Saturday, December 29, 2007

Just for Today, December 30

Keep thyself with Jesus both in life and death, and commit thyself to His care who alone can help thee, when all others fail.
- Bk. II, ch. vii.

Love watches, and sleeping, slumbers not: but like a lively flame, and a torch all on fire, it mounts upwards, and securely passes through all opposition.
-Bk. III, ch. x

A few nights before her death Soeur Genevieve came into the infirmary, and found her with eyes raised to Heaven and hands joined in prayer: "What are you doing? You ought to be trying to sleep."

"I cannot, so I am praying."

"What do you say to Our Lord?"

"Nothing; I am just loving Him."
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 30

He who keeps steadily on without pausing, will reach the end of his path and the summit of per­fection.

-St. Teresa
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Gospel for the 5th Day in the Octave of Christmas

Optional Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr
Old Calendar: St. Thomas of Canterbury

From: Luke 2:22-35

The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

[22] And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they (Joseph and Mary) brought Him (Jesus) up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord [23] (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons."

Simeon's Prophecy

[25] Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. [26] And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. [27] And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, [28] he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, [29] "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; [30] for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation [31] which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, [32] a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory to Thy people Israel."

[33] And His father and His mother marvelled at what was said about Him; [34] and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother, "Behold this child is set for the fall and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against [35] (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."


22-24. The Holy Family goes up to Jerusalem to fulfill the prescriptions of the Law of Moses--the purification of the mother and the presentation and then redemption or buying back of the first-born. According to Leviticus 12:2-8, a woman who bore a child was unclean. The period of legal impurity ended, in the case of a mother of a male child, after forty days, with a rite of purification. Mary most holy, ever-virgin, was exempt from these precepts of the Law, because she conceived without intercourse, nor did Christ's birth undo the virginal integrity of His Mother. However, she chose to submit herself to the Law, although she was under no obligation to do so.

"Through this example, foolish child, won't you learn to fulfill the holy Law of God, regardless of personal sacrifice?

"Purification! You and I certainly do need purification. Atonement and, more than atonement, Love. Love as a searing iron to cauterize our soul's uncleanness, and as a fire to kindle with divine flames the wretchedness of our hearts" ([St] J. Escriva, "Holy Rosary", Fourth Joyful Mystery).

Also, in Exodus 13:2, 12-13 it is indicated that every first-born male belongs to God and must be set apart for the Lord, that is, dedicated to the service of God. However, once divine worship was reserved to the tribe of Levi, first-born who did not belong to that tribe were not dedicated to God's service, and to show that they continued to be God's special property, a rite of redemption was performed.

The Law also laid down that the Israelites should offer in sacrifice some lesser victim--for example, a lamb or, if they were poor, a pair of doves or two pigeons. Our Lord, who "though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9), chose to have a poor man's offering made on His behalf.

25-32. Simeon, who is described as a righteous and devout man, obedient to God's will, addresses himself to our Lord as a vassal or loyal servant who, having kept watch all his life in expectation of the coming of his Lord, sees that this moment has "now" come, the moment that explains his whole life. When he takes the Child in his arms, he learns, not through any reasoning process but through a special grace from God, that this Child is the promised Messiah, the Consolation of Israel, the Light of the nations.

Simeon's canticle (verses 29-32) is also a prophecy. It consists of two stanzas: the first (verses 29-30) is an act of thanksgiving to God, filled with profound joy for having seen the Messiah. The second (verses 31-32) is more obviously prophetic and extols the divine blessings which the Messiah is bringing to Israel and to all men. The canticle highlights the fact that Christ brings redemption to all men without exception--something foretold in many Old Testament prophecies (cf. Genesis 22:18; Isaiah 2:6; 42:6; 60:3; Psalm 28:2).

It is easy to realize how extremely happy Simeon was--given that many patriarchs, prophets and kings of Israel had yearned to see the Messiah, yet did not see Him, whereas he now held Him in his arms (cf. Luke 10:24; 1 Peter 1:10).

33. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph marvelled not because they did not know who Christ was; they were in awe at the way God was revealing Him. Once again they teach us to contemplate the mysteries involved in the birth of Christ.

34-35. After Simeon blesses them, the Holy Spirit moves him to further prophecy about the Child's future and His Mother's. His words become clearer in the light of our Lord's life and death.

Jesus came to bring salvation to all men, yet He will be a sign of contradiction because some people will obstinately reject Him--and for this reason He will be their ruin. But for those who accept Him with faith Jesus will be their salvation, freeing them from sin in this life and raising them up to eternal life.

The words Simeon addresses to Mary announce that she will be intimately linked with her Son's redemptive work. The sword indicates that Mary will have a share in her Son's sufferings; hers will be an unspeakable pain which pierces her soul. Our Lord suffered on the cross for our sins, and it is those sins which forge the sword of Mary's pain. Therefore, we have a duty to atone not only to God but also to His Mother, who is our Mother too.

The last words of the prophecy, "that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed", link up with verse 34: uprightness or perversity will be demonstrated by whether one accepts or rejects Christ.

36-38. Anna's testimony is very similar to Simeon's; like him, she too has been awaiting the coming of the Messiah her whole life long, in faithful service of God, and she too is rewarded with the joy of seeing Him. "She spoke of Him," that is, of the Child--praising God in her prayer and exhorting others to believe that this Child is the Messiah.

Thus, the birth of Christ was revealed by three kinds of witnesses in three different ways--first, by the shepherds, after the angel's announcement; second, by the Magi, who were guided by a star; third, by Simeon and Anna, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

All who, like Simeon and Anna, persevere in piety and in the service of God, no matter how insignificant their lives seem in men's eyes, become instruments the Holy Spirit uses to make Christ known to other. In His plan of redemption God avails of these simple souls to do much good to all mankind.

39. Before their return to Nazareth, St. Matthew tells us (2:13-23), the Holy Family fled to Egypt where they stayed for some time.

40. "Our Lord Jesus Christ as a child, that is, as one clothed in the fragility of human nature, had to grow and become stronger but as the eternal Word of God He had no need to become stronger or to grow. Hence He is rightly described as full of wisdom and grace" (St. Bede, "In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Just for Today, December 29

Neither desire to be singularly praised or beloved: for this belongs to God alone, who hath none like to Him­self. Neither desire that anyone's heart should be set on thee; nor do thou let thyself be taken up with the love of anyone; but let Jesus be in thee and in every good man.
- Bk. II, ch. viii.

My love for them (the novices) is so disinterested that I do not even want them to know of it, but I would be ready to give my life for them. By the grace of God I have never tried to win their affection. I knew that my mission was to lead them to God and to you, dear Mother, who represent God to them, and whom they are therefore bound to love and respect.
- The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 29

In proportion as the love of God increases in our soul, so does also the love of suffering.

-St. Vincent de Paul
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for December 29, A Great Joy

I bring you tidings of great joy, the Angels announced to the shepherds.

What is this great joy? - A Savior is born to you. What consi­tutes the joy of possessing a Savior?

Supernatural life was lost to the world by the fall of Adam and Eve. The only means of salvation was that possible today for those who do not possess the true faith, namely, fidelity to duty in the darkness of error. I benefit by the normal means of salvation, membership in the visible Church. How easily I can learn the truth! How much assistance I have to live it!

Am I convinced that the message of the Catholic Church is pri­marily a doctrine of joy? The Gospel brings good tidings. Super­natural life was lost; it is returned forever. Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth to men. "Joy, joy, weep for joy!" Pascal dared to say.

At first sight religion appears as a code rather than joyful tidings, a collection of stringent measures rather than liberty and expansion. Let me profit by the song of the angels. The Gospel is pre-eminently the announcement that the Redemption has been accomplished. God be praised! Joy, joy, Peace and joy!

