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Message for World Day of Peace: find inner peace in God

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Homily, Pope Benedict XVI, New Year Day, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“May God bless us and make his face to shine upon us.” We proclaimed these words from Psalm 66 after hearing in the first reading the ancient priestly blessing upon the people of the covenant. It is especially significant that at the start of every new year God sheds upon us, his people, the light of his Holy Name, the Name pronounced three times in the solemn form of biblical blessing. Nor is it less significant that to the Word of God – who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14) as “the true light that enlightens every man” (1:9) – is given, as today’s Gospel tells us, the Name of Jesus eight days after his birth (cf. Lk 2:21).

It is in this Name that we are gathered here today. I cordially greet all present, beginning with the Ambassadors of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. I greet with affection Cardinal Bertone, my Secretary of State, and Cardinal Turkson, with all the officials of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; I am particularly grateful to them for their effort to spread the Message for the World Day of Peace, which this year has as its theme “Blessed are the Peacemakers”.

Although the world is sadly marked by “hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism,” as well as by various forms of terrorism and crime, I am convinced that “the many different efforts at peacemaking which abound in our world testify to mankind’s innate vocation to peace. In every person the desire for peace is an essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a full, happy and successful human life. In other words, the desire for peace corresponds to a fundamental moral principle, namely, the duty and right to an integral social and communitarian development, which is part of God’s plan for mankind. Man is made for the peace which is God’s gift. All of this led me to draw inspiration for this Message from the words of Jesus Christ: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Mt 5:9)” (Message, 1). This beatitude “tells us that peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort … It is peace with God through a life lived according to his will. It is interior peace with oneself, and exterior peace with our neighbours and all creation” (ibid., 2, 3). Indeed, peace is the supreme good to ask as a gift from God and, at the same time, that which is to be built with our every effort.

We may ask ourselves: what is the basis, the origin, the root of peace? How can we experience that peace within ourselves, in spite of problems, darkness and anxieties? The reply is given to us by the readings of today’s liturgy. The biblical texts, especially the one just read from the Gospel of Luke, ask us to contemplate the interior peace of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. During the days in which “she gave birth to her first-born son” (Lk 2:7), many unexpected things occurred: not only the birth of the Son but, even before, the tiring journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, not finding room at the inn, the search for a chance place to stay for the night; then the song of the angels and the unexpected visit of the shepherds. In all this, however, Mary remains even tempered, she does not get agitated, she is not overcome by events greater than herself; in silence she considers what happens, keeping it in her mind and heart, and pondering it calmly and serenely. This is the interior peace which we ought to have amid the sometimes tumultuous and confusing events of history, events whose meaning we often do not grasp and which disconcert us.

The Gospel passage finishes with a mention of the circumcision of Jesus. According to the Law of Moses, eight days after birth, baby boys were to be circumcised and then given their name. Through his messenger, God himself had said to Mary – as well as to Joseph – that the Name to be given to the child was “Jesus” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31); and so it came to be. The Name which God had already chosen, even before the child had been conceived, is now officially conferred upon him at the moment of circumcision. This also changes Mary’s identity once and for all: she becomes “the mother of Jesus”, that is the mother of the Saviour, of Christ, of the Lord. Jesus is not a man like any other, but the Word of God, one of the Divine Persons, the Son of God: therefore the Church has given Mary the title Theotokos or Mother of God.

The first reading reminds us that peace is a gift from God and is linked to the splendour of the face of God, according to the text from the Book of Numbers, which hands down the blessing used by the priests of the People of Israel in their liturgical assemblies. This blessing repeats three times the Holy Name of God, a Name not to be spoken, and each time it is linked to two words indicating an action in favour of man: “The Lord bless you and keep you: the Lord make his face to shine upon you: the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (6:24-26). So peace is the summit of these six actions of God in our favour, in which he turns towards us the splendour of his face.

