Knowing Christ & His Message through Scripture, the Catechism, & the Catholic Church

The Church Year at a Glance: Celebrating Christ in 2018

All of us! Let’s Plan how we can celebrate, live, & share the Word in 2018!

Holy Mother Church believes that she should celebrate the saving work of her divine Spouse- Jesus Christ – in a sacred commemoration on certain days throughout the course of the year…

From the time of the Mosaic law, the People of God have observed fixed feasts, beginning with Passover, to commemorate the astonishing actions of the Savior God, to give him thanks for them, to perpetuate their remembrance, and to teach new generations to conform their conduct to them. In the age of the Church, between the Passover of Christ already accomplished once for all, and its consummation in the kingdom of God, the liturgy celebrated on fixed days bears the imprint of the newness of the mystery of Christ. (CCC 1163-64)Image result for i am a child of god

In celebrating this annual cycle of the mysteries of Christ, Holy Church honors the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, with a special love. She is inseparably linked with the saving work of her Son. In her the Church admires and exalts the most excellent fruit of redemption and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be.”44 When the Church keeps the memorials of martyrs and other saints during the annual cycle, she proclaims the Paschal mystery in those “who have suffered and have been glorified with Christ. She proposes them to the faithful as examples who draw all men to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she begs for God’s favors.”45 (CCC 1172-73)

The Liturgical Calendar for the Roman Catholic Church (2018):

The following is a list of the dates of the Holy Days of Obligation in the United States for 2018, as well as the dates of moveable feasts (holy days whose dates change from year to year).

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Happy Birthday Jesus!

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In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, ecause there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields Image result for merry christmas jesus
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  Lk 2:1-14

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What does this mean to you?  How are you celebrating Jesus’ birthday? Are you a blessing to those around you? All it takes is a little kindness, a smile, an offer of help…

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Christmas Eve: The Light of Hope Burns Brighter Still…

“You shall go before the Lord to prepare straight paths for Him, giving His people a knowledge of salvation & freedom from their sins.” –Luke 1:76-77

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In the Gospel of Christmas Eve morning, we hear Zechariah prophesying in the power of the Holy Spirit.  He is speaking of going before the Lord to prepare His way.

The picture I chose for Christmas Eve, reminds us that people are still open to the message of Christmas.  As messengers of Christ, we know He is coming.  We know that Christ still comes today.  Knowing this, we can encourage others to be nicer, to smile more, to offer joy and happiness to others.

As our last Advent Action:  Let us make a special effort to smile and offer a small prayer for all those we meet today.  Let us be that kind smile, especially for those we might encounter while we are out.  Everyone is looking for hope, love, and joy.  Let us go before the Lord and prepare His way with our loving acts of kindness!

Forgiving and Forgiven                                                                                                                                                                                 More

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December 23: O Come, O Come Emmanuel…

Related image\The O Antiphons for December 23rd:

O Emmanuel (O God with us)

“O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God! “

The seven “O Antiphons” (also called the “Greater Antiphons” or “Major Antiphons”) are prayers that come from the Breviary’s Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the “Golden Nights.”

Advent Action:  Take time to reflect on how God is with you.  Jesus is coming, but He has come, & is with us… take time to reflect on how God has come to redeem us; reflect on how He is with us daily; reflect on how He will come at the end of time… How well do you know Jesus? Are you longing for His coming?

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December 22: O Come, O King of Nations, Come…

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

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The coming of Christ is fast approaching… The Church offers us many opportunities & resources to prepare.  Have you taken advantage of any of them? Confession? Daily Mass? Online Meditations? Scripture?  Outreach Programs to those in need?


Advent Action:  If you have not gone to Confession, go.  If you have not taken time to pick up your Bible and read a few verses, pick it up.  If you have not done a random act of kindness for someone as a special birthday gift for Jesus, do a random act of kindness.  Be prepared for the coming of the King of all Nations. Come, Lord Jesus!


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December 20: Come, O Key of David…

O Come, O Come  Emmanuel…

During the final days of Advent, the anticipation increases as the birth of the Savior draws nearer and nearer.  In the last eight days before Christmas, known as the octave before Christmas (Dec. 17 to Dec. 23), this anticipation is marked by something special that happens in the prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. The antiphons of the Evening Prayers (Vespers) during the week before Christmas all welcome the birth of the Savior by heralding one of His resplendent Biblical titles along with a special petition in light of that title. It is a liturgical tradition started in the earliest centuries of the Church and continues in monasteries and convents today, and even in homes of the Catholic faithful who make the Liturgy of the Hours a part of their daily prayers.

