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December 27, 2007 Edition

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Word to Life (for Dec. 30)
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Being a family of holiness

Word to Life 

Jeff Hedglen 

When I was 16, I shared a car with my 19-year-old sister. We split the cost of the car payment and insurance down the middle. The plan was that we also would have equal use of the vehicle. She was older and had a job around the corner; I was younger and had a girlfriend who lived 30 minutes away. Naturally this caused a lot of problems.

Nothing in my life with four other siblings could compare with the fights we had about the use of that car. Doors would slam; very un-Christian words would fly; and feelings were shredded.

One day, after a typical display of mutual selfishness, I slammed the door to my room and said to no one in particular: "Why won't she even try?!"

December 30, 2007
Feast of the Holy Family
Sirach 3:2-7, 12-14
Psalm 128:1-5
Colossians 3:12-21
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

A few minutes later after the steam stopped billowing from my ears, I heard a small voice in my head say: "Are you trying?"

God in his fashion had challenged my self-righteousness - and I lost. When I came out of my room, my sister was in the bathroom. I wrote her a note that simply said: "I'll try if you will."

From that point on I don't think we had another fight.

On the feast of the Holy Family, the Church gives us a passage from St. Paul that calls us not just to put up with each other but to bear with one another in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

It was only when God's prompting toward these graces broke through my bitter, angry resentment of my sister that peace came to our relationship.

For reflection:

• What are some ways we can "bear with one another" when the other is hard to get along with?

• Do you have a story that shows how you or someone you know has grown in holiness?

Being a family of holiness takes work, prayer, submission, and selfless behavior. It is not unlike the family that had a virgin teenager say yes to God; a fiancé, who initially wanted to cut and run but submitted to God's plan; and a son who had no idea what lay ahead of him, but when his hour came took the cup his Father handed to him.

One of the steps to holiness is to take our eyes off of ourselves and put them on those we love. It is this kind of action that paves the road to being a holy family.

This column is offered in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.

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Body language important in prayer
to God

Word to Life 

Jean Denton 

Body language: Specialists in human behavior have helped the rest of us understand how important it is in communication. Psychologists explain that we can determine a great deal about a person's attitude underlying his or her words by observing body language.

In certain arenas, in fact, body language is actually taught. For example, it is part of the training for interviewing, sales pitching, or athletic competition. I remember my son coming home from tennis team practice with written instructions regarding body language during a match. Peering over his shoulder at those instructions, I learned a few helpful physical attitudes. Don't drop your shoulders and head or slow your gait after losing a point, for instance.

January 6, 2008
Epiphany of the Lord
Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Matthew 2:1-12

When I applied this on the court, I realized it probably had more of an effect on me than on my opponent. Keeping my shoulders back, head up, and moving purposefully into position for the next point, I was positive and focused, not feeling defeated.

I've realized the same influence of body language holds true when I approach God in prayer. I grew up Protestant, so the tradition of kneeling in community worship wasn't prevalent. I always bowed my head but rarely knelt in prayer. What a change in attitude I felt before God when I lowered my entire body to a posture of supplication.

I understood better who I was in relationship to my Savior, wholly dependent on his good graces, thankful for his mercy, and amazed that he should care at all, much less love me.

For reflection:

• What is your basic daily attitude in approaching God?

• Besides kneeling in prayer, what other kinds of body language have helped you develop an attitude of humility and gratitude to Jesus as your Savior?

In the Gospel reading for Epiphany, the Magi, who represented the greatest among human beings, searched for the light of God entering the world's darkness. Finding it, they brought their best stuff to the Savior and prostrated themselves before him.

They modeled for us with extreme body language an attitude in approaching Jesus that allows us to experience the awesomeness of his presence and blessings.

This column is offered in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.

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This week's readings

Week of Dec. 30, 2007 - Jan. 5, 2008

Sunday, December 30, 2007
Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Reading I: Sir 3:2-6, 12-14
Reading II: Col 3:12-21 or 3:12-17
Gospel: Mt 2:13-15, 19-23

Monday, December 31, 2007
The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
Reading I: 1 Jn 2:18-21
Gospel: Jn 1:1-18

Tuesday, January 1, 2008
The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Reading I: Nm 6:22-27
Reading II: Gal 4:4-7
Gospel: Lk 2:16-21

Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Memorial of Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory Nazianzen, bishops and doctors of the Church
Reading I: 1 Jn 2:22-28
Gospel: Jn 1:19-28

Thursday, January 3, 2008
Christmas Weekday
Reading I: 1 Jn 2:29--3:6
Gospel: Jn 1:29-34

Friday, January 4, 2008
Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious
Reading I: 1 Jn 3:7-10
Gospel: Jn 1:35-42

Saturday, January 5, 2008
Memorial of Saint John Neumann, bishop
Reading I: 1 Jn 3:11-21
Gospel: Jn 1:43-51

This week's readings

Week of January 6 - 12, 2008

Sunday, January 6, 2008
The Epiphany of the Lord
Reading I: Is 60:1-6
Reading II: Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6
Gospel: Mt 2:1-12

Monday, January 7, 2008
Reading I: 1 Jn 3:22--4:6
Gospel: Mt 4:12-17, 23-25

Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Reading I: 1 Jn 4:7-10
Gospel: Mk 6:34-44

Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Reading I: 1 Jn 4:11-18
Gospel: Mk 6:45-52

Thursday, January 10, 2008
Reading I: 1 Jn 4:19--5:4
Gospel: Lk 4:14-22

Friday, January 11, 2008
Reading I: 1 Jn 5:5-13
Gospel: Lk 5:12-16

Saturday, January 12, 2008
Reading I: 1 Jn 5:14-21
Gospel: Jn 3:22-30

Pope's Prayer Intentions

January General Intention

Christian Unity. That the Church work for full visible unity that better manifests a community of love which reflects the Blessed Trinity.

January Mission Intention

Church in Africa. That the Church in Africa, preparing for a special Synod, may be an instrument of reconciliation and justice.

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