Striving to Resemble Christ as a Holy Innocent

Weeping for her Children, because they were no more. . .

Weeping for her Children, because they were no more. . . ©, 2012

A voice was heard in Rama, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more (Jeremiah 31:15).

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents and in so doing we honor the lives of the infants who were slaughtered at the command of King Herod.

Today’s Gospel states:

When the Magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

At The Kings Command These Innocent Babes Were Put to Death. . . .

At The Kings Command These Innocent Babes Were Put to Death. . . .

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: A voice was heard in Rama, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more (Matthew 2:13-18).

Christmas Reflects the Joy of Innocence. ©, 2012

Christmas Reflects the Joy of Innocence. ©, 2012

In the midst of Christmas bliss, our joy is today tinged with sorrow. It is impossible to contemplate the concept of Christmas without simultaneously thinking of children. The Christ Child is integral to the nature of Christmas itself: without the Divine Babe, Christmas itself would not exist. Both religious and secular society recognize the centrality of children to Christmas. From crèche to carolers, cookies to candy canes, our cherished Christmas images reflect the joy of innocence. We treasure memories of our own youthful Christmases past, and strive to allow our progeny to experience cherished traditions with the same delight we held so long ago.

Cherished Memories of Christmas Past. ©, 2012

Cherished Memories of Christmas Past. ©, 2012

This rhythm of innocence and joy is among the blessings of this sacred season. Fresh are the memories of our youngsters kneeling by the crèche to wish Baby Jesus a “Happy Birthday”, of wee ones enthralled with glittery festive wrap, chubby cheeks sticky with holiday sweets, and angelic choruses singing “Silent Night.” Yet, today, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents we acknowledge that the Cross and the Crib are not all that far apart. If we are to embrace the Babe in the Manager, we must also prepare ourselves accept the Cross as well.

We must be Prepared to Welcome both the Christ in the Crib and One on the Cross.

We must be Prepared to Welcome both the Christ in the Crib and One on the Cross. ©, 2012

Ours is an imperfect, fallen, temporary world. Eternity is forever and in His wisdom, our loving God allows us to unite our suffering with that of His beloved Son. This grace is offered to all, irrespective of age, race, or station in life. The tender babes who we remember as the Holy Innocents achieved the grace to perfectly reflect Christ to a troubled world.

The martyrs whose feast we celebrate were victims of the cruel, irrational jealousy of King Herod. Their innocence and light contrasts his evil darkness. Herod “The Great” is recorded in history as a brutal, maniacal, despot; diabolical shadows are evident throughout his entire reign. Herod was appointed Governor of Galilee by Rome at the age of 25. His cruelty was already known and condemned by high-ranking Jewish officials. He briefly lost his throne in a power struggle with his nephew, Antigonus; upon which Herod swiftly traveled to Rome to politically spar for his precious throne. Evidently he was persuasive and his history of brutal suppression of opposition was thought by Rome to be an asset; the Roman Senate declared Herod “The King of the Jews” c. 39 B.C.

Upon returning to Judea, and securing his throne, Herod promptly married the adolescent niece of Antigonus, Mariamne I, in an effort to ameliorate Jewish discontent at his return. Herod banished his own wife Doris and her children rather than deal with palace squabbles over legitimate heirs to the throne. Actually this fate was kinder than that which was in store for Mariamne and some of her sons. Fueled by jealous rage and paranoia Herod had each of them brutally murdered.

Aware that his subjects despised him, Herod “The Great” devised an elaborate plan to ensure that at his death his subjects would mourn. His final illness was described by the renowned Roman historian Josephus. He recounts details that include visible worms within his flesh, purification, and agony, – his son, Herod Agrippa’s fate included a similarly recorded death. As Herod’s health began to fail, he ordered that many of the most beloved citizens and revered rabbis be imprisoned and that upon his death they be executed. There is however some evidence that Herod’s son Archilaus failed to carry out this diabolical request.

