Saturday, December 27, 2014

Feast December 28 : Holy Family Feast : Jesus, Mary and Joseph



CHURCHYEAR REPORT: The Feast of the Holy Family celebrates the family unit and the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The feast usually falls on the Sunday after Christmas it is on December 28th in 2014. In 2015, the feast falls on December 27th.

Basic Facts

Liturgical Color(s)
: White
Type of Holiday:
Feast Day; Holy Day of Obligation (if on a Sunday)
Time of Year
: The Sunday between Christmas and New Year's Day; If both are Sundays, the feast is celebrated on December 30
Duration
: One Day
Celebrates/Symbolizes
: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Alternate Names
: Holy Family Sunday
Scriptural References
: Matthew 2:13-23; Luke 2:1-24, Psalm 128, Colossians 3:12-21.

Introduction

The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus: The Divine Son of God Jesus, his mother Mary, and his foster-father Joseph. We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the Canonical Scriptures. They speak of the early years of the Holy Family, including the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the flight into Egypt, and the finding of Jesus in the temple. Various non-canonical works, including the
Infancy Gospel of Thomas
, try to fill in the blanks. However, even though these apocryphal works may contain some truth from oral tradition, they have been deemed unworthy of canonical status because of the way they present Jesus. While the exact details of the day-to-day life of the Holy Family may be unknown, we can still learn a lot from the stories we do have.
Devotion to the Holy Family is a recent development, but one that naturally grows out of a love for Jesus and his family. The cult of the Holy Family grew in popularity in the 17th century, and several religious congregations have been founded under this title. The Holy Family also became portrayed in popular art of the period. On October 26, 1921 the Congregation of Rites (under Pope Benedict XV) inserted the Feast of the Holy Family into the Latin Rite general calendar. Until then it had been celebrated regionally (see History below). Popes before and including Benedict XV (especially Leo XIII) promoted the feast as a way to counter the breakdown of the family unit. Today the Church celebrates the Feast on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year's Day (Known as the Feast of Mary Mother of God in the Catholic Church). If both Christmas and New Year's Day fall on Sundays, no Sunday exists between the two dates, so the Church celebrates the Holy Family Feast on December 30th. If the feast falls on the 30th, attendance is not obligatory. Up until 1969, the Holy Family feast was kept on the first Sunday after the Epiphany. It was transferred to its current date in 1969.

The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too. The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the "domestic church" or the "church in miniature." St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a "family church," and in doing so, we sanctify the family unit. Just how does one live out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ the center of family and individual life. Ways to do this include: reading scripture regularly, praying daily, attending Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, imitating the actions of the Holy Family, going to confession frequently, and so forth, all done together as a family unit. In addition to cultivating positive actions, the Church understands that various actions and behaviors are contrary to God's Divine plan for the family, and these should be avoided. These include abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage, polygamy, embryonic stem-cell research, divorce, spousal abuse, child abuse, and co-habitation. Catholic Teaching is that a marriage must be open to children. Anything artificial that prevents this is contrary to divine law, although spacing births for a just reason is permitted (and may be licitly accomplished through "natural family planning"). Also, poverty, lack of health care, rights violations, government intrusion in the life of communities and families, and other justice concerns must be addressed by faithful Christians because of the negative effect these conditions have on the family unit. St. Paul gives us some advice on family life in Colossians 3:12-21:
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged (RSV).
The Holy Family feast is a good time to remember the family unit and pray for our human and spiritual families. We also may take this feast to reflect on the value and sanctity of the family unit, and to evaluate our own family life. What ways may it be improved? What would Jesus, Mary, and Joseph do? Finally, we can use this feast to ask ourselves what are we doing to promote the family within our own cultures, neighborhoods, and communities.

