3rdWednesday of Advent
- · Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- · Today in Catholic History
- · Catholic Apologetics
- · A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
- · Reflection on article of the OFS Rule
“Where is the HOPE in Newtown, Connecticut – – What should we do?!!”
My response to the vicious attacks on children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut this last Friday (12/14/12).
“Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.”
This tragic event affected EVERYONE in this country in a uniquely personal and intimate way. This is true even if you live in other parts of the country and had no direct link to the people involved in this horrific tragedy.
We do know the “who” performing this act of destruction. I choose NOT to give his name, because I do not want to exploit or make “trendy” his name in any form or way. Doers of evil should never be idolized; far too many mass-murderers are look upon as “role models” and “iconic stars” in this oft-times messed-up and casually careless society
We also know, per news reports, that this young “boy-man” had a mental problem of some type. However, we do not know, nor will we probably ever know the true reason, the “why” he felt the need to savagely murder his mother, six teachers, and 20 young children who were just starting their lives in the supposed “safety” of their school (the “where”). After performing this act of brutal darkness, he finally felt the need to kill himself – – a hopeless act of self-destruction on his own body. All these deaths happened at the beginning of the new school day (the “when”), and within a 20 minute span of time from – – beginning to end – – at the elementary school.
“What should we do, Lord?”
It’s interesting, and prophetic, that this same question I am asking now, “What should we do”, is asked three separate times in our past Sunday’s Gospel reading (cf., Luke 3:10-18). John the Baptist’s preaching in this reading – – and his mission and task in life – – was simply to “awaken” the people to God’s “Word”, to “unsettle” them from their contentment, and to “arouse” within them enough good will to “recognize” and receive the Messiah when He appears on the scene.
We must remember that each and every one of us has a SPECIFIC ROLE to play in God’s salvation plan. Some will be rescuers, or bystanders, or even victims and martyrs. Whatever our role in His plan, we need to have a true and real concern for a person’s “neighbor”. We must ALWAYS offer HOPE – – and be HOPEFUL – – even in the most dismal of circumstances.
Though understandable, anger, and even fear, becoming etched into our minds – – is the WRONG ANSWER – – in God’s kingdom! What we should do; what we need to do, is to pray for ALL those involved:
- · The children whose lives were snatched from them at far too young an age.
- · The six teacher’s who died while attempting to save (and some successfully) the young charges in their care.
- · The parents, family, and friends, directly and indirectly involved in this tragic assault on humanity.
- · The First Responders (PD, FD, EMS) and Emergency Department personnel who had to not only witness the results of the carnage, but also had to work within this bloodbath, stabilizing and controlling all aspects of the crime scene and the individual lives (and deaths) entrusted to them by society, law, and ethics.
- o As a retired/disabled paramedic of 35 years, I personally know what these brave men and women are – – and will be – – going through in their future personal lives. I know they had to “swallow” their feelings at the time they were desperately needed, in order to perform their jobs correctly. Thus, their “caged” emotions are now slowly eating at their bodies and souls, secretively emerging at a later date down the road, usually in very negative and self-abusive ways. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) is extremely prevalent within these highly emotion-charged public service fields.
- o So, please pray for these warriors of society who responded to an urgent need that day at that school building. They will most certainly need these prayers in the days to come.
- · And, finally, for the people of Newtown Connecticut and for the entire nation as a whole, that healing, faith, and hope finds its way into everyone’s body and souls.
Friday, December 28th – – exactly two weeks from the tragedy in Newtown – – is the “Feast of the Holy Innocents” commemorating Herod’s ordering of the “massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under”. Our Christmas Season of JOY is tempered today by a feeling of sadness. I am sure the Church will look to the “glory and joy” of these children in Newtown – – of these innocent victims – – who are with Jesus, following Him, the “Holy Lamb”, wherever He goes.
Prayer surmounts all evil. We know not the reason, other than it was an act of profound evil, not of our loving God. However, God can and will take this tragic event, allowing it to be used as an act for increasing one’s faith, and for bringing others into His awesome and magnificent kingdom. We should remember that God was (and is) always with these innocent souls, even in the BAD times that occurred last Friday morning at a little school building in a very obscure and small town on the East Coast of the Unites States of America.
“Lord, We pray for the innocent children and all precious brothers and sisters affected by the Connecticut shooting. Please wrap your arms around these families, and give them strength as they mourn this terrible tragedy. We pray for peace and perseverance, that they may be able to trust You during this difficult time. Thank you for your mercy and protection Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
“The Jesse Tree”
The Jesse Tree is a unique Advent tree that can be very useful for teaching children about the Bible at Christmas, and also a fun activity! So, what is a Jesse Tree? The Jesse Tree represents the family tree, or genealogy of Jesus Christ. It tells the story of God’s salvation plan, beginning with creation and continuing through the Old Testament, to the coming of the Messiah. The name comes from the book of Isaiah:
“A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom” (Isaiah 11:1).
Each day of Advent a homemade ornament is added to the Jesse Tree, a small tree made of evergreen branches. These symbolic ornaments can each represent a prophecy foretelling of Christ. Other variations include creating ornaments that represent the ancestors in the lineage of Christ, or using the various monogram symbols of Christianity as handmade ornaments.
