Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent 22nd December 2013

22 December 2013 Fourth Sunday of Advent

“Sound the trumpet in Sion, for the day of the Lord is nigh: Behold he will come to save us, alleluia, alleluia.” (1st Antiphon for Vespers & Lauds)
Today, as Christmas is upon us, we again see how the Church introduces the figure of St. John the Baptist preaching a doctrine of repentance for sins as the most important preparation for the coming of Jesus to His public life. The theme of repentance is also related to the coming of Jesus for the first time on Christmas Day as we want to be ready with pure hearts for Him. This is why the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will.” Lk. 2:14 We need to have our souls cleansed of any sins or evil desires. God will only give peace to men who have good hearts. This is why St. John the Baptist’s message in today’s gospel is so important: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight His paths. Every valley shall be levelled; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough roads shall be made smooth. And all flesh shall behold God’s salvation.” Lk. 3:4-6 & Is. 40:3-5 St. Paul says the same thing in the Epistle, First Corinthians (4:1-5): “Hence, judge nothing before the time fixed—until the Lord comes, who will bring light to hidden things of darkness, and manifest the designs of hearts.” I Cor. 4:5 When the Lord comes, he will reveal the hidden things of the human heart and uncover darkness of sin because Jesus is the Light of the World.

“Prepare the way of the Lord....” Lk. 3:4
Dom Prosper Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Life Vol. 1, tells us of the importance of St. John the Baptist has on preparation for Christmas: “Today, she (the Church) makes a last effort to stir up the devotion of her children. She leads them to the desert; she shows them John the Baptist, upon whose mission she instructed them on the third Sunday. The voice of the austere Precursor resounds through the wilderness, and penetrates even into the cities. It preaches penance, and the obligation men are under of preparing by self-purification for the coming of Christ. Let us retire from the world during these next few days; or if that may not be by reason of our external duties, let us retire into the quiet of our own hearts and confess our iniquities, as did those true Israelites, who came, full of compunction and of faith in the Messias, to the Baptist, there to make perfect their preparation for worthily receiving the Redeemer on the day of His appearance to the world.” Gueranger, p. 233-4

“ There is a voice crying of one crying in the wilderness....” Lk.3:4 (Is 40:3)
St. Luke in today’s Gospel (Lk. 3:1-6) quotes the prophet Isaiah who spoke of the coming of the precursor, St. John the Baptist. This holy precursor called all the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem to: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight His paths. Every valley shall be levelled; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough roads shall be made smooth. And all flesh shall behold God’s salvation.” Lk. 3:4-6 The Jews were familiar with this metaphor of the servants going before the wealthy by making sure that the roads were smooth for their masters. Valleys would be filled and mounds would be levelled. Isaiah spoke of St. John the Baptist who would have to prepare the hearts of men for the Messiah. He did this by preaching a baptism for the remission of sins. His baptism would not forgive sins, but it would prepare them for the Baptism of Jesus by making their hearts ready for His message. St. Bede tells us why St. John’s baptism was important for the coming of Jesus Christ: “If we seek to know why John was baptizing when his baptism was nevertheless unable to take away sins, the reason is clear; to be faithful to his ministry as forerunner it was necessary for him to baptise before the Lord did, just as he was born before he was, preached before he did and died before him. At the same time it was to prevent the jealous wrangling of the Pharisees and scribes from seizing upon the Lord’s ministry supposing he had been the first to administer baptism. ‘Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or human origin?’ As they would not dare to deny that it came from heaven, they were obliged to acknowledge that the world of Him whom John preached was also accomplished by means of a power coming from heaven. However, if John’s baptism did not take away sins that does not mean to say that it bore no fruit for those who received it... It was a sign of faith and repentance, that is to say, it called to mind that all must abstain from sin, practice almsgiving, believe in Christ, and make haste to be washed for the remission of their sins.”

