Friday, December 4, 2015

Second Sunday of Advent: 6 December 2015


Second Sunday of Advent

6 December 2015

 

People of Sion, behold the Lord  shall come to save the nations: and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard in the joy of your heart.”  (Introit)

Today’s Holy Mass brings us closer to the Coming of Jesus at Christmas.  We are reminded of the great hope that we should have in Jesus Christ, the Son of  God, who  comes to give all men salvation.  We see this especially in today’s Epistle to Romans (15:4-13) in which St. Paul cites several passages from the Old Testament informing the Jews that the Messiah would bring great joy to the Gentiles who also would be invited into the Kingdom.  In the Gospel (Mt. 11:2-10), we are given the text in which St. John the Baptist sends some of his followers to ask Christ if He is the anointed one, the Messiah.  St. John does this, not for  his own information, but for his followers so that they will know that Jesus is the true Messiah and that he, John, is only his precursor.  With today’s prayers and readings, we are filled with joy and hope in the Incarnation, the greatest event the world has seen.   Nothing could be more important than the Son of God becoming man and dwelling among us in order to bring us redemption from sin and eternal happiness in His kingdom.

 

“And there shall come forth a branch out of the rod of Jesse, and a flower shall rise out of his root. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him...”. Is. 11: 1

            Dom Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Year Vol. 1, shows how the prophet Isaiah foretells the coming Messiah: “How much is contained in these magnificent  words of the prophet!  The branch; the flower that is to come from it; the Spirit which rests on the flower;  the seven gifts of the Spirit; peace and confidence established on the earth; and, throughout the world, one brotherhood in the kingdom of the Messias! St. Jerome....says that the branch which cometh forth from the root of Jesse, is the blessed Virgin Mary, who had contact with no shrub or plant; and that the flower is the Lord Jesus, who says in Canticle of canticles: ‘I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valley.’ In every age of the Christian Church this wonderful branch and its divine flower have been objects of enthusiastic veneration. In the middle ages the tree of Jesse, with its prophetic branches, was carved on the cathedral porches, was painted on the windows was embroidered on the hanging of the sanctuary, and the melodious voice of the priests sang its praises in the beautiful responsory composed by Fulbert of Chartres, and put to music by the devout king Robert. ‘R. The root of Jesse gave out a branch, and the branch a flower; *and on the flower resteth the  holy Spirit.  V. The Virgin Mother of  God is the branch, her Son the flower. *And on the flower resteth the holy Spirit.’”

            “The devout St. Bernard, commenting upon this responsory in his second Advent homily, says: ‘The Virgin’s Son is the flower, a flower white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands; a flower on whom the angels love to look; a flower whose fragrance restores the dead; a flower, as himself assures us, of the field, not of a garden; for the flowers of the field bloom without man’s care, no man has sown their seed, no man has cultivated them. Just so the Virgin’s womb, a meadow verdant in an endless spring, has brought forth a flower, whose beauty will never droop, whose freshness will never fade. O Virgin, branch sublime, to what a height are thou grown!  Even up to Him that sitteth on the throne, even to the Lord of majesty.  It was sure to be so, for thou castest deep down the roots of humility. O plant of heaven indeed! Precious above all, holier than all. O tree of life indeed! Alone worthy to bear the fruit of salvation.’” Gueranger, p. 161-2    

 

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom. 15:13

St. Paul reminds us that if we truly wish to belong to Christ and experience the joy and peace that comes with hoping in Him, then we must have one mind toward one another after the example of Jesus Christ.  “Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ; that with one mind and with one mouth you may glorify God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ .  Rom. 15:5-6.  St. Paul reminds the Romans that they must receive one another as Christ has received them:  “Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honour of God.”  Rom. 15:7.  St. Paul then recounts how Jesus had made Himself  the minister of circumcision”  (Rom.  15:8) to fulfil the promises made to the Jews, but now He has opened His kingdom to include the Gentiles who will “glorify God for His mercy, as it is written.”  Rom. 15:9

