God is All About Re-Gifting


As secular society brushes off Christmas for another year, Catholics know very well that Christmas never truly ends because, at the end of the day, giving never ends.  You see, secular society has Christmas all wrong and, in fact, has it upside down, as it has so many things that truly matter.  For secular society, Christmas is all about getting gifts or finding the gift that will make us look good.  Sure, people often get excited about finding the right gift, and that is certainly better than being simply obsessed with getting gifts, as some are. However, this focus is still far more superficial and fleeting than it should be.  We have all heard that “it is better to give than to receive” and with good reason. The road to sanctity and holiness is paved with unselfish humility lined with unconditional love and service.   The saints certainly provide us with scores of examples of unselfish giving with love, and that is certainly a part of the Christmas we should embrace.

As noted above, most of secular society’s concern with Christmas is figuring out ways to make a buck off people’s desire to give or get the perfect gift.  Even more sadly, the remaining focus is on figuring out ways to make a buck off people’s dissatisfaction with the gifts they did get.  The mantra seems to be “pay us to be the perfect giver” and “pay us to turn  bad gifts into good ones”.   There is nothing inherently wrong with returning gifts we cannot use or prefer to exchange for something else. The problem lies when we focus too much on gifting as some sort of equal exchange or, perhaps worse, some sort of investment on achieving more of what we want.

In our society and media, re-gifting, or having someone give a gift they have received as a gift to someone else,  is often mocked as a cheap way of turning those gifts into bargains.  We often see how TV characters are deeply offended upon discovering that some gift they gave has been re-gifted. The greatest joke, of course, is when we receive our original gift back from an oblivious or forgetful recipient.  This is supposed to be  deep gash or insult demonstrating ingratitude, rejection, and who knows what other evils.

This is not, however, God’s take on gifting.  He wants us to re-git as much as possible, spreading what He has blessed us with to as many other folks as we can.  Recall how the servants who re-invested and spread the talents received were praised while the servant who merely hid his talent was criticized and lost what he was given.  God does not want us to hide our gifts for ourselves, for that defeats the original purpose and potential of the gift in the first place.  No, on the contrary, God calls us to use our gifts to serve others and bring glory to Him.  In a sense, he who re-gifts God’s gifts is doing God’s work and following Christ’s example to a tee.  Think about the gifts God has given you, and about the ways you can use those gifts to change lives for the better.  If you do, you will surely be celebrating Christmas, and giving, all year round.

Gabriel Garnica   Copyright 2014,  all rights reserved.

Bethlehem’s Lessons


Amid this selfie society so immersed in our preoccupation, nay, our obsession with our personal agendas, it might be refreshing to consider the lessons found in that Bethlehem so long ago.  To begin with, we should ask ourselves if ever look “up” toward Heaven with enough frequency to even catch a glimpse of the star which beckons us toward Christ.  Are we so transfixed in the secular, the mundane, the everyday, and the here and now that we lose sight of Christ’s signs in our lives, reaching out to invite us toward His infinite love, mercy, compassion, and tenderness?  I regret to bet that we have each, at one time or another, lost more opportunities to approach Christ than we have seized.  Forget about stopping to smell the roses. Try stopping to glimpse, to feel, to inhale, Christ’s Presence in our lives and His call to action.

Likewise, have we so filled our lives with stuff, with useless entertainment, amusement, and other superficial trash that we truly have no room at the inn of our soul for both Our Lord and the example of His Holy Family shivering in the cold?  Do we even bother to hear the knock on our door, much less open that door, when Christ beckons us amid a world increasingly cold to His message.  Are we so determined to warm ourselves and our toys in the glow of this world’s measures that we leave Our Lord out in the cold and darkness, away from our sight, external and internal?  It is time to reach for and open that door, and make that room, for those Holy Visitors who bring the real light, the real warmth to our cozy, flimsy, and earthly abodes.

Have we considered the silent holiness of humility?  Are we more prone to boast, to affirm our unique greatness, to flash our possessions and accomplishments, than shift the focus to others? Consider that the Savior of The World chose to be born in cold poverty amid barn animals, to be rejected even before He was born, to be subjected to every humiliation as quickly as possible into His earthly mission. Now consider how much we dread even the most marginal slight, the most minimal misstep toward our person.  Do we value ourselves so highly above others that, faced with the mistreatment we must all face at one time or another, we cry bloody murder and demand exacting compensation and justice?  How can we, defective creatures that we are, demand such payment when the most innocent and perfect King neither demanded it nor received it?  Clearly, it is time for us to get a Bethlehem reality check.