Repentance for sin
Msgr. Patrick Boylan comments on today’s Gospel on the need for repentance from sin as it is related as the preparation of the King on the desert roads as the preparation for Christ’s coming at Christmas: “He is to pass as the desert of our passions, evil tendencies, religious indifference, and sinful habits. To us the Voice cries out, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” Lk. 3:4 In the preparation we are asked (a) to make straight the crooked paths; (b) to fill up the valleys; (c) to level the hills; (d) and to make the rough ways smooth. (a) The crooked ways are our habits of falsehood, detraction, dishonesty, and idle speech. The paths of injustice and deceit are not paths on which our King will approach: they are twisted, devious, and perverse. They must be straightened out by a good confession. (b) The valleys of our slothfulness and indifference must be filled in with zeal for the duties of our state, frequent and fervent reception of the Sacraments, constant effort to realize, and to live up to, the Catholic ideal in our public as well as our private lives. (c) In our soul’s life there are mountains of pride and vanity, self-complacency, worldly ambition. Over these the King’s highway cannot pass. They must be brought low by penance, humility, graciousness and gentleness. He that comes is mild and gentle, and to His own He comes. (d) The rough ways of our unkindness, our uncharitableness, our carelessness of our needy brethren, our jealousy, our envy, our hatreds, must be made smooth.” (The Sunday Epistles and Gospels, Vol. I & II, p. 39-40) Let us prepare for Jesus’ coming at Christmas by purifying our hearts of all uncleanness.

“Oh the joy of thy coming, dear Jesus!”
Dom Gueranger reminds us of the great joy of Jesus’ coming once we purify our hearts. “....Oh the joy of thy coming, dear Jesus! How great it must needs be, when the prophecy says it shall be like an everlasting crown upon our heads (cf. Isaiah 35). And could it be otherwise? The very desert is to flourish as a lily, and living waters are to gush forth out of the parched land, because God is coming. Come, O Jesus, come quickly, and give us of that water, which flows from Thy sacred Heart, and which the Samaritan woman, the type of us sinners, asked of Thee with such earnest entreaty. This water is Thy grace; let it rain upon our parched souls, and they too will flourish; let it quench our thirst and we will run in the way of Thy precepts and examples. Thou, O Jesus, are our way, our path, to God; and Thou are Thyself God; Thou art, therefore, both our way and the term to which our way leads us. We had lost our way; we had gone astray as lost sheep; how great Thy love to come in search of us. To teach us the way to heaven, Thou hast deigned to come down from heaven, and then tread with us the road which leads to it....There is but one thing which makes us sad; our preparation is not completed. We have some ties still to break; help us to do it, O Saviour of mankind. We desire to obey the voice of Thy Precursor, and make plain those rugged paths, which would prevent Thy coming into our hearts, O divine Infant! Give us to be baptized in the Baptism of the waters of penance; Thou wilt soon follow, baptizing us in the Holy Ghost and love.” Gueranger, p. 235-6

Christmas Schedule

Christmas Eve, Tuesday ,
24th December 2013:
10: 45 P. M. Matins
11: 15 P. M. Christmas Carols
12:00 A. M. Midnight Mass: Missa Cantata (EF)
(After Mass there will be refreshments and good cheer in the friary and repository. All are invited to share the great joy of the Birthday of Jesus Christ.)

Christmas Day, Wednesday,
25th December 2011
10:00 A. M. Missa Cantata (EF)

New Year’s Eve, Tuesday,
31 December 2013:

7:30 A. M. Holy Mass (Extraordinary Form). After Mass, there will be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (all day) in reparation for our sins and the sins of the world.
11:15 PM Matins and Benediction
12:00 A. M. Te Deum (No Mass at Midnight)
(Refreshments in the friary after the Te Deum; all are invited to share the Peace of Christ for the New Year of 2012)

Octave Day of the Nativity,
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
10:00 A. M. Missa Cantata (EF)

Christmas Novena: Christmas Novena of Masses from Christmas Day 25th December 2013 to 2 January 2014 This novena will be for all of the benefactors, friends and relatives of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate. Thank you for all of your kind donations of alms and providence for us here in Lanherne.

Christmas Decorations

Special thanks to Fra Leonard Joseph Mary, FI for his decorations of the Christmas stable, crib and the altar with its many lights. Franciscans have always followed the example of Our Holy Father St. Francis of Assisi who began the practice of the Christmas stable and crib at Greccio in Italy in the early part of the 13th Century. So too, many people have come to our chapel to see our depiction of the First Christmas day. Fra Leonard has reminded us, by his beautiful stable, crib, and statues and altar lights, how important Christmas is to all of us. It is the night on which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary out of love for all men. Let us give glory to God and love for our fellow man as we recall the words of the angels to the shepherds in Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men of good will.” Lk. 2:14

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Third Sunday of Advent 15th December 2013

Third Sunday of Advent
15 December 2013 
“Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say rejoice...The Lord is nigh...” Phil. 4:4-5