The O Antiphons are special because each one emphasizes a different title of the soon-to-be-born King of Kings as foreshadowed in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah.  Additionally, those who first assembled the O Antiphons were very creative with the order in which they are prayed.  If one takes the first letter of each antiphon (in the Latin) starting from the last to the first, the word ERO CRAS is formed which translates, “Tomorrow I will come.” The last antiphon is prayed on the final day before the Christmas Eve Vigil.

The O Antiphons are also the content of the popular Christmas hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. For the complete Latin and English translation of the O Antiphons found in the Liturgy of the Hours, the Lectionary for Mass, the O Come, O Come, Emmanuel hymn, and the corresponding verses from Sacred Scripture on which they are based, check out the The Roman Catholic Lectionary Website.

Listed below are the O Antiphons, which are prayed before and after the Magnificat during the Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours.  I encourage you to make a new tradition this year to pray one of these short prayers on the seven nights before Christmas Eve to help welcome the newborn King!  (Information courtesy of The Catholic Company)


 Advent Action: Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Make the final days before Christmas, one of heightened preparation & anticipation for the coming of Our Savior, Our Hope, Our Life!

December 20th: O Come, O Key of David, Come…

December 19: Come, O Root of Jesse’s Stem…

December 19Image result for o antiphons

O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all His people:
come to save us without delay!

Speaking of John the Baptist:  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of (the) Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before Image result for john preparing the way for jesushim in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers toward children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare people fit for the Lord.” (Luke 1:13-17)


Luke tells the beautiful story of John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. Have I “prepared the way” in my heart  for Jesus’ coming? Have I tried to point out Jesus to others who are in need?

Advent Action

Spend at least 5 minutes today in quiet meditation on the Scripture passages foretelling the coming of Christ.  What does the Lord’s presence/ the Lord’s coming mean for me?Image result for john preparing the way for jesus


O come, O Rod of Jesse’s stem, From every foe deliver them That trust your mighty power to save: And give them victory o’er the grave…  Come, Lord Jesus – our Longed for Messiah – Come, for we are greatly in need of You! 

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O Antiphons: Come O’ Lord, Leader of the House of Israel…

December 18

Oh Lord,  Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!



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What is it that we need rescued from?  From ourselves? From bad decisions? From a non-spiritual way of thinking & acting?  Take a few moments to reflect on what it is that you need rescued from … Yes, we are all in need of being rescued – otherwise Jesus would not have come to save & redeem us. He would not have left us the gift of His very self -for all of us – so sustain us on our life’s journey.

Advent Action

Smile, Pray, Be Joyful – Christ has redeemed us & call us to a life of unending happiness. If there is anyone who should be happy – it is a Christian, for we know that we are loved – loved by a God who would suffer & die for us…


Come Lord Jesus, be with me today. Be with my family, my friends, & all those I meet.  Fill them with peace, joy, & love.  Amen.

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3rd Sunday of Advent: Rejoice!

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Sunday, December 17

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.   Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding  will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 4:4-7

On this 3rd Sunday of Advent, we celebrate Gaudete Sunday.  Gaudete is the Latin word for rejoice.

The Scriptures for the Third Sunday of Advent proclaim their message in no uncertain terms: Rejoice! Joy is all around us and our celebration of Advent calls us to discover it. The joy that the Scripture passages speak about is not a joy that equates with hilarious laughter. It is a joy that comes knowing God & having a personal, loving relationship with Him. It is the joy Isaiah describes when he writes, “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.” It is a joy that cannot be bought or obtained from artificial highs. It is a joy that comes from knowing & seeking God – Who is real and comes to us not only at Christmas, but every day!

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Rejoice! Be joyful today. Do something to bring joy into the lives of those around you – come up with at least 1 joy-inducing action & put it into practice!

Heavenly Father, send us Your Spirit, to fill us with joy. May the fruits of our actions radiate the love and joy which can only be found in You.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen


2nd Sunday of Advent: Prepare the Way of the Lord…

Image result for lead me LordThe beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. (MK.1:1)


The Prophet Isaiah reminds us that the Lord will lead us in the way we should go, if only we hearken to His commands – if we but listen to what He says to us.  In the hustle & bustle of the activity leading up to Christmas, are we taking time to slow down & hearken to God’s voice? Are we surrounded with enough quiet to hear Him?Image result for stillness =scripture

Advent Action

Take a few moments each day this Advent for some quiet time to reflect on God’s Word.  What is God saying to us?  How does He speak to us through His prophets? through His Church? through the silence of our prayer?


Lord, teach me what is good for me.  Let me hear your voice so that I may be guided along the right path.  Amen.

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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2012