to be more humble," is useless. You need to zero in on one situation where you need to practice humility and resolve to improve in that one situation.
3. Be simple. Don't make it complicated. Focus on something you can see and measure easily and that does not overwhelm you each time you try to obtain it. Otherwise, you will become distracted and your energy will be dispersed and misdirected.
4. Be reasonable. Don't try to do too much at once. You won't become a saint in one day. Remember: you have one MAJOR point upon which is hinged your entire fidelity to God and His Holy Laws. This is a called your primordial light. Find out and work on improving it. Everything else will improve if you improve on that one major point.
5. Be consistent. It's far better to do something small everyday to improve on that one key point in your soul than to make a big resolution that you cannot keep for more than a week or two. Slow and steady wins the race!
6. Be humble. Recognize that you cannot do any good action which has value in the supernatural order without God's grace and the intercessory help of the Blessed Mother. Beg God's grace through Our Lady's intercession constantly in all your thoughts, desires and actions
7. Be disinterested. Remember that God wants us to defend His rights and interests, and to share His thoughts and ways. And therefore, to focus on things, happening and events that are very close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that are not necessarily linked to our own personal interests.
8. Write it down. It's important to write down your resolution so you can refer back to it often during the year. Also, by writing it down, you will be able to review it when the year is over, and to evaluate your progress since the time the resolution was made.
9. Public expressions of faith. Don't hide your faith. That's just what the devil wants. He knows when you express your faith publicly, others see you and are encouraged to follow your good example. Say grace openly and proudly before meals in a restaurant so people can see. You'll be surprised with the good reactions you will get.
10. Devotion to Our Lady. Have more devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Devotion to the Mother of God is a panacea. Saint Louis de Montfort said that devotion to Holy Mary is the easiest, safest, fastest, most secure, and surest path to Jesus and to our own salvation. If you can do nothing else, resolve to say the Rosary everyday. Saint Louis de Montfort wrote:
"If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins 'you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.' Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if-- and mark well what I say-- if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins."
Further Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
- solemnity observed in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles (traditionally observed on January 6 but now on the second Sunday in the Christmas Season)
Solemnity (from Latin sollemnis “regularly appointed”)
-highest rank of liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church;
-a marked feast day of great importance and significance
The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!
-Catechism of the Catholic Church #525
Catholics see the world as a marriage of the spiritual and material, not a divorce of these two realties. The very title of Mary as “Mother of God” shows the intrinsic connection between the material and spiritual realms. Let’s consider what this means. First, notice that the Second Person of the Trinity — eternal, infinite, omnipotent — becomes incarnate through a human mother! Second, “Mother of God” means that humanity and divinity, the material and the spiritual, earth and heaven, exist inseparably from the point of the incarnation of Jesus in the womb of Mary, his human mother.
This solemnity has had other names in the Church’s history, all of which likewise emphasize the earthiness of this fundamental tenet of the faith. The Roman Missal still refers to this day as “The Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord.” Aside from Easter, Christmas is the foremost mystery of our faith. Since the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter cannot be contained within a twenty-four-hour period (which is why we celebrate it for eight days during the Octave of Easter, as well as every Sunday), the celebration of Christmas lasts eight days. The meaning of this solemnity, then, is the same as that of Christmas: “The Word became flesh, and we have seen his glory.” In Jesus, our faith in God is tangible; it is no longer abstract.
Another of this day’s traditional titles, “The Circumcision of Our Lord,” similarly expresses the human dimension of our faith. The Gospel reading on this day recounts the visit of the shepherds to the Holy Family after the birth of Jesus, the same story that the Church recounts at Christmas Mass at Dawn. But today, the Church concludes the reading with this extra detail: “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21). From the time of Abraham, every male child was circumcised on the eighth day as a sign of being a part of the covenant with God (see Genesis 17:9-14). The Lord now has a mother, a body, a human name, and — as signaled by his circumcision — physical pain. This first day of the civic calendar announces through the circumcision of Jesus that he is among us, one of us, suffering with us, and beginning the year with us.