Today, the Church is filled with joy as the Lord is very close. It is almost the time of His coming on Christmas Day. The Church calls this Sunday “Gaudete Sunday” after the first word of today’s Introit, “Gaudete....” “Rejoice in the Lord always....” Today is also honoured with blessed exceptions to the austerity of Advent: the organ is played at the Mass and the vestments are rose-coloured instead of the penitential purple. St. Paul sounds the theme for today’s liturgy with his lyrical passage from the Epistle to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say rejoice.... the Lord is nigh.” Phil. 4:4-5. The tone of the language of the Church from now until Christmas is one of gladness: the Church begins her nocturnes for the office with the words, “The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.” Dom Gueranger in The Liturgical Year Vol. I, p. 204 comments: “Who can be near so burning a fire, and yet be cold? Do we not feel that he is coming to us despite all obstacles? He will let nothing be a barrier between Himself and us, neither His own infinite high majesty, nor our exceeding lowliness, nor our many sins.” The Church also gives us in the Gospel from St. John (1:19-28) the necessary attitudes in order to prepare Jesus’ coming. St. John the Baptist tells a delegation from Jerusalem who ask him who he is: “He said, ‘I am the voice of one that cries in the desert: Make smooth the way of the Lord,’ as the Prophet Isaiah said.” Jn. 1:23 We too must cry out that the Lord is nigh. We must also make sure His path is smooth without any evidence of sin and vice because the Lord is holy and we, like St. John the Baptist, are not fit to loose His sandals: “In the midst of you stands One whom ye know not, Who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not fit to loose.” Jn. 1:26-27

Joy and Gladness

In today’s Epistle to the Philippians( Phil. 4:4-7) St. Paul is filled with joy and gladness. Although he is in prison in Rome, the epistle is filled with love, peace and joy. Like St. Paul, despite all the troubles which evil men can give us, we need to treat them all with kindness: “Let your kindliness become known to all. The Lord is nigh.” Phil. 4:5. What in this world can trouble us when the Lord is with us. ---“The Lord is nigh!” St. Paul exhorts us not to be anxious as we can trust in the Lord when we make our wishes known to Him in thanksgiving: “In nothing be anxious, but in all your prayer and supplications make known your wishes with thanksgiving to God.” Phil 4:6 Msgr. Patrick Boylan comments on souls who are thankful: “The Christian who is ready to thank God for everything that His Providence may send, will not be disturbed in soul or suffer any lessening of peace through the malice of and buffeting of the world.” (The Sunday Epistles and Gospels, p. 23) With prayer for all his needs, the faithful Christian gains confidence and is given the peace of God that comes with the fruits of the Holy Spirit, peace, joy, kindness and patience. These are the blessings which will be given to those who “Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say rejoice...The Lord is nigh...” Phil. 4:4-5

“‘I am the voice of one that cries in the desert: Make smooth the way of the Lord,’ as the Prophet Isaiah said.” Jn. 1:23

Again, as we saw in last week’s gospel, St. John holds the key to understanding the mystery of Christ’s Coming. John is only the voice who cries out to the people to prepare the way for the Messiah. He preaches a baptism of repentance for sins for there can be no obstacles in the path of the Holy One of God: “Make smooth the way of the Lord.” Jn. 1:23 John baptizes only with water to prepare the souls for the Messiah. He is the lone voice that cries for repentance. Msgr. Boylan comments on this passage: “The Baptist is a voice that orders the way of the Messiah to be made ready: his baptism is concerned with the preparation of that way. It is only in a penitential spirit that the Messiah can be received—and to develop that spirit in the Jews the preaching and the baptism of the Baptist are directed. The Pharisees are lacking in that spirit and so they fail to recognize the One Who ‘stands up’ already ‘in their midst.’” (Boylan, p. 29)

“I am not the Christ.” Jn. 1:20

How much we should admire St. John the Baptist for his humility and truth! He does not pretend to be someone special. He says very definitely, “I am not the Christ.” Jn. 1:20 Later, he admonishes the Jewish leaders that the Christ is in their midst and that he (St. John) is not even worthy to loosen his sandals: “In the midst of you stands One whom ye know not, Who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not fit to loose.” Jn. 1:26-27 As John baptizes only with water, it is implied that the Messiah, the Holy One of God, will baptize with spirit and power. St. Luke tells us that St. John warns these Jewish leaders: “....He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Lk. 3:16 If we are going to recognize Christ on Christmas Day, then we need to know that we are sinners in need of repentance before the all-holy Christ Child who comes only to give us His peace and love and save us for His eternal kingdom. “Glory to God in the Highest and peace on earth among men of good will.” Lk. 2:14