 

Call of the Gentiles

          As St. Paul is writing to the Romans, he praises God for extending His call   to His Kingdom not just for the Jews but also the Gentiles.  He cites Psalm 17:50  and 2 Kgs. 22:50: “‘Therefore will I praise thee among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name.’ And again he says, ‘Rejoice you Gentiles, with his people.’ And again, he says (Ps. 116:1), ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; sing his praises, all you peoples.’ And again Isaiah (Is. 11:10) says, ‘There shall be the root of Jesse, and he who shall arise to rule the Gentiles...in him the Gentiles shall hope.’” Rom. 15:9-12  This ‘Root of Jesse’ is the Branch from the root of Jesse who is Christ, Who, as the Son of David was sprung from Jesse the father of David  (Msgr. Patrick Boylan, The Sunday Epistles and Gospels, p. 13)   St. Paul concludes this passage with a prayer that the Romans will be filled with joy and peace from the God of hope for believing in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit who will fill you with these blessings for your belief in Christ: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope and in power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom 15:13

 

“Go and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them....”  Mt. 11:4

            Dom Gueranger comments on the many spiritual and material blessings prophesied of the Messiah which Jesus points out about Himself  in  today’s Gospel: “Thou art He that was to come, O Jesus!  We look for no other.  We are blind, Thou has enlightened us; we were lame, Thou hast made us walk; the leprosy of sin disfigured us, Thou hast cleansed us; we were deaf to Thy words, Thou hast given us hearing; we were dead to sin, Thou hast given us life again; we were poor and had none to care for us, Thou hast come to us with every aid and consolation. These have been, and will again be, the blessings of Thy visit to our souls, O Jesus!  A visit silent but wonderful in its work; which flesh and blood cannot understand, but which faithful hearts feel is granted them. Come, my Saviour, come to me, Thy condescension, and familiarity with such poverty as mine, shall not scandalize me; Thy workings in the souls of men are proof enough that Thou are God. He alone, that created souls, can heal them.” Gueranger, p. 167

 

All Messianic Blessings in Jesus Christ

These words of Jesus in today’s Gospel (Mt. 11:2-10) would certainly have stimulated the hope that the Gentiles would have in Christ.  Who could ever imagine that a man would be able to do these things?  Only those who were familiar with Isaiah’s words on the blessings of the Messiah would have expected it in the coming Holy One of God.  Jesus brings all these blessings to men. St. John the Baptist knew who Jesus was as he baptized him in the Jordan and called out for all to hear: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  This is he of whom I said, ‘After me there comes one who has been set above me, because he was before me...” Jn. 1:29-30   Jesus also knew John and praised John:  “What went ye out to the desert to see?  A reed swaying in the wind?  What then went ye out to see?  A man clad in luxurious garments?  ....To see a prophet? Yea, I tell you, and more than a prophet.  This is he of whom it is written ‘Behold I send My messenger before thee, and he will prepare they way before thee.’” Mt. 11: 7-10

 

Will we be able to recognize Christ’s Coming?

            We too will recognize Christ this Christmas if we are like St. John the Baptist.   As he tried to prepare men’s hearts for the coming of the Messiah, so we too should be preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ on Christmas Day.  We should imitate St. John the Baptist in our preparation: he is steadfast and firm unlike the reed which bends in the wind.  St. John did not bow to popular opinion and consensus.  He was a man of great self-denial who survived twenty-five years in the desert on locusts and wild honey; he did not dress in the soft garments and live in the palaces of kings.  St. John’s whole life was one of great self-denial and mortification from the pleasures of this world.  This is how we must prepare for Christ spiritually by prayer, self-denial and total dedication to the gospel message.  Then we will recognize Christ on Christmas Day as the shepherds and Magi and the angels did and worship in great wonder and joy:  “Glory to God in the Highest and peace on earth among men of good will.” Lk. 2:14

 

The Solemnity of The Immaculate Conception,

Tuesday  8th December  2015

Holy Mass at 10 A. M.

