Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Year's Day: The Solemnity of Mary

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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New Year’s Day – The Solemnity of Mary
January 1, 2017
Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21

            We begin the new year with an ancient blessing from Moses that is designed to launch us with the Lord’s renewed goodwill. The responsorial Psalm refreshes the blessing and the reading from Galatians tells us that we are estranged no longer, but are brought into the bosom of God’s family – never to stray far from the Lord’s protection. In the Gospel, Mary, realizing how blessed she was, cherishes the solemn events in her memory. One of the most profound ways we can honor our blessings is to let it be nourished by our silent reverence.

              What is our history with giving or receiving blessings? We receive a blessing routinely at the end of mass, but for many, it is just something we do, but when we think of it, God’s goodwill is being imparted to your soul. We start mass by wishing grace and peace and the communing love of God as a standard greeting. What a terrific way to greet people! Imagine if we did that throughout the day, to our family, co-workers, and colleagues, in a way they could hear the goodwill we intend.

            To give a blessing is to give a person your unconditional positive regard. We wish well for the person because we care for one’s humanity, even if we are not so well disposed to the person. It is quite an attitude adjustment that keeps us feeling very level. We wish the best for the person despite the relationship, and when we do so, we are changed for the better. Did you ever have an encounter with a persistently annoying person who you just wish would go away? Of course, you have. Try spending some time with him or her and acknowledge that they are trying to converse with you because they like you or admire you. You may want to brush them away, but when you spend time with them and honor them with positive words, you feel much better about them and yourself. It is an effort well spent. We learn to the see goodness in others, especially when we do not want to bother to find something good. However, it is there. You will like yourself better because your goodness meets theirs, and they become less burdensome.

            When we bless a person, we do not criticize. Instead, we lift up, we behold, we honor, and we appropriately give glory. This is a good way to live. We all know those people who offer critical analyses all the time. It may be helpful in particular professions and it is important to dissect essential details, but it is not the most fulfilling way to develop one’s soul. We can separate our profession from our being. Criticisms take people down and deconstruct and we do not want to be people who do that. We want to build bridges, to construct possibilities, to link and forge future opportunities, and we do that by finding that which is possible, which begins by affirming and encouraging others. Relationships mend when we honor another person and discover our common humanity.

            Let’s begin this year by blessing those around us, and by appropriately praising them, especially when we are prone to criticizing.  Watch the change you see in people because they want your positive regard. You are meaningful to them and your words will carry much weight. Use your words to lift people up and give them hope and encouragement. Too many people need joy or even just acceptance. They want to know from you whether you will still regard them well even though they are mired in chaos. Gift them with your blessing and watch them transform into even more beautiful people. This is the gift of life. This is kindness that creates peace. This is the power of God being honored through your words and actions. Give God’s blessing to those who come to you today. It is the best gift you can give someone.

             Mary, who blesses us all, will cherish all these things in her heart because she will be more than content with the love you are generating because she first has generated this love within you. It is free. Give it away, and free others with your goodwill.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (1 John 2) The liar is the one who denies Jesus is the Christ. Anyone who denies the Son also denies the Father. Let what you heard from the beginning remain with you.
Tuesday: (1 John 2) See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. The world doesn’t know us because they don’t know him.
Wednesday: (1 John 3) The person who acts in righteousness is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the Devil. Stay in the Light as the children of God.  
Thursday: (1 John 3) The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.      
Friday (1 John 5) Who is the victor of this world? The one who believes in Jesus, who came through water and Blood, and the Spirit testifies to him.   
Saturday (1 John 5) We have confidence that if we ask anything according to his will, God hears us.

Gospel: 
Monday: (John 1) This is the testimony of John: I am the voice of one crying out in the desert: Make straight the way of the Lord.    
Tuesday: (John 1) John the Baptist saw Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” The Spirit will come upon him and remain with him.
Wednesday (John 1) The disciples of John were asked by Jesus, “What are you looking for?” They asked, “Where are you staying?” Come and see.
Thursday (John 1) In Galilee, Jesus called Philip, who found Nathaniel and brought him to Jesus. “He is a true Israelite in whom there is no guile.”
Friday (Mark 1) John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. The heavens were torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descended upon him.
Saturday (John 2) In Cana, Jesus and his disciples attended a wedding, but the wine had run out. At his mother’s urging, Jesus performed his first miracle.  

Saints of the Week

January 2: Basil the Great and Gregory Nanzianzen, bishops and doctors (fourth century), are two of the four great doctors of the Eastern Church. They are known for their preaching especially against the Arian heretics. Basil began as a hermit before he was named archbishop of Caesarea. He influenced Gregory who eventually became archbishop of Constantinople. Their teachings influenced both the Roman and Eastern Churches.

January 3: The Name of Jesus was given to the infant as the angel foretold. In the Mediterranean world, the naming of person stood for the whole person. Humans were given the power to name during the Genesis creation accounts. If one honors the name of the person, they honor the person. The name Jesus means “Yahweh saves.”

January 4: Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious (1774-1821), was born into an Episcopalian household where she married and had five children. When her husband died, she became a Catholic and founded a girls’ school in Baltimore. She then founded the Sisters of Charity and began the foundation for the parochial school system in the U.S. She is the first native-born American to be canonized.

January 5: John Neumann, bishop (1811-1860), emigrated from Bohemia to New York and joined the Redemptorists in Pittsburgh before being named bishop of Philadelphia. He built many churches in the diocese and placed great emphasis on education as the foundation of faith.

January 6: Andre Bessette, religious (1845-1937), was born in Quebec, Canada. He joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross and taught for 40 years at the College of Notre Dame. He cared for the sick and was known as a intercessor for miracles. He built St. Joseph’s Oratory, a popular pilgrimage site in Canada.

January 7: Raymond of Penyafort, priest (1175-1275), was trained in philosophy and law and was ordained in 1222 to preach to the Moors and Christians. Though he was appointed bishop of Tarragon, he declined the position. Instead he organized papal decrees into the first form of canon law. He was later elected Master of the Dominican Order.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan. 1, 1598: Fr. Alphonsus Barréna, surnamed the Apostle of Peru, died. He was the first to carry the faith to the Guaranis and Chiquitos in Paraguay.
·      Jan. 2, 1619: At Rome, John Berchmans and Bartholomew Penneman, his companion scholastic from Belgium, entered the Roman College.
·      Jan. 3, 1816: Fr. General Brzozowski and 25 members of the Society, guarded by soldiers, left St. Petersburg, Russia, having been banished by the civil government.
·      Jan. 4, 1619: The English mission is raised to the status of a province.
·      Jan. 5, 1548: Francis Suarez, one of the greatest theologians of the church, was born at Granada.
·      Jan. 6, 1829: Publication of Pope Leo XII's rescript, declaring the Society to be canonically restored in England.

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·      Jan. 7, 1566: Cardinal Ghislieri was elected pope as Pius V. He was a great friend of the Francis Borgia and appointed Salmeron and Toletus as apostolic preachers at the Vatican. He desired to impose the office of choir on the Society and even ordered it. He was canonized as St. Pius V.