5 Papal Quotes on Christmas

Now that we have officially entered the Christmas season, let me say – Merry Christmas to you and your family. I hope that the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ as an infant will bless your life and the lives of your family and friends this Christmas season.

As I always do with my writing on this website/blog, I try to find good solid Catholic theology to give to my readers. In recent days, I came upon this book in my library that was gifted to me some time ago. The book is a collection of quotes from different Popes on Christmas. It’s titled, Christmas with the Holy Fathers. I hope that you enjoy these quotes and can meditate upon them during this Christmas season –

1. “On this night, the Ancient yet ever new proclamation of the Lord’s birth rings out. It rings our for those keeping watch, like the shepherds in Bethlehem two thousand years ago; it rings out for those who have responded to Advent’s call and who, waiting watchfully, are ready to welcome the joyful tidings which in the liturgy become our song: Today is born our Savior.” – Pope St. John Paul II, Midnight Mass 2000

2. “The message of Christmas make us recognize the darkness of a closed world, and thereby no doubt illustrates a reality that we see daily. Yet it also tells us that God does not allow Himself to be shut out. He finds a space, even if it means entering through the stable; there are people who see His light and pass it on. Through the word of the Gospel, the angel also speaks to us, and in the sacred liturgy the light of the Redeemer enters our lives. Whether we are shepherds or ‘wise men” the light and its message calls us to set out, to leave the narrow circle or our desires and interests, to go out to meet the Lord and worship him. We worship Him by opening the world to truth, to good, to Christ, to the service of those who are marginalized and in whom He awaits us.” – Pope Benedict XVI, 2007

3. “Holy Immaculate Mary, help all who are in trouble. Give courage to the faint-hearted, console the sad, heal the infirm, pray for the people, intercede for the clergy, have a special care for nuns; may all feel, all enjoy your kind and powerful assistance, all who now and always render and will render your honor, and will offer you their petitions. Hear all our prayers, O Mother, and grant them all. We are all your children: Grant the prayers of your children. Amen forever.” – Pope St. John XXIII

4. “Our Savior, Dear Friends, was born today: let us rejoice! For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentle take courage in that he is called to life.” – Pope St. Leo I, Sermon on the Feast of the Nativity

5. “Jesus Christ said of Himself: I am the Living Bread descended from Heaven. Therefore, Bethlehem, the place where our Lord was born, has been called the House of Bread; for He who fed our hearts to satiety appeared there in the substance of flesh.” – Pope. St. Gregory I

May Our Lord Jesus Christ in the crib of Bethlehem be with you and yours this day and throughout this entire Christmas Season. 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

The Nativity – Fra Bartolomeo

“In Christ, Born of the Virgin’s womb, the nature does not differ from ours, because His nativity is wonderful. For He Who is true God, is also true man, and there is no lie in either nature. ‘The Word became flesh’ by exaltation of the flesh, not by failure of the Godhead: which so tempered its power and goodness as to exalt our nature by taking it, and not to lose His own by imparting it. In this nativity of Christ, according to the prophecy of David, ‘truth sprang out of the earth, and righteousness looked down fro heaven.’ In this nativity also, Isaiah’s saying is fulfilled, ‘let the earth produce and bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together.’ For the earth of human flesh, which in the first transgressor, was cursed, in this Offspring of the Blessed Virgin only produced a seed that was blessed and free from the fault of its stock. And each one is a partaker of this spiritual origin in regeneration; and to to every one when he is re-born, the water of baptism is like the Virgin’s womb; for the same Holy Spirit fills the font, Who filled the Virgin, that the sin, which that sacred conception overthrew, may be taken away by this mystical washing.” – Pope St. Leo I, Sermon on the Feast of the Nativity 

May your lives and your faith this day be strengthened as we celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day.

 Tom Perna

+AMDG 

The Magi Have Arrived

Since today is Epiphany Sunday here in the USA, it fell this past Friday nearly everywhere else; I wanted to share with you an excerpt from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI that focuses on the Magi. This excerpt comes from the book titled, Benedictus – Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI. A friend gave it to me last year and I hope to use it this year at work for daily meditations.

