Feast of St. Andrew

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Today is the Feast of St.Andrew brother of Simon Peter and was called with him. “As [Jesus] was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is now called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-20).

John the Evangelist presents Andrew as a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus walked by one day, John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Andrew and another disciple followed Jesus. “Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day” (John 1:38-39a).

Little else is said about Andrew in the Gospels. Before the multiplication of the loaves, it was Andrew who spoke up about the boy who had the barley loaves and fishes (see John 6:8-9). When the Gentiles went to see Jesus, they came to Philip, but Philip then had recourse to Andrew (see John 12:20-22).

Legend has it that Andrew preached the Good News in what is now modern Greece and Turkey and was crucified at Patras. (courtesy o f www. americancatholic.org)

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Anticpate in Contemplation

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Like no other time in the year Advent is a time for me of childlike excitement in anticipation of Christmas. It holds the most precious and fondest memories not only in recounting my childhood, but also the many years there were our own little at different ages wandering in our house. Waiting for Christmas is akin to the excitement one has reading a good book and anticipating the ending. One has to caution oneself not to skip ahead to the back of the book. The rapid pace that the secular market driven society runs at this time of the year is something we should all avoid. Lets no fall prey to the insanity out there. The past few years with the state of the economy, advertisers and retailers have done everything in their power to turn Christmas into a buying frenzy. That is not where you go if you want the very best gift for Christmas. Start with finding and reading a spiritual daily Advent reflection that helps you focus each day on the coming of Christ and the truly remarkable significance this event in time is. Try to make some time at the adoration chapel and in quiet prayer. Go to the parish penance service and make a good confession, it will make all the difference in the world. Volunteer some time to a local charity and give what you can to help the less fortunate. Open your heart to receive the Love and the Light of mankind. Don’t run with the shoppers, don’t rush ahead to Christmas day, walk quietly and  slowly, and you will hear God coming.

O’ Come O’ Come Emmanuel in German – Choir of the Paderbon Cathedral

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Humility

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Perhaps the most misunderstood and least likely practiced virtue is humility. I once asked a class what humility was and it was evident that they had not heard of it by their answers. They thought it meant humiliation. My favorite aspect of our Catholic faith is that it asks of me and you to be perfect. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5: 48 St. Thomas Aquinas believed that Jesus was the most perfect teacher there ever was and His lesson on humility is powerful. He stooped down so low to become man, that it is unfathomable for the human mind to comprehend this act of humility. Our Blessed Mother is our other exemplar of self-giving. Her Magnificat – the yes to God’s plan for our salvation had to be a scary and daunting decision, one that this teenage Jewish girl accepted in complete humility. The case can be made that we are to strive for perfect humility. It is the humble heart, the heart that frees up its union with its own ego, that makes room and allows the Holy Spirit to reside freely inside it. This self emptying is the most crucial aspect of the spiritual life. That is why so few people have a deep relationship with God, they are preoccupied with their own selves, God is low on the priority list, after pleasing oneself with sensual pleasures and self gratification. Isn’t it interesting that the “star” of entertainment and professional sports are the ones who constantly call attention to themselves, these are the role models that so many fall prey to.  St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians just how much a model Christ was:

“Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness;  and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”

Black Friday & Advent

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Let me say this first: I am not a fan of “Black Friday.”  When I see all this nonsense of running from place to place, it looks like a psychology experiment, except we’ve replaced the white mice with ourselves. Maybe its because I am older now, maybe because I was never that much into material pursuit, or maybe because I have had my fill of “stuff.” I am not here condemning the early bird holiday shoppers, many are in the spirit of giving, looking to get something nice for a friend or loved one. Its just that Christmas has been hijacked by the secular world to mean something it isn’t. On Sunday we begin the time of Advent. Advent is the first six letters of adventure – and the Creator of the Universe becoming man is the greatest adventure in the history of mankind. He came not surrounded by the finest things, but surrounded by straw and animals. His first home was the last place available in a tiny obscure town. He came into a poor Jewish family who had the least to offer at the temple. Get your shopping out of the way and spend time in prayer contemplating just how much God loves us, how Jesus sought not the external things of those he encountered, but the things of the heart that really mattered. And one other thing, give something to those in need, and do it in honor of the baby Jesus, so that you may give glory to God.

Give Thanks to God from Whom All Blessings Flow

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A psalm of Thanksgiving. Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
Worship the LORD with cries of gladness; come before him with joyful song.
Know that the LORD is God, our maker to whom we belong, whose people we are, God’s well-tended flock.
Enter the temple gates with praise, its courts with Thanksgiving. Give thanks to God, bless his name;
Good indeed is the LORD, Whose love endures forever, whose faithfulness lasts through every age.

Plumb – Godshaped Hole

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