Still another connection between our eternal, supernatural religion and our temporal, mundane life is that this solemnity coincides with the first day of the secular year. This first day of the year had been celebrated in Rome prior to Christ’s coming. Janus, the two-faced Roman god of beginnings and endings, is where the name “January” for the first month of the year is derived. With the coming of Jesus — the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of all time — Janus finds his true bearings. Though the texts and prayers of this day’s liturgies do not acknowledge the start of the civil year (the Church, after all, has already begun its new liturgical year with the start of Advent some weeks before), marking its first day helps the Church on earth to thank God for blessings received over the past year and ask for his ongoing care in the year ahead.
But none of these human dimensions of our faith that this day expresses — its connection to Christmas, to Jesus’ human body, to his entering into time itself — would have been possible without Mary agreeing to become the Mother of God. It is thus this dimension of the day that rises to the top.
After all, the very face of Jesus comes from his mother Mary. Indeed, he would have physically resembled her to some extent — he may have had her eyes, her expressions, her smile. Through this face, God now speaks: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son” (verse for the Gospel acclamation). We read in the Old Testament about how God’s people, when they heard the thunderous voice of the Lord, were afraid and sent Moses to hear God in their stead (see Exodus 20:18-19; and Deuteronomy 5:22-28; 18:16–18). At the Incarnation, the same God speaks in a different way, a human way, through Jesus’ voice and face, given him by the holy Mother of God, Mary.
And it is with this body — one like yours and mine — that this same voice can praise and adore the Father in our name and can offer his body and soul to him. As St. Athanasius explains in the Office of Readings for this day, the Word “had to be like his brothers in all things. He had then to take a body like ours. This explains the fact of Mary’s presence: She is to provide him with a body of his own, to be offered for our sake. … What was born of Mary was therefore human by nature … and the body of the Lord was a true body: It was a true body because it was the same as ours.”
Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, proclaims the accessibility of our Catholic faith — it is human, incarnate, tangible — even as it calls us to the higher things — divinity, heaven, and glory — in the new year.
by ChurchPOP Editor - Dec 28
On December 25, 2013, the St. Hyacinth’s Shrine in Legnica, Poland celebrated Christmas Mass.
During communion, a host fell to the floor. Following the Church’s instructions to respect sacred species, the priest placed the Eucharist in a container of holy water and kept it in the tabernacle.
However, two weeks later, the priest discovered that the host turned red. He told the bishop and a commission was established to observe the phenomenon.
Here’s a photo of the red host below:
“In the histopathological image, fragments of tissue were found, which contained fragmented particles of striated muscle tissue. The whole image (…) is very similar to that of a cardiac muscle (…) that shows changes typical of an agony. DNA shows that the tissue is of human origin ” .
It was a Christmas miracle!
In 2020, Fr. Andrzej Ziombra said that “my task was to collect information on miraculous cures, conversions or themes related to the pilgrimage movement, and it is already clear that there are miraculous conversions, miraculous cures…”.
“There is a person in our parish who has been hostile to the Church all his life and has even fought against it. Who also committed several crimes.
“In an inexplicable and extraordinary way, God converted him, and after 50 years, he confessed and received his First Communion. And in fact, he radically changed his life, his attitude towards God, and became a very fervent believer,” Fr. Andrzej said.
This is just one of many conversion stories resulting from this Christmas Eucharistic miracle.
“All of this is also a sign to me–a confirmation that God has sent this impulse to me all over the world, so that the whole world will meditate on the Eucharistic miracle in Legnica and ask, ‘What will God say to me through this sign?'” Fr. Andrzej concluded.
This Eucharistic miracle of Christmas 2013 seems to bring together three feats that Jesus accomplished for our salvation: a God incarnate and born as a little baby, a God who gives himself for us in the sacrifice of the Cross, and a God always waiting for us in the Eucharist.