Once I provide you with this heart-penetrating excerpt (because when I read it, my response was – Wow!), I am going to share with you the journey of the Magi through pictures from my new Nativity set, which began around Christmas Eve and ended with them seeing Baby Jesus and the Holy Family on Friday. Even though I am not married nor do I have children, I felt the need to do this with my own Magi as they approached Baby Jesus on Epiphany in my own home. It will be a tradition I carry on from here on out and one that I hope to share with a family some day.

In the biblical text, when the Magi showed up at Herod’s door seeking the New Born King of the Jews, Herod was scared and nervous since he was only a puppet king the Romans put in place to rule. He was not about to give us his dominion to some young child. After realizing the Magi would never return, because he asked them to come back and share with him their findings (they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod), Herod’s anger grew and he ordered the killing of all male children three and under. Liturgically, we celebrate this as the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28.

Why three years and under you may ask? It took the Magi somewhere between two to three years after they met with King Herod to locate our Lord, who would have been around 2 or 3 years old. Furthermore, although Our Lord would have been older by the time the Magi arrived, we often see him as a little baby in a manager in most Nativity sets. Again, this has to do with the way we liturgically celebrate the Christmas Season, which includes the arrival of the Magi on Epiphany.

So with this being said, let’s turn our attention to the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – this excerpt is titled, What the Magi Learned –

“Going into the house, the Magi saw the child…Outwardly, their journey was now over. But at this point a new journey began for them which changed their whole lives…Deep within themselves they felt prompted to go in search of the true justice that can only come from God, and they wanted to serve this King, to fall prostrate at his feet and so play their part in the renewal of the world. They were among those ‘who hunger and thirst for justice’ (Mt 5:6). This hunger and thirst had spurred them on in their pilgrimage – they had become pilgrims in search of the justice they expected from God…The new King, to whom they now paid homage, was quite unlike what they were expecting. In this way they had to learn that God is not as we usually imagine him to be. This was where their inner journey began. It started at the very moment when they knelt down before this child and recognized him as the promised King. But they still had to assimilate these joyful gestures internally. They had to change their ideas about power, about God and about man, and in so doing, they also had to change themselves…They had to learn to give themselves – no lesser gift would be sufficient for this King. They had to learn that their lives must be conformed to this divine way of exercising power, to God’s own way of being. They must become men of truth, of justice, of goodness, of forgiveness, of mercy…They will have to ask: How can I serve God’s presence in the world? They must learn to lose their life and in this way to find it. Having left Jerusalem behind, they must not deviate from the path marked out by the true King, as they follow Jesus.”

On this day, let us be like the Magi, who after being in the presence of Jesus as a child, changed their lives, sought justice and mercy, and were ever transformed for the rest of their days. Let us also learn to be obedient to Jesus and His Catholic Church.

Now the pictures of my Magi and their journey…

The Magi start on the top of my bookcase after talking with Pope Benedict and the Knight.

The Magi start on the top of my bookcase after talking with Pope Benedict and the Knight.

wisemen-2

The Magi on my desk. An up close look at their gifts.

The Magi in my kitchen. A little sip of the vino might help them sleep better that week.

The Magi in my kitchen. A little sip of the vino might help them sleep better that week. Carrying their gifts.

The Magi on my dining room table.

The Magi on my dining room table. Gifts in hand.

The Magi can see Baby Jesus in the distance.

The Magi can now see Baby Jesus. They are close now.

The Magi have arrived for Epiphany.

The Magi have arrived for Epiphany. Here they are bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Merry Christmas!

birth-of-jesus-christ-icon

“On this night, the ancient yet ever new proclamation of the Lord’s birth rings out. It rings out for those keeping watch, like the shepherds in Bethlehem two thousand years ago; it rings out for those who have responded to Advent’s call and who, waiting watchfully, are ready to welcome the joyful tidings which in the liturgy become our song: “Today is born our Saviour”.

