Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Advent Daily Devotionals: The Word Became Flesh: CHRISTMAS DAY


December 25th - Christmas Day 2018
First Reading, Isaiah 52:7-10
Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6
Second Reading, Hebrews 1:1-6
Gospel, John 1:1-18

First ReadingIsaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful on the mountains, are the feet of the messenger announcing peace, of the messenger of good news, who proclaims salvation and says to Zion, 'Your God is king!'
The voices of your watchmen! Now they raise their voices, shouting for joy together, for with their own eyes they have seen Yahweh returning to Zion.
Break into shouts together, shouts of joy, you ruins of Jerusalem; for Yahweh has consoled his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.
Yahweh has bared his holy arm for all the nations to see, and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Responsorial PsalmPsalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6

Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has performed wonders, his saving power is in his right hand and his holy arm.
Yahweh has made known his saving power, revealed his saving justice for the nations to see, mindful of his faithful love and his constancy to the House of Israel. The whole wide world has seen the saving power of our God.
Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth, burst into shouts of joy!
Play to Yahweh on the harp, to the sound of instruments; to the sound of trumpet and horn, acclaim the presence of the King.

Second Reading, Hebrews 1:1-6

At many moments in the past and by many means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our time, the final days, he has spoken to us in the person of his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom he made the ages.
He is the reflection of God's glory and bears the impress of God's own being, sustaining all things by his powerful command; and now that he has purged sins away, he has taken his seat at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high.
So he is now as far above the angels as the title which he has inherited is higher than their own name.
To which of the angels, then, has God ever said: You are my Son, today I have fathered you, or: I shall be a father to him and he a son to me?
Again, when he brings the First-born into the world, he says: Let all the angels of God pay him homage.

GospelJohn 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him. What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it.
man came, sent by God. His name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness to the light, so that everyone might believe through him. He was not the light, he was to bear witness to the light.

The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone; he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognise him.
He came to his own and his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believed in his name who were born not from human stock or human desire or human will but from God himself.
The Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John witnesses to him. He proclaims: 'This is the one of whom I said: He who comes after me has passed ahead of me because he existed before me.'

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received -- one gift replacing another, for the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.

Writer’s Reflection - A Special Advent Devotional from Bethlehem

Crowded streets. Crowds of Christians arriving for the occasion. A surprising amount of Muslims. The Islamic call to prayer and the Christian church bells ringing. Locals calling eagerly as you walk past their stalls on the narrow windy streets. The smell of falafels and shawarma. Camera crews setting up as you walk into the Church of the Nativity. Crowds and a big long queue. Incense and candles. Some waiting... and finally, the star that marks the spot where the Jesus was born.

What a privilege it is for me to write to you from Bethlehem here on Christmas Day; it is truly a day of great joy. Over 2000 years ago in the place I now stand, history changed its course in the most dramatic and scandalous way you could conceive. God, whom man only grasped at, revealed Himself by a supreme act of humility and took flesh to become one of us. He came as Jesus Christ, who is "the reflection of God's glory and bears the stamp of God's own being". Not only did God empty himself to the extreme to be born as a little new born baby of a virgin, it was also through becoming man that he redeemed our fallen humanity, in our place.

Over the last week I have journeyed with Jesus on his earthly life like never before. I ran along the streets of his home town of Nazareth, I manovered the market stalls of Jerusalem and finally, I too, like the shepherds and Magi, visited the place where in a manger once lay the very Word made flesh. It has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life and although I am here in Bethlehem now, I have increasingly been aware of a deeper, more profound journey, one that is the most spectacular of all, one that you too are walking; the journey of life.

That, most special night, which is still one of the biggest, most looked forward to holidays in the world: the word became flesh. Today’s Gospel reading from John is possibly one of the most profound writings we have, which reveal to us the mind of God and the truth of Jesus Christ.  

“In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning…The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone; he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognise him”

How beautiful it is to realise the depths of which God desired to communicate with humankind as we go through our life's journey. As we are reminded in today’s second reading, God previously spoke to our ancestors through the prophets, but His ultimate plan was to speak to us so intimately through Jesus; who was there; waiting for us from the beginning of Creation in an incomprehensible and divine way.

Yet how heart-breaking it is to see that even then; this Saviour that longed to become flesh with us was not recognised, accepted, or loved by His own children. And despite this, He kept on loving – even till death on a cross – a knowledge that God knew and chose out of love for us from the very start.