Vatican City, Jan 1, 2022 / 09:35 am
On New Year’s Day, Pope Francis encouraged people to place their lives under the protection of Mary, the Mother of God.
“The new year begins under the sign of the Holy Mother of God, under the sign of the Mother. A mother’s gaze is the path to rebirth and growth. We need mothers, women who look at the world not to exploit it, but so that it can have life,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Basilica on January 1.
“At the beginning of the New Year, then, let us place ourselves under the protection of this woman, the Mother of God, who is also our mother. May she help us to keep and ponder all things, unafraid of trials and with the joyful certainty that the Lord is faithful and can transform every cross into a resurrection,” the pope said.
Pope Francis’ first public act of 2022 was to offer Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God.
In his homily, the pope said that the Virgin Mary teaches us how to “keep and to ponder,” to reflect upon and accept life as it comes, in times of both joy and suffering.
“Mary’s pensiveness … is the expression of a mature, adult faith, not a faith of beginners. Not a newborn faith, it is rather a faith that now gives birth,” he said.
“For spiritual fruitfulness is born of trials and testing. From the quiet of Nazareth and from the triumphant promises received by the Angel – the beginnings – Mary now finds herself in the dark stable of Bethlehem. Yet that is where she gives God to the world.”
The pope asked people to reflect on how Mary had to endure “the scandal of the manger.”
“How can she hold together the throne of a king and the lowly manger? How can she reconcile the glory of the Most High and the bitter poverty of a stable? Let us think of the distress of the Mother of God. What can be more painful for a mother than to see her child suffering poverty? It is troubling indeed,” he said.
“We would not blame Mary, were she to complain of those unexpected troubles. Yet she does not lose heart. She does not complain, but keeps silent. Rather than complain, she chooses a different part: For her part, the Gospel tells us, Mary ‘kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.’”
Pope Francis encouraged people to have the same attitude of Mary when faced with unexpected problems or troubling situations.
“She shows us that it is necessary: it is the narrow path to achieve the goal, the cross, without which there can be no resurrection. Like the pangs of childbirth, it begets a more mature faith,” he said.
After offering Mass, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus at noon from the window of the Apostolic Palace with a crowd gathered below in St. Peter’s Square.
“Happy New Year! Let us begin the new year by entrusting it to Mary, the Mother of God,” he said.
“The new year begins with God who, in the arms of his mother and lying in a manger, gives us courage with tenderness. We need this encouragement. We are still living in uncertain and difficult times due to the pandemic,” the pope said.
“Many are frightened about the future and burdened by social problems, personal problems, dangers stemming from the ecological crisis, injustices and by global economic imbalances. Looking at Mary with her Son in her arms, I think of young mothers and their children fleeing wars and famine, or waiting in refugee camps. There are so many of them.”
Pope Francis said that the thought of Mary holding Jesus in the stable is a reminder that “the world can change and everyone’s life can improve only if we make ourselves available to others.”
2 JanuaryWhen challenged, it is right to turn to Mary, Our Mother, for help, Pope Francis said on New Year’s Day, because Our Lady sees everyone as beloved children of God and helps others to see and to love in the same way.
“Especially in times of need, when we are entangled in life’s knots, we rightly lift our eyes to Our Lady,” the pope said Jan. 1. “Yet first, we should let ourselves be gazed upon by Our Lady.”
“This maternal gaze, which instils confidence and trust, helps us to grow in faith,” he continued. “Her maternal gaze helps us see ourselves as beloved children in God’s faithful people, and to love one another regardless of our individual limitations and approaches.”
In a homily for Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope reflected on the maternal role of the Blessed Virgin of Mary, who, he said, gazing on God’s people, sees children, not sinners.
