O, little lamb, who made thee?

by Karen Zautyk

It was cold in the stable that night, and the animals were huddled together for warmth. The cows and the oxen and the donkeys.

And one little lamb.

Sad, scrawny little lamb, born lame and frail. Too frail to be out with the flock in the fields. The shepherds had carried it into the stable, where it would be safe from the wind and the wolves, for both the wolves and the wind came down from the hills with a fierceness in the wintertime.

The lamb had food and shelter, but that was not enough. It was lonely. Separated from its mother, it felt unloved. The other animals tried to be kind, but they had no time. During the day, they were busy working: The cows had milk to make, the oxen had earth to plow, and the donkeys had carts to pull.

At night, they were all very tired. They’d feed upon the fodder, and then go right to bed. None would talk, none would play. None would even sing a lullaby to a lamb that needed comfort. Every night the lamb would cry, and be told to hush, for its bleats disturbed their sleep.Read More »

Christmas Offering

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Over the skies of Bethlehem appeared a star
While angels sang to lowly shepherds
Three Wisemen seeking truth they traveled from afar
Hoping to find the child from heaven
Falling on their knees they bow before the humble Prince of Peace

We bring an offering of worship to our King
No one on earth deserves the praises that we sing
Jesus may You receive the honor that You’re due
O Lord I bring an offering to You

The sun cannot compare to the glory of Your love
There is no shadow in Your presence
No mortal man would dare to stand before Your throne
Before the Holy One of heaven
It’s only by Your blood
It’s only through Your mercy
Lord, I come

We bring an offering to You
We are an offering to You
We are an offering to You, Jesus

We bring an offering to You
We are an offering to You

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#ShortNews: Pope Francis: Advent is a time of joy-filled waiting

“…Advent responds with ‘the Gospel of anti-fear.’” Pope said. “If fear makes you lie on the ground, the Lord invites you to get up; if negativity pushes you to look down, Jesus invites us to turn our gaze to heaven, from where He will come. Because we are not children of fear, but children of God,” the He continues.

Then we welcome the invitation of the Gospel, the invitation so often repeated to stand up, to get up “From where? From the sofas of life: from the comfort that makes you lazy, from the mundanity that makes you sick inside, from the self-pity that darkens.”

“Stand up, let us look up to the sky,” as Pope instructed. “We would also advise of the need to open our hands to our neighbor. And the consolation that we can give will heal our fears.”

#ShortNews: Exorcism requests on the rise in US

The conviction that demons exist—and that they exist to harass, derange, and smite human beings—stretches back as far as religion itself. In ancient Mesopotamia, Babylonian priests performed exorcisms by casting wax figurines of demons into a fire. But far from being confined to a past of Demiurges and evil eyes, belief in demonic possession is widespread in the United States today. The percentage who believe in the devil is even higher, and in fact has been growing: Gallup polls show that the number rose from 55 percent in 1990 to 70 percent in 2007.

Accoding to Father Vincent Lampert, the official exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, in early October that he’d received 1,700 phone or email requests for exorcisms in 2018, by far the most he’s ever gotten in one year. Father Gary Thomas—a priest whose training as an exorcist in Rome was documented in The Rite, a book published in 2009 and made into a movie in 2011—said that he gets at least a dozen requests a week. Several other priests reported that without support from church staff and volunteers, their exorcism ministries would quickly swallow up their entire weekly schedules. The Church has been training new exorcists in Chicago, Rome, and Manila.

Read full story: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/12/catholic-exorcisms-on-the-rise/573943/?utm_source=eb

#ShortNews: Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East gather in Baghdad

“Youth, faith and vocational discernment” – hosted the 26th meeting of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs, scheduled from 26 to 30 November at the patriarchal seat of Baghdad, and dedicated to young people as “a sign of hope in the Middle East”.

The program of the meeting also includes, a meeting of the Patriarchs with a large group of young Iraqi Christians, to be held in the Chaldean cathedral dedicated to Saint Joseph. The meeting – which ended with the publication of a final statement on the condition of Christian communities in the Middle East attended by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, Melchite Patriarch Youssef Absi, Armenian Catholic Patriarch Krikor Bedros XX Ghabroyan, Bishop William Shomali (representing the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) and Professor Souraya Bechealany, Secretary General of the Council of the Churches of the Middle East.

Read more: http://www.fides.org/en/news/65143-ASIA_IRAQ_Catholic_Patriarchs_in_Baghdad_to_meet_young_people_and_celebrate_martyrs

Advent reminds us how much God is interested in our lives

By Fr Luke Fong

It always puzzles me to read about how one of the most common arguments that atheists have is that we Christians have created a God who is a control freak and is an ultimate moral police hovering over our every action. Preaching about the contrary each time I ascend the Ambo at Mass to tell my congregation that this is a toxic and very erroneous view of God doesn’t quite reach the ears of those who need to hear the message, largely because if you are an angry atheist who believes in such a toxic narrative of God, the last place I would find you at is in a pew at Mass. Sometimes, I must confess, it does seem like I am preaching to the choir.

The very act of creation attests strongly to how much God is interested in us. Why else would he create if he did not care? Of course, we have some anthropomorphism going on here when we say this, but given the limitations that we human beings have, it is the best we can do. When we humanly create, be it with our artistic talents or creative skills, we do it for a multitude of reasons. Our ego could want our names to be immortalized, or it could just be that inherent need to see something of ours lasting beyond our own physical years. But because God is love, he has no ego as such. All he does stems from what and who he is. In Thomistic philosophy, there is no distinction between what he is and the things he does, unlike us. His essence is his act, and his act is his essence. So, if he is love, then all that he does is predicated on this fact. No ego needs, no hidden agendas.Read More »