Monday, December 31, 2012

Baptism of Jesus

Read the Catechism: Day 78

The mysteries of Jesus' hidden life
531 During the greater part of his life Jesus shared the condition of the vast majority of human beings: a daily life spent without evident greatness, a life of manual labor. His religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law of God, a life in the community. From this whole period it is revealed to us that Jesus was "obedient" to his parents and that he "increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man."
532 Jesus' obedience to his mother and legal father fulfills the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven. The everyday obedience of Jesus to Joseph and Mary both announced and anticipated the obedience of Holy Thursday: "Not my will..." The obedience of Christ in the daily routine of his hidden life was already inaugurating his work of restoring what the disobedience of Adam had destroyed.
533 The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life:
The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus — the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us... A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character... A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the "Carpenter's Son", in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work... To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern their brother who is God.
534 The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus. Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's work?" Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary "kept all these things in her heart" during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life.
The baptism of Jesus
535 Jesus' public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan. John preaches "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins". A crowd of sinners — tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes — come to be baptized by him. "Then Jesus appears." The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, "This is my beloved Son." This is the manifestation ("Epiphany") of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God.
536 The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Already he is anticipating the "baptism" of his bloody death. Already he is coming to "fulfill all righteousness", that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father's will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father's voice responds to the Son's acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to "rest on him". Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism "the heavens were opened" — the heavens that Adam's sin had closed — and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.
537 Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father's beloved son in the Son and "walk in newness of life":
Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him.
Everything that happened to Christ lets us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father's voice, we become sons of God.
Dig deeper: Scriptural and other references for today's section here.

The infancy of Jesus

Read the Catechism: Day 77

The preparations
522 The coming of God's Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God willed to prepare for it over centuries. He makes everything converge on Christ: all the rituals and sacrifices, figures and symbols of the "First Covenant". He announces him through the mouths of the prophets who succeeded one another in Israel. Moreover, he awakens in the hearts of the pagans a dim expectation of this coming.
523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord's immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. "Prophet of the Most High", John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother's womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being "the friend of the bridegroom", whom he points out as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Going before Jesus "in the spirit and power of Elijah", John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.
524 When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, but I must decrease."
The Christmas mystery
525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven's glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:
The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become "children of God" we must be "born from above" or "born of God". Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this "marvelous exchange":
O marvelous exchange! Man's Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.
The mysteries of Jesus' infancy
527 Jesus' circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham's descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law and his deputation to Israel's worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that "circumcision of Christ" which is Baptism.
528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi's coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that "the full number of the nations" now takes its "place in the family of the patriarchs", and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made "worthy of the heritage of Israel").
529 The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the "light to the nations" and the "glory of Israel", but also "a sign that is spoken against". The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had "prepared in the presence of all peoples".
530 The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: "He came to his own home, and his own people received him not." Christ's whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. Jesus' departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God's people.
Dig deeper: Scriptural and other references for today's section here.

It's a mystery

Read the Catechism: Day 76

512 Concerning Christ's life the Creed speaks only about the mysteries of the Incarnation (conception and birth) and Paschal mystery (passion, crucifixion, death, burial, descent into hell, resurrection and ascension). It says nothing explicitly about the mysteries of Jesus' hidden or public life, but the articles of faith concerning his Incarnation and Passover do shed light on the whole of his earthly life. "All that Jesus did and taught, from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven", is to be seen in the light of the mysteries of Christmas and Easter.
513 According to circumstances catechesis will make use of all the richness of the mysteries of Jesus. Here it is enough merely to indicate some elements common to all the mysteries of Christ's life (I), in order then to sketch the principal mysteries of Jesus' hidden (II) and public (III) life.
514 Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about his hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of his public life is not recounted. What is written in the Gospels was set down there "so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."
515 The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith and wanted to share it with others. Having known in faith who Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of his mystery in all his earthly life. From the swaddling clothes of his birth to the vinegar of his Passion and the shroud of his Resurrection, everything in Jesus' life was a sign of his mystery. His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that "in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." His humanity appeared as "sacrament", that is, the sign and instrument, of his divinity and of the salvation he brings: what was visible in his earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of his divine sonship and redemptive mission
Characteristics common to Jesus' mysteries
516 Christ's whole earthly life — his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking — is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father", and the Father can say: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" Because our Lord became man in order to do his Father's will, even the least characteristics of his mysteries manifest "God's love... among us".
517 Christ's whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross, but this mystery is at work throughout Christ's entire life:
  • already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;
  • in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;
  • in his word which purifies its hearers;
  • in his healings and exorcisms by which "he took our infirmities and bore our diseases";
  • and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.
518 Christ's whole life is a mystery of recapitulation. All Jesus did, said and suffered had for its aim restoring fallen man to his original vocation:
When Christ became incarnate and was made man, he recapitulated in himself the long history of mankind and procured for us a "short cut" to salvation, so that what we had lost in Adam, that is, being in the image and likeness of God, we might recover in Christ Jesus. For this reason Christ experienced all the stages of life, thereby giving communion with God to all men.
Our communion in the mysteries of Jesus
519 All Christ's riches "are for every individual and are everybody's property." Christ did not live his life for himself but for us, from his Incarnation "for us men and for our salvation" to his death "for our sins" and Resurrection "for our justification". He is still "our advocate with the Father", who "always lives to make intercession" for us. He remains ever "in the presence of God on our behalf, bringing before him all that he lived and suffered for us."
520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is "the perfect man", who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.
521 Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us. "By his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man." We are called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our model:
We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus' life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church... For it is the plan of the Son of God to make us and the whole Church partake in his mysteries and to extend them to and continue them in us and in his whole Church. This is his plan for fulfilling his mysteries in us.
Dig deeper: Scriptural and other references for today's section here.

