Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nel cammino della vita...along the path of life

On this last day of the year 2008 we pray, through the intercession of Saint Silvester, that along the path of life we might enjoy his guidance as heavenly intercessor with the Lord and that we might happily reach the city of the saints, "la citta dei santi".

Enjoy this view of the monumentale presepe, or Christmas display, at Cava de' Tirreni, near Naples, Italy. I once visited this place with my brother and sister-in-law and walked through the various buildings necessary for the display of this life-size creche, or Neapolitan presepe. Such representations of the birth of Christ help us to better place our own stories of life within His story, that we might one day, like all the saints before us, find in Him our true selves and in us His life of grace fulfilled forever in the glorious joy of Heaven, the "city of the saints".

Happy New Year to all friends of MCITL everywhere. Buon Anno! Feliz Ano Nuevo!

(Photo: Monumental presepe at Cava de' Tirreni, Italia. For more photos of the 2008 presepe visit the site here.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Crucified One: "the only point that counts"

[Il Tempo] The Pope, a year ago, celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel with his back turned to the people. Who it was who proposed it to him?

[Guido Marini:] "It was I who proposed it to him. The Sistine Chapel is a treasure chest. It seemed a strained effort to alter its beauty b y building an artificial, made-up stage. In the ordinary rite, this celebration 'with the back turned to the people' is a foreseen position. Yet I underline: the back is not turned to the faithful, but the celebrant and the faithful are turned towards the only point that counts, which is the Crucifix."

(Excerpt of an interview granted by the Master of Papal Liturgical Ceremonies, Mons. Guido Marini, to Italian daily Il Tempo, Sunday edition. Photo: Rorate Caeli.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

This day Our Savior Christ is born!

The joy and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ, born for us this day, be with you!

The following is the customary reading for Christmas from the Roman Martyrology, often proclaimed prior to the cele­bration of Christmas Mass at Midnight: In the year 5199 since the creation of the world, when God made Heaven and earth; in the year 2759 since the flood; in the year 2015 since Abraham’s birth; in the year 1510 since the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt under the guidance of Moses; in the year 1032 since David was anointed king. In the 65th week of the year according to Daniel’s prophecy; in the 194th Olympiad, in the year 732 after the building of Rome; in the 42nd year of the reign of Octavian Au­gustus, when there was peace in the whole world; in the sixth era of the world’s history; Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desired to sanctify the world by His gra­cious coming.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spir­it, and now after nine months ( all kneel).
He is born at Bethlehem in the tribe of Judah as Man from the Virgin Mary.

The Birth Of Our Lord Jesus Christ In The Flesh.

To aid your prayerful meditation in this joyous feast of Christmas I offer the following treasures of doctrine from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“ Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God is the distinctive sign of Christian faith: ‘ By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.’ Such is the joyous conviction of the Church from her beginning whenever she sings ‘ the mystery of our religion’: ‘ He was manifested in the flesh’” ( n. 463).

"The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that He is the result of a confused mix­ture of the divine and the human. He became tru­ly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. During the first centuries, the Church had to defend and clarify this truth of faith against the heresies that falsified it” ( n. 464).

"Taking up St. John’s expression, ‘ The Word be­came flesh,’ the Church calls ‘ Incarnation’ the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation: “ ‘ Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He hum­bled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross’ ( Phil. 2: 5- 8)” ( n. 461).

"The veneration of sacred images is based on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. It is not contrary to the First Commandment” (n. 2141).

"Because 'human nature was assumed, not ab­sorbed,’ in the mysterious union of the Incarnation, the Church was led over the course of centuries to confess the full reality of Christ’s human soul, with its operations of intellect and will, and of His hu­man body. In parallel fashion, she had to recall on each occasion that Christ’s human nature belongs, as His own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that Christ is and does in this nature derives from ‘ one of the Trinity.’ The Son of God therefore communicates to His human­ity His own personal mode of existence in the Trin­ity. In His soul as in His body, Christ thus express­es humanly the divine ways of the Trinity: “‘The Son of God . . . worked with human hands; He thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart He loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin’ ( Gaudium et Spes, 22: 2)” ( n. 470).

Sincere wishes for a most blessed and joy-filled Christmas celebration to all of our readers and their families!