Consider that the angels announced Our Lord’s birth, not to royalty, wealth, or prestige but, quite the contrary, to poor peasants of little earthly importance, where such an announcement would most likely find welcoming ears and hearts.  Do we relish associating with power, prestige, and money above surrounding ourselves with the powerless, voiceless, marginalized, and poor?  Do we reach out to those who cannot pay us back in any way, or do we help seeking later interest?  Perhaps the fastest path to Heaven may be found precisely in the directions, and people, which this earth most ignores, most  mocks, most ridicules as a waste of time.

Speaking of payback, are we all about gifts to us, or do we consider the gifts  God has given us as the best kind of re-gifting possible.  Perhaps we have a duty to identify our gifts and use them to help others, to bring them closer to God by bringing God closer to them.  Consider that we may be more judged and how well and how much we re-gifted our gifts to others seeking to serve the greater glory of God.  The Magi brought their gifts to Our Lord; are we all about doing the same or, on the contrary, are we all about bringing our gifts to ourselves?

Consider the jealousy of Herod in seeking to destroy the Holy Child, all in the name of earthly power.  Are we so consumed with grasping the dirt of this earth that we become mired in the mud of its very temporary nature?  Who would lose their eternity to earn a moment of pleasure in this world?  Perhaps we should consider that anything gained without Christ is a waste of time.  Perhaps we will someday realize that earthly power, prestige, and gain are merely chains  holding us from rising to our true eternal potential.  Money is not a bad thing, as long as we keep it in perspective.  The only noble value of power is to use that power to change lives for the better, not serve our personal purposes.  Consider the murder of the innocents brought about by earthly convenience. Are we not living in a world where this evil is hailed as law and as a noble human right?

Consider that the Holy Family fled for safety because they were open, and obedient, to God’s guidance. Trust in His Will, and contentment with that Will, are critical ingredients if we are to find holiness and salvation in this present world.  The sooner we realize that we must be passengers in God’s bus, and never drivers, the better off we will be.

Lastly, it will be to our best interest to realize that we are no farther from that Bethlehem of so long ago than we were a thousand years ago. In fact, the more we consider ourselves so far advanced, so much more civilized and modernized, from that town so distant in time and space from our tech world, the closer we are to that very village we consider so far below our standards.  We are truly a high-tech Bethlehem, so preoccupied with self, with amusement, with personal agendas, that we consider Christ something between an interesting ornament and an annoying woodpecker reminding us that our thrones and obsessions are mere dust in the eternal perspective.  Like that Bethlehem of long ago, we spend one third of our time ignoring Christ,  another third pushing Him conveniently out of the way to some corner, and a final third of the time trying, directly or indirectly, to stamp Him out of our lives lest He bring discomfort to our desperate comfort.

Consider the lessons of Bethlehem.  Perhaps we will realize that, try as we might to deny it, we are all citizens of our own Bethlehem on steroids.  Given that realization, we might ask ourselves if we will be shivering in the Holy Warmth of Our Savior’s Divine Innocence or basking in the empty warmth of our divine comforts.

Copyright, 2013  Gabriel Garnica   All rights reserved.

 

Translation of Original Colombian Advent Novena…Maybe Next Year You can Start One….


Origins of The Colombian Advent Novena (“Novena de Aguinaldo”)

This central Colombian Advent tradition dates back to the 1700s when Fray Fernando de Jesus Larrea, a student priest born in Quito, wrote La Novena de Aguinaldos for Mrs. Clemencia de Jesus Caycedo Velez, the founder of La Ensenanza, a Catholic school in Bogota, Colombia.

Many years later, in the 1800s, a nun from the same Catholic school, Sister Maria Ignacia, (background below) modified the Novena de Aguinaldos by adding the Joys ( “Los Gozos”), which are the verses often sung at the end of the daily and day-specific prayers of the Novena. Families would often sing together using everything from guitars and other actual instruments to homemade rattles and the tops of pots.  The unique beauty and transcendental inspiration of this tradition and this Novena is its foundation rooted in the traditional Colombian family who, praying and singing together, joyfully praise and await the Divine Child.  Embracing the Holy Infant even as they embrace each other in familial prayer and song, Colombian families and friends come together in this beautiful, unique, and generational connection to a colonial Colombia for whom Christmas was, clearly, a moving and core event.