(The Immaculate Conception is not an Holyday of Obligation, it is highly recommended to attend Holy Mass on this Solemnity.)

 

Some may wonder why it was so necessary for Our Lady to be freed from all sin, both original and actual, with her Immaculate Conception. First of all, it would be unbecoming for the Divine Saviour to have a mother who would be connected with sin in any way. Second, it was most important that Our Lady would never have been under the power of Satan.  Genesis 3:15. This text of the Protoevangelium, the first Gospel,  was spoken by God  to the serpent  in the garden immediately after Adam  transgressed  God’s precept of not eating from the tree of good and evil: I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed. She shall crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”   Thus it is the woman and her seed who will crush the head of the serpent. Jesus and Mary are united in the work of the redemption.

Blessed Pius IX in his solemn definition, Ineffabilis Deus, made in 1854, 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.  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.

 

 

First Friday, December 4, 2015

  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)

5 December 2015

 

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, 5 December is the First Saturday of December. 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Sunday of Advent: 29 November 2015


First Sunday of Advent:
29 November 2015
 
“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 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 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 through imitating 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 in 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 4, 2015
  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)
5 December 2015
 
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, 5 December is the First Saturday of December. 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!
 
CHRISTMAS PRAYER
PRAYER TO OBTAIN FAVORS  
 
Hail and blessed be the hour
and moment in which the Son
of God was born of the most
pure Virgin Mary, at midnight,
in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe, O my
God! to hear my prayer and
grant my desires.  Through the
 
 
 


merits of Our Savior Jesus  Christ,

 and of His Blessed Mother.    Amen

 

(It is piously believed that whoever recites

the above prayer fifteen times a day from

the feast of Saint Andrew (30th Nov.)

until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

 

Last Sunday after Pentecost , 22 November 2015


Last Sunday after Pentecost

(From 24th and  Last Sunday of Pentecost)

22  November 2015

 

"Come, ye blessed of My Father, Possess the kingdom prepared for you....” Mt. 35:40

In his book of meditations on the liturgy, Divine Intimacy,  Fr. Gabriel of St. Magdalen, OCD. comments: “The Mass for today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year is a prayer of thanksgiving for the year that is ending and one of propriation for that which is about to begin; it is a reminder that the present life is fleeting, and an invitation to keep ourselves in readiness for the final step which will usher us into eternity....With the description of the end of the world and the coming of Christ to judge the living and the dead, the Gospel (Mt. 24:13-25) reminds us that  just as the liturgical year comes  to an end, so does the life of man on earth. Everything will have an end, and at the end of all, will come the majestic epilogue: "Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven [the Cross]: and then shall all tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty." (Mt. 24:30) Fr. Gabriel, p. 1100-1   In today’s Epistle (Col. 1:9-14), St. Paul shows us how we can be assured of a place in the heavenly kingdom at the end of the world if we live according to God’s will: "We ... cease not to pray for you and to beg that you may be filled with the  knowledge of His will ... that you may walk worthy of God,  in all things pleasing; being fruitful in every good work,” Col. 1:9-10

 

Eternal Glory in Heaven

Fr. Gabriel tells us about the importance of today’s Epistle for the attainment of eternal glory in heaven: This is a beautiful synthesis of the task which the interior soul has endeavoured to accomplish during the whole year: to adapt and conform itself to God's holy will, to unite itself to it completely, and, being moved in all things by that divine will alone, to act in such a manner as to please Our Lord in everything. God be praised if, thanks to His help, we have succeeded in advancing some steps along the road which most surely leads to holiness. Making our own the sentiments of the Apostle, we should give thanks to “the Father who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light." (Col 1:12) The lot, the inheritance of the saints, of  those who tend toward holiness, is union of love with God-- here below in faith, hereafter in glory. This heritage is ours because Jesus merited it for us by His Blood, and because in Jesus "we have redemption, the remission of sins" (Col. 1:14); thus, cleansed from sin and clothed in grace by His infinite merits, we also can ascend to that very lofty and blessed state of union with God.” Fr. Gabriel,  p. 1100