“Our Lady keeps us rooted in the Church, where unity counts more than diversity; she encourages us to care for one another,” he stated, noting that her tender gaze can people from falling into tepidity.
“When faith makes a place for the Mother of God, we never lose sight of the center: The Lord, for Mary never points to herself but to Jesus; and our brothers and sisters, for Mary is mother,” he said.
He explained that not only is “the Mother” important, but also all of the mothers in the world, because “the human family is built upon mothers” and a world without their maternal tenderness may be rich materially, “but poor where the future is concerned. Mother of God, teach us to see life as you do.”
“We need to learn from mothers that heroism is shown in self-giving, strength in compassion, wisdom in meekness,” he urged. “God himself needed a Mother: how much more so do we!”
As mothers hold the hands of their little children to show them the way and to keep them from harm, “let us allow ourselves to be taken by the hand,” he said. “Mary, take us by the hand.”
Pope Francis said that “God-with-us, Emmanuel, loves us despite our mistakes, our sins, and the way we treat our world. God believes in mankind, because its first and preeminent member is his own Mother.”
Today, he continued, is a day “to be amazed by the Mother of God. God appears as a little child, held in the arms of a woman who feeds her Creator… That is the mystery we celebrate today, which gives rise to boundless amazement: God has become one with humanity forever.”
Following Mass, Pope Francis led around 40,000 people in praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. In his message, he explained that “it is God’s blessing that gives substance to all the good wishes that are exchanged” during the days of Christmas and New Year’s.
And today, as the Church celebrates Mary, Mother of God, “Our Lady blesses us all, everyone,” he continued. “She blesses the path of every man and every woman in this year that begins, and that will be good just as everyone has received the goodness of God that Jesus came to bring into the world.”
Francis also recalled the day’s celebration of the 52nd World Day of Peace, with the theme: Good politics is at the service of peace.
“We do not think that politics is reserved only for rulers: we are all responsible for the life of the ‘city,’ of the common good,” he noted, “and politics too is good to the extent that each one plays his part in the service of peace.”
Concluding, the pope prayed that “through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Lord will allow us to be artisans of peace – this begins at home, in the family: artisans of peace – every day of the new year.”
By Hannah Brockhaus
Vatican City, Jan 1 (EWTN News/CNA) -
At the start of the new year, Pope Francis said that having a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary isn’t just something that is nice or good to do, but is an obligation in the life of a Christian.
“Devotion to Mary is not spiritual etiquette; it is a requirement of the Christian life,” the Pope said Jan. 1. “The gift of the Mother, the gift of every mother and every woman, is most precious for the Church, for she too is mother and woman.”
“If our faith is not to be reduced merely to an idea or a doctrine, all of us need a mother’s heart, one which knows how to keep the tender love of God and to feel the heartbeat of all around us.”
Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, reflecting on the line in Luke’s Gospel that says, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
He pointed out that in the Gospel account of Christmas, Mary does not speak a single word, simply keeping everything in her heart, pondering it.
What we learn from her silence, he said, is that in quiet is how we “keep” ourselves, how we “keep” our soul free from being corroded by consumerism, “the blare of commercials, the stream of empty words and the overpowering waves of empty chatter and loud shouting.”
“We need to remain silent as we gaze upon the crib. Pondering the crib, we discover anew that we are loved; we savor the real meaning of life,” he continued.
“As we look on in silence, we let Jesus speak to our heart. His lowliness lays low our pride; his poverty challenges our outward display; his tender love touches our hardened hearts.”
This is Mary’s “secret,” he said, and we should seek to imitate her in this way. Not closing our hearts out of fear or distress, but handing everything over to God, dwelling on it with Him.
Francis noted that as we start a new year, it is a good time for Christians to also start anew, leaving behind past burdens and baggage and starting over from what really matters. And “today,” the Pope said, “we have before us the point of departure: the Mother of God.”