(Photo: Image of the Bambino Gesu, the Christ Child, in the crib at the Basilica of Saint Peter's, Rome.)

Merry Christmas!

O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that the animals should see the new-born Lord lying in a manger. Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!

The year from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine: from the deluge, the year two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven: from the birth of Abraham, the year two thousand and fifteen: from Moses and the going out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the year one thousand five hundred and ten: from David’s being anointed king, the year one thousand and thirty-two: in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel: in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad: from the building of the city of Rome, the year seven hundred and fifty-two: in the forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus: the whole world being in peace: in the sixth age of the world: Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father, wishing to consecrate this world by his most merciful coming, being conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months since his conception having passed, in Bethlehem of Juda, is born of the Virgin Mary, being made Man: THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH !

Thus have passed before us, in succession, all the generations of the world. 5 Each of them is asked if it have seen Him whom we are expecting, and each is silent; until the name of Mary is pronounced, and then is proclaimed the Nativity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, made Man. St. Bernard, speaking of this announcement, says: ‘The voice of joy has gone forth in our land, the voice of rejoicing and of salvation is in the tabernacles of the just. There has been heard a good word, a word that gives consolation, a word that is full of gladsomeness, a word worthy of all acceptance. Resound with praise, ye mountains, and all ye trees of the forests clap your hands before the face of the Lord, for He is coming. Hearken, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth! be astounded and give praise, O all ye creatures! but thou, O man, more than all they! JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, IS BORN IN BETHLEHEM OF JUDA! Who, is there that is so hard of heart, that this word does not touch him? Could anything be told us sweeter than this? Could any news delight us like this? Was such a thing ever heard, or anything like it ever told to the world? JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF God, is BORN IN BETHLEHEM OF JUDA! O brief word of the Word abridged ! 6 and yet how full of heavenly beauty! The heart, charmed with the honeyed sweetness of the expression, would fain diffuse it and spread it out into more words; but no, it must be given just as it is, or you spoil it: JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, IS BORN IN BETHLEHEM OF JUDA ! 7

Source: Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Vol. 1, Advent. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1948, pp. 506-520. Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Eve of Christmas

" ' AT length,’ says St. Peter Damian, in his sermon for this holy eve, ‘at length we have come from the stormy sea into the tranquil port; hitherto it was the promise, now it is the prize; hitherto labour, now rest; hitherto despair, now hope; hitherto the way, now our home. The heralds of the divine promise came to us; but they gave us nothing but rich promises. Hence our psalmist himself grew wearied and slept, and, with a seemingly reproachful tone, thus sings his lamentation to God: "But Thou hast rejected and despised us; Thou hast deferred the coming of Thy Christ." 1 At another time he assumes a tone of command and thus prays: "O Thou that sittest upon the Cherubim, show Thyself !" 2 Seated on Thy high throne, with myriads of adoring angels around Thee, look down upon the children of men, who are victims of that sin, which was committed indeed by Adam, but permitted by Thy justice. Remember what my substance is ; 3 Thou didst make it to the likeness of Thine own; for though every living man is vanity, yet inasmuch as he is made to Thy image, he is not a passing vanity. 4 Bend Thy heavens and come down, and turn the eyes of Thy mercy upon us Thy miserable suppliants, and forget us not unto the end!

" ‘Isaias, also, in the vehemence of his desire, thus spoke : "For Sion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not rest, till her Just One come forth as brightness. Oh! that thou wouldst rend the heavens, and wouldst come down !" So, too, all the prophets, tired of the long delay of the coming, have prayed to Thee, now with supplication, now with lamentation, and now with cries of impatience. We have listened to these their prayers; we have made use of them as our own, and now, nothing can give us joy or gladness, till our Saviour come to us, and, kissing us with the kiss of His lips, say to us: "I have heard and granted your prayers."

" ‘But, what is this that has been said to us: "Sanctify yourselves, O ye children of Israel, and be ready ; for on the morrow the Lord will come down "? We are, then, but one half day and night from the grand visit, the admirable, birth of the Infant God! Hurry on your course, ye fleeting hours, that we may the sooner see the Son of God in His crib, and pay our homage to this world-saving birth. You, brethren, are the children of Israel, that are sanctified, and cleansed from every defilement of soul and body, ready, by your earnest devotion, for to morrow’s mysteries. Such, indeed, you are, if I may judge from the manner in which you have spent these sacred days of preparation for the coming of your Saviour.