In this world, and society, which not only tolerates, but even embraces, the rejection of innocent, Infant life on a daily basis, it should not be surprising that the most innocent, and important, Infant of all, the Child Jesus, is increasingly rejected, ignored, and pushed out of His own birthday. This beautiful Novena and its lyrical joys stand as echoes from a spiritually rich, and profoundly devoted, Colombian past reminding us that Christmas is about Christ.

This translation is dedicated to The Divine Infant and His Most Blessed Mother, and was conceived by my wife, Patricia, and myself with the idea of spreading this rich Colombian Advent tradition among English speaking people.  As in all poetry, the lyrical quality of Sister Ignacia’s  beautiful sentiments and phrases is lost in the translation.  Therefore, with deep respect and reverence to her magnificent effort, I took the liberty of creating phrases which combine her original thoughts with lyrical changes to provide the Joys with a similar lyrical tone as found in their original Spanish form.  Any comments or suggestions are welcomed at gbgmyarticles@yahoo.com

Gabriel Garnica      December, 2012

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertilda_Samper_Acosta  

 

 

 

 

Advent Prayers

As Translated into English by Gabriel Garnica and dedicated to the Divine Infant and His Most Blessed Mother

 

Opening Prayer

Most Benign God of infinite charity Who so much loved mankind that Thou has given by  Thy Son the greatest gift of Thy love so that, made Man in a Virgin’s womb, He was born in a manger for our benefit and remedy;  I, in the name of all mortals, give You infinite thanks for such a sovereign benefit.

In return I offer you the poverty, humility, and other virtues of Thy Son made Man, pleading by His Divine merits, by the discomforts of His birth, and by the tender tears that He shed in the manger,  that He may infuse our hearts with a profound humility, with an ignited heart, with such scorn for the temporal, that Jesus may have in these virtues His crib and remain  there eternally, Amen.   (3 Glory Be )

Day 1

The Life of The Eternal Word within His Father was marvelous and yet, divine mystery, He sought another dwelling, a created mansion, not because His eternal mansion lacked anything for His eternal happiness, but because His infinite mercy longed for the redemption and salvation of humanity, which without Him could not be achieved. Adam’s sin had offended God, and that infinite offense could only be forgiven through the merits of that very same God. Adam’s race had disobeyed and merited an eternal punishment, thus, it was necessary to save that race and satisfy its fault that God, without leaving Heaven, take the form of a man and, with obedience to the dictates of His Father, atone  for that disobedience, ingratitude, and rebellion.  That is why the Eternal Word, burning with desire to save mankind, resolved to make Himself human as well, and thus redeem the guilty.

Day 2

The Eternal Word was about to take Its created nature in the holy house of Nazareth where Mary and Joseph lived. When the Divine Decree overshadowed and came over Her, Mary was alone in deep prayer, passing the silent hours of the night in the most intimate union with God; and while She prayed, the Word took possession of His created Dwelling.  However, The Word did not arrive unexpectedly, sending a messenger beforehand in the form of The Archangel St. Gabriel, to ask Mary, in the Name of God, Her consent for the Incarnation. The Creator did not want to carry out this great mystery without the consent of His child.

Day 3

In this way the Child Jesus began His life Incarnate. Let us consider the Glorious Soul and the Holy Body that He had taken, adoring  them profoundly. Firstly, admiring the Soul of that Divine Child, let us consider in that Soul the completeness of  Its Beatific Science, through which from the very first moment of His life He saw the Divine Essence  more clearly that all of the angels, and read  past and future with all of its details and knowledge.

Day 4

Let us consider that, from His Mother’s womb, the Child Jesus began to put in practice His eternal submission to God, which continued without any interruption throughout His entire life. He adored His Eternal Father, He loved Him, He surrendered to His Will;  He accepted with resignation the state in which He found Himself, knowing all of its weakness, its humiliation, its discomforts. Who among us would return to such a state while in full control of our senses and reason?  It was through such a path that the Divine Child began His painful and humiliating  career; it was thus that He began to humble Himself  before His Father; to teach us what God deserves from His children; to atone for our pride, the source of all of our sins.

