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HOW TO BRING ABOUT “AN ENORMOUS TRANSFORMATION IN OUR DAY, EVEN TO THE POINT OF INCREASING OUR EFFICIENCY”

THE RATHER TOUCHING STORY OF CORNELIUS
“If you have read the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible, you will recall the rather touching story of Cornelius, commander of the Roman garrison at Caesaria. Although he was a Gentile, Cornelius believed in the true God and gave much time to prayer and to acts of charity. An angel appeared to Cornelius to say that God was pleased with his piety and that he should invite Simon Peter to come from Joppa to instruct him. Cornelius did so, and gathered all his family and friends together to listen to the Apostle. Peter came, and the essence of his sermon was that Jesus ‘went about doing good and healing all who were in the power of the devil; for God was with Him.”

BLUEPRINT FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING

In that one sentence is contained, for all of us, a summary of the Christian life. Jesus’ interior life was devoted to adoration of the Father Who was ever present in Him. His exterior life was devoted to ministering to the ills of others.

This is the blueprint for our own lives also: an exterior life characterised by a sustained kindness towards others, stemming from an interior life in which the presence of God is never for long forgotten.

HABITUAL KINDNESS

It may sound like a simple formula to say that habitual kindness is the chief mark of a true Christian. It is simple, in the sense that such kindness gathers together all the threads of religious obligations and releases us from the complicated network of do’s and don’ts, musts and must nots. This is because, while almost anyone can be kind on occasion, it requires a high degree of unselfishness, generosity and self-control to be uniformly kind to all persons at all times.

SELF-FORGETFULNESS

Anyone who has the self-forgetfulness to be always alert to the burdens, the worries and the handicaps of others, plus the strength to be patient with the ignorant and stupid, gentle with the aggressive and hostile, cheerful and helpful on bad days as well as good – that person never will fall an easy victim to temptation of any kind.

A SIMPLE FORMULA

Yes, habitual kindness is a simple recipe for a fully Christian life, but it does not mean it is an easy one. Indeed, it will be impossible to maintain an attitude of unvarying kindness unless we imitate Jesus, however weakly, in His spirit of adoration; unless we learn to live, as we commonly express it, in the presence of God. It is only then that His will becomes our unfailing norm and guide.

We cannot keep our eyes directly upon God all of the time. In one way or another, we have to be about our business (and His) through the day. But we never must let ourselves be wholly oblivious to the fact that we stand in His presence.

To achieve this ‘fix’ on God (as a navigator makes his ‘fix’ on a star) is within the capacity of anyone, but it does require effort. The effort consists principally in the formation of the habit of THINKING about God. It is a matter of throwing God a quick glance from time to time, with a brief but fervent movement of the heart.

‘MY GOD, I LOVE YOU’

At one time it may be, ‘My God, I love you.’ At another time, ‘My God, I adore you,’ or, ‘Dear God, help me to love you as I should,’ or, ‘Take me, God, and use me. I’m all yours,’ or, ‘Forgive me, God, for not doing better,’ or, ‘Thank you, God, for all your graces of this day.’

A dozen (and, with practice two or three dozen) swift but ardent advertences to God’s presence need not interfere with the flow of our work. On the contrary, this periodic flicking of the eyes Godward can work an enormous transformation in our day, even to the point of increasing our efficiency. One such instant of recollection every hour (or even half hour) would not consume a total of more than two or three minutes in the entire day. Yet these minutes could be more spiritually profitable than quadruple the time given to routine prayer only at the day’s beginning and end.

Constant kindness on the outside, springing from a spirit of adoration within; this is Christ’s own blueprint for living, traced by His personal example.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 
 

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WHAT STAR IS THIS WITH BEAMS SO BRIGHT (HYMN)

What star is this with beams so bright,
More lovely than the noonday light?
‘Tis sent t’announce a newborn king,
Glad tidings of our God to bring.

‘Tis now fulfilled what God decreed
“From Jacob shall a star proceed”;
And lo! The eastern sage’s stand,
To reading in heaven the Lord’s command.

O Jesus, while the star of grace
Impels us on to seek your face,
Let not our slothful hearts refuse
The guidance of your light to use.
– Quem stella sole pulchrior
Charles Coffin, tr. John Chandler

 
 

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WHY, WICKED HEROD, DO YOU FEAR YOUR GOD AND KING (HYMN)

Why, wicked Herod, do you fear
Your God and King, who comes below?
He does not seek an earthly throne
Who comes all heaven to bestow.