History

In 1643 Louis and Barbe d'Ailleboust came to Canada in order to devote their lives to the welfare of the natives there. After her husband had passed away, Barbe, with the assistance of the Jesuit Father Chaumonot, founded the Confraternity of the Holy Family. The confraternity and devotion to the Holy Family spread all over Canada and had the effect of promoting good morals. Monsignor François de Laval invited her to Quebec, and gave her the general management if the confraternity, which still exists today. In 1675, the now Bishop de Laval had a little book printed in Paris instructing the members of the confraternity as to virtuous practices. Bishop de Laval also established the feast of the Holy Family, and had a mass and office drawn up which are proper to the Diocese of Québec. The feast was later added in 1921 to the General calendar of the Western Rite as a way to counteract the breakdown of the family. http://www.churchyear.net/holyfamily.html

Saint December 28 : Holy Innocents : Martyred by Herod in Search of Baby Jesus



Information:
Feast Day:December 28
Our Divine Redeemer was persecuted by the world as soon as he made his appearance in it. For he was no sooner born than it declared war against him. Herod, in persecuting Christ, was an emblem of Satan and of the world. That ambitious and jealous prince had already sacrificed to his fears and suspicions the most illustrious part of his council, his virtuous wife Mariamne, with her mother Alexandra, the two sons he had by her, and the heirs to his crown, and all his best friends. Hearing from the magians who were come from distant countries to find and adore Christ that the Messias, or spiritual king of the Jews, foretold by the prophets, was born among them, he trembled lest he was come to take his temporal kingdom from him. So far are the thoughts of carnal and worldly men from the ways of God, and so strangely do violent passions blind and alarm them. The tyrant was disturbed beyond measure and resolved to take away the life of this child, as if he could have defeated the decrees of heaven. He had recourse to his usual arts of policy and dissimulation, and hoped to receive intelligence of the child by feigning a desire himself to adore him. But God laughed at the folly of his short-sighted prudence, and admonished the magians not to return to him. St. Joseph was likewise ordered by an angel to take the child and his mother, and to fly into Egypt. Is our Blessed Redeemer, the Lord of the universe, to be banished as soon as born I What did not he suffer I What did not his pious parents suffer on his account in so tedious and long a journey, and during a long abode in Egypt, where they were entirely strangers and destitute of all succour under the hardships of extreme poverty I It is an ancient tradition of the Greeks, mentioned by Sozomen, St. Athanasius, and others, that at his entrance into Egypt all the idols of that kingdom fell to the ground, which literally verified the prediction of the prophet Isaiah. Mary and Joseph were not informed by the angel how long their exile would be continued; by which we are taught to leave all to divine providence, acquiescing with confidence and simplicity in the adorable and ever holy will of Him who disposes all things in infinite goodness, sanctity; and wisdom.

Herod, finding that he had been deluded by the magians, was transported with rage and anxious fears. To execute his scheme of killing the Messias, the desired of all nations and the expectation of Israel, he formed the bloody resolution of murdering all the male children in Bethlehem and the neighbouring territory which were not above two years of age. Soldiers were forthwith sent to execute these cruel orders, who, on a sudden, surrounded the town of Bethlehem and massacred all the male children in that and the adjacent towns and villages which had been born in the last two years. This more than brutish barbarity, which would almost have surpassed belief had not Herod been the contriver and ambition the incentive, was accompanied with such shrieks of mothers and children that St. Matthew applies to it a prophecy of Jeremiah, which may be understood in part to relate more immediately to the Babylonish captivity, but which certainly received the most eminent completion at this time: "A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning: Rachel bewailing her children,  and would not be comforted, because they are not." Rama is a village not far from this town, and the sepulchre of Rachel was in a field belonging to it. The slaughter also was probably extended into the neighbouring tribe of Benjamin, which descended from Rachel. The Ethiopians in their liturgy, and the Greeks in their calendar, count fourteen thousand children massacred on this occasion; but that number exceeds all bounds, nor is it confirmed by any authority of weight. Innocent victims became the spotless Lamb of God. And how great a happiness was such a death to these glorious martyrs! They deserved to die for Christ, though they were not yet able to know or invoke his name. They were the flowers and the first fruits of his martyrs, and triumphed over the world without having ever known it or experienced its dangers. They just received the benefit of life to make a sacrifice of it to God and to purchase by it eternal life. How few perhaps of these children, if they had lived, would have escaped the dangers of  the world which, by its maxims and example, bear everything down before it like an impetuous torrent! What snares, what sins, what miseries were they preserved from by this grace! With what songs of praise and love do they not to all eternity thank their Saviour, and this his infinite mercy to them! Their ignorant, foolish mothers did not know this, and therefore they wept without comfort. So we often lament as misfortunes many accidents which in the designs of heaven are the greatest mercies.

