Saturday, December 31, 2011

World Day of Peace, 2012

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Peace, 2011

Mary, Majors Basilica at Christmas

It is so fitting that the Church will celebrate this glorious feast as the New Year begins.  Eight days after the feast of the birth of Christ, we remember Mary by celebrating her divine Motherhood.  Mary is known as Theotokus, meaning the God-bearer.  By honoring Mary, as Mother of God, we are also honoring Our Lord who choose to become flesh of the Virgin's womb. 

Christmas honors Jesus as the "Prince of Peace," the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God honors Mary as the "Queen of Peace.  This feast celebrated on January 1st, is also designated the World Day of Peace.  The theme chosen by Pope Benedict XVI is Educating Young People in Justice and Peace.

The Holy Father has asked all parents and teachers to be more attentive to the hopes and fears of young people and to their search for true values.  He asked governments to put more resources into education and job creation.
The Pope went on to call all young people to take their schooling seriously and to be open to the example and knowledge their elders have to share.  He said "be patient and persevering in seeking justice and peace, in cultivating the taste for what is just and true, even when it involves sacrifice and swimming against the tide."

As adults we must be living examples of what it means to live lives marked by the joy of faith, charity and respect for others.  We must be authentic witnesses of the love of Christ and the life of the gospel.  "Educating young people in justice and peace has to begin in the family where they learn to value the gift of life, solidarity, respect for rules, forgiveness and hospitality."  Peace is not simply a gift to be received from God, it is a task people of good will must undertake.  Let us all remember this in our prayers and adoration before Our Lord in the Eucharist.  He, the Prince of Peace, dwelling among us, will help us all to do what is good, to avoid evil, to be examples of love, to grow in compassion and generosity, promoting that peace which He brought to the earth on that first Christmas day.

Happy New Year to all and a blessed feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Truth has arisen from the earth, and justice looked down from heaven!

Blessings this Christmas season from the Sisters of Our Mother of Divine Grace!  If you pray the Liturgy of the Hours, you would have read the sermon from Saint Augustine, during the Office of the Readings on Christmas Eve.  It is one of my favorite readings during this special season. 

Saint Augustine reminds us that we must awaken ourselves and realize that for our sake God has become man.  We would have been lost had God not hastened to our aid.  Each one of us can echo these sentiments.  He goes on to tell us that Christ has become our justice, our sanctification, and our redemption, so; Let him who glories glory in the Lord.  Christ is our Truth who has risen from the earth, He who was born of a Virgin.  And believing in this new born Child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

Truth has arisen from the earth, and justice has looked down from heaven!  The Word took on our flesh, and from Him all good gifts, every perfect gift flows.  So justified by faith, let us be at peace with God! Justice and peace have embraced one another.  We glory not of ourselves but in the Truth who this day has come among us!  With the angelic voices we should cry: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. Christ is our peace "who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity."

This is our prayer today for all.  Rejoice and celebrate the love of so good a God who was born to unite us to Himself, now and throughout eternity.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

O Emmanuel

December 23: O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin will be with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel." Is. 7:14
♫ O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear. (Refrain)

O King of the Gentiles

December 22: O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.
"For a child has been born for us, a son given us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Is. 9: 6
♫ O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace. (Refrain)

Dawn of the East

December 21: O Dawn of the East splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shone." Is. 9: 2
♫ O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight. (Refrain)

O Key of David

December 20: O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the captives from their prison, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
"I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open." Is. 22: 22
"...To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison." Is. 42: 7
♫ O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery. (Refrain)

O Root of Jesse

December 19: O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples; before you kings will keep silence, to you the nations will make their prayer: Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
"A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his root." Is. 11: 1
"On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious." Is. 11: 10

♫ O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave. (Refrain)

O Adonai

December 18: O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
"For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us." Is. 33: 22
♫ O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe. (Refrain)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fourth Week of Preparation for Christ's Birth

“O Antiphons”
The theme of the Advent season has been one of joyous expectancy as the Church, in vigilant preparation, waited and watched for the first signs of the coming of the Lord.  The very name Advent, and the Masses of the season with their urgent plea to Christ to “hasten and delay not” have reminded us that we are awaiting His coming in grace at Christmas, and in glory at the end of time.
The last and most intense phase of Advent preparations begins on the evening of December 17.  The “O Antiphons” are seven liturgical prayers, sung or recited at Evening Prayer on each day from December 17 through December 23.  They seem to sum up all our Advent longing as they paint in vivid terms the condition of mankind and the need for a Savior. 
Addressing Christ with seven magnificent titles, the antiphons ask Him to come and save His people.  Each refers to a Messianic prophecy of  Isaiah and can be sung to the familiar melody of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”.

December 17:  O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other mightily, and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.
"The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord." Is. 11: 2-3
♫ O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go. (Refrain)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Journey to Bethlehem

During this third week of Advent, follow Mary on her journey to Bethlehem, where with trust and faith in the providence of God, she knew all would be done according to His Will.  Mary knew that this time was but the beginning of God's new favors to men. That this moment was to bring us a new and special source of grace. All generations had been waiting through the centuries for this manifestation.  How long O Lord, how long?, had been their cry. 
Let us unite with Mary in her expectation, as she and St. Joseph travelled to Bethlehem.  We know what scripture tells us about their arrival.  There was no room in the Inn, no acceptance of the Gift that would be theirs.    As we make this journey these last couple weeks of Advent, let us concentrate on preparing a room in our heart for the Promised One.  This room will be adorned with finest gold: the love in our hearts.  The furnishings will be our small acts of self-denial, the loving kindness shown to a friend, the cheerful acceptance of the trails and sufferings of our daily lives, quiet time spent in contemplating the infinite love of a God, who would come save us.  And on Christmas, with Mary, we can then behold His face, and respond yes to all that He has planned for our lives.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Look to the Star!

During this second week of our preparation for Christmas, let us recall the gospel for today, the Second Sunday of Advent.  St. John the Baptist calls us to repentance to prepare for the coming of Our Lord "because he will save His people from their sins." (Matt 1:21)  Have we lost the realization of sin?  If we have, then the coming of Christ will be meaningless. This season calls us to rediscover our own need for redemption and forgiveness. 

Let us look to the first Star of Bethlehem, Mary, the Virgin Mother.  She will point the way to her Divine Son, Jesus.  The rays of light that issue from this bright Star are her virtues; the golden rays of her humble obedience, the silver rays of her immaculate purity, the azure rays of her self-effacement which will provide us with fruitful meditation. Call upon her, look to her, the Morning Star.  She can help us realize the need we have for the saving, healing and restoring intervention of Her Son, Jesus, our Emmanuel. 

O Mary, sweet Star of the Sea, shine upon the horizon of my soul and dispel the darkness of self-seeking and sin, that I may prepare with you for the birth of the Divine Child in my heart.