- Handel's Messiah Performed Unannounced at Food Court in Canada Amazing!!! (Helpful Hints for Life)
- "The Veil Removed: A New Film Shows How Heaven is Miraculously United to Earth (Diocesan News and Beyond)
- Call out to Jesus as we approach these final days of Advent (Praying Hands)
Catholic Good News
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
Dear friends in Christ Jesus, A treasured gift of Christmas for many Catholics is Midnight Mass. ‘Midnight!?! Like 12:00AM. You mean it get’s 12 o’clock twice in one day!’
Yes, midnight. Why would we celebrate Mass on Christmas at Midnight? BECAUSE CHRIST WAS BORN IN THE NIGHT. Some believe right at midnight. And while so many slept at His birth 2000 years ago, we being awake commemorate His birth at night in the first minutes of the birth-day of His coming forth from the womb of Mary.
There are actually three Masses: at midnight, dawn, and during the day. They were mystically connected with aboriginal, Judaic, and Christian dispensations, or to the triple "birth" of Christ: in Eternity, in Time, and in the Soul. St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest theologians in the history of the Church, goes into more details:
“On Christmas Day, however, several Masses are said on account of Christ's threefold nativity. Of these the first is His eternal birth, which is hidden in our regard. and therefore one Mass is sung in the night, in the "Introit" of which we say: "The Lord said unto Me: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee." The second is His nativity in time, and the spiritual birth, whereby Christ rises "as the day-star in our [Vulg.: 'your'] hearts" (2 Peter 1:19), and on this account the Mass is sung at dawn, and in the "Introit" we say: "The light will shine on us today." The third is Christ's temporal and bodily birth, according as He went forth from the virginal womb, becoming visible to us through being clothed with flesh: and on that account the third Mass is sung in broad daylight, in the "Introit" of which we say: "A child is born to us." Nevertheless, on the other hand, it can be said that His eternal generation, of itself, is in the full light, and on this account in the gospel of the third Mass mention is made of His eternal birth. But regarding His birth in the body, He was literally born during the night, as a sign that He came to the darknesses of our infirmity; hence also in the Midnight Mass we say the gospel of Christ's nativity in the flesh.” -Summa Theologica III:83:2
This 4th Sunday of Advent gives us 6 days until Christmas Eve and at Midnight transforms into Christmas Day and thus begins the Christmas Season. May we be ready to receive all that the Lord so desires to give to us.
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The readings can be found at: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121921.cfm
a) the whole Church
b) just the apostles
c) Jesus through the Holy Spirit
d) none of the above
16. To whom is given the task of authentically interpreting the deposit of faith? (CCC 85-90, 100)
a) only the Holy Spirit
c) the living teaching office of the Church alone (Magisterium)
d) all of the above
17. What is the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium? (CCC 95)
a) there is no relationship
b) there are connected but it hard to see it
c) connected to the way human beings connect them
d) one of them cannot stand without the other
(Answers at end of e-weekly)
Midnight Mass (from Old English midde “middle” and from German naht “night”)
- the first of three Masses offered at 12 o’clock on Christmas Day solemnly marking the birth of Jesus who was born at night
Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. "The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession." -Catechism of the Catholic Church 1378
Handel's Messiah Performed Unannounced at Food Court
You may have heard of Handel's Messiah, but you have probably never heard it fully performed, or never heard it fully performed in a Food Court. IT IS AMAZING!!! Here is a professional choir performing it unannounced in a Food Court to the surprise of many. Read more at website, then scroll down and click to actually see the performance unfold. (over 45 million hits) (If link does not let you click it, cut and paste it in web address bar.)
Go here and scroll to the bottom and click middle video:
Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See! - YouTube
"The Roman Martyrology for Christmas day contains a formal announcement of the birth of Christ in the style of a proclamation. It begins with creation and relates the birth of the Lord to the major events and personages of sacred and secular history. The particular events contained in the proclamation help to situate the birth of Jesus in the ...
This powerful short film ‘The Veil Removed’ is currently trending online.
It perfectly captures the most extraordinary event in all of history: Christ’s sacrifice of Calvary. An endless, continual sacrifice that transcends time and space itself, blending the supernatural world with the natural world.
When we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Christ’s Sacrifice of the Cross is renewed, and we become present to that very same timeless sacrifice which occurred 2,000 years ago.
Through the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist by the miraculous process of transubstantiation, Christ offers himself for humankind in the same way he offered himself on the Cross as a Spotless Victim, Pure Victim and Holy Victim.
Just as though the Virgin Mary, the beloved disciple St. John, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. Mary of Clopas stood by the Cross of Jesus 2,000 years ago to witness the extraordinary moment where Christ conquered death by sacrificing Himself once and for all.