Day 5

We have seen the life led by the Infant Jesus in the womb of His Mother most pure; Let us today consider the life led by Mary during that same period of time.  Mary never ceased aspiring for the moment in which She would enjoy the Earthly Beatific Vision; the Face of God Incarnate. She was at the point of seeing that Human Face which would illuminate Heaven eternally.  She was going to read the filial love in those very same eyes whose rays would forever scatter joy among millions of chosen ones. She would witness them in the apparent ignorance and innocence of infancy, the particular charm of youth, and in the severe reflections of maturity.

Day 6

Let us consider that Jesus had been conceived in Nazareth, domicile of Joseph and Mary, and it would have been there, in all probability, where one would have expected Him to be born. However, God had arranged things in another way and the prophets had announced that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judah, city of David.  In order to fulfill this prediction, God made use of a seemingly totally unrelated means; the order given by Emperor Augustus that all subjects of the Roman Empire register for a census in their place of origin. Mary and Joseph, as descendants of David, were thus obligated to go to Bethlehem.

Day 7

Let us consider the trip of Mary and Joseph toward Bethlehem, carrying with them the yet unborn Creator of The Universe, made Man.  Let us contemplate upon the humility and obedience of that Divine Child who, although of Jewish race and having loved His people for centuries with an unexplainable predilection, now obeys a foreign ruler’s dictate that a census be held, as if He was taking advantage of the moment to fulfill a role as an authentic subject of that ruler from the moment He came to this world.

 

 

Day 8

Joseph and Mary arrive in Bethlehem, seeking shelter in the Inns without success, either because they find them full or because of their own poverty. However, nothing can disturb the inner peace of those fixed on God.  If Joseph experienced sadness upon being rejected house by house, thinking of Mary and the Child, he also smiled with holy tranquility upon looking at his chaste spouse.  The still unborn Child delighted in these refusals which were a prelude of His approaching humiliations.  This is what He had come to find.  The desire for those humiliations had been the motivation for Him to take human form.

Day 9

But now, midnight has arrived, and we suddenly see within that manger, shortly before empty, the Divine Child, expected, foretold, desired during four thousand years with such indescrible longing!  At His feet kneels His Most Saintly Mother in the depths of an adoration which nothing can approach.  Joseph also approaches Him and renders Him homage with which He inaugurates his mysterious and imponderable role of putative father to the Redeemer of mankind.  The multitude  of angels descending from Heaven to contemplate this unequalled wonder, vibrate the harmonies of that Glory in Excelsis in the air, which is the echo of the adoration produced before the Throne of the Most High made perceptible for an instant in the ears of the mere earth below. Convened by these angels, groups of shepherds from the area arrive to adore the newly born Child and present their most humble offerings.

Oh, adorable Child, we too, who have made this novena to prepare for the day of Your birth, want to present our humble adoration. Do not reject it.  Come to our souls, come to our hearts full of love.  Ignite in them a devotion to Your Holy infancy.  A devotion which, truly practiced and zealously propagated, will guide us to eternal life, freeing us from sin and planting in us all of the Christian values.

Prayer To The Blessed Virgin Mary

Sovereign Mary, Who by Thy great virtues and especially by Thy  humility, did merit to be chosen Mother of God, I plead with You to prepare and dispose of my soul, and the souls of all praying this Novena, for the spiritual birth of Thy Adored Son.

Oh sweet Mother, express something of the profound devotion and divine tenderness with which Thou held Him so that we could be made less unworthy to see, love, and adore Him for all eternity.   ( 3  Hail Marys )

 

Prayer To St. Joseph

Oh, Holiest Joseph, spouse of Mary and adoptive father of Jesus!  I give infinite thanks to God Almighty for having chosen You for such a high ministry and  having adorned You with all of the gifts proportionate to such an excellent stature. I plead that by the love which Thou had for the Divine Child, thou may embrace me with a fervent desire to see and receive Him sacramentally, while in His Divine Essence I may see and enjoy Him in Heaven.  Amen  ( Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be)

Joys

My sweet Jesus, my adored Child and Way………………………………………..Come to our souls, please do not delay!

Oh supreme wisdom,  Sovereign God and King, as a child before us, our hope to bring               Oh Divine Infant, come to reveal,  a truth and a prudence, we can truly feel.

