Today Christians Celebrate Feast of Virgin Mary, Mother of God

Virgin Mary the Mother of God –Image Courtesy: Mary Mother of God.blogspot.com

(Franciscan Media) Mary’s divine Motherhood broadens the Christmas spotlight–Mary has an important role to play in the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Mary consents to God’s invitation conveyed by the angel (Luke 1:26-38) Elizabeth proclaims:

“Most blessed are you among Women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

How does this happen to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? (Luke 1:42-43) Mary’s role as Mother of God, places her in a unique position in God’s redemptive plan.

Without naming Mary, Paul asserts that “God sent forth His Son, born of Woman, under the Law.” (Galatians 4:4) Paul’s further statement that “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying out ‘Abba Father!(Galatians 4:6) Helps us to realize that Mary is the Mother of all Brothers and Sisters of Jesus.

Some theologians also insist that Mary’s Motherhood of Jesus is an important element in God’s creative plan. God ‘first’ thought in creating was Jesus–Jesus the incarnate of the word is the one who could give God’s perfect love and worship on behalf of all creation. As Jesus was ‘first’ in God’s mind, Mary was ‘second’ insofar as she was chosen from ‘all eternity’ to be His Mother.

The precise title ‘Mother of God’ goes back at least to the 3rd or 4th century. In the Greek form ‘Theotokos’ (God’s bearer) it became the touchstone of the Church’s teaching of the Incarnation.

The ‘Council of Ephesus’ in 431 insisted that the Holy Fathers, were correct in calling the  Holy Virgin ‘Theotokos’ at the end of this particular session, crowds of people marched through the street shouting: “Praised be the Theotokos.”

The tradition reaches to our own day, in its chapter of Mary’s role in the Church. Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church calls Mary ‘Mother of God’ 12 times.

Today Christians Honor The ‘Holy Innocents’

Holy Innocents‘Holy Innocents’ –Image Courtesy: The Balanced Center 

(Franciscan Media) King of Judea ‘Herod the Great’ was unpopular with people because of his connections with the Romans and his religious indifference, hence he was insecure and fearful of any threat to his throne–a master politician and a tyrant, capable of extreme brutality, he killed his wife, his brother and his sister’s two husbands to name only a few.

Matthew 2:1-18 tells the story: Herod was (greatly) troubled when astrologers from the East came asking the whereabouts of the newborn King of the Jews, whose Star they had seen–they were told that the Jewish scriptures named Bethlehem as the place where the Messiah would be born. Herod cunningly told them to report back to him so that he too could go and pay homage. They found Jesus, offered Him their gifts and warned by an angel, they avoided Herod on their way back home–Joseph and Mary subsequently escaped with Jesus to Egypt.

King Herod became furious and ordered the massacre of all boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity 2 yrs of age and younger–The horror of the massacre and the devastation of the Mother’s and Fathers led Matthew to quote Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children–refused to be consoled because they were no more.” —Matthew 2:18

Rachel was the wife of Jacob/Israel, is pictured as weeping at the place where the Israelites (descendants of Jacob) were herded together by a conquering Assyrians for their march into captivity.

More here on the ‘Holy Innocents’ from EWTN

Today Christians Honor St. Stephen the First Martyr For Christ, Patron Saint of Bricklayers & Deacons

Saint Stephen...Saint Stephen the Martyr –Image: Saint a Day@Twitter

(Franciscan Media) In the last three days, the Church through its sacred Liturgy, has seen three different Liturgical colors: Violent at the end of Advent–White or even Gold in some places, as on Christmas Day, we entered into the mystery of the birth of our Savior and today Red, as we celebrate St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, known to give his life after Jesus Christ ascended to the Father.

The birth of our Lord that we celebrated at Christmas, ultimately points to His passion and death on the Cross. The reason the Son assumed human nature was to identify with us, to live among us and to sacrifice His life for our salvation. The Son of God did not need to be born like us to have life, He had life from all eternity, thus He did not come into the world to live but to die.

