Shepherds of Christ  
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December 25, 2009

December 26th Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 6 Period II.

The Novena Rosary Mysteries  
for December 26th are Luminous.

      

Please pray for a special intention.

   

                December 25, 2009

                Life

                God gives us so much

                The babies eye
                The babies hands
                The babies ear —

                And it usually works pretty good
                    a whole life time

                God gives us order

                The trees have their day —

                They are small —

                In this area they shed their
                    leaves —
                    go into dormancy
                    and they come out so beautiful again —

                God gives us smiles
                God wants us happy

                We have physical needs
                God gives us each other

                Our toes are a gift —
                Look at the babies toes

                The wonder of a child —
                The smile of a child —
                The desire to learn —
                The beauty of a child —

                The need of an infant for their parents
                Why can't we see how we need God —
                God runs the universe —
                God gives us our breathe —

                The very hairs of our head are
                    numbered, it says in the
                    Bible —

                God is watching us — like
                    players on a stage

                He watches our performance
                The Play we are performing
                    is called "love"

                God wants us to be kind — kind
                    to those we are called to
                    live with —

                Love for all souls so they get
                    to heaven — God has commissioned
                    us to baptism to spread
                    the Good News

                Love for the Plan of God
                Love to do God's will

                Love to know we are creatures and
                    we are dependent on the
                    Creator

                Look at the baby how they have
                    so much to learn — how they
                    are so dependent on their parents —
                    how they have all the things to
                    learn about —
                    how they smile and recognize they
                        are important in a good home —
                    babies want to be loved — they have
                        this need

                We are here and we were created to love
                    and to be loved —

John 3: 16

For this is how God loved the world: 
he gave his only Son, 
so that everyone who believes in him 
    may not perish 
but may have eternal life.

 
                The human person has so many gifts
                    from God, talents to do His work
                    and we can sell ourselves
                    short —
                    working against God's will —
                    being selfish —
                    sitting on a pity-pot

                We don't want to be like
                Old people who are too blind to
                see — that they can't see physically and
                    can't see because they lack
                    vision of the Father's plan —

                Old people — who could get more bitter —
                    can't move so good — because
                    they could be angry inside —
                    nobody loves them —
                    when they pushed everybody away —

                Old people crying — I was not nice —
                    I wasted my life — moaning —
                    arguing and I didn't bring
                    the sun shine to others

                It's our choice
                    Life is short
                    We have one life to live
                    Joy comes in doing it God's way —
                    Loving others - means - being
                    kind - not getting on a pity-pot —
                    of wounded emotions — mad at
                    others and
                    wanting them to come running to
                        make us feel good

                Babies can do this
                They have needs —
                They must be watched

                God loves us so much —
                He is watching us
                He will bless us

                He sends people in our lives
                    that love us —

                We must be grateful and work with
                    them building God's Kingdom

                Life goes by really fast —

                Babies want love
                Babies are dependent on parents —

                God gives us love
                God sends us people to love and be
                    loved by us

                How can we be selfish, push them
                    away, bitter and expect them
                    to come running back after
                    that —

                God put us here to be focused on
                    what He wants —
                    loving others —
                    seeing with the vision God wants —
                    seeing with the wonder of a child

                Using all our talents as God wants —
                    for our heavenly Father —
                    We are children of God —
                    We are to live to please Him —

                God sees our performance
                God wants to see our smiles —
                God wants us to be grateful —

                God wants us to see our dependency
                    on Him — like a baby is
                    dependent on their parents —

                Little toes to grow
                Little fingers to learn to write and
                    play the piano, make music
                    and do good things —

                Our spiritual life — growing in
                    virtue — faith, hope and love—
                    temperance, humility, justice,
                    fortitude, prudence
   

1 Corinthians 13: 1-13  

Though I command languages both human and angelic—if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains—if I am without love, I am nothing. Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned—if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever. 

    Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. 

    Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways. Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known. 

    As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.

