….SOME MAY NOT LIKE THIS, BUT THIS IS HOW I SEE IT….

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So…lately over the years I have seen a LOT of controversy about things…silly things, really…like: Is it blue, or white?

Did she airbrush?

Is it a he, or a she…and should they be considered a hero?

Will eating those rainbow tortilla chips make others consider if I support or denounce a certain lifestyle?

Will my child eating those turn him into “one of them”?

..and the latest idiotic trend: The colour of a coffee cup….

Of ALL the problems this world is facing…global warming…drought…famine…death… war… disease… the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer…you would think that more attention would occupy someone’s mind other than the colour of a freaking cup.

Let me give MY interpretation of this fiasco: (AHEM)….IT’S JUST A FREAKING CUP!! It doesn’t mean it’s anti ANYTHING.

Everyone seems to have lost the plot in this.

When I was a child, I did not have Christmas. Nope…nada…reason: My mother’s faith did not celebrate it.

If someone had handed me a Menorah topped sugar cookie with reindeer antlers and a cross embedded in it I would not have handed it back to them and said “It is not of our faith”…I would have gobbled that sucker down before my mother could have blinked twice.

Christmas, my friends, is all about ONE THING…LOVE.

Love of family, love of friends, love for your fellow man.

We owe the current incarnation of “Christmas” to several factors…The Romans conquering the Celtic People…The Germanic Tribes, Saint Francis of Assisi….Immigration..and Commercialism.

Christmas has a meaning…oh yes…let’s not forget it…IT MEANS WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO MEAN TO YOU!

Telling someone that Christmas means this, or Christmas means that is NOT what is is all about.

The very foundation of this holiday’s meaning should actually make you stop and consider that whole “WWJD” situation!

Does it say to celebrate His birth in the Bible? No…it merely GIVES you the recorded history of the fact.

Does it say “Decorate this way”, or “Celebrate it thus”? NO…

Let me tell you why: Because Christmas is not JUST about Christian…nor Jew…nor ANY faith. Christmas is about SHOWING LOVE AND RESPECT TO YOUR FELLOW HUMAN BEING OF ALL FAITHS…ALL WALKS OF LIFE.

If you are Christian, then this holiday is about a Saviour being born…if you are Pagan, it is about a renewal of the spirit of the land…if you are Jewish, then it is about a miracle that happened in the Temple… if you have NO faith, then it is about being with family and friends and enjoying gifts and food.

I am SO TIRED of seeing people denounce other’s for them not celebrating it “the right way”.

Every little thing has to be an argument, every little step has to be scrutinized, criticized, picked apart, dictated, or condemned by one foolish group or another.

We seem to forget that the meaning of Christmas IS DIFFERENT FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US!

Why can’t we just say “Happy whatever doesn’t offend you” and move along? Why all the controversy about silly little arrogant things?

If you and your family celebrate “Christmas” in the traditional way, I AM HAPPY FOR YOU. If you celebrate it in some other fashion: I AM STILL HAPPY FOR YOU.

I will not denounce YOUR way of celebrating something simply because it does not adhere to some ideological paradigm a group of people seem to think it MUST be celebrated as.

I APPLAUD YOUR FAITH…simply because YOU HAVE A FAITH.

This world is lacking more and more in love, tolerance, peace, understanding, cooperation, and caring…so if you decide to wish me a “Happy Cyborg Day” or “HAPPY FESTIVUS!” I will return your greeting in kind..because I do not hear THOSE words..I hear “I care enough about you and your life to wish you all the best during this season”.

Am I wrong about this? Let’s look at the facts…not conjecture…the cold hard facts. (Straight from Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica!)

CHRISTMAS WAS NOT ESTABLISHED UNTIL THE MID 4TH CENTURY.

The Christian ecclesiastical calendar contains many remnants of pre-Christian festivals. Christmas includes elements of the Roman feast of the Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra.

The Chronography of 354 AD contains early evidence of the celebration on December 25 of a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus.

This was in Rome, while in Eastern Christianity the birth of Jesus was already celebrated in connection with the Epiphany on January 6.

The December 25 celebration was imported into the East later: in Antioch by John Chrysostom towards the end of the 4th century, probably in 388, and in Alexandria only in the following century.

Even in the West, the January 6 celebration of the nativity of Jesus seems to have continued until after 380. 

In 245, Origen of Alexandria, writing about Leviticus 12:1–8, commented that Scripture mentions only sinners as celebrating their birthdays, namely Pharaoh, who then had his chief baker hanged (Genesis 40:20–22), and Herod, who then had John the Baptist beheaded (Mark 6:21–27), and mentions saints as cursing the day of their birth, namely Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14–15) and Job (Job 3:1–16).

In 303, Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration.

Since Christmas does not celebrate Christ’s birth “as God” but “as man”, this is not evidence against Christmas being a feast at this time.