It is appropriate that Saint Stephen’s martyrdom is celebrated immediately after the birth of our Lord–Saint Stephen confessed that God came among us in the flesh, lived among us, suffered, died, rose from the dead and ascended to the Father.

Celebrating martyrdom the day after Christmas, reminds us that God the Son, born of the Virgin Mary, that Little Boy in the crib of Bethlehem was born to die.

On the Feast of Saint Stephen in 2003, Blessed (now) Saint John Paul II said, “It is so meaningful the First Martyr the day after Christmas. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, gave His life for us so that we too reborn ‘from on high’ through faith and baptism, might be willing to give up our own lives for love of our brothers and sisters.”

Saint Stephen died as Jesus did, falsely accused, brought to unjust condemnation  because he spoke the truth fearlessly dying with his eyes truthfully fixed on God with a prayer of forgiveness on his lips.

A ‘happy’ death is one that finds us in the same spirit, whether our dying is as quiet as Joseph’s as as violent as Stephen’s–dying with courage, total trust and forgiving love.

More here on Saint Stephen the Martyr -EWTN

Related: Feast of Saint Stephen the First Martyr –USCCB

Christmas Day, Christians Celebrate The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

Nativity PictureSolemnity of the Nativity –Image: St Athanasius Church Norwich, UK

(Franciscan Media) On Christmas Day, the Church focuses especially on the new born Child Jesus, God became human, who embodies for us all the hope and peace we seek. We need no other Special Saint to lead us to Christ in the manger, although His Mother Mary and Joseph caring for his foster Son, help round out the scene.

If we were to select a Patron Saint, perhaps it might be appropriate for us to imagine an anonymous shepherd, summoned to the birthplace by a wondrous and even disturbing a vision in the night–a summons from an angelic choir, promising peace and goodwill. A shepherd willing to seek out something that might be just too unbelievable to chase after and yet compelling enough to leave behind their flocks in the field and search for the mystery.

On the day of our Lord’s birth, let an ‘uncelebrity’ at the edge of the crowd, model for us the way to discover Christ in our own hearts–somewhere between skepticism, wonder, between mystery and faith. Like Mary and the Shepherds, let us treasure that discovery in our hearts.

Related: Solemnity of the Nativity at the Vigil Mass –USCCB

On Christmas Eve, Christians Celebrate The ‘Christmas at Greccio’

Christmas at Greccio(Franciscan Media) What a better way to prepare for the arrival of the Christ Child then to take a brief journey to Greccio, the spot in Central Italy where St. Francis of Assisi created the first Christmas crib in 1223

Francis recalling a visit he had made years before to Bethlehem, resolved to create the manger that he had seen there. The ideal spot was a cave in nearby Greccio. One would find a baby (we’re unsure if it was a live infant or the carved image of a baby) hay upon which to lay him, an ox and a donkey to stand beside the manger. Word went out to the people of the town–at the appointed time, they arrived carrying torches and candles.

One of the Friars began celebrating Mass–Francis himself gave a sermon. His biographer Thomas of Celano recalls that Francis ‘stood before the manger…overcome with love and filled with a wonderful happiness.’

For Francis, the simple celebration was meant to recall the hardship Jesus suffered even as an infant, a Savior who chose to become poor for our sake, a truly human Jesus.

On Christmas Eve, as we pray around the Christmas cribs in our homes, we welcome into our hearts that same Savior.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Happy Birthday JesusJesus is the Reason for the Season –Image: Christian Cinema@Facebook

H/T: Debbie Ellis@Facebook

Merry Christmas Blessings!

Every Knee Shall BowThat at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth…and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father –Philippians 2:10-11
Image Courtesy: Sister Mary Clark

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance.
The Lord is at hand.

Have no anxiety about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:4-7

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas, Patron Saint of Bakers, Children & Travelers

Saint NicholasSaint Nicholas (270-343)

(Franciscan Media) The absence of ‘hard facts’ of history is not necessarily an obstacle to the popularity of Saints, as the devotion to Saint Nicholas shows–both the Eastern and Westerns Churches honor him and it is claimed that after the Blessed Virgin, he is the Saint most pictured by Christian artists and yet historically, we can pinpoint only the fact that Nicholas, was the 4th Century Bishop of Myra a City in Lycia a Province of Asia Minor–geographic region in the South Western part of Asia composing what is present day Turkey.

