"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
I have decided to keep a gratitude journal. They are available everywhere now, titled and ready to record your thanks. But any kind of notebook will work. I’m feeling blessed right now. God has given me so many gifts and graces and I find that sometimes, because life gets in the way, I can forget to say a simple “thank you.” And because my needful prayers can sometimes consume me, that “thank you Lord” can easily be left hanging in the air. So, with pen in hand, I will pray my thank you in writing it down.
The other morning sitting in my prayer chair, a book that had been closed for many years, caught my eye. I hesitated (don’t know why) but then picked it up and opened it to the daily reading. The book is called, "Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy" it was written by Sarah Ban Breathnach. My mom gave me this book years ago. I had read it then and it became one of those books to keep. One that you don't want to get rid of because you know whenever you are called to open it, it will speak to you. Well yesterday was that day!
There it was, Gifts of the Magi. It was written with such simplicity and beauty.
She lists seven sets of gifts, saying that the real gifts of Christmas were wrapped in miracles. Here are the miracle gifts that she writes about.
The first gift was of Spirit, the Spirit of the Unconditional Love of God for mankind.
These miraculous gifts are not to be found in malls or on the internet. These are gifts we cannot order online. They are only welcomed and appreciated by an open heart.
And in the spirit of Christmas, we need to share these gifts of little miracles, to family, friends and even to casual acquaintances.
Never forget that we are God’s hands on earth. And never forget that there are many times when God works his miracles through us.
Awesome, isn’t it!
I hope each and everyone one of you has a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May the Lord continue to bless you and your loved ones!
Love and Peace to all,
Mary Maddox/Prayerful Path
"Yes . . . St. Nicholas was known to ride a donkey laden with gifts for children before he graduated to flying reindeer!"
Today, December 6th is the feast day of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children.
St. Nicholas of Myra is a major saint in many European and Eastern countries. Saint Nicholas would spread good will and charity towards the poor.
"It has been told that St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, threw bags of dowry money, either through a window or down a chimney, into the home of an impoverished family to rescue their daughters from being sold into slavery. This was just one of his many acts of good will and charity towards the poor, especially poor children." ~ Gretchen Filz
From this act of kindness, a tradition grew. Children would leave their shoes out overnight in front of the fireplace, on the windowsill, or outside their bedroom door so that St. Nicholas would fill them. He would come and fill the shoes with special fruits, candies and other small gifts.
Let us follow in the steps of St. Nicholas and help someone in need. I am sure each and everyone of you already have ways that you help others but this Advent lets try something new. Here are a few ideas.
Here are a few organizations you might wish to donate to.
A Prayer to Saint Nicholas of MyraO
Good St. Nicholas,
you who are the joy of the children,
put in my heart the spirit of childhood,
which the gospel speaks, and teach me to seed happiness around me.
You, whose feast prepares us for Christmas,
open my faith to the mystery of God made man.
You good bishop and shepherd,
help me to find my place in the Church
and inspire the Church to be faithful to the Gospel.
O good Saint Nicholas, patron of children, sailors and the helpless,
watch over those who pray to Jesus, your Lord and theirs,
as well as over those who humble themselves before you.
Bring us all in reverence to the Holy Child of Bethlehem,
when true joy and peace are found. Amen.
“Prepare your hearts to receive Jesus the Savior.”
— Pope Francis, General Audience, Nov. 27, 2013
As Advent begins, reflect upon how ready you are to receive Jesus.
Are you preparing for it with the same passion and drive that you are preparing for Christmas through shopping, cooking, decorating, etc?
Are you preparing for the spiritual celebration of His birth?
Are you awake and aware of the numerous ways that God speaks to you on a daily basis?
As Pope Frances says.,"Prepare your hearts to receive Jesus the Savior", make this Advent the time to prepare your heart.
Make some commitments to prayer, spiritual exercises, reflection and attentiveness to His gentle and glorious voice.
