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The Power to Enjoy Christmas

“People are losing the power to enjoy Christmas through identifying it with enjoyment,” Chesterton writes. “When once they lose sight of the old suggestion that it is all about something, they naturally fall into blank pauses of wondering what it is all about.” In other words, Christmas isn’t frivolous enjoyment for its own sake. It’s the celebration of a real person and event, and it has wide-ranging implication for our lives.

—from the online article How to celebrate Christmas like G.K. Chesterton (full Chesterton quote below)

People are losing the power to enjoy Christmas though identifying it with enjoyment. When once they lose sight of the old suggestion that it is all about something, they naturally fall into blank pauses of wondering what it is all about. To be told to rejoice on Christmas day is reasonable and intelligible, if you understand the name, or even look at the word. To be told to rejoice on the twenty-fifth of December is like being told to rejoice at quarter-past eleven on Thursday week. You cannot suddenly be frivolous unless you believe there is a serious reason for being frivolous.

—from “The New War on Christmas,” G.K.’s Weekly, December 26, 1925, quoted in Brave New Family.

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And daily I’ll take my cross…

All you possess, do you forget, as if by your own strength
You earned it? No! He gave you all, everything you have.
Your righteousness, your life, your breath, your daily bread and wine,
His blood, His flesh, His love, His death, Your faith and endless life

—partial lyrics from the song Abide by Jenny and Tyler from the album Open Your Doors (Listen to the song in the video below.)

 

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Eucharistic Adoration

There is no monitor or video screen at eucharistic adoration, no figures or colors shifting across the screen. We simply sit and look at a round piece of bread encircled by light. That bread is the Body of Christ, the consecrated Host, before which countless Catholics gaze in rapt adoration throughout the world.

Why? There is no action here: here the action is being, the very being of God. Martha goes busily about, tending to all the needs of the world. Here, before Jesus in sacramental form, Mary finds her place, seated at the feet of the Beloved.

“Jesus Christ: body, blood, soul and divinity.” If anyone ever seems unsure about just what happens to the bread during Mass, I repeat this phrase taught Catholics from time immemorial, indicating precisely what-or rather, Who-is present in what appears to be bread, but is bread no longer.

—from the blog post Eucharistic Adoration: A Window to Heaven written by Father Raymond T. Gawronski, S.J. and posted by Dan Burke at Spiritual Direction

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The Five Minute Catholic writes a little about happiness, and then defers to St. John Vianney.

Below are some thoughts about finding happiness that I wrote a couple of years or more ago in some emails.

I guess ideally I’d not be trying to find happiness in things, places, etc. I believe I know the Source of happiness, and so I know how I’d like to truly answer that question [about happiness] someday.

I also know it seems like the “obvious” answer or the answer that seems like the one that “you’re supposed to say”. And it’s an answer that may not always be taken seriously and gets reactions like, “I know. I know. Of course. But come on, besides that…”

But that’s just it, I don’t think there is a “besides that” and I think it’s the search for or belief in a “besides that” that causes unhappiness. I think there’s one Source of happiness and everything else that seems like happiness seems like that because of already having found and fully embraced that one Source.

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I think the answer doesn’t have to be such a struggle. Not to say that faith and trusting and living it isn’t a challenge, but I think a lot of comfort can be taken just from at least knowing what the answer is. And knowing that there actually is an answer, and knowing that we don’t have to figure it out ourselves, and knowing that the answer is actually attainable.

I believe that’s a very good start to finding happiness.

 

“See my children; the treasure of a Christian is not on the earth, it is in Heaven.
Well, our thoughts ought to be where our treasure is.
Man has a beautiful occupation, that of praying and loving.
You pray, you love—that is the happiness of man upon the earth.
Prayer is nothing else than union with God.”

—St. John Vianney

(I don’t know the source of the quote above. I came across it in the Opening the Word program for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year B on the Formed website.)

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When a Problem Has Robbed Us of Our Peace

We should adopt the following rule of conduct: when a problem has robbed us of our peace, the most important thing is not to resolve the problem in the hope of regaining our peace, but to regain a minimum of peacefulness, and then to see what we can do to face the problem. We will avoid making irrational choices for all the wrong reasons. How do we get back to this minimum level of peace? Essentially through prayer, listening to the Word, and believing that God will never abandon us.

—from Fire & Light by Fr. Jacques Philippe, Ch. 5: Interior Peace, A Spiritual Urgency

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On Raising the Standards for Receiving the Eucharist and Friday Abstinence

A similar observation can be made regarding the reception of the Eucharist and the Friday abstinence. Receiving the Eucharist in the hand and leaving the Friday penance to individuals diminish their purpose. When we can touch a thing, it loses its mystery. It becomes boring and trivial. The Eucharist lost its value and centrality not long after everyone, whether worthy or not, could touch the Precious Body. It was, once again, all about us, but not God.

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Fasting and abstinence all but disappeared from communal practice as well. Before vegans were vegans, Christians everywhere abstained from all animal products for Lent. Reading Kristin Lavransdatter’s description of the Lenten sacrifice of the faithful makes Ramadan look positively gluttonous. Not long ago, everyone knew that Catholics did not eat meat on Fridays. It was simple and easy…. But when the decision was left to the individual, the practice of penance on Friday and sacrifice during Lent either vanished or diminished to giving up chocolate.

Is it any wonder that many youth do not respond to the fluffy worship and watered-down doctrine? As far as they are concerned, Catholicism does not offer anything different from the secular culture or Protestant churches

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Raise the standard, and we will rise up to reach it.

—from the National Catholic Register article Islam, Catholicism and the Fallout from Low Standards by Derya Little

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On Relics and Reverence For the Bodies of the Dead

Angels are pure spirit; animals and plants are purely physical matter. Our glory is to unite the material and the spiritual within our own person. Jesus crowns this human glory in the Incarnation.

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There is a tendency today to conclude that when a person dies he is no longer here; he has gone away to Heaven, Purgatory or Hell. That is not entirely true. Through the body, something of the deceased person remains here.

Excavations of St. Peter’s tomb revealed an ancient Greek inscription on the wall which said, “Peter is here.” Though his soul has gone to God, what remains of his body is still here. Peter is not simply his soul; he is also his body. So yes, Peter is “here.” To revere St. Peter’s body and smaller relics of it is to revere him and have something of him here with us.

Relics and reverence for the bodies of the dead anchor us in this truth about ourselves: we are matter and spirit, body and soul.

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During my recent pilgrimage we visited the saints; we spent time near their bodies. Peter is here; so is Cecilia; Monica and Mark are, too. They are with God and they are also still with us. In my own parish I have nearly a dozen small relics of the saints…. this is reverence, so as to remember and experience their presence, not their absence. Peter is with God and Peter is still here!

—from the National Catholic Register article ‘Peter Is Here’: What Every Catholic Should Know About Relics and the Human Body by Msgr. Charles Pope