Herod “The Great,” the Roman appointed “King of the Jews,” was an evil man. Darkness and light cannot exist simultaneously. The True Light was coming into the world, and neither Herod, nor the Evil which fueled him, could tolerate that reality. Thus, in an effort to extinguish the Light, Herod ordered the slaughter of all baby boys two years and under living in the region of Bethlehem. These children died because they resembled our Savior in gender, age, and innocence. Their senseless massacre was mourned in heaven and on earth. Truly one can sense God Himself weeping over their deaths. Two millennia later tears are still shed for their passing and their lives are remembered with great devotion. They have achieved the glory of immortality that eluded their brutal murder.

These babes were martyred because they resembled the Christ-Child. Yet, for those of us who believe, there is no greater grace than to conform perfectly to Our Savior as to be confused for Him. In reality, those of us who bear the name Christian strive daily to become living, breathing images of Christ, such that when one sees us they truly see Him alive within us. The Holy Innocents achieved this monumental task at a tender age.

Become a Living, Breathing, Image of Christ. . . ©, 2012

Become a Living, Breathing, Image of Christ. . . ©, 2012

In our world today there are other holy innocents whose lives speak volumes. Last month a young boy named Andrew succumbed to an aggressive brain cancer. His faith was unwavering, and in his final weeks he was often heard praying and offering his suffering for other children with cancer. He prayed that his family might accept his death, and that they all might one day be reunited in Paradise.

Last year, another young girl prayed that closeness which through her devastating illness had bonded her troubled family would not be shattered upon her death.

A tiny babe recovering from massive surgeries to correct devastating birth anomalies clings to life surrounded by his amazing faith-filled family (Please pray for little Dominic Pio!)

Each day in the abortion mills throughout this country and the world, thousands of precious, tiny lives are taken. Their light is extinguished by the darkness of ignorance and selfishness.

One has only to look to the recent events in Newtown Connecticut to sense the preciousness of innocent lives, and that fact that dark and disturbed people still exist.

Today, as we remember the Holy Innocents and celebrate their Feast, let us pray that we too achieve the grace to resemble Christ so closely that we might be mistaken for Him. Let us pray for all the innocent children of the world – born and unborn – that they might enjoy freedom to live in health and safety, and come to proclaim the reality of the love of Christ.

May His Light shine through them and through us for all eternity.

Merry Christmas Blessings,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A.   JMJ

The Lord Himself Will Give You a Sign

King's Stand Silent in your Presence ©, 2012

Kings Stand Silent in your Presence ©, 2012

O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before You. Come let nothing keep you from coming to our aid (O Antiphon, Divine Office).

As Advent draws to its culmination, there is a sense of eager anticipation that builds like a crescendo. Our home is filled with the sights, sounds and scents of Christmas. The Nativity stands on the mantle, the Christmas tree is decorated, lights glow, stringed instruments rehearse for Christmas Mass, the children sing and whisper Christmas secrets. . . our busy home is abuzz with festive cheer.

Prepare Ye the Way! ©, 2012

Prepare Ye the Way! ©, 2012

The rhythm of readings from the daily Divine Office and Holy Mass have served as a foundation upon which we have endeavored to construct worthy hearts; prepared to welcome the Infant Christ Child, and His Beloved Mother. The daily recitation of the St. Andrew Novena has helped to reinforce the essential truth and beauty of the season of Advent. With every: “Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary at midnight in Bethlehem, in piercing cold, in that hour vouchsafe O my God to hear my prayer and grant my desire through the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Amen,” our hearts are one step closer to welcoming the One Who is our heart’s greatest desire.

Yesterday’s blizzard offered a unique opportunity for reflection and Advent preparation. Winds howled and heavy snow blanketed our area. By this morning we had 14 inches of heavy wet snow, encrusted with ice. Trees laden beyond their breaking point littered our yard today.