For sacred Scripture, contemplating the face of God is the greatest happiness: “You gladden him with the joy of your face” (Ps 21:7). From the contemplation of the face of God are born joy, security and peace. But what does it mean concretely to contemplate the face of the Lord, as understood in the New Testament? It means knowing him directly, in so far as is possible in this life, through Jesus Christ in whom he is revealed. To rejoice in the splendour of God’s face means penetrating the mystery of his Name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of his interior life and of his will, so that we can live according to his plan of love for humanity. In the second reading, taken from the Letter to the Galatians (4:4-7), Saint Paul says as much as he describes the Spirit who, in our inmost hearts, cries: “Abba! Father!” It is the cry that rises from the contemplation of the true face of God, from the revelation of the mystery of his Name. Jesus declares, “I have manifested thy name to men” (Jn 17:6). God’s Son made man has let us know the Father, he has let us know the hidden face of the Father through his visible human face; by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts, he has led us to understand that, in him, we too are children of God, as Saint Paul says in the passage we have just heard: “The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’” (Gal 4:6).

Here, dear brothers and sisters, is the foundation of our peace: the certainty of contemplating in Jesus Christ the splendour of the face of God the Father, of being sons in the Son, and thus of having, on life’s journey, the same security that a child feels in the arms of a loving and all-powerful Father. The splendour of the face of God, shining upon us and granting us peace, is the manifestation of his fatherhood: the Lord turns his face to us, he reveals himself as our Father and grants us peace. Here is the principle of that profound peace – “peace with God” – which is firmly linked to faith and grace, as Saint Paul tells the Christians of Rome (cf. Rom 5:2). Nothing can take this peace from believers, not even the difficulties and sufferings of life. Indeed, sufferings, trials and darkness do not undermine but build up our hope, a hope which does not deceive because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (5:5).

May the Virgin Mary, whom today we venerate with the title of Mother of God, help us to contemplate the face of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. May she sustain us and accompany us in this New Year: and may she obtain for us and for the whole world the gift of peace. Amen!

God is spirit Meatwad…

“Your Jesus confesses he is your Lucifer, now go wArship your great demon Jesus like a good tiny minded christian soldier…”  Meatwad 

Morning Star - Artist: Greg Mort

 First, some background:               

22 And the Scribes, who were come down from Jerusalem, said: *He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of devils he casteth out devils.               

23 And after he had called them together, he said to them in parables: How can Satan cast out Satan?               

24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.               

25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.               

26 And if Satan be risen up against himself, he is divided, and cannot stand, but hath an end.               

27 No man can enter into the house of a strong man, and rob him of his goods, unless he first bind the strong man, and then shall he plunder his house. 28 *Amen, I say to you, that all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and the blasphemies wherewith they shall blaspheme:               

29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, shall never have forgiveness, but shall be guilty of an everlasting sin.               

30 Because they said: He hath an unclean spirit.               

31 And his mother and his brethren came: and standing without, sent to him, calling him.               

From the Editor:               

Dear Meatwad,                

From your comments below it’s obvious that you’ve not acted to blaspheme the Holy Spirit… I have not received the gift of reading the state of souls, nor do I make any judgement on yours. But, one thing is clear, you know neither the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. And so, because of spiritual ignorance you remain unaware of the One responsible for the origin of your soul prior to conception, the interior workings of the soul presently, nor its eternal destination at the twilight of life… All this means is that my reply below will be charitable toward you because as former blasphemer (and worse) of Jesus Christ myself, I know that a day is coming that you will look upon the Son of Man and the Son of God in glory yourself, and like me, realize (with great remorse and tears, I might add) that you hated Him without reason. As Jesus Crucified is Divine Mercy incarnate for all proud souls such as our own; especially in the great moment of need–remember that…                

My Emphasis/My Comments:               

“I attest to the fact that Mary is the quickest, surest, and safest way to the True God made flesh, Her Son, Jesus” [I do… And I offer this encyclical that you might better grasp the role of Mary in the economy of man’s eternal salvation and the life of the Church. And after this, if you find an inkling of inspiration within your heart, follow it by reading and putting into practice True Devotion To Mary–To Jesus through Mary. You will not be turned away at the All-Beautiful Door…]              