During the consecration of the bread and wine in the Mass, the entire congregation also become spiritually present at the foot of the Cross on Calvary.
Although not visible to us, according to Christian tradition, from the moment of the consecration, heaven opens, and a vast multitude of Angels, saints and the faithful departed are also present during the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar to adore Christ as the Sacrificial Lamb.
St. John Chrysostom said, “When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar.”
Denver, Colo., Dec 21, 2018 / 12:30 pm (EWTN News/CNA)It was a quiet Thanksgiving for Kerry. She and her husband had just retired from the military, and they were home in Colorado Springs with Kerry’s mother-in-law, whom they were taking care of at the time. But the house, with two extra, empty bedrooms upstairs, felt just a little too quiet. Kerry had no children of her own, but it was around that time that she felt God calling her to foster parenting. “I just saw this article in the paper for a foster agency and it really spoke to me and I said ‘Ok God this is what you want me to do? Because I’m a little bit old for this.’ But...I felt I was just really made to do this and God said, you can do this!”
It’s something that many Catholic foster parents have in common - the feeling that God called them to open their homes and hearts to foster parenting.
Kerry and her husband began fostering through a local Christian agency called Hope and Home, and after meeting the licensing requirements, embarked on a six-year foster care journey, in which they fostered a total of 10 kids, adopted two, and provided respite care for several other “kiddos,” as Kerry affectionately calls them.
“Foster care is a learning experience, and is probably the hardest yet most rewarding thing I've ever done,” Kerry told CNA.
For foster care awareness month, CNA spoke with four Catholic foster parents about their stories, and the faith that inspired them along the way. Only first names have been used to protect the children who have been or are still in their care.
“The greatest of our foster-heartbreaks has become my life's work” - Kerry, Colorado Springs
Kerry’s family learned a lot, the hard way, from their first foster care placement, a two-year-old named Alex.
“It was hard, as Alex had suffered abuse and neglect and was terrified of all things to do with bedtimes,” Kerry said. “We spent the first week sitting outside the door of his bedroom, because he was terrified to have us in there and yet terrified to be alone.”
About seven months after Alex had been placed in their care, he was returned back to his biological father. Kerry strongly objected to that plan, telling their caseworker that she believed the father was not ready to take his son back.
Kerry’s objections were overruled, and Alex went home with his biological dad. Nine months later, Kerry learned that Alex had died of severe head trauma while in the care of his dad’s girlfriend. It was because of Alex that she began to research and advocate for the prevention of child abuse.
“The greatest of our foster-heartbreaks has become my life's work,” Kerry said. “I am part of our county's Not One More Child Coalition, the secretary for our local Safe Kids Colorado chapter, and the Chair of the Child Abuse Prevention Committee for our local chapter of the Exchange Club,” she said.
“We are also working to establish a child abuse prevention nonprofit called Kyndra's Hope - named for another local foster girl who actually entered foster care in hospice, as she was not expected to live due to the severe physical abuse by her biological parents. Thanks to the prayers of her adopted mom, Kyndra is now a lively 10-year-old who, despite her disabilities, has beaten the odds.”
Kerry has adopted two of the 10 of her foster children, and provided respite care for numerous others.
Kerry said she felt relief and belonging in her local Catholic parish, because several other families have adopted children and blended families, “so to just go and sit and be a normal family with all the other people there was just really wonderful some days,” she said.
One of the main patron saints she leaned on as a foster parent was St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.
“I was always praying to him for myself and for my kiddos who were really lost, just to help us all find ourselves,” she said.
“What do my pro-life duties entail?” - Scott; Lincoln, Nebraska
Scott and his wife were newlywed “classic, orthodox Catholics” living in Lincoln, Nebraska. While they had no known medical issues, they tried for six years to get pregnant, but it just wasn’t happening.
After mourning the loss possible biological children, the couple began to talk about adoption. While the idea of foster care surfaced at the time, “It scared us a little bit,” Scott told CNA.
They knew that many of the children they would encounter would come from difficult situations, and as first-time parents, they weren’t sure they would be able to handle that.
They adopted a son, Anthony, but they still felt the desire for more children. When they considered a second adoption, they were encouraged to look more seriously into foster care.
They took the foster parent preparation class, but still felt some hesitation, and so they “kicked the can down the road” a little longer. But something happened at their city’s annual Walk for Life that stayed with Scott.
“We go to the Walk for Life every year, and there’s a lady there every year, she had this sign and it basically said ‘Foster, adopt or shut up.’ That was what she was saying as a counter-protest to a pro-life group,” Scott recalled.