Holy Hill in Ice ©, 2012 EA Photo

All week we knew the storm was coming. Modern meteorology with its Doppler radar has tracking approaching storms down to a science. On Wednesday, I regretfully informed the kids it was doubtful that we’d venture to the Basilica for daily Mass. We all hate missing Mass, but missing Mass during these final days of Advent seems a particular blow. My daughter Gemma summed it all up: “The Lord has invited us to His banquet, and we won’t be there!” However, I assured them that as the responsibility of their young lives is mine, I knew Our Lord would understand our absence from His holy Banquet. Still, I prayed, as did they, that if possible, we might get to Mass.

Holy Hill

Before the icy, wet snow truly piled up on Thursday morning, my husband discovered that his clinic was closed in advance of the inclement weather. By Mass time, as anticipated, the roads were beyond my driving capabilities, but he is more proficient behind the wheel than I, and thus we safely ventured to Mass as a family. The beauty of the Basilica, encrusted with pure white snow from the twin spires to the trees below, is breath-taking. Fr. Jude delivered a magnificent homily to the mere handful of us who were privileged to traverse the steep hill. He explained why King Ahaz preferred to enter a disastrous military alliance with the Assyrians rather than trust in God’s providential care (First Reading, Isaiah 7:10-14). Ahaz was a weak king, who sought his own security and prestige through worldly means and was uninterested in invoking God. Ahaz was not about to trust that God would protect his tiny Kingdom, and in fact he preferred to side-step God, rather than risk losing his precious throne. Politics preempted theology. Thus, with mock humility, Ahaz refused to even ask for a sign. Even though Ahaz refuses to cooperate, the prophesy is uttered aloud: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you this sign: the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name Him Emmanuel.”

A Virgin Shall Conceive and Bear a Son ©, 2012

A Virgin Shall Conceive and Bear a Son ©, 2012

The fulfillment of this prophesy reaches completion through the fiat of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was described in yesterday’s Gospel (Luke 1: 26-38). King Ahaz refused to cooperate with God’s grace, and rejected His loving plan to protect His chosen people. Alternatively, the Blessed Virgin chose to cooperate fully with the Divine Will. King Ahaz principally valued his own temporal and political desires. He was full of himself, and placed his personal security above the good of his people and the will of God. In contrast, the Blessed Virgin was (and is still) full of Grace, she sought the Will of God preeminently without consideration of her personal goals and safety. Unlike Ahaz, she trusted God thoroughly, and thus through her God’s loving plan would reach fulfillment in Christ Jesus.

Trust: it seems so simple, yet it is profoundly challenging. Trust is not something that happens accidentally. No, rather it requires a volitional act of the will. We must summon our courage and rest in faith, realizing the validity of the Angel Gabiel’s promise: “Nothing is impossible with God.” Mighty kings and rulers like Ahaz have proven incapable of such trust. Yet, a lowly, humble, poor, young virgin demonstrates exactly how one must proceed. Emulating her example, we can place our trust in the providential love of God, and receive into our hearts the fruit of this love, which is Jesus Christ Our Savior.

Through Mary, may we have the grace to say: “Jesus, I trust in You!”

Advent blessings,

M.A. J.M.J.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us!

Holy Mother of God, pray for us! ©, 2012. EA photographer

Holy Mother of God, pray for us! ©, 2012. EA photographer

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas! The origin of this feast goes back to the 16th century, when a radiant Heavenly visitor appeared to a simple Indian peasant, – a 57 year old widower named Juan Diego, who was on his way to Holy Mass in honor of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, on December 9, 1531. As Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he heard beautiful music, and then a lovely voice calling his name: “Juanito, Juan Dieguit.”  He then saw Our Lady wearing the raiment of an Aztec Princess – one who was with child. Our Lady spoke to Juan in his own language, and gave him the mission to request of Bishop Juan de Zumarraga that a chapel was to be built in her honor. She stated:

“Know and understand well, you the most humble of my sons, that I am the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of Heaven and the Earth. I wish that a chapel be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows. And to accomplish what my clemency pretends, go to the palace of the bishop of Mexico, and you will say to him that I manifest my great desire, that here on this plain a chapel be built to me; you will accurately relate all you have seen and admired, and what you have heard. Be assured that I will be most grateful and will reward you, because I will make you happy and worthy of recompense for the effort and fatigue in what you will obtain of what I have entrusted. Behold, you have heard my mandate, my humble son; go and put forth all your effort.”

