Dark Epiphany

January 6 is the traditional date to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. In the West this refers to the Magi and their encounter with the Christ child, Eastern Christians celebrate the baptism of our Lord in the Jordan. Either way they mark a sudden realisation of the reality of God incarnate. Yet there is also a dark epiphany that springs from the desert experience, the encounter with a God who appears to have abandoned us.

How long, Lord? Will you utterly forget me?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I carry sorrow in my soul,
    grief in my heart day after day?
Psalm 13:1-2

Click here to read my meditation on the Dark Night of the Soul

FREE Catholic Blog Planner for 2015

Would you like to get better organized in 2015, managing your Catholic Blog?
Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families has just made a new Catholic Blog Planner available for FREE! It includes the following templates for use within a handy 3 ring binder:

Month by Month Calendar (with Catholic Feast Days and Seasons recorded)
Top Referrers, Top Posts, Giveaways, Reviews, Guest Posts and Blog Events (by month)
Passwords
Blog Stats
Guest Posting
Sponsor Buttons
Ad Space
Affiliate Links
Plugins
Blog Health!

It’s FREE…but please consider supporting Monica at Equipping Catholic Families
by subscribing to her blog, following her on Social Media
…and sharing this fine printable with your Catholic Blogger friends!

Go get YOUR 2015 Catholic Blog Planner by clicking this link to Equipping Catholic Families

Unbelief and the Lust Loving Giant

When I exchange opinions, it cannot be called an intelligent debate, with some of the fashionably militant New Atheists I am often told ‘of course you don’t really believe this stuff.’ What they mean, I suppose, is that I actually deep down accept the truth of their positivism and scientism but for some perverse reason of my own refuse to acknowledge that fact. Interestingly enough a common thread running through the Christian Scriptures is precisely the reverse proposition. The Israelites deep down know the truth about God but except for brief periods refuse to accept it; or at any rate accept it enough to base their entire life upon it.

In the Old Testament it is the book of Exodus where this phenomenon is most clearly manifested. The Children of Israel see the Red Sea parted, the manna falling from heaven, water springing from hard rocks and much, much more besides yet every new sign of God’s power is followed by a new manifestation of distrust or disbelief in Him. So much so that of all the adults who left Egypt only two make it to the Promised Land all the others, even the great Moses, die in the wilderness because either they have rebelled outright or because their faith has wavered at times despite all the overwhelming mass of evidence in favour of trusting in the Lord. In the Gospels the pattern is repeated, from the outright oppositions of the pharisees and the high priestly party to the complete failure of even the Apostles to understand Him Jesus is ever cast as a figure always to some extent alone because no amount of evidence seems to convince anyone to cast themselves fully upon Him without the slightest reserve. Arguably the only recorded exceptions being Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus, who successively say Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21,32) and even more strikingly our Lady who simply said They have no wine (John 2:3)

The interesting psycho-spiritual question in all this is why would or why do people refuse to belief something which they know to be true? Click here to read more

Receiving Christmas Joy – Guest Blog by Father Paul Buchanan

As a Christmas present from me to you, I offer you a homily about receiving Christmas Joy, written by a very good friend of mine, Father Paul Buchanan, who gave the following homily on Christmas day last year to parishioners at my church. At the time, Father Paul was a Transitional Deacon. He has since been ordained to the priesthood on June 28, 2014, and now serves at Saint Matthew Church, in Charlotte, NC.

Receiving Christmas Joy

Joy to the world! The Lord is come. We all know the line from the carol. But why do we rejoice on Christmas day? It’s not just “because God became a man” – although that is a wondrous thing, and an awesome thing… but it can also be an abstract thing. Something that makes us joyful, …Read More

From Primitive to Degenerate?

Whenever I hear the expressions ‘Primitive Church’ or ‘Primitive Christian’ I always have a vision of Wilma and Fred Flintstone occupying a pew or at any rate something involving cave dwellers wielding clubs while dressed in animal skins. Which, it appears, is something of a misapprehension on my part. ‘Primitive’ in this context means ‘early’ or ‘first.’ The Primitive Church is simply the Christian community as it existed in it beginnings, fresh from the events surrounding Jesus in Galilee and Judaea, guided by the Apostles. It is considered by many to be the gold standard against which contemporary Christianity should be judged usually to its considerable disadvantage. There are two particular currents of thought which make use of this critical tool largely for the purposes of disparaging Catholicism.

The ecclesial Christian communities of the Reformation (Protestants for short) since the emergence of their various tendencies have united in the criticism that the Catholic Church distorted, obscured, deviated from, and added alien elements to, the original faith of the Primitive Christians. By thus corrupting the religion they at some point, usually arbitrarily selected by the critics, became definitively degenerate or actually apostate. The Protestant aim from the beginning and in each subsequent schism, split or formation of a brand new sect has always been to return to the faith and practice of the Primitive Church. Quite how they reconcile this with their dogmatic assertion that Scripture Alone is the sure basis of Christianity I’ve never quite understood because if there is one thing about which we can be certain regarding the first Christians it is that they did not possess the New Testament and therefore could neither use it in their liturgies nor seek within its pages for the doctrines of their faith.

The currently more influential critique emerges from the secularists, the atheists and the liberal theologians. It amounts to this: Jesus was misunderstood by His contemporaries, friend and foe alike. These misunderstandings were incorporated into the Bible and the Christian Church (which subsists in the Catholic Church) has busied itself ever since in emphasising the misunderstandings and downplaying the authentic fragments which we possess. Click here to read more

Secret Cynics

Advent is a time of waiting. But how do I wait?

Do I wait stoically or with joy? Do I wait like a child, a child who trusts that his daddy will keep His promises or has life’s disappointments left me jaded and closed off to any spiritual surprises? Come to think of it, how many of us actually expect to receive any joy on Christmas morning? When we are secretly cynical, we will not receive a thing, not a crumb of Light because we lock the door to our hearts. Then, we will cement our cynicism in place for another year.
As we wait, secretly longing for the dark, empty places within us to be flooded with His light, we should look to our children to teach us how to wait for the Christ Child to be born anew in our hearts. They trust and believe the words of both their earthly and heavenly Fathers. Think of a young child, eyes twinkling, barely able to sit still and contain his excitement because he knows that his dad will never give him a stone instead of a loaf of bread. continue here

Melanie Jean Juneau is wife and mother of nine children. The very existence of a joyful mother of nine children seems to confound people. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought provoking with a strong current of spirituality running through it. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life.She blogs at joy of nine9 and mother of nine9 

Choose Joy and Be Happy

Choose joy and be happy this Christmas season. How so, when all around you there is violence, pain and strife? It is really not that difficult, because attitude is everything! If you are the type of person who counts your blessings, rather than focus on what’s wrong with life, then you are more inclined to experience Christ’s joy within you. This is the time of year when we usually take the time to reflect on the past twelve months and count our blessings. Let me share with you, the ones I find most important, that I think we can all be grateful for: Read more…

Mary & the Birthdays of Jesus

Our Lady was the first Christian to celebrate Christmas. In the Advent meditation I ponder what her thoughts and feelings were as she marked this poignant anniversary in the years between the Ascension and her Assumption

“Historians are undecided about the date of the Nativity of our Lord although as a sort of reflex action they are almost unanimous in denying that it was 25 December as if giving credit to the wisdom of the Church was somehow a violation of their professional duty. Likewise there is some dispute about when the Catholics first started to celebrate this event as a dedicated Feast. Some say it was earlier and some later. What I think we can be fairly sure about though is that the Blessed Virgin Mary knew the date and that every year as it came around she would have pondered in her heart the events of the first Christmas and the significance which they bore. Of particular poignance for her must have been the Christmases which she marked in the years between her Son’s Ascension and her own Assumption. We cannot now enter into her thoughts, memories and prayers but we can consider those matters which most likely occupied her reflections and which perhaps should occupy ours also.

Our Lady was unique in many ways and led a unique life. Not the least singular facet of it was that she witnessed the death and burial of her Son, His return to life and His Ascension into heaven. These experiences could not but be present before the eyes of her memory every time she marked the anniversary of His birth. Each Christmas for her would be a kind of palimpsest where each recollection of an event or emotion from that night in Bethlehem would uncover a thousand thousand others associated with the life of her beloved Jesus...to read more click here

He WILL Come

Advent Promises

He will come,
Yes, I know He will come.

I can trust that He will come.
For He comes even on a  frosty whisper,
Lighting the darkness with pinpoints of hope.
Just as I am certain the stars appear 
each dark night.
He will come,
Inspite of myself; my shortcomings and failings;
His arrival does not depend on my preparations.
Only that I wait expectantly in the dark. continue

Melanie Jean Juneau is wife and mother of nine children. The very existence of a joyful mother of nine children seems to confound people. Her writing is humorous and heart warming; thoughtful and thought provoking with a strong current of spirituality running through it. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life.She blogs at joy of nine9 and mother of nine9