“It’s something that stuck with me because I thought you know, what do my pro-life duties entail?”
Soon after, he and his wife felt called by God to open up their home to foster children. They told the agency, thinking they would wait another year or two before getting a placement.
Ten days later, a little two-year-old named Jonathan came to stay with them. Even though he was young, the family has had to work with him on some deep-seated anger issues and speech delay problems.
“This is really pro-life,” Scott said of foster care and adoption. “This birth mom chose life, but she can’t raise this child, and so my wife and I are going to take the ball and we’re going to do the hard work and we’re going to get through this.”
“I really feel like God called us to this, and called us to this little boy,” he added. “You can’t ignore the call - or you shouldn’t - it’s similar to a vocational call in my opinion.”
Something else that struck Scott throughout the process was how much foster parenting is promoted in Evangelical churches, including those sponsoring their family’s agency- and how infrequently he heard it mentioned in Catholic ones.
“I would say that [Evangelicals] do a fabulous job in their churches as far as promoting foster care and getting lots of families to participate,” Scott said. “And we’ve got the one true faith, so I want our families and couples to learn about this and possibly participate in it,” he added. “I know it’s not for everybody, but there’s lots of different things other than taking a child that you can do,” he said, such as mentoring a child or offering support to other foster parents.
“We’ve always had a special spot in our heart for kids in foster care” - Jami; Omaha, Nebraska
Jami’s family, like Scott’s family, experienced a time of infertility before deciding to look into foster care or adoption as a way to grow their family.
But they were also drawn to it in other ways. Before they were married, Jami and her husband had volunteered at a summer camp that united foster care kids with siblings living in other foster homes.
“We volunteered for that as camp counselors, so we’ve always had a special spot in our heart for kids in foster care, so we wanted to try it out for that reason also,” Jami told CNA.
Jami had also grown up in Omaha, Nebraska, the home of Boystown, a temporary home for troubled boys and youth founded in 1917 by Servant of God Father Edward Flanagan.
“I have a special relationship with him, even when I was younger, I used to think he was so cool,” Jami said. “And all through us fostering, I would pray to him and through him because he knows, he helped these kids in trauma.”
Jami and her husband took an infant, Bennett, into their home. His older sister was placed in a different foster home while they waited to see if the children could be reunited with their mother.
It was an “emotional rollercoaster,” Jami said, because she knew she needed to bond with Bennett, while she also had to be prepared to let him go at any moment.
“I would pray through Fr. Flanagan and tell him just ‘please.’ I trust God and his choice in whether this kid goes home or not, because that was also really hard - I was feeling guilty for wanting to keep the baby, because it’s not yours. We’re there to help the parents,” she said.
“So I really believe that (Fr. Flanagan) was holding this whole situation, he just took care of it,” she said.
“The most challenging thing is letting yourself go, letting yourself bond with the child and not trying to protect your own heart,” Jami said, “and then coping with the emotional roller coaster because that can put a lot of stress on yourself, your husband, the whole family.”
“But the most rewarding part is helping these families, helping the parents have the time they need to overcome whatever challenges they’re facing,” she said.
“And getting to bond with the (child) is such a gift because literally if you don’t give it who will? And that is such a gift to give a child.”
“This is hardcore Gospel living” - Michaela; St. Louis, Missouri
Michaela’s foster parent journey differs from many others. She and her husband already had children - four of them, all in grade school or younger - when she felt God was calling her to consider adoption.
When the topic of adoption was brought up during her bible study, “my heart just started burning for adoption, the Spirit was moving within me, but I knew that was not something I could just impose on my family or my marriage,” Michaela, who lives in St. Louis, Missouri, told CNA. She decided to keep the inspiration quiet, and told God that if this is something he really wanted from her family, then her husband would have to voice the same desires first.
So she never mentioned it to her husband. But one day, some time later, he came to breakfast and said out of the blue: “I think we’re being called to adoption.”
But as their research into adoption continued, they realized that they didn’t feel called to infant or international adoption - two of the most common routes. They realized that God was actually calling them to foster care.
“It was exactly the desire of our heart, it was where God was calling,” Michaela said.
The prerequisites for foster care include classes that prepare foster parents for worst-case scenarios - children who come from broken, traumatic situations who will exhibit difficult behaviors.
But to Michaela’s surprise, “They come and they’re just the most innocent children, this pure innocence comes from a broken life, they don’t resemble the brokenness that they come from.”
Michaela’s family is relatively new to fostering - in the first six months, they'd already had four children between the ages of one and seven placed with their family.
One of the most rewarding things about foster parenting has been the lessons her biological children are learning from the experience, Michaela said.