 

The Fall of Jerusalem and the End of the World

In today’s Gospel, Jesus foretells two of the most catastrophic events to happen to mankind.  By juxtaposing the Fall of Jerusalem (70 AD) with the End of the World, Jesus warns us to be ready for what will befall our world. When Jesus prophesied “When, therefore, you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand. Then they are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains.” Mt. 24:15-6 Cornelius A Lapide in his Commentary on St. Matthew’s Gospel comments on this scriptural text, especially in relation to Fall of Jerusalem: “Some understand by it an idol placed in the temple as God; others, the sins committed by priests in the temple; others, more correctly, the Roman armies which besieged Jerusalem, and which, shortly afterward, when it had been captured, fearfully wasted it, and made it desolate. It could also mean the profanation of the temple by the murders and other crimes which were perpetuated in it by the seditious killers and wicked Jews, who call themselves Zealots of the law and of liberty.” A Lapide, p. 423. No wonder Jesus prophesied as A Lapide points out: “For there shall be then great tribulation     (Jerusalem and all Judea because of the divine vengeance as is clear from Lk. 21:33), such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be.” (Mt. 24:21)  A Lapide, p. 427

 

Jerusalem’s Catastrophic Fate

The Fall of Jerusalem was going to be the most catastrophic event to befall a nation in the entire history of the world.  It is a reminder of the great price that needed to be paid for the deicide of Jesus Christ. It is also a foreshadowing of the greater events which will happen at the end of the world.  Cornelius A Lapide says: “This most dreadful destruction of Jerusalem was an express type and prelude of the end of the world, just as Noe’s deluge, the burning of Sodom, and the drowning of Pharaoh and his entire army in the Red Sea....Christ, therefore, compares the destruction of the one nation of the Jews with that of any other nation whatsoever, but not the destruction of all nations, or the whole world. That this was the case, is plain from the seven books which Josephus compiled (de Bello Judaico).  Thus he says expressly (lib. 6 cap.11) ‘to speak briefly, I am of opinion that no other city suffered calamities, nor in any other nation of which there is memory among men was the wickedness of seditious more ferocious... (lib 7, cap. 18) The number of those who perished surpasses that of any calamity, whether human or of divine origin; of whom some were killed outright, and some were carried off by the Romans.’   ....Hence Josephus (lib. 7 Belli c. 17) asserts that besides innumerable  others slain in all parts of Judea, there fell in the siege of Jerusalem alone 1,100,000 souls, who died of famine, pestilence and the sword. ...The same writer says that 97,000 Jews were taken captive at that time..... ‘For these are the days of vengeance (i.e., for the death of Christ)... There will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.’ (Lk. 21:22) Josephus adds (lib. 7 Belli c. 16) that Titus (the Roman General) recognized this vengeance of God, and attributed the capture of Jerusalem, not to his own power, but to Him. For entering into the captured city, when he saw the height and solidity of the bulwarks and towers, he exclaimed, ‘It is evident that God has helped us to fight. It was God Himself who cast down the Jews from those fortifications. For what power of man, or what machines, would have been able to do so?’ The same Josephus (lib. 6 Belli cap. 14) adds, and Eusebius cites him (lib. 3 Hist. cap. 5) that ‘Titus went round, and saw the ditches full of corpses of the dead, he groaned aloud, and lifting up his hands to heaven, called God to witness that it was not his work.’” A Lapide, p. 424-8

 

“...the sun shall be darkened and moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and powers of heaven shall be moved.”  Mt. 24:29