As with many of the Saints, we are able to capture the relationship that Nicholas had with God through the admiration which Christians have with Him–an admiration expressed in the colorful stories which have been told and retold down through the centuries.

Perhaps the best known story of Nicholas concerns his charity towards a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters of marriageable age. Rather than see them forced into prostitution, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold through the poor man’s window on three separate occasions, thus enabling the daughters to be married.

Over the centuries this particular legend evolved into the custom of gift-giving on the Saint’s feast.

In the English speaking countries, St Nicholas became by the twist of the tongue ‘Santa Claus’ further expanding the example of generosity portrayed by this Holy Bishop.

More here from Catholic Online

An Inspiration Of Time With God For Today

Ready For ChristmasThe Angel said to them, “Do not be afraid for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy of all people. To you is born this day in the City of David a Savior who is the Messiah, the Lord.” –Luke 2:10-11
Image Courtesy: Respect Life Los Angeles

For a Child has been born for us, a Son given to us, authority rests upon His shoulders and He is named Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. –Isaiah 9:6

Raise your voice and tell the Good News.
Behold the Lord God comes with might. –Isaiah 40:9-10

“Stand up and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28B

Related: For Today’s Bible Readings and More Visit -USCCB

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of “Good King” Saint Wenceslaus, Martyr for Christ

Saint Wenceslaus

Saint Wenceslaus (907-929)
Image: Pinterest

(EWTN) Born in Prague Bohemia what is today the Czech Republic, Wenceslaus was the son of Duke Wratislaw a Christian and Dragomir a wicked heathen according to Catholic Encyclopedia — Wenceslaus received a good Christian education from his Grandmother Saint Ludmilla (Feast Day: 18 September)

Following the death of his father (Duke Wratislaw) Dragomir, acting as regent, opposed Christianity — Wenceslaus was urged by the people to take the reigns of government, he would place his Duchy, under the protection of Germany and introduced German Priests.

Wenceslaus took the vow of chastity and became known and respected for his virtues. — Emperor Otto I conferred on him the regal dignity and title.

For religious and national motives and at the instigation of his evil mother Dragomir, Wenceslaus was murdered by his brother Boleslaw at the door of the Church according to SQPN and buried there. 

Emperor Otto responded to Wenceslaus death by invading Bohemia according to Catholic News Agency and engaging in battle for several years conquering the region. Otto I forced Boleslaw (some write Boleslaus) to reverse the anti-Christian measures that he and his evil mother Dragomir had taken.

There is no evidence that Dragomir who died soon after the murder of Wenceslaus ever repented for the murder of her son. Boleslaw however came to regret his wicked deed of murdering his own brother (and repented) when he learned of miracles that were taking place where Wenceslaus was buried.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on this date in 2009 in the Czech Republic during his homily said: “This is the lesson we can learn from Saint Wenceslaus, who had the courage to prefer the Kingdom of Heaven to the enticement of world power. His gaze never moved away from Jesus Christ who suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps…As an obedient disciple of the Lord, the young Prince Wenceslaus, remained faithful to the Gospel teachings he had learned from his Grandmother Saint Ludmilla — In observing these, even before committing himself to build peaceful relations within his lands and with neighboring countries, he took steps to spread the Christian faith, summoning Priests and building Churches…he was benevolent to the poor, clothed the naked, gave food to the hungry, welcomed Pilgrims just as the Gospel enjoins. He (Wenceslaus) did not allow injustice to be done to widows, he loved all people whether rich or poor. — He learned from the Lord to be merciful and gracious…”

Saint Wenceslaus is the subject of the well known favorite Christmas Carol ‘Good King Wenceslaus’ written  in 1853 by English Hymnwriter John Mason Neale in collaboration with music editor Thomas Helmore.

More here from American Catholic