"O Jesus, throughout this year which is ending I have not sufficiently lived in joy. I reproach myself, because my life, on this account, has been less radiant and complete. During the coming year, I will expand my soul to the dimensions of the true Gospel and according to its spirit. 'We have no right to be sad,' said a Bishop, 'except at the authentic news of the death of our God.' But our God is not only not dead but He has come down to earth to live. What cause for joy!"
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

A Reminder - Cardinal George Visits Shrine this Saturday

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George will visit the Institute of Christ the King's Chicago headquarters, the Shrine of Christ the King, on Saturday, December 29th at 1:30 PM. His Eminence, the president of the USCCB, will attend a Solemn High Mass and crown the precious, recently acquired statue of the Divine Infant King. All are invited to attend!

The church building, until now "gutted," has been cleaned and beautifully prepared for this occasion (see pictures here), and will now be used regularly as construction work allows. Funds are still being sought to restore the church. Details about the restoration project are available at All donations are most gratefully accepted.

The Future of the Jesuits by Russell Shaw

December 28, 2007

On a quick trip to Rome a few weeks ago, I made it a point to visit the Gesu, the mother church of the Society of Jesus, and to pray for the Jesuits and their general congregation opening January 7. I found much of the church's magnificent Baroque interior concealed by scaffolding set up for a housecleaning before that crucial event.

The symbolism couldn't have been more apt. Just as the Gesu, in the historic heart of Rome, needed renovating, so does the Society itself. Rather than operating at the cutting edge of the Church, Jesuits in recent decades have fallen increasingly behind the times and, not unlike the Gesu, now stand in need of some serious renewing.

This is not an anti-Jesuit polemic. I am grateful for the education I received from the Society. Over the years I've known many Jesuits, and most have been — and still are — admirable men, loyal sons of the Church deeply devoted to the service of the people of God. Many have been, and still are, my friends.

Yet as 217 Jesuits from around the world convene at the Society's headquarters near St. Peter's Square for the 35th general congregation in the order's history, they face the challenge of not only electing a new General Superior but setting directions for a body in long-running crisis. Business as usual won't work. The Jesuits need an overhaul and they need it soon....

...The delegates to the 35th general congregation have the task of choosing a successor and setting policy for the years ahead. People who care about the Jesuits should wish them much success. That's what I prayed for at the Gesu when I was there.
We should all pray for them and ask for the special interecession of St Ignatius.

Gospel for Dec 28, Feast: The Holy Innocents, Martyrs

From: Matthew 2:13-18

The Flight Into Egypt

[13] Now when they (the Magi) had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the Child, to destroy Him." [14] And he rose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed to Egypt, [15]and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called My Son."

The Massacre of the Innocents

[16] Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. [17] Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: [18] "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more."

14. St. John Chrysostom, commenting on this passage, draws a particular attention to Joseph's faithfulness and obedience: "On hearing this, Joseph was not scandalized, nor did he say, `This is hard to understand. You yourself told me not long ago that He would save His people, and not He is not able to save even Himself. Indeed, we have to flee and undertake a journey and be away for a long time...'. But he does not say any of these things, because Joseph is a faithful man. Neither does he ask when they will be coming back, even though the angel had left it open when he said `and remain there till I tell you.' This does not hold him back: on the contrary, he obeys, believes and endures all trials with joy" ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 8).

It is worth noting also how God's way of dealing with His chosen ones contains light and shade: they have to put up with intense sufferings side by side with great joy: "It can be clearly seen that God, who is full of love for man, mixes pleasant things with unpleasant ones, as He did with all the Saints. He gives us neither dangers nor consolations in a continual way, but rather He makes the lives of the just a mixture of both. This was what He did with Joseph" ("ibid".).

15. The text of Hosea 11:1 speaks of a child who comes out of Egypt and is a son of God. This refers in the first place to the people of Israel whom God brought out of Egypt under Moses' leadership. But this event was a symbol or prefiguration of Jesus, the Head of the Church, the New People of God. It is in Him that this prophecy is principally fulfilled. The sacred text gives a quotation from the Old Testament in the light of its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. The Old Testament achieves its full meaning in Christ, and, in the words of St. Paul, to read it without keeping in mind Jesus is to have one's face covered by a veil (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18).

18. Ramah was the city in which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, concentrated the Israelites he had taken prisoner. Since Ramah was in the land of Benjamin, Jeremiah puts this lament for the children of Israel in the mouth of Rachel, the mother of Benjamin and Joseph. So great was the misfortune of those exiled to Babylon that Jeremiah says poetically that Rachel's sorrow is too great to allow for consolation.

"Rachel was buried in the racecourse near Bethlehem. Since her grave was nearby and the property belonged to her son, Benjamin (Rachel was of the tribe of Benjamin), the children beheaded in Bethlehem could reasonably be called Rachel's children" (St John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St Matthew", 9).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Just for Today, December 28

Many examine who is greatest in the kingdom of God, who know not if they shall be worthy to be numbered among the least. It is a great matter to be even the least in heaven, where all are great; because all shall be called, and shall be the children of God. The least shall be as a thousand, and the sinner of a hundred years shall die.

For when the disciples asked who was the greater in the kingdom of heaven? they received this answer:
Unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. xviii, 1,3,4).
- Bk. III, ch. lviii.

Speaking of the Communion of Saints, she said: "With the virgins we shall be virgins, with the doctors we shall be doctors, with the martyrs we shall be mar­tyrs, for all the Saints are our kindred; but those who followed the way of spiritual childhood will always keep the charm of children. From my earliest years God has given me the con­viction that I would die young."

-Novissima Verba
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 28

If you wish to be pleasing to God and happy here below, be in all things united to His will.

-­St. Alphonsus
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for December 28, The Holy Innocents

Herod and his court are angry with Jesus. Because of Him the little Innocents will perish. "This new-born child must die," Herod cries out. "Those Magi were to bring me word about Him. Did I not tell them that I would go and adore Him? Oh, the wretches, they have gone back another way into their country. Very well then, let all small children in Bethlehem be killed. Let none escape. The future King of the Jews must be included in this great slaughter. Woe to them if like Joash at the time of Queen Athaliah, the precious Child be saved! That must not be! All, you understand, kill all!"

Herod reckons without Divine Providence. Arise, says the Angel to Joseph, Take the Child and His Mother and fly into Egypt, and be there until I shall tell thee.

Joseph leaves; the Child is saved. A miracle of prompt obedi­ence! A few hours of delay and all would have been lost. Jesus would have been among the slaughtered.

"O my divine "Savior, since Your birth You have willed that suffering be our lot. Sometimes the mere fact that we are consecrated to You by vows is enough to bring wrath and persecution upon us. The Holy Innocents of Your time have had successors in every epoch. May You be blessed, O Jesus, if I must suffer for Your Name. Strengthen me in that hour."

I must have greater trust in Divine Providence. My faith is weak. St. Felix of Nola, pursued by his enemies, hid in a crack in an old wall....A spider descended and spun its web in the opening. The police came and seeing the web said: "No one has entered here for a long time." And they passed on. St. Paulinus, who relates the fact, adds: "Where Christ is present the spider web becomes a wall; where Christ is absent the wall becomes a spider web."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

69 Year Old Pro Lifer Attacked in Harrisburg, PA

At 6:30 am on Saturday, December 22, while most were snug in bed, resting up for Christmas activities, veteran pro-lifer Ed Snell, was arriving at Hillcrest Abortion Center, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He had come with two other activists to persuade women entering the clinic not to abort their pre-born children.

The group customarily meets at the clinic and has saved many lives. In fact, they have been so effective, that the clinic erected a 7-foot privacy fence to cut off all communication between the women and the pro-lifers. However, their efforts were scuttled, when the activists began bringing ladders so they could speak over the fence.