   

                Little children growing - from baby -
                    to toddler, to school age, to grade
                    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, to high school,
                    to college

                Little children of the Father
                    growing in the life of virtue
                    baptized and being filled more and
                        more with His life in us

                Little children learning about sharing
                    and friends and school work —
                    skills and friendship

                Little children of the Father — meditating
                    on the rosary —

                Jesus a baby in the womb of Mary

 

                The Holy Spirit teaching us — counseling
                    us — giving us gifts —

                        Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel,
                        Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety
                        and Fear of the Lord 

                    the fruits of the Holy Spirit

                        charity, joy, peace, patience,
                        benignity (kindness), goodness,
                        long-suffering, mildness,
                        faith, modesty, continency,
                        and chastity

                Discerning the spirits —
                    1) ones from the evil spirit
                    2) our own thoughts — good and bad
                    3) the Holy Spirit counseling us — leading
                        us to know God — to live
                        in the Father's will

                    Disorder — children must learn —
                a toddler will dump the pepper
                when he first arrives at the dinner —
                he has to learn about pepper and
                salt or another toddler may throw
                away good things in a flip trash can —
                After a big dinner and lots of dishes
                a small toddler who loves buttons
                cuts off the dishwasher playing with
                the buttons — the next load of dishes
                two hours later cannot be loaded —
                on starting it again — the same
                toddler will come over to fix the
                buttons on the dishwasher to

                    NO WASH DONE —

                    Toddlers are learning — Parents watch —
                God the Father has the Plan — the Holy Spirit
                counsels us to do His will — we follow
                in the footprints of Jesus —

                    Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwell in a special
                way in the graced, baptized, soul —
                we share in His life —

                    Mary is our spiritual Mother —
                    Mary is espoused to the Holy Spirit —

                 

 

The Joyful Mysteries

 

                The Annunciation

                (1) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mother Of Christ - Chapter 1

   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." . . .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. . . ." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." (Lk. 1:30-38).

                (2) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mother Of Christ - Chapter 1 - continues

   "The Blessed Virgin was eternally predestined, in conjunction with the Incarnation of the Divine Word, to be the Mother of God. By decree of divine Providence, she served on earth as the loving mother of the divine Redeemer, an associate of unique nobility, and the Lord's humble handmaid. She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ. She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him in suffering as He died on the cross. In an utterly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls." (Vatican II).1

1. The Documents of Vatican II (New York: The America Press, 1966), Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 61.


                (3) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mother Of Christ - Chapter 1 - continues

    The above words of Scripture and of the Second Vatican Council tell us of a most awesome truth—that Mary truly is the Mother of Jesus, that she truly is the Mother of God.

                (4) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mother Of Christ - Chapter 1 - continues

   To speak of Mary, then, is to speak of Christ. Mary's entire life was centered on Christ. No human has ever followed Christ as closely as has Mary. Mary's spiritual life was perfectly centered in Jesus as she went with Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit.

                (5) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mother Of Christ - Chapter 1 - continues

   As the words of Vatican II tell us, Mary cooperated with Jesus in His redemptive effort. Throughout much of the time she was physically present to Him. At those times when she was not at His side, she was united with Him through a profound spiritual union. She was totally dedicated to Him and to His cause. She was His first and perfect disciple. She loved Him with a devotion and an intensity beyond our full comprehension.

                (6) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mother Of Christ - Chapter 1 - continues

   All of Mary's other God-given gifts flow from her divine motherhood—from the fact that she is the Mother of Jesus. Her Immaculate Conception, her fullness of grace, her freedom from actual sin, her perpetual virginity, her bodily Assumption into Heaven—these and all her other gifts flow from her divine maternity.

                (7) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mother Of Christ - Chapter 1 - continues

   One of these gifts not yet mentioned is her role as our spiritual mother. Yes, because Mary is the Mother of Christ, she is also our mother. This is a marvelous and most consoling reality upon which to further reflect.

                (8) Song: See the Eyes that Look at Mary

                (9) Song: Little Babies Hands and Feet

                (10) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mother At Our Side - Chapter 2

   Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." (Jn. 19:25-27).
 

   "In an utterly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace." (Vatican II).2
 

   Mary is the Mother of Jesus. She is also our Mother. The above words of Scripture and of the Second Vatican Council attest to this.

   Jesus has given us Mary as our spiritual mother. As He hung upon the cross, Jesus told John to look upon Mary as his mother, this John who represents all of us. In His moment of deepest anguish and suffering, Jesus was thinking of us. As the indescribable physical pain racked His body from head to toe, as the unfathomable spiritual anguish penetrated to the depths of His Heart, Jesus was thinking of us. If we allow this scene to penetrate into our hearts, if we take the time to contemplate the depth of Jesus' and Mary's love for us as Their Hearts were pierced with grief, we are truly overwhelmed with the magnificent greatness and tenderness of the scene. Jesus was proclaiming Mary to be Mother of the Redemption. He was telling us that Mary is Mother to all peoples.

