Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill 660 – also known as the “Boss Bill” – which will now force all employers, including religious employers such as churches and pregnancy care centers, to hire people who oppose their beliefs and pro-life position.
“Evangelical surrender is directed towards receiving God’s word. It is like the ploughing which enables the soil to be ‘good soil’ capable of receiving the divine seed, the seed of life.”
-Father Marie-Dominque Philippe, O.P.
According to Father Philippe, what is the relationship between surrender and reception of the “divine seed, the seed of life?” How does Mary demonstrate evangelical surrender to God after Angel Gabriel’s announcement? On a scale of 1-10, how do I rank my evangelical surrender with 1 being “unyielding” and 10 being “Marian?” How can I work to move myself forward this Advent season? (Tomorrow’s GraceLine may give you “Mary-like” insights).
“… [Mary] was predestined first of all to be Mother of God. And the precise reason why the fullness of glory and grace was given her was to make her of it to be the mother of Christ, as St. Thomas expresses it.”
-Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
When in Sacred Scripture do we first learn of Mary’s predestination to be the Mother of God? (Hint: It is in the Old Testament in the first book.) What does this suggest about God’s own preparation for the coming of Jesus? What aspect of this preparation does the quote detail? Consider this in light of Angel Gabriel’s salutation to Mary, “Hail, full of grace… (Lk. 1:28). What sacrament was both my preparation for Christ as well as my initial reception of Him? As a chosen daughter of the Most High God, I, too, have been called to be a Christ-bearer. How can I cooperate with grace to prepare for Jesus and to receive Him anew this Christmas?
“God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made them.
But by the envy of the Devil, death entered the world,
and they who are in his possession experience it.
But the souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.”
-1 Wisdom 2:23–3:9
One of the most hopeful passages in scripture: “But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.”
No matter the trials and reversals you may be currently experiencing or that may lie ahead, know that you are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch you.
“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Jesus Christ has conquered death. We, His followers, hold onto the hope that through our baptism and life of faith, we too will conquer death in the end.
“I beseech you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being.”
-2 Maccabees 7:28
Look to heaven in temptation and trial and remember that God brought everything into being and keeps it so, including you.
I distinctly remember the first time I experienced real gratitude, the kind that goes beyond getting the puppy you always wanted for Christmas or a big fat tax refund. The kind of gratitude I’m talking about is the kind that changes your heart forever.
If you’re like most Americans, you are already busily preparing for the Thanksgiving feast. The grocery list is finalized, the coupons are clipped, the recipes have been selected and the house has been cleaned from top to bottom. You’ve already dug out your favorite holiday movies and games and are putting the final touches on the table setting.
As we celebrate our bountiful blessings, we as Catholic Christians are called to be mindful of those who suffer from want this Thanksgiving. Growing numbers of Americans are jobless or homeless this year. Some who do work are struggling with the rising prices of food and other commodities. Our local charities are already running short of the necessary supplies to provide meals for those in need. Many are lonely or struggling with illness or hardship. The holidays are especially difficult for these individuals because the joy of others can magnify what they lack. It is through our gifts of love and generosity that they receive the peace of Christ and experience joy in the midst of suffering.
Here are a few ways to help those in need this Thanksgiving:
- Volunteer at your local food pantry or kitchen. One of our favorite local charities is the Trinity Cafe. Guests are served a hot meal prepared by a professional chef and served by volunteer waiters on covered tables with china and silverware. Their mission is to restore a sense of dignity to our hungry and homeless neighbors by serving a nutritious meal while nourishing souls through acts of acceptance, compassion, love and respect.
- Support a soldier. There are many ways you can provide support to a soldier – send a care package, visit your local VA hospital, send a letter or card. A unique way to show support is through the Ranger Rosary Ministry. They recruit individuals to make combat rosaries which are donated to military chaplains for distribution to soldiers in combat zones. This is a great family project, especially for those with children 10 years and older.
- Donate clothing to your local St. Vincent De Paul. Now is the ideal time for the entire family to go through their closets and clear out clothing that is no longer useful, wearable, ill-fitting, etc. My rule of thumb, if I haven’t touched it in the last year, donate it! My other rule is not to put anything new in the closet until I donate something that I no longer wear.
- Visit a sick or elderly relative or friend. Those who are stuggling with illness or old age are often left feeling very alone during the holidays. Make a point of going to visit someone you know in a nursing home or hospital. If you don’t know someone, visit a stranger. Many of our elderly have no living relatives and they receive few visitors. Consider bringing your teenager with you. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach them the value of life at every stage or condition.
- Invite a lonely friend or family member over for dinner or take them with you to Holy Mass on Thankgiving day. Everyone has a family member or friend who is lonely or extra challenging to be around. They may be the person that no one wants around because they seem to inspire tension. Or perhaps someone you know is a recent widow or widower. This may be just the person the Lord is calling you to welcome to your family table or bring with you to the Thanksgiving mass.
By reaching out to others and living the corporal works of mercy, we bring them the hope, help and inspiration to experience greater joy during the holiday season. We in turn meet Jesus Christ in the least of our brothers and sisters and have a deeper gratitude for His many, many blessings.
“He will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away
the tears from all faces.”
Like any good father, Our Heavenly Father knows us implicitly. He is aware of our every sorrow and pain. He embraces us in our need and wipes aware all of our tears. Do you think of God as your tender, loving Father? If not, ask Him to show you today how much He cares for you.