Mr. Snell, age 69, preferred to stand on a more solid foundation, so he constructed a plywood platform on the roof of his car to elevate him above the fence.

...As Ed stood on his platform that morning, a man and woman exited a car in the parking lot and proceeded towards that door of the abortion mill.

When Mr. Snell tried to counsel the woman, his words were cut short when the man became furious, jumped the fence and, in the words of [fellow activist and eyewitness John] McTernan, “leaped on the vehicle with Ed and catapulted him off of the vehicle and onto the ground.” Mr. Snell hit his back and head on the pavement and was knocked unconscious...
This story continues by describing the serious injuries suffered by Mr. Snell, the failure of local police to promptly arrest the assailant, their threats against Mr. McTernan, and the failure of the media to cover the incident...It appears from the article that both the local police and the media are incompetent. Not surprising in a society which embraces a culture of death...

As Mr. McTernan related, had the tables been turned and a pro-life advocate assaulted an abortion worker or 'client,' the police most assuredly would have arrested the assailant on the spot and the media would have played this up this story for viewers' amusement and ridicule of the pro-life movement - all while countless assaults and murders take place daily in the nation's abortuaries - America's own human extermination program.

Thankfully, Mr. Snell will recover from his extensive injuries.

Yuo can read the entire article here.

HT to Mark S. for the link.

Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis Features Dissenting Speakers

The following was received from a concerned member of the faithful in Minneapolis:

Our Lady of Lourdes Women's Prayer Series in 2008 highlights several women writers that are prolifically outspoken in support of same sex marriage and other topics that have not yet been but sometime to be approved by the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Sessions will start at 9:30 am and last approximately one a half hour.

Reservations are helpful. Please call the parish office 612.379.2259

Saturday, January 12 – Maria Harris

From the book "Homosexuality and Christian Faith", we quote Maria Harris directly:

At the end of the 20th century, individuals are probably no wiser than they ever have been about their sexual lives, but the human race undeniably has a different understanding of sexuality from what it had in the past. Studies subsequent to the two Kinsey Reports have confirmed the fact that the human race has an imaginative diversity of sexual expression. Sexual intimacy between consenting partners of same sex seems to be nothing less and nothing more than part of that wonderful range of expression.

What would (Saint) Paul make of today's sexual scene? It really is not possible to lift people out of one place in history and situate them in another. Presumably they could learn the language of a new era if given time to adjust. ….

A Christian today might even think that (Saint) Paul would see homosexuality as part of God's creation, sanctified by the Incarnation. The world of our bodily senses is not a veil that obscures divinity. The material world, whatever its groans and travails, is the expression of divine goodness. The best impulses of that world – the genuine struggles for the fulfillment of bodily existence – cannot be dismissed...People's sexual expressions have to be seen within that context.

Saturday, February 9th – Sister Joan Chittister

Sister Joan Chittister, OSB has garnered a well-earned reputation as a vociferous advocate of contraception, abortion, women priests and homosexuality. Sister Chittister has lambasted the Church's teachings on homosexuality as "spiritual violence and abuse."

A google search on Sister Joan Chittister would inundate one with articles and books about and by Sister Joan Chittister and her prolific activism on the advocacy of contraception, abortion, women priests and homosexuality.

Saturday March 8th Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant's "The New Jewish Wedding" book has a specific section on same sex weddings. The new edition also includes a chapter called "New Faces under the Huppah" (the bridal canopy), which discusses the special needs and concerns of Jews-by-choice, non-Jewish partners, and gay and lesbian couples.

Anita wrote the hugely popular book "The Red Tent" which typecasts the patriarchy in a stereotypical and negative light.

Anita Diamant recently stated that "The Red Tent is gay-friendly for sure and Joseph is depicted as bisexual."
A special TotH to PC for the update...

Mexico City Archbishop Cancels Weekly PressConferences

The cardinal archbishop of Mexico City has indefinitely postponed his weekly meetings with the press, usually held following Sunday Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral, after he rebuked members of the news media for what the archbishop says is a deliberate and unjustified campaign to defame him.

“There are people out there who kill the good name and dignity of other persons,” Cardinal Norberto Rivera told 1,500 inmates during a Dec. 18 visit to Mexico City’s main female penitentiary. He called such persons “male and female communication prostitutes.”

“There are people outside who say, ‘I’m not a sinner,’ ‘I don’t kill,’ ‘I don’t steal’ -- but ah, how many other worse things they do,” Cardinal Rivera told the inmates. “They don’t kill the body, but they are like snakes that kill the good name of others. And they don’t care if their victims are innocent. They judge, they sentence and they condemn without any consideration but their own political benefit. For them, there is no justice other than what they themselves dictate.”

The real world of the lame stream media.

Jan 6, The St Cecilia Choir Presents "A Christmas Recital"

Click picture for a larger view.
This looks to be an uplifting event and an excellent way to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany!

Sunday, January 6 at 2:00pm
at St Francis de Sales Oratory

Gospel for Dec 27, Feast: St. John, Apostle & Evangelist

From: John 20:1a, 2-8

The Empty Tomb

[1a] Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early. [2] So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." [3]Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. [4] They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; [5] and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. [6] Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, [7] and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. [8] Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed.

1-2. All four Gospels report the first testimonies of the holy women and the disciples regarding Christ's glorious resurrection, beginning with the fact of the empty tomb (cf. Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1ff; Luke 24:1-12) and then telling of the various appearances of the risen Jesus.

Mary Magdalene was one of the women who provided for our Lord during His journeys (Luke 8:1-3); along with the Virgin Mary she bravely stayed with Him right up to His final moments (John 19:25), and she saw where His body was laid (Luke 23:55). Now, after the obligatory Sabbath rest, she goes to visit the tomb. The Gospel points out that she went "early, when it was still dark": her love and veneration led her to go without delay, to be with our Lord's body.

4. The Fourth Gospel makes it clear that, although the women, and specifically Mary Magdalene, were the first to reach the tomb, the Apostles were the first to enter it and see the evidence that Christ had risen (the empty tomb, the linen clothes "lying" and the napkin in a place by itself). Bearing witness to this will be an essential factor in the mission which Christ will entrust to them: "You shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem...and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8; cf. Acts 2:32).

John, who reached the tomb first (perhaps because he was the younger), did not go in, out of deference to Peter. This is an indication that Peter was already regarded as leader of the Apostles.

5-7. The words the Evangelist uses to describe what Peter and he saw in the empty tomb convey with vivid realism the impression it made on them, etching on their memory details which at first sight seem irrelevant. The whole scene inside the tomb in some way caused them to intuit that the Lord had risen. Some of the words contained in the account need further explanation, so terse is the translation.

"The linen clothes lying there": the Greek participle translated as "lying there" seems to indicate that the clothes were flattened, deflated, as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose and disappeared--as if it had come out of the clothes and bandages without their being unrolled, passing right through them (just as later He entered the Cenacle when the doors were shut). This would explain the clothes being "fallen", "flat" "lying", which is how the Greek literally translates, after Jesus' body--which had filled them--left them. One can readily understand how this would amaze a witness, how unforgettable the scene would be.

"The napkin...rolled up in a place by itself": the first point to note is that the napkin, which had been wrapped round the head, was not on top of the clothes, but placed on one side. The second, even more surprising thing is that, like the clothes, it was still rolled up but, unlike the clothes, it still had a certain volume, like a container, possibly due to the stiffness given it by the ointments: this is what the Greek participle, here translated as "rolled", seems to indicate.