Cornelius A Lapide quotes the allegorical meaning of this passage from St. Augustine (epist. 80 at Hesychium): “The sun, that is, the Church, shall be darkened, because in those tremendous tribulations and temptations which shall be in the end of the world, many who had seemed as bright and as firm  as the sun and the stars shall fall away from the Faith and a state of grace.” p. 441.  Cornelius A Lapide gives a more  literal and symbolic explanation of this passage: “...the sun will be darkened because God will withhold His concurrence and take away from it, not its light, but its power of illuminating and of scattering  its rays; thus   it shall come to pass that in the sun there will be light, but upon the earth nothing but darkness, as it  happened during the passion of Christ, so as to manifest the indignity which He suffered, since the sun, the moon, the earth and rocks and all the elements seemed to mourn, indeed grow indignant....” A Lapide, p.441-2

 

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn...” Mt. 24:30

Cornelius A Lapide quoting St. Augustine (serm. 130 de  Tempore) tells us of the power of Christ’s Cross:  “Hast thou considered how great is the virtue of the Sign of the Cross?  The sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give her light; but the cross shall shine and shall obscure the heavenly luminaries. When the stars shall fall, it alone shall send forth radiance, that thou mayest  learn how the cross is more luminous  than the moon and more glorious than the sun, because illuminated by the brilliance of divine  light, it shall surpass their splendour. For just as when a king enters into a city, his soldiers go before him, bearing upon their shoulders the royal arms and standards, and all the pomp of military array, to proclaim the monarch’s entry; so when the Lord descends from  heaven, the angel hosts shall go before Him,  bearing upon their lofty shoulders that sign  which is the ensign of triumph, to announce to the inhabitants of earth the divine entrance of the heavenly King... But why will the cross appear then?  That they might understand the mystery of iniquity (cf. II Thess. 2:7).   ‘And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn.’ (Mt. 24:30) That is, many of every tribe, that is, all the reprobate and the damned shall mourn, because they have neglected their salvation, which cost Christ so dearly that he was crucified. But the elect will rejoice and sing, because they will see that they have been saved and blessed by the cross.  The distribution (of rewards), then, is to each according to his kind, and not to (predetermined) categories of individuals as logicians put it. S. Augustine (serm. 130 de Tempore) gives the cause of weeping, ... because they shall see their accuser, that is, the cross itself; and at the sight of this reprover they shall acknowledge their sin. Too late, and in vain shall they confess  their impious blindness. And dost thou marvel that when Christ cometh He will bring His cross, since He will show His wounds also?” A Lapide, p. 446

 

“And they shall see the Son of  man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty.” Mt. 24:30b

Cornelius A Lapide comments of the power of Jesus at this His Second Coming: “In Greek, ‘with great strength and glory’, Lk. 21:27 ‘with great power’. For as Christ as His first advent came into the world in great infirmity of the flesh, in poverty and contempt, so He hath thereby merited to come  in His second advent with great strength, glory and majesty. His might and strength shall appear, in that at His command all the dead shall rise in a moment; in that all men, angels, and devils shall behold and worship Him as their God, their Lord, and their Judge; in that He shall pass sentence upon all according to their merits, and shall execute His sentence, so that none shall dare to contradict or resist it. His majesty shall appear in the infinite splendour of His body, in the multitude  and brightness of all the angels accompanying Him, and in His garments of radiant clouds, also in the trumpets, thunder, lightning, earthquakes, etc., that shall precede Him....” A Lapide, p. 448

 

Confidence in God’s Love

St. Teresa of Avila gives us a confidence that, if we have loved God in this world we should have no fear of death nor God’s judgment: "Deign, O Lord, to grant me the experience of true love before You take me from this life, for it will be a great thing  at the hour of my death to realize that I shall be judged by One whom I have loved above all things. I shall be able to meet You with security, certain that I shall not be going  into a foreign land, but into my own country, for it belongs to the One whom I have loved so truly and who has loved  me in return.  How sweet will be the death of that soul who has done penance for all its sins and does not have to go to purgatory! It may be that it will begin to enjoy glory even in this  world, and will know no fear, but only peace!" St. Jose Maria Escriva, The Way, 40

 

Addendum:   for you spiritual life!

 

“…regaining lost  joy ...”

