….THE DYING OF THE YEAR…

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So…here we are again…the end of a year….

I usually throw some inspirational or motivational sermon out about this time…but not this year…this year I want to take time to reflect on all that this year had to offer…

This year we saw many leave, some new faces arrive, and watched as the world collectively held it’s breath and sighed it out in both relief and disgust. We saw citizens call for justice and had them denied, we saw heroes arise from ashes and stride the world doing good. We saw terror rise higher, hopes crash down, and a glimmering spark of light shine through it all….

For me here in Scotland I saw a nation rise with one voice, only to have it fracture and fall.

I could dwell on all of the negative things I have watched in people’s feeds…but I want you all to take a moment to look back at YOUR year. The hopes fulfilled, the dreams that got lost along the way, and the memories (both good and bad) in your hearts that raised you up or sunk you down….and I want you to realize one VERY important thing about today…

AS OF TOMORROW THERE IS NO ‘LAST YEAR’.

Yep.

When the clock turns to midnight, and the iconic ball drops, I want you all to take a deep DEEP breath, and realize that EVERYTHING negative that happened to you is now GONE…it cannot touch you any more.

This is going to be 2015..think about that for a moment.

For myself, this year marks my 48th birthday, 10 years married to my wife, 9 1/2 of which have been spent in Scotland.

I will have been your cleric for NINE YEARS this year.

This year will bear much sorrow, much joy, much confusion, and much triumph. Think on that.

Whatever you did this last year, be it for good or bad, will be consigned to history and not to be thought on.

LET IT GO.

Some people seem to forget that when the NEW year arrives you begin with what is known as a “TABULA RASA” a BLANK SLATE…you can begin again ANEW. Now, if you are smart you will not dwell on what sins you may or may not have committed…what dreams dashed against the tide of time…and those who upset or hurt you.

A STRONG person will simply shrug, exhale a breath, and say “Well…that’s done”…

See, dwelling on the past does nothing for a person. It only serves to drag up all those old feelings best left sealed in Tupperware and buried in the garden.

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:27

Sure..I had problems, people who made me just boil in my chaps, and some who touched my heart so deeply I sat in tears here…but you see, if you look back at only the NEGATIVE you will fail to see the POSITIVE.

I found out ON MY BIRTHDAY I had diabetes (which kinda sucked given that the wife had bought me this AMAZING fudgy cake!) but did I let it run me down? Nope…I did what the doctors said to do, take my medicine regularly, and adjusted my diet to keep myself healthy…

Life is not what you are handed, it is HOW you deal with what you are handed that defines you.

So, if you look on the POSITIVE side, you can see that tomorrow means something NEW…365 days of FUTURE to look forward to.

Shuffle off the black shawl and try some color this time.

As my job dictates I see A LOT of departures…family, friends, companions, and even the odd ‘other’.. and yet every day I am there trying to build up people, encourage them, and raise their hopes in that they can make it just one more day without folding to pressure.

YOU CAN TO!

So…with that in mind: I would like to RENEW MY VOW to you all…

I DO SO SWEAR BEFORE MY MASTER AND HIS FATHER THAT I (Br. Thomas Francis, AKA Friar Jeff) WILL ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO COME TO ME DOWNTRODDEN. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

THAT I WILL OFFER AID TO THOSE IN CRISIS. (Acts 20:35)

THAT I WILL COMFORT THOSE IN GRIEF. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

THAT I WILL NOT LEAVE THEIR SIDE UNTIL THEY ARE ABLE TO DO SO FOR THEMSELVES. (Proverbs 27:10)

THAT I WILL BE PATIENT, KIND, CONSIDERATE, TOLERANT, AND NON-JUDGEMENTAL TO THOSE WHO’S LIVES MAY NOT BE ACCORDING TO WHAT STANDARDS THE WORLD HAS SET. (Mark 12:30)

THAT I WILL MAKE SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD SMILE AT LEAST ONCE EACH DAY. (Romans 1:11)

THAT I WILL (hopefully) ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TO FIND THEIR FAITH AGAIN …WHATEVER THAT FAITH MAY BE. (Romans 15:2)

THAT I WILL BE THERE FOR THOSE WHO THINK NO ONE CARES, UNDERSTANDS, OR CAN HELP THEM. (Job 33:23)

I WILL ENLIGHTEN THOSE IN THE DARK, AND DARKEN THOSE WHO SEEK TO DEVOUR THE LIGHT. (Micah 7:8, Ephesians 3:9)

Or to put it another way (so my Parish will understand it better) : I WILL SERVE.

This is my vow before Holy God and my Master…so help my soul.

-Br Thomas Francis

(Rev. J.L. Wallace, OSM-TOSF)

READING OF THE DAY: 31 DECEMBER, 2014

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God.

He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.

He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.'”

From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God.