From these details concerning the empty tomb one deduces that Jesus' body must have risen in a heavenly manner, that is, in a way which transcended the laws of nature. It was not only a matter of the body being reanimated as happened, for example, in the case of Lazarus, who had to be unbound before he could walk (cf. John 11:44).

8-10. As Mary Magdalene had told them, the Lord was not in the tomb; but the two Apostles realized that there was no question of any robbery, which was what she thought had happened, because they saw the special way the clothes and napkin were; they know began to understand what the Master had so often told them about His death and resurrection (cf. Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; etc....)

The empty tomb and the other facts were perceptible to the senses; but the resurrection, even though it had effects that could be tested by experience, requires faith if it is to be accepted. Christ's resurrection is a real, historic fact: His body and soul were re-united. But since His was a glorious resurrection unlike Lazarus', far beyond our capacity in this life to understand what happened, and outside the scope of sense experience, a special gift of God is required--the gift of faith--to know and accept as a certainty this fact which, while it is historical, is also supernatural. Therefore, St. Thomas Aquinas can say that "the individual arguments taken alone are not sufficient proof of Christ's resurrection, but taken together,in a cumulative way, they manifest it perfectly. Particularly important in this regard are the spiritual proofs (cf. specially Luke 24:25-27), the angelic testimony (cf. Luke 24:4-7) and Christ's own post-resurrection word confirmed by miracles (cf. John 3:13; Matthew 16:21; 17:22; 20:18)" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae", III, q. 55, a. 6 ad 1).

In addition to Christ's predictions about His passion, death and resurrection (cf. John 2:19; Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:22), the Old Testament also foretells the glorious victory of the Messiah and, in some way, His resurrection (cf. Psalm 16:9; Isaiah 52:13; Hosea 6:2). The Apostles begin to grasp the true meaning of Sacred Scripture after the resurrection, particularly once they receive the Holy Spirit, who fully enlightens their minds to understand the content of the Word of God. It is easy to imagine the surprise and elation they all feel when Peter and John tell them what they have seen in the tomb.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just for Today, December 27

The way of man is not always in his own power; but it belongs to God to give and to comfort when He will, and as much as He will, and to whom He will, and as it shall please Him, and no more.

Some, wanting discretion, have ruined themselves upon occasion of the grace of devotion: because they were desirous of doing more than they could, not weighing well the measure of their own weakness, but following rather the inclination of the heart than the dictates of reason. And because they presumptuously undertook greater things than were pleasing to God, there they quickly lost His grace.

They became needy, and were left in a wretched condition, who had built themselves a nest in heaven, to the end that being thus humbled and impoverished, they might learn not to trust to their own wings, but to hide themselves under Mine.
-Bk. III, ch. vii

O divine Sun! I am happy to feel so small and weak in Thy presence, and my heart is at peace. I know that all the eagles of Heaven take pity on me and protect me from the vultures - the fallen angels - whom I do not fear, as I am not destined to become their prey, but that of the divine Eagle.

O Word of God, my Saviour! as an Eagle Thou didst come down upon this land of exile, there to suffer and die, that Thou mightest carry up with Thee the souls of men into the very bosom of Love, the Blessed Trinity.

The Saints have done great things for Thee in the folly of their love, for they were eagles, but I am too little to attempt great things, and my folly is the hope that I shall become the victim of Thy love; my folly is to count on the intercession of the Angels and Saints that I may fly up to Thee with Thine own wings... I cherish the hope that one day Thou wilt swoop down upon me and carry me up until I am lost, a willing victim, in the fiery heart of the furnace of Love.
- The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)

For a List of Abbreviations, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 27

Be gentle and kind with everyone, and severe with yourself.

-St. Teresa
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for December 27, The Beloved Disciple

What a beautiful gesture of abandonment! The disciple leans upon the Master's bosom!

How indescribable the mercy of the Good Master! How unlim­ited the confidence of St. John!

The guests at the Last Supper did not seat themselves at table as we do. They reclined on couches, the head supported on the left arm, the right hand remaining free to take the food from the table when the host gave the signal. I can imagine Jesus reclining with Peter at His left and John at His right, needing only a ges­ture to attract the beloved Apostle to His Heart.

Mauriac, in describing this event, said simply but forcibly: "This shoulder which was to be weighed down by a tree, a gibbet, received, at that moment, the living weight of a head."

I shall often respectfully but affectionately rest my poor, sad head on the shoulder of the Master, when temptations assail me and I feel I can withstand them no longer. I will rest my frivolous head on the shoulder of the Master to learn the great lesson of the Redemption and I will hear more clearly the beating of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When my head has become heavy with age, I shall, in lieu of active service, rest it on the shoulder of the Master, humbly trusting that it will be for Him a lighter burden than the cross.

"Numquam separari a te. Never permit me to be separated from You, Lord. Not only will I never leave You, but I will advance more and more in respectful and constant intimacy."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Pope Benedict's Midnight Mass Homily

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“The time came for Mary to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk 2:6f.). These words touch our hearts every time we hear them. This was the moment that the angel had foretold at Nazareth: “you will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:31). This was the moment that Israel had been awaiting for centuries, through many dark hours – the moment that all mankind was somehow awaiting, in terms as yet ill-defined: when God would take care of us, when he would step outside his concealment, when the world would be saved and God would renew all things. We can imagine the kind of interior preparation, the kind of love with which Mary approached that hour. The brief phrase: “She wrapped him in swaddling clothes” allows us to glimpse something of the holy joy and the silent zeal of that preparation. The swaddling clothes were ready, so that the child could be given a fitting welcome. Yet there is no room at the inn. In some way, mankind is awaiting God, waiting for him to draw near. But when the moment comes, there is no room for him. Man is so preoccupied with himself, he has such urgent need of all the space and all the time for his own things, that nothing remains for others – for his neighbour, for the poor, for God. And the richer men become, the more they fill up all the space by themselves. And the less room there is for others.

Saint John, in his Gospel, went to the heart of the matter, giving added depth to Saint Luke’s brief account of the situation in Bethlehem: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (Jn 1:11). This refers first and foremost to Bethlehem: the Son of David comes to his own city, but has to be born in a stable, because there is no room for him at the inn. Then it refers to Israel: the one who is sent comes among his own, but they do not want him. And truly, it refers to all mankind: he through whom the world was made, the primordial Creator-Word, enters into the world, but he is not listened to, he is not received.

These words refer ultimately to us, to each individual and to society as a whole. Do we have time for our neighbour who is in need of a word from us, from me, or in need of my affection? For the sufferer who is in need of help? For the fugitive or the refugee who is seeking asylum? Do we have time and space for God? Can he enter into our lives? Does he find room in us, or have we occupied all the available space in our thoughts, our actions, our lives for ourselves?

Thank God, this negative detail is not the only one, nor the last one that we find in the Gospel. Just as in Luke we encounter the maternal love of Mary and the fidelity of Saint Joseph, the vigilance of the shepherds and their great joy, just as in Matthew we encounter the visit of the wise men, come from afar, so too John says to us: “To all who received him, he gave power to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). There are those who receive him, and thus, beginning with the stable, with the outside, there grows silently the new house, the new city, the new world. The message of Christmas makes us recognize the darkness of a closed world, and thereby no doubt illustrates a reality that we see daily. Yet it also tells us that God does not allow himself to be shut out. He finds a space, even if it means entering through the stable; there are people who see his light and pass it on. Through the word of the Gospel, the angel also speaks to us, and in the sacred liturgy the light of the Redeemer enters our lives. Whether we are shepherds or “wise men” – the light and its message call us to set out, to leave the narrow circle of our desires and interests, to go out to meet the Lord and worship him. We worship him by opening the world to truth, to good, to Christ, to the service of those who are marginalized and in whom he awaits us.