Spoken like a true believing catholic. You catholics have every angel and good spirit ever to live in your flock, but you fail to speak of the Father in heaven. [God is spirit Meatwad.  And all things corporeal and non-corporeal, good or evil, are ultimately subject to the will of the Father, the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth… ] It is Mary, Jesus, and all others but the Father. [How So? Explain… Here is the unending creed we believe and recite daily during Holy Mass–in union with God–from the rising of the sun through its setting continually in the world. Notice it begins with “We believe in God, the Father, the Almighty…” So, there is actually unceasing universal prayer in direct reference to the Father, even in this very moment.] I know this is going over your head [It is the Spirit-inflamed heart of man which reaches up by way of the soul and enriches the intellect of the same man with divine wisdom…], with that trinity deception ingrained in your faith […and Divine Wisdom confirms Himself by the Very Holiness of His Name–One God, Three Persons, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit.] you think talking about Jesus is talking of his father [He who has seen the Son, sees the Father, only because the Son has revealed Him to them. No one goes to the Father in spirit on their own except through the Son, Jesus the Christ. And so, Jesus (God Saves) is the absolute prerequisite for attaining eternal salvation in this world. You will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven without Him. This is a spiritual fact confirmed in hypostatic union with the one true God. And the only reason you do not believe is because you do not know the Spirit.] How many passages have your Jesus speaking about his Father. Hmmm, somebody seems schitzo, speaking about his fahter but he is himself’s father??? [The Son is in the Father, and the Father in the Son doing His work of reconciling the world to Himself. A world He loves in sending the Son, Jesus Christ.] Rubbuh room time for you believers in deceptions! [Here is the first “Rubbah Room” Meatwad, along with its cure… Beware of bad spirits.]               

I have this for you, who is Lucifer? RIGHT! L-boy is duh BaahdMann, something about “a bright morning star” is Lucifer, some say its other names are Satan etc,,, right James Mary E? Yeah. Well I have some good gospel news for you found in revelation 22:16, it is actually red lettered in my copy, of the second to last words attributed to your Jesus christ the son father and holy crap, “I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star”,,, THAT is your Jesus speaking there James Mary. Seems you have fallen for the grand deception you are warned about, I just figured it all out fer yuh, yuh betchuh. Your Jesus confesses he is your Lucifer, now go wArship your great demon Jesus like a good tiny minded christian soldier. [I addressed this earlier in the background reading. As for Lucifer, maybe this will help clear up your confusion…]               

Lucifer               

(Hebrew helel; Septuagint heosphoros, Vulgate lucifer)               

The name Lucifer originally denotes the planet Venus, emphasizing its brilliance. The Vulgate employs the word also for “the light of the morning” (Job 11:17), “the signs of the zodiac” (Job 38:32), and “the aurora” (Psalm 109:3). Metaphorically, the word is applied to the King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:12) as preeminent among the princes of his time; to the high priest Simon son of Onias (Ecclesiasticus 50:6), for his surpassing virtue, to the glory of heaven (Apocalypse 2:28), by reason of its excellency; finally to Jesus Christ himself (2 Peter 1:19; Apocalypse 22:16; the “Exultet” of Holy Saturday) the true light of our spiritual life.               

The Syriac version and the version of Aquila derive the Hebrew noun helel from the verb yalal, “to lament”; St. Jerome agrees with them (In Isaiah 1.14), and makes Lucifer the name of the principal fallen angel who must lament the loss of his original glory bright as the morning star. In Christian tradition this meaning of Lucifer has prevailed; the Fathers maintain that Lucifer is not the proper name of the devil, but denotes only the state from which he has fallen (Petavius, De Angelis, III, iii, 4).             