" ‘But if, notwithstanding all your care, some drops of the stream of this life’s frailties are still on your hearts, wipe them away and cover them with the snow-white robe of confession, This I can promise you from the mercy of the divine Infant: he that shall confess his sins and be sorry for them, shall have born within him the Light of the world; the darkness that deceived him shall be dispelled; and he shall enjoy the brightness of the true Light. For how can mercy be denied to the miserable this night, in which the merciful and compassionate Lord is so mercifully born ? Therefore, drive away from you all haughty looks, and idle words, and unjust works; let your loins be girt, and your feet walk in the right paths; and then come, and accuse the Lord, if this night He rend not the heavens, and come down to you, and throw all your sins into the depths of the sea.’

"This holy eve is, indeed, a day of grace and hope, and we ought to spend it in spiritual joy. The Church, contrary to her general practice, prescribes that, if Christmas Eve fall on a Sunday, the fasting alone shall be anticipated on the Saturday; but that the Office and Mass of the vigil should take precedence of the Office and Mass of the fourth Sunday of Advent. How solemn, then, in the eyes of the Church, are these few hours, which separate us from the great feast! On all other feasts, no matter how great they may be, the solemnity begins with first Vespers, and until then the Church restrains her joy, and celebrates the Divine Office and Sacrifice according to the lenten rite. Christmas, on the contrary, seems to begin with the vigil; and one would suppose that this morning’s Lauds were the opening of the feast; for the solemn intonation of this portion of the Office is that of a double, and the antiphons are sung before and after each psalm or canticle. The purple vestments are used at the Mass, but all the genuflexions peculiar to the Advent ferias are omitted; and only one Collect is said, instead of the three usually said when the Mass is not that of a solemnity.

Let us enter into the spirit of the Church, and prepare ourselves, in all the joy of our hearts, to meet the Saviour who is coming to us. Let us observe with strictness the fast which is prescribed; it will enable our bodies to aid the promptness of our spirit. Let us delight in the thought that, before we again lie down to rest, we shall have seen Him born, in the solemn midnight, who comes to give light to every creature. For surely it is the duty of every faithful child of the Catholic Church to celebrate with her this happy night, when, in spite of all the coldness of devotion, the whole universe keeps up its watch for the arrival of its Saviour. It is one of the last vestiges of the piety of ancient days, and God forbid it should ever be effaced!

Let us, in a spirit of prayer, look at the principal portions of the Office of this beautiful vigil. First, then, the Church makes a mysterious announcement to her children. It serves as’ the Invitatory of Matins, and as the Introit and Gradual of, the Mass. They are the words which Moses addressed to the people of God when he told them of the heavenly manna, which they would receive on the morrow. We, too, are expecting our Manna, our Jesus, the Bread of life, who is to be born in Bethlehem, which is the house of Bread.

Source: Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Vol. 1, Advent. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1948, pp. 506-520. Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.


Hodie scietis quia veniet Dominus, et mane videbitis gloriam ejus.This day ye shall know that the Lord will come, and in the morning ye shall see his glory.

The responsories are full of sublimity and sweetness. Nothing can be more affecting than their lyric melody, sung to us by our mother the Church, on the very night which precedes the night of Jesus’ birth.