Prayer for “Gaudete Sunday”

As we prepare with joy for the Coming of Christ on Christmas Day, let us be like St. John the Baptist and prepare the way for the Lord by removing from our lives all that would prevent Jesus from coming to us by saying this prayer: “My God and my Saviour, I believe in You, I trust in You. I seek for You, yet I know that You are near me, and in me: near me, hidden under the Eucharistic veil; in me, by grace. O Lord, make me know You! Do not permit it to happen to me as to the Jews: You were living in the midst of them and they knew You not. Grant that my soul may always have a lively faith; increase my faith, for faith is the light by which I can know You on earth. You are within me, Lord, I know it, I believe it, even if I cannot feel You. But if you wish, You can illumine my soul with Your light and make me know your divine mysterious presence.” Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, p. 46 Let us too pour out our hearts to the Infant Saviour this Christmas. Let us ask Our Lady, the Immaculate, to teach us the secrets that she had in her heart as she adored her Infant Son and God on the first Christmas day. Let us pray the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary with Our Lady and ask her to help us to repent of our sins so that we will be filled with the peace that is given to men and women of “good will.”

“The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved” Part VII by St. Leonard of Port Maurice

One day Saint John Chrysostom, preaching in the cathedral in Constantinople and considering these proportions, could not help but shudder in horror and ask, "Out of this great number of people, how many do you think will be saved?" And, not waiting for an answer, he added, "Among so many thousands of people, we would not find a hundred who are saved, and I even doubt for the one hundred." What a dreadful thing! The great Saint believed that out of so many people, barely one hundred would be saved; and even then, he was not sure of that number. What will happen to you who are listening to me? Great God, I cannot think of it without shuddering! Brothers, the problem of salvation is a very difficult thing; for according to the maxims of the theologians, when an end demands great efforts, few only attain it. That is why Saint Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, after weighing all the reasons pro and con in his immense erudition, finally concludes that the greater number of Catholic adults are damned. He says, "Because eternal beatitude surpasses the natural state, especially since it has been deprived of original grace, it is the little number that are saved." So then, remove the blindfold from your eyes that is blinding you with self-love, that is keeping you from believing such an obvious truth by giving you very false ideas concerning the justice of God, "Just Father, the world has not known Thee," said Our Lord Jesus Christ. He does not say "Almighty Father, most good and merciful Father." He says "just Father," so we may understand that out of all the attributes of God, none is less known than His justice, because men refuse to believe what they are afraid to undergo. Therefore, remove the blindfold that is covering your eyes and say tearfully: Alas! The greater number of Catholics, the greater number of those who live here, perhaps even those who are in this assembly, will be damned! What subject could be more deserving of your tears? King Xerxes, standing on a hill looking at his army of one hundred thousand soldiers in battle array, and considering that out of all of them there would be not one man alive in a hundred years, was unable to hold back his tears. Have we not more reason to weep upon thinking that out of so many Catholics, the greater number will be damned? Should this thought not make our eyes pour forth rivers of tears, or at least produce in our heart the sentiment of compassion felt by an Augustinian Brother, Ven. Marcellus of St. Dominic? One day as he was meditating on the eternal pains, the Lord showed him how many souls were going to hell at that moment and had him see a very broad road on which twenty-two thousand reprobates were running toward the abyss, colliding into one another. The servant of God was stupefied at the sight and exclaimed, "Oh, what a number! What a number! And still more are coming. O Jesus! O Jesus! What madness!" Let me repeat with Jeremiah, "Who will give water to my head, and a fountain of tears to my eyes? And I will weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people."

