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TODAY’S BIBLE READING I (ISAIAH 2:1-5)

TODAY’S BIBLE READING I (ISAIAH 2:1-5)

First Sunday of Advent (Year A)

The Lord gathers all nations together into the eternal peace of God’s kingdom.

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In the days to come

the mountain of the Temple of the Lord

shall tower above the mountains

and be lifted higher than the hills.

All the nations will stream to it,

peoples without number will come to it, and they will say:

‘Come, let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths; since the Law will go out from Zion, and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.’

He will wield authority over the nations

and adjucate between many peoples;

these will hammer their swords into ploughshares,

their spears into sickles.

Nation will not lift sword against nation,

there will be no more training for war.

 

O House of Jacob, come,

let us walk in the light of the Lord.

 

V. The word of the Lord. R. Thanks be to God.

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (APOCALYPSE 20:1-4.11-21:2)

TODAY’S BIBLE READING (APOCALYPSE 20:1-4.11-21:2)

Last Week of the Year, Cycle II, Friday)

I, John, saw an angel come down from heaven with the key of the Abyss in his hand and an enormous chain. He overpowered the dragon, that primeval serpent which is the devil and Satan, and chained him up for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss and shut the entrance and sealed it over him, to make sure he would not deceive the nations again until a thousand years had passed. At the end of that time he must be released, but only for a short while.

Then I saw some thrones, and I saw those who are given the power to be judges take their seats on them. I saw the souls of all who had been beheaded for having witnessed for Jesus and for having preached God’s word, and those who refused to worship the beast or his statue and would not have the brand-mark on their foreheads or hands; they came to life, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Then I saw a great white throne and the One who was sitting on it. In his presence, earth and sky vanished, leaving no trace. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of his throne, while the book of judgment was opened which were the record of what they had done in their lives, by which the dead were judged.

The sea gave up all the dead who were in it; Death and Hades were emptied of the dead that were in them; and every one was judged according to the way in which he had lived. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the burning lake. The burning lake is the second death; and anybody whose name could not be found written in the book of life was thrown into the burning lake.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband.

V. The word of the Lord. R. Thanks be to God.

 
 

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“FOR PITY’S SAKE,” THEY CRY, “DO NOT MENTION HIS NAME!”

AND YOU, WHERE WILL YOU BE?

“Go into a graveyard; consider all these skeletons, and above all, hear the words which each one addresses to you: ‘See what has happened to me, and learn what shall happen to you.’
Again, give heed to your surroundings; those family portraits, these walls, these rooms, these garments, these beds, all these things which you have inherited, have power to awaken thoughts of your own death, by recalling that of your parents and kindred.

How can you doubt that you have to die? On a certain day you were inscribed on the [register of births]; another day will come, a day already fixed upon by God, when you shall be inscribed on the register of deaths. Today you say, in speaking of your dead relatives: ‘my late father’, ‘my late uncle’, ‘my late brother’; soon those who survive will be speaking in the same way of you. In the past you have often heard [the death of others announced; some day your death will be announced in the same manner – and you shall be in eternity.]

THE GREAT OBLIVION

A man has just died, and the news spreads, ‘He was a man of honour’, says one; another adds: ‘what a loss! He was so amiable, so good!’ Some regret him because he pleased them and was of service to them; others rejoice at his death, because they reap certain advantages from it. At the most, there will soon be no more talk of it; after to-morrow he will begin to sink into oblivion. His nearest relatives will avoid awakening the remembrance of him, for fear of renewing their grief. During the visits of condolence the conversation turns on everything except him who is the occasion of them! And if, per chance, someone is about to introduce him into the conversation: ‘For pity’s sake,’ they cry, ‘do not mention his name!’

No doubt, your family will weep for you at first. But soon the pleasure of dividing your property will banish these tears and grievings; and the very apartment where you have breathed your last sigh, and heard your Final Sentence from the lips of Jesus Christ, will be the scene of family reunions and parties of pleasure. And your soul, where will it be?”
– Laverty & Sons (eds), 1905

 

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ARE YOU WORRIED? HERE’S THE ANTIDOTE TO WORRY:

“You are worried? You see some threatening event or experience looming in your future and are torn with anxiety as to the possible consequences. Or you find yourself in a situation in which you feel hopelessly trapped, with no way out?

ARE YOU FEELING TRAPPED?

Those of us who have to answer, ‘Yes’ to such questions, convict ourselves of having failed to make life’s most important decision – the choice of God over all that is not God.

If God were capable of impatience, He surely would be in a state of perpetual annoyance at us worriers. He has presented us with a formula for confident living that is plain, simple and infallible. God rightly could expect us to adopt His formula eagerly. But we do not.

A FORMULA FOR CONFIDENT LIVING

To commit ourselves completely and irrevocably to God is what we are made for. A life built upon any other basis is an unnatural life, foredoomed to uncertainty and worry.

Once we have said unreservedly, ‘I am all Yours, God. Take me, work Your will in me, do what You want with me,’ all the bits and pieces of life, even the disasters, fall into place and begin to make sense. If I am confident that I am in God’s hands, that He is acting freely in me without hindrance on my part, how can I be uneasy? What God wants for me has to be best for me. If that is not so, then there is no God.

WHAT IF I MAKE THE WRONG DECISIONS, THOUGH?

‘But,’ we may object, ‘I already have given myself to God. I already have consented in advance to whatever God may want to do in me and with me. The trouble is that I still have to make my own decisions – and so often my decisions seem to be the wrong ones.’

ARE WE NOT DECEIVING OURSELVES?