R. Sanctificamini hodie et estote parati: quia die crastina videbitis * Majestatern Dei in vobis. V. Hodie scietis quia veniet Dominus, et mane videbitis * Majestatem Dei in vobis. R. Sanctify yourselves this day, and be ye ready: for on the morrow ye shall see the Majesty of God amongst you. V. This day ye shall know that the Lord will come, and in the morning ye shall see * the Majesty of God amongst you.
R. Constantes estote; videbitis auxilium Domini super vos; Judæa et Jerusalem, nolite timere: * Cras egrediemini, et Dominus erit vobiscum: V. Sanctificamini, filii Israël et estote parati. * Cras egrediemini, et Dominus erit vobiscum.R. Be ye constant ; ye shall see the help of the Lord upon you: fear not, Judea and Jerusalem: * To-morrow ye shall go forth, and the Lord shall be with you: V. Sanctify yourselves, ye children of Israel, and be ye ready. * Tomorrow ye shall go forth, and the Lord shall be with you.
R. Sanctifieamini, filii Israël, dicit Dominus: die enim crastina descendet Dominus: * Et auferet a vobis omnern languorem. V. Crastina die delebitur iniquitas terræ, et regnabit super nos Salvator mundi. * Et auferet a vobis omnem languorern.R. Sanctify yourselves, ye children of Israel, saith the Lord: for on the morrow, the Lord shall come down: * And shall take from you all that is languid. V. To-morrow the iniquity of the earth shall be cancelled, and over us shall reign the Saviour of the world. * And be shall take from you all that is languid.

At the Office of Prime, in cathedral chapters and monasteries, the announcement of to-morrow’s feast is made with unusual solemnity. The lector, who frequently is one of the dignitaries of the choir, sings, to a magnificent chant, the following lesson from the martyrology. All the assistants remain standing during it, until the lector comes to the word Bethlehem, at which all genuflect, and continue in that posture until all the glad tidings are told.

(Photo: Handcrafted Neapolitan presepe by mcitl. Wishing a merry Christmas to all our readers.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the Extraordinary Form

Visit In Caritate Non Ficta to see more photos and read about the first celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the Extraordinary Form at the cathedral of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, in many years.

Advent: God’s Spiritual Stimulus Plan

With the economy a mess, jobs at risk and many families pressed to pay just for groceries and gas, it isn’t only wallets that need a boost. Our spiritual life always suffers when a crisis afflicts the body and mind and the current recession is no exception. Advent has arrived at the right moment, for this beautiful season prepares us spiritually for the coming of the One who saves us from every source of oppression in this world by opening heaven to us.

The season of Advent, what I call God’s “Spiritual Stimulus Plan” sends a fresh breeze of grace through the Church and the world. Wearied by news of evil at work as hundreds die in the Mumbai terrorist nightmare, a store worker is trampled by a materialistic mob and two die in a toy store shootout, we reach out for relief. God sends this period in the life of the Church to revive and refresh us with hope.

Pope Benedict reminds us that a strong interior life is one of hope. In his homily for the First Sunday of Advent, Benedict calls us to “be” hope, to live this theological virtue by the life of grace. He says, "The word that sums up this particular state in which we await something that is supposed to manifest itself but which we also already have a glimpse and foretaste of, is 'hope.' Advent is the spiritual season of hope par excellence, and in this season the whole Church is called to be hope, for itself and for the world.”

We cannot give what we do not have. If we are to pray and struggle for improvements in the world that will bring work for the unemployed, shelter for the homeless, food for the hungry and relief for the sick we need first the tending of a loving God who offers His own “first aid” for the soul.

In the Scriptures of our Advent liturgies, we hear of the “comfort” God offers His people and a promise that “the eyes of the blind shall be opened”. The prophecies of Isaiah and others proclaimed in these days truly comfort us with the voice of God who hears our “cries unto heaven that our warfare” is over for He guarantees the victory over iniquity through His pardoning love. “He is our peace” in Jesus Christ whose birth at Bethlehem we await.

In the “work” of our worship in the sacred liturgy we make a “highway” for our God, given the breath of the Spirit through proclamation of the words of sacred Scriptures. God alone can “make the crooked ways straight and the rough places plain” and in the Savior whom we await “every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill made low.” He who has power to vanquish every enemy by Himself being the way to heaven for the world is the basis of our hope and for whom we prepare in these weeks of Advent.

As we hear the promise that the Messiah will “purify the sons of Levi that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” we rejoice in its fulfillment in the presence of the Savior, whose “glory is risen upon us" in the word and Sacrament of holy Mass. And we “arise” as we are bidden and we proclaim the “good tidings” of Zion unto the cities of Judah, crying out with full voice “ behold the glory of the Lord”. Our foretaste of heaven is the promise fulfilled of the Eucharist, and thus the Lord gives us sacramentally the courage to be a people of hope as our Holy Father urges us.