In Herod we see how blind and how cruel ambition is, which is ready to sacrifice everything, even Jesus Christ, to its views. The tyrant lived not many days longer to enjoy the kingdom which he feared so much to lose. About the time of our Lord's nativity he fell sick, and as his distemper sensibly increased, despair and remorse followed him and made him insupportable both to himself and others. The innumerable crimes which he had committed were the tortures of his mind, whilst a slow imposthume, inch by inch, gnawed and consumed his bowels, feeding principally upon one of the great guts, though it extended itself over all the rest and, corroding the flesh, made a breach in the lower belly and became a sordid ulcer, out of which worms issued in swarms, and lice were also  bred in his flesh. A fever violently burnt him within, though outwardly it was scarce perceptible; and he was tormented with a canine appetite which no victuals could satisfy. Such an offensive smell exhaled from his body as shocked his best friends; and uncommon "witchings and vellications upon the fibrous and membraneous parts of his body, like sharp razors, cut and wounded him within; and the pain thence arising overpowered him at length with cold sweats, tremblings, and convulsions. Antipater, in his dungeon, hearing in what a lamentable condition Herod lay, strongly solicited his jailer to set him at liberty, hoping to obtain the crown; but the officer acquainted Herod with the whole affair. The tyrant, groaning under the complication of his own distempers, upon this information vented his spleen by raving and beating his own head, and, calling one of his own guards, commanded him to go that instant and cut off Antipater's head. Not content with causing many to be put to barbarous deaths during the course of his malady, he commanded the Jews that were of the principal rank and quality to be shut up in a circus at Jericho, and gave orders to his sister Salome and her husband Alexas to have them all massacred as soon as he should have expired, saying that as the Jews heartily hated him, they would rejoice at his departure; but he would make a general mourning of the whole nation at his death. This circumstance is at least related by the Jewish historian Josephus. Herod died five days after he had put his son Antipater to death.

Parents, pastors, and tutors are bound to make it their principal care that children, in their innocent age, be by piety and charity consecrated as pure holocausts to God. This is chiefly to be done by imprinting upon their minds the strongest sentiments of devotion, and by instructing them thoroughly in their catechism. We cannot entertain too high an idea of the merit and obligation of teaching God's little ones to know him, and the great and necessary truths which he has revealed to us. Without knowing him no one can love him or acquit himself of the most indispensable duties which he owes to his Creator. Children must be instructed in prayer and the principal articles of faith as soon as they attain to the use of reason, that they may be able to give him his first fruits by faith, hope, and love, as by the law of reason and religion they are bound to do. The understanding of little children is very weak, and is able only to discover small glimpses of light. Great art, experience, and earnestness are often required to manage and gradually increase these small rays, and to place therein whatever one would have the children comprehend.
The solicitude and diligence of parents and pastors to instruct others in this sacred science ought not to lessen; neither must anyone regard the function as mean or contemptible. It is the very foundation of the Christian religion. Hence Pope Paul III, in a bull in which he recommends this employment, declares that "nothing is more fruitful or more profitable for the salvation of souls." No pastoral function is more indispensable, none more beneficial, and generally none more meritorious; we may add, or more sublime. For under a meaner exterior appearance, without pomp, ostentation, or show of learning or abilities, it joins the exercise of humility with the most zealous and most profitable function of the pastoral charge. Being painful and laborious, it is, moreover, an exercise of patience and penance. Neither can anyone think it beneath his parts or dignity. The great St. Austin, St. Chrysostom, St. Cyril, and other most learned doctors, popes, and bishops applied themselves with singular zeal and assiduity to this duty of catechizing children and all ignorant persons; this they thought a high branch of their duty, and the most useful and glorious employment of their learning and talents. What did the apostles travel over the world to do else? St. Paul said, "I am a debtor to the wise and to the unwise. We became little ones in the midst of you, as if a nurse would cherish her children; so desirous of you, that we would gladly have imparted to you not only the gospel of God, but even our own souls." Our Divine Lord himself made this the principal employment of his ministry. "The spirit of the Lord is upon me: he hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor." He declared the pleasure he found in assisting that innocent age when he said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for the kingdom of God is for such. And embracing them, and laying his hands upon them, he blessed them.