“For Mary is exactly what God wants us to be, what he wants his Church to be: A Mother who is tender and lowly, poor in material goods and rich in love, free of sin and united to Jesus, keeping God in our hearts and our neighbor in our lives.”
“Today’s feast tells us that if we want to go forward, we need to turn back: to begin anew from the crib, from the Mother who holds God in her arms,” he stated.
Following the Mass, Pope Francis led the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. In his message before the prayer, he explained how Mary performs a very special function, as intercessor between her Son Jesus and anyone who is suffering.
“She intercedes, aware that as a mother she can, indeed, must, make present to the Son the needs of men, especially the weakest and most disadvantaged.”
Today we also celebrate the World Day of Peace, the Pope said, explaining that this year’s theme of “Migrants and refugees: Men and women seeking peace,” refers precisely to the weakest and most disadvantaged among us.
“We do not extinguish hope in their hearts; we do not stifle their expectations of peace!” he said, and “may the Lord grant us to work in this new year with generosity to create a more supportive and welcoming world.”
Pope Francis to Families: Forgive Each Other and Journey Together Towards God
Vatican City, Dec 27 (EWTN News/CNA) - Pope Francis on the Feast of the Holy Family reflected on the power of forgiveness in families and compared everyday family life to an ongoing pilgrimage of prayer and love.
“How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal! We know that we have a road to travel together; a road along which we encounter difficulties but also enjoy moments of joy and consolation,” the Pope said Dec. 27 in his morning homily at St. Peter’s Basilica.
“A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience.”
“Let us not lose confidence in the family!” he said. “It is beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another, and hide nothing. Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness.”
The Pope connected the Feast of the Holy Family to the Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy.
“In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness,” he said. “Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them. How miserable we would be if God did not forgive us! Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we are certain that we are understood and supported, whatever the mistakes we make.”
Pope Francis encouraged the congregation in St. Peter’s Square to share moments of family prayer.
“What can be more beautiful than for a father and mother to bless their children at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the sign of the cross, as they did on the day of their baptism?” he said. “Is this not the simplest prayer which parents can offer for their children?”
It is also important for families to join in a brief prayer before meals “in order to thank the Lord for these gifts and to learn how to share what we have received with those in greater need.”
“These are all little gestures, yet they point to the great formative role played by the family in the pilgrimage of everyday life,” he said.
Pope Francis said it is comforting to think of Mary and Joseph teaching Jesus how to pray.
“And it is comforting also to know that throughout the day they would pray together, and then go each Sabbath to the synagogue to listen to readings from the Law and the Prophets, and to praise the Lord with the assembly.”
He described family life as “a series of pilgrimages, both small and big.”
The Pope reflected on the Sunday reading from the Gospel of Luke in which a young Jesus stayed in Jerusalem in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph when they could not find him.
“For this little ‘escapade,’ Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents,” the Pope suggested. “The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it.”
He said that Mary’s question to Jesus, “why have you treated us like this?” contains “a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt.” The Pope that Jesus “surely remained close” to Mary and Joseph as a sign of his “complete affection and obedience.”
“Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience,” Pope Francis said.
“To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission--the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life - which the world and the Church need, now more than ever.”
Later on Sunday in his Angelus remarks to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said that the example and witness of the Holy Family provides valuable guidance for life. In the Holy Family, families can find “strength and wisdom for the journey of every day.”
“Our Lady and Saint Joseph teach us to welcome children as a gift from God, to get them and rear them, cooperating in a wonderful way with the Creator’s work and giving to the world, in every child, a new smile.”
He stressed the virtues of love, tenderness, mutual respect, mutual understanding, forgiveness and joy.
After the Angelus he voiced his thoughts for the many Cuban migrants stranded on the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border. He said many of them are human trafficking victims. He invited the region’s countries to take “all necessary efforts” to resolve the humanitarian crisis.