The fact the Donatists of North Africa celebrated Christmas may indicate that the feast was established by the time that church was created in 311.

Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity.

These elements, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia, became syncretized into Christmas over the centuries.

The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday’s inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Ages, to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century transformation.

Additionally, the celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within certain Protestant groups, such as the Puritans, due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical.

Prior to and through the early Christian centuries, winter festivals—especially those centered on the winter solstice—were the most popular of the year in many European pagan cultures. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needs to be done during the winter, as well as an expectation of better weather as spring approached.

Many modern Christmas customs have been directly influenced by such festivals, including gift-giving and merrymaking from the Roman Saturnalia, greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year, and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts.

Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period. The word was in use in Old English (as geōl(a)) by 900, to indicate Christmastide.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as “Christmas or the Christmas season, especially as traditionally celebrated in Northern Europe and North America with customs stemming in part from pagan celebrations of the winter solstice”.

In eastern Europe also, old pagan traditions were incorporated into Christmas celebrations, an example being the Koleda,which was incorporated into the Christmas carol.

So where does the Nativity Scene come from? Let’s as THE FRANCISCANS…after all, it was Saint Francis of Assisi who started THAT…

“Before Francis’ time, as early as the fifth century, the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome had a small oratory built like the cave of Bethlehem. The basilica’s second title was “St. Mary at the Crib.” The pope’s first Mass of Christmas was offered there.

Christmas plays, imitating those of Easter, probably grew up in the 11th century. And in the century before Francis lived, ecclesiastics dressed up as the midwives, Magi, shepherds and other persons of the Christmas story, as well as live animals, are already recorded in descriptions of the liturgical drama, the Spectacula Theatricalia, as participants in Christmas celebration.
But it was Francis who thrilled the Catholic world with his simple and fervent celebration. After his death in 1226, the custom of having the crib at Christmas spread widely through Europe.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia (Volume IV, page 448) says: “By the dawn of the baroque era, the crib setting had become an intricate scenic landscape, and numerous secular figures were now added to those of the Holy Family, shepherds and Magi. Crib-making thus developed into an important folk art, especially in Portugal, in the Tyrol, and most of all in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, where it was actively patronized by Charles III de Bourbon (d. 1788).
“The home crib became popular in Catholic Europe after 1600, owing, it is said, to the efforts of the Capuchins. Except for the crib (the ‘putz’) of the pietist Moravians, manger-building was not originally adopted by Protestants. Pre-Reformation England had had its own crib custom, that of baking the Christmas mince pie in an oblong manger shape to cradle an image of the Child. The British Puritans, therefore, in outlawing Christmas, declared particular war on mince pie as ‘idolatrie in crust.’”
Francis would smile at our nice varnished cribs, though he would bless any home that has one.
Probably he would prefer those set up outdoors with live animals. And if he were to stand by one and preach today, he might say something like this:“Look deeper than this pleasant scene. See your God become your food for eternity in a feeding place for animals. See the simple bands wound around the helpless baby, not the embroidered dress. See a man and woman wearing the clothes of the poor. See and smell the animals. Feel the cold and dirt of the cave, lighted only by a little fire. And adore your God, who took a human heart that could know the greatest love and the sharpest pain, arms that could embrace the sinners, the neurotics, the lepers, and hands that could touch cheeks running with tears, and be pierced with nails. Adore your poor and humble God.”” – St. Francis and the Crib by Leonard Foley, O.F.M. (This article originally appeared in the December 1989 issue of St. Anthony Messenger.)

We cannot define how we treat people, or how we react to something as silly as the colour of a coffee cup, by saying “It’s not right”….for it belongs to ALL of us.So…you see…it is not ONE group’s right to say “This is our holiday”…IT IS EVERY GROUP’S RIGHT TO SAY IT.

Do I hold this season as sacred? Sure I do…it mean…after all…. I get to spread MORE love to my fellow man.

Does it mean I denounce “The reason for the season”? NOPE …it means I am doing what HE SAID TO DO. (Look up Mark 12:30-31!!!)

People seem to forget that what we do to others, how we treat them, how we respond to what they hold sacred to define OUR faith.

Jesus did not come here to have us denounce other’s simply because they support or denounce a freaking coffee cup!

Look…it’s really simple…you celebrate it your way, I will celebrate it mine, and between the 2 of us I will bless you for the shining soul you are and wish you peace and joy, love and comfort, hope and good will…period.

If you come to my house, I will give you a hug, kiss your cheek, and tell you how grateful I am you are YOU, that you are HERE, and that I celebrate the love of you and your family in my heart. If I came to YOUR house, I would follow YOUR traditions, and wish the EXACT SAME THING TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

Let us move PAST the commercialism, PAST the hatred, PAST the petty differences and just try to GET ALONG on this rock before it no longer exists, okay?

