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The Annunciation In Three Movements

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

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. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?"

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. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

 

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A New Kind of New Year’s Resolution

While I’ve never been much for making New Year’s resolutions, I do try to think about the things I’d like to do differently and the things I’d like to accomplish each New Year. And that is the thing about resolutions – they are all about “I”. This is not necessarily a negative; goodness knows there are an infinite number of things I could and should work to improve upon in my life and in my self. But this is where most resolutions begin and end – with ME. Which is likely why most of mine fade into the background, because I lack the resolve, strength, memory, or will to fulfill them over the course of the year. There is a paradox here – I want to be the one to make the necessary changes, but the truth is I am my own biggest obstacle.

Mary Untier of Knots. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Mary Untier of Knots. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

It isn’t a coincidence that the Catholic Church celebrates New Year’s Day as the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. This is a day, the first day of a new year filled with hope and promise, in which the Church invites me to remember that I have a mother who is very concerned with everything that concerns me and all those I care about. She wants me to remember to involve and include her in my thoughts, plans, hopes, dreams, and resolutions for the year. This year, instead of going it alone as has been my past practice, I’ve decided to turn over my resolutions and all that needs fixing and improving and adjusting in my life to someone else’s more capable hands: Mary, the Untier of Knots. (Read more . . . )

Directing Our Hope

My friend, Theresa Bonopartis who lives in Brooklyn NY, sent me this picture — one of the only things left standing in the NY neighborhood of Breezy Point, where 80 homes were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. 

Christmas Blessings

The Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. (Is 7:14)

The Annunciation

 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of  his kingdom there will be no end.” (Lk 1:30-33)

Joseph’s Dream

 Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary for your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken to the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanu-el” (which means, God with us. (Mt 1: 20-23)

The Prophecy Fulfilled

 And in that region were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were so afraid. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign unto you: you will find a babe wrappe din swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lk 2: 8-14)

May the Blessed Mother guide us to her Son. Sincere wishes for a blessed, holy, joyous, and peaceful Christmas season.

 

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

English Chant for the Immaculate Conception, posted by Jeffrey Tucker The Chant Cafe (You will need to turn on your volume to hear these beautiful chants)

Immaculate Conception Novena: November 29 — December 7

O most pure Virgin Mary conceived without sin, from the very first instant, you were entirely immaculate. O glorious Mary full of grace, you are the mother of my God – the Queen of Angels and of men. I humbly venerate you as the chosen mother of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
 
The Prince of Peace and the Lord of Lords chose you for the singular grace and honor of being his beloved mother. By the power of his Cross, he preserved you from all sin. Therefore, by His power and love, I have hope and bold confidence in your prayers for my holiness and salvation.
 
I pray first of all that you would make me worthy to call you my mother and your Son, Jesus, my Lord.
 
I pray that your prayers will bring me to imitate your holiness and submission to Jesus and the Divine Will.
 
Hail Mary…
 
Now, Queen of Heaven, I beg you to beg my Savior to grant me these requests…
 
(Mention your intentions)
 
My holy Mother, I know that you were obedient to the will of God. In making this petition, I know that God’s will is more perfect than mine. So, grant that I may receive God’s grace with humility like you.
 
As my final request, I ask that you pray for me to increase in faith in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in hope in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in love for the risen Jesus!
 
Hail Mary…
 
Amen.
 
Novena courtesy of PrayMoreNovenas.com

The First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first day of a beautiful season of waiting, hope, prayer, and, reflection. I always love Advent. I love the time of waiting and anticipation. I love how entering this time as the season changes, with the days growing shorter and the nights colder. It’s a time to enter in to the dark night, to look for the Light to come, and to wait with steadfast patience for the angels to sing Gloria.

The Church received a beautiful gift today in anticipation of the birth of the Christ Child, the Word made flesh — today we celebrated Mass with the new translation of the Roman Missal. The prayers of both the people and the priest have been revised to more closely reflect the original Latin translation. Reading over the prayers, I was struck by how reverent the language is, and how it fosters a stronger sense of humility and awe in the liturgy. There is a great deal to reflect on, especially in the priest’s prayers. In a culture which so often twists words to mean things that lead us far away from the truth, it is a beautiful gift that we have this new translation to lead us more deeply in to the truth of our faith.

My instinct at this time of year is to slow way down and to pay attention, to be more watchful. This is in contrast to the flurry of shopping and decorating and the general hustle and bustle going on around me. I find as I get older, I am less inclined to hustle and more inclined to hibernate. But I hope to at least be able to cultivate an inner space where I can remain quiet in the midst of activity, to await the miracle that is to come in the arms of our Blessed Mother, and to be more attentive and grateful for the gift of faith.

Wishing you a blessed, holy, and peace-filled Advent season.