'Jesus, Mary, and Our Mother, the Church are Inseparable,' Pope Says
Vatican City, Jan 1 (EWTN News/CNA) - In his homily on New Year’s Day, Pope Francis said that Jesus and his mother Mary are “inseparable,” just like Jesus and the Church, who is the mother of all humanity that guides her children to God.
“To separate Jesus from the Church would introduce an ‘absurd dichotomy,’” the Pope told Mass attendees who were present in St. Peter’s Basilica for his Jan. 1 Mass celebrating the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.
“(The Church) is like a mother who tenderly holds Jesus and gives him to everyone with joy and generosity…Without the Church, Jesus Christ ends up as an idea, a moral teaching, a feeling,” he said.
Without the Church and her guidance, our relationship with Christ “would be at the mercy of our imagination, our interpretations, our moods,” the Roman Pontiff continued.
It is not possible to understand the salvation offered by Jesus without also appreciating the motherhood of the Church, he explained, adding that it is also impossible to love and belong to Christ without loving and belonging to the Church, because the Church is God’s family who brings Christ to humanity.
“Our faith is not an abstract doctrine or philosophy, but a vital and full relationship with a person: Jesus Christ” who lives among us and can be encountered inside the Church through her sacraments, Pope Francis explained.
“No manifestation of Christ, even the most mystical, can ever be detached from the flesh and blood of the Church, from the historical concreteness of the Body of Christ.”
In his reflections, Pope Francis noted how the Church, in celebrating the solemnity of Mary as the Mother of God, reminds us that she, more than anyone else, has received the Lord’s blessing by giving a human face to the eternal God.
At Jesus’ birth, he and his mother Mary “were together, just as they were together at Calvary, because Christ and his mother are inseparable: there is a very close relationship between them, as there is between every child and his or her mother,” the Pope observed.
Mary is capable of being so close to her son due to the knowledge of heart and faith that she received from him, as well as her experience of motherhood and her openness to allowing God to enter into her own plans, the pontiff noted.
“She is the believer capable of perceiving in the gift of her Son the coming of that fullness of time…that is why Jesus cannot be understood without his Mother,” he said, reiterating that it is not possible to understand Jesus without the Church either, “because the Church and Mary always go together.”
By giving us Jesus, the Church offers humanity the fullness of God’s eternal blessing, he said, noting that Mary is the “first and most perfect” disciple of Christ, and is the one who opens the path to receive the Church’s motherhood.
Mary is the model of the pilgrim Church and is the one who sustains the Church in her maternal mission, he observed, noting that her “tactful witness” has accompanied the Church since its beginnings.
“She, the Mother of God, is also the Mother of the Church, and through the Church, the mother of all men and women, and of every people,” the pontiff said, and prayed that Mary would obtain the Lord’s blessing for all of humanity.
Pope Francis then noted how Jan. 1, in addition to the Marian solemnity, also marks the World Day of Peace, which this year holds the theme: “No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters.”
He prayed that the Lord would generate peace in individual hearts, within families and among nations, and called on each person, according to their capabilities, to combat modern forms of slavery and foster solidarity with the help of Jesus, who became our servant.
The Roman Pontiff concluded his homily by drawing attention to a statue of Mary and the child Jesus at the side of the altar, and noted how her title as “Holy Mother of God” dates back the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D.
“What a beautiful greeting for our mother,” he said, and invited the congregation to join him in standing and honoring her by reciting aloud the title “Mary, Holy Mother of God” three times.
-Don't spell part backwards. It's a trap.
-With the rise of self-driving vehicles, it's only a matter of time before we get a country song where a guy's truck leaves him too.
- I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
- A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
- Seen it all, done it all, can’t remember most of it.
- Efficiency is a highly developed form of laziness.
Meeting MomMy cousin was in love and wanted to introduce his bride-to-be to his hypercritical mother. But in order to get an unbiased opinion, he invited over three other female friends as well and didn’t tell his mom which one he intended to marry.