 END OF POST/ BEGINNING OF PRAYERS FOR YOU          

Child of man, parent of God — Nativity of Mary

WhiteRose

Our Lady’s Nativitye

Joye in the risinge of our orient starr,

That shall bringe forth the Sunne that lent her light;

Joy in the peace that shall conclude our warr,

And soone rebate the edge of Satan’s spight;

Load-starr of all engolfd in worldly waves,

The card and compasse that from shipwracke saves.

The patriark and prophettes were the floures

Which Tyme by course of ages did distill,

And culld into this little cloude the shoures

Whose gracious droppes the world with joy shall fill;

Whose moysture suppleth every soule with grace,

And bringeth life to Adam’s dyinge race.

For God, on Earth, she is the royall throne,

The chosen cloth to make His mortall weede;

The quarry to cutt out our Corner-stone,

Soyle full of fruite, yet free from mortall seede;

For heavenly floure she is the Jesse rodd

The childe of man, the parent of God.

Robert Southwell (1560-1595)

SOURCE: Jennings, Elizabeth, ed. In Praise of Our Lady. Great Britain: Pitman Press, 1982.

Never Underestimate Brave Catholic Women : They will kick your butt into next Thursday…

Is it me, or does it seem as if St. Anne (below) is waiting patiently for a little tag team action too?

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Caravaggio's Madonna dei Palafrenieri, first exhibited in Saint Peter's Basilica in 1606.

ED NOTE: H/T – Diane C.

A family friend from our parish sent me this reflection from Leslie Shaw Klinger via e-mail today… I myself know a few modern day “Women of Ephesus” tending to the culture of our time, and I follow their work or blogs regularly. Some examples: here, here, and here. Looks like we have another up-and-comer below…

Home from Franciscan University

Today at 11:33am

I arrived home from my five days at the St John Bosco Conference this morning around 1am. After greeting the dog (Duffy, the Wonder Scotty) and doing a quick unpacking, I got on my one good knee and prayed the following:

We fly to thy protection O Holy Mother of God

Despise not our prayers in our necessities

But deliver us from all dangers,

O ever glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen

I then, of course, thanked the Triune God from whom all graces flow, for the incredible opportunity given to me to learn more about His Church and our Mission in this world. I had so much fun. I learned so much. I feel renewed.

Granted, this is not something most people would consider a real vacation. Let’s face it…who wants to sit in classrooms discussing Moral Theology, how to teach the Faith towards the Rites, the spiritual marriage between The Church and Israel not to mention the Universal Call to Holiness of Vatican II. Gee, I guess the only ‘normal’ thing I did was go to a 12 step meeting and eat chicken wings in West Virginia….but you need to know that being in an environment of intellectual stretching and bending and challenge is so outside my normal life that I am, right now, sitting with tears in my eyes. I am so dang grateful that my brain still works, that there are other weirdos like me in the world that think it is important to study and grow in an area that does not involve a public records request or how to fix the server….I am just so blessed.

Most people who are my friends know that I am one of those Lovers of Dusty Libraries. I always picture myself as a kind of Wally Cox character in an adventure movie. I’m the person living in the bowels of a great library, wearing white gloves and opening the pages of ancient books and manuscripts to unlock the secrets of the ancients. I find beauty and romance in the oddest of places and it is probably one of the reasons I am not married or have a boyfriend. Let’s face it – who wants to date a pudgy middle aged woman with two fake knees and a love for how people thought about life in the 2nd century? I mean, hello?

Anyway, the sense I always bring home from the Bosco Conference is one of standing on the shoulders of giants – not in the literalistic sense but in the sense that everyday people like me carried on the True Faith despite incredible hardships. And we do not have to guess about this – it has been written down, preserved, dispassionately waiting in the bowels of dusty old libraries for people to read. Today we have an even greater advantage than previous scholars and laypeople – a whole bunch of this stuff is available on the internet.

Let me share with you the bare bones of the story of that prayer.

