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Archive for January, 2012

The Baptism of Our Lord

Solemnity today – January 9, 2011

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan River. On this occasion we again see the manifestation of Jesus in His humanity and divinity. We hear The Father’s voice from heaven announce Jesus as His Son and the descent of the Holy Spirit above Jesus in the form of a dove, as we hear in today’s Gospel of Mark 1: 9-11,  “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;  and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”

 It is at this scene of the baptism of Jesus that we are witness to the Blessed Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, at the moment of His baptism by water His mission as The Messiah (anointed one) was revealed. We hear in Acts 10:38, “ God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power”.  God the Father did the anointing of Jesus, the Son, with the Holy Spirit.

Reflection: On this day in which we commemorate the baptism of Our Lord we also reflect on the significance of our own baptism. It is in the sacrament of baptism that we are reborn into the life of Christ and His Church and we are forgiven of original sin, we receive sanctifying grace, and we become temples of the Holy Spirit. What a glorious event to recall the date on which we became united with Christ. And, as we journey here on earth we strive to remain united with Christ in a state of sanctifying grace, to know Him in prayer, to develop a deeper relationship with Him, and to radiate Christ to the world. We can pray to the Blessed Trinity and commemorate the life of Jesus as we pray the life of Christ on this beautiful Gold Amethyst Swarovski Crystal Rosary.

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The Epiphany of The Lord – The 3 Magi Visit The Infant Jesus in Bethlehem

Feast day January 6

Today we commemorate and celebrate the day on which the 3 magi or 3 kings traveled from the Orient, following a star to Bethlehem to give homage to the newborn king. Sacred Scripture tells us that the 3 kings brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor Our Lord.

Church Fathers tell us that these gifts have symbolic meaning in addition to the expression of honor. The gold symbolized Our Lord’s earthly rule as a king. The frankincense symbolized His divinity as the incense would rise to heaven in prayer, acknowledging Him as God. The myrrh symbolized that one day he would die. Myrrh was used for the anointing of Jesus’ body after His death.

The observance of the feast of the Epiphany was first recorded by Ammianus Marcellinus, a fourth-century Roman historian. It was also the significance of this feast day is God being manifested as a human child, that is, the mystery of the incarnation.

Reflection: We commemorate the event in history in which Our Lord Jesus was acknowledged as king and God and first presented with precious gifts. Thus, it is a day in which we all contemplate that we also are to give our gifts to Our Lord. Christ has given us the most precious gifts of life, grace, and eternal salvation. What gifts will we give Him? He asks us to give him our lives, our families, our relationships, our fear, our joy, our trust, our acceptance of His Will, and most of all our love. What a wonderful way to honor the Infant Jesus in prayer before a beautiful Infant of Prague statue.

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Our Lady of Ocotlan Statue and Apparition of Mary

In the spring of 1541, in the city of Tlaxcala, Mexico, an Indian named Juan Diego Bernardino witnessed the apparition of Our Lady of Ocotlan. This was just 10 years after the famous apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. It was during this time that small pox had struck this and surrounding villages in Mexico which killed many of the villagers.

On this day Juan Diego Bernardino was on his way to bring a jug of water from the river to his sick family. As he was on his way home from the river, he reached a hilltop and saw the vision of a most beautiful lady. It was our Lady. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She asked him where he was going. He told her that he was taking water to his family that was dying of the plague.  She asked him to follow her and she would give him healing water that would cure all that would drink it.

Our Lady led Juan Diego down the hill in a pine grove to a water spring. Our Lady of Ocotlan then instructed him to give the water to the sick and anyone that drank it would be healed. She also told him to lead the Franciscan friars and that they would find an image of her in the pine grove. He was told to tell the friars that through this image she promised to send great blessings.  And, he was to tell the Franciscan friars to take the image and place it in the church of St. Lawrence. Juan Diego did as Our Lady instructed him. He gave the water to his family and they were cured. Other village people went to the spring and drank the water and were also miraculously healed.

Juan Diego later went to Franciscan friars and led them with a group of villagers to the pine grove. The trees of the forest were on fire. But, in the midst of the burning trees was one ocote tree that was untouched by the fire. Something directed the Franciscans to cut open the tree. When they cut open the tree with a hatchet they discovered the image of Mary carved in the wood. How glorious! All of the witnesses fell to their knees in awe and honor. The Franciscans and villagers then removed the image of Our Lady of Ocotlan and lifted it on their shoulders as they processed it to the Church of St. Lawrence. The image was placed on the altar of the church where it remains today. The statue of Our Lady of Ocotlan is carved from one piece of wood from the ocote tree. It is 5 feet tall.

A Shrine of Our Lady of Ocotlan was constructed. Pope Clement XIII declared a feast day to celebrate Our Lady of Ocotlan to be celebrated on a Sunday in July. The faithful Christians, villagers, and pilgrims honor this apparition with a procession with Our Lady of Ocotlan Statue on their shoulders as it occurred on the first procession when the image was first revealed centuries ago.

What a great opportunity to honor and celebrate Mary’s great love and blessings as you display a beautiful Our Lady of Ocotlan Statue in your own home.

 

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Mary the Mother of God – Theotokos


From our early Church father, Bishop Cyril of Alexandria:

The Catholic Church affirmed the declaration of Mary to be the Mother of God (Theotokos in Greek) at the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431 AD. Cyril of Alexandria, an early Church Father, elaborated on the rightful recognition of Mary as Mother of God in his second letter to Nestorius of Constantinople. He stated: “”the holy fathers… have ventured to call the holy Virgin Theotokos, not as though the nature of the [W]ord or his divinity received the beginning of their existence from the holy Virgin, but because from her was born his holy body, rationally endowed with a soul, with which [body] the [W]ord was united according to the hypostasis, and is said to have been begotten according to the flesh”. (Hypostasis refers to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity: three distinct persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one God).  Since Mary is Jesus’ mother, and Jesus is God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity,  it must be concluded that she is also the Mother of God.

From the The Catechism:

The Catechism of The Catholic Church defines Mary’s divine motherhood in paragraph 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).”

From Pope John Paul II:

Pope John Paul II in his Wednesday audience on September 13, 1995 gave this further catechesis in “Mary Is The Virgin Mother of God”. He stated “In Lumen gentium, the Council states that “joined to Christ the head and in communion with all his saints, the faithful must in the first place reverence the memory ‘of the glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ'” (n. 52). The conciliar Constitution uses these terms from the Roman Canon of the Mass, thereby stressing how faith in the divine motherhood of Mary has been present in Christian thought since the first centuries.”

Reflection: We honor Mary as the mother of Jesus and mother of God in our daily prayer of intercession. We come to her as our mother to ask her to help us on our path to holiness. We seek to know and love Jesus with a heart as meek, mild, humble, and kind as the heart of The Blessed Mother of God. What a wonderful way to pray to Mary to intercede with her dear Son, Jesus, as we look upon her loving face personified in this beautiful Mary and Child statue.

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