A Child is Born To Us!

A child is born to us! + Video

 
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Christmas  is truly a time to gaze in wonderment at Jesus, God’s gift to us!

“In the night of the world let us still be surprised and illumined by this act of God which is totally unexpected: God makes himself a Child. 

We must let ourselves be overcome with wonder, illumined by the Star that flooded the universe with joy. May the Child Jesus, in coming to us, not find us unprepared, dedicated only to making exterior reality more beautiful. 

A characteristic sign of this Christmas Season is the Nativity scene (…) The crib is an expression of our expectation that God is coming close to us, that Jesus comes close to us, but it is also an expression of thanksgiving for the One who decided to share in our human condition, in poverty and simplicity. (Excerpts from the General Audience of Benedict XVI – Christmas 2010) 
 

“The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has entered our history; he has shared our journey. He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light. In him was revealed the grace, the mercy, and the tender love of the Father: Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst.
 
On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats: “Do not be afraid!” (Lk 2:10). As the angels said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid!”. And I also repeat to all of you: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is mercy: our Father always forgives us. He is our peace. Amen.” (Excerpts from the Homily of Pope Francis – Christmas 2013) 

                        
                                

And we invite you, also, to visit the section Blessed Mary of the Passion – Her Writings (Click HERE), to read the Message of the General Minister of the OFM (Click HERE) and to watch and download the video “Let us contemplate Jesus, the Mercy of the Father”.


 

The gift of God’s Presence

God is not giving us a mere gift
He is giving of Himself, 
He offers His own self to us
Not in the guise of some object 
Or something more or less valuable
Which we offer to one another
At certain times in our lives

When God gives of Himself,
It is a total giving
Of One person to another 
God gives Himself without counting the cost
Immeasurably and generously 
Giving of His time and His work 

When God comes to us
He gifts us with
His powerful, near and 
Ever loving Presence

When He knocks at our door
And sits at our table
He comes empty-handed 
No pointless gifts
When God comes it is with a Heart 
Overflowing in tenderness,
Heaven’s gift!

  

 

Why do we have Nativity scenes at Christmas?

Why do we have Nativity scenes at Christmas?

 

Christmas celebrates the Incarnation when God became one of us. This was a key part of the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi. So, in 1223, Francis decided to celebrate the Incarnation in a special way that would help people remember the Christ Child and His humble birth. Francis wanted people to see and experience how the Christ Child lay on the hay in a manger with an ox and an ass standing by.

On Christmas Eve that year, at the appointed time, Francis’ brothers gathered at a hilltop cave in Greccio, the “new Bethlehem,” along with men, women and children from the area, to reenact the first Christmas. The torches they carried lit up the night as they approached the manger.  It was as if once again shepherds were walking in the night to come and adore Him. All were filled with joy over the mystery of the Incarnation and a tradition was begun that has inspired millions since then.

As you gaze on your Nativity set, may you remember and celebrate again God’s love for all of creation. To show His abundant love, mercy, and forgiveness, Jesus became a person like us. This is what the Nativity scene invites us to ponder.

 

St. Francis and the Christmas Creche

·         FR. WILLIAM SAUNDERS

What is the origin of the Nativity Scene (creche)?

The story of the origin of the Christmas creche rests with the very holy man, St. Francis of Assisi.

In the year 1223, St. Francis, a deacon, was visiting the town of Grecio to celebrate Christmas. Grecio was a small town built on a mountainside overlooking a beautiful valley. The people had cultivated the fertile area with vineyards. St. Francis realized that the chapel of the Franciscan hermitage would be too small to hold the congregation for Midnight Mass. So he found a niche in the rock near the town square and set up the altar. However, this Midnight Mass would be very special, unlike any other Midnight Mass.

St. Bonaventure (d. 1274) in his Life of St. Francis of Assisi tells the story the best:

It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Grecio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, [St. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff. Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem. A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Grecio, who, for the love of Christ, had left the warfare of this world, and become a dear friend of this holy man, affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvellously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep. This vision of the devout soldier is credible, not only by reason of the sanctity of him that saw it, but by reason of the miracles which afterwards confirmed its truth. For example of Francis, if it be considered by the world, is doubtless sufficient to excite all hearts which are negligent in the faith of Christ; and the hay of that manger, being preserved by the people, miraculously cured all diseases of cattle, and many other pestilences; God thus in all things glorifying his servant, and witnessing to the great efficacy of his holy prayers by manifest prodigies and miracles.