For the abitadeacon it was a year of great change

2012 will always rank as one of the most memorable in my life; it was a year of great change.  In 2012 I earned a new title, "Pops"as I became a grandfather to my favorite little man, #1 grandson, Calvin Tyler Talbot.  He arrived in the world in early September; big, happy and healthy.  Wendy and I were there within 24 hours.  Wendy went back for two weeks in October, I made a short trip in November and we both spent a five day Christmas visit early this month.  I love posting pictures and you can bet at least one or two will be coming your way soon.

You can bet I will never forget September 6, 2012 as my son James and daughter-in-law Sara brought Calvin into this world!!

Another great change in 2012 was my big career move in June.  After a long and mostly good career at Capital One Bank the big corporate foolishness was too much for me and I broke away joining a great team of banking professionals at First NBC Bank.  I returned to my roots of strong community based banking where local people make local decisions and we strive to build a strong bank where we live.  I have made great strides with First NBC Bank and am so happy I made this change.

I hope good positive change like that described above will be my 2013 reality.  You know none of us can ever really predict the future but I can assure you that more adventures with Calvin will be on the horizon.

For now, Happy New Year.  I'm off to a friends house to enjoy New Year's Eve festivities including a fireworks demonstration par excellence!

Now this is the right way to send out the old year and ring in the new!

Pope to celebrate end of year Vespers

2012-12-31 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI will preside first Vespers Monday December 31, marking the end of 2012 and the feast of Mary, Holy Mother of God. The Vespers celebration will take place in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5pm Rome time and will include the exposition of the Holy Sacrament, the traditional Te Deum hymn, Eucharistic benediction and prayers and thanks to God for the conclusion of the year. At the end of the celebration, Pope Benedict will go outside into St. Peter’s square for a moment of prayer in front of the large outdoor nativity scene which this year was donated by the southern Italian region, Basilicata.

Summary of the teachings on Mary as a virgin and conceived without sin

Read the Catechism: Day 75

508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. "Full of grace", Mary is "the most excellent fruit of redemption" (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.
509 Mary is truly "Mother of God" since she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, who is God himself.
510 Mary "remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin" (St. Augustine, Serm. 186, 1: PL 38, 999): with her whole being she is "the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38).
511 The Virgin Mary "cooperated through free faith and obedience in human salvation" (LG 56). She uttered her yes "in the name of all human nature" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 30, 1). By her obedience she became the new Eve, mother of the living.
Dig deeper: Scriptural and other references for today's section here.

Mary remains ever virgin

Read the Catechism: Day 74

Mary — "ever-virgin"
499 The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ's birth "did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it." And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the "Ever-virgin".
500 Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, "brothers of Jesus", are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls "the other Mary". They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.
501 Jesus is Mary's only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save: "The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother's love."
Mary's virginal motherhood in God's plan
502 The eyes of faith can discover in the context of the whole of Revelation the mysterious reasons why God in his saving plan wanted his Son to be born of a virgin. These reasons touch both on the person of Christ and his redemptive mission, and on the welcome Mary gave that mission on behalf of all men.
503 Mary's virginity manifests God's absolute initiative in the Incarnation. Jesus has only God as Father. "He was never estranged from the Father because of the human nature which he assumed... He is naturally Son of the Father as to his divinity and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity, but properly Son of the Father in both natures."
504 Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary's womb because he is the New Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: "The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven." From his conception, Christ's humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God "gives him the Spirit without measure." From "his fullness" as the head of redeemed humanity "we have all received, grace upon grace."
505 By his virginal conception, Jesus, the New Adam, ushers in the new birth of children adopted in the Holy Spirit through faith. "How can this be?" Participation in the divine life arises "not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God". The acceptance of this life is virginal because it is entirely the Spirit's gift to man. The spousal character of the human vocation in relation to God is fulfilled perfectly in Mary's virginal motherhood.
506 Mary is a virgin because her virginity is the sign of her faith "unadulterated by any doubt", and of her undivided gift of herself to God's will. It is her faith that enables her to become the mother of the Savior: "Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than because she conceives the flesh of Christ."
507 At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: "the Church indeed... by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse."
Dig deeper: Scriptural and other references for today's section here.