Benedict calls us to give special attention to the prayers of the Psalms, through daily proclamation making them our own prayer and, in the process, making Christ our Hope. He says, “The whole spiritual organism of the mystical body assumes, as it were, the 'color' of hope. The whole people of God begins the journey, drawn by this mystery: that our God is 'the God who comes' and who calls us to come to meet him. In what way? Above all in that universal form of hope and expectation that is prayer, which finds its eminent expression in the Psalms.”

The Church, dressed in the violet of hopeful expectation, makes the Psalms the core of her life of prayer in the Roman Breviary, or Liturgy of the Hours. This prayer of the whole Church is her principal means of sanctifying the hours of the day and night and extends the graces of the Eucharist, the source and summit of her entire life of prayer. This prayer is recommended for all of God’s people and provides a fruitful Advent invitation for us. The psalms of holy Mass, the Church’s perfect prayer in Christ, also give room to the Holy Spirit of hope and make God’s Word of prayer our own.

Though the world may “walk in darkness” and “dwell in the land of the shadow of death” we are called by faith to see a “great light” shine in Christ, above all through the grace of prayer by which He enlightens all our days. God’s spiritual stimulus plan each Advent feeds His flock with the grace of Hope in Emmanuel, God with us.

+ mcitl

Monday, December 22, 2008

O Rex Gentium



O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum ; veni, et salva hominem quem de limo formasti.O King of nations, and their desired One, and the corner - stone that makest both one; come and save man whom thou formedst out of slime.

O King of nations! Thou art approaching still nigher to Bethlehem, where Thou art to be born. The journey is almost over, and Thy august Mother, consoled and strengthened by the dear weight she bears, holds an unceasing converse with Thee on the way. She adores Thy divine Majesty; she gives thanks to Thy mercy; she rejoices that she has been chosen for the sublime ministry of being Mother to God. She longs for that happy moment when her eyes shall look upon Thee, and yet she fears it. For, how will she be able to render Thee those services which are due to Thy infinite greatness, she that thinks herself the last of creatures ? How will she dare to raise Thee up in her arms, and press Thee to her heart, and feed Thee at her breasts? When she reflects that the hour is now near at hand, in which, being born of her, Thou wilt require all her care and tenderness, her heart sinks within her; for, what human heart could bear the intense vehemence of these two affections—the love of such a Mother for her Babe, and the love of such a creature for her God? But Thou supportest her, O Thou the Desired of nations! for Thou, too, longest for that happy birth, which is to give to the earth its Saviour, and to men that corner-stone, which will unite them all into one family. Dearest King! be Thou blessed for all these wonders of Thy power and goodness ! Come speedily, we beseech Thee, come and save us, for we are dear to Thee, as creatures that have been formed by Thy divine hands. Yea, come, for Thy creation has grown degenerate; it is lost; death has taken possession of it: take Thou it again into Thy almighty hands, and give it a new creation; save it; for Thou hast not ceased to take pleasure in and love Thine own work."

-- Source: Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Vol. 1, Advent. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1948, pp. x-x. Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.


O Rex pacifice, tu ante sæcula nate, per auream egredere portam, redemptos tuos visita, et eos illuc revoca, unde ruerunt per culpam.O King of peace! that wast born before all ages, come by the golden gate; visit them whom thou hast redeemed, and lead them back to the place whence they fell by sin.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

O Oriens



O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis. O Orient splendour of eternal light, and Sun of justice! come and enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