IMAGE SOURCE: FACEBOOK
Shared from: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/H/holyinnocents.asp#ixzz1hq2vADIK

Free Christmas Movie : The Christmas Tree : Stars Andrew McCarthy

The Christmas Tree (1996) TV Movie - 93 min - Drama | Family - 22 December 1996 (USA) A story about a forming friendship between an elderly nun, Sister Anthony, and New York's Rockefeller Center's head gardener Richard Reilly, who wants to fell a tree she's been growing for ... See full summary » Director: Sally Field Writers: Julie Salamon (book), Jill Weber (book), 2 more credits » Stars: Julie Harris, Trini Alvarado, Andrew McCarthy | See full cast and crew »

Femen activist who stole Baby Jesus from Vatican Nativity is released by Police - Please PRAY

A member of the group Femen was arrested by the Vatican for stealing a statue of the Baby Jesus. She took the statue Pope Francis gave the Christmas blessing. This occurred in front of thousands of people at St Peter's Square in Rome. The protester was detained for "disturbing the peace, obscene acts in a public place, and theft". But in an act of mercy, the Vatican prosecutor met with Yana Zhdanova and decided to free her, according to Vatican spokesman the Reverend Federico Lombardi. Her protest "must be regarded as extremely serious due to the setting and circumstances that intentionally offend the religious sentiments of a very large number of people," said Lombardi. The Ukrainian activist was also told to never set foot in the Vatican City State again. Zhdanova yelled: "God is woman". During the Euro 2012 football games in the Ukraine, she grabbed the trophy and  displayed "F**k Euro 2012" on her chest.

Persecuted Christians Celebrate Christmas - Full Text Homily of Patriarch - Please Pray

Asia News: For Chaldean Patriarch, Christmas is the source of hope for Iraqi Christians "displaced" like Jesus
by Louis Raphael I Sako*
In his homily, Mar Sako noted the Christian community's "difficult and painful circumstances," but also pointed out that the festivity is cause for renewed hope. He looks forward to a future of peace, harmony and coexistence, but to reach that goal, the country needs a strong political system and the foreign policy of the United States and the West must change.