Poor souls! How can you run so hastily toward hell? For mercy's sake, stop and listen to me for a moment! Either you understand what it means to be saved and to be damned for all eternity, or you do not. If you understand and in spite of that, you do not decide to change your life today, make a good confession and trample upon the world, in a word, make your every effort to be counted among the littler number of those who are saved, I say that you do not have the faith. You are more excusable if you do not understand it, for then one must say that you are out of your mind. To be saved for all eternity, to be damned for all eternity, and to not make your every effort to avoid the one and make sure of the other, is something inconceivable. (To be continued)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception

Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te. Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix, et facies tua sicut sol. Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te. Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel, tu honorificentia populi nostri. Tota pulchra es, Maria. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception Sunday 8 December 2013

“Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee!” Canticle iv, 7

Dom Prosper Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Life Vol. 1 comments: “The happy Mother of the Messias was to be born before the Messias Himself; and this is the day of the Conception of Mary. The earth already possesses a first pledge of the divine mercy; the Son of Man is near at hand. Two true Israelites, Joachim and Anne, noble branches of the family of David, find their union, after a long barrenness, made fruitful by divine omnipotence. Glory be to God, who has been mindful of His promises, and who deigns to announce from the high heaven, the end of the deluge of iniquity, by sending upon earth the sweet white dove that bears tidings of peace. “The feast of the blessed Virgin’s Immaculate Conception is the most solemn of all those which the Church celebrates during the holy time of Advent; …The intention of the Church, in this feast, is not only to celebrate the anniversary of the happy moment in which began, in the womb of the pious Anne, the life of the ever-glorious Virgin Mary; but also to honour the sublime privilege, by which Mary was preserved from the original stain, which, by a sovereign and universal decree, is contracted by all the children of Adam the very moment they are conceived in their mother’s womb. The faith of the Catholic Church on the subject of the Conception of Mary is this: that at the very instant when God united the soul of Mary, which He had created, to the body which it was to animate, this ever-blessed soul did not only not contract the stain, which at that same instant defiles every human soul, but was filled with an immeasurable grace which rendered her, from that moment, the mirror of the sanctity of God Himself, as far as this is possible to a creature. The Church with her infallible authority, declared by the lips of Pius IX, that this article of her faith had been revealed by God Himself. The Definition was received with enthusiasm by the whole of Christendom, and the eighth of December of the year 1854 was thus made one of the most memorable days of the Church’s history. …Nothing defiled could be permitted to enter, even for an instant of time, into the creature that was thus predestined to contract such close relation with the adorable Trinity; not a speck could be permitted to tarnish Mary that perfect purity which the infinitely holy God requires even in those who are one day to be admitted to enjoy the sight His divine majesty in heaven; in a word, as the great Doctor St. Anselm says, ‘it was just that this holy Virgin should be adorned with the greatest purity which can be conceived after that of God Himself, since God the Father was to give to her, as her Child, that only-begotten son, whom he loved as Himself, as being begotten to Him from His own bosom; and this in such a manner, that the selfsame Son of God was, by nature, the Son of God the Father and this blessed Virgin. This same Son chose her to be substantially His Mother; and the Holy Ghost willed that in her womb He would operate the conception and birth for Him from whom He Himself had proceeded.’” (De conceptu virginali cap. Xvii) Gueranger, p. 377-9

‘Thou are all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee!’ Canticle. iv, 7

Dom Gueranger comments on Our Lady’s purity as foreshowed in the Old Testament. “And how can we do less that admire and love the incomparable purity of Mary in her Immaculate Conception, when we hear even God, who thus prepared her to become His Mother, saying to her, in the divine Canticle, these words of complacent love: ‘Thou are all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee!’ (Cant. iv, 7) It is the God of all holiness that here speaks; that eye, which see all things, finds not a vestige, not a shadow of sin; therefore does He delight in her, and admire in her that of His own condescending munificence.” Gueranger, p. 381