The Immaculate Conception explained and the virginity of Mary

Read the Catechism: Day 73

The Immaculate Conception
490 To become the mother of the Savior, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role." The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace". In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace.
491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:
The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.
492 The "splendor of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son". The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love".
493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia), and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature". By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.
"Let it be done to me according to your word..."
494 At the announcement that she would give birth to "the Son of the Most High" without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that "with God nothing will be impossible": "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God's grace:
As St. Irenaeus says, "Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race." Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert...: "The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith." Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary "the Mother of the living" and frequently claim: "Death through Eve, life through Mary."
Mary's divine motherhood
495 Called in the Gospels "the mother of Jesus", Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as "the mother of my Lord". In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of God" (Theotokos).
Mary's virginity
496 From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived "by the Holy Spirit without human seed". The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own. Thus St. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century says:
You are firmly convinced about our Lord, who is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, Son of God according to the will and power of God, truly born of a virgin,... he was truly nailed to a tree for us in his flesh under Pontius Pilate... he truly suffered, as he is also truly risen.
497 The Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility: "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit", said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee. The Church sees here the fulfillment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son."
498 People are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark's Gospel and the New Testament Epistles about Jesus' virginal conception. Some might wonder if we were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be history. To this we must respond: Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met with the lively opposition, mockery or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews and pagans alike; so it could hardly have been motivated by pagan mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age. The meaning of this event is accessible only to faith, which understands in it the "connection of these mysteries with one another" in the totality of Christ's mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover. St. Ignatius of Antioch already bears witness to this connection: "Mary's virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord's death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God's silence."
Dig deeper: Scriptural and other references for today's section here.

A 4th Century Pope and Saint

St. Sylvester

St. Sylvester
St. Sylvester
Feastday: December 31

St. Sylvester, born in Rome, was ordained by Pope St. Marcellinus during the peace that preceded the persecutions of Diocletian. He passed through those days of terror, witnessed the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, and saw the triumph of Constantine in the year 312. Two years later he succeeded St. Melchiades as Bishop of Rome. In the same year, he sent four legates to represent him at the great Council of the Western Church, held at Aries. He confirmed it's decision and imparted them to the Church.
The Council of Nicea was assembled during his reign, in the year 325, but not being able to assist at it in person, on account of his great age, he sent his legates, who headed the list of subscribers to its decrees, preceding the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch. St. Sylvester was Pope for twenty-four years and eleven months. He died in the year 335. His Feast Day is December 31st.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Top Stories of 2012 on the abitadeacon

2012 was a banner year for readership here on the abitadeacon.  Many stories posted received reads of upwards of 100 times with the following list by Dynamic Dozen:

#12 At Midnight ony 19 votes seperates Santorum and Romney  January 4, 2012 Read 220 times

#11 Holy Week Miracle in New Orleans  April 2, 2012  Read 226 times

#10  Pope John Paul II canonized this patron Saint of diabetes  July 8, 2012  Read 226 times

#9  Praying for Scott Hahn   January 19, 2012  Read 230 times

#8  Labor Day tradition decimated, what are they thinking at MDA  September 2, 2012  Read 243 times

#7  GMA Robin Roberts to fight MDS with help of New Orleans TV anchor and big sister  June 11, 2012  Read 263 times

#6  St. John Paul II  March 10, 2012  Read 287 times

#5  USCCB to discuss looming attack by the federal government  June 14, 2012  Read 295 times

#4  SSPX: we ain't gonna sign  June 30, 2012  Read 323 times

#3  Another Catholic Church to reopen post Katrina  January 12, 2012  Read 335 times

#2  Media help for the Vatican from Fox News  June 23, 2012  Read 604 times

and #1  Mother of the Poor; canonized by Blessed John Paul II  March 1, 2012  Read 615 times

Please revisit these and other posts from 2012 in the abitadeacon!

Today we begin the Year of Family and Faith in the Archdiocese of New Orleans

2013: A Year of Family and Faith
December 30, 2012
To: The Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Archdiocese of New Orleans

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, at the recent Synod in Rome, repeated his call for a Year of Faith and a focus on the New Evangelization. The concluding statement from the Synod emphasized “the essential role of the family in the transmission of the faith” and stated that a new evangelization is unthinkable without acknowledging a special responsibility for families.