Juan reluctantly carried out her request. The Franciscan Bishop, though kind, thought Juan was hallucinating. Our Lady appeared to Juan two more times, and again Juan conveyed the Blessed Mother’s requests to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga . Finally, the Bishop sent Juan away with the seemingly impossible task of bringing back a sign – Castilian roses from the Bishop’s home region in Spain (recall this was the middle of December in Mexico).

St. Juan Diego Pray for Us! ©, 2012. Photo taken at Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI

St. Juan Diego Pray for Us! ©, 2012. Photo taken at Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI

The morning of the fourth apparition, Juan’s uncle became gravely ill, and as Juan hurried to find a priest to administer the Last Rites, he purposely avoided seeing Our Lady. He skirted around Tepeyac Hill, fearing that should he run into the Heavenly visitor, she might detain him in his important task of finding a priest. Our Blessed Mother is not easily deterred, and simply found Juan on the other side of the hill. She compassionately assured Juan that his uncle would completely recover (which he did). Our dear Lady of Guadalupe gently stated again in his own tongue:

“Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything. Do not be afflicted by the illness of your uncle, who will not die now of it. be assured that he is now cured.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Please Pray for Us! ©, 2011. GM photographer

The Blessed Mother pointed to a patch of Castilian Roses growing in the cold and instructed Juan to pick them. After he did, her loving hands arranged them in his tilma (coarse Indian cloak). Empowered by our Lady’s words, Juan again visited the Bishop. When Juan entered the room, and opened his arms, the Castilian roses cascaded to the ground, and the amazed Bishop fell to his knees. A beautiful, inexplicable image of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on the rough fiber Indian cloak. While the cloak itself should have disintegrated in about 50-75 years as others of the same time period did, this cloak, and its miraculous image have endured for 480 years.

The image itself is the object of much study and writing, and someday I’ll devote an entire post to it. This image has survived much – even an attempt to bomb it that severely damaged the church which contained the treasure. NASA scientists have analyzed the image, and find no known earthly element involved in its existence – it is not painted, nor is it a photograph. The stars on Our Lady’s mantle appear exact pattern that would have occurred in the sky on that December morning in 1531. Computer analysis of the eyes of the image  – when magnified – reveal several figures who appear to be kneeling. The number of miracles associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe and this image are uncountable. Perhaps the greatest miracle is that within a decade after Our Lady’s appearance 9 million people were converted, and the gruesome Aztec practice of human child sacrifice was abandoned.

Our Lady of Guadalupe’s miraculous intercession continues to this present day. Please join me on Her Feast in requesting her unfailing aid.

Lead Us to Your Divine Son, Jesus! ©, 2012.

Lead Us to Your Divine Son, Jesus! ©, 2012.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the America’s and Protector of the Unborn, please pray for us, for our beloved country which desperately needs Your Miraculous and Motherly intercession. Please give us the grace to respect each other regardless of race, handicap, income or age. Please pray that we may also end the scourge of child sacrifice performed daily under the clinical name of abortion. Please help us to convert our hearts, and mend our lives as You aided others so long ago. Recognizing that you are “the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of Heaven and the Earth,” we place our confidence in the protection of Your Immaculate Heart. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Please pray for us!

Blessed Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Ad Jesum per Mariam


“Hail Full of Grace!” (Kεχαριτωμένη)

©, 2012. EA Photographer

May Your Mother Intercede for Us Lord! ©, 2012. EA Photographer

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is one of the most beautiful celebrations in the liturgical year. Today we commemorate the singular grace and privilege that God Himself bestowed upon Our Heavenly Mother: namely that she was conceived without the stain of Original Sin. Through this feast we are invited to thank God for the tremendous grace with which He has endowed Our Lady, and also to seek Her powerful maternal intercession for ourselves.