   The fact that Mary is our mother, the fact that she has such a powerful role to play in our salvation in no way detracts from the mediatorship of Christ. Vatican II states:
 

   "We have but one Mediator, as we know from the words of the Apostle: "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all." (1 Tim. 2:5-6). The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. For all the saving influences of the Blessed Virgin on men originate, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. They flow forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rest on His mediation, depend entirely on it, and draw all their power from it. In no way do they impede the immediate union of the faithful with Christ. Rather they foster this union."3
  

   In saying that Mary is our spiritual mother, we are saying that Mary is the mother of our Christ-life. What is this life? Can we define it?

   At Baptism the Persons of the Trinity communicate so intimately to us that, as a result, they leave their imprint or image upon us. This Trinitarian image is our life of sanctifying grace. This life of grace is a created participation in God's life, and since this gift of grace is mediated by Christ in His humanity, this Trinitarian image also has a Christic aspect. Christ as man has shown us how to live a God-like existence. He has shown us how to live the life of grace. This life of grace we possess allows us to enjoy the special presence of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Truly, the divine Persons dwell within us.

   Whether we refer to this life as the Christ-life, the life of grace, life in the Holy Spirit, or by other names, we are referring to one and the same reality. This reality, again, is the Christic, Trinitarian image given us through the Trinitarian communication.
 

   St. Paul speaks of our life of grace in terms of our being baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus (Rom. 6:1-11). Again, Jesus mediates our life of grace. He has shown us how to live a Christ-like existence. Since Jesus' paschal mystery of death-resurrection sums up His own human existence, so it sums up our own. This is what St. Paul is telling us. Paul tells us that we live our life of Baptism, our life of grace, by continually dying and rising with Jesus—rising to a greater share in Christ's resurrection. Indeed, we live resurrection now and hereafter. Living death-resurrection involves all of our Christian activities. While not giving an all-inclusive list, we do include the following: the reading of Scripture, prayer, the performance of daily duties, the doing of penance, making sacrifices, our jobs, periods of rest and relaxation, sharing meals with loved ones, reception of the sacraments, and, especially, participation in the Eucharist which is both sacrifice and sacrament.

   This is our glorious existence made possible by God's great love for us and a major truth of this glorious existence is the fact that Jesus has given us Mary as our spiritual mother. Mary is the Mother of our Christ-life. In her loving, maternal role, she cooperates with the Holy Spirit in forming Christ in us. Pope John Paul II tells us:
 

   "The Church knows and teaches that all the saving influences of the Blessed Virgin on mankind originate from the divine pleasure. . .This saving influence is sustained by the Holy Spirit, Who, just as He overshadowed the Virgin Mary when He began in her the divine motherhood, in a similar way constantly sustains her solicitude for the brothers and sisters of her Son.''4
 

   Mary our mother is ever with us, guiding us, teaching us, caring for us, protecting us, loving us. With her maternal assistance we go to the Father through and with Christ in the Holy Spirit.

   Mary nourishes our growth in Christ with a very tender and specialized love for each of us. She regards each of us as a precious, unique individual. John Paul II again speaks to us:
  

   "Of the essence of motherhood is the fact that it concerns the person. Motherhood always establishes a unique and unrepeatable relationship between two people: between mother and child and between child and mother. Even when the same woman is the mother of many children, her personal relationship with each one of them is of the very essence of motherhood. For each child is generated in a unique and unrepeatable way, and this is true both for the mother and for the child."4
 

   The Holy Father then applies these ideas to Mary and us:
 

   "It can be said that motherhood in the order of grace preserves the analogy with what in the order of nature characterizes the union between mother and child. In the light of this fact it becomes easier to understand why in Christ's testament on Golgotha, His Mother's new motherhood is expressed in the singular, in reference to one man. Behold, your son."5
 

   This is the awesome and consoling truth—you and I are very precious to Mary. She loves us much more than we can ever fathom. It is our great privilege and responsibility to love her in return. She asks for this love, she asks for our trust. As we give our love and trust to our mother, she wants us to come to her at all times and in all circumstances.

   Are we sorrowful, anxious, troubled? Let us go to Mary our mother and ask her to console us. Let us ask her for the grace to handle our sorrow, our anxieties, our troubles properly—according to God's will. In this way our suffering will bring us closer to Christ as it simultaneously allows us to contribute to the ongoing Christianization of the world.

   Are we joyful, happy, basking in the glow of a goal successfully accomplished? Let us go to Mary and ask her to help us handle our joy, our happiness, our success as God intends. Let us petition her not to allow our joy to make us forgetful of God, our God Who is the source of all true joy, success, and happiness.