In some Christmas scenes from the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, the stable is depicted as a crumbling palace. It is still possible to recognize its former splendour, but now it has become a ruin, the walls are falling down – in fact, it has become a stable. Although it lacks any historical basis, this metaphorical interpretation nevertheless expresses something of the truth that is hidden in the mystery of Christmas. David’s throne, which had been promised to last for ever, stands empty. Others rule over the Holy Land. Joseph, the descendant of David, is a simple artisan; the palace, in fact, has become a hovel. David himself had begun life as a shepherd. When Samuel sought him out in order to anoint him, it seemed impossible and absurd that a shepherd-boy such as he could become the bearer of the promise of Israel. In the stable of Bethlehem, the very town where it had all begun, the Davidic kingship started again in a new way – in that child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The new throne from which this David will draw the world to himself is the Cross. The new throne – the Cross – corresponds to the new beginning in the stable. Yet this is exactly how the true Davidic palace, the true kingship is being built. This new palace is so different from what people imagine a palace and royal power ought to be like. It is the community of those who allow themselves to be drawn by Christ’s love and so become one body with him, a new humanity. The power that comes from the Cross, the power of self-giving goodness – this is the true kingship. The stable becomes a palace – and setting out from this starting-point, Jesus builds the great new community, whose key-word the angels sing at the hour of his birth: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those whom he loves” – those who place their will in his, in this way becoming men of God, new men, a new world.

Gregory of Nyssa, in his Christmas homilies, developed the same vision setting out from the Christmas message in the Gospel of John: “He pitched his tent among us” (Jn 1:14). Gregory applies this passage about the tent to the tent of our body, which has become worn out and weak, exposed everywhere to pain and suffering. And he applies it to the whole universe, torn and disfigured by sin. What would he say if he could see the state of the world today, through the abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation? Anselm of Canterbury, in an almost prophetic way, once described a vision of what we witness today in a polluted world whose future is at risk: “Everything was as if dead, and had lost its dignity, having been made for the service of those who praise God. The elements of the world were oppressed, they had lost their splendour because of the abuse of those who enslaved them for their idols, for whom they had not been created” (PL 158, 955f.). Thus, according to Gregory’s vision, the stable in the Christmas message represents the ill-treated world. What Christ rebuilds is no ordinary palace. He came to restore beauty and dignity to creation, to the universe: this is what began at Christmas and makes the angels rejoice. The Earth is restored to good order by virtue of the fact that it is opened up to God, it obtains its true light anew, and in the harmony between human will and divine will, in the unification of height and depth, it regains its beauty and dignity. Thus Christmas is a feast of restored creation. It is in this context that the Fathers interpret the song of the angels on that holy night: it is an expression of joy over the fact that the height and the depth, Heaven and Earth, are once more united; that man is again united to God. According to the Fathers, part of the angels’ Christmas song is the fact that now angels and men can sing together and in this way the beauty of the universe is expressed in the beauty of the song of praise. Liturgical song – still according to the Fathers – possesses its own peculiar dignity through the fact that it is sung together with the celestial choirs. It is the encounter with Jesus Christ that makes us capable of hearing the song of the angels, thus creating the real music that fades away when we lose this singing-with and hearing-with.

In the stable at Bethlehem, Heaven and Earth meet. Heaven has come down to Earth. For this reason, a light shines from the stable for all times; for this reason joy is enkindled there; for this reason song is born there. At the end of our Christmas meditation I should like to quote a remarkable passage from Saint Augustine. Interpreting the invocation in the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father who art in Heaven”, he asks: what is this – Heaven? And where is Heaven? Then comes a surprising response: “… who art in Heaven – that means: in the saints and in the just. Yes, the heavens are the highest bodies in the universe, but they are still bodies, which cannot exist except in a given location. Yet if we believe that God is located in the heavens, meaning in the highest parts of the world, then the birds would be more fortunate than we, since they would live closer to God. Yet it is not written: ‘The Lord is close to those who dwell on the heights or on the mountains’, but rather: ‘the Lord is close to the brokenhearted’ (Ps 34:18[33:19]), an expression which refers to humility. Just as the sinner is called ‘Earth’, so by contrast the just man can be called ‘Heaven’” (Sermo in monte II 5, 17). Heaven does not belong to the geography of space, but to the geography of the heart. And the heart of God, during the Holy Night, stooped down to the stable: the humility of God is Heaven. And if we approach this humility, then we touch Heaven. Then the Earth too is made new. With the humility of the shepherds, let us set out, during this Holy Night, towards the Child in the stable! Let us touch God’s humility, God’s heart! Then his joy will touch us and will make the world more radiant. Amen.


Homily text provided by Chiesa

Gospel for Dec 26, Feast: St. Stephen, First Martyr

From: Matthew 10:17-22

Jesus' Instructions to the Apostles

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [17] Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, [18] and you will be dragged before governors and kings for My sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. [19] When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; [20] for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. [21] Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; [22] and you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved."


16-23. The instructions and warnings Jesus gives here apply right through the history of the Church. It is difficult for the world to understand the way of God. Sometimes there will be persecutions, sometimes indifference to the Gospel or failure to understand. Genuine commitment to Jesus always involves effort--which is not surprising, because Jesus Himself was a sign of contradiction; indeed, if that were not the experience of a Christian, he would have to ask himself whether he was not in fact a worldly person. There are certain worldly things a Christian cannot compromise about, no matter how much they are in fashion. Therefore, Christian life inevitably involves nonconformity with anything that goes against faith and morals (cf. Romans 12:2). It is not surprising that a Christian's life often involves choosing between heroism and treachery. Difficulties of this sort should not make us afraid: we are not alone, we can count on the powerful help of our Father God to give us strength and daring.

20. Here Jesus teaches the completely supernatural character of the witness He asks His disciples to bear. The documented accounts of a host of Christian martyrs prove that He has kept this promise: they bear eloquent witness to the serenity and wisdom of often uneducated people, some of them scarcely more than children.

The teaching contained in this verse provides the basis for the fortitude and confidence a Christian should have whenever he has to profess his faith in difficult situations. He will not be alone, for the Holy Spirit will give him words of divine wisdom.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Just for Today, December 26

Whosoever loveth, knoweth the cry of this voice. A loud cry in the ears of God is the ardent affection of the soul, which saith: O my God, my love, Thou art all
mine, and I am all Thine! Give increase to my love, that I may learn to taste with the interior mouth of the heart how sweet it is to love, and to swim, and to be dissolved in love.
-Bk. III, ch. v.

I experienced several transports of love; one, during my novitiate, lasted a whole week, during which time I seemed to make use of a borrowed body, and felt far away from this world, which was veiled from my sight. Yet I was not burned by a real flame, and could enjoy these delights without hope of their breaking my hold upon life; whereas if the other experience (see March 29) of which I told you, had been prolonged for a few instants, I would have died... Alas! I came back to earth, and immediately my soul become a prey once more to dryness of spirit.

-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 26

To save our souls we must live according to the maxims of the Gospel, and not according to those of the world.

-St. Alphonsus
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for December 26, Contempt of the World

If there is one striking lesson that the manger teaches, it is detachment of spirit and contempt of the world.

The Word of God could have been born amid very different surroundings. Why this extreme poverty? Was not the little house at Nazareth poor enough? Something still more obscure was needed. However poor the home, it was still a home. Here in the stable nothing resembles a home. The Savior of the world is born along the road, in a shelter found by chance, a hut for animals, and as a cradle, His young mother prepares a manger.

"Ah! let pride come here to die," cried Mother Madeleine Sophie Barat. "For me the great and inexplicable mystery is that a religious, looking upon this crib, can still cling to self-love. If the crib does not teach us renunciation once for all, we are blind and we are fools. We ought to go to an insane asylum. There are plenty of them in the world." (Life, by Mgr. Baunard, II, 558.)

