- Epiphany Prayer (by praying hands near end)
- Pope Francis: In the New Year, Receive Mary's Love and Help (Diocesan News and BEYOND)
- 10 Tips for a Better New Year's Resolution (Helpful Hints for Life)
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 2019.
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 Roman Catholic weekly is a little different. Next e-weekly will be back to normal.
Dear friends in Christ Jesus, A very Blessed and Merry Christmas to you as this holy season continues! Yes, as it begins and continue.
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."
Epiphany (from Latin epiphania “to manifest,” “to show”)
- 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
2 January, 2019
“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.”
“The eyes of Our Lady are able to bring light to every dark corner; everywhere they rekindle hope. As she gazes upon us, she says: ‘Take heart, dear children; here I am, your Mother!’”
“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.”
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.”
“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
- 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.
My 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 Colors
Over 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 Irishman's dog
Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company. One day, the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish priest and said, "Father, my dog is dead. Could ya' be sayin' a Mass for the poor creature?"
Father Patrick replied, "I'm afraid not. We cannot have services for an animal in the church. But there is a new denomination down the lane, and there's no tellin' what they believe. Maybe they'll do something for the creature.
"Muldoon said, "I'll go right away Father. Do ya' think $5,000 is enough to donate for the service?"
Father Patrick exclaimed, "Sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus! Why didn't ya' tell me the dog was Catholic?"
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!
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
January 6th, 2019
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.
Here we see a promise to the people of Israel, a promise of the light to come. Reading through this reading with its mention of kings, gold, and frankincense it’s impossible not to notice the foreshadowing of the Magi we hear about in our Gospel reading today.
Adults - Where is there darkness in your life? Invite the Lord into that situation.
Teens -Is there anyone in your life that shines with the light of Christ? Who?
Kids - How can you share the light of Jesus with others?
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.
-How can you take some extra time to adore the Lord this week?
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.
In this reading Saint Paul explains that the Good News of the Gospel is for everyone, not just the Jewish people.
Do you judge people by their social status, beliefs, or lifestyle without getting to know them? How can you show Christ’s love to someone in need?
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.
Jesus’ birth is celebrated in the Bible with two accounts of visitors. The first (that we hear on Christmas Eve) was from the Gospel of Luke. The guests that day were shepherds—people who were looked down on; poor and inconsequential. They were the first invited to meet God. The second is today’s story where the guests are Magi—people that we understand to be wealthy enough to bring extravagant gifts, travel very far (which was expensive and difficult) and get an audience with King Herod. And they were not Jewish. These stories together tell us that God invites the very poor and the very rich, the ones who didn’t know who they were being invited to meet and the ones who sought Jesus out because they did know who he was and people who were Jewish and people who weren’t. God invites everybody. When we bring each other gifts, we usually bring age-appropriate gifts. The gifts that the Magi brought were for when Jesus was older—they represented what he was going to do when he grew up. Gold is for Jesus’ kingship, frankincense (incense) is for his priesthood and myrrh is for how he was going to die for us.
Adults - What do you think about those who came to visit Jesus? Who are some people in our personal lives that we should be inviting to Jesus?
Teens - If Jesus was born today, based on the stories we have about who was invited to meet him first, who do you think would be the shepherds and Magi today? What groups of people would have been invited first? What groups of people would have come at Epiphany? Who would be a threat to Jesus?
Kids - What is the best birthday present you could receive? What birthday present do you think Jesus would want from you?