Although the story is long old, the message is clear for us. Our own Nativity scenes which rest under our Christmas trees are a visible reminder of that night when our Savior was born. May we never forget to see in our hearts the little Babe of Bethlehem, who came to save us from sin. We must never forget that the wood of the manger that held Him so securely would one day give way to the wood of the cross. May we too embrace Him with all of our love as did St. Francis.

From Catholic Education Resource (CERC.)

“The true joy of Christmas is in the everlasting love of Christ. Wishing you a joyous Christmas and blessings in the coming New Year.”

 

 

 

 

 

Feast of the Immaculate Conception (+ Video)

You are the All Beautiful, O Mary!   

Feast of the Immaculate Conception (+ Video)
 
 
  
« As a religious family, we were born through Divine Providence in the East.
So, let us be in the Order the offspring of Mary Immaculate, the souvenir of the triumph
of her Immaculate Conception. In order to realise this sublime vocation,
let us keep within our heart and meditate upon these words:
“And now, my daughters, listen to me: Happy those who keep my ways.”»

 
Mary of the Passion
 
On the day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary our gaze is drawn to the beauty of the Mother of Jesus, our Mother! With great joy the Church contemplates her “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), and starting with these words we salute her together: “Full of grace!” Let us say it three times.
 
This is how God saw her from the first moment of his loving design. He saw her as beautiful, full of grace. Our Mother is beautiful! Mary sustains our journey toward Christmas, for she teaches us how to live this Advent Season in expectation of the Lord. For this time of Advent is a time of waiting for the Lord, who will visit us all on the feast, but also, each one, in our own hearts. The Lord is coming! Let us wait for him!
 
The Gospel of St Luke presents us with Mary, a girl from Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, in the outskirts of the Roman Empire and on the outskirts of Israel as well. A village. Yet the Lord’s gaze rested on her, on this little girl from that distant village, on the one he had chosen to be the mother of his Son. In view of this motherhood, Mary was preserved from original sin, from that fracture in communion with God, with others and with creation, which deeply wounds every human being. But this fracture was healed in advance in the Mother of the One who came to free us from the slavery of sin. The Immaculata was written in God’s design; she is the fruit of God’s love that saves the world.
 
And Our Lady never distanced herself from that love: throughout her life her whole being is a “yes” to that love, it is the “yes” to God. But that didn’t make life easy for her! When the Angel calls her “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), she is “greatly troubled” for in her humility she feels she is nothing before God. The Angel consoles her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (v. 30,31). This announcement troubles her even more because she was not yet married to Joseph; but the Angel adds: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you… therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (v. 35). Mary listens, interiorly obeys and responds: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v.38).
 
The mystery of this girl from Nazareth, who is in the heart of God, is not estranged from us. She is not there and we over here. No, we are connected. Indeed, God rests his loving gaze on every man and every woman! By name and surname. His gaze of love is on every one of us. The Apostle Paul states that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph 1:4). We too, from all time, were chosen by God to live a holy life, free of sin. It is a plan of love that God renews every time we come to him, especially through the Sacraments.
 
On this Solemnity, then, by contemplating our beautiful Immaculate Mother, let us also recognize our truest destiny, our deepest vocation: to be loved, to be transformed by love, to be transformed by the beauty of God. Let us look to her, our Mother, and allow her to look upon us, for she is our mother and she loves us so much; let us allow ourselves to be watched over by her so that we may learn how to be more humble, and also more courageous in following the Word of God; to welcome the tender embrace of her Son Jesus, an embrace that gives us life, hope and peace.
(Excerpts from a homily of Pope Francis)
 
On this day, we invite you to visit
 
 and download the movie “Missionaries of MARY” (Click here)

 

Happy feast of the Immaculate !