In 1917 a package from Egypt was received by the British National Museum. The package was wrapped in ancient papyrus and those who understand the value of such things knew that the wrappings were as important to scholarship as what they wrapped. The next ten years were spent teasing the pieces of papyrus apart, translating them, dating them and cataloging them. All the writings were dated from the end of the Second Century to the begining of the Third Century and all could be identified except for this one little scrap, upon which this funny kind of poem was written.

The catalogue was published for scholars (and the world) in 1938. A Benedictine Monk recognized that funny little poem as a prayer prayed in the Liturgy of the Hours – a discipline followed in the CATHOLIC Church for over one THOUSAND YEARS ( at the time – we can assume the prayer was prayed longer than that without the trappings of specific liturgical boundary). The prayer is known as the Sub tuum – a prayer to Mary, THE MOTHER OF GOD.

Now why is this important to us today?

There are people right now in this world who, unknowingly, advance the heresy of the Nestorians. That heresy (denying that Mary gave birth to God) lead to the calling of the Council of Ephesus in the year 431 ad. Nestor challenged the idea that Mary was the Theotokos (God-Bearer), arguing that God cannot have a mother and so God must have made Jesus Divine later on…after he had been born maybe or when he entered puberty or maybe right before the Wedding at Canaan. This flies in the face of the Faith handed down by the Apostles (In the Beginning was The Word), never the less, this guy Nestor just had a hard time wrapping his mind around the idea of The Holy Trinity. Well, I can understand that – it is a difficult concept, and one that no one in their right mind would ever claim to say they completely understand. That is why it is a MYSTERY. Shoot, if St Thomas Aquinas couldn’t get it, why would WE????

Now here is the thing – if Mary is not the Theotokus then there is not really a Holy Trinity. In fact, there may not even be One God. Maybe there are three. Maybe we can become God too, if we are supposed to be like Jesus. HEY – maybe we can all become GODS and then get our own PLANETS someday….or maybe the space ships are on their way to rescue us from the soul catchers…….OR, maybe we should only read the BIBLE because who needs SACRAMENTS – after all, if Jesus is only God some of the time, maybe some of the time He was just kidding when He was preaching or MAYBE He isn’t God at all, but St Michael the ARCHANGEL and John the BAPTIST started the church…..

And gee whiz – what is the real basis for Original Sin? What was that first lie told to humanity?

“you TOO can be like gods”.

As the Bishops – those in communion with The Bishop of Rome and those just hanging out with the Emporer – began to gather in Ephesus (and this is important) THE PEOPLE welcome St Cyril – the Bishop there to defend the honor of the Mother of The Church – OUR MOTHER. And it was THE WOMEN OF EPHESUS who blockaded the Churches and would NOT let the Nestorians inside and forced them to camp OUTSIDE the limits of the city.

NEVER underestimate brave Catholic Women willing to go against the popular culture of the time and fight for Truth. We will kick your butts into next Thursday.

But I digress…..

This prayer, which predates the Council of Ephesus where Our Lady was declared by the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, to be the Mother of GOD, was one of the arguments used against the nestorian heresy to defeat Satan and protect The Faith. Because of the existence of the prayer, good ol’ St Cyril could argue that the belief that Mary was the GodBearer. St Cyril could defend the belief that by virtue of the Saving Paschal Mystery acting outside of time and space she was saved from the stain of Original Sin and therefore a suitable vessal for the Son of God to enter into human history. Because of a prayer handed down from Catholic to Catholic despite the persecutions and the criminality of our belief for the first 300 years of our existence (remember who it was who first called us CATHOLIC and where he was being dragged to when he used that term) today I can stand at Mass and say:

I believe in One GOD.

In other words, the Council of Jerusalem feeds the Council of Nicea, which feeds the Council of Ephesus and so on and so on and so on……until today we have the gifts of Vatican II to unlock and unpack for years and years to come.

When I ask Our Lady to intervene for me, to protect me and take my petitions to her Son I am carrying on a tradition which goes back to the begining…when she was praying with the Apostles in the Upper Room, waiting for the Holy Spirit…..