Therefore, in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, we declare 2013 as a “Year of Family and Faith.” The Year of Family and Faith begins today (December 30, 2012) on this Feast of the Holy Family. During this Mass, your family will be asked to recommit yourself to Christ as a family and will receive God’s blessing to strengthen you in your call to be a holy family. Family life is filled with joys and struggles, peaceful moments and tension, sickness and health. In all of these moments we are called to see a faithful God offering us his love and calling us to be a family united in faith.
Throughout 2013, special programs and events will be offered to enrich your family life. I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities. In particular, I invite all families to commit themselves on Sunday to attend Mass together and to spend quality time as a family. This may mean rescheduling other activities, thus seeing God and members of our family as our priority on Sunday.
The old saying – “The family who prays together, stays together” – is still relevant today. Praying a blessing before a meal or a night prayer as a family helps us to focus on God and on our love and care for one another. As we strengthen our individual families, we strengthen the Church and our community. Strong families will curb the violence, murder and racism we experience in our community. Please join me in this special observance throughout 2013.
As we begin this Year of Family and Faith, I wish your family God’s abundant blessings and pray that you will be united in faith and become a holy family.
With the assurance of my prayers and calling upon the intercession of Mary and Joseph for your family, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond
Archbishop of New Orleans

2012 in review at the abitadeacon

2012 was a huge year here on the blog.  Some highlights:

January 2012: Posts including the end of Christmas season and the early beginning of political season.  Several posts centered on the early results in various Republican primaries.  At the end of January, Romney was not yet a shoe-in.  Other posts centered around the annual March for Life and other Pro-Life posts.  And yes, we blogged about the Saints who came up short vs San Francisco despite a 13-3 regular season and the LSU Tigers who laid an egg vs Alabama despite a 13-0 regular season.  Yikes!

February 2012:  More politics dominating this month as the February results pointed to a Romney - Santorum two way race for the Repubs to face off against Obama.  There were multiple posts about Komen and Planned Parenthood.  A couple of big announcements: 7 new Saints for the Church including two Americans and several new Cardinals too including NY Archbisop Timothy Dolan.  We did not forget Mardi Gras and the start of Lent.

March 2012: We began to hear the acronym HHS, as in mandate and several posts explored the tension between the federal government and the Catholic Church.  Lenten posts included first hand reports of Fr. Cedrick Pisegna's visit to Abita Springs for a great Lenten mission.  Bounty gate reared it's ugly head as the Saints were soon to find out just how devastating that would be and we followed the Pope in Mexico and Cuba.

April 2012: We reported on end of Lent activities including Holy Week and a miracle reported at a New Orleans Catholic Church.  Easter joy was ushered in followed by Divine Mercy.  We heard more about the HHS mandate and also heard about the big dust up coming between the Vatican and some American nuns.  We had some reports about ongoing negotians between the Vatican and the SSPX.

May 2012: We learned of the player/coaches penalties for the Saints for bountygate.  They were harsh.  More discussions ensued on the political atmosphere and what impact Catholics have on elections.  We moved into Pentecost in May and saw the ordination of Deacons in New Orleans, these of the transitional variety.  Even more discussions about the SSPX ensued.

June 2012:  Personally I celebrated my 35th wedding anniversary, changed jobs, and vacationed in North Carolina with our son & daughter in law(pre Calvin) and visited Catholic places like Belmont Abbey and the Shrine at EWTN.  More posts about HHS, religion and politics, SSPX.  We reported on good news for the New Orleans Hornets and a Fox News reporter going to work for the Pope.

July 2012: We celebrated the nations birthday as I transitioned to my first new job in 18 years.  We said godbye to Andy Griffith.  We saw the start of the Summer Olympics in London.  The HHS mandate kicked in and more controversy followed the whole religious liberty discussion.  I posted about my Sunday assisting a Bishop from India.  And we saw gun violence in Colorado at a movie theatre.

August 2012: The Olympics kept us busy and politics heated up.  The selection of Catholic VP running mate Paul Ryan made for some news.  Cardinal Dolan made some too as he invited both Romney and Obama to the Al Smith Dinner.  We experienced more gun violence at a Sikh Temple.  At home we braced for Hurricane Isaac and got unexpected and surprising damage in normally safe areas.

September 2012: Aftermath of Isaac, another Labor Day without Jerry Lewis, the political parties wrapped up their conventions as Cardinal Dolan offered prayers at both.  The unfortunate end of Fr. Groeschel's programs on EWTN. But the biggest news of all came this month with the arrival of Calvin, my #1 grandson.  How exciting.  I also could not resist posting on the despicable start to the 2012 NFL season for the Saints and LSU football got underway.

October 2012: Politics heats up through the debates and the HHS mandate, the Catholic Church and the subject of abortion are hot topics.  We shifted into fall and we saw the Synod of Bishops and the commencement of the Year of Faith.  Daily postings from the Catechism are helping us to read the Catechism in a year for the Year of Faith.  Saints start winning some but not enough.  LSU is 7-1.  I love being a grandpa.

November 2012: Obama is reelected President of the USA in what turns out to be a not even close election.  We celebrated All Saints, All Souls, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.  I posted about my solo trip to North Carolina to spend a long weekend with my #1 grandson.  We ended the liturgical year with Viva Cristo Rey and began Advent.  And I posted regularly about the upcoming ordination of 20 new Deacons for Archdiocese of New Orleans!