“These aspects of the Gospel we cannot teach our children - I cannot teach you how to lay down your life for someone else. But I can show you with this,” Michaela said.
“This is Gospel, this is hardcore Gospel living.”
The hardest part about foster parenting can be letting go - the goal of foster parenting is not to keep the children, but to provide them a temporary home while their biological family can get back on their feet, Michaela said.
Michaela said that’s a concern about foster parenting that she often hears: “What if I get too attached? Isn’t it too hard?”
“These children deserve to be attached to, so they deserve us to love them so that it hurts us when they leave,” she said. For this reason, she asks case workers to let herself and her children accompany the foster child to their next home - whether that’s with their parents or with another foster or adoptive family.
“It’s super hard for us, but it’s really good for the kids to see us cry, to know that they are loved that much, that someone would cry over them,” she said.
Michaela said she found great support as a foster parent through the Catholic Church and also through other Christian denominations.
“Our own church totally opened their arms to us, and brings over clothes and car seats and was just hugely supportive and welcoming when new kids come to church,” she said.
“Other churches have provided meals - there’s just such a community within the church, within foster care. They’re all telling us they’re praying for us - so it’s the bigger body of Christ within the foster community,” she said.
Michaela encouraged couples who are considering becoming foster parents to trust God and lean on their faith, even when it may seem like a difficult or impossible task.
“When he calls us to those scary, unknown places he provides, he just shows up in ways that we could have never planned for or imagined,” she said. “He does, he makes a way.”
Adoption and foster care programs for Catholic families can be found through local Catholic Charities or Catholic Social Service branches.
This article was originally published on EWTN News May 18, 2018.
So said St. Pius X, when he lowered the age that children could receive their First Holy Communion. Previously, children had to be 10 or 12, now they are typically in second grade, or about seven or eight years old, though exceptions are made for some who are even younger.
Pope Francis canonized Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the child visionaries of the Fatima Marian apparitions, May 13. These shepherds are the first children who were not martyred to be canonized by the Church. Both died before age 12.
Austin Ruse, Catholic author and president of C-Fam, a family research institute, believes that Pope Francis may have just “opened the floodgates” to scores of saints from the littlest among us.
Several years ago, Ruse was struck by the stories of three children he knew - either personally or peripherally - that all seemed to have a common theme: “little children who died young, suffered greatly, and brought many people to Christ and his Church through their suffering.”
“They were just profound stories and they needed to be told,” he said in an interview with CNA.
In his recent book, “Littlest Suffering Souls,” Ruse tells of the short but significant lives of six children, three of them contemporary children whose families he has met.
Suffering, with ‘countless graces’
One of those children was Brendan Kelly, whose family went to Ruse’s parish, and whose funeral Ruse attended. While he had never met Brendan, Ruse had been praying for him.
Brendan was born to a devout Catholic family in Virginia. His parents, Frank and Maura, met while working in the George H.W. Bush White House in 1990.
Brendan was born with Down syndrome, and a seemingly innate love for Jesus. By the age of two, he loved to kiss crucifixes and statues of saints.
It was also at that age that a test confirmed Brendan had leukemia. He began a series of intense and painful treatments that would become an off-and-on part of the rest of his life.
“But along with the suffering would come countless graces,” Ruse noted.
One of the biggest graces was the “mystical” friendship that Brendan would develop with the pope at the time, Pope John Paul II.
Former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a family friend, personally delivered a photo of Brendan to Pope John Paul II while on a state visit to the Vatican. Once Brendan found out the pope was praying for him personally, he started praying for the pope personally too - every night.
Some time later, Brendan was offered a wish from the Make a Wish Foundation, the group that grants wishes to very sick children - typically a visit to Disneyland, or something along those lines.
But Brendan wanted something different.
“Me meet pope!” the toddler exclaimed. The Make-a-Wish officials were not convinced that this request was coming from the little boy, and so they shooed his parents out of the room. After an hour of questioning, Brendan didn’t waiver.
And so he did meet the pope - at the age of four, Brendan was granted an audience with Pope John Paul II. Not satisfied with the standard brief meeting and shaking of hands, Brendan stood by Pope John Paul II as he greeted everyone in the audience that day. As the pope was leaving, Brendan shouted “Bye, Pope!” and was able to shake hands one last time with the spiritual giant and his personal hero.
Other incredible moments of grace and signs of God’s presence occurred throughout Brendan’s short life. On one occasion, one of Frank’s friends, Peter O’Malley, was in the midst of a terrorist attack at Taj Mahal Palace in 2008.
In his moment of crisis, O’Malley knew who to call for prayers. Brendan prayed, and O’Malley escaped unharmed that night, when 164 people were shot.