My sweet Jesus, my adored Child and Way………………………………………..Come to our souls, please do not delay!

Oh Sacred Root, of Joseph that brings, your fragrant scent, upon Angels’ wings                  Sweetest Child, our anguish healed, “Lily of the Valley, sublime flower of the field”

My sweet Jesus, my adored Child and Way………………………………………..Come to our souls, please do not delay!

Oh Light from the East, Eternal Ray in our night, show us the path, through this earthly fight                                 Precious Child, Christians’ joy to behold, Whose Smile glows within us, turning back the cold

My sweet Jesus, my adored Child and Way………………………………………..Come to our souls, please do not delay!

King of nations, Israel’s Emmanuel so traced, Shepherd of His people, His flock most embraced Child tends His charges, with loving staff sound, whether wild sheep, or gentle lamb found

My sweet Jesus, my adored Child and Way………………………………………..Come to our souls, please do not delay!

Heavens open wide, with rain from above, benign shower, holy peace of the dove                    Come sublime Child, man’s mortality healed, God made man, budding flower of the field

My sweet Jesus, my adored Child and Way………………………………………..Come to our souls, please do not delay!

Come that Mary, anticipates Her embrace, to hold and behold, Your Heavenly Face                Come that Joseph, with sacred longing’s pine, awaits and arranges, Your earthly shrine

My sweet Jesus, my adored Child and Way………………………………………..Come to our souls, come do not delay!

Help of the weak, protection in sorrow, solace in affliction, the outcast’s tomorrow                   Life of my life, my vision sublime, my constant friend, my Brother Divine

My sweet Jesus, my adored Child and Way………………………………………..Come to our souls, come do not delay!

Look upon my eyes, enamored with Thee, kissing Thy hands, kissing Thy feet                                   My arms stretch before You, and beyond my words’ tries,  my heart does implore you,  my now constant cries

My sweet Jesus, my adored Child and Way………………………………………..Come to our souls, come do not delay!

Come our dear Savior, for Whom we do sigh

My sweet Jesus, my adored Child and Way………………………………………..Come to our souls, come do not delay!

 

Prayer To The Infant Jesus

Remember, Oh most Sweet Child Jesus, Thy words to the venerable Margarita of The Blessed Sacrament, and through her to all of Thy devoted, these ever consoling words for our overwhelmed and mourning humanity.  “Everything that you ask, ask by the merits of My Infancy and nothing shall be denied of you.”  Full of confidence in You, Oh Jesus, Who art Truth itself, we place our misery before Thee. Help us to lead a saintly life, in order to thus obtain a favorable eternity.  Concede us, by the infinite merits of Thy incarnation and Infancy, the graces which we need so much.  We place ourselves in Your Hands, Oh omnipotent Child, certain that our hopes will not be dashed, and that by virtue of Thy Divine Promise , Thou will receive and serve our pleas favorably, Amen.

 

Copyright, 2012,  Gabriel Garnica   All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom of The Wise Men Story


The recent feast of the Epiphany tells of Magi bearing gifts being led to a King by a star and, just as a star has 5 points, so too this story carries 5 points for us to keep in mind as well.

First, the Magi represent the fact that God’s loving welcome is extended to all people from all backgrounds. After all, did they not come from different lands far away to  adore the newborn King?  While the Bible makes it clear that the Jews are God’s chosen people, it often reminds us, through the work and words of St. Paul as well as this instance, that God is there for all of us, without distinction.  We must remember this when injustice, intolerance, and inclusion are terms so often thrown around for political and social convenience.  Many wishing to twist God’s Word to include various questionable behaviors often argue that God is about unity and unconditional love, which is true up to a point. While God wants us to join together on the road to salvation, He is still the ultimate Divine and Just Judge who will apply distinction, differentiation, and contrast to separate the Just from the condemned.  As often happens, those who preach a God of total unity and no distinction are merely manipulating God’s Word for their agenda.  God is about unity and unconditional love going in, but He is also about Just Distinction, Divine Justice, and tough love going on.  God is here for all of us, but that does not mean that He will not apply Divine Justice and Distinction when dealing with each of us moving forward!