December 2012:  The ordination of 20 new Deacons and the role I played that day.  Over the month my posts about the 4 weddings I was involved with including witnessing the vows for 3 of them.  Plenty of posts from the road as Wendy and I ventured back to North Carolina for our Christmas visit with Calvin.  We addressed the horror at an elementary school in CT.  Plenty of posts about Advent.  Plenty of posts about Christmas.  I had a nice post about a couple of Baptisms and my last visit for 2012 at Rayburn.

A busy active 2012 here at the abitadeacon.

Thank you for your readership.  Come by often and tell your friends and family!

Jesus is conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit

Read the Catechism: Day 72

484 The Annunciation to Mary inaugurates "the fullness of time", the time of the fulfillment of God's promises and preparations. Mary was invited to conceive him in whom the "whole fullness of deity" would dwell "bodily". The divine response to her question, "How can this be, since I know not man?", was given by the power of the Spirit: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you."
485 The mission of the Holy Spirit is always conjoined and ordered to that of the Son. The Holy Spirit, "the Lord, the giver of Life", is sent to sanctify the womb of the Virgin Mary and divinely fecundate it, causing her to conceive the eternal Son of the Father in a humanity drawn from her own.
486 The Father's only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is "Christ", that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples. Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power."
487 What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.
Mary's predestination
488 "God sent forth his Son", but to prepare a body for him, he wanted the free co-operation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, "a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary":
The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.
489 Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living. By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old age. Against all human expectation God chooses those who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other women. Mary "stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the new plan of salvation is established."
Dig deeper: Scriptural and other references for today's section here.

Summary of the Incarnation

Read the Catechism: Day 71

479 At the time appointed by God, the only Son of the Father, the eternal Word, that is, the Word and substantial Image of the Father, became incarnate; without losing his divine nature he has assumed human nature.
480 Jesus Christ is true God and true man, in the unity of his divine person; for this reason he is the one and only mediator between God and men.
481 Jesus Christ possesses two natures, one divine and the other human, not confused, but united in the one person of God's Son.
482 Christ, being true God and true man, has a human intellect and will, perfectly attuned and subject to his divine intellect and divine will, which he has in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
483 The Incarnation is therefore the mystery of the wonderful union of the divine and human natures in the one person of the Word.
Dig deeper: Scriptural and other references for today's section here.

God is Man???

Read the Catechism: Day 70

470 Because "human nature was assumed, not absorbed", in the mysterious union of the Incarnation, the Church was led over the course of centuries to confess the full reality of Christ's human soul, with its operations of intellect and will, and of his human body. In parallel fashion, she had to recall on each occasion that Christ's human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that Christ is and does in this nature derives from "one of the Trinity". The Son of God therefore communicates to his humanity his own personal mode of existence in the Trinity. In his soul as in his body, Christ thus expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity:
The Son of God... worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin.
Christ's soul and his human knowledge
471 Apollinarius of Laodicaea asserted that in Christ the divine Word had replaced the soul or spirit. Against this error the Church confessed that the eternal Son also assumed a rational, human soul.
472 This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, "increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man", and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience. This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking "the form of a slave".
473 But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God's Son expressed the divine life of his person. "The human nature of God's Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God." Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father. The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.
474 By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal. What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal.
Christ's human will
475 Similarly, at the sixth ecumenical council, Constantinople III in 681, the Church confessed that Christ possesses two wills and two natural operations, divine and human. They are not opposed to each other, but cooperate in such a way that the Word made flesh willed humanly in obedience to his Father all that he had decided divinely with the Father and the Holy Spirit for our salvation. Christ's human will "does not resist or oppose but rather submits to his divine and almighty will."
Christ's true body
476 Since the Word became flesh in assuming a true humanity, Christ's body was finite. Therefore the human face of Jesus can be portrayed; at the seventh ecumenical council (Nicaea II in 787) the Church recognized its representation in holy images to be legitimate.
477 At the same time the Church has always acknowledged that in the body of Jesus "we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see." The individual characteristics of Christ's body express the divine person of God's Son. He has made the features of his human body his own, to the point that they can be venerated when portrayed in a holy image, for the believer "who venerates the icon is venerating in it the person of the one depicted".
The heart of the Incarnate Word
478 Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: "The Son of God... loved me and gave himself for me." He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, "is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that... love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings" without exception.
Dig deeper: Scriptural and other references for today's section here.