When we look around the world, especially on this very Christmas Day, Jesus is still softly waiting in the midst. Waiting for people to open their eyes to the truth, to open the eyes to the meaning of Christmas, and to open their hearts to Him.

But despite the darkness of this world – there is still hope – and the truth of Jesus will always shine brighter. "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." One of my favourite quotes is from St Francis of Assisi "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle". Truly, the light that Jesus brings by His presence cannot be overcome or put out, and by His life He has given us life too. The darkness of not knowing how to live, love and be free; the darkness of death and suffering, has been put to contrast with the most perfect of lights. This moment we now celebrate is when that light first shone among us.

So how can we shine? We are told in today’s Gospel that Jesus gave of his fullness of light through "grace and truth". We must BELIEVE and ACCEPT the TRUTH in our intellect that Jesus is God incarnate. Born of the Virgin's womb to redeem humanity, we must RECEIVE the GRACE in our hearts that Jesus wishes to give us. For God never ceases to give; it is our hearts that are often unwilling or hesitant to accept His generosity. We are invited to receive Jesus in grace and truth - and if accepted, our lives will shine with the fullness they were created for.

Life is indeed a journey, and our goal is to be united with God in heaven. This Christmas, let’s get closer to the infant Jesus, and start preparing for eternal joy now by inviting Him into our hearts and seeing Him in everyone around us. We were in darkness, but Light Himself has ignited us; and we should burn as a fire of His love. This is the true meaning of Christmas, and let this Christmas be one in which you bear witness to it.

Today, in Bethlehem, I am praying for all you reading this reflection. May Our Lord bless you abundantly! Have a Happy and Holy Christmas – God bless you!

Prayer Reflection:

Sweetest Child Jesus, as you lay in your Mother’s arms, I entrust myself to You who are my light and love.

Born so small and frail although you are God, I give everything to you, so that I may be as dependant as you were in those first moments.

Come into my heart sweet Child Jesus and make my heart one with your own!

Help me accept everything you wish to give me, especially give me grace and truth.

Mary, Mother of the Child Jesus, Pray for me!

St Joseph, Pray for me! Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for me!

Writer's Bio: Luca McQuillan

Hey :) My name is Luca and I am half Scottish/Hungarian. I study Catholic theology and my aim is to work for the salvation of souls in whatever way God asks of me. I love adventures in any shape or form, travelling, people, art, rollerblading, climbing, swimming and even studying among many other things. Most recently I spent the past year in the St Andrew’s community in Aberdeen, Scotland.

My message to any readers would be, to live life to the full! By this you glorify God! “The glory of God is man fully alive” (CCC 294). God gave you this precious gift and there’s so much you can do if you abandon everything to Him. There is great truth in Jesus words “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

Your life is full when it is lived for God, and this pleases him greatly – so don’t let anything hold you back!! :D 


Monday, 24 December 2018

Advent Daily Devotional: You Little Child: 24th Dec


First Reading, Second Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16

Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29

Gospel, Luke 1:67-79

First Reading, Second Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16

Once the king had settled into his palace and Yahweh had granted him rest from all the enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, 'Look, I am living in a cedar-wood palace, while the ark of God is under awnings.'
Nathan said to the king, 'Go and do whatever you have in mind, for Yahweh is with you.'
But that very night, the word of Yahweh came to Nathan: 'Go and tell my servant David, "Yahweh says this: Are you to build me a temple for me to live in?
This is what you must say to my servant David, "Yahweh Sabaoth says this: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you wherever you went; I have got rid of all your enemies for you. I am going to make your fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth.
I am going to provide a place for my people Israel; I shall plant them there, and there they will live and never be disturbed again; nor will they be oppressed by the wicked any more, as they were in former times ever since the time when I instituted judges to govern my people Israel; and I shall grant you rest from all your enemies. Yahweh furthermore tells you that he will make you a dynasty.
Your dynasty and your sovereignty will ever stand firm before me and your throne be for ever secure." '

Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
For you have said: love is built to last for ever, you have fixed your constancy firm in the heavens.
 'I have made a covenant with my Chosen One, sworn an oath to my servant David:
I have made your dynasty firm for ever, built your throne stable age after age.
The heavens praise your wonders, Yahweh, your constancy in the gathering of your faithful.
So I shall make him my first-born, the highest of earthly kings.
I have established his dynasty for ever, his throne to be as lasting as the heavens.