The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” -John 1:1-18.

COMMENTARY ON READING: 30 DECEMBER, 2014

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Saint Clement of Alexandria (150- c.215), theologian
Protreptic 1,6-8 ; SC 2

The new song : “Anne gave thanks to God”

Inasmuch as the Word was from above, he was and is the divine source of all things; but inasmuch as he has now received the name Christ, consecrated of old and worthy of power, he has been called by me “a new song” (Pss 33[34], 144[145], 149[150], etc.).

This Word, then, the Christ, the cause of both our being (for He was in God) and of our well-being, this very Word has now appeared to us – he alone being both God and man—the author of all blessings to us. Having been taught by him to live well, we are introduced by him to life eternal.

For, according to that inspired apostle of the Lord: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this present age as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit 2,11-13).

This is the new song, the manifestation of the Word that was in the beginning and who comes to shine in our midst.

The Savior, who has existed before all time, has in recent days appeared… For the Word, who “was with God,” and by whom all things were created (Jn 1,10), has appeared as our teacher.

The Word, who in the beginning bestowed life on us as our creator, taught us to live well when he appeared as our teacher that, as God, he might afterwards lead us to the life that never ends.

It was not only now that he took pity us because of our sins; but he pitied us from the first, from the beginning.

READING OF THE DAY: 30 DECEMBER, 2014

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“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.

She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” -Luke 2:36-40.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 28 DECEMBER, 2014

The Holy Innocents

Martyrs at the time of the Nativity of Our Lord
(†1 A.D.)

The Holy Innocents

The wily king Herod, who was reigning in Judea at the time of the birth of Our Saviour, learned from three Wise Men from the East that they had come to Jerusalem, advised by a star in the heavens, in search of the newborn King of the Jews.

Herod’s superstitious fear of losing his throne was awakened, and he grew troubled.

He called together the chief priests, questioned them, and learned from them that the awaited Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David. He said to the strangers: When you have found Him, bring me word, that I too may go and adore Him.

The star which had guided the Magi re-appeared over Bethlehem, and they found the Infant and adored Him, and offered Him their royal gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, recognizing by these His perfect Divinity, His royalty, and His prophesied sufferings.

God warned them in a dream afterwards not to go back to Herod, and they returned to their lands, rejoicing, by a different route.

Saint Joseph, too, was warned during his sleep by an Angel to take the Child and His Mother and flee into Egypt, for Herod will seek the life of the Infant.

When Herod realized that the Wise Men would not return, he was furious, and in his rage ordered that every male child in Bethlehem and its vicinity, of the age of two years or less, be slain.

These innocent victims were the flowers and first-fruits of the Saviour’s legions of martyrs; they triumphed over the world without having ever known it or experienced its dangers.

(SOURCE: The New Testament: Acts of the Apostles; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based onButler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources, by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).)

READING OF THE DAY: 28 DECEMBER, 2014

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“When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.

This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.

It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.

He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word,for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.

She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” -Luke 2:22-40.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 27 DECEMBER, 2014

Saint John

Apostle, Evangelist, and Prophet
(† 103)

Saint John

Saint John, brother of Saint James the Greater, the Apostle of Spain, is the beloved disciple. He was privileged, with his brother and Saint Peter, to behold the Saviour raise up a dead child to life, then saw Him transfigured on the mountaintop; he alone reposed his head on His breast at the Last Supper.

After the crucifixion it is he who, with Saint Peter, hastened to the empty tomb on the morning of the Resurrection. Standing beside Mary at the Cross, he had heard his Master confide that Blessed Mother to him to be henceforth his Mother also.

He took his precious treasure for refuge to Ephesus when the persecution of the Jerusalem Christians became too intense; and from there he went out to evangelize Asia Minor, of which he became the first Archbishop.

He was later exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, but afterwards returned to Ephesus.

Compared with an eagle by his flights of elevated contemplation, Saint John is the supreme Doctor of the Divinity of Jesus of Nazareth.

Endowed with an astounding memory, he was able even in his later years, to reproduce the discourses of Christ in such a way as to make the reader experience their power and impact on their audiences as if present to hear them.

He is the author of five books of the New Testament, his Gospel, three Epistles, and the last canonical prophecy, the Apocalypse or Revelation of Saint John — all of which were composed after the ruin of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

In his extreme old age he continued to visit the churches of Asia, and Saint Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him so that he was no longer able to preach to the people, he would be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples, with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words: My dear children, love one another.

Saint John died in peace at Ephesus in the third year of Trajan, that is, the hundredth of the Christian era, or the sixty-sixth from the crucifixion of Christ, Saint John then being about ninety-four years old, according to Saint Epiphanus.

(SOURCE: The New Testament: Acts of the Apostles; Heavenly Friends, by Rosalie M. Levy (St. Paul: Boston, 1958).)