The privilege of being the Immaculate Conception is unique in Salvation History. Never before – nor ever again – has a mere creature been given so great a gift. Yet the gift is truly fitting when one contemplates the solitary role Our Lady was to occupy within God’s Divine Plan. The Blessed Mother was to provide a pure Tabernacle of human flesh within which Our Divine Savior was to rest and grow for nine months. In anticipation of Mary’s fiat, Our Lord prevented the disfigurement of Original Sin from ever touching her Immaculate Soul- His gift of grace to Our Lady who existed absolutely and totally replete with grace from the first moment of her being.

“Hail Full of Grace!” (Kεχαριτωμένη), ©, 2012. EA Photographer

“Hail Full of Grace!” (Kεχαριτωμένη), ©, 2012. EA Photographer

Indeed, the Angel Gabriel greets the Blessed Mother not with the words “Hail Mary,” but rather “Hail Full of Grace.” The Greek word, kechatitomene (Kεχαριτωμένη) is used exclusively to name the Blessed Mother, and it means full (overflowing) with grace. The connotation of this word is that Our Lady, was so brimming with the gift of God’s grace that there was not even an iota of room for anything opposed to that grace. My Koine Greek is pretty rusty, but what I remember is that kechatitomene is in the aorist tense – a past perfect tense denoting an action that was begun in the past, but continued into the present. Mary was conceived sinless, and that state continued into present.

The Lord Will Dawn on You in Radiant Beauty . ©, 2012. EA Photographer

The Lord Will Dawn on You in Radiant Beauty . ©, 2012. EA Photographer

When God uses a word in place of a person’s name or renames an individual, it bears deep significance as it reflects the very being and mission of the individual. Recall for example that: Abram (exalted father) was renamed Abraham (father of many nations), Jacob wrestled with an angel and was given the name Israel (contended with God), Simon the fisherman was renamed Peter- the Rock, and the Pharisee Saul was transformed into the Christian Paul. Thus, when the Angel of the Annunciation refers to the Blessed Mother, not by her given name of Mary, but rather as “kechatitomene,” it reflects the past of her sinless conception, the present of the moment of the Annunciation, and the future of her mission as the Immaculate Conception – a mission which continues to this very day.

The Lord has Chosen Her, His Loved on From the Beginning. . ©, 2012. EA Photographer

The Lord has Chosen Her, His Loved on From the Beginning. . ©, 2012. EA Photographer

In the United States of America, devotion to Our Lady under the title “Immaculate Conception” has early antecedents. For example, a feast of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated in all the Spanish colonies, and established as a Holy Day of Obligation by the First Provincial Council of Lima in 1552. Franciscan Missions to Our Lady under this privileged title include: Convento de Inmaculada Concepcion in St. Augustine, Florida (established in 1573), and La Purisima Conception Mission in New Mexico (1629) and La Purisima Concepcion in California (1787).

The Lord is with You! “Hail Full of Grace!”  ©, 2012. EA Photographer

The Lord is with You! “Hail Full of Grace!” ©, 2012. EA Photographer

The renowned Jesuit explorer, Pere Jacque Marquette explored the Mississippi River, and not only entrusted his perilous expedition to Blessed Virgin, but also renamed the Indian Village of Kaskasia “Immaculate Conception of Mary,” as well as renamed the Great River: “Conception River.” Fr. Marquette’s devotion to Our Lady under this title also included spreading a devotion to the Chaplet of Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception, a chaplet he himself created in Her honor.

As early as May 17, 1846 Our Lady was proclaimed patroness of the entire country under this privileged title by the bishops if the United States at the Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore. From early antiquity, a belief in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is evident through the writings of the early Church Fathers. Even before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was officially promulgated by Pope Pius IX December 8, 1854, in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus, this doctrine was widely espoused and celebrated, not only in Europe, but also in the United States. In 1884, the bishops of the United States united at the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore to require that the feast be celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation by all dioceses in the United States. This decision received the full approbation of Rome in 1885.