Gospel, Luke 1:67-79
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited his people, he has set them free, and he has established for us a saving power in the House of his servant David,  just as he proclaimed, by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient times, that he would save us from our enemies and from the hands of all those who hate us, and show faithful love to our ancestors, and so keep in mind his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, that he would grant us, free from fear, to be delivered from the hands of our enemies, to serve him in holiness and uprightness in his presence, all our days.
And you, little child, you shall be called Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare a way for him, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the faithful love of our God in which the rising Sun has come from on high to visit us, to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow dark as death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Writer’s Reflection
Christmas Day is just one day away, and what a special journey we have shared together this Advent, drawing closer to God through reflecting on the words of scripture from each daily devotional. In today’s first reading, God asks an important question to King David, that he softly asks each one of us as we eagerly await Jesus’ coming as the little infant child tomorrow –“are you to build me a temple for me to live in?”
When I think of some of the beautiful churches I’ve been blessed to visit, I sometimes forget in my awe of them that their purpose is not to glorify the building itself, but through it, to move us to glorify God. At the heart of the Catholic Church, the tabernacle contains the Blessed Sacrament, where God is divinely present, yet the ultimate dwelling place He seeks to find rest and intimacy in is within our very hearts. Looking back on my teenage years, I remember my mum’s gentle yet constant reminder to me before I would leave the house “Be safe, trust in God, and remember your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”. For 16 year old me, the last line always used to make me cringe, because I would see what else she was hinting at, but now, I realise how true and life-changing her words were.
As St Paul asks us in 2 Corinthians 13:5, do we realise that Jesus Christ is in us? When we truly take to heart that the Creator of the universe and our very being, chooses to use us as His tabernacle, it should compel us to change our lives to be worthy for His presence. Think about the way we frantically prepare our lives for guests at Christmas; we decorate our homes, cook the food, buy the presents and beautify ourselves. But then looking into our own hearts, how do we prepare our souls for the greatest guest we could ever host, Jesus Christ?
This topic of preparing our souls for Jesus is one that many saints have urged us to do. In the first chapter of her book ‘The Interior Castle’, St Teresa of Avilla compares the human soul to a castle made of a diamond, with each facet a room. She discusses the different rooms as degrees of prayer, whereby entering each room is entering deeper into our understanding of ourselves and what we are created for, and through this we drawer nearer to God Himself; who rests at the very centre of this diamond caste. Yet like St Paul, St Teresa points out a reality of the understanding of our souls very early on; “Rarely do we reflect upon what gifts our souls may possess, Who dwells within them, or how extremely precious they are. All our care is concentrated on our bodies, which are but the coarse setting of the diamond, or the outer walls of the castle”.
In truth, we put so much effort into our outward appearance in terms of how we look or how others perceive us; that we forget to nurture, protect and value our inward souls for Christ, lying within. Do our outward actions, words, thoughts and emotions reflect the inward graces and gifts that God is blessing us with? Or do we sacrifice or hide them, for concern over our outer selves? Often, this concern for our outer selves is paradoxically more damaging to us; through the bad choices we make in life, the tempting influences we give into, or the diminished respect and love we have for ourselves despite the image that God created us in.
Yet when God sees us as infinitely precious, and chooses to dwell in each one of us out of His love for us - how could anything else be more important? The same Jesus that chose to be born into a messy stable, chooses to live through the messiness of our own lives; and it is because of His presence within us that we have true life. As we are reminded in today’s Gospel message, Jesus came to bring light to those in darkness, and through His light burning within us we are called to shine out His truth to others.
Ultimately, through preparing our souls and building our heart’s temples for Jesus, God is calling us to sainthood. This year a beautiful homily on All Saint’s Day was said about how saints are like the stained glass windows in church; their beauty and awe is only revealed when the light shines THROUGH them– and that is how to direct others to God. For God’s light to shine through us, we need to centre our hearts on all that is good, and turn away from anything that causes it to be dimmed. We need to be confident of our worth, our identity, and our value - for Christ lives in us. 
So, as we draw Advent to its completion –remember the little child of Christ that entered into our world 2000 years ago, but also ask Him to enter into your life more intimately than ever before. You little child – you are so loved, so blessed and so precious to Him – so welcome Christ this Christmas to form His home in you. 
Prayer Reflection:
Dear Jesus,
As we await for your coming into our world this Christmas Eve, let our hearts be open to your presence.
Let us remember the love you have built to last forever; and let us remember that our home is with you.
Help us to live our lives worthy of your presence within us.
Thank you for drawing us closer to You this Christmas, and let us drawer closer each day in our journey with you.
In Jesus name,