His parish priest, Father Drummond, said he was first struck by Brendan’s faith and “absolute joy” as he was preparing him for communion and confession. When Father told him he would get to wear the black and white vestments of an altar boy, “He got a faraway look in his eyes and said quietly, ‘I love those’.”
Throughout his short life, Brendan would suffer bouts of leukemia, and grueling treatments. Before each one, his parents would ask him for whom he would offer his suffering - and he always had an intention.
One of his most frequent intentions was Bella Santorum, Rick Santorum’s daughter, who was born with a rare genetic disorder, Trisomy 18. She was only supposed to live a few months, but Brendan offered his suffering for her throughout his entire life. “Bella, I love you,” he would repeat during moments of pain. She is still alive today, some nine years longer than she was expected to live.
“(Brendan) very early on grabbed onto the idea of offering up his suffering, and he always would do it cheerfully, even though it was unbelievably painful, or it made him incredibly sick, he just knew that throwing up for the tenth time, this time is going to be for somebody, and it was useful,” Frank told CNA.
At the same time, he was a normal boy. He didn’t want to be sick, he loved to play with his siblings and be the life of the party. And he could school anyone in trivia from his favorite T.V. show “The Office.” He could name the season and the episode of any quote from Michael Scott or Dwight Schrute that his family could lob at him.
And so, when sick from leukemia and quarantined for a bone marrow transplant as a teenager, Brendan and his family played office trivia through a small, grainy T.V. - the only way they could communicate during the sterile procedure. Soon a crowd of doctors and nurses joined in the fun.
But it was his profound faith and joyful personality that impacted almost everyone he met, and that drew people to him.
“He wasn’t just this always smiley, (disabled) little child,” Frank said. “He would have very profound conversations with people, and say things that would profoundly impact people.”
When he passed away in 2013, at the age of 16, the line at his wake had to be cut short after three hours of people filing past to pay their final respects to Brendan.
“We had to go outside and thank everybody because it was too long, and there was almost an equal number of people at the funeral Mass the next day,” Frank said.
Since that day, they’ve had hundreds of requests for prayer cards of Brendan.
Frank said it has been a “surreal” experience to have a child whose impact is so great that there are people asking for his prayers.
He said he hopes that people who read Brendan’s story and are experiencing suffering themselves understand that they are never alone.
“Brendan never felt alone, and he knew that people were praying for him, starting with Pope John Paul II to the builders who were working on our house, to people he never knew,” Frank said. Even people in other countries who had never met Brendan had offered their prayers.
A witness amid the ‘culture of death’
Another suffering soul, Margaret Leo, also had a dad who worked in the Washington, D.C. political scene. Leonard Leo is the executive vice president of the Federalist Society - a law organization to which several federal and Supreme Court justices belong. He also worked for President George W. Bush’s administration at one time.
Though Margaret suffered throughout her life from spina bifida and related complications, she bore everything with a cheerful smile and a simple but profound faith. Her photo now sits on the desk of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Ruse names the people impacted by these suffering souls in his book intentionally.
These were not peasant children, like Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Ruse noted, and that’s important.
“They were born into influence and affluence, into a modern day (moral) desert, and they have a message for the modern day desert - all lives are worth living, there are no useless lives, even short, painful lives have a great deal of meaning,” Ruse said.
“We live in an age that people call the culture of death, aimed largely at the defenseless: children, the elderly, the disabled, the intellectually disabled, and these children are witnesses to the fact that all lives are worth living, even ones that are judged not to be worth living.”
It’s something that Margaret’s mom, Sally, hopes that people understand as they read her daughter’s story.
“Especially because such a high percentage of children with spina bifida and other disabilities are aborted these days, and we barely even ever see them,” she told CNA.
“If that wasn’t the case, we would see these kids walking around, we would see kids with braces or crutches or Down syndrome all the time, but 80-90 percent of them are killed, they’re not even given the chance.”
But in Sally’s experience, “It was a gift.”
Margaret taught them about faith and love in the simplest of ways. She gently pestered her dad until he became a daily Mass attendee. She would ask people when they were going to baptize their new baby, or if they had been confirmed.
“Her faith would invariably come up in any discussion that was more the perfunctory, and it would have an impact on people,” her father, Leonard, told CNA.
But she wasn’t a mystic, her parents insist. She just had a strong attraction to holy and beautiful things, and an intense but simple joy that was attractive to those around her. She loved coloring, and being involved in her siblings’ antics, and holding babies.
“In other words, you wouldn’t necessarily go away thinking, ‘Oh wow, I just met a saint.’ But she would say to you, ‘Hi, how are you? How was your day? How was your birthday? When’s your confirmation?’ She wanted to know about you, which was really what touched people most about her, because you don’t necessarily find that among strangers,” Sally said.