   Are we finding it particularly difficult to follow Christ in the here-and-now? In child-like trust we can approach our mother. Let us ask her for the grace to realize that the following of Christ is not always easy—that at times being a follower of Christ challenges our courage in a special way. We can also ask Mary to help us realize that even at such difficult times, Christ's grace makes our burden relatively light. Jesus has told us:
 

   Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
   Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.
(Mt.11:28-30).
 

   Are we finding it is particularly easy to follow Christ in the here-and-now? Let us go to Mary and ask her for the grace to remain humble. Let us beseech Mary to keep us from being inflated with pride, and ask her to help us realize that without Jesus we can do nothing.
 

   Mary, then, asks for our complete trust. She wants us always to seek shelter under her maternal mantle. She invites us to come to her in all circumstances—whether it be in joy or sorrow, success or failure, laughter or tears. Mary wants us to share in her maternal wisdom so that we may understand how to use our various experiences to come closer to God in Christ. Sharing our lives with Mary in this fashion, and on a consistent basis, requires that we love her, that we trust her, that we surrender ourselves to her maternal love.

   Help us, Mother Mary, to probe ever more deeply into the depths of your love for us. Help us to realize more and more that to be loved by you is to experience a sweetness, a warmth, a tenderness, a serenity, a security, which makes us cry out, "O Mother, how good and loving you are!"
        ___________

  1. 2. Ibid., No. 62.

  2. 3. Ibid., No. 60.

  3. 4. Pope John Paul II, The Mother of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Mater) (Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1987), No. 38.

  4. 5. Ibid., No. 45.

  

  

                The Visitation

                (1) Luke 1: 39-45

Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

                (2) Luke 1: 46-55

And Mary said:

My soul proclaims
    the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit rejoices
    in God my Saviour;
because he has looked upon
    the humiliation of his servant.
Yes, from now onwards
    all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty
    has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his faithful love extends age after age
    to those who fear him.
He has used the power of his arm,
he has routed the arrogant of heart.
He has pulled down princes
    from their thrones
        and raised high the lowly.
He has filled the starving with good things,
    sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the help
    of Israel his servant,
        mindful of his faithful love
—according to the promise
    he made to our ancestors—
of his mercy to Abraham
    and to his descendants for ever.

 

                (3) Sing: Holy, Holy Is His Name

                (4) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mary And Our Personal Uniqueness - Chapter 3

    "Of the essence of motherhood is the fact that it concerns the person. Motherhood always establishes a unique and unrepeatable relationship between two people: between mother and child and between child and mother. Even when the same woman is the mother of many children, her personal relationship with each one of them is of the very essence of motherhood. . .

    "It can be said that motherhood 'in the order of grace' preserves the analogy with what 'in the order of nature' characterizes the union between mother and child." (Pope John Paul II).6

                (5) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mary And Our Personal Uniqueness - Chapter 3 - continues

    We have already used these words in the previous chapter. We repeat them here for the purpose of discussing the concept of personal uniqueness. Each of us is unique—a unique reflection of God. Out of each one's uniqueness flows a special God-given mission. Cardinal Newman observes: "Everyone who breathes, high and low, educated and ignorant, young and old, man and woman, has a mission, has a work. We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random. . . God sees every one of us; He creates every soul, He lodges it in a body, one by one, for a purpose."7

    And as Pope John Paul tells us, we each have a unique relationship with Mary. She loves each one of us very dearly, each in his or her own uniqueness. She knows each of us has the awesome privilege and responsibility of allowing Christ to live in and through this personal uniqueness. As Mary cooperates with the Holy Spirit in forming Christ in us, she works with the Spirit in assisting us to accomplish our personal mission in life.

                (6) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mary And Our Personal Uniqueness - Chapter 3 - continues

    Each day we can strive to accomplish our mission under Mary's maternal mantle. Let us each day entrust ourselves to Mary's Immaculate Heart and dwell within this most pure haven. Here we feel loved, safe, confident, courageous in our efforts to act that day as the Father wills. Dwelling within Mary's Heart, we face our daily challenge of working with Christ to lessen the world's evil and to promote its goodness. Aware of Mary's special and unique love for each of us, we are strengthened in our attempt to accomplish our God-given mission in all the various circumstances of life within the human condition. Amidst joy and sorrow, success and failure, acceptance and rejection, laughter and tears—amidst whatever comprises each day's existence—we should rest secure knowing Mary is Mother at our side.

                (7) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mary And Our Personal Uniqueness - Chapter 3 - continues

    We should not waste time bemoaning the fact that we do not possess this or that gift which another has in abundance. We have the gifts God intends for us. We have the gifts we need to accomplish our mission in life. Concentrate to develop these gifts for love of God and neighbor because how we use these gifts is what we will be judged on—not on the fact that we lacked this or that talent.

