Merry Christmas, everyone! Yes, it is still the Christmas season for one more week. In this season all people are invited to begin to uncover the mystery of who Jesus Christ is in His fullness. Indeed, Jesus Christ is a mystery. A couple of days ago, we celebrated in faith that Jesus, who is the eternal Son of God, the fulfillment of all the prophets in the Old Testament, the Messiah, and the Christ, was sent by God the Father to become a human baby who will eventually save his people. And today the mystery of God’s plan of salvation continues as we highlight the fact that God chose to carry out this plan by means of a family—the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Our Gospel today is so rich in foreshadowing and discovering who Christ fully is. In our Gospel, we flash forward 12 years into Jesus’ life when the good Jewish parents, Joseph and Mary, took their Son Jesus, though He already is the Son of God, to the Temple to present Him to God, His Father. And so, ironically, through this Christmas and the Gospel today, the mystery of who Jesus is becomes a little clearer, and as the mystery of who Jesus is becomes unraveled in our hearts, our identity and our families become who they are meant to be—holy.READ MORE
I see countless Christmas trees around the world below,
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular; please wipe away that tear,
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can’t compare
with the Christmas choir up here.
Gaudete in Domino Semper! — Rejoice in the Lord always; Again I say rejoice! The Lord is near! (Entrance Antiphon; cf. Phil 4:4-5)
Today, being the third Sunday of Advent, we celebrate Gaudete or “Rejoice” Sunday. Festive, rose-colored vestments, instead of the violet. The reason we call this Sunday Gaudete Sunday is that the Entrance Antiphon for today’s Mass begins with the Latin: Gaudete in Domino Semper, which means, Rejoice in the Lord always.
The words rejoice and joy appear over a hundred times each throughout the Old and the New Testaments of the Holy Bible. (In the Old Testament they appear in the Psalms, Proverbs, Sirach, Tobit, Isaiah, Zechariah, Joel, and others.) In the New Testament they are used by our Lord several times in His parables and His other teachings, by Saints Peter and Paul, and is part of Mary’s Magnificat.READ MORE
As I write this, it’s been 48 hours without pain in my right foot. Well, out of respect for someone with real pain, I’ll call it being discomfort-free. You may recognize me as the person who hobbled around church on a knee crutch for a few months after having blown out my Achilles tendon playing racquetball with my son. Post-surgery and rehab, I’ve had more or less continuous tenderness in my right foot. More on that in a minute…READ MORE
Q: Last year we were on vacation overseas on the feast of the Assumption, which is a holyday of obligation. We went to Mass and hardly anybody was there. It seemed like it was an ordinary weekday Mass to everybody there but us. Is it possible that it wasn’t a holyday of obligation there? Or do you think maybe people in that country were just ignoring the obligation?
A: The obligation to attend Mass is addressed in canon 1246.1. First of all, the Sunday obligation is stressed, as Sunday is the day on which traditionally the Easter mystery is celebrated. But the canon also lists those dates which, in addition to all Sundays, are holydays of obligation. Catholic Americans may find parts of the list surprising:
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (December 25)
The Epiphany (January 6)
The Ascension (40 days after Easter Sunday)
Corpus Christi (Thursday after Trinity Sunday)
Mary the Mother of God (January 1)
The Immaculate Conception (December 8)
The Assumption (August 15)
Saint Joseph (March 19)
The Apostles Saints Peter and Paul (June 29)
All Saints (November 1)
On this list there are clearly some holydays of obligation that we Catholics in the U.S. have never heard of. What’s going on?READ MORE
Rule No. 1: Don’t argue. Arguing is like pushing and can quickly escalate. Voices get louder and anger reddens the face. Emotion can take over, and unfortunate things are said that cannot be taken back.
This is not to say that we should not discuss in a measured and charitable manner, but we should avoid the emotional, arm-twisting argument that generates more heat than light, more bad will than desired results.
Of course, for many of us this takes tremendous self-control. We have to remember that we can win an argument but lose a soul; win the battle but lose the war. We have to bite our lip and grimace inside.
I say this from experience. I’ve done the exact wrong thing more than once and paid the price. I’ve been on both sides of the confrontation. I’ve pushed, and I’ve pushed back. I’ve alienated family members and friends. I still regret my quick words and unmeasured responses.READ MORE
From a woman whose Catholic friends encouraged divorce — a strong word of caution to well-meaning friends:
I’ll save you the full background of my marriage, but it was difficult from the start. I was pregnant when we married, and we struggled in silence during the first few years. Then, one day, my husband finally confessed to me that he had been unfaithful before we got married and had been keeping it a secret for several years. I was devasted. I had recently reverted to Catholicism and took to my private Facebook group of faithful Catholic women to seek advice and comfort. When I shared my story, to my great shock and dismay, I was told by most of them that I needed to leave my marriage. I was told everything from “get a safety plan in place” to “set up a private bank account and start saving.”READ MORE
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The U.S. bishops are joining together in a commitment of prayer and reparation leading up to the bishops’ general assembly, where we will be making critical decisions in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis. With our brother bishops across the nation, Bishop Nevares and I will be dedicating ourselves to seven days of intensified prayer and fasting, from Monday, November 5, through Sunday, November 11. The intentions for this period of prayer and sacrifice are three-fold:READ MORE
Last week I saw the movie Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer. It's about the true story of the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, an abortion doctor in Pennsylvania, that took place just a few years ago. It was a great, sad, and true story which I encourage everyone to go see. I will try not to ruin it for those who haven't seen it yet, but allow me to speak on a few highlights of the movie.READ MORE
From your first moments of existence, you had all the DNA that would determine your sex, facial features, physique, and the color of your skin, hair, and eyes. At 24 days, your heart began beating. By 8 weeks, all your organs were present, and your unique fingerprints were forming. Ultrasounds show that by 18 weeks, you could swim, somersault, suck your thumb, and even cover your ears if you heard loud music. If you’d been born just 23 weeks after conception, your chance of survival would be 50-80 percent; by 25 weeks, it’s over 90 percent, and that’s still months before full-term birth.READ MORE
Soon after the birth of my son Charlie*, who has Down syndrome, a visitor asked whether he was “mild, moderate, or severe”—referring to his level of cognitive impairment. I knew the terminology, but the question shocked me. In my arms I held my beautiful baby boy, who defied easy categorization. Clinical labels may describe some aspects of an individual’s “functioning,” but they don’t tell the whole story. Labels could not describe how Charlie’s smile lit up a room or how the sweetness of his soul had captured our hearts so completely.READ MORE
All priests are required to pray the Office of Readings (the lay faithful are encouraged to pray them as well). In last week's bulletin, I shared how I was inspired by the second reading of the Office of Readings from Thursday, September 20th. It was from the final exhortation of Saint Andrew Kim Taegŏn, priest and martyr. I included an excerpt from it and my reflections on whether we are Catholics/Christians in name only. Here is another excerpt from that exhortation, followed by my commentary:READ MORE