A Good Confession

If we want to regain some of the lost joy which we should have in this world when we think of our heavenly home then we need to make a good confession of ours sins. Pope John Paul in his Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliation and Penance, (2 December, 1984, 31, III) tells us that every contrite confession is “a drawing near to the holiness of God, a rediscovery of one’s true identity, which has been upset and disturbed by sin, a liberation in the very depths of one’s self and thus a regaining of lost joy, the joy of  being saved, which the majority of people in our time are no longer capable of experiencing.”

 

 

Monday, November 16, 2015

(25th Sunday after Pentecost) Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, 15 November 2015


Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

(25th Sunday after Pentecost)

15 November 2015

(Epistle & Gospel, of 6th Sunday after Epiphany)

 

“I will open my mouth in parables; things hidden since the world was made I will announce.”  Mt. 13:35

In today’s readings, we have the fulfilment of the gospel parables, The Mustard Seed and The Leaven, found in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians (1:2-10).  St. Paul praises the faith of the Thessalonians:“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great tribulation with joy in the Holy Spirit, so that you became a pattern for all believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. I Thess. 1:6-7  In the Gospel (Mt,13:31-35), Jesus speaks of The Parable of the Mustard Seed which “is the smallest of all the seeds; but when it grows up it is larger than any herb and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in its branches.” Mt. 13:32.  Jesus also speaks of The Parable of the Leaven “which a woman took and buried in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” Mt. 13:33.  Both parables speak of the Kingdom of God, the Church upon earth, and how it will grow from the Twelve Apostles throughout the whole world and will influence all peoples with the  gospel message.  This fruitful growth of the Church among the pagan people through the preaching of St. Paul is evident in the Epistle to the Thessalonians. For their faithfulness, sacrifice, and good example the Thessalonians became an example to all the other Churches in Greece:  “We thank God always for all of you when we make mention of you in our prayers for we unceasingly remember your active faith, your energetic charity and your unwavering hope in our Lord Jesus Christ before the face of God, our Father.”  I Thess. 1:2-3.

 

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

Although it is the smallest of seeds the mustard seed grows into a tree so large that the birds of the air dwell in its branches.  So, too, the Church Jesus founded upon the Twelve Apostles would grow until it encompassed almost all of the  known world at that time. Similarly, within three centuries the Church would be established throughout the entire Roman Empire. St. Augustine comments on the spiritual significance of the mustard seed: “At first glance it seems small, worthless, despised, not marked by any flavour, not surrounded by any   odour, nor giving any sign of sweetness; but  once it is bruised, it sheds abroad  its odour, displays its sharpness  and exhales nourishment of a fiery taste. ...Thus, too, the Christian Faith, at first sight, appears small, worthless and frail, not manifesting its power, nor carrying any semblance of pride, nor conferring grace. But as soon as it begins to be bruised by divers temptations, immediately it manifests its vigour, indicates its sharpness, breathes the warmth of belief in the Lord, and is possessed with so great ardour  of divine fire, that both itself is hot and it compels those who participate to be fervent also. As the two disciples said in the holy gospel, when the Lord spoke with them after His passion, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us by the way, while the Lord Jesus opened to us the Scriptures.’ (Lk. 24:32) A grain of mustard, then, warms the inward members of our bodies, but the  power of faith burns up the sins of our hearts. The one indeed takes away piercing cold; the other expels the devil’s frost of transgressions. A grain of mustard, I say, purges away corporeal humours, but faith puts an end to the flux of lusts. By the one, medicine is gained for the head; but by faith our spiritual Head, Christ the Lord, is often refreshed. Moreover, we enjoy the sacred odour of faith, according to the analogy of mustard seed, as the blessed Apostle saith, ‘We are a sweet savour of Christ unto God.’’’ (II Cor. 2:15) A Lapide, Commentary on St. Matthew’s Gospel, p. 27

 