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

Releasing Captives: The Virgin Appears In Prison

By Padraig Caughey

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In 1982, when I was 26 years old, I was captured by the British Army and thrown into the Curmlin Road Jail. Belfast, in the North of Ireland.

At the time, I was extremely bitter and full of hate, not believing in God at all, and very angry at the Catholic Church, which I considered pro-British. The years of rage and violence during the Troubles had taken their toll on me, and I was increasingly suicidal. The only thing that stopped me from killing myself was the knowledge that it would bring great pain to my family.

One night as I entered my cell. I found lying on the floor, a news- paper photo of Padre Pio, bearing his stigmata. I do not know how it got there, as neither myself nor my cell-mate were believers. Anyway, as I looked at the marks of the Passion on Padre Pio’s hands, I thought, “The old fool did it with a screwdriver!” I wondered how he had never gotten blood poisoning or been caught cheating during such a long life.

That night as I was going to sleep, I said in despair, “Padre Pio, go to God, and ask Him to prove to me that He really exists in the space of one ‘Hail Mary.’ If He does not, I will know for certain that He does not exist, and I can go ahead and kill myself.”

Our Lady Appeared!

As soon as I had said, “Hail Mary,” my eyes flooded with tears in rivers down my face, for there, standing at the end of my bed, in great glory, was the Mother of God Herself. Extraordinary holiness, beauty, majesty, purity, motherliness, love, and kindness… indescribable!

She said, “Now you believe.”   I could only nod, and say, “Yes, I believe,”   Then She said, “Faith, without love, is vain. You must forgive; do you forgive?”

Then I saw before me, picture forms of all whom I had hated, while Mary’s voice gently kept asking me, “Do you forgive, do you forgive, do you forgive?”… as each picture passed before me.   She then said, “Now is there anyone, anyone at all, to whom your bear hate?”

There was no one; I forgave them all. It was as though the weight of the universe was lifted from my soul.   For the first time, Mary smiled.

“Now you have faith, and now you have loved; but now you must pray, for prayer is the food of faith. Pray… pray the Rosary,” and She held a set of beads towards me.   I was embarrassed, and said, “I am sorry. I have forgotten how to say them.”   Then Mary said with great firmness, “I, Myself, will teach you,” which She did.

I cannot tell you the joy I felt. It was as though I was reborn. I found it hard to say the Rosary at first, but then I came to love it.   Eventually, I ended up saying it all the time. The way that Mary taught me to pray the Rosary was not at all as we prayed it when I was a child. Her way was slow and thoughtful… so meaningful to me, and such a joy to feel truly in the presence of Jesus and Mary while it was being prayed.

When I left prison, I entered a Cistercian Monastery for three and a half years. I am certain, that for the rest of my life, I will never forget Our Lady’s visit, and always thank Padre Pio, Our Lady, and God for that wonderful night in prison which changed me and saved both my life and my soul. +++

Hope In Facing Current Difficulties: Pope Benedict XVI

1957-dec-16

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The year that is ending and that which is approaching on the horizon are both under the blessed gaze of the Most Holy Mother of God. The artistic polychrome sculpture set here next to the altar, which portrays her on a throne with the Child giving his Blessing, also recalls her motherly presence. We are celebrating the First Vespers of this Marian Solemnity, in which there are numerous liturgical references to the mystery of the Virgin’s divine motherhood.

“O admirabile commercium! O marvelous exchange!”. Thus begins the Antiphon of the first Psalm, to then continue: “man’s Creator has become man, born of a virgin”. “By your miraculous birth of the Virgin you have fulfilled the Scriptures”, proclaims the Antiphon of the Second Psalm, which is echoed by the words of the third Antiphon that introduce us to the canticle taken from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians: “Your blessed and fruitful virginity is like the bush, flaming yet unburned, which Moses saw on Sinai. Pray for us, Mother of God”. Mary’s divine motherhood is also highlighted in the brief Reading proclaimed shortly beforehand, which proposes anew the well-known verses of the Letter to the Galatians: “When the designated time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman… so that we might our status as adopted sons” (Gal 4: 4-5). And again, in the traditional Te Deum that we will raise at the end of our celebration before the Most Holy Sacrament solemnly exposed for our adoration singing, “Tu, ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum”, in English: “when you, O Christ, became man to set us free you did not spurn the Virgin’s womb”.