                (8) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mary And Our Personal Uniqueness - Chapter 3 - continues

    I cannot accomplish your mission in life. You cannot accomplish mine. Each of us has something to give to Christ, His Church, and His world which no other can contribute. Again, this is an awesome privilege and responsibility.

                (9) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mary And Our Personal Uniqueness - Chapter 3 - continues

    God has given us Mary so that she may assist us in living out this privilege and responsibility and we should daily ask her for wisdom to grow in the understanding of all that our mission involves. We should also petition her for the courage not to shirk the responsibility, but joyously to embrace it for the greater glory of God. With her mother's sense of pride, she wants us to succeed in fulfilling God's plan for us. The more we entrust ourselves to her, the more she places us with Christ so that He may live in and through us to further Christianize the world.

                (10) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - Mary And Our Personal Uniqueness - Chapter 3 - continues

    Yes, the more we entrust ourselves to Mary our Mother, the more we will be able to live out the truth Cardinal Newman puts before us: "We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random. . . God sees every one of us; He creates every soul, He lodges it in a body, one by one, for a purpose."
__________

  1. 6. Pope John Paul II, The Mother of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Mater) (Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1987), No. 45.

  2. 7. John Cardinal Newman, Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1906), pp. 111-12.

      

 

                Birth of Jesus

                (1) Luke 2: 1-20

Now it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the whole inhabited world. This census—the first—took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judaea, to David’s town called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first–born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living–space. In the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night. An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God with the words: 

    Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
    and on earth peace for those he favours. 

    Now it happened that when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds said to them. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as they had been told.

                (2) Sing: Silent Night

                (3) Sing: What Child Is This

                (4) Sing: A Song from Jesus

                (5) Sing: God's Love

                (6) Hail Mary

                (7) Sing: I Love You Jesus

                (8) Sing: Teach Me to Love with Your Heart

                (9) Sing: Come to My Heart

                (10) Sing: Your Presence Pervades My Soul

  

                The Presentation in the Temple

                (1) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - The Cross Leads To Life - Chapter 9

   . . .and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." (Lk. 2:35).
 

   Our incorporation into the mystery of Christ at baptism, and our growth in this life, is centered in the pattern of death-resurrection: Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were  indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. (Rom. 6:3-4).

                (2) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - The Cross Leads To Life - Chapter 9 - continues

   The theme of death-resurrection is at the heart of salvation history. It is a recurrent theme in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.

   The Jewish people, under the leadership of Moses, experienced death-resurrection as they were formed into the people of the covenant—Yahweh's people. In the great Exodus event, they escaped Egyptian slavery, went on to Mt. Sinai where the covenant was ratified, and then progressed to the Promised Land. As members of the Mosaic covenant, the Jews experienced a religious transition; they passed over to a higher level of religious existence—to a more intimate union with God.

   This religious transition contained death-resurrection. For the Jews to become people of the covenant, to remain so, and to grow in the life of the covenant, it was necessary that they undergo a mystical or spiritual death. In short, they had to be willing to pay a price. They had to be willing to bear with that which was difficult in covenant life. This mystical death, however, had a very positive purpose; it was directed at life in the covenant and at growth in that life. This spiritual death, in other words, was for the purpose of resurrection.

                (3) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - The Cross Leads To Life - Chapter 9 - continues

   Christ perfectly fulfilled the Old Testament theme of death-resurrection. In doing so, He was experiencing a religious transition. He was passing over—gradually, at first, and then definitively in His death—to a new kind of existence, to the life of resurrection. He achieved this life not only for Himself, but for us also. To achieve this new life of resurrection, Jesus was willing to pay the price. He was willing to suffer, even unto death. That it had to be this way—that the only way Jesus could have achieved resurrection was through suffering and death—was pointed out by Jesus Himself to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Lk. 24:25-26).

   Christ has structured the Christian life by the way He lived, died, and rose from the dead. It is obvious, then, that the pattern of death-resurrection must be at the heart of the Church's life. Mary, as Mother of the Church and our mother, is in a most advantageous position to show us our own individual roads to Calvary and support us as we carry the cross, each of us on our own as well as the Church as a whole. She already traveled that road in perfect acceptance of the death-resurrection struggle as she was always most closely united with the work of her Son. Individually and collectively, we are meant to continually die in Christ so that we may continually rise in Christ. We thus pass over in a process of continued religious transition to a greater participation in Jesus' resurrection. It is true that our participation in Christ's resurrection will reach its culmination only in eternity. Nevertheless, we begin the life of resurrection here upon this earth, in the here-and-now of human life, in the midst of joy and pain, in the experience of success and failure, in the sweat of our brow, in the enjoyment of God's gifts.