The Christian people keep watch; the entire world keeps watch on this Christmas night…this proclamation, with its inexhaustible power to renew us, echoes once more on this holy night with special force: this is the Christmas of the Great Jubilee, a living remembrance of Christ’s two thousand years, of his wondrous birth, which marked the new beginning of history. Today “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).

“Today”. On this night, time opens to eternity, because you, O Christ, are born among us, coming from on high. You came to birth from the womb of a Woman blessed among all women, you “the Son of the Most High”. Once and for all your holiness made all time holy: the days, the centuries, the millennia. By your birth, you have turned time into the “today” of salvation.” – Pope St. John Paul II, Midnight Mass Homily 2000 

May you and your loved ones have a Blessed and Joyous Christmas this year. Let us give praise and thanksgiving for the Birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

10 Quotes on the Holy Family from Pope St. John Paul II

Today, in the Latin lung of the Catholic Church, we celebrate the feast of The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. This most blessed family serves as a model for all families for all time. Although the hidden of life Christ is not fully revealed to us in the Scriptures, these years of Jesus with Mary and Joseph do show us the importance of His daily life in the ordinary time of family life. It is in Nazareth where the school of the Gospel begins. It is here that three important lessons are provided – the lesson of silence, the lesson of family life, and the lesson of work.

To help us understand the role of the Holy Family a bit more, and how it plays an important part for our modern culture and family life, below are 10 quotes from Pope St. Saint John Paul II –

The Church wishes to bear a particular witness to that too during the Octave of Christmas, by means of the feast of the Holy Family. She wishes to recall that the fundamental values, which cannot be violated without incalculable harm of a moral nature, are bound up with the family. – Homily, December 31, 1978

The Holy Family is the beginning of countless other holy families. The Council recalled that holiness is the vocation of all the baptized. In our age, as in the past, there is no lack of witnesses to the “gospel of the family”, even if they are not well known or have not been proclaimed saints by the Church. The Year of the Family is the appropriate occasion to bring about an increased awareness of their existence and their great number. – Gratissimam Sane (Letter to Families), #23. 1994.

To gather round the Bethlehem grotto contemplating there the Holy Family, enables us to appreciate the gift of family intimacy in a special way, and spurs us to offer human warmth and concrete solidarity in those unfortunately numerous situations which, for various reasons, lack peace, harmony, in a word, lack “family”. – Angelus, December 29, 1996

Today, in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas, the Church, reliving with fresh wonder the mystery of Emmanuel, God-with-us, leads us to contemplate the Holy Family of Nazareth. From contemplation of this admirable model, the Church draws the values to hold up to the women and men of all times and all cultures. – Angelus, December 27, 1998

This Sunday we are celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, and it is very significant that this year it takes place the day after Christmas and the opening of the Great Jubilee. I would therefore like to extend my special good wishes to families: a merry Christmas and a happy Jubilee Year to you all, families of Rome and of the entire world! The Jubilee that marks the 2,000th anniversary of Christ’s birth is yours in a particular way, because it recalls how God chose to enter human history through a family. – Angelus, December 26, 1999

Tondo Doni - Michelangelo

Tondo Doni – Michelangelo

Looking today at that Holy House, our thoughts turn to the many families of our time who are in difficult situations. Some of them suffer from extreme poverty; others are forced to seek in foreign countries what they unfortunately lack in their homeland; still others find within their own families serious problems caused by the rapid cultural and social changes which at times overwhelm them. And what can be said of the many attacks on the family institution itself? All this shows how urgent it is to rediscover the value of the family and to help it in every way to be, as God wanted it, the vital environment where every child who comes into the world is welcomed with tenderness and gratitude from the moment of his conception; a place marked by a serene atmosphere that encourages the harmonious human and spiritual development of all its members. – Angelus, December 31, 2000