True God and True Man

Read the Catechism: Day 69

464 The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man.
During the first centuries, the Church had to defend and clarify this truth of faith against the heresies that falsified it.
465 The first heresies denied not so much Christ's divinity as his true humanity (Gnostic Docetism). From apostolic times the Christian faith has insisted on the true incarnation of God's Son "come in the flesh". But already in the third century, the Church in a council at Antioch had to affirm against Paul of Samosata that Jesus Christ is Son of God by nature and not by adoption. The first ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 confessed in its Creed that the Son of God is "begotten, not made, of the same substance (homoousios) as the Father", and condemned Arius, who had affirmed that the Son of God "came to be from things that were not" and that he was "from another substance" than that of the Father.
466 The Nestorian heresy regarded Christ as a human person joined to the divine person of God's Son. Opposing this heresy, St. Cyril of Alexandria and the third ecumenical council, at Ephesus in 431, confessed "that the Word, uniting to himself in his person the flesh animated by a rational soul, became man." Christ's humanity has no other subject than the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it and made it his own, from his conception. For this reason the Council of Ephesus proclaimed in 431 that Mary truly became the Mother of God by the human conception of the Son of God in her womb: "Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh."
467 The Monophysites affirmed that the human nature had ceased to exist as such in Christ when the divine person of God's Son assumed it. Faced with this heresy, the fourth ecumenical council, at Chalcedon in 451, confessed:
Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as to his humanity; "like us in all things but sin". He was begotten from the Father before all ages as to his divinity and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, was born as to his humanity of the virgin Mary, the Mother of God.
We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division or separation. The distinction between the natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis.
468 After the Council of Chalcedon, some made of Christ's human nature a kind of personal subject. Against them, the fifth ecumenical council, at Constantinople in 553, confessed that "there is but one hypostasis [or person], which is our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Trinity." Thus everything in Christ's human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject, not only his miracles but also his sufferings and even his death: "He who was crucified in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, is true God, Lord of glory, and one of the Holy Trinity."
469 The Church thus confesses that Jesus is inseparably true God and true man. He is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother:
"What he was, he remained and what he was not, he assumed", sings the Roman Liturgy. And the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom proclaims and sings: "O only-begotten Son and Word of God, immortal being, you who deigned for our salvation to become incarnate of the holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, you who without change became man and were crucified, O Christ our God, you who by your death have crushed death, you who are one of the Holy Trinity, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us!"

The Word became Flesh; the Incarnation

Read the Catechism: Day 68

456 With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man."
457 The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who "loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins": "the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world", and "he was revealed to take away sins":
Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?
458 The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God's love: "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him." "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me." "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: "Listen to him!" Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: "Love one another as I have loved you." This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.
460 The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."
461 Taking up St. John's expression, "The Word became flesh", the Church calls "Incarnation" the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
462 The Letter to the Hebrews refers to the same mystery:
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, Lo, I have come to do your will, O God."
463 Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God is the distinctive sign of Christian faith: "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God." Such is the joyous conviction of the Church from her beginning whenever she sings "the mystery of our religion": "He was manifested in the flesh."

All in a name; a summary

Read the Catechism: Day 67

452 The name Jesus means "God saves". The child born of the Virgin Mary is called Jesus, "for he will save his people from their sins" (Mt 1:21): "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
453 The title "Christ" means "Anointed One" (Messiah). Jesus is the Christ, for "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power" (Acts 10:38). He was the one "who is to come" (Lk 7:19), the object of "the hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20).
454 The title "Son of God" signifies the unique and eternal relationship of Jesus Christ to God his Father: he is the only Son of the Father (cf. Jn 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18); he is God himself (cf. Jn 1:1). To be a Christian, one must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (cf. Acts 8:37; 1 Jn 2:23).
455 The title "Lord" indicates divine sovereignty. To confess or invoke Jesus as Lord is to believe in his divinity. "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit'" (1 Cor 12:3).

Who is the Lord? Resuming the Catechism posts


Read the Catechism: Day 66

446 In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the ineffable Hebrew name YHWH, by which God revealed himself to Moses, is rendered as Kyrios, "Lord". From then on, "Lord" becomes the more usual name by which to indicate the divinity of Israel's God. The New Testament uses this full sense of the title "Lord" both for the Father and — what is new — for Jesus, who is thereby recognized as God Himself.
447 Jesus ascribes this title to himself in a veiled way when he disputes with the Pharisees about the meaning of Psalm 110, but also in an explicit way when he addresses his apostles. Throughout his public life, he demonstrated his divine sovereignty by works of power over nature, illnesses, demons, death and sin.
448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as "Lord". This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing. At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, "Lord" expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus. In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: "My Lord and my God!" It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: "It is the Lord!"
449 By attributing to Jesus the divine title "Lord", the first confessions of the Church's faith affirm from the beginning that the power, honor and glory due to God the Father are due also to Jesus, because "he was in the form of God", and the Father manifested the sovereignty of Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him into his glory.
450 From the beginning of Christian history, the assertion of Christ's lordship over the world and over history has implicitly recognized that man should not submit his personal freedom in an absolute manner to any earthly power, but only to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Caesar is not "the Lord". "The Church... believes that the key, the center and the purpose of the whole of man's history is to be found in its Lord and Master."
451 Christian prayer is characterized by the title "Lord", whether in the invitation to prayer ("The Lord be with you"), its conclusion ("through Christ our Lord") or the exclamation full of trust and hope: Maran atha ("Our Lord, come!") or Marana tha ("Come, Lord!") — "Amen Come Lord Jesus!"