Our Lady Calls us to Bethlehem
First Sunday of Advent
It’s All About Love
Our Lady of Medjugorje
Message from December 13, 1984
"Dear children! You know that the season of joy is getting closer, but without love you will achieve nothing. So first of all, begin to love your own family, everyone in the parish, and then you'll be able to love and accept all who are coming over here. Now let these seven days be a week when you need to learn to love. Thank you for having responded
to my call."
What happened to us? And when? When did we become so careful about who we choose to love, thinking we can judge someone's intent. Mary knows that our life experiences can dim our spirits. She knows that when someone hurts us we tend to keep a closer hold on our natural loving ways. And so she asks us again to think about opening our hearts and letting our love show. If we were truly on this road to Bethlehem with Mary, our loving hearts would embrace this young pregnant girl and her unborn child. No questions asked. Today there are many on the road with us. And no matter how strong and bold some may seem, I bet if we could see their hearts and they could see ours, it would be all about love.
THE OTHER WISE MAN
By: Kathleen Aparo
On that sacred night of nights
A barn owl watched it all
He saw the woman bending there
Then heard the angels call
He watched the shepherds bow their heads
The sheep in wonder stare
And when the star moved over all
He saw the baby there
He wondered at the scene below
As he whispered in the night
Whoo whoo whoo
And the Babe smiled with delight
He did not know just how he knew
Perhaps it was the star
Or the wisemen on their camels
Who had come so very far
But the owl knew this little child
Would change men through the years
And that the love within his words
Would comfort all their fears.
Then an angel looked upon the owl
And spoke as in a prayer
“your wisdom is a special joy
To the blest child laying there
And so dear owl through out the years
You shall be known as wise
And in the darkness of the night
You’ll see with special eyes
And every time you whisper soft
Your gentle whoo, whoo, whoo
A soul will find his way to God
Through the Babe who smiled on you.”
Christmas reflection: Make room for Jesus in your inn
By Fr. Erik Esparza
Each Christmas we are offered so many opportunities to reflect on the meaning of Christmas. What helps you to reflect on Christmas? Is it when you put up your Christmas lights or tree? Is it through your gift giving for family, friends, or for those most in need?
Is it in your kitchen where you take the time to bake surprises for others to feast? Is it while you volunteer at a local soup kitchen to ensure all have a warm meal to eat? Is it at the celebration of Christmas Mass where God’s family comes together?
Wherever you are and in whatever you do, take the time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
One way to more deeply reflect on Christmas is to gather around a nativity. In fact, I encourage you to spend some time during the Christmas Season with your own nativity scene at home. Take a moment to read chapter two from both the Gospel of St. Matthew and the Gospel of St. Luke to hear once more the story of Christmas. This can be done in private devotion or gathered in prayer with your family. The time to read scripture and for prayerful reflection gives you a quiet moment in the midst of the hustle and bustle of these days to reflect on the great gift of love, the Incarnation.
One part of the Christmas story that comes to mind for me can be found in the Gospel of St. Luke (2:7) when Joseph and Mary upon arrival into Bethlehem were unable to find any room for them in the inn. In response to this lack of room for the Holy Family, Jesus is born and laid in a manger. There is a deeper meaning to this part of the story besides there simply being no room in the inn. You see, there is an invitation to consider this question: is there a part of your life where there is no room for Christ? We can easily look at this scene from the Christmas story and comment on how horrible it was that no one offered a room for the arrival of the newborn King. The true meaning of Christmas includes making room in our own hearts and lives to receive the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is a temptation to love Jesus, yet deny his presence in certain aspects of our lives. We celebrate Jesus’ love yet we deny that love to others. We are grateful for the blessings from God yet do not share those blessings with others. We bask in the mercy of God yet do not offer the same mercy to others.
This Christmas use the time to reflect on where you might not have room in your inn for Jesus. What door needs to be opened or what space needs to welcome the newborn King? Jesus comes into the messiness of our lives just like that first Christmas to bring his presence of light and love. Do not miss out on this presence, for we are all in need of more light and love in our lives.
Now go forth and be a joyful witness!
Fr. Erik Esparza is Associate Director in the Office of Priest Personnel for the Diocese of San Bernardino.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen