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Copyright © 2011, B.F.S. All rights reserved. Newsletter - December, 2011 [Plain text version]

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* Greetings

* MCS News & Notes

* The Month of December: Dedicated to the Immaculate Conception

* Advent / Christmas Resources

* Advent Sermon: "To prepare ourselves...should be the business of life"

* Liturgical Feasts in December

* 'Catholic Trivia'

* Defending the Faith: "Apologetics Brief" - Do You Wonder If (or Doubt That) Jesus Is Really God?

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Dear Friend,

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Mt. 3:2) [DR Trans: "Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."]

During this time when the world bombards us with its ideas of what Christmas is about - like a secular Santa Claus, 'holiday parties', gift giving, finding romance, or even spending time with family & caring for the poor and the troops (good & appropriate though some of these may be) - why not take some time to reflect on and prepare for what Christmas is REALLY about. Despite the many distortions presented to us over these Advent weeks, Catholics know that that the real meaning of Christmas hinges on the fact that the Son of God became incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin to save His beloved creatures from the yoke of Satan and eternal hellfire & to unite us to Himself. Remember that John the Baptist tells us to prepare the way for Him by repentance. The purple vestments at Mass during Advent also remind us that this should be a penitential time. This year, why not make an extra special effort, with God's grace, to keep a holy Advent, always keeping in mind the real, true meaning of Christmas. Satan would probably like nothing better than for us to focus on a secular Santa Claus, parties & gifts this time of year - rather than drawing closer to Christ, turning from sin, participating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, planning to avoid eternal hellfire and spending all eternity enjoying the Beatific Vision - so let's be sure we don't fall into his trap.

We send our very best wishes to you for a blessed Advent followed by a joyous & holy Christmas.

Your Friends at

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Advent Prayer: Raise up our hearts, O Lord, we beseech thee, to prepare the way of thine only Son; that, by his coming, being reconciled to thee, we may serve thee in holiness all the days of our lives.

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MCS News & Notes

* Server Change Update: The server change we mentioned last month has been in process since November 7th. Unfortunately, we have faced a number of technical challenges that have delayed its completion. We have been working with our host over these past few weeks to resolve the issues, and our host has likewise worked with a software vendor on some of the more difficult aspects. Although we have made some progress these past weeks, there still remains a fair amount of work to be done before we can make the final switch. When the final server switch does occur, we expect both servers may run in parallel for a few days while DNS propagation is in process. We hope users will not experience difficulties accessing the site during this time. However, we do anticipate that there may be some issues concerning e-mail & posts during the switch. Please be patient during this time. Should you send us an e-mail or make a post during the transition, please resend/repost if you do not receive an expected response from us. For updates on the transition, please see our blog at . Thank you for your patience & support.

* Change to Mailing List Subscription Procedure: While testing our new server, we discovered that the third party service we use for managing mailing list subscriptions changed the verification image from 'meaningless letters' to questions with answers and real words. We were not notified of the change. Since the new format has the potential to be offensive (the sample we were presented with was essentially an ad even though we paid for an ad-free service), we have disabled image verification. At this time, disabling verification is the only option provided to us by the third party service. In the event that anything offensive or inappropriate was displayed to our visitors, we sincerely apologize.

* Android Apps Update: Android versions of our apps are now in development. If you would like to be notified when they are available, please go to . Also, for those interested in Android apps, we would appreciate learning what are your favorite place(s) to download apps. For more information concerning our currently available apps for the iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch®, please visit (shortcut: )

* Please see our Notices page at for dates of anticipated service delays through January 2012

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* Please visit our Notices page for timely news and other important information regarding -

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The Month of December: Dedicated to the Immaculate Conception

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"Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee." (Cant. 4:7)

"For nothing is worthy to receive God unless it be pure, according to Psalm 93:5: 'Holiness becometh Thy House, O Lord.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

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Related Resources...

* Blessed Virgin Mary (Topic Page) -

* Immaculate Conception / Sinlessness Reflections (quotes from popes & saints) -

* Proclamation of the Immaculate Conception -

* Some Reasons to Honor the Blessed Virgin Mary -

* Some Thoughts on the Blessed Virgin Mary -

* Marian Facts -

* Marian Prayers -

* Popular Marian Devotions -

* Blessed Virgin Mary (Reflections) -

* Marian Scriptural References -

* Marian Encyclicals (click link: "The Blessed Virgin Mary") -

* Marian Apologetics -

* Mary, Our Mother Section -

* Marian Coloring Pages -

Looking For Something Else? Try Our Various Indexes For 15,000+ Entries -

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"The commemoration of the mystery of the Most Holy Virgin, conceived immaculate and immune from all stain of original sin, should, in the first place, urge us to that innocence and integrity of life which flees from and abhors even the slightest stain of sin." (Pope Pius XII, "Fulgens Corona", 1953)

"It was fitting that Jesus Christ should have such a mother as would be worthy of Him as far as possible; and she would not have been worthy, if, contaminated by the hereditary stain even for the first moment only of her conception, she had been subject to the abominable power of Satan." (Pope Pius XII, "Fulgens Corona", 1953)

"In the matter of sin, it is my wish to exclude absolutely all questions concerning the holy Virgin Mary, on account of the honor due to Christ. For since she conceived and brought forth Him who most certainly was guilty of no sin, we know that an abundance of grace was given her that she might be in every way the conqueror of sin." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

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Advent / Christmas Resources

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Reminder: Don't forget to check the MCS Daily Digest each day. During Advent, the MCS Daily Digest may contain various items to help prepare for Christmas. Visit the MCS Daily Digest at

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* Advent (Topic Page) -

* Christmas (Topic Page) -

* Make Your Own Advent Calendar -

* Advent / Christmas Prayers -

* Advent / Christmas Practices (See 'Traditional Practices', 'Advent / Christmas') [Page also contains fasting / abstinence info.] -

* Advent / Christmas Activities (See 'Holiday Activities') -

* Incarnation / Nativity Reflections -

* Incarnation / Birth of Jesus Reflections -

* Bible Prophecies: Coming of Christ / Supremacy & Facts About Upcoming Messiah -

* Scripture References (Marian Scriptural References) -

* Biblical References / Divinity of Christ / Etc. (Non-Catholics Section, apologetics) -

* Definitions (Advent, Christmas, Christmastide, Etc.) -

* O Antiphons (12/17-12/23) -

* Coloring Pages (Christmas Bells, Christmas Candles, Christmas Card, Nativity, Etc.) -

* 'Spiritual Bouquet' Card - "a great Christmas gift" (See 'Other') -

* Word Search (Christmas) -

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Advent Sermon: "To prepare ourselves...should be the business of life"

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It is traditional for priests to speak during Advent on the Last Things. Since many Catholics today may not hear much on this topic, we therefore thought the following sermon may be profitable. We encourage you to give its very important message due thought.

Text below is taken from a nineteenth century publication entitled "The Catholic Pulpit". The author of the sermon was not located, nor was there any indication of ecclesiastical approval for the work. [Please Note: We have made some changes to the original text (e.g. shortening, capitalization, punctuation, spelling & wording changes, combining paragraphs)]

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As it is hard to do that well, which can be done but once, and as death is an event which can but once occur for each individual, yet at the same time is one on which our happiness or misery for eternity depends; it has been a frequent object with spiritual writers to teach men to die well. For this purpose, one of the best pieces of instruction which they offer, is frequently during health to anticipate the moment when we shall be summoned away, and to bring before the imagination the various scenes that will present themselves at our last hour... [J]udgment is as certain as death; like death, it can neither be tried nor practiced beforehand; its consequences also are equally important to each individual, since on its result hangs an eternity of happiness, or an eternity of woe. To prepare ourselves, then, for this great assize should be the business of life; for which purpose it is highly proper, as in the former in stance, to anticipate, by the help of imagination, the part which we shall most certainly have then to act; to represent to ourselves the bar, the Judge, the law, and the sentence; and to consider, attentively and in detail, the awful scene which will then be opened upon us. This, fellow-Christians, I propose this day to do. I will not delay in describing the fearful signs and prognostics that are to precede that day of terrors, nor the thrilling trumpet, which shall be heard to the utmost verge of the region of death, and arouse all from the first to the last of its countless inhabitants; but will commence where, being all for the last time assembled, they shall wait to hear their final doom: when, in the emphatic language of the Prophet Daniel, the Judgment sat, and the books were opened. In doing this, there is one reflection which I would have each of you perpetually to bear in mind; that the event which you are now considering is one in which you yourselves must share; that the scene is such as those very eyes shall witness, with which you now behold the objects around you; the interrogatories, those to which the very tongue with which you now speak is to reply; in a word, that yourself and not another is to be the criminal at the bar. With this application of the subject, I will proceed to consider, in the first place, some of the circumstances which accompany the trial, and in the next, the nature of the trial itself.

To begin then with that, which in every assize (but particularly in this) forms the most conspicuous object, the person of the Judge. It is, my brethren, an Omniscient, Just, and Omnipotent God, charged with avenging the injuries which he has received at the hands of his own creatures. An Omniscient God! A God, whose searching eye kens, at one view, the whole compass of creation; pierces the heavens and the earth, and penetrates the lowest caverns of the infernal abyss. A God, to whom there is neither past nor future; to whom the events of the most distant ages that have gone by, as well as of those that are to come, are all in actual occurrence; to whom, in the language of holy writ, a thousand years are as yesterday, and whose thoughts are from generation to generation; a God, who knows all the ways of men, who reads all the secrets of their hearts, who, by a single act of his all-piercing mind, beholds, distinctly and without confusion, all that has been thought, said, or done, by any of his creatures. In an earthly court, the criminal often may indulge a hope, that, in the course of the proceedings, he may by artifice or effrontery conceal, if not the whole, at least a part of his guilt; what he cannot deny, he may palliate or excuse; and to a mortal judge, innocence of intention may be, and often is, falsely adduced, to lessen the criminality of an action. Then, before this Judge of infinite knowledge, the possibility of concealment or deception will be altogether precluded: to him the most open action is not more clear than the most occult intention. His penetrating eye has all along beheld those secret springs of action which the sinner had thought to wrap in impenetrable obscurity. He has witnessed the first ambiguous leanings of his heart to temptation, has traced it through its subsequent, and almost imperceptible degrees of guilt, has marked the moment when complacency gave place to delectation, delectation to consent, consent to gratification. Every minute, every complicated circumstance of time, of place, of person, of means, of consequence, is opened and unraveled before him; nothing is forgotten, nothing altered, nothing disguised. Their ways are always before him, they are not hidden from his eyes; and all their works are as the sun in his sight.

It is a Just God! A God, not now sighing out the tender waitings of commiseration over an impenitent Jerusalem, nor shedding the last drop of his blood to redeem offending men; but a God bound by the laws of his own eternal justice to avenge upon the sinner the blood which he has shed for him in vain. At present we behold the wicked sharing, equally with the righteous, the goods of life; the attribute of justice seems to be forgot, and only that of mercy exercised. In that day, mercy shall give place to justice - and what a justice, my brethren! Not a justice like that of man, which is often checked by compassion, which may be eluded by fraud, or prevented by force, which often cannot make a distinction between the innocent and the guilty, and which, to save the former, must be frequently contented to let the latter go unpunished; but a justice, which cannot be deprived of its ends, which will pursue the guilty with inflexible and uncompassionating rigor; a justice, which, with the nicest discrimination, will rectify all that apparent disorder with which we are now puzzled in the distribution of the gifts of heaven; a justice, which in the unerring scales of the sanctuary will weigh the talents that have been lent, with those that have been returned; the time that has been given, with that which has been well employed; the graces and helps that have been imparted, with the virtues that have been acquired; the riches that have been bestowed, with the meritorious objects in which they have been spent; a justice, in fine, which will tear away the mask which here so often conceals man from others and from himself; which shall distinguish between genuine and counterfeit virtue, between the action and intention, between the action which is done for God and the action which is done for the world. When I shall have taken a time, I will judge even justice itself, says the Lord.

It is an Omnipotent God. To form some idea of what is meant by such an appellation, let us listen to the language of the inspired writers. Alas! alas! alas! cries out the prophet Jeremiah, O Lord God, behold thou hast made heaven and earth by thy great power, and thy stretched out arm: no word shall be hard to thee. O most mighty, great, and powerful, the Lord of hosts is thy name, whose eyes are open upon all the ways of the children of Adam, to render unto every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his devices. The ways of the Lord, says another of the inspired writers, are in a tempest, and in a whirlwind, and clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebuketh the sea and drieth it up, and bringeth all the rivers to be a desert... With God, to will and to perform are but the same act; and as before an all-wise Judge there is no deception, before an all-just Judge no appeal, so before an Omnipotent Judge there is no escape or resistance...

In the next place, then, the spectators, the witnesses of the trial... [W]e there see collected the successive generations of all the nations which the sun illumines in his daily course; men of all times, of all ranks, of all ages, the master and the slave, the king and the subject, the antediluvian and the modern, all without badge, without title, bereft now of those vain marks and distinctions, which genius, birth, fortune, or accident, had heretofore thrown around them. Here the mighty conqueror of half the globe stands undistinguishable from the last of his followers; here the proud genius, the renowned statesman, the resistless potentate, stands among the immense multitude, unsought, unrespected, unattended. The stroke of death has in all, ere this, broke the spell which gave to the petty affairs and agitations of time any importance. Every power, every feeling of their mind, is occupied and absorbed in the proceedings of the awful bar before which they stand, in listening to the dread awards that are then being pronounced, every reiteration of which seals the doom of eternity. In the sight of this immense multitude, then, my brethren, each one of us must one day stand. Before its all attentive gaze, the secrets of each heart, of each conscience, will be laid open; in the very presence of those, in whose acquaintance and familiarity we now live, shall the humiliating scrutiny be made. They shall all behold us, not as now, when the actions that externally appear are the only means to form a judgment of the man; but such as we really are. The thick veil, with which our pride and self-love had in life so studiously sought to conceal the dark side of our character from the eyes of others, and often from our own, shall then be torn away. The dark suspicion, which we had never trusted beyond the confines of our own breast, shall then be made known, even to the Very person who was the object of it. The secret envy, the concealed aversion, the detractive whisper, which perhaps was indulged under the external show of friendship and cordiality, shall be then revealed to the eye of day. Then too shall be laid open all those secret springs of action, the guilty passions by which we were impelled, but which we were unwilling to acknowledge; that avarice, which had closed the hand of charity, and which we had lightly termed prudence and economy; that lust, which had been fostered and indulged under the soft appellative of friendship and affection; that vanity, which had been cherished under the name of propriety and decorum. Ah! my brethren, if now it costs you so much to lay open the secrets of your soul to the [priest in the confessional], if now you cannot approach the sacred tribunal without being covered with shame and confusion, what, think you, will be your feelings when all your secret delinquencies shall be exposed to the eyes of the universe, when every hidden thought, every illicit emotion, to which your heart has at any time consented, shall be presented to public view?

The next circumstance, which merits our consideration in this terrible assize, is the law by which we are to be tried. To the law, in every just court, when the evidence against the accused has been clearly established, must the final appeal be made; by it must the guilt or innocence of the party be ascertained, his acquittal or condemnation, as well as the measure of his punishment, be determined. Hence, before human tribunals, a principal object of the counsel for the accused is to prevent the law from taking effect; to embarrass its application, to explain away its meaning, to prove it unknown, unjust, impracticable, or obsolete. This we often behold effected, and in an earthly court the criminal not infrequently escapes the hand of justice, because the provisions of the law are inadequate, its meaning obscure, its expediency dubious. Nothing of all this, my brethren, can possibly occur with relation to that divine law by which we are to be tried on that awful day. It is the law of God himself; it was inscribed by the same hand, which is now ready to punish its non-observance. Here no chicanery, no interpretation, no privilege, no prescription. It is a law perpetually holy, perpetually just, perpetually binding. A law equally established for the rich and for the poor, for the mighty and for the weak, for the learned and for the ignorant. A law, the provisions of which comprise all times, all persons, all circumstances, all events...

To come now to the last circumstance in this momentous trial, which, exclusive of every other, will be alone sufficient to impart the most intense interest to all and each of the proceedings in it, I mean the pronouncing of the sentence. What this is to be, the mouth of truth itself has briefly informed us. Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you: or, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. To hear one of these two sentences must be the lot of every individual of the human race... Continuing, then, to bring the application home, let us consider ourselves as standing before the awful throne, and waiting to hear pronounced our irreversible destiny. But, my brethren, how shall you anticipate, how shall I describe your feelings at that terrible moment? Erroneous indeed would be the conception which I should convey to you, were I to compare them to any which it is possible for you to experience during life. Even when you are told, that the moment which you are contemplating is one by which heaven or hell, an eternity of happiness or an eternity of misery is to be unalterably fixed, the idea which you form is far from being adequate. Common as are the terms, the import of them is unfathomable to mortal understanding. In our present state, we have not known, we cannot know, what it is to lose heaven: what it is to be condemned to hell. The temporal images, from which we borrow our conceptions, can at best but give us a very imperfect notion of the joys of the one, or of the sufferings of the other. The powers of the human mind are inadequate to measure the vast series of the eternal years; and, when put to their utmost stretch, inadvertently fall back into the computations of time. Far different our situation, when we shall be expecting to hear that last award. Then, endowed with quite other powers of perception, we shall fully see what is lost by losing heaven, what is incurred by being condemned to hell. Then shall we know the import of that most awful of words, Eternity! Then shall we read and decipher the most hidden secrets of the bottomless abyss; see all its horrors, hear its groans, its weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

Such then being our situation at that moment, do I say too much in asserting, that nothing on earth can give us an idea of the sentiments which we shall then have? Ah, Christians! if before a human tribunal, we often see the fortitude of the most hardened fail, at the moment which intervenes between the trial and the verdict; if the announcement of the decision is expected with breathless anxiety, not only by the criminal himself, but often by those who have been but hearers and spectators of the trial; what shall we say of our feelings, when all that is great in heaven, and all that is terrible in hell shall conspire to arouse our sensibilities? But the destiny is pronounced! The instant that reveals it beholds its fulfillment. Time has passed; eternity, that ever-commencing, never-passing moment, involves us in its interminable maze.

Thus have we seen some of the chief circumstances which contribute to give the highest degree of interest and importance to this day of terrors. It only remains, that, while they are still fresh to our imagination, we seclude ourselves from the rest of men, and individually examine how far our own consciences will bear the scrutiny of such a Judge, the regards of such an assembly, the test of such a law, and how far we may presume on hearing a favorable sentence. Suppose, then, the moment of death has arrived, which summons us to the presence of the Judge. We stand alone before him. The last scene, which you had beheld before your eyes were closed in the sleep of death, was that of your friends and relations crowding around your couch, and affording you support and consolation; and of the [priest who pressed to your lips the flesh] of your Redeemer, and soothed and allayed your but too just apprehensions. Alas! where are they now! They have disappeared; they come not now to offer you support and consolation. No advocate now, intercessor none. They have disappeared, and with them have disappeared all that flattered, pleased, and deluded you. You stand alone before Him! Instantly a sunbeam darts its ray into your bosom, and brings to the light of day all those treasures of iniquity which had been collecting there during a long life of tepidity and indulgence.

Then shall all the long-forgotten scenes of your early youth, those scenes in which propriety was the last consideration, be once again brought into view. Actions, which to the jaundiced eye of self-love, had appeared pardonable and innocent, shall now, to your utter dismay, stand forth clothed in the deformity of vice. Those accumulated sins in relation to the service of God, which day after day were committed and forgotten, those irreverences in the holy place, those omissions of essential duties, those Confessions without change or repentance, those Communions without fruit or devotion, those sins of sloth, of tepidity, of human respect, which had never been repented of, because never examined or confessed, shall now rise up against you. Then, too, in relation to your neighbor, shall you be overwhelmed to hear his soul demanded at your hands. As if the burden of your own enormities were insufficient, to you shall be imputed whatever of guilt your pernicious example, your authority, your influence, your words, or your actions, may have occasioned in those around you. Then shall the cry of the poor and the houseless, of the widow and the orphan, against whose petitions you had, during life, closed your ear, be heard to your condemnation; then shall you be examined as to the application of that superabundant wealth which you had flattered yourself to believe lying at your own disposal, but which the Church of God, by her sacred oracles, and by the mouths of her ministers, had all along declared to be the patrimony of the poor. Then shall the busy whisper of detraction, which perhaps inflicted a mortal wound on the reputation of your neighbor, be urged against you, not as you had apprehended or pronounced it, but pointed and envenomed as it was by all the tongues which had repeated it after you.

In relation to yourself, how will you shudder at the spectacle, now for the first time exhibited to you by your own heart; that pride, which you had so long fostered and soothed; that vanity, which had stamped criminality on the very actions which you had considered as the redeeming portions of your conduct; those illicit thoughts and desires, which you had so frequently indulged and so studiously concealed; that envy, which had pined, where charity should have rejoiced; that jealousy, which had concealed itself under the fairest garb; that ingratitude, in fine, which, day after day, had loaded God your benefactor with new indignities, and added a fresh degree of criminality to every similar offence. Next to the examination of the evil which you have done, shall follow that of the good which you have omitted. Here shall you behold registered against you the imprecations of those, whom, by a word of timely admonition, you might have saved from eternal woe; the curses perhaps of a fond child, in whom, through a mistaken love, you had neglected to check those early passions which ultimately hurried him to perdition. Here shall be recalled to you all the opportunities of promoting the honor and glory of God, the cause of truth and religion, and your own salvation, which you have neglected; the time which you have lost, the talents which you have buried. Not only your omissions themselves, but also the causes of them, whether they proceeded from ignorance, frailty, or malice, all shall be nicely sifted and examined. Finally shall commence the inquiry into the gifts and graces which you have received: and here, fellow-Christians, it is, that this last examination shall become doubly terrible. Here shall the just and infallible Judge himself enter into judgment with you.

Enumerating in succession all that he had done for your salvation, he shall demand what return you have made for each of the graces and succors with which you have been visited. Here shall he point out to you the grace of adoption which you received in baptism, when, snatched from the jaws of hell, you promised eternal allegiance to your deliverer. Here shall he show you the grace of reconciliation, which, after repeated prevarications, he has never ceased to impart in the sacrament of penance. Here shall he recall all the interior motions of grace with which he has inspired you; all the external helps and admonitions which you have received; the example of his saints, which was given for your encouragement; the promises and threats which he has held out by his sacred oracles; the reproaches of conscience by which he has so often sought to rouse you from the lethargy in which you were engaged: of all shall he demand the strictest return, the most rigorous account. To sum up the measure of your guilt, to cover, and totally to overwhelm you with confusion, He shall re-demand his own blood at your hands. He shall show you the prints of his wounds. He shall require from you the soul which he purchased on the cross, which he redeemed and made His own by suffering in its stead.

Ah, Christians! but too fully will then be verified that prediction of our divine Redeemer, that on that day the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon shall rise up in judgment against those of the favored Jerusalem. A thousand and a thousand times will you envy the lot of him on whom the sun of justice had never shed its illuminating ray. He indeed, for neglecting to obey the voice of reason, cannot escape condemnation; you, to the guilt of rejecting the same voice, have added that of contemning the loud and repeated calls of heaven; you have abused the gifts and succors with which you were enriched, and consummated your impiety by trampling under foot the blood of your Redeemer.

My dear friends, awful as is the scene which I have been describing, it is not an ideal one; the points on which the examination turns, are not difficult and obscure questions of morality or doctrine; they are not such as can only regard a small portion of mankind; they are nothing but the common duties of life, the common gifts of grace, in which every true believer shares. From answering then to these interrogations, no one in reason can hope to be exempted. They come home to every breast, and the very nature of infinite justice requires that the pride displayed in the sinner's rebellion should be equaled by the confusion endured in his condemnation. The next question is, how far we, individually speaking, are prepared to meet this searching investigation. To this question, not I, but your own consciences, your past, your present life, must make the important answer.

One reflection, however, there is, which I wish to make before I quit this awful subject. It is, that, judging by experience and the ordinary rules of Providence, the sentence that would now be past upon you, were you this instant to be summoned to the bar of divine justice, is the same as will then be uttered. Does this assertion excite your surprise? But the small number of those, who, in the midst of a life of tepidity and sin, are sincerely converted, fully testifies its truth. I deny not indeed that it is a rule to which exceptions may be found; but they are rare.

If, therefore, upon a review of life, you find reason to tremble for the result of a trial that should at this moment be commenced, think not, that you will alter your destiny by a few vain and transient desires of conversion; by restraining yourself from the grosser and more flagrant excesses, while you continue enslaved to the same indifference and tepidity in the service of God, while the same coldness of charity towards your neighbor chills your heart, while the same abuse of divine grace, and the same love of the world, which at present would render your case hopeless, continue in your soul. No! The very fact that your past life has been a life of guilt, renders it more than dubious, that without the greatest sacrifices and the greatest exertions, you will never be converted. If you fear judgment, fear that by which alone judgment is terrible. Frequently approach in imagination to the dread tribunal. Weigh and examine your actions by its decisions. There will you be undeceived as to all the vain and false judgments of men; there will you learn duly to appreciate in time, that which alone can render you happy in eternity.

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"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 12:36)

"No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account." (Heb. 4:13)

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil." (2 Cor. 5:10)

"If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries" (Heb.10:26-27) [Note: This, of course, refers to unrepented sin.]

"Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 15:6)

" out your salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil. 2:12)

"How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 7:14)

"Many are invited, but few are chosen" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 22:14)

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 13:24) 

"When once you have departed this life, there is no longer any place for repentance, no way of making satisfaction. Here life is either lost or kept. Here, by the worship of God and by the fruit of faith, provision is made for eternal salvation. Let no one be kept back either by his sins or by his years from coming to obtain salvation. To him who still remains in this world there is no repentance that is too late." (St. Cyprian of Carthage)

"I entreat you, beloved brethren, that each one should confess his own sin, while he who has sinned is still in this world, while his confession may be received, while the satisfaction and remission made by the priests are pleasing to the Lord. Let us turn to the Lord with our whole heart, and expressing our repentance for our sin with true grief, let us entreat God's mercy." (St. Cyprian, 3rd century A.D.)

"The sacrament of Penance has the power of remitting all sins no matter how numerous and great they are, provided it is received with the requisite dispositions." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

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Also Try...

* Penance / Confession (Topic Page) -

* Sin (Topic Page) -

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Liturgical Feasts in December

The following is a listing of all liturgical feast dates for December as they appear at

Note: (T) = Traditional, (N) = New (Novus Ordo)

Reminder: Feasts may be superseded / transferred / etc.

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December 2 - St. Bibiana (T)

December 3 - St. Francis Xavier (T)

December 3 - St. Francis Xavier (N)

December 4 - St. Barbara (T)

December 4 - St. Peter Chrysologus (T)

December 4 - St. John Damascene (N)

December 5 - St. Sabbas (T)

December 6 - St. Nicholas of Myra (or Bari) (T)

December 6 - St. Nicholas of Myra (or Bari) (N)

December 7 - St. Ambrose (T)

December 7 - Vigil of the Immaculate Conception (T)

December 7 - St. Ambrose (N)

December 8 - The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (T) *

December 8 - The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (N) *

December 9 - St. Juan Diego (N)

December 10 - St. Melchiades, pope (T)

December 11 - St. Damasus I, pope (T)

December 11 - St. Damasus I, pope (N)

December 12 - Our Lady of Guadalupe (T)

December 12 - Our Lady of Guadalupe (N)

December 13 - St. Lucy of Syracuse (T)

December 13 - St. Lucy (N)

December 14 - St. John of the Cross (N)

December 16 - St. Eusebius of Vercelli (T)

December 21 - St. Thomas, apostle (T)

December 21 - St. Peter Canisius (N)

December 22 - St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (T)

December 23 - St. John of Kanty (John Cantius) (N)

December 24 - Vigil of the Nativity (Christmas Eve) (T)

December 25 - Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas) (T) *

December 25 - St. Anastasia (T)

December 25 - The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) (N) *

December 26 - St. Stephen the First Martyr (T)

December 26 - St. Stephen, First Martyr (N)

December 27 - St. John, apostle & evangelist (T)

December 27 - St. John, apostle & evangelist (N)

December 28 - The Holy Innocents (T)

December 28 - The Holy Innocents (N)

December 29 - St. Thomas of Canterbury (T)

December 29 - St. Thomas Becket (N)

December 31 - St. Sylvester I, pope (T)

December 31 - St. Sylvester I, pope (N)

* Holy Day of Obligation [Note: Christmas falls on Sunday this year]

Please Note: Above may exclude moveable feasts. For moveable feasts, see below & try here: . For other feasts, try the MCS Daily Digest each day at


12/4/11 - Second Sunday in Advent

12/11/11 - Third Sunday in Advent (Gaudete Sunday)

12/14/11 - Ember Wednesday in Advent (T)

12/16/11 - Ember Friday in Advent (T)

12/17/11 - Ember Saturday in Advent (T)

12/18/11 - Fourth Sunday in Advent

12/30/11 - Feast of the Holy Family (N)

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'Catholic Trivia'

1. What is another name for the Canticle of Zachary?

2. What does Pope Pius XII say was "both the foundation and the culmination of the Incarnation and the Redemption"?

3. Who said...? "Only when we have been released from the bonds of this body and 'shall see God as He is' (1 John 3:2), shall we understand how closely and wonderfully the divine mercy and justice are linked."

4. What three Nativities are kept by the Church?

5. Complete the sentence: "The whole life of a Christian ought to be nothing else than a constant preparation for ___"

6. Who said...? "God, when He descends upon the altar, does no less than He did when He became man the first time in the womb of the Virgin Mary."

7. What does Altíssimus mean?

8. Supply the missing word: "As ___ observes (Theophylact., Enarrationes in Lucam 2:8), the angel who announced Christ's birth did not go to Jerusalem, nor did he seek the Scribes and Pharisees, for they were corrupted, and full of ill-will. But the shepherds were single-minded, and were like the patriarchs and Moses in their mode of life."

9. According to St. Augustine, the word 'Evangelium' has come to be appropriated to what?

10. Who said...? "Let no one be deceived: even the heavenly beings and the angels in their glory, and rulers visible and invisible, - even for these there will be judgment, if they do not believe in the Blood of Christ."



1. The Canticle of Zachary is also called "The Benedictus", from the Latin ("Benedictus Deus Israhel quia visitavit et fecit redemptionem plebi suae...") [See Lk. 1:68-79].

2. "The holy Fathers, true witnesses of the divinely revealed doctrine, wonderfully understood what St. Paul the Apostle had quite clearly declared; namely, that the mystery of love was, as it were, both the foundation and the culmination of the Incarnation and the Redemption. For frequently and clearly we can read in their writings that Jesus Christ took a perfect human nature and our weak and perishable human body with the object of providing for our eternal salvation, and of revealing to us in the clearest possible manner that His infinite love for us could express itself in human terms." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956)

3. Pope Pius IX

4. Three Nativities kept by the Church are: The Nativity of our Lord (Dec. 25), the Nativity of our Lady (Sept. 8), and the nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24).

5. "The whole life of a Christian ought to be nothing else than a constant preparation for that tremendous hour which will decide our eternal lot" (Muller)

6. St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church

7. Latin for 'the Most High'

8. "As Chrysostom observes (Theophylact., Enarrationes in Lucam 2:8), the angel who announced Christ's birth did not go to Jerusalem, nor did he seek the Scribes and Pharisees, for they were corrupted, and full of ill-will. But the shepherds were single-minded, and were like the patriarchs and Moses in their mode of life." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

9. "The word 'Evangelium' (Gospel) is rendered in Latin 'bonus nuntius,' or 'bona annuntiatio' (good news). It may indeed be used on all occasions whenever any good is announced; but it has come to be appropriated to the announcement of the Savior." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

10. St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. 110 A.D.


For more information concerning the topics above, try our General A-Z Index at

Like trivia? You might enjoy our crossword puzzles located at

You might also be interested in the Q & A and historical information which may be found each day on the MCS Daily Digest at

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Defending the Faith: "Apologetics Brief" - Do You Wonder If (or Doubt That) Jesus Is Really God?

It is good for Catholics to be able to defend their faith against attacks (or even simple questions) from those outside the Church. We therefore hope you may find the following "apologetics brief" helpful.

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Note: Text below is taken from

The following may be used as discussion points when discoursing with those outside the Church (or even among Catholics).

Topic: Do You Wonder If (or Doubt That) Jesus Is Really God? (Note: Topic is directed at certain Protestants)


* Scripture says that Jesus is "Emmanuel", meaning "God is with us" (see Mt. 1:23)

* Scripture says that the Word (that is, Jesus) was God (see Jn. 1:1)

* Jesus said that if you knew Him, you would know His Father (that is, God) also (see Jn. 8:19)

* Jesus said "I AM" (Jn. 8:58, Jn. 18:5, Jn. 18:8), a clear reference to God (see Ex. 3:14)

* Jesus said that "The Father and I are one" (Jn. 10:30)

* Jesus said that "The Father is in me and I am in the Father" (Jn. 10:38)

* Jesus says that "whoever sees me sees the one who sent me" (Jn. 12:45)

* Jesus says that whoever has seen Him has seen the Father (Jn. 14:8-12)

* The Apostle St. Thomas proclaims: "My Lord and my God!" and is not rebuked by Jesus (Jn. 20:28)

* Scripture says that in Jesus "dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily" (Col. 2:9)

* Christ instructs the Apostles to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19). This would not make sense unless the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God.

"O Lord our God, we believe in You, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. For the Truth would not say: 'Go, baptize all nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,' unless You were a Trinity. Nor would You command us, O Lord God, to be baptized in the name of anyone who is not the Lord God." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 407 A.D.)

"The Spirit, then being established in us, the Son and the Father come; and they make their dwelling in us. For the Trinity is indivisible, and its Godhead is one; and there is one God over all and through all and in all. This is the faith of the Catholic Church; for on the Trinity the Lord founded it and rooted it, when He said to His disciples, 'Go out and instruct every people, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.' But if the Spirit were a creature, He would not have joined Himself with the Father, lest the Trinity be dissimilar within Itself, lest It have united in Itself anything strange or foreign. Indeed, what could be lacking in God, that He should assume any foreign substance, and be glorified with it? Inconceivable!" (St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church, 4th century A.D.)

* Christ demonstrated His divine power countless times in the ability to forgive sin and through His miracles.

"The miracles which Christ worked were a sufficient proof of His Godhead in three respects. First, as to the very nature of the works, which surpassed the entire capability of created power, and therefore could not be done save by Divine power. For this reason the blind man, after his sight had been restored, said (John 9:32,33): 'From the beginning of the world it has not been heard, that any man hath opened the eyes of one born blind. Unless this man were of God, he could not do anything.' Secondly, as to the way in which He worked miracles - namely, because He worked miracles as though of His own power, and not by praying, as others do. Wherefore it is written (Luke 6:19) that 'virtue went out from Him and healed all.' Whereby it is proved, as Cyril says (Commentarium in Lucam) that 'He did not receive power from another, but, being God by nature, He showed His own power over the sick. And this is how He worked countless miracles.' Hence on Matthew 8:16: 'He cast out spirits with His word, and all that were sick He healed,' Chrysostom says: 'Mark how great a multitude of persons healed, the Evangelists pass quickly over, not mentioning one by one... but in one word traversing an unspeakable sea of miracles.' And thus it was shown that His power was co-equal with that of God the Father, according to John 5:19: 'What things soever' the Father 'doth, these the Son doth also in like manner'; and, again (John 5:21): 'As the Father raiseth up the dead and giveth life, so the Son also giveth life to whom He will.' Thirdly, from the very fact that He taught that He was God; for unless this were true it would not be confirmed by miracles worked by Divine power. Hence it was said (Mark 1:27): 'What is this new doctrine? For with power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

* Christ's death was sought for the very reason that He "made Himself equal to God" (cf. Jn. 5:18, Mt. 26:63-66, Jn. 19:7).

* Christ could not be our Savior if He was not God. "Neither could a portion of creation, while itself in need of salvation, become creation's salvation... A man would not have been deified if joined to a creature, nor if the Son were not true God; neither would a man have been brought into the Father's presence if He had not been the Father's natural and true Word who had put on a body. Since we could have had nothing in common with what is foreign, we would not have been delivered from sin and from the curse if that which the Word put on had not been natural human flesh; so also, the man would not have been deified if the Word which became flesh and not been by nature from the Father and true and proper to Him." (St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church, 4th century A.D.)

* God the Father in Heaven testified that Christ is His Son. For example, consider the events of the Transfiguration where God said "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him" (Mt. 17:5).

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"Christ says, 'If anyone sees Me, he sees the Father,' If He were of another essence He would not say this. But if I may make use of an argument of the crasser sort, no one who is ignorant of gold is able to discover the essence of gold in silver. For the nature of one thing is not manifested in another." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, c. 391 A.D.)

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For more apologetics resources, please visit

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In Closing...

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel." (Isa. 7:14)

"[The Church] did not hesitate to present for the public devotion and veneration of the faithful the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin. By this most significant fact, the Church made it clear indeed that the conception of Mary is to be venerated as something extraordinary, wonderful, eminently holy, and different from the conception of all other human beings" (Pope Pius IX, "Ineffabilis Deus", 1854)

"The holy Fathers, true witnesses of the divinely revealed doctrine, wonderfully understood what St. Paul the Apostle had quite clearly declared; namely, that the mystery of love was, as it were, both the foundation and the culmination of the Incarnation and the Redemption. For frequently and clearly we can read in their writings that Jesus Christ took a perfect human nature and our weak and perishable human body with the object of providing for our eternal salvation, and of revealing to us in the clearest possible manner that His infinite love for us could express itself in human terms." (Pope Pius XII, "Haurietis Aquas", 1956 A.D.)

"The Crib of Bethlehem, even had there never been the Sacrifice of Calvary, would of itself be sufficient to convince us of [the Love of God]. God comes down from heaven for the sake of his creature, man; he himself becomes Man, nay, a Child, and is laid in a manger! Such miracles of love would have sufficed to save the guilty world; how then shall they not have power to prompt men to give their whole heart to their loving God?" (Gueranger)

"And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (Jn. 1:14)

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