Have I not kept something of the spirit of the world, a liking for display, a love for the attractive, for the comfortable? Have I given up all affectation, all vanity in dress - in the headdress or the guimpe? Or if I have no distinctive religious habit but wear a secular dress, do I seek some little detail that savors of the world?

I must do what is necessary to preserve customs, to be proper and not to appear ridiculous or antiquated. Once that is taken care of, I must aim at a truly poor poverty.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

A Blessed and Holy Christmas!

And the angel said to them,
"Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Gospel for Dec 25, Solemnity: Nativity of the Lord (Midnight)

From: Luke 2:1-14

The Birth of Jesus

[1] In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. [2] This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. [3] And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. [4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, [5] to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. [6] And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. [7] And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Adoration of the Shepherds
[8] And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. [9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. [10] And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all the people; [11] for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. [12] And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." [13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, [14] "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased!"


1. Caesar Augustus was Roman emperor at this time, reigning from 30 B.C. to A.D. 14. He is known to have commissioned various censuses, one of which could well be that referred to by the evangelist. Since Rome normally respected local usages, censuses were carried out in line with Jewish custom whereby every householder went to his place of origin to be listed in the census.

6-7. The Messiah is born, the Son of God and our Savior. "He made Himself a child [...] to enable you to become a perfect man; He was wrapped in swaddling clothes to free you from the bonds of death [...]. He came down on earth to enable you to rise up to Heaven; He had no place in the inn so that you might have many mansions in Heaven. He, being rich, became poor for our sake--St. Paul says (2 Corinthians 8:9)--so as to enrich us with His poverty [...]. The tears of this crying child purify men, they wash away my sins" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.").

The new-born Child does not yet speak, but He is the eternal Word of the Father. Even from the manger in Bethlehem He teaches us. "We must learn the lessons which Jesus teaches us, even when He is just a newly born child, from the very moment He opens His eyes on this blessed land of men" (J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 14). The main lesson He gives us concerns humility: "God humbled Himself to allow us to get near Him, so that we could give our love in exchange for His, so that our freedom might bow, not only at the sight of His power, but also before the wonder of His humility.

"The greatness of this Child who is God! His Father is the God who has made Heaven and earth and there He is, in a manger, `because there was no room at the inn' (Luke 2:7); there was nowhere else for the Lord of all creation" (J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 18).

Our hearts should provide Jesus with a place where He can be born spiritually; that is, we should be born to a new life, becoming a new creature (Romans 6:4), keeping that holiness and purity of soul which we were given in Baptism and which is like being born again. We contemplate the birth of our Savior when we pray the "third mystery" of the Holy Rosary.

7. "First-born son": it is usual for Sacred Scripture to refer to the first male child as "the first-born" whether or not there were other brothers (cf., for example, Exodus 13:2; 13:13; Numbers 15:8; Hebrews 1:6). The same practice is to be found in ordinary speech; take, for example, this inscription dating from approximately the same time as Christ was born, which was found near Tell-el-Jedvieh (in Egypt) in 1922, which states that a woman named Arsinoe died while giving birth to "her first-born son". Otherwise, as St. Jerome explains in his letter "Adversus Helvidium", 10, "if only He were first-born who was followed by other brothers, He would not deserve the rights of the first-born, which the Law lays down, until the other had been born"--which would be absurd, since the Law ordains that those first-born should be "ransomed" within a month of their birth (Numbers 18:16).

However, Jesus Christ is first-born in a much deeper sense independent of natural or biological considerations--which St. Bede describes in these words, summarizing a long tradition of the Fathers of the Church: "Truly the Son of God, who was made manifest in the flesh, belongs to a more exalted order not only because He is the Only-begotten of the Father by virtue of the excellence of His divinity; He is also first-born of all creatures by virtue of His fraternity with men: concerning this [His primogeniture] it is said: `For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the first-born among many brethren' (Romans 8:29). And concerning the former [His being the Only-begotten] it is said `we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father' (John 1:14). Thus, He is only-begotten by the substance of the Godhead, and first-born through His assumption of humanity; first-born by grace, only-begotten by nature. This is why He is called brother and Lord; brother, because He is the first-born; Lord, because He is the Only-begotten" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").

Christian Tradition teaches, as a truth of faith, that Mary remained a virgin after Christ's birth, which is perfectly in keeping with Christ's status as her first-born. See, for example, these words of the Lateran Council of 649: "If anyone does not profess according to the holy Fathers that in the proper and true sense the holy, ever-Virgin, immaculate Mary is the Mother of God, since in this last age not with human seed but of the Holy Spirit she properly and truly conceived the divine Word, who was born of God the Father before all ages, and gave Him birth without any detriment to her virginity, which remained inviolate even after His birth: let such a one be condemned" (Canon 3).

8-20. At His birth Christ's divinity and His humanity are perfectly manifested: we see His weakness--the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7)--and His divine power. Christian faith involves confessing that Jesus Christ is true God and true man.

The salvation which Christ brought us is offered to everyone, without distinction: "Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all" (Colossians 3:11). That is why, even at His birth, He chose to manifest Himself to different kinds of people--the shepherds, the Magi and Simeon and Anna. As St. Augustine comments: "The shepherds were Israelites; the Magi, Gentiles. The first lived near-by; the latter, far away. Yet both came to the cornerstone, Christ" ("Sermo De Nativitate Domini", 202).

8-9. These shepherds may have been from the neighborhood of Bethlehem or even have come from further afield in search of pasture for their flocks. It was these simple and humble people who were the first to hear the good news of Christ's birth. God has a preference for the humble (cf. Proverbs 3:32); He hides from those who consider themselves wise and understanding and reveals Himself to "babes" (cf. Matthew 11:25).

10-14. The angel announces that the new-born Child is the Savior, Christ the Lord. He is the "Savior" because He has come to save us from our sins (cf. Matthew 1:21). He is "the Christ", that is, the Messiah so often promised in the Old Testament, and now born among us in fulfillment of that ancient hope. He is "the Lord": this shows Christ's divinity, for this is the name God chose to be known by to His people in the Old Testament, and it is the way Christians usually refer to and address Jesus and the way the Church always confesses her faith: "We believe [...] in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God."

When the angel tells them that the Child has been born in the city of David, he reminds them that this was where the Messiah Redeemer was supposed to be born (cf. Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6), who would be a descendant of David (cf. Psalm 110:1-2; Matthew 22:42-46).

Christ is the Lord not only of men but also of angels, which is why the angels rejoice at His birth and render Him the tribute of adoration: "Glory to God in the highest." And, since men are called to share, like them, in the happiness of Heaven, the angels add: "And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." "They praise the Lord," St. Gregory the Great comments, "putting the notes of their hymn in harmony with our redemption; they see us as already sharing in their own happy destiny and rejoice at this" ("Moralia", 28, 7).

St. Thomas explains why the birth of Christ was revealed through angels: "What is in itself hidden needs to be manifested, but not what is in itself manifest. The flesh of Him who was born was manifest, but His Godhead was hidden, and therefore it was fitting that this birth should be made known by angels, who are ministers of God. This is why a certain brightness accompanied the angelic apparition, to indicate that He who was just born `reflects the glory of the Father' (Hebrews 1:3)" ("Summa Theologiae", III, q. 36, a. 5 ad 1).

The angel also tells the shepherds that Christ is a man: "You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger" (verse 12)--as foretold in the Old Testament: "To us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder" (Isaiah 9:6).