“Charity and kindness and friendship, but at its most pure and most intense level,” Leonard added.
Margaret’s spina bifida meant that she had to have titanium rods placed in her back to straighten her spine. But instead, Margaret’s back bent the titanium rods - so much so that they ended up protruding from her neck. Despite it all, Margaret did not complain.
“It’s ok,” she would cheerfully say, even when it was clear that it was not.
Today, Leonard keeps the rods on his desk - “to remind me what a real bad day looks like.”
After Margaret passed away and her story spread, the Leos were surprised at the impact their simple but faithful little girl was having on the people around them. When Ruse published an article about Margaret, they received hundreds of requests for a prayer card of her.
What continues to draw people to Margaret is how she suffered with joy and trust in God, Leonard said.
“I think at some level that when we’re faced with adversity and suffering, we wish that we could be filled with joy, and we could be able to confront it in a way that brings us closer to God and closer to other people, and make the very best of it,” he said.
“And so when you saw her, it was impossible not to be reminded of the fact that we should be filled with joy, we should be thankful to God. As her tombstone says, we should be praying and thanking God without ceasing.”
Tears of inspiration
The third contemporary little suffering soul whose story Ruse tells is that of Audrey from France.
Although her parents were lukewarm Catholics when she was born, Audrey was “spiritually precocious” from a young age.
She practiced mortification by carrying home her school pencils in her shoe. She begged to receive Holy Communion at the age of five. Upon examining her, her priest found her ready to do so, because she understood that Holy Communion is Jesus, “And I want to receive Jesus.” She insisted that her family say grace before meals and a prayer for vocations every night.
She was also sure from a young age that she had a Carmelite vocation, “Caramel” as the little girl pronounced it.
This surprising faith scared Lillian, Audrey’s mom, who wasn’t sure where Audrey was getting her ideas.
“Follow her,” a priest told Lillian.
But she was also scared that her daughter’s spiritual maturity meant great trials were ahead - and they were. At a very young age, Audrey was diagnosed with leukemia.
When Lillian broke the news to Audrey, “She got this very wise, very gentle sort of look” and told her mother that they were “going to do what Jesus says. We’re going to be like the birds in the sky, and we’re just going to take one day at a time.”
“I can’t say that without weeping,” Ruse said.
And indeed, “Littlest Suffering Souls” is a book that will make you weep. But not in a sad way.
“We’re not crying out of sadness, we’re crying out of inspiration,” Ruse said.
“They’re neither tears of joy nor sadness, they’re some other kind of tear, that I don’t have the name for, but it’s just being moved by these inspiring stories.”
Audrey battled leukemia for several years, and, like Brendan, made it on the personal prayer list of Pope John Paul II after her dad was able to hand him a photo of her.
Audrey too offered her sufferings for specific intentions, and, like Brendan, people began flooding her with prayer requests. She had a special heart for vocations, and prayed especially for her Uncle Mick - who is now a priest today.
A bone marrow transplant for Audrey eventually proved ineffective. Knowing she was near death, her family took her to Lourdes, and then to Rome, where she was able to meet Pope John Paul II.
They spoke together for several minutes, captured by a photo of Audrey’s swollen head next to the bent-down head of the now-Saint.
While no one knows what was said between the two of them, for the rest of the day, John Paul II could be heard around the Vatican muttering her name: “Audrey, Audrey, Audrey.”
She also asked to be confirmed, and insisted that the party be an “elegant” event - one of her favorite words, but one that she meant in beautiful simplicity, rather than extravagance.
In her final weeks, which she was able to spend at home, Audrey spent hours in the family’s chapel, where the bishop had allowed them to keep the blessed sacrament. She told her grandma that she spent her days praying and waiting.
She passed away at 3 p.m., the hour of mercy, on August 22, 1991, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. Her father Jerome had prayed she would pass away on a Marian feast day.
Audrey’s cause for canonization has been opened, and her story has spread throughout France and indeed throughout the world. Seminarians pray for her intercession for their vocations. A Carmelite convent in Spain has her First Communion dress on display, with permission of the family.
The suffering of children is a difficult subject, but one that captures the attention of all, Ruse said.
“It seems to us to be profoundly unfair that children suffer, and that’s a common human reaction,” he reflected.
“Moreover, the reaction of these particular children to their suffering and maladies is confounding to those of us who cannot even handle the simple contradictions of the day very well,” he said.
“The simplest things can vex us, and yet these are kids who had bone marrow transplants and while they had them, Audrey was singing songs to Mary, and Brendan was offering his suffering for others - they’re just astounding.”