First of all, let us be very sure that we are not deceiving ourselves. We may think that we have made a complete commitment of ourselves to God when actually we are offering Him a divided heart. We do not specifically relegate God to second place as we would do by sin. But we make God share first place with some lesser goal, such as money or success or status or pleasure or some other form of self-advancement.

The most common way of performing this spiritual balancing act between God and non-God, is to convince ourselves that what we want is also what God wants. We do not deliberately reject God’s will. Instead we evade making a thoroughly honest examination of our motives and a realistic application of God’s standard to our contemplated conduct. We ‘hurry by’ God, so to speak, pretending not to see His questioning frown.

LET’S ASSUME WE ARE NOT FOOLING OURSELVES…

However, assuming that we are not fooling ourselves when we say, ‘I want what God wants,’ let us examine this problem of having to make our own decisions.

First of all we must remember that growth in grace is an organic growth by progressive stages. Even with the best of intentions, our responsiveness to God’s will may be initially a sluggish response. With practice, with perseverance, with unrevoked willingness, we gain greater facility in detecting and doing God’s will.

WE ARE LEFT WITH A VERY NARROW MARGIN OF SELF-DETERMINATION

Another consideration is the fact that, once we have thrown ourselves wide open to God, ‘my own decision’ is likely to be much less my own decision than I think. God will honour my free will, but His wisdom will be at work in me. If I could view my own thought processes as I waver between alternatives, I might be startled to see what a narrow margin of self-determination God leaves to me.

TO A PERSON WHO REALLY SEEKS TO MAKE GOD’S WILL SUPREME IN HIS LIFE, THERE CAN BE NO SUCH THING AS A ‘WRONG’ DECISION.

To a person who really seeks to make God’s will supreme in his life, there can be no such thing as a ‘wrong’ decision. When we have done our honest and unselfish best to fix upon the preferable course of action, then our choice is the right choice, no matter how unfortunate the immediate consequences may seem to be. Over the long haul, what now seems to have been an error will flower into a blessing.

‘I know all this,’ you may say, ‘and I do try to do God’s will, but I still worry. And I am ashamed that I do not have more trust in God.’

There is no need to feel ashamed… God sees your singleness of purpose beneath your distress. His love still enfolds you.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

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26th FEBRUARY, BIBLE READING (JAMES 4:13-17)

YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN TOMORROW. THE MOST YOU SHOULD EVER SAY IS: “IF IT IS THE LORD’S WILL.”

Here is the answer for those of you who talk like this: “Today or tomorrow, we are off to this or that town; we are going to spend a year there, trading, and make some money.” You never know what will happen tomorrow: you are no more than a mist that is here for a little while and then disappears. The most you should ever say is: “If it is the Lord’s will, we shall still be alive to do this and that.” But how proud and sure of yourselves you are now! Pride of this kind is always wicked. Everyone who knows what is the right thing to do and doesn’t do it commits a sin.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
 

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THE SECRET WHY PREDICTIONS OF THE FUTURE MAKE OUR FUTURE UNBEARABLE

Why does the First Commandment forbid dealing with the devil and superstitious practices, such as consulting spiritualists and fortune-tellers, and trusting to charms, omens, dreams and such-like fooleries?

DO YOU WISH FOR ANXIETY, TROUBLE, A SENSE OF FAILURE, BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS AND NERVOUS BREAKDOWN?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“The problems which we make for ourselves by an anxious forecasting of the future are not crosses which come from God. Let us not tempt Him by our false wisdom, trying to forestall His arrangements and to substitute our own providence for His. The fruit of our wisdom is always bitter; God permits this to confound us, when we break from His paternal guidance.

The future is not yet ours; perhaps it never shall be. If it does come, perhaps it will be quite different from what we have forecast. Let us close our eyes, then, to what God conceals from us, and holds in reserve for us in the treasure-house of His wisdom. Let us adore without seeing, let us be silent and rest tranquil.

WHY ALL PREDICTED EVENTS TURN OUT FULL OF PROBLEMS AND WORRIES IF THEY DO HAPPEN

The crosses of the present moment always bring with them their own special grace, and consequently their consolation. We are conscious that it is the Hand of God which makes itself felt in them.

But the crosses which spring from anxious forecasting of the future are seen to be out of God’s order. We see them without having the grace to bear them; nay, we see them through a failing which turns aside grace.

Hence they appear harsh and unbearable; all is dark; we feel ourselves without resource; and the soul that wished, through curiosity, to taste the forbidden fruit, finds only death and revolt, with no consolation within itself.

This is the result of mistrusting God, and daring to violate His secret, which He guards jealously. ‘Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof,’ says Jesus Christ; and the evil of each day becomes a blessing when we submit to God’s good pleasure. Let us, then, cast all our cares into the heart of so good a Father.”
– Fenelon

 
 

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CHOOSING A SECURE AND BEAUTIFUL FUTURE

‘…[W]hy is it beautiful to be young? What is the reason for the dream of eternal youth? It seems to me that there are two crucial elements: youth still has the whole future before it. Everything is in the furure, a time of hope. The future is full of promises. To be sincere, we must say that for many people the future is also dark, full of threats. One wonders: will I find a job? Will I find somewhere to live? Will I find love? What will my true future be?

And in the face of these threats, the future can also appear as a great void. Today, therefore, many desire to stop time for fear of a future in emptiness. They want to enjoy all the beauties of life instantly – and in this way the oil in the lamp is consumed just as life is beginning. Thus it is important to choose the true promises that pave the way to the future, even with sacrifices. Those who have chosen God still have before them in old age a future without end and without threats.”
– Bl. John Paul II

 
 

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