Behold, the wise men see the star
And follow as it goes before;
The true Light by its light they seek
And as true God with gifts adore.

All glory, Lord, to you this day,
Who have revealed yourself to men,
With Father and with Holy Ghost,
Now and for ages without end.

 
 

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THE BRIGHTNESS OF A NEW STAR LED THE THREE WISE MEN TO A SIGHT OF HUMILITY

PROGRESS IN HOLINESS: WORKS AND FAITH

“Recalling the deeds performed by the Saviour of the human race brings us great profit, dearly beloved – if what we venerate as something believed we also take on to be imitated. In the arrangement of Christ’s mysteries, there are both effects of grace and influences from doctrine, for we follow in the example of his works the one whom we acknowledge in the spirit of faith. Those very first things which the Son of God experienced in being born of his Virgin Mother set us on the road to progress in holiness.

HUMAN LOWLINESS AND DIVINE MAJESTY

There appear to those of an upright heart in one and the same Person both human lowliness and divine majesty. Whom the cradle shows to be an Infant, heaven and heavenly things call their Maker. That Boy with a small body is Lord and Ruler of the world. He who is encompassed by no limits is held in the arms of his Mother. But it is in these things that the healing of our wounds and the raising up of our abasement rest, for, unless such diversity had come together as one, human nature could not be reconciled to God.

A PATTERN FOR OUR CONDUCT

Our remedies, then, have established for us a rule of living, and a pattern has been given for our conduct, a pattern from which medicine can be applied to the dead. Not inappropriately, when the brightness of a new star had led three wise men to worship Jesus, they did not see him ruling over demons, not raising the dead, not restoring sight to the blind or mobility to the lame or speech to the dumb, nor in any action of divine power. They saw him, rather, as a Child – silent, at rest, placed in the care of his Mother – in a situation where there appeared no indication of power.

HUMILITY

From this lowliness, however, a great miracle was presented. Consequently, the mere sight of that Sacred Infancy to which God the Son of God had adapted himself was bringing to their eyes a preaching that would be imparted to their ears. What the sound of his voice was not yet presenting, the activity of sight was teaching them. For the entire victory of the Saviour, the one that overcame the devil and the world, began in humility and ended in humility.”
– Pope St Leo the Great, 5th century

 
 

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EPIPHANY PRAYER

When the wise men saw the star, they said to one another: “This is the sign of a great king; let us go and seek him; we shall offer him gifts of glod, frankincense and myrrh, alleluia.”

Let us pray.

O God, on this day you made your only-begotten Son known to the nations by the light of a star. Grant that we, who already know you by faith, may see your glory face to face. Through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 
 

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“YOUR CHURCH TOO LORD, IS THE LIGHT THAT LEADS US TO BOW DOWN IN WORSHIP OF YOU”

• “‘They bowed down and worshipped him’ (Matthew 2:11)

• ‘The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world’ (CCC 528).

• Today we celebrate the rich feast of the Epiphany. Rich, because so many important themes and truths about Christ emerge: Christ proclaimed to the whole world; the light of Christ shining in the darkness; the revelation that Jesus is the promised Messaiah, the Son of God. The power of the Holy Spirit moves hearts and minds to seek these truths. This is what Pope John Paul II affirmed in Fides et Ratio: ‘…men and women are on a journey of discovery which is humanly unstoppable – a search for the truth and a search for a person to whom they might entrust themselves’ (Fides et Ratio 33). The Magi found both of these realities in the Child of Bethlehem. They knelt and worshipped him.

• Lord, you are the star which guides us to you today. Your Church too Lord, is the light that leads us to bow down in worship of you.

• Our Father…, Ten Hail Mary…, Glory be…

• Today my prayer is for… ”
– From the Resource for the Year of Faith 2012 by Alive Publishing. For information about their booklets please visit http://www.alivepublishing.co.uk (external link).

 
 

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FAIRER THAN THE SUN AT MORNING WAS THE STAR THAT TOLD CHRIST’S BIRTH (HYMN)

Fairer than the sun at morning
Was the star that told Christ’s birth;
To the lands their God announcing,
Hid beneath a form of earth.

By its lambent beauty guided,
See, the eastern kings appear;
See them bend, their gifts to offer,
Gifts of incense, gold and myrrh.

Holy Jesus, in your brightness
To the Gentile world displayed,
With the Father and the Spirit,
Endless praise to you be paid.

 
 

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