“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning.” Prov. 8: 22

Dom Gueranger tells how today’s Epistle (Proverbs 8:22-35 relates to God’s eternal decree of Jesus being born of Mary: “The apostle teaches us that Jesus, our Emmanuel is the firstborn of every creature. (cf. Col. 1: 15) These mysterious words signify not only that He is, as God, eternally begotten of the Father; but also that the divine Word is, as Man, anterior to all created beings. Yet how is this? The world had been created, and the human race had dwelt on this earth full four thousand years, before the Son of God, took to Himself the nature of man. It is not in the order of time, but in the eternal intention of God, that the Man-God preceded every creature. The eternal Father decreed first to give to His eternal Son a created nature, namely, the nature of man; and, in consequence of this decree to create all beings, whether spiritual or material, as a kingdom for this Man-God. This explains to us how it is, that the divine Wisdom, the Son of God, in this passage of the sacred Scripture which forms the Epistle (Proverbs 8:22-35) of this feast, proclaims His having existed before all the creatures of the universe. As God, He was begotten from all eternity in the bosom of the Father; as Man, He was in the mind of God, the type of all creatures, before those creatures were made. But the Son of God could not be of our race, as the divine will decreed He should be, unless He were born in time, and born of a Mother as other men; and therefore she that was to be His Mother was eternally present to the thought of God, as the means whereby the Word would assume the human nature. The Son and the Mother are therefore united in the plan of the Incarnation; Mary therefore, existed, as did Jesus, in the divine decree, before creation began. This is the reason of the Church’s having, from the earliest days of Christianity, interpreted this sublime passage of the sacred volume of Jesus and Mary unitedly, and ordering it and analogous passages of the Scriptures to be read in the assembly of the faithful on the solemnities or feast of the Mother of God. But if Mary be this prominent in the divine and eternal plan; if, in the sense in which these mysterious texts are understood by the Church, she was, with Jesus, before every creature; could God permit her to be subjected to the original sin, which was to fall on all the children of Adam like her divine Son Himself, and to be born at the time fixed; but that torrent, which sweeps all mankind along, shall be turned away from her by God’s grace; it shall not come near to her; and she shall transmit to her Son, who is also the Son of God, the human nature in its original perfection, created, as the apostle says, in holiness and justice.” (cf. Eph. iv, 24) Gueranger, p. 400-1

“Hail, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.” Lk 1:28

In today’s Gospel (Luke 1:26-28) Don Gueranger brings out the importance of Angel Gabriel’s greeting. “The Archangel (Gabriel) proclaims her full of grace. What means this, but that the second woman (Mary) possesses in her that element of which sin had deprived the first (Eve)? And observe, he does not say merely that divine grace works in her, but that she is full of it. ‘She is not merely in grace as others are, ’Saint Peter Chrysologus told us in his feast, ‘but she is filled with it.’ Everything in her is resplendent with heavenly purity, and sin has never cast its shadow on her beauty. To appreciate the full import of Gabriel’s expression, we must consider what is the force of the words, in the language which the sacred the historian used. Grammarians tell us that the single word which he employs is much more comprehensive than our expression ‘full of grace.’ It implies not only the present time, but the past as well, an incorporation of grace from the very commencement, the full and complete affirmation of grace, the total permanence of grace. Our translation has unavoidably weakened the term. “The better to feel the full force of our translation, let us compare this with an analogous text from the Gospel of St. John. This evangelist, speaking of the Humanity of the Incarnate Word, expresses all by saying that Jesus is full of grace and truth. (cf. Jn. I:14) Now, would this fullness have been real, had sin ever been there, instead of grace, even for a single instant? Could we call him full of grace, who had once stood in need of being cleansed? Undoubtedly, we must ever respectfully bear in mind the distance between the Humanity of the Incarnate Word and the person of Mary, from whose womb the Son of God assumed that Humanity; but the sacred text obliges us to confess, that the fullness of grace was, proportionately, in both Jesus and Mary.
“Gabriel goes on still enumerating the supernatural riches of Mary. He says to her: ‘The Lord is with thee.’ What means this? It means that even before Mary had conceived our Lord in her chaste womb, she already possessed Him in her soul. But would the words be true, if that union with Him had once not been, and had begun only when disunion Him by sin had been removed? The solemn occasion, on which the angel used this language, forbids us to think that he conveyed by it any other idea, by than that she had always had the Lord with her. We feel allusions to a contrast between the first and second Eve; the first lost the God who had once been with her; the second (Eve-Mary) had like the first, received our Lord into her from the first moment of her existence, and never lost Him, but continued from first to last and forever to have him with her…. ‘Blessed are thou among women.’ For four thousand years, every woman has been under the curse of God, and has brought forth her children in suffering and sorrow: but here is the one among women, that has been ever blessed of God, that has ever been the enemy of the serpent, and that shall bring forth the fruit of her womb without travail. “The Immaculate Conception of Mary is therefore declared in the Archangel’s salutation…” Gueranger, p. 403-5

Bl. John Duns Scotus, the Subtle Doctor

It was Franciscan Bl. John Duns Scotus using the Franciscan Thesis (Christ the first-born of all creatures) who proposed the Immaculate Conception as the “perfect fruit, of a perfect redemption, by a perfect redeemer.” Our Lady would have to be sinless; her redemption would be preservative, in light of the foreseen merits of her Son’s redemption, as she never contracted any sin. She would also have to be predestined to be Mother of God (Divine Maternity) in the same divine decree for Incarnation. She would also have to be free from any sins if she were to assist her Son as Co-Redemptrix. Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception and Co-Redemptrix, is “the perfect fruit, of a perfect redemption, by a perfect redeemer.” First, there was the joint predestination of Christ and Mary which was willed by the Father from all eternity. Second, there was the perfect redemption with Mary’s preservative redemption (all other redemptions were liberative after contacting original sin). Finally, there was Mary’s Divine Maternity when she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. As the New Eve, Our Lady would be the object of all complacence by the Holy Trinity. No wonder, Bl. Pius IX would tell us in bull, for the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1854, Ineffabilis Deus that Our Lady’s “participation in the Divine Life exceeds that of all angels and saints (together).”

