Christmas Blessings and Peace in the New Year

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And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Please continue to pray for our religious men and women during this holy season.

I will be off line for the holidays until January. May God’s love continue to enfold us all,

Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB

Image Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons

 

Protect Them Oh Lord, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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Beloved Jesus, hear our prayers for the tenderhearted priests who in their love for you are brought to tears.

We pray for our priests whose heart aches at the spiritual sufferings of his flock, and for priests who take on a penance for the penitent just confessed.

We pray for our priests to be protected in their joy, when the movements of heaven reduce their grounding of things on earth.

Hear us Oh Lord as we pray for these men whose hearts are softened in the ways of the Holy that they be protected against all evil.

Amen.

Image Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons.

Evergreens and their Christian Symbolism

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Its Christmas time and I love how the fragrance and beauty of evergreens adds to celebrating this holy season. Many of us add Christmas trees, wreaths or garlands to our homes. Collectively, evergreens for early Christians symbolized everlasting life because their boughs stay green all year.

A while back at CatholicMom.com I wrote about the origin of the most popular decoration, the Christmas tree, aka Paradise Tree. The next most popular decoration is the wreath.

A wreath, being a circle, has no beginning or end and symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. The wreath, when decorated with evergreens, which are symbolic of life itself, points to God’s gift of life even as the world grows dark and plants die back with the lessening of sunlight hours.

Many kinds of evergreens are used in the wreaths, swags and garlands that decorate our churches and homes. Each type of evergreen has its own meaning in the language of flowers.

The most commonly used evergreen for wreaths is balsam and it has the symbolic meaning of eager anticipation; a familiar emotion associated with Advent.


Frequently used in garlands as well as wreaths and swags are fir boughs, symbolizing a lifting up…

 

…and pine that conveys the meaning of eternal life.

 

Spruce boughs represent hope in adversity, and isn’t that a lovely sentiment when we think of what Mother Mary faced before the birth of Jesus.

 

Cedar is one of the more fragrant and longer lasting evergreens and indicates incorruptibility and healing, and so it is associated with eternal life through Christ.

 

Juniper symbolizes protection, and that they do well!  If you’ve ever had to trim juniper branches you know how prickly and harsh they can be. (A great shrub to plant under windows to ward off intruders!)

 

Holly carries a few different symbolisms. In the language of flowers it means to foresee as in to understand in such a way as to predict, to prophecy. Holly is also used as a reminder of where Jesus’ birth and life will lead; its prickly leaves are reminiscent of the Crown of Thorns and the red berries of the blood He shed upon the Cross.

There are other non-evergreen plants often used in Christmas decorations. Bay laurel symbolizes a just reward, a victory over death. The delicate white-berry mistletoe is said to represent overcoming difficulties. And the unpresumptuous ivy holds one of the dearest images; that of clinging to God. It also symbolizes protection, joy and fidelity…all consistent with ‘to whom we cling’.

Any cones, nuts, or seedpods used in decorations symbolize new life and resurrection, pointing Christians toward Easter.

So now, when you look at your decorated tree, the wreath on your door, or the lovely evergreen arrangement on your table, you know they say more to you and your guests than Merry Christmas.

All image Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons.

An Advent Heart, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

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Lord God, hear our prayers for Sisters and Nuns called to serve us in your name.

During this Advent season we ask that you continue to fill their minds with wonder, their hearts with love, and their souls with the desire to share your light in our dulled and darkened world. Grace them to persevere in their efforts to serve those who are poor in body, mind, and spirit.

Bless our Sisters and Nuns in their earthly life and have mercy upon them when they pass, returning home to you. We ask all this in Jesus name.

Amen.

Comfort, Comfort O My People

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I’ve been laid a bit low this week. I hope to be back blogging shortly.

Please, in the meantime, enjoy one of my favorite Advent hymns (found on YouTube):

Comfort, Comfort Oh My People

Comfort, comfort oh my people,
Speak of peace, thus saith our God;
Comfort those who sit in darkness,
Mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load.
Speak unto Jerusalem
Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell of all the sins I cover,
And that warfare now is over.

Hark the voice of one who’s crying 
In the desert far and near,
Bidding all to full repentance,
Since the kingdom now is here.
Oh that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way;
Let the valleys rise to meet him,
And the hills bow down to greet him.

Oh make straight what long was crooked,
Make the rougher places plain;
Let your hearts be true and humble,
As befits his holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
Now o’er earth is shed abroad;
And all flesh shall see the token,
That his word is never broken.

Image from Pixabay.com, CCO, creative commons.