At the end of his book, Ruse offers what he believes are several lessons that can be learned from the stories of little suffering souls - forbearance, simplicity, a love for God, particularly in the Eucharist.
Moreover, he said, we learn that each life has dignity.
“Our modern man might see a child suffering from leukemia who has died young and see nothing but a misbegotten tragedy, a life with no meaning,” he wrote.
“In the simplest terms, modern man is wrong. The Littlest Suffering Souls stand as witnesses to the proposition that all human life has meaning and dignity, even and especially those lives we may not fully understand.”
Some Thoughts -
-What is pointless? To tell a bald guy a hair-raising story.
- It’s cleaning day today. I’ve already polished off a whole chocolate bar.
-There are two kinds of friends : those who are around when you need them, and those who are around when they need you.
-A celebrity is someone who works hard all his life to become known and then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.
-What is the most important thing to learn in chemistry? Never lick the spoon.
-Lite: the new way to spell “Light,” now with 20% fewer letters!
-I was such an ugly kid. When I played in the sandbox the cat kept covering me up.
An I.Q. Too High To Buy
I heard a report about a bad outbreak of the tummy bug, apparently 9 out of 10 people there suffered from diarrhea. I can’t stop thinking about that tenth person who apparently enjoyed it.
A scientist tells a pharmacist, “Give me some prepared tablets of acetylsalicylic acid.”
“Do you mean aspirin?” asks the pharmacist.
The scientist slaps his forehead. “That’s it!” he says. “I can never remember the name.”
The Cost of Vinyl
Most of our music store customers have a story about their old vinyl collection. Once, a man asked how much a record cost. My coworker quoted him the price, then added, “But there’s a surcharge if we have to listen to how your mother made you throw out all your old vinyl records.”
SOME THOUGHTS-My friends tell me that cooking is easy, but it’s not easier than not cooking.
-How can you ever be late for anything in London? They have a huge clock right in the middle of the town.
Some mice enter heaven on Christmas. St. Peter asks them what they would like for Christmas. They say some roller skates, so he equips them with some.
Next, a cat comes to heaven. St. Peter asks what the cat would like for Christmas. The cat looking around seeing the mice enjoying their gifts says, “Meals on wheels.”
A Sign of the Times
As a little girl climbed onto Santa's lap, Santa asked the usual, "And what would you like for Christmas?"
The child stared at him open mouthed and horrified for a minute, then gasped: "Didn't you get my E-mail?"
None of that Allowed Here
A minister was completing a temperance (no drinking alcohol) sermon. With great emphasis he said, "If I had all the beer in the world, I'd take it and pour it into the river."
With even greater emphasis he said, "And if I had
All the wine in the world, I'd take it and pour it into the river."
And then finally, shaking his fist in the air, he said, "And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I'd take it and pour it into the river."
Sermon complete, he sat down.
The song Leader stood very cautiously and announced with a smile, nearly laughing, "For our closing song, Let us sing Hymn #365, 'Shall We Gather at the River'."
O Come, O Come, Emmanual!
Holy Mass (Missa), because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God's will in their daily lives. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1332
SUNDAY BIBLICAL MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
Fourth Sunday of Advent – Sunday, December 24, 2023
The First Reading - 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16
When King David was settled in his palace, and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!” Nathan answered the king, “Go, do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you.” But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said: “Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Should you build me a house to dwell in?’“ "'It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth. I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance. Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old, since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.'”
The First Reading is the basic account of God’s grant to David of a covenant of kingship. This Davidic covenant is the last and climactic divine covenant recorded in the Old Testament. Prior to David, covenants had been made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, and all Israel (through Moses). The Davidic covenant is, in a sense, a fulfillment of all of these: David is a successor of the Patriarchs Adam, Noah, and Abraham; and a sacred embodiment and representative (as king) of all Israel. It is hard to overemphasize the importance of God’s covenant with David to the theology of the Old Testament: it’s influence is pervasive in the historical books, the psalms, and the prophets. Essentially, outside the Pentateuch, the Old Testament is largely “the David channel.” Raymond Brown has a famous quote on the significance of the Davidic covenant and kingdom in Christian theology: The story of David brings out all the strengths and weaknesses of the beginnings of the religious institution of the kingdom for the people of God. . . . The kingdom established by David . . . is the closest Old Testament parallel to the New Testament church. . . . To help Christians make up their mind on how the Bible speaks [to church issues] it would help if they knew about David and his kingdom, which was also God’s kingdom and whose kings, with all their imperfections, God promised to treat as “sons” (2 Sm. 6:14).