Second, the Magi came bearing gifts, which is what we each must do.  Our gifts are really the interest on God’s investment in each of us. He has given each of us certain talents and missions, and it is our duty to identify and fulfill those gifts by using them to serve God, thus bearing interest which we must then return to Him when the time comes for us to present our efforts in this enterprise of serving Him in this world.  Many people use the bounty of God’s gifts only for personal or worldly gain, with no concern for their eternal salvation.  They will thus be empty-handed when asked to give an account of their time on earth.  It is not how much we have each been given since each has been given an individual and unique assortment of abilities, aptitudes, and talents. It is, rather, what each of  us does with what we are given.  The one who saves many souls with one talent is in far better position than the one who has saved a few  or no souls with many talents.

Third, Herod tried to manipulate the Magi to find out where this newborn King was, not so that he might adore Him as well but, rather, so that he might destroy him.  We are thus reminded that, not only does power corrupt but, also, that no matter how powerful you are  here on earth, you are nothing but an insecure fool smoking delusion if you think you can ultimately succeed without God!  Likewise, we are reminded that God will guide and help those who remain fixed on finding Him, as the Magi were guided away from Herod on their return home.

Fourth, speaking about going home another way, there is a beautiful song by James Taylor called “Home By Another Way” which you should find online and listen to. It is a touching recount and take on how we often have to be prepared to return home by another path than that originally planned or preferred. What matters, then, is that we do find our way back home, not so much that we take the path we would have preferred.  God  has a plan for each of us, and surely that plan may often not be exactly or even nearly what we would prefer, hope for, or even desire. However, if we remain close to Him and likewise open to His guidance, we will be able to discern the path home to Heaven that God wants us to follow.  Following the dictates of this world may often prove counterproductive to following the path God  has chosen for us.  It is only by opening ourselves to the dictates of Heaven that we will be able to discern the path God wants us to follow back home, so that we can, in fact, go home by another way.

Lastly, we must remember that God is our Star, and He will guide us to Him if we only look in the right places. In this world where we are so often bombarded by temporal, superficial, petty, and even foolish distractions, it pays to remember that, ultimately, God should be our one and only GPS, as in God’s Plan for our Salvation.

In addition to the Feast of Epiphany, the dictionary defines “Epiphany” as a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality oressential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.”  How often we see that God is found in the simple, quiet, and peaceful place away from the scrambling superficiality of this world.  How many saints embody this contented humility so foreign to the dictates and tastes of this twisted world.  How often do we hear people mock faith, religion, and the sacred as the simple hallucinations of ignorant, superstitious hicks?  Let us see the Feast of the Epiphany as a powerful reminder that God invites all of us to use our gifts to serve Him, faithful that He will guide us home one way or another, when we remain open to the insight which only being close to God can bring!

Copyright, 2011  Gabriel Garnica

Herod was Also Pro-Choice


By all accounts, Herod was a monster. Although no Caligula, he could commit atrocities with the worst of them.  Historians cite the murder of 45 opponents upon assuming his throne, a brother-in-law, the second of his ten wives, and three of his own sons!  According to many scholars, Herod likely suffered from some form of Paranoid Personality Disorder, and he clearly had no qualms about murdering those he found inconvenient or even threatening to his pathetic grasp of power and influence.

While a number of scholars question the historical veracity of the slaughter of the innocents by Herod, and partly base this on the absence of clear, hard historical evidence, many others find numerous plausible explanations for this lack of evidence.  Josephus, a famous historical writer of the time, did not record the slaughter, either because he was not aware of it, or because his main information source was a good friend of Herod or, tragically, because the murder of innocent infants in that period at that location paled in comparison to other atrocities committed by Herod and others.  Furthermore, Josephus wrote for a Greco-Roman audience for whom infanticide was no particular horror. Sadly, both Greeks and Romans practiced infanticide as a form of birth control, and if they were unconcerned with the murder of their own infants, the deaths of young from a conquered land would have been even less significant to say the least.

Simply put, while there is no hard, historical evidence of the slaughter of innocents in Bethlehem around the birth of Our Lord, all known historical evidence indicates that Herod murdering infants out of some paranoid fear that these innocents were a threat to his way of life is no more unusual than expecting that he ate regularly and had little respect for the institution of marriage.