Writer’s Bio: Theresita Joseph

Hi everyone, I’m Theresita, and I currently run the Y2K blog page. I’m 23 years old and am a medical student studying at UCL. I’m a big fan of journaling, science, singing in the shower, buying lots of flowers and consuming (a bit too much) wine.

2018 has taken me on a big adventure of moving to a little city in Scotland, where I’ve been undertaking a Masters project in Parkinson’s disease research; a condition very close to my family’s heart. This year has undoubtedly been the biggest and most exciting year of my life in strengthening my faith and love in God, and am excited to see where He leads me in the year ahead.

My message to all readers would be to begin your journey with God at whatever point of life you’re at now – it’s so easy to delay it for fear of the unknown, doubts or lack of trust – but once you start it’s a path you won’t want to stop following. Seek out your faith, read the Bible, talk to others; and be open to change. Take a risk and give God your worries, doubts, fears and joys – and let a mustard seed of faith begin to grow that He will transform. Be not afraid!


Sunday, 23 December 2018

Advent Daily Devotionals: Peace Himself: 23rd Dec

Sunday 23rd December: 4th Sunday of Advent
Readings of the Day:
First Reading: Micah 5:1-4
Responsorial PsalmPsalms 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Second Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10
GospelLuke 1:39-45

Reading 1, Micah 5:1-4
But you (Bethlehem) Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come for me a future ruler of Israel whose origins go back to the distant past, to the days of old. Hence Yahweh will abandon them only until she who is in labour gives birth, and then those who survive of his race will be reunited to the Israelites. He will take his stand and he will shepherd them with the power of Yahweh, with the majesty of the name of his God, and they will be secure, for his greatness will extend henceforth to the most distant parts of the country. He himself will be peace! Should the Assyrian invade our country, should he set foot in our land, we shall raise seven shepherds against him, eight leaders of men.

Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

Over Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh; rouse your valour and come to our help. God, bring us back, let your face shine on us and we shall be safe. Protect what your own hand has planted. They have thrown it on the fire like dung, the frown of your rebuke will destroy them. Never again will we turn away from you, give us life and we will call upon your name. God Sabaoth, bring us back, let your face shine on us and we shall be safe.

Second Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10
And that is why he said, on coming into the world:

You wanted no sacrifice or cereal offering, but you gave me a body. You took no pleasure in burnt offering or sacrifice for sin; then I said, 'Here I am, I am coming,' in the scroll of the book it is written of me, to do your will, God.

He says first “You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the cereal offerings, the burnt offerings and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them”; and then he says: “Here I am! I am coming to do your will”. He is abolishing the first sort to establish the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ made once and for all.

Gospel, Luke 1:39-45

Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah. She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, 'Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.'

Writer’s Reflection

I follow Sister Aletheia (@pursuedbythruth) on Instagram. She did a video last month on giving her book ‘Momento Mori’ as a gift to family members this Christmas. Several people unfollowed her after she suggested that, at Christmas, reminding Christians that they are going to die is a good thing. Today’s readings are a perfect example of why she is right. Bear with me…

The first reading shows us that Mary birthing Christ in Bethlehem was long foretold. What’s more, people joyfully anticipated that ‘He himself will be peace!’. I know it sounds silly, but when I read that, I think: ‘I know Him! Peace! Yeh, His name is Jesus’. That is a blessing in and of itself – to be able to recognise Him now, from what was prophesised of old.
The Gospel tells us, moreover, that Mary was ‘blessed’ because she ‘believed the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled’. Even before knowing Christ, Mary believed that God the Father would send a saviour to the world. This saviour would not be like the prophets of old, nor the kings, nor priests offering repeated sacrifice. As St Paul says, ‘He abolishes sacrifices, because He gave himself as the eternal sacrifice’.