Mary Full of Grace, Intercede of Us!  ©, 2012. EA Photographer

Mary Full of Grace, Intercede of Us! ©, 2012. EA Photographer

We have a rich history of celebrating the immense privilege that God has bestowed upon Our Lady. Throughout the centuries She has shown Herself to be responsive to the supplications of Her beloved children, especially when they invoke Her under this title. As our nation faces unprecedented threats to Religious Liberty, let us unite on this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception to thank God for the graces He has bestowed upon Mary, and to invoke Her Intercession for ourselves and nation.

Blessed Feast Day!

Ad Jesum per Mariam,


A New Year in December. . . Embarking Upon a Journey of Faith

His Splendor Fills the Earth ©, 2012, GM photographer

His Splendor Fills the Earth ©, 2012, GM photographer

See the Lord coming from afar; His splendor fills the earth (Antiphon, Evening Prayer Advent Week 1).

Rejoice! The sacred season of Advent has begun! As Holy Mass was celebrated for the First Sunday in Advent, we began a new year. This New Year’s celebration was not heralded with the din of pop-stars bellowing, nor glitzy ball-drops; no noise-makers, champagne, nor party streamers were utilized in celebration. For much of the secular world, this salient transition passed without notice. Yet, for members of the Body of Christ, the initiation of the new Liturgical Year is significant. As the old year passes away, the new begins – pregnant with promise and possibility. The First Reading for Holy Mass on the First Sunday of Advent was from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah:

I will Raise Up a Shoot. . ..©, 2012,  EA Photo

I will Raise Up a Shoot. . ..©, 2012, EA Photo

The days are coming says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the House of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot, he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall be secure; this is what they shall call her: “The Lord our justice (Jeremiah 33: 14-16).”

Thus, we embark on a journey of faith. Over the next four weeks we are called to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In an authentic manner we are invited to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ in two distinct ways; both the arrival of the Infant King, and the return of the Just Judge. For the first two weeks of Advent, we focus upon the Apocryphal coming of Christ, the Parousia, and thus, we prepare our hearts for the ultimate encounter with the Risen King. During the second two weeks, our focus shifts toward the birth of the Incarnate Word, and the salvific power of the Birth of Divine Love.

The Son of Man Will Come with Great Poer and Glory. . . ©, 2012, EA Photo

The Son of Man Will Come with Great Power and Glory. . . ©, 2012, EA Photo

This week’s Gospel Reading directs our hearts to prepare for the return of Our Savior as Just Judge:

Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars, and on the earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.


Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36).

Each and every human person will one day stand before the throne of God. We will be judged. Whether we believe we will one day be held accountable for our lives is truly irrelevant: the judgment will occur whether we believe in it or not. Scripture affirms that there will be a particular judgment at the moment of death, and later – after the second coming of Christ – there will be a Last Judgment. The Book of Life will be opened in the presence of all the assembled nations of the world, and Jesus will separate those whose have embraced His Merciful Love, and whose deeds have permitted them to spend Eternity comprehending the Beatific Vision, from those who have willingly rejected His Love, and who will spend Eternity in the absence of God.

To the Blessed He Will Say, Come Inherit the Kingdom Prepared for You From All Eternity ©, 2012, EA Photographer

To the Blessed He Will Say, “Come Inherit the Kingdom Prepared for You From All Eternity.” ©, 2012, EA Photographer

I don’t know about you, but every time I truly contemplate standing before the Throne of Almighty God, I become acutely aware of the deficits in my own character. I experience a keen sense of contrition, and resolve to amend my life. I find it to be a veritable speed bump on the road of life.  Advent offers each of us the opportunity for a “progress check.” We are each invited to contemplate Eternity, and to make the corrections that are necessary. It is as if we switch on a Celestial Global Positions System (CGPS) focused toward Heaven, listen to the directions, and make those U-turns that are indicated.

During this First Week of Advent, we are called to embrace Sunday’s Readings, as well as those of daily Mass. We are invited to take stock of our present situation, and make genuine resolutions that will lead to progress along the path of life, and begin the journey anew.

Safe Travels and Blessed Liturgical New Year,

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A.   JMJ