Thus everything this evening invites us to turn our gaze to the one who “received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world”, and for this very reason the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council recalls “is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God” (Lumen gentium, n. 53). Christ’s Nativity, which we are commemorating in these days, is entirely suffused with the light of Mary and, while we pause at the manger to contemplate the Child, our gaze cannot fail to turn in gratitude also to his Mother, who with her “yes” made possible the gift of Redemption. This is why the Christmas Season brings with it a profoundly Marian connotation; the birth of Jesus as God and man and Mary’s divine motherhood are inseparable realities; the mystery of Mary and the mystery of the Only-Begotten Son of God who was made man form a single mystery, in which the one helps to better understand the other.

Mary Mother of God Theotokos, Dei Genetrix. Since ancient times Our Lady has been honoured with this title. However, for many centuries in the West there was no feast specifically dedicated to the divine Motherhood of Mary. It was introduced into the Latin Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931 on the occasion of the 15th centenary of the Council of Ephesus, and he chose to establish it on 11 October. On that date, in 1962, the Second Vatican Council was inaugurated. It was then the Servant of God Paul VI who restored an ancient tradition in 1969, fixing this Solemnity on 1 January. In the Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus of 2 February 1974, he explained the reason for his decision and its connection with the World Day of Peace. “In the revised ordering of the Christmas period it seems to us that the attention of all should be directed towards the restored Solemnity of Mary the holy Mother of God,” Paul VI wrote. “This celebration… is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the “holy Mother’…. It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewing adoration to the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels (cf. Lk 2: 14), and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace” (n. 5).

This evening, let us place in the hands of the heavenly Mother of God our choral hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts he has generously granted us during the past 12 months. The first sentiment which spontaneously rises in our hearts this evening is precisely that of praise and thanksgiving to the One who gave us time, a precious opportunity to do good; let us combine with it our request for forgiveness for perhaps not always having spent it usefully. I am glad to share this thanksgiving with you, dear brothers and sisters who represent the whole of our diocesan community to which I address my cordial greeting, extending it to all the inhabitants of Rome. I extend a particular greeting to the Cardinal Vicar and to the Mayor, both of whom have begun their different missions this year one spiritual and religious, the other civil and administrative at the service of this city of ours. I extend my greeting to the Auxiliary Bishops, priests, consecrated people and the very many lay faithful who have gathered here, as well as to the authorities present. By coming into the world, the eternal Word of the Father revealed to us God’s closeness and the ultimate truth about man and his eternal destiny; he came to stay with us to be our irreplaceable support, especially in the inevitable daily difficulties. And this evening the Virgin herself reminds us of what a great gift Jesus gave us with his Birth, of what a precious “treasure” his Incarnation constitutes for us. In his Nativity Jesus comes to offer us his Word as a lamp to guide our steps; he comes to offer us himself and we must always affirm him as our unfailing hope in our daily life, aware that “it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear” (Gaudium et spes, n. 22).

Christ’s presence is a gift that we must be able to share with everyone. It is for this purpose that the diocesan community is making an effort to form pastoral workers, so as to equip them to respond to the challenges modern culture poses to the Christian faith. The presence of numerous highly qualified academic institutions in Rome and the many initiatives promoted by the parishes enable us to look confidently to the future of Christianity in this city. As you well know, encountering Christ renews our personal life and helps us to contribute to building a just and fraternal society. This is why we as believers can also make a great contribution to overcoming the current educational emergency. Thus, for a profound evangelization and a courageous human promotion that can communicate the riches that derive from the encounter with Christ to as many people as possible, an increase in synergy among families, school and parishes is more important than ever. For this I encourage each member of our diocese to continue on the journey they have undertaken, together carrying out the programme for the current pastoral year which aims precisely to “educate to hope through prayer, action and suffering”.