Every Advent, we join in the waiting of generation after generation of people, who hoped for a saviour and eternal life with God. The birth of Jesus signifies the giving of that gift to us. But Jesus saved us through His death, and we can only enter into eternal life with Him once we die.* The birth of Jesus may have pointed towards the past, as it was prophesised, but Christmas should point towards our future too. One day we will die, and the sacrifices we make in our lives will only be relevant to the extent that they are joined to the ‘eternal sacrifice’ of Jesus’ death.

St Therese of Lisieux has a beautiful quote saying, ‘the world is thy ship and not thy home’. What a reminder. I can get so bogged-down in the cares of this world and forget that it is not my home. Though Jesus became man, this world was not His home either. Our home is in heaven, and Jesus died so we could be there with Him (‘To live in heaven is to be with Christ’ – CCC #1025).

The readings remind me that I should jump for joy, like Elizabeth, when I am moved by the Holy Spirit, I should believe all His promises for me will be fulfilled. Most of all, I am reminded that dying is not such a morbid thing after all. Jesus’ whole reason for coming to earth was to release us from the chains of death and make it a joyful thing. For whilst we can know ‘peace himself’ in this life, only in the next can that be made perfect and everlasting.

Perhaps Saint John the Baptist leapt in the womb at Christ’s presence, because already he knew his destination.

*CCC 1025 To live in heaven is "to be with Christ." The elect live "in Christ,"600 but they retain, or rather find, their true identity, their own name.601 For life is to be with Christ; where Christ is, there is life, there is the kingdom.602


Please join me in praying for the dead, especially all the souls in purgatory, that they might soon see the face of God:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Writer Bio: Miriam David

Hello, my name is Miriam. I am 21 and currently praying my way through the fourth and final year of a Politics degree at the University of Exeter.

I secretly still want to be in Canada, where I spent my year abroad pretending to study Politics and actually learning how to be a multiplying missionary disciple for Christ with the help of Catholic Christian Outreach. When I look back on my faith journey, I can see how important it was that other Catholics my age loved me as an individual and took the time to help me grow in faith.

Reader, please do that for someone. Attend a Catholic event this week, invite someone else along, step outside of your comfort zone, and offer to pray with them. If you are invited, please remember our Blessed Mother, and say ‘yes’.


Saturday, 22 December 2018

Advent Daily Devotional: Purity of Intention: 22nd Dec


Reading 1, First Samuel 1:24-28

Responsorial Psalm, First Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8
Gospel, Luke 1:46-56

Reading 1, First Samuel 1:24-28
When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, as well as a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and took him into the temple of Yahweh at Shiloh; the child was very young.
 They sacrificed the bull and led the child to Eli. She said, 'If you please, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood beside you here, praying to Yahweh. This is the child for which I was praying, and Yahweh has granted me what I asked of him. Now I make him over to Yahweh for the whole of his life. He is made over to Yahweh.' They then worshipped Yahweh there.

Responsorial Psalm, First Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8
Hannah then prayed as follows: My heart exults in Yahweh, in my God is my strength lifted up, my mouth derides my foes, for I rejoice in your deliverance.
The bow of the mighty has been broken but those who were tottering are now braced with strength.
The full fed are hiring themselves out for bread but the hungry need labour no more; the barren woman bears sevenfold but the mother of many is left desolate. Yahweh gives death and life, brings down to Sheol and draws up; Yahweh makes poor and rich, he humbles and also exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust, he lifts the needy from the dunghill to give them a place with princes, to assign them a seat of honour; for to Yahweh belong the pillars of the earth, on these he has poised the world.

Gospel, Luke 1:46-56
And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him.
He has used the power of his arm, he has routed the arrogant of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly.
He has filled the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love -according to the promise he made to our ancestors -- of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.
Mary stayed with her some three months and then went home.

Writer’s reflection

Last month I found myself with the kind of personal time and space that inspires reflection and a deepening one’s faith. Reflecting on how best to prepare for advent I decided to participate in the Marian retreat (’33 Days to Morning Glory’) initiated by Fr Stephen at Newman House. If I’m honest, till then I had never actively sought to have a relationship with Mary beyond praying a decade of the rosary a few times a year. I accepted that Mary played an incredibly significant part in our salvation through her ‘yes’ to God and Jesus’ giving her to us as our spiritual mother before his death. Yet how she actively transforms our hearts as a role model and intercessor remained a mystery.