The Divine Maternity and Immaculate Conception

Blessed Pius IX in his solemn definition, Ineffabilis Deus, says of the Immaculate Conception: “The most holy Virgin Mary was, in the first moment of her conception, by a unique gift of grace and privilege of almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin…. God so loved her with a unique predilection that He filled her with the greatest abundance of his celestial gifts and her participation in the Divine Life exceeds that of all angels and saints together. Her life reflects so great a fullness of innocence and sanctity that a more exalted creature cannot be conceived of except by the creator Himself.”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

First Sunday of Advent 1st December 2013

First Sunday of Advent:
1 December 2013

“And this do, understanding the time, for it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we came to believe.” Rom. 13:11 Dom Prosper Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Year Vol. 1: Advent comments: “If ...we would penetrate into the profound mystery which occupies the mind of the Church during this season, we find that this mystery of the coming, or Advent, of Jesus is at once simple and threefold. It is simple, for it is the one same Son of God that is coming; it is threefold, because He comes at three different times and in three different ways. ‘In the first coming,’ says St. Bernard, ‘He comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third.’ This, then, is the mystery of Advent. Let us now listen to the explanation of this threefold visit of Christ, given to us by Peter of Blois, in his third Sermon de Adventu: ‘There are three comings of our Lord; the first in the flesh, the second in the soul, the third at judgement. The first was at midnight, according to those words of the Gospel: ‘At midnight there was a cry made, ‘Lo the Bridegroom cometh!’ Mt. 25:6 But this first coming is long since past, for Christ has been seen on the earth and has conversed among men. We are now in the second coming, provided only we are such as that He may thus come to us; for He has said that if we love Him, He will come unto us and will take up His abode with us (cf. Jn.14:23). So that this second coming is full of uncertainty to us; for who, save the Spirit of God, knows them that are of God! They are raised out of themselves by the desire of heavenly things, know indeed when He comes; but when He cometh or whither He goeth, they know not. As for the third coming, it is most certain that it will be, most uncertain when it will be; for nothing is more sure than death and nothing less sure than the hour of death. When they shall say, peace and security says the apostle, then shall sudden destruction come upon them as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape. So that the first coming was humble and hidden, the second is mysterious and full of love; the third will be majestic and terrible. In His first coming, Christ was judged by men unjustly; in his second, He renders us just by His grace; in the His third, He will judge all things with justice. In His first, a lamb; in his last a lion; in the one in between the two, the tenderest of friends.’” Gueranger, p. 28-9

The Coming of the Messiah

The prophet Isaiah tells of the coming peace which the Messiah will bring to not only the Jews but to the whole world. “It will be a great time for all peoples: ‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the House of God of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in his paths.’” Is 2:3 Today’s Gradual, Ps. 24:3-4 uses veiled language to tell us the times in which the Messiah will come: “All they that wait on Thee shall not be confounded, O Lord. Show, O Lord, Thy ways to me: and teach me Thy paths.” All those who trust in the promises of God about the coming Messiah will not be confounded especially since they pray that God will teach them His ways and His paths. All the world is in readiness. This is what St. Paul tells the Romans in today’s Epistle (Rom. 13:11-14).