To add to the “insignificance” of this atrocity in the context of that time, there is debate as to the actual number of innocent children murdered that day.  While many writers estimate the number as anywhere from 3,000 to 64,000 innocent children, Professor William F. Albright, a leading  American Holy Land scholar, estimates that the population of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth was about 300 people and, based on that figure, scholars estimate the number of  males two years old or younger to be about six or seven.  Certainly the murder of even one innocent child is one too many, but one can understand that such a relatively low number would futher allow those who would downplay such an atrocity to ignore this barbaric act. Given these points, one can argue that, even if Josephus knew of the murder of Bethlehem’s innocents, he would have considered the event trivial in comparison to the winds and beliefs of the times.

When a government deems innocent human life as being disposable, justifiable and, perhaps most important, insignificant, it is short step to infanticide for increasingly superficial and trivial reasons.  Between his insecurities and paranoid nature, Herod often saw murder as the convenient way out of many difficulties.  Such a perception would only be supported and intensified by the times in which he lived.  When a society allows itself to sink deeper into evil and sin, it becomes desensitized to an increasingly sanitized, rationalized, and delusional selfishness.

Herod was pro-choice because his society was pro-choice, not according to the desires of the  majority of the population but, rather, according to the whims and facades of those in power.  Such pro-choice is always based on the choice of the more powerful or influential over the weaker, less influential with the  least voice in society.

If one extrapolates the 6 or 7 murdered innocents in a town of 300 out to the present U.S. population of 300 million or so, the slaughter of the Bethlehem innocents then would be the equivalent of murdering 6,000 to 7,000 infants in the U.S. today in one day, which is nearly twice the 3,700 children murdered daily in the U.S. by abortion.  No matter how one views this barbaric act by this monster, it was most certainly an atrocity of the highest order.  

Although abortion defenders argue that rape and the health of the mother are critical reasons for keeping abortion legal, statistics show that only 1% of women have abortions due to rape and only 6% have abortions for health reasons, with 93% having abortions for “social” reasons (unwanted or inconvenient child).  While many such defenders argue that abortion should be a legal solution for women already “burdened” by other children and heavy family responsibilities, statistics show that nearly two-thirds of abortions involve never-married women. In fact, statistics show that most abortions are obtained by either middle-class white women as a convenient end to an unwanted or inconvenient pregnancy out of wedlock or by poor, minority women out of desperation and/or confusion and fear, with most abortions being sought by the former group.

Abortions in this country are nothing more than legalized erasers by which women can eliminate inconvenient, perceived threats to their way of life resulting from negligent immorality.  History shows that Herod was simply one of many historical monsters who saw murder as nothing more than an eraser by which he could eliminate inconvenient, perceived threats to his way of life resultilng from immoral rule.

We claim to be such a developed, enlightened society but, as history shows, so-called enlightened and progressive societies have long considered innocent life including infant innocent life as nothing more than a dispensible, disposable commodity. Let history show that those societies which see innocent life as collateral damage on the road to temporal pleasures will themselves become collateral damage to the predictable cycle of ultimate justice.

Copyright, 2011  Gabriel Garnica

The Visitation as a Double Cry Against Abortion


The visitation of Our Blessed Mother to Her cousin Elizabeth is recounted in Luke 1:39-57 and stands as a powerful, double cry against abortion.  Proponents of this heinous and barbaric act pretend that the unborn child is anything but human, but the humanity of a fetus is front and center in this beautiful narrative.  First, we are told that the child within Elizabeth, St. John the Baptist, lept in joy upon feeling the presence of His Divine Savior who, according to many scholars, may have been conceived 10 days before. Likewise, Elizabeth refers to that child within Mary’s womb as “my Lord”, thereby indicating that, despite the fact that this unborn Child had just been conceived, said Child was already our Lord.

So, in effect, we have two unborn children being represented as human. One, our Savior, was already being referred to as “Lord”, and the other, John the Baptist, was reacting to the Presence of his Lord and Savior.

Anyone who has ever seen a sonagram knows that a fetus is human. Those whose agenda lies in defending the vile act of abortion go on and on about how the fetus is not human, but accompany these claims with every effort to hide evidence which indicates just the opposite. 

Abortion is genocide.  It is a holocaust against innocent life.   Abortion is infanticide.   It is arrogant  greed and hypocrisy using distortion and lies to manipulate fear and confusion at the expense of innocent blood.  Many may argue the relative ranking of evil but, from my perspective, one’s defense, rationalization, support, or even condoning of abortion is a litmus test for qualification to argue against any other evil.  Can one seriously, for example, listen to an abortionist argue that it is a sin to lie?