                (4) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - The Cross Leads To Life - Chapter 9 - continues

   We cannot maintain the life of resurrection or grow in it without a willingness to suffer. This does not mean that we need to feel overwhelmed and heavily burdened by the suffering in our lives. The greater portion of suffering for most of us seems to be an accumulation of ordinary hardships and pains. At times, more penetrating suffering—even suffering of agonizing proportions—can enter our life. Whether the sufferings are either of the more ordinary variety or the rare and extreme type, Christians must convince themselves that to properly relate to the cross is to grow in resurrection.
 

   The great tragedy regarding human suffering is not that there is so much of it, but that apparently so much of it is wasted. Apparently many do not relate to suffering properly—according to God's will. Consequently, they fail to use suffering as a means to growth. Again, our mother's fiat can be a vivid reminder to persevere through even our most difficult trials.

                (5) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - The Cross Leads To Life - Chapter 9 - continues

   As the opening Scripture passage tells us, Our Lady was no stranger to suffering. As we well know, her life of suffering culminated in her extreme agony beneath the cross. Who can fathom the depth of her grief as she watched her innocent Son suffer the excruciating pain and death of crucifixion? In the church of San Domingo in Puebla, Mexico, there is one of the most striking representations of Mary that I have ever seen. Near the front of the church, and to the right as one faces the altar, there is a figure of our Blessed Mother seated in a chair. She is dressed in a black robe with gold trim. Atop her white veil is a black lace veil of mourning. On her lap is Christ's crown of thorns. Mary gazes down at this crown which had been so cruelly and derisively placed upon Jesus. The expression on Mary's face is one of the most moving I have seen. It is a combination of grief, dignity, and beauty. It is indeed easy to shed tears as one beholds this figure of Mary. It tells us so much about Mary. It tells us that she not only is the Mother of Joy, but also the Mother of Sorrows.

   Yes, our dearest Mother Mary knows what it is like to suffer. She knows so well the purpose of suffering in God's plan. By asking her to obtain for us the grace to grow in wisdom, we can increasingly understand the role of suffering in our own lives. Asking her for the grace not to waste suffering, we can learn to use it as a means of growth for ourselves and others.

                (6) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - The Cross Leads To Life - Chapter 9 - continues

   One of the most traditional forms of the experience of the cross which spiritual masters have always discussed is self-discipline or asceticism. People in all walks of life require self-discipline. The athlete must subject himself or herself to rigorous training; the musician must endure long hours of practice; the doctor must be willing to order his or her life to the vigorous demands of the medical profession.

   The Christian life, too, has its own form of discipline, and it is necessary for the greater assimilation of our total being to Christ. Christian self-discipline, or asceticism, helps us grow in the Christ-life. It extends to all aspects of the person—intellect, will, imagination, memory, sight, hearing, taste, touch, and so forth.

                (7) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - The Cross Leads To Life - Chapter 9 - continues

   Renunciation is another form of dying with Jesus, which, over the years, has been given much attention in the teaching of the spiritual masters. Indeed, the New Testament itself attests to the undeniable role that renunciation plays in the Christian life. The gentle St. Luke, for example, teaches Jesus' message of  renunciation—a message which Jesus Himself lived. Renunciation was obviously not the only aspect of Christ's life, but it was an undeniable one. Christians, because they are followers of Christ, must also include renunciation in their lives regardless of their individual vocations. Again, it is well to remind ourselves that we embrace renunciation for the sake of life. This was the purpose of renunciation in Jesus' life, and it must have the same purpose in ours. 

   Acts of renunciation are life-promoting regarding ourselves and others. Let us always remember what Our Lady of Fatima has said: Pray, pray, a great deal, and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to make sacrifices and pray for them.24 And the angel said to the Fatima visionaries: Make everything you do a sacrifice, and offer it as an act of reparation for the sins by which God is offended, and as a petition for the conversion of sinners.25 All our good actions, including the enjoyable and pleasant ones, can be offered as sacrifices. In the stricter sense, our sacrifices include those actions which involve doing that which is difficult or which involves acts of renunciation.