Saturday, December 29, 2012

In the Octave of Christmas we celebrate the Holy Family

The Feast of the Holy Family

Holy Family History, Information, Prayers, Resources, Traditions, & More

Holy Family Definition and Summary

The Feast of the Holy Family celebrates the human family unit, as well as the ultimate family unit: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The feast, not a solemnity, is usually celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas. If Christmas is a Sunday, then the feast is celebrated on December 30th.

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.


The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus: The Divine Son of God Jesus, his mother the Virgin Mary, and his foster-father Joseph. We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the canonical Gospels. 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 derived 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.



A very gratifying day; thanks to you

Today, I was informed that December 2012 has become my most "read" month on this blog.  As of this very moment December 2012 has logged about 10 more "reads"than the previous high month. 

What started as a place for close family and friends to go to read my infrequent reflections has turned into a labor of love.  My favorite part of this blog is when I do take the time to share a personal reflection or post my homilies.  I also enjoy posting about my prison ministry as well as my actvities centered around formation of new Permanent Deacons.  My latest love in 2012 is posting about my new role as "Pops"and anything about #1 grandson Calvin.  And I have been known to post a story or two about my New Orleans Saints and LSU Tigers!

So on this Merry Christmas 5th day of Christmas, the eve of the Feast of the Holy Family and a quiet, peaceful Saturday night, all I can say is thanks to all of you who stop by and read an article or two here at the abitadeacon.  I hope you will come back often!

Great story/witness of a future Saint

STANDING FOR THE FAITH: Blessed Antonio Primaldo, the Saint Who Stood to the End

On December 20, Pope Benedict XVI–amid a flurry of 23 decrees including the much-touted proclamation of Pope Paul VI as “venerable”—advanced the cause of canonization of Blessed Antonio Primaldo e Compagni. With the recognition of the miraculous healing of Sister Francesca Levote, which has been attributed to the intercession of Blessed Antonio and his Companions, the way has been paved for their eventual canonization.
It’s been a busy week, what with the holidays and all—but I thought Blessed Antonio worthy of mention, if only because of the unusual circumstances surrounding his death.
Blessed Antonio was a tailor in the city of Otranto, Italy, in the 1400s. In 1480 the city was invaded by Turkish Moslems, their 150 ships and 18,000 troops greatly outnumbering the 6,000 inhabitants of the town. The conquerors executed the elderly bishop, Archbishop Stephen Pendinelli, and took the women and children into slavery. They rounded up all the men between the ages of fifteen and fifty—some 800 men in all. The Ottoman captors threatened to kill all the men, but promised to grant their lives and the freedom of their women and children if the men would simply renounce Christ and become Muslim.
Blessed Antonio remained firm, and encouraged his fellow citizens to stand strong in their faith. “My brothers,” he said, “until today we have fought in defense of our homeland, to save our lives, and for our earthly governors. Now it is time for us to fight to save our souls for the Lord. And since he died on the cross for us, it is fitting that we should die for him, remaining firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we will earn eternal life and the glory of martyrdom.”
Blessed Antonio was the first to be beheaded, followed by 799 others. Tradition holds that Blessed Antonio’s headless body remained standing and could not be knocked down by the Turkish soldiers. Only when the last of the men was slain did his body collapse of its own accord. One of the Muslims, seeing this miracle, was converted and professed his faith in Christianity—after which he was immediately impaled upon a scimitar by his own comrades-in-arms.
Relics of the Blessed Martyrs of Otranto in the Cathedral crypt
>>>Article from the blog Seasons of Grace, Kathy Schiffer

From the archives: My Holy Family Homily from 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Homily for Feast of the Holy Family

What is your all time favorite family TV show? Do you remember The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, The Cosby Show or maybe classics like Father Knows Best or Ozzie and Harriet? These indeed are great family programs. For me, however, my favorite family show was All in the Family. There was just something about that dysfunctional family living in Queens, NY that drew me in. For some reason, Archie Bunker reminded me of so many adults I knew in that era.

I just finished watching two great family movies as we celebrated Christmas. In both the Christmas Story (you know this movie; you’ll shoot your eye out) and Christmas Vacation we all recognize someone from our own family in at least one of the characters.

Families are so crazy but in the end they are family. We probably would not have it any other way.

As a people of faith, do we model our family life after that of the Holy Family? Do we strive to live the values of Jesus, Mary and Joseph?