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COMMENTARY ON THE READING: 10 NOVEMBER, 2015

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Commentary on the Reading of the day provided by 
Saint Ambrose (c.340-397),

Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church
On Saint Luke’s Gospel 8, 31-32 (cf SC 52, p. 113)

“We are unprofitable servants”

Let no one boast of what they have done since we owe our service to the Lord in simple justice…

We should keep on working for our Lord as long as we live.

Recognize, then, that you are a servant employed in a great number of duties.

Don’t puff yourself up at being called “child of God” (1Jn 3,1): let us recognize the grace but not forget our nature.

Don’t make much of it if you have done your duties well since you have done what you ought to do.

The sun fulfils its role, the moon obeys, the angels carry out their duties.

Saint Paul, “chosen instrument of the Lord for the gentiles” (cf. Acts 9,15), writes: “I am not fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God” (1Cor 15,9).

And if elsewhere he demonstrates that he is not aware of any blame, he afterwards adds: “But I do not thereby stand acquitted” (1Cor 4,4).

Neither should we either; let us not claim praise for ourselves, do not let us anticipate the judgement of God.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 10 NOVEMBER, 2015

Saint Andrew Avellino

Theatine Priest
(† 1608)

Saint Andrew Avellino

After a holy youth devoted to serious studies of philosophy and the humanities in Venice, Lancelot Avellino was ordained priest by the bishop of Naples. He was assigned to the chaplaincy of a community of nuns, sadly in need of reform; his intrepid courage and perseverance finally overcame many difficulties, and regular observance was restored in the monastery.

Certain irritated libertines, however, decided to do away with him and, waiting for him when he was about to leave a church, felled him with three sword thrusts.

He lost much blood, but his wounds healed perfectly without leaving any trace. The viceroy of Naples was ready to employ all his authority to punish the authors of this sacrilege; the holy priest, not desiring the death of sinners but rather their conversion and their salvation, declined to pursue them.

One of them, however, died soon afterwards, assassinated by a man who wished to avenge a dishonor to his house.

He was still practicing law, which he had studied in Naples; one day a slight untruth escaped him in the defense of a client, and he conceived such regret for his fault that he vowed to practice law no longer.

In 1556, at the age of thirty-six, he entered the Theatine Order, taking the name of Andrew out of love for the cross. After a pilgrimage to Rome to the tombs of the Apostles, he returned to Naples and was named master of novices in his Community, a duty he fulfilled for ten years.

He was also chosen to be Superior of the house there, and then was sent out to found two houses elsewhere, at Milan and Piacenza. At the latter city he again met the opposition of libertines; but the Duke of Parma, to whom letters accusing him were directed, was completely charmed when he met him, and regarded him thereafter as a Saint.

He then became Superior of the Milan foundation, where his friendship with Saint Charles Borromeo took root; the two Saints conversed together often.

And Saint Andrew, with his admirable simplicity, confided to the Archbishop that he had seen Our Lord, and that since that time the impression of His divine beauty, remaining with him constantly, had rendered insipid all other so-called beauties of the earth.

Petitions were presented to Pope Gregory XIV to make him a bishop, but he declined that honor with firmness, having always desired to remain obedient rather than to command.

When his term as superior ended, he was successful in avoiding the government of another Theatine residence for only three years, then became superior at Saint Paul of Naples.

Once when Saint Andrew was taking the Viaticum to a dying person and a storm extinguished the lamps, a heavenly light surrounded him, guided his steps, and sheltered him from the rain.

But he was far from exempt from sufferings.

His horse threw him one day on a rough road, and since his feet were caught in the stirrups, dragged him for a long time along this road.

He invoked Saint Dominic and Saint Thomas Aquinas, who came to him, wiped his face covered with blood, cured his wounds, and even helped him back onto the horse.

He attributed such episodes to his unworthiness, believing he was among the reprobate, but Saint Thomas once again came to him, accompanied by Saint Augustine, and restored his confidence in the love and mercy of God.

On the last day of his life, November 10, 1608, Saint Andrew rose to say Mass. He was eighty-eight years old, and so weak he could scarcely reach the altar.

He began the Judica me, Deus, the opening prayer, but fell forward, the victim of apoplexy.

Laid on a straw mattress, his whole frame was convulsed in agony, while the ancient fiend, in visible form, advanced as though to seize his soul.

Then, while the onlookers prayed and wept, he invoked Our Lady, and his Guardian Angel seized the monster and dragged it out of the room.

A calm and holy smile settled on the features of the dying Saint and, as he gazed with a grateful countenance on the image of Mary, his holy soul winged its way to God.

Reflection: Saint Andrew, who suffered so terrible an agony, is invoked as special protector from an unprovided and sudden death.

(SOURCE: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 13;Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).)

READING OF THE DAY: 10 NOVEMBER, 2015

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“Jesus said to the Apostles: “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?

Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat.

Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.

You may eat and drink when I am finished’?

Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?

So should it be with you.

When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'”” – Luke 17:7-10.