                (8) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - The Cross Leads To Life - Chapter 9 - continues

   A good example of an act of renunciation is the practice of fasting which Our Lady of Medjugorje requests of us. She asks us to renounce our regular habits of eating and drinking on Wednesdays and Fridays. Mary tells us that the best way to fast on these days is to partake only of bread and water. If one is unable to fast in this manner, he or she should practice that type of renunciation which is possible. We should remember that fasting is a practice contained in New Testament teaching.

   There are, of course, many other forms of carrying the cross besides those of self-discipline and renunciation. There is that very common form of bearing the cross which is involved in the proper living of every day. There is nothing dramatic about this form of suffering, and, precisely because it seems so uneventful, it is difficult to properly relate to it in a consistent fashion. On particular occasions, we might feel that a quick death by martyrdom would be easier than the daily dying which involves all sorts of little sufferings or crosses. But this daily dying is a precious type of suffering, and to grow in the realization of its importance is a significant sign of spiritual progress. It is a sign that we have the spiritual discernment to comprehend that God so often situates the cross within the ordinariness of everyday life.

                (9) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - The Cross Leads To Life - Chapter 9 - continues

   Crucial decision-making is also a form of the cross. Making a decision, we realize, is extremely important for both ourselves and others. We can seek advice from others, but in the last analysis we know—oh, how well we know—that, ultimately, we alone must make the decision before God. We pray for light and strength, for we realize that we need help not only to make the proper decision, but also to deal with the pain which is inevitably involved.

   The experience of failure is another suffering that we encounter in various degrees along the path of life. In failure there is a twofold pain—the pain of having failed and that involved in having to begin again. The pain of having failed must not be wasted. We must use it to become better persons.

   Rejection, in various forms, is another pain not uncommon to human experience. Many have experienced rejection because of race or ethnic origin. Although we ourselves might not have experienced this type of rejection, there are other kinds. We may have felt, for instance, a certain ostracism in not being accepted. When our ideas and opinions are not accepted by others, we feel the sting of yet another kind of rejection. And how many there are who have experienced that very painful rejection, being rejected in a romantic relationship.

                (10) From Mother at Our Side by Fr. Edward Carter, S.J. - The Cross Leads To Life - Chapter 9 - continues

   Another common form of suffering is the experience of loneliness. There are two basic kinds of loneliness—that which need not be and that which cannot be avoided. And who has not experienced the pain connected with illness or injury? Some must bear this cross to a much greater degree than others. Some, indeed, have had their lives very significantly changed because of serious illness or injury. Let us pray for these so that they may have the love and courage to live with their cross according to God's will.

   The above examples describe some of the ways in which the cross enters our lives. We can each probably add one or two more to our own list. In any case, we need to remember that we have a special prayer partner to help guide us along the way. She knows suffering and she certainly knows her Son. She is always by our side.

   In conclusion, let us again remind ourselves that the cross is meant to lead us to greater life—here and in eternity. Let us always strive to live by the words Jesus has left as: Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Lk. 9:23-24).

  1. 24. Our Lady's Peace Plan, op. cit., back cover.

  2. 25. Ibid., p. 1.

     

 

                The Finding in the Temple

                (1) Excerpt from Mother at Our Side, by Father Edward Carter, S.J. - God's Will—Our Guiding Principle - Chapter 4

When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. (Lk. 2:48-50).

                (2) Excerpt from Mother at Our Side, by Father Edward Carter, S.J. - God's Will—Our Guiding Principle - Chapter 4 - continues

The above scene describes how Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple after having been separated from Him. As they were returning home after the Passover celebration, they realized Jesus was not with them, and returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. The scene has various lessons for us concerning God's will.

                (3) Excerpt from Mother at Our Side, by Father Edward Carter, S.J. - God's Will—Our Guiding Principle - Chapter 4 - continues

With the Holy Family traveling in two separate groups (Mary with one, Joseph with the other, and Jesus with either from time to time), we understand how Mary and Joseph could have received conflicting stories regarding their Son's whereabouts. The Father's will may have been made known to Jesus in such a way that the timing of His response precluded alerting His parents to the change in His plan. Whatever the details were, we can be assured that there was no error made on the parts of Jesus, Mary, or Joseph. We can base our trust in this on what we know through faith—that Jesus would never have been disobedient or thoughtless toward His parents, and that Mary and Joseph could not possibly have been inept parents.

                (4) Excerpt from Mother at Our Side, by Father Edward Carter, S.J. - God's Will—Our Guiding Principle - Chapter 4 - continues

Even so, as people who expect certain behaviors of children and parents, we can be unsettled by some unanswered questions presented. Yet, since this event is included in Sacred Scripture, we know it has tremendous value for us as the Word of God. We also know that obedience to God's will always works in the best interests of everyone concerned, even when it is not obvious, even for quite some time.