The Visitation, then, stands as a simple, beautiful, moving, and subtle yet clear reminder that a fetus is every bit a child of God who deserves to live as much as any of us do.  It is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy to ask or demand any right or privilege while denying this most innocent life the right to live simply because one is  somehow inconvenienced in some way by its birth. The blood of these innocents is on the hands of those who perform this vile procedure as well as any of dismiss innocent life as some disposable commodity!

Copyright, 2011 Gabriel Garnica

Your Soul is Not Big Enough For Two Messiahs


At this time of  year we often hear much talk about our Messiah, but my question to you now is “Who is your messiah?”  You may answer that it is Christ, and that is a noble and positive response, but is Christ really your Messiah?  Do your thoughts, beliefs, actions, priorities, perceptions, and general approach to your life correspond with having Christ as your Messiah?  A messiah is defined as “a deliverer” or one who will free us from some sort of bondage or trouble.  Who do you look to when you are in trouble?  Do you see Christ as your way out of difficulty?  Better yet, how do you see Him as your way out?  How you answer these questions has much to reveal about how many messiahs you really have.

In the old days, families tended to be larger, with many kids learning to grow up together and how to cooperate, be unselfish, and be grateful for what they had.  Parents could not spoil anybody, even if they wanted to, because they had to spread the love more efficiently and profoundly than they do today.   There are only so many hours in the day and days in the year, and parents had to make the most of that time as effectively as possible.

Today, families tend to be smaller, with much less kids.  In fact, many kids are only children and therefore the unfortunate recipients of absurd attention and focus.  If you are treated like a prince or princess, you start believing that you are it, the center of it all, and you become spoiled.  Somewhere along the line, you start to see things through only  your eyes. If something fits your perception of things, that is truth. If something does not jive with the way you see or experience things, it is wrong and to be avoided.

Furthermore, your agenda becomes the transcendent factor in determining everything.  If something gets in the way of your plans and self-view, it is wrong or f oolish and deserves to be at least ignored and, if possible, mocked.  If, on the other hand, that something fits your way of see or doing things, that activity is “normal” and acceptable.  

This is why many people do not like Christianity in general and, in many cases, Catholicism in particular.  They see it as all about out-dated, even ancient, rules and regulations coupled with judgments and narrow-minded ways of looking at things.  This is because these people, whether they realize it or not, cannot conceive of subordinating themselves and their wants to any higher power at all.  This is why what matters is what offends them and, for that matter, anything that offends them should be removed, not because of some rational or historically sound argument but, rather, simply because it “offends” them.  These people have become, in fact, their own messiahs. They see themselves as the answers to their own prayers. Not used to having to sacrifice, compromise, or subordinate their individual needs and wants to anything, these people refuse to do so and simply look for “thoughtful” ways around this dilemma. 

They see receiving as more important than giving, and value gifts in material,  rather than spiritual, terms.  They find no room at the Inn because their head does not fit through the door!

King Herod was his own messiah as shown by his internal, self-focused attention.  Murdering innocent infants was acceptable because it was convenient, practical, and a seemingly logical “solution”  to  his problem, regardless of how it affected others.  The shepherds and Wise Men, on the other hand, were not their own messiahs but, rather, looked to the True Messiah as their focus of attention. They were not bringing their presence or gifts out of some calculated networking effort.  It must have been inconvenient and difficult to go out of their usual comfort zone to adore a shivering infant but, as people who look externally for their messiah often do, these people looked for something or someone greater than themselves as worthy of their worship, praise, and focus.

So, we must abandon the foolish notion that we are our own messiahs or, for that matter, the equally superficial view that we should only run to God when we think we need Him, for these so-called strategies are brimming with the false ideas that we are our own answer or that God is plan B or a convenient fallback option.  If you really believe that God is all that matters, and that Christ is your Messiah, God is the only option!

Above and beyond the shepherds and Magi, however, why not look at how The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph put their comfort and convenience aside to follow the Will of God and rightly focus on the only Messiah any of us really needs.  In a word, make sure that you see the Star of Bethlehem above the manger rather than in the mirror!

Copyright, 2011   Gabriel Garnica