The Parable of the Leaven

The Parable of the Leaven flows naturally from The Parable of the Mustard Seed because as the Church grows, so will it influence the whole world just as the leaven (yeast) permeates all the dough.   Interestingly, the three measures of bread is quite large and will feed eighteen people for five days.   Jesus makes it so large to emphasize that the Church will influence the whole world. St. Ambrose also applies this to Christ in a spiritual meaning of the leaven:  “Therefore, if the Lord is wheat (as He Himself says in John 12:24), the Lord is the leaven, too, since leaven is usually made only of wheaten flour. Therefore, the Lord is rightly compared to leaven for when He was in the form of man, made small by humility and despised for His weakness, He contained within Himself such power of wisdom that the world itself could scarcely contain His doctrine. When He began to diffuse Himself throughout the world by virtue of His divinity, He immediately drew the entire human race into His substance by His power so that He might place the yoke of His Holy Spirit upon all of them, that is, make all Christians to be what Christ is....so Christ (like leaven) is broken up and dissolved by His various sufferings, and His moisture, that is, His precious blood, was poured out for our salvation, that it might by mingling  itself with the whole human race, consolidate that race, which lay scattered abroad.”  A Lapide, p. 29-30

 

The Growth of the Church at Thessalonica

After St. Paul was expelled by the Jewish leaders at Philippi, he went to the port city of Thessalonica where he found the inhabitants of that city open to the message of the gospel.  At first, St. Paul went to the Jewish residents of the city, but after a few weeks with little success, he turned to the Gentiles. There he met with so much success that the Jewish leaders brought charges of treason (preaching about another king) against the  Christian missionaries, and St. Paul and his companions had to flee.  While at Athens, St. Paul sent Timothy to learn how the Church at Thessalonica fared during the persecution.  Timothy reported later, when Paul was at Corinth, that the converts were heroic in the practice of the faith: “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great tribulation with joy in the Holy Spirit, so that you became a pattern for all believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. From you the word of the Lord has been spread abroad not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we need say nothing further.”   I Thess. 1:6-8.  The Thessalonians are a joy to the heart of Paul, as they not only embraced the faith from their pagan ways, but they have even imitated Paul and his companions, Silvanus and Timothy, and spread the faith by their good example throughout the land and the other seaports. 

 

Early Christians a reproach to us today

Dom Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Life, Vol. 4, tells us how the early Christians are a strong reproach to us to imitate them in their lives:  “The praise which the apostle here gives to  the Thessalonians for their fervour in the faith they had embraced, conveys a reproach to the Christians of our times. These neophytes of Thessalonica, who, a short time before, were worshippers of idols, had become so earnest in the practice of the Christian religion, that even the apostle is filled with admiration. We are the descendants of the countless Christian ancestors; we received our regeneration by Baptism at our first coming into the world; we were taught the doctrine of Jesus Christ from our earliest childhood: yet, our faith is not so strong, nor our lives so holy, as were those of the early Christian.  Their main occupation was serving the living and true God, and waiting for the coming of their Saviour.  Our hope is precisely the same as that which made their hearts so fervent; how comes it that our faith is not like theirs in its generosity?  We love this present life, as though we had no firm conviction that it is to pass away.” Gueranger, p. 102

 

Good Example

The power of good example is the reason why the Thessalonians followed Paul and his companions and why other Greeks followed the example of the Thessalonians.  Despite persecution, they kept the faith and awaited the coming of the Lord.  So, too, should we, as the parables in today’s gospel suggest, try to build up the kingdom of God by our good example and permeate all of society.  This is what Our Lady requested at Fatima when she asked us to pray and sacrifice for the souls of so many in our time who are in danger of being lost for all eternity unless they get a miracle of God’s grace: “Pray and sacrifice for many souls will go to hell, unless someone prays and sacrifices for them.” (Fatima, 1917)

 

November:Remember the Poor Souls in Purgatory


  Let us remember all those who have given their lives during the Two World Wars by recalling the words of this lovely poem.


 


 


“In Flanders Fields”


by John McCrae, May 1915


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.”