After the four women left, he asked his mother, "Can you guess which one I want to marry?"
"The one with short hair."
"Yes! How’d you know?"
"Because that’s the one I didn’t like."
Eat the ColorsOver dinner, I explained the health benefits of a colorful meal to my family. "The more colors, the more variety of nutrients," I told them. Pointing to our food, I asked, "How many different colors do you see?"
"Six," volunteered my daughter. "Seven if you count the burned parts."
The Young and New Ideas
The elderly priest, speaking to the younger priest, said, "It was a good idea to replace the first four pews with plush bucket theater seats. It worked like a charm. The front of the church always fills first now."
The young priest nodded, and the old priest continued, "And you told me adding a little more beat to the music would bring young people back to church, so I supported you when you brought in that rock 'n roll gospel choir. Now our services are consistently packed to the balcony."
"Thank you, Father," answered the young priest. "I am pleased that you are open to the new ideas of youth."
"All of these ideas have been well and good," said the elderly priest, "But I'm afraid you've gone too far with the drive-thru confessional."
"But, Father," protested the young priest, "my confessions and the donations have nearly doubled since I began that!"
"Yes," replied the elderly priest, "And I appreciate that.
But the flashing neon sign on the church roof reading, 'Toot 'n Tell or Go to Hell' has got to go!
The Father's only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is "Christ", that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples. Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power." -Catechism of the Catholic Church #486
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – Sunday, January 8th, 2023
The First Reading - Isaiah 60:1-6
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.
In this passage from Isaiah, God addresses the city of Jerusalem as a woman—the “you” throughout the passage is a feminine singular pronoun. This is typical of Isaiah, who elsewhere speaks of Jerusalem as “the daughter of Zion” or even “the virgin daughter of Zion” (Isa 37:22). Zion, of course, was the ridge on which David built the royal palace, and was thus the heart of the city, which in turn was the heart of Judah, which was the heart of Israel. Thus “Zion” or “Jerusalem” often represents the entire chosen people of God. In this First Reading, the prophet foresees a day when divine light shall shine all over God’s people, attracting the nations who will be grateful for this light. The presence of God within his people will draw not only the traditional people of God (Israel), but even distant nations with very different cultures, like Sheba (either southern Arabia or Ethiopia). As we will see, this prophecy has important connections with the Gospel Reading.
Adults - In what ways is the Church the New Jerusalem?
Teens - What elements of Jewish liturgy do we still see today in the Mass?
Kids - What does it mean that the Church is ‘universal’?
Responsorial- Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
R.Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king's son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 72) is one of the most important in the collection of 150 Psalms. It comes at the end of Book II of the Psalter (i.e. Psalms 42-72), one of the most optimistic of the five Books of Psalms, surpassed for joyfulness only by Book V (Psalms 107-150). Psalm 72 is labeled “of Solomon,” but was traditionally understood as a psalm written by David about Solomon rather than one authored by Solomon himself. The reign of Solomon is an important anticipation or type of the reign of Christ and the establishment of the Church. Solomon ruled over a multi-national empire (1 Kings 4:21), an empire that foreshadowed the multi-national spiritual empire that is the Catholic Church. Solomon’s wisdom was so renowned that wise men came to hear him from all nations, even from the East (1 Kings 4:29-34). Likewise, the last time that caravans arrived in Jerusalem bearing gold and frankincense from Sheba (mentioned in the First Reading) was during Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 10:10). Of course, this only happened when Solomon was at the height of his power. Jesus outdoes Solomon, because even as a toddler, the wise men of the East are already coming to him to acknowledge his greatness and show him honor. Jesus is a better, wiser Son of David than even Solomon himself. Did you know the connection between Solomon and Christ?
The Second Reading- Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Brothers and sisters: You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Reflection - This passage was chosen for St. Paul’s statement about the Gentiles as “coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise….” The Magi, as Gentile scholars from some eastern land, are the first Gentiles in the New Testament to acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ. They are a foretaste of the incredible ingathering of different nations to the people of God that we call the “Church.”