                (5) Excerpt from Mother at Our Side, by Father Edward Carter, S.J. - God's Will—Our Guiding Principle - Chapter 4 - continues

The scene reminds us of the guiding principle of Jesus' life—loving conformity to His Father's will. Although Mary and Joseph were returning home, in some way Jesus knew He was supposed to remain in the temple at this particular time. His course of action was no different in this instance than it had been in the past and would be in the future. His Father's will was made manifest, and He obeyed; His Father showed the way, and He followed. The Father's will was always Jesus' way, every day, in all matters. As followers of Jesus, His guiding principle must also be ours.

                (6) Excerpt from Mother at Our Side, by Father Edward Carter, S.J. - God's Will—Our Guiding Principle - Chapter 4 - continues

This event in Christ's life also demonstrates that conformity to God's will sometimes brings hurt or sorrow to loved ones. Jesus knew that His remaining behind would cause suffering for Mary and Joseph—we can well imagine their anxiety. Jesus was sorry this had to be. He certainly was not insensitive to His parent's feelings, yet He had to do what He did. There can be similar situations in our own lives. Precisely because we are striving to seek out and do God's will, we may be causing hurt to loved ones. We know, however, there is no other course of action if we are to be open to God's designs for us.

                (7) Excerpt from Mother at Our Side, by Father Edward Carter, S.J. - God's Will—Our Guiding Principle - Chapter 4 - continues

The finding of the child Jesus in the temple illustrates still a further point regarding conformity to God's will. Mary and Joseph knew that somehow it was God's will that Jesus remain in Jerusalem as they themselves headed back to Nazareth. Yet they did not comprehend why all this happened. They recognized God's will, but they did not understand it. They accepted this will, however, along with the pain it produced in their lives.

                (8) Excerpt from Mother at Our Side, by Father Edward Carter, S.J. - God's Will—Our Guiding Principle - Chapter 4 - continues

The application of this lesson to our own Christian lives is vividly manifest. At times there occurs an incident we do not understand. We realize that somehow this is God's will, at least His permissive will, yet we do not understand why, and our unknowing is part of our pain.

                (9) Excerpt from Mother at Our Side, by Father Edward Carter, S.J. - God's Will—Our Guiding Principle - Chapter 4 - continues

Mary always perfectly conformed herself in love to God's will. It was her joy to so act. Sometimes the doing of God's will caused her considerable suffering, as we see from the above Gospel scene. Later on, the sword of suffering would pierce her even more deeply.

                (10) Excerpt from Mother at Our Side, by Father Edward Carter, S.J. - God's Will—Our Guiding Principle - Chapter 4 - continues

In summary, we can say that Mary always reached out and embraced God's will with the deepest love, whether this was easy or very difficult. Mary has left us these famous words: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. (Lk. 1:38). Let us ask our mother to obtain for us the grace to grow in our own conformity to the will of God.

  

 

 

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"My beloved priest-companion, I intend to use the priestly newsletter, Shepherds of Christ, and the movement, Shepherds of Christ Associates, in a powerful way for the renewal of My Church and the world.

"I will use the newsletter and the chapters of Shepherds of Christ Associates as a powerful instrument for spreading devotion to My Heart and My Mother's Heart.

"I am calling many to become members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. To all of them I will give great blessings. I will use them as instruments to help bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the reign of My Sacred Heart. I will give great graces to the members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. I will call them to be deeply united to My Heart and to Mary's Heart as I lead them ever closer to My Father in the Holy Spirit."

- Message from Jesus to Father Edward J. Carter, S.J., Founder, as given on July 31, 1994,
feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits)

 

  

 

  


 

The China Church is over 140 years old

and we pray in there 24 hours a day.

It needs stucco and so does

the community building.

Can you please help us?

Call Shepherds of Christ

 1-888-211-3041

 

Likewise the priest house

is 150 years old.

Jesus told us to repair it

which we have been doing.

We need $13,000.00 for this work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can help put the Blue Book V

in the hands of 1,000 people

we need $1,200 postage for this

It is ready to go

Call Shepherds of Christ

1-888-211-3041

  

You can help put Fr. Joe's homily

book in the hands of

1,000 priests — it costs $1,100

This can help 1,000 parish priests

talk about Covenant for Lent 

Please help us

It is ready to go

Call Shepherds of Christ

  1-888-211-3041

 

Crucifix — hand carved by Felix

   

Available for $750.00

 

 

 

Brand New Internet Store

 

 

Click picture

   

 


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