14. This text can be translated in two ways, which are compatible with each other. One is the version chosen by the RSV; the other, as an RSV note points out: "other ancient authorities read `peace, good will among men'"; a variant is the translation used in the Liturgy: "Peace on earth to men who are God's friends." Essentially what the text says is that the angels ask for peace and reconciliation with God, which is not something which results from men's merits but rather comes from God's deigning to have mercy on them. The two translations are complementary, for when men respond to God's grace they are fulfilling God's good will, God's love for them: "Iesus Christus, Deus homo": Jesus Christ, God-man. This is one of `the mighty works of God' (Acts 2:11), which we should reflect upon and thank Him for. He has come to bring peace on earth to men of good will' (Luke 2:14), to all men who want to unite their wills to the holy will of God" (J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 13).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Dec 25, 2nd Reading, Solemnity: Nativity of the Lord (Midnight)

From: Titus 2:11-14

The Incarnation, the Basis of Christian Ethics and Piety

[11] For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, [12] training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, [13] awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, [14] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.


11-14. This section is almost like a hymn in praise of saving grace and God's loving kindness as manifested in Christ. The terse, sober style, with phrases piled on one another, and very few verbs, is typical of St. Paul. The duties just described (2L1-10)--of older men, women, young people and slaves--all point to Christians' having a common lifestyle, which is the fruit of grace. God is the source of that grace, and salvation its goal, and it is given to us through Jesus Christ.

Thus, divine grace manifested in the Incarnation is actively at work to redeem us; it brings salvation; it sanctifies us, enabling us to live godly lives; and it is the basis of our hope in the second coming of the Lord. All these dimensions of the action of grace summarize revealed doctrine on righteousness (justification) in Jesus Christ. Thus, in the Incarnation, God's salvific will, embracing all men, is manifested in a special way (cf. 1 Tim 2:4); in the Redemption, Christ, the only Mediator and Savior (cf. 1 Tim 2:5) obtains for us the gift of grace, whereby man becomes a sharer in the good things of salvation. Jesus is our model; by means of grace he instructs the Christian on how to control his defects and grow in virtue. The instruction we receive is not only an external one: God inwardly moves us to seek holiness (cf. Rom 5:1-5 and note). Grace also channels our hope, for Christians are motivated not only by the memory of a past event (our Lord's life on earth) but also, and especially, by the fact that Jesus is in the glory of heaven even now and that we are invited to share his inheritance (cf. 2 Pet 3:12-13).

13. "The glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ": an explicit confession of faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, who is stated at one and at the same time (with only one article in the original Greek) to be God and Savior. This expression is the hinge on which the entire hymn turns: Jesus Christ our God is the one who came at the Incarnation, who will manifest himself fully at his second coming, and who through his work of redemption has made it possible for man to live a live pleasing to God.

This verse is reminiscent of Romans 9:5, where St. Paul wrote: "to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race according to the flesh is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever. Amen."

14. The mention of Jesus Christ at the end of the previous verse leads St. Paul to summarize the doctrine of the Redemption in this lovely passage. Four essential elements in redemption are listed: Christ's self-giving; redemption from all iniquity; purification; and Christ's establishment of a people of his own dedicated to good deeds. The reference to Christ's self-giving clearly means whereby we are set free from the slavery of sin; Christ's sacrifice is the cause of the freedom of the children of God (analogously, God's action during the Exodus liberated the people of Israel). Purification, a consequence of redemption, enables a man to become part of God's own people (cf. Ezek 37-23). The expression "a people of his own" is a clear allusion to Exodus 19:5: through the covenant of Sinai God made Israel his own people, different from other nations; through the New Covenant of his blood Jesus forms his own people, the Church, which is open to all nations: "As Israel according to the flesh which wandered in the desert was already called the Church of God, so, too, the new Israel, which advances in this present era in search of a future and permanent city, is called also the Church of Christ. It is Christ indeed who has purchased it with his own blood; he has filled it with his Spirit; he has provided means adapted to its visible and social union [...]. Destined to extend to all regions of the earth, it enters into human history, though it transcends at once all times and all racial boundaries" ("Lumen Gentium", 9).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Dec 25, 1st Reading, Solemnity: Nativity of the Lord (Midnight)

From: Isaiah 9:2-4, 6-7

The Prince of Peace

[2] The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. [3] Thou has multiplied the nation, thou hast increased its joy; they rejoice before thee as with joy at the harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. [4] For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken as on the day of Midian. [6] For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counsellor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” [7] Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

9:1-7. At this point, though not yet very clearly, we begin to see the figure of King Hezekiah, who, unlike his father Ahaz, was a pious man who put all his trust in the Lord. After Galilee was laid waste by Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria, and its population subsequently deported (cf. 8:21-22), Hezekiah of Judah would reconquer that region, which would recover its splendour for a period. All this gave grounds for hope again.

This oracle may have a connexion with the Immanuel prophecy (7:1-17), and the child with messianic prerogatives that has been born (cf. 9:6-7) could be the child that Isaiah prophesied about (cf. 7:14). For this reason, 9:1-7 is seen as the second oracle of the Immanuel cycle. This “child” that is born, the son given to us, is a gift from God (9:6), because it is a sign that God is present among his people. The Hebrew text attributes four qualities to the child which seem to embrace all the typical features of Israel’s illustrious forebears – the wisdom of Solomon (cf. 1 Kings 3: “Wonderful Counsellor”), the prowess of David (cf. 1 Sam 7: “Mighty God”), the administrative skills of Moses (cf. Ex 18:13-26) as liberator, guide and father of the people (cf. Deut 34:10-12), (“Everlasting Father”), and the virtues of the early patriarchs, who made peace pacts (cf. Gen 21:22-34; 26:15-35; 23:6), (“Prince of peace”). In the old Latin Vulgate, the translation gave six features (“Admirabilis, Consiliarius, Deus, Fortis, Pater future saeculi, Princeps pacis”); these have found their way into the liturgy. The New Vulgate has reverted to the Hebrew text. Either way, what we have here are titles that Semite nations applied to the reigning monarch; but, taken together, they go far beyond what befitted Hezekiah or any other king of Judah. Therefore, Christian tradition has interpreted them as being appropriate only for Jesus. St Bernard, for example, explains the justification for these names as follows: “He is Wonderful in his birth, Counsellor in his preaching, God in his works, Mighty in the Passion, Everlasting Father in the resurrection, and Prince of Peace in eternal happiness” (Sermones de diversis, 53, 1).

Because these names are applied to Jesus, the short-term conquest of Galilee by Hezekiah is seen as being only an announcement of the definitive salvation brought about by Christ. In the Gospels we find echoes of this oracle in a number of passages that refer to Jesus. When Luke narrates the Annunciation by the angel to Mary (Lk 1:31-33) we hear that the son that she will conceive and give birth to will receive “the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Lk 1:32b-33; cf. Is 9:7). And in the account about the shepherds of Bethlehem, they are told that “to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord …” (Lk 2:11-12; cf. Is 9:6). St Matthew sees the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (Mt 4:12-17) as the fulfillment of this Isaian oracle (cf. Is 9:1): the lands that in the prophet’s time were laid waste and saw ethnic cleansing and transplantation were the first to receive the light of salvation from the Messiah.

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Just for Today, December 25

May it please Thee, O Lord, to deliver me: for, poor wretch that I am, what can I do, and whither shall I go without Thee? How much the more difficult this is to me, so much the easier to Thee, is this change of the right hand of the Most High (Ps. lxxvi, ii).
-Bk. III, ch. xxix.

In spite of all the graces Heaven was showering upon me, I was far from deserving them. I had a great desire for virtue, but all that I did was full of imperfections. I was so sensitive that I was a very great trial to others; it was useless to reason with me, for I was powerless to correct this fault. How could I expect to be received at Carmel?