After hearing the beautiful Gospel details of the birth of Jesus and his time spent in a manger today we fast forward about 12 years. Our Gospel recalls the story of a family road trip. This is not just any road trip; this is the journey to Jerusalem and the feast of Passover. The air of anticipation and excitement would make this a journey to remember. I doubt if Jesus would be asking, are we there yet. In fact, because Jesus achieved the age of 12, this may be the first such trip he would be allowed to take with Mary and Joseph.

One of the great events of this trip would be the public lectures of the religious leaders in the temple. As a boy of 12, Jesus would be allowed to listen to these public talks. Jesus apparently does more than listen in; he participates and makes a dramatic impression on all gathered, including the rabbis. He makes such an impression that Jesus is still in the temple despite the fact that his families caravan has left for home. It would be quite some time before Mary & Joseph realized Jesus was missing. It would be a total of 3 days before they would find him. And when they find Jesus he is in the temple asking questions and giving answers sitting among the teachers.

Mary and Joseph’s response to finding Jesus is not that different from our own when we realize that our children are safe but perhaps late or in a difficult situation. Mary asks Jesus, why have you done this to us? It is if Mary is perhaps more angry than relieved. What a normal reaction. But did we catch Jesus’ reply? He said I must be in my Father’s house. Is this in fact the first recorded evidence in Scripture that Jesus, fully human and being raised by two human parents, is acknowledging his divinity and his membership in the larger family of man? Perhaps!

It should also be noted that from that time onward, St. Luke makes a point to record that Jesus remained obedient to Mary and Joseph while advancing in wisdom and favor before God and man.

From this beautiful Gospel and the example of the Holy Family we can conclude that God wants us to live in family. We have our own family, our extended family, the family of believers and the family of mankind. This is God’s family. Like all families, God’s family has its characters too. In the end though, He desires His family to love one another, to support each other and advance in wisdom and favor.

How can we act like God’s family? We can like Jesus, become busy about doing the Father’s work. And what is that work? It is a life lived in worship of the Father, obedient to His will and relying on His church when we falter. For it is through the church, proclaiming His word, offering the Sacraments and bringing forth the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ that we can remain right with our family.

We are also called to see the goodness in each member of the family. We are called to see that whether we are the parent or the child, the husband or the wife, the aunts, uncles and cousins, we all are children of God; members of the one family united under Him.

Oh family struggles will happen but often in the end we overcome each others shortcomings and see the good; perhaps even see the Holy. After all, if Archie and Edith and Mike and Gloria could put all that bickering and petty disagreements behind to truly be family; it should be easy for those of us called to be members of God’s family.

May we all pray for the wisdom to do God’s will and be about the Father’s business. And that will keep us…All in the Family.

Friday, December 28, 2012

He was Archbishop of Canterbury

St. Thomas Becket

St. Thomas Becket
St. Thomas Becket
Feastday: December 29
1118 - 1170

There is a romantic legend that the mother of Thomas Becket was a Saracen princess who followed his father, a pilgrim or crusader, back from the Holy Land, and wandered about Europe repeating the only English words she knew, "London" and "Becket," until she found him. There is no foundation for the story. According to a contemporary writer, Thomas Becket was the son of Gilbert Becket, sheriff of London; another relates that both parents were of Norman blood. Whatever his parentage, we know with certainty that the future chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury was born on St. Thomas day, 1118, of a good family, and that he was educated at a school of canons regular at Merton Priory in Sussex, and later at the University of Paris. When Thomas returned from France, his parents had died. Obliged to make his way unaided, he obtained an appointment as clerk to the sheriff's court, where he showed great ability. All accounts describe him as a strongly built, spirited youth, a lover of field sports, who seems to have spent his leisure time in hawking and hunting. One day when he was out hunting with his falcon, the bird swooped down at a duck, and as the duck dived, plunged after it into the river. Thomas himself leapt in to save the valuable hawk, and the rapid stream swept him along to a mill, where only the accidental stopping of the wheel saved his life. The episode serves to illustrate the impetuous daring which characterized Becket all through his life.

At the age of twenty-four Thomas was given a post in the household of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, and while there he apparently resolved on a career in the Church, for he took minor orders. To prepare himself further, he obtained the archbishop's permission to study canon law at the University of Bologna, continuing his studies at Auxerre, France. On coming back to England, he became provost of Beverley, and canon at Lincoln and St. Paul's cathedrals. His ordination as deacon occurred in 1154. Theobald appointed him archdeacon of Canterbury, the highest ecclesiastical office in England after a bishopric or an abbacy, and began to entrust him with the most intricate affairs; several times he was sent on important missions to Rome. It was Thomas' diplomacy that dissuaded Pope Eugenius III from sanctioning the coronation of Eustace, eldest son of Stephen, and when Henry of Anjou, great grandson of William the Conqueror, asserted his claim to the English crown and became King Henry II, it was not long before he appointed this gifted churchman as chancellor, that is, chief minister. An old chronicle describes Thomas as "slim of growth, and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face.