-How does knowing that Jesus is the Lord of all peoples affect the way you live?
The Holy Gospel according to Matthew 2:1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel." Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage." After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
Reflection The Magi were learned men, the academics or scientists of their day. Their knowledge base would have included the fundamentals of astronomy, which was not distinct from astrology in antiquity. Different constellations were associated with various ethnic groups, and there was a certain interpretive “language” that identified astronomical phenomena with historical events. Providentially, the astronomical events around the time of Our Lord’s birth indicated a new royal line among the Jews in the interpretive schema employed by these eastern sages. The gifts that the Magi bring are rich in biblical symbolism. “Frankincense and myrrh” are only mentioned together in the Old Testament in the Song of Solomon, where they are nuptial perfumes employed by Solomon and his bride to prepare for their marriage. Here in Matthew, Jesus is being marked out as Bridegroom King from his birth. At the same time, “gold and frankincense” are only mentioned together in the Scriptures in the prophecy of Isaiah 60:6, part of our First Reading. So, there is an obvious association of Jesus with the “light” predicted by Isaiah, which is associated with the miraculous star that brings the Magi to the Christ Child. As we ponder the meaning of these sacred Readings for ourselves this weekend, we are struck first by the fulfillment of the prophecies of the gathering of the nations to Christ. Now at the beginning of the third millennium, one in three inhabitants of the globe identifies him- or her-self as a follower of Christ, a total of 2.2 billion, of whom about half are Catholics. Even when the last New Testament writer wrote, the population of Christians was at best in the tens of thousands, mostly Greek-speaking and concentrated in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. The incredible expansion of this “Jewish cult” to lands unknown would have seen absurd in those ancient days, but through God all things are possible.
Adults - Meditate on the power and mercy of the Lord that has expanded His Church to every corner of the world.
Teens - How does it impact your faith to know that you are a part of the biggest Church in the world?
Kids - How does Jesus teach us to love all people?
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! - Christian tradition has ever seen in the Magi the first fruits of the Gentiles; they lead in their wake all the peoples of the earth, and thus the Epiphany is an affirmation of universal salvation. St. Leo brings out this point admirably in a sermon, read at Matins, in which he shows in the adoration of the Magi the beginnings of Christian faith, the time when the great mass of the heathen sets off to follow the star which summons it to seek its Saviour. Let us begin our following of Jesus anew as He is always calling us by the light He shines continually in our lives!
21. What is the importance of the Old Testament for Christians? d) all of the above
Christians venerate the Old Testament as the true word of God. All of the books of the Old Testament are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value. They bear witness to the divine pedagogy(way God teaches us) of God's saving love. They are written, above all, to prepare for the coming of Christ the Savior of the universe.
22. What importance does the New Testament have for Christians? b) it conveys to us the ultimate truth of divine Revelation
The New Testament, whose central object is Jesus Christ, conveys to us the ultimate truth of divine Revelation. Within the New Testament the four Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are the heart of all the Scriptures because they are the principle witness to the life and teaching of Jesus. As such, they hold a unique place in the Church.
23. What is the unity that exists between the Old and the New Testaments? c) the Old prepares for the New and New fulfills the Old
Scripture is one insofar as the Word of God is one. God’s plan of salvation is one, and the divine inspiration of both Testaments is one. The Old Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfills the Old; the two shed light on each other.
24. What role does Sacred Scripture play in the life of the Church? a) “ignorance of Scripture, is ignorance of Christ”
Sacred Scripture gives support and vigor to the life of the Church. For the children of the Church, it is a confirmation of the faith, food for the soul and the fount of the spiritual life. Sacred Scripture is the soul of theology and of pastoral preaching. The Psalmist says that it is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Church, therefore, exhorts all to read Sacred Scripture frequently because “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (Saint Jerome).