It would need a miracle to make me grow up once and for all, and God worked this little miracle on a date I shall never forget: December 25, 1886; The newborn Child turned my darkness into light; having for my sake become small and weak, He made me strong and brave; He armed me with His own weapons, and after that I ran my course like a giant (Ps. xviii), going from victory to victory. The fountain of my tears was dried up, and very rarely flowed again.

This is how I received the grace of conversion. They still treated me at home like a baby, filling my shoes with presents and putting them by the fireplace on Christmas Eve. My father had always shared in my delight as I drew out each gift, but this year Our Lord wished to cure me of my childishness.

As I went up to my room after midnight Mass, I heard my father say: "Therese is too big a girl for such nonsense; I hope this will be the last year." The words cut me to the heart, and Celine, knowing my sensitiveness, begged me not to go down at once, as I would be sure to cry; but I was no longer the same, Jesus had changed my heart.

I went down to the dining-room as though nothing had happened, and gaily pulled out the presents one by one, my father joining in the merriment. Celine thought that she was dreaming, but the fact remained that I had found once more the fortitude I had lost at the age of four and a half.

On that blessed night the third period of my life opened, the most beautiful and full of graces. The work I had attempted for years, was done in an instant by Our Lord, who accepted my good will. Like the Apostles, I could say: Master, we have laboured all the night, and have taken nothing (Luke v, 5), but Our Lord did more for me than He did for them, for He cast the net Himself and drew it in full of fish, and changed me into a fisher of souls. Charity took possession of my soul and filled me with the spirit of self-forget­fulness, and from that time I was always happy.

-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 25

The King of heaven deigned to be born in a stable, because He came to destroy pride, the cause of man's ruin.

-St. Alphonsus
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for December 25, Love Incarnate

O Christ, Love Incarnate, Love made Man, as St. Francis of Assisi called You, I contemplate Your adorable and hidden glory in this wretched manger.

I contemplate You, my little yet great Savior, lying within a small frame of rough boards filled with straw, and clad in the poor clothes brought by Mary.

You manifest Yourself and You hide Yourself.

You manifest Yourself in the humanity which Mary has given You. But who recognizes God in that small Child? God in a manger! Could a manger for animals be a fitting throne for a God?

Love made Man, what has brought You to this? Love. If the Word is made flesh, it is because His eternal love for the human race demanded His coming to earth.

If I go far back into the timeless realms of eternity, I find You loving, loving me, a poor nothing. I find You offering Yourself to come among men in submission to the divine will. Today the decrees are fulfilled; You come.

Love, how I long to see Love! Love is made Man. I will take You into my arms, and I will have You, Love made Man, close to me for one instant.

It cannot be true! I am dreaming. Can this little One really be the Savior?

How could I doubt it? I will come with all my love to love Love.
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Monday, 4th Week of Advent

From: Luke 1:67-79

The Benedictus

[67] And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, [68] "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, [69] and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, [70] as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, [71] that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; [72] to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, [73] the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, [74] to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, [75] in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life. [76] And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, [77] to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, [78] through the tender mercy of our God, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high [79] to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."


67. Zechariah, who was a righteous man (cf. v. 6), received the special grace of prophecy when his son was born--a gift which led him to pronounce his canticle, called the "Benedictus", a prayer so full of faith, reverence and piety that the Church has laid it down to be said daily in the Liturgy of the Hours. Prophecy has not only to do with foretelling future events; it also means being moved by the Holy Spirit to praise God. Both aspects of prophecy are to be found in the "Benedictus".

68- 79. Two parts can be discerned in the "Benedictus": in the first (vv. 68-75) Zechariah thanks God for sending the Messiah, the Savior, as he promised the patriarchs and prophets of Israel.

In the second (vv. 76-79) he prophesies that his son will have the mission of being herald of the Most High and precursor of the Messiah, proclaiming God's mercy which reveals itself in the coming of Christ.

72-75. Again and again God promised the patriarchs of the Old Testament that he would take special care of Israel, giving them a land which they would enjoy undisturbed and many descendants in whom all the peoples of the earth would be blessed. This promise he ratified by means of a covenant or alliance, of the kind commonly made between kings and their vassals in the Near East. God, as Lord, would protect the patriarchs and their descendants, and these would prove their attachment to him by offering him certain sacrifices and by doing him service. See, for example, Genesis 12:13; 17:1-8; 22:16-18 (God's promise, covenant and pledge to Abraham); and Genesis 5:11-12 (where he repeats these promises to Jacob). Zechariah realizes that the events resulting from the birth of John his son, the Precursor of the Messiah; constitute complete fulfillment of these divine purposes.

78-79. The "dawning", the "dayspring", is the Messiah, Jesus Christ, coming down from heaven to shed his light upon us: "the son of righteousness shall rise, with healing on its wings" (Mal 4:2). Already in the Old Testament we were told about the glory of the Lord, the reflection of his presence--something intimately connected with light. For example, when Moses returned to the encampment after talking with God, his face so shone that the Israelites "were afraid to come near him" (Ex 34:30). St John is making the same reference when he says that "God is light and in him there is no darkness" (1 Jn 1:5) and that there will be no light in heaven "for the glory of God is its light" (cf. Rev 21:23; 22:5).

The angels (cf. Rev 1:11) and the saints (cf. Wis 3:7; Dan 2:3) partake of this divine splendor; our Lady does so in a special way. As a symbol of the Church she is revealed to us in the Apocalypse as "clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feel, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (12:1).

Even when we live in this world, this divine light reaches us through Jesus Christ who, because he is God, is "the true light that enlightens every man" (Jn 1:9), as Christ himself tells us: "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness" (Jn 8:12).

Such is Christians' share in this light of God that Jesus tells us: "You are the light of the world" (Mt 5:14). Therefore, we must live as children of the light (cf. Lk 16:8), whose fruit takes the form of "all that is good and right and true" (Eph 5:9); our lives should shine oul, thereby helping people to know God and give him glory (cf. Mt 5:16).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Just for Today, December 24

(Christ.) I am the Lover of purity, and the Giver of all holiness. I seek a pure heart, and there is the place of My rest. Make ready for Me a large supper room, and I will make the pasch with thee (Mark xiv, 15).

If Thou wilt have Me come to thee, and remain with thee, purge out the old leaven, and make clean the habitation of thy heart; for every lover prepareth the best and fairest room for his dearly beloved; and hereby is known the affection of him that entertaineth his beloved.
-Bk. IV, ch. xii.

God, the divine Guest of our hearts, knows our po­verty; all He asks, and expects to find, is an empty tabernacle.
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - December 24

If we secretly feel a desire to appear greater or better than others, we must repress it at once.

- ­St. Teresa
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for December 24, The Silent Joseph

"Patriarch of the interior, Joseph, obtain for us silence." (Claudel.)

If it is said of Mary, She kept all these things in her heart, may we not think that Joseph, enveloped in silence, lived through all the events of the holy childhood in profound recollection? No word of his is recorded. Jesus is silent; He cannot speak. Mary is silent, Joseph is silent. Not one of them wishes to speak. What could they say? Words fail before such marvels; their powerlessness in conspicuous. But what power there is in silence!

The eyes of Joseph contemplate; his lips are closed; he lives in perpetual meditation. When words violate a silence that circum­stances demand, it is as if somewhere, someone tears asunder a temple veil to indicate that an important death has taken place.

Truly, to speak when we should keep silence is an act of homi­cide: recollection has been killed; solitude, that solitude which Father Faber calls an eighth sacrament because it gives us God, is dead; dead with all the posterity of divine intercourse, of elevating thoughts, of interior peace to which it would have given rise.

How great must be the attraction of noise since we always prefer it to silence!

"O silent St. Joseph, make known to me the price of enriching solitude. Patriarch of the interior, teach me and obtain for me love of silence."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)