Undoubtedly the reflection that riveted my heart most was Day 8, reflecting on St Maximillian Kolbe’s prayer to Mary: “what will become of me? In a vision of Mary, the saint saw her holding out to him a white crown and a red crown:

“The white crown of purity came first…[yet] his purity was not just of the body…[but also] purity of intention. A person practises purity of intention when he directs his thoughts, words, and actions not to himself or another creature but to a divine purpose or mission and ultimately to God
-       33 Days to Morning Glory, page 12
Viewing Mary’s words in today’s gospel through the lens of ‘purity of intention’ is incredibly transformative because what once seemed like an exaltation of God’s work in Mary’s life alone reveals itself as a both call to purity of intention and a pathway towards practising this in our own lives. The truth behind these words doesn’t end in praise for God but gives substance to Mary’s internal nature: her total reliance and gift of self to God. This transformation of faith and intention is a gift of the Holy Spirit, but it is Mary, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, who helps us prepare our hearts for this gift.

Practising purity of intention is so important because when we strip everything in our lives down to foundation level - our actions, our hobbies, our work, our words, our faith – what we are left with is relation: our relation to God, our relation to self and our relation to others. We are called to build upon each of these relations with unyielding Love through our thoughts, words and actions.

Through meditating with this passage, I have found several features revealed as pathways to purity of intention when I asked myself “Mary, what will become of me?”

“He has routed the arrogant of heart”. Often, we confuse arrogance with the pride or purposefulness felt in speaking truth to ignorance – this is absolutely false. Arrogance is so destructive because it leads us to falsely believe that we are justified in making others feel small and belittled, as if we were the creative power behind knowledge. In arrogance we forget that we too once were ignorant, and that ultimate truth is revealed from God alone. Instead, humility and compassion are presented as the loving antidote to leading others into truth. This only comes when we direct our intention away from being right and admired because of who we are alone, and toward speaking truth because it is the ultimate source of good for the other – in short it opens us to receive the gift of wisdom.

If all we have ultimately are our relations, then we should be asking ourselves: what is the core belief fundamentally driving my intentions toward my relationship with God, myself and others?

Mary tells us in today's Gospel that his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him”. Fear in this context is synonymous with ‘wonder’ and ‘awe’; Holy fear inspires great love of God and fills us with a sense of the enormity and greatness of his love above all else. This above all us – fundamentally recognising the enormity of how we are loved – is what should be driving our intentions. When we realise the life altering truth of how God loves us we should be driven to live out and share the light that our faith casts in such a way that everything we do can be a force of love.

Mary realised this in such a radical way that she exclaims From now onwards all generations will call me blessed”. This is faithfulness for what is to come rather than what has been, because she understood – and shows us today – that orientating every aspect of yourself towards purity of intention is the only way to fully live as love.

“Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see”

Soren Kierkegaard

During the last days of Advent, I encourage you to simply ponder the question “Mary, what will become of me?”, meditating over the Magnificat and reflecting over our understanding of purity of intention. If, like me, you have never explored your relationship with Mary I encourage you to listen to Fr Stephen’s homily (below) and consider the 33-day retreat (each reflection takes 15 mins per day).

Prayer intention:
Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit, help us to learn from your example of purity of intention, to direct our thoughts, actions and words toward what is loving and good in our relationship with God, ourselves and others. Help us to put aside pride and arrogance and fill our souls with a desire for God’s will and wisdom in every aspect of our lives. Amen.

Fr Stephen’s homily: The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the true meaning of Consecration to Jesus through Mary, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=untZB3gUqlQ

Writer's Bio: Kirsten Marys Brown

Hey guys - I’m Kirsten! You’ll always catch me with a book to hand (currently I’m reading Brene Brown’s ‘Daring Greatly’ and JPII’s ‘Love and Responsibility’) and a big ol’ smile! I love all things absurd, surreal and everything to do with the brain. I could eat pistachio ice-cream all dang year and I write poetry about mental health and identity (IG @kirsten_marys). I’m an anthropologist and neuroscientist, though when I’m not doing either of those I’m probably watching The Office…

My message? Living life with purity of intention and deep vulnerability means I’m going to get my butt kicked, face pain and disappointment, but I’m also going to experience joy and deep love in my relationships and a sense of worthiness before God. Go read/watch Brene Brown now!

“[Real] doesn’t happen all at once” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
(The Velveteen Rabbit)

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