Jesse was the father of the great King David of the Old Testament. He is often looked upon as the first person in the genealogy of Jesus.
In Church art, a design developed showing the relationship of Jesus with Jesse and other biblical personages. This design showed a branched tree growing from a reclining figure of Jesse. The various branches had pictures of other Old and New Testament figures who were ancestors of Jesus. At the top of the tree were figures of Mary and Jesus. This design was used mostly in stained glass windows in some of the great medieval cathedrals of Europe. The Cathedral of Chartres (which was dedicated in 1260) has a particularly beautiful Jesse Tree window.
Another development in religious art during the “Middle Ages” was that of “Mystery Plays” – – dramas depicting various Bible stories and/or lives of Saints and Martyrs. These plays were performed in Churches as part of the liturgical celebrations. One such play was based on the Bible account of the fall of Adam and Eve. The “Tree of Life” used during the play was decorated with apples. (This is also the forerunner of our own Christmas tree.)
To make the Jesse Tree ornaments you will need: glue; ribbon or yarn (preferably purple); and crayons, markers, paints or colored pencils; plus cardboard stock to create paper backgrounds for the ornaments. The ornaments may be decorated with bits and pieces of bright colored paper, cloth, wood, plastic, etc., that you may find around your home. You will also need a Bible.
It will take planning and work from each family member to make your own Jesse Tree. The needed materials are usually found around most homes. The tree itself can be one of several types. A small artificial tree works fine, as does a tree branch that is anchored in a bucket or a large can of sand or gravel. The tree branch looks particularly attractive if painted white and sprinkled with silver glitter while the paint is still wet. Another possibility is a large drawing of a tree on cardboard or poster board that can be hung on the wall.
The other thing needed is a set of ornaments to hang on the tree. These are best if they are homemade by various family members. If you decide to use one symbol each day during December, there are 24 symbolic ornaments to make for your Jesse Tree, so each family member will need to make several. Making the ornaments is a good project for Sunday afternoons during Advent.
To make an ornament, first read the Scripture verses for the day. Then pick out one or two short verses that give the main idea. Copy these verses on the back of the ornament. By this time you will probably be thinking of various ways to illustrate your Scripture verses.
Use lots of creativity in making your ornament! You can use pictures from magazines or old greeting cards, or draw pictures or symbols yourself. Color them with crayons, pencils, markers or paint. Look around the house for bits and pieces that will make your design beautiful! If you prefer to have a pattern already made, you can find excellent samples and templates on-line.
Jesse tree scriptures can be found from various websites, including one listed below.
Information from the following websites:
† 401 – St Anastasius I ends his reign as Catholic Pope
† 1370 – Death of Urban V, [Guillaume de Grimoard], 1st Avignon Pope (1362-70), b. 1310
† 1749 – Francesco Antonio Bonporti, Italian priest and composer (b. 1672)
† 1744 – Birth of Jacobus J Cramer, priest of Holland/Zealand/West-Friesland
† 1865 – Birth of Saint Tikhon Toropets, Pskov Russia, patriarch of Russian Orthodox church
† 1891 – 1st Black Catholic priest ordained in US, Charles Uncles, Baltimore
† 1914 – Death of Johann F Ritter von Schulte, German Catholic lawyer, dies at 87
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
My reason and purpose for this section on my blog is to provide “scriptural confirmation” for our beliefs and doctrines, not to cause dissention or opposition with my fellow believers in Jesus Christ, yet not in union with the Roman Catholic Church. Whether God speaks to us through the “Bible”, or through “Tradition”, it is the Holy Spirit who inspires the “Word” from which all authentic tradition flows.
Tradition can be separated into two aspects: oral and behavioral. Oral tradition includes written forms. After all, it ALL started with oral tradition. Behavioral tradition includes Baptism, Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, Laying on of hands for healing, Intercessory prayer, and Ordination.
All Scriptural verses are taken from both the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible and the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Christ’s Divinity, Part 3:
“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power …” (Hebrews 1:1-3) RSV
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high …” (Hebrews 1:1-3) KJV
“But of the Son he says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom. … And, “Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands.” (Hebrews 1:8, 10) RSV
“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. … And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.” (Hebrews 1:8, 10) KJV
In 1362, the man elected pope declined the office. When the cardinals could not find another person among them for that important office, they turned to a relative stranger: the holy person we honor today.
The new Pope Urban V proved a wise choice. A Benedictine monk and canon lawyer, he was deeply spiritual and brilliant. He lived simply and modestly, which did not always earn him friends among clergymen who had become used to comfort and privilege. Still, he pressed for reform and saw to the restoration of churches and monasteries. Except for a brief period he spent most of his eight years as pope living away from Rome at Avignon, seat of the papacy from 1309 until shortly after his death.
He came close but was not able to achieve one of his biggest goals—reuniting the Eastern and Western churches.
As pope, Urban continued to follow the Benedictine Rule. Shortly before his death in 1370 he asked to be moved from the papal palace to the nearby home of his brother so he could say goodbye to the ordinary people he had so often helped.
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
19. Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon. Messengers of perfect joy in every circumstance, they should strive to bring joy and hope to others. Since they are immersed in the resurrection of Christ, which gives true meaning to Sister Death, let them serenely tend toward the ultimate encounter with the Father.
20. The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels — local, regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of the constitutions.