For every believer, and especially for Christian families, the humble dwelling place in Nazareth is an authentic school of the Gospel. Here we admire, put into practice, the divine plan to make the family an intimate community of life and love; here we learn that every Christian family is called to be a small “domestic church” that must shine with the Gospel virtues. Recollection and prayer, mutual understanding and respect, personal discipline and community asceticism and a spirit of sacrifice, work and solidarity are typical features that make the family of Nazareth a model for every home. – Angelus, December 30, 2001

The liturgy of this Sunday, a few days after Christmas, invites us to contemplate the Holy Family of Nazareth, a wonderful model of human and supernatural virtues for all Christian families. Let us meditate on the mystery of this unique family: we can find in it values and teachings which today are more indispensable than ever to give human society sound and stable foundations. – Angelus, December 29, 2002

Today, a few days after Christmas, the Church contemplates the Holy Family. At the school of Nazareth every family learns to be a workshop of love, unity and openness to life. In our day a misunderstood sense of rights sometimes troubles the very nature of the family institution and of the conjugal bond. People who believe in the importance of the family based on marriage should join forces at all levels. The family is a human and divine reality that should be defended and promoted as a fundamental social good. – Angelus, December 28, 2003

Today, the Feast of St Stephen gives way to the Feast of the Holy Family. The Son of God prepared himself to carry out his redeeming mission, living a hard-working and hidden life in the holy house of Nazareth. Thus, united by his Incarnation with every man and woman (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 22), he was able to sanctify human families. – Angelus, December 26, 2004

On this day, let us ask for the intercession of the Holy Family that we may have the strength and courage to stand against all those who seek to destroy the life of traditional families. Let us also pray for the intercession of St. Joseph, who was the Protector of the Child Jesus and Mary, and is the Protector of the Holy Catholic Church. Amen.

Merry Christmas from Tom Perna

Nativity - Eastern Icon “Let us rejoice, my brethren, let the nations exalt and be glad because, not the visible sun, but the invisible Creator of the sun has consecrated this day [Christmas] on which the Virgin, a true but inviolate Mother, gave birth to Him who became visible for our sake and by whom she herself was created.” – St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermons

BLESSED CHRISTMAS to you and your loved ones during this beautiful season where we celebrate the Coming of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Thank you to everyone who follows my blog, follows me on Twitter, and has liked my Facebook page. I appreciate the support and the prayers you give me.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Family in God’s Plan

Today in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, which is the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord, we commemorate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It’s today that we try to understand with our finite minds the infinite and unconditional love and sacrifice that existed between Jesus Christ and his parents, Mary and Joseph.

On this feast of the Holy Family in 1964, Blessed Pope Paul VI said,

“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.”

Since the perfect example for every Christian family today and throughout the history of the Church is the Holy Family, I found it fitting today to share with you what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on the family in God’s plan –

“Honor your father and your mother” [Deut 5:16; Mk 7:10] (#2247).

According to the fourth commandment, God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents and those whom he has vested with authority for our good (#2248).

The conjugal community is established upon the covenant and consent of the spouses. Marriage and family are ordered to the good of the spouses, to the procreation and the education of children (#2249).

The Holy Family - Raphel

The Holy Family with Palm Tree – Raphael

“The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life” [GS 47 § 1] (#2250).

Children owe their parents respect, gratitude, just obedience, and assistance. Filial respect fosters harmony in all of family life (#2251).

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children in the faith, prayer, and all the virtues. They have the duty to provide as far as possible for the physical and spiritual needs of their children (#2252).

Parents should respect and encourage their children’s vocations. They should remember and teach that the first calling of the Christian is to follow Jesus (#2253).

For a complete understanding of the role of the family in God’s plan, I would suggest also reading paragraphs 2196-2233 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Also check out my blog posts – The 20th Anniversary of the Year of the Family and 12 Quotes from Blessed Pope John Paul II on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World.

In a time and culture when the traditional family is being attacked, when there are many attacks on the beauty of marriage between one man and one woman, let us pray with great fervor that we may have the strength to withstand these attacks and visibly witness for the world the truth, beauty, and goodness of traditional marriage and family. May the Holy Family pray for us as we look toward their perfect example of love and sacrifice.

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