Erbil (AsiaNews) - Iraqi Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus in "difficult and painful circumstances," away from their homes and cities, like displaced people. However, the festivity brought "new hope" because "we can rebuild what has been damaged, reform what has been ruined, reunite what has been divided," said His Beatitude Mar Raphael Louis Sako I in his message to the faithful in the homily he delivered during Christmas Mass.
In it, Mar Sako emphasised the Church's closeness to those who lost homes and land due to the advance of the Islamic State militant group, stressing that their pain and suffering have not been forgotten. On the contrary, he looks forward to a future of peace, brotherhood, harmony and unity.
For this to happen, the Chaldean Patriarch noted, it is necessary for the United States and the West to reconsider their foreign policy. For him, "the use of weapons does not make true reforms," which require instead "courageous and civilised dialogue."
Here below is Mar Sako's message sent to AsiaNews:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We celebrate today the birth of Jesus Christ in such difficult and painful circumstances. We celebrate it while we are displaced from our houses and cities, but this is not the end of the world. His birth revives hope in us that we may return to what we had to leave behind, to rebuild what has been damaged, reform what has been ruined, reunite what has been divided, and bring back home those who have been displaced. Was not Jesus born away from his hometown and house? Was not He persecuted and moved to Egypt then came back?
The birth of Jesus Christ means the coming of God, a real encounter with Him at a close distance, an incarnation of His love to all people in our life through which he encourages us so that we experience his birth individually and collectively. It is a second birth from heaven above. Christmas is the beginning of a new project, the mission of this child, the saviour, through which God's glory and peace are revealed to humanity: "Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth". This child is the sign of God's glory, and peace is the reflection of heaven. Glory and peace are not a mere wish, but an aim of a real project of a long process, which we try achieve first in our hearts and second all around us. Hence, we extinguish the dark clouds of disintegration, division, and conflicts, spreading instead, the sparkle of peace, love, brotherhood, freedom, dignity, and civilization. Once we make of the Christmas message the target of our thoughts, education, and work program, we will live in peace and harmonic coexistence.
Our situation is still critical and tragic and our displaced Christians, Muslims, Yezidis, and Shabak brothers see the unavailability of a quick solution in sight. Thanks to the church and people of good will, the Christians are living in small rooms or caravans, but psychologically, they are still worried about their towns, their homes, jobs and fear for their lives and their children's future. They are in need to be reassured that they are not alone and abandoned or forgotten. Therefore, I kindly ask you to pray for them so that they keep their courage, hope and trust in God, their father. I wanted to celebrate Christmas Mass with them in the middle of a tent in their camp, expressing  how close is the Church to them, and how ready and willing it is to serve and help them.
We are so grateful for all the given efforts from inside and outside the country that were open enough to extend a hand for those displaced people in their time of crisis, demonstrating the spirit of understanding, friendship, solidarity.
Christianity should remain in this blessed land as a message of love and tolerance as Christ wanted it. We are determined to continue our love for all our citizens without exception and to live with them in peace and security. We yearn for returning to our homes and towns, hoping that they would be soon liberated and well protected. This is our land, our history, and our identity. For us this is our promised land.
We also wish from the bottom of our hearts that a civilian and political system will be established in Iraq, which secures the rights of all Iraqis, preserves their dignity, and bring them justice, which is the basis of peace. This new system will only be achieved through increasing awareness of the seriousness of the extremist movements that destroy and kill man and burn civilization in the name of God. Only by adopting sound and educational programs that teach the individual the meaning of love, goodness, respect for diversity, and human rights can help make this new construction possible.
Also, the United States and the West have to reconsider their Foreign policies toward the Middle East. The current conflicts are in nobody's favour; the use of weapons does not make true reforms, but through courageous and civilized dialogue. There is a need for a new vision and a more realistic and just processing of the issues taking place in the Middle East.
Dearly Beloveds, in the Annunciation, the Angel of the Lord said to Mary "Fear not", saying the same thing to Joseph and to the shepherds. Today, in the midst of our plight, Jesus tells us too: "Do not be afraid, little flock." It is the precise moment in which we have to renew our faith in God, trust in each other, and our cooperation with all people of good will in the world with the belief that at the core of pain a new ray of hope is revived. This is our Christmas and this is our faith. Have a Blessed Christmas and long live Iraq!

*Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Iraq Shared from AsiaNewsIT

Today's Mass Readings : Saturday December 27 - St. John the Apostle

Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist
Lectionary: 697


Reading 11 JN 1:1-4

Beloved:
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life —
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

Responsorial Psalm PS 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12

R. (12) Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are around him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Alleluia See Te Deum

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the glorious company of Apostles praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 20:1A AND 2-8

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we do not know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.