Adults - Are you familiar with the covenants of Salvation History? This is a great time of year to start studying the Bible more intently.
Teens - What are some similarities between the Kingdom of David and the Church?
Kids - What does it mean to be a part of God’s kingdom?
Responsorial- Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5 , 27, 29
R.For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The promises of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.”
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.’
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.”
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The Responsorial Psalm is one of the most pivotal psalms in the entire psalter, the last psalm of Book III, which praises God for his covenant faithfulness to David. Notice how both the Psalm and the First Reading emphasize the Father-Son relationship between David (and his heirs) and God. A covenant establishes kinship—a family relationship. Thereafter, the covenant partners may be called by familial terms: usually either Father-Son (for a non-reciprocal covenant) or Brother-Brother (for a parity covenant). The people of God are, in a very real way, family to each other. How does this change how you look at one another?
The Second Reading- Romans 16:25-27
Brothers and sisters: To him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Reflection - The Second Reading drives home the point that Christ’s birth was not an unexpected novum in the history of the world, but rather was the culmination of a divine plan “manifested through the prophetic writings.”
-What are some of your favorite prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament? If you don’t have one, look up and read some of them.
The Holy Gospel according to Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Reflection The Gospel is the account of the Annunciation, and there is no end of what we could say about this beautiful passage, especially if we began to unpack its Mariological significance. Nonetheless, in the context of these Readings, we want to highlight the Davidic Covenant themes. Note that Mary is espoused to Joseph “of the house of David.” Almost all the substance of Gabriel’s message to Our Blessed Mother in vv. 32-33 (“He will be great … and of his kingdom there will be no end”) is “taken” directly from 2 Samuel 7. Gabriel is telling Mary that her child will fulfill all the promises made to David of old. There is even temple, or at least sanctuary, imagery in this Gospel reading, as Gabriel tells Our Mother that “the Power of the Most High will overshadow you,” using a rare Greek word episkiazo employed to describe the cloud of God’s presence which filled the Tabernacle in Ex. 40:35. Mary is becoming a kind of new Tabernacle of the Presence of God. We could say that the sanctuary-nature of Christ, who is both House of David and House of God, is being communicated to Mary by association. As such, Our Mother is a type and icon of the Church, which also shares the sanctuary-nature of her Lord. Of course, the docile submission of Our Mother to God’s word—a word that will involve a share in her Son’s suffering (Luke 2:35), but also a share in his glory (Rom 8:17)—is held up as an example for us all.
Adults - Meditate on the many ways that Mary can be seen as an icon of the Church.
Teens - How is Mary an example to us?
Kids - How does Mary show us what true love for Jesus is?
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! – Our Response to God this Week
Could infinite love have gone any further? Our creation, the fact that we exist as human beings on earth, is a great gift to us on the part of God. Of what value could eighty, a hundred, even seven hundred years of a continuously happy life on this earth be for us if we learned that we had to depart life forever one day? In a world tormented by sin and its evil effects our normal span of life would be less satisfying. However, when God created us, he so planned that our stay here would be but a stage, a stepping stone in fact, toward our everlasting home. We are well aware indeed of the lengths to which God's love has gone in order to make us his children and heirs to his kingdom. Are we, however, grateful to him for the love he has shown us? Are we honestly and sincerely trying to make ourselves worthy of the great future he has in store for us?
Today is a suitable occasion to look right into our hearts, to see how we stand with God. During the week we shall be keeping the feast of Christmas. The Baby in the manger will remind us of what God has done and is still doing for us. What are we doing in return? Have we shown our gratitude by living as true followers of Christ? If most of us must answer: "no," this is the time to change our course and return to the right road once more. God is asking this of us today. Shall our answer be: "behold here I am Lord, your humble and grateful servant, let it be done to me according to your word"? -Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
15. To whom is the deposit of faith entrusted? a) the whole Church
The Apostles entrusted the deposit of faith to the whole of the Church. Thanks to its supernatural sense of faith the people of God as a whole, assisted by the Holy Spirit and guided by the Magisterium of the Church, never ceases to welcome, to penetrate more deeply and to live more fully from the gift of divine revelation.
16. To whom is given the task of authentically interpreting the deposit of faith? c) the living teaching office of the Church alone (Magisterium)
The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the deposit of faith has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone, that is, to the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, and to the bishops in communion with him. To this Magisterium, which in the service of the Word of God enjoys the certain charism of truth, belongs also the task of defining dogmas which are formulations of the truths contained in divine Revelation. This authority of the Magisterium also extends to those truths necessarily connected with Revelation.
17. What is the relationship between Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium? d) one of them cannot stand without the other
Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium are so closely united with each other that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.