The Middle Coming of the Spirit of God

In the Epistle to the Romans, St Paul spells out for us what we must do to live in the peace of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who will come into our lives through His grace by the Holy Spirit. This second (or Middle Coming) is what Peter of Blois says: “They are raised out of themselves by the desire for heavenly things.” St. Paul reminds us that now is the time to repent and think of the heavenly things of the light: “The night is far advanced: the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.” Rom. 13:12. We all need to realize that time goes by very fast and that we should not remain in the darkness of sin. We need to “Put on the armour of light” which is to say, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Rom 13:12-14. We need to give up sin which keeps us in darkness: “Let us walk becomingly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy.” Rom. 13:13 Sin is the only real evil in the world and when man sins, he becomes unhappy! He is in great darkness! Sin never makes us happy! Those who sin become “slaves of sin.” Jesus told us this when He said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” Jn. 8:34 This is why St. Paul tells us that true happiness and true freedom can only be achieved by living a virtuous life by putting on Jesus Christ and avoiding sin: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and as for the flesh take no thought for its lusts.” Rom. 13:14 We need to put on Jesus’ holiness. The Church reminds us today’s Alleluia verse that Jesus will help us because He has come to save us: “Show, O Lord, Thy mercy; and grant us Thy salvation.”

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and glory.” Lk. 21: 27

The final advent or Third Coming (according to Peter of Blois) in this Advent Season is the final redemption of the world with the coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the world. The Gospel (Luke 21:23-33) today takes on apocalyptical overtones with Jesus’ prophecy of the end of the world: “And there will be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations bewildered by the roaring of the sea and waves; men fainting for fear and expectation of the things that are coming to the world; for the powers of heaven will be shaken.” Lk. 21:25-6 It is very clear to see how the whole world, the sun, the moon, the stars and the sea will reveal a time when men will be faint with fear at the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, will not come as the meek and humble babe as He did the first time in Bethlehem. He will come as an all-powerful and just judge. The whole universe will testify to His power: “the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.” (Mt. 24:29) And Jesus will come on clouds and in glory surrounded by a multitude of angels: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming upon a cloud with great power and majesty.” Lk. 21:27 In order to be ready for Jesus’ coming, we must, as St. Paul says in today’s epistle, be ready: “Brethren, knowing that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, put on the armour of light.” Rom. 12:11-12

St. Teresa’s Advent Prayer for Jesus

Let us pray with St. Teresa of Avila: “O my God, Word of the Father, Word made flesh for love of us, You assumed a mortal body in order to suffer and be immolated for us. I wish to prepare for Your coming with the burning desires of the prophets and the just who in the Old Testament sighed after You, the one Saviour and Redeemer. ‘O Lord, send Him whom You are going to send... As you have promised, come and deliver us!’ I want to keep Advent in my soul, that is, a continual longing and waiting for this great Mystery wherein You, O Word became flesh to show me the abyss of your redeeming sanctifying mercy....Come, O Lord, come! I, too wish to run to You with love, but alas! My love is so limited, weak, and imperfect! Make it strong and generous; enable me to overcome myself, so that I can give myself entirely to You... What a consolation it will be, O Lord, at the moment of death to think that we shall be judged by Him whom we have loved above all things! Then we can enter Your presence with confidence, despite the weight of our offenses!” (The Way, 40)

First Friday, December 6, 2013
Now is a good time to continue (or begin) the devotion to the “Nine First Fridays” of the Month. The Sacred Heart of Jesus promised to St. Margaret Mary: "I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment." There is no better way of honouring the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus than in receiving Holy Communion on the “Nine First Fridays.”.

Mission of the Immaculate Mediatrix(MIM)
7 December 2013

On the First Saturday of every month, we will have our monthly formation program for those who interested in affiliating themselves with the Marian Spirituality of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. The day begins at 9:30 AM and goes until 4 PM and includes two conferences, Holy Mass, adoration and the rosary. (see flyer on door) This spirituality is Marian and Franciscan and includes the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Maximilian Kolbe and other Franciscan saints. “The fundamental aim of the MIM is the fulfilment of God’s plan for the salvation and sanctification of all souls through the maternal mediation of the Immaculate to the supreme glory of the Most Holy Trinity.” (Article 2: Statute)
It is most important at this time in our world to come together and learn about Our Lady and her messages especially Fatima. Pope John Paul II: On November 9, 1976 said in the USA as Karol Cardinal Wojtyla: “We are now standing in face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that the wide circles of American society or the wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the Anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-gospel.” We hope that all of you will consider joining the MIM and work for your own sanctification and the sanctification of so many souls who are in danger of being lost for all eternity in hell as Our Lady said at Fatima.

The Five First Saturdays
Next Saturday, 7 December is the First Saturday of November. Our Lady told Sr. Lucia in 1925 “…I promise to assist at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months go to confession and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for a quarter of an hour while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me." If only we would do what Our Lady asks, we would be assured of eternal salvation. Our Lady promises us all the graces necessary for our salvation if we keep The Five First Saturdays!