In our times, marked by uncertainty and concern for the future, it is necessary to experience the living presence of Christ. It is Mary, Star of Hope who leads us to him. It is she, with her maternal love, who can guide young people especially who bear in their hearts an irrepressible question about the meaning of human existence to Jesus. I know that various groups of parents, meeting in order to deepen their vocation, are seeking new ways to help their children respond to the big existential questions. I cordially urge them, together with the whole Christian community, to bear witness to the new generations of the joy that stems from encountering Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem and did not come to take something from us but rather to give us everything.

On Christmas night I had a special thought for children; instead, this evening it is young people above all on whom I wish to focus my attention. Dear young people, responsible for the future of this our city, do not be afraid of the apostolic task that the Lord is entrusting to you. Do not hesitate to choose a lifestyle that does not follow the current hedonistic mindset. The Holy Spirit assures you of the strength you need to witness to the joy of faith and the beauty of being Christian. The growing need for evangelization requires many labourers in the Lord’s vineyard; do not hesitate to respond to him promptly if he calls you. Society needs citizens who are not concerned solely with their own interests because, as I recalled on Christmas Day, “If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart”.

Dear brothers and sisters, this year is ending with an awareness of the spreading social and financial crisis that now involves the whole world; a crisis that asks for greater moderation and solidarity from all, so that they may go to the aid especially of the individuals and families who are in the most serious difficulty. The Christian community is already making efforts toward this and I know that the diocesan Caritas and other relief agencies are doing their utmost. Nonetheless, everyone’s collaboration is necessary, for no one can think of building his own happiness alone. Although many clouds are gathering on the horizon of our future, we must not be afraid. Our great hope as believers is eternal life in communion with Christ and the whole family of God. This great hope gives us the strength to face and to overcome the difficulties of life in this world. This evening the motherly presence of Mary assures us that God never abandons us if we entrust ourselves to him and follow his teachings. Therefore, while we take our leave of 2008 and prepare to welcome 2009, let us present to Mary our expectations and hopes, as well as our fears and the difficulties that dwell in our hearts, with filial affection and trust. She, the Virgin Mother, offers us the Child who lies in the manger as our sure hope. Full of trust, we shall then be able to sing at the end of the Te Deum: “In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum – In you, Lord, is our hope: and we shall never hope in vain”. Yes, Lord, in you we hope, today and for ever; you are our hope. Amen!

© Copyright 2008 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

A Note on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Birthday by Father John Corapi

Happy Birthday Sweet Mother of God!
Happy Birthday Sweet Mother of God!

The universal Church celebrates September 8th in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s birthday. This is an excellent opportunity for each one of us to do something to show our love and appreciation for the Mother of God and our spiritual Mother. From all eternity, God in his infinite wisdom decreed that Mary would be the Mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ. She was with Jesus at all of the important moments throughout his life from the Incarnation, to his death on the cross. Before our Savior died He gave his Mother to each one of us in giving her to his beloved disciple, St. John.

This September 8th let’s thank God our Father for his beloved Daughter; thank Jesus for his Mother, full of grace; and thank the Holy Spirit for his immaculate Spouse, our Mother Mary. Offer a Rosary in thanksgiving to God for the gift of his own Mother as our Mother. Tell your Mother you love her, and most of all follow her example of holiness, humility, and perfect fidelity to Jesus and his teaching.

Happy birthday Mother, from all of your children still trying to fight the good fight and run the race to the finish line. We love you and ask you to intercede for each one of us with Jesus your Son. Keep us safe in the enclosed garden of your Immaculate Heart. Protect us from the wiles of the Devil. Lead us safely home to Heaven, to be with you, the most holy Trinity, and all of the angels and saints. Pray for us sinners, dear Mother, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Fr. John Corapi