"0 Jesus, divine Sun! Thou art coming to snatch us from eternal night blessed for ever be Thy infinite goodness ! But Thou puttest our faith to the test, before showing Thyself in all Thy brightness. Thou hidest Thy rays, until the time decreed by Thy heavenly Father comes, in which all Thy beauty will break upon the world. Thou art traversing Judea ; Thou art near Jerusalem; the journey of Mary and Joseph is nigh its term. Crowds of men pass or meet Thee on the road, each one hurrying to his native town, there to be enrolled, as the edict commands. Not one of all these suspects that Thou, O divine Orient ! art so near him. They see Thy Mother Mary, and they see nothing in her above the rest of women; or if they are impressed by the majesty and incomparable modesty of this august Queen, it is but a vague feeling of surprise at there being such dignity in one so poor as she is; and they soon forget her again. If the Mother is thus an object of indifference to them, it is not to be expected that they will give even so much as a thought to her Child, that is not yet born. And yet this Child is Thyself, O Sun of justice! Oh! increase our faith, but increase, too, our love. If these men loved Thee, 0 Redeemer of mankind, Thou wouldst give them the grace to feel Thy presence. Their eyes, indeed, would not yet see Thee, but their hearts, at least, would burn within them, they would long for Thy coming, and would hasten it by their prayers and, sighs. Dearest Jesus! who thus traversest the world Thou hast created, and who forcest not the homage of Thy creatures, we wish to keep near Thee during the rest of this Thy journey: we kiss the footsteps of her that carries Thee in her womb; we will not leave Thee, until we arrive together with Thee at Bethlehem, that house of bread, where, at last, our eyes will see Thee, O splendour of eternal light, our Lord and our God!"

-- Source: Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Vol. 1, Advent. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1948, pp. 500-1. Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.

(Photo by author: The splendor of sunrise from the East over the Potomac River and Nationals Stadium on the day of Benedict XVI's holy Mass in Washington, DC, 17 April 2008.)


(The Mozarabic breviary, Monday of the fifth week. Oratio)

Immane satis facinus video coram tuis, Deus Pater, oculis a reprobis perpetraturn: qui, dum Filium tuum, prædicatum in Lege, contemnunt, in incredulitatis suæ voragine remanserunt; dum hi quibus non erat de eo nuntiatum, viderunt eum, et qui non audierunt, intelligentia contemplati sunt. Amove ergo, quæsumus, quidquid resistit tibi in opere, Ut credulo pectore sic in nobis virgulta donorum præpolleant, ut radix humilitatis nunquam arescat. Amen.O God, our Father! what horrid crime is this I see committed in thy presence by sinners! They spurn thy Son, that was foretold in the Law, and remain in the gulf of their incredulity; whereas, they to whom he was not announced, have seen him; and they who heard not, contemplated him in their spirit. Remove, therefore, we beseech thee, from us all that resists thee in our conduct, that so, with a believing heart, we may in such manner bring forth the branches of thy gifts bestowed on us, as that the root of humility may never dry up within us. Amen.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Advent: "Hail, full of grace."

"The blessed virgin Mary, saluted as 'full of grace' by the angel, freely chooses to cooperate with God's plan, such that our Savior was 'conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,' as we recite in the Creed. 'From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived "by the Holy Spirit without human seed." ' (Council of the Lateran, 469)." (CCC 496)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

(Image: Annunciation, Botticelli.)


For solid Catholic reading: Sophia Institute Press for a wide variety of titles on marriage, spirituality, prayer, Scripture, saints and more.

Visit Sophia Institute Press bookstore today. Go here for their "Super Sale"; all titles are $2.00 each.

(Image: Christ in Judgement. Sophia Institute Press.)

O Clavis David


O Clavis David et sceptrum domus Israël, qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit; veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David, and sceptre of the house of Israel! who openest, and no man shutteth: who shuttest, and no man openeth; come, and lead the captive from prison, sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.

"O Jesus, Son of David! heir to his throne and his power! Thou art now passing over, in Thy way to Bethlehem, the land that once was the kingdom of Thy ancestor, but now is tributary to the Gentiles. Scarce an inch of this ground which has not witnessed the miracles of the justice and mercy of Jehovah, Thy Father, to the people of the old Covenant, which is so soon to end. Before long, when Thou hast come from beneath the virginal cloud which now hides Thee, Thou wilt pass along this same road doing good, 1 healing all manner of sickness and every infirmity, 2 and yet having not where to lay Thy head. 3 Now, at least, Thy Mother’s womb affords Thee the sweetest rest, and Thou receivest from her the profoundest adoration and the tenderest love. But, dear Jesus, it is Thine own blessed will that Thou leave this loved abode. Thou hast, O eternal Light, to shine in the midst of this world’s darkness, this prison where the captive, whom Thou hast come to deliver, sits in the shadow of death. Open his prison-gates by Thy all-powerful key. And who is this captive, but the human race, the slave of error and vice? Who is this captive, but the heart of man, which is thrall to the very passions it blushes to obey? Oh! come and set at liberty the world Thou hast enriched by Thy grace, and the creatures whom Thou hast made to be Thine own brethren."

-- Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Vol. 1, Advent. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1948, pp. 484-6. Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.

O Gabriel! nuntius cœlorum, qui januis clausis ad me intrasti, et Verbum nunciasti: Concipies et paries: Emmanuel vocabitur.

O Gabriel! the messenger of heaven, who camest unto me through the closed doors, and didst announce the Word unto me : Thou shalt conceive and bear a Son, and he shall be called Emmanuel.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The request of your prayers

Our friend, Philip Johnson, has posted news about the episcopal imprimatur just received for his requests for prayer for his healing though the intercession of Father Price, as well as for the cause for canonization of this exemplary priest.

You may visit his blog, In Caritate Non Ficta, for more information and to request prayer cards.

Thank you.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Down load copies of hand illuminated altar cards

Dear readers,
Interested individuals may download copies of these finely hand-illuminated altar cards for printing. To download please visit Breviarium Romanum. Thank you.

O Adonai, by Abbot Guéranger

O Adonai, et dux domus
Israël, qui Moysi in igne
flamme rubi apparuisti, et
ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in
brachio extento.
O Adonaĩ, and leader of
the house of Israel, who
appearedst to Moses in the fire
of the flaming bush, and
gavist him the law on Sinaĩ;
come and redeem us by thy
outstretched arm.

O SOVEREIGN Lord! O Adonaï! come and redeem us, not by Thy power, but by Thy humility. Heretofore, Thou didst show Thyself to Moses Thy servant in the midst of a mysterious flame ; Thou didst give Thy law to Thy people amidst thunder and lightning; now, on the contrary, Thou comest not to terrify, but to save us. Thy chaste Mother having heard the emperor’s edict, which obliges her and Joseph her spouse to repair to Bethlehem, prepares everything needed for Thy divine Birth. She prepares for Thee, O Sun of justice! the humble swathing-bands, wherewith to cover Thy nakedness, and, protect Thee, the Creator of the world, from the cold, of that midnight hour of Thy Nativity! Thus it is that Thou wiliest to deliver us from the slavery of our pride, and show man that Thy divine arm is never stronger than when be thinks it powerless and still. Everything is prepared, then, dear Jesus! Thy swathing-bands are ready for Thy infant limbs! Come to Bethlehem, and redeem us from the hands of our enemies.

-- Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

In Leuven, Belgium, one finds the Church of Saint Peter and in the left aisle of the church, among several art treasures, a wooden sculpture of the Madonna can be seen. This Madonna is called the 'Sedes Sapientiae' (Seat of wisdom) and is the symbol of the University of Leuven. It was sculpted in 1442 by De Bruyne.

O Sapientia, by Abbott Guéranger, O.S.B

O Sapientia, qun ex ore
Altissimi prodiisti, attingens
a fine usque ad finem forti-
ter, suaviterque disponens
omnia; veni, ad docendum
nos viam prudentiae.
O Wisdom, that proceedest
from the mouth of the Most
High, reaching from end to
end mightily, and disposing
all things sweetly come
and teach us the way of

O uncreated Wisdom, who art so soon to make Thyself visible to Thy creatures, truly Thou disposest all things. It is by Thy permission that the emperor Augustus issues a decree ordering the enrolment of the whole world. Each citizen of the vast empire is to have his name enrolled in the city of his birth. This prince has no other object in this order, which sets the world in motion, but his own ambition. Men go to and fro by millions, and an unbroken procession traverses the immense Roman world; men think they are doing the bidding of man, and it is God whom they are obeying. This world-wide agitation has really but one object; it is, to bring to Bethlehem a man and woman who live at Nazareth in Galilee, in order that this woman, who is unknown to the world but dear to heaven, and who is at the close of the ninth month since she conceived her Child, may give birth to this Child in Bethlehem; for the Prophet has said of Him: ‘His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity. And thou, 0 Bethlehem! art not the least among the thousand cities of Juda, for out of thee He shall come.’1 O divine Wisdom! how strong art Thou in thus reaching Thine ends by means which are infallible, though hidden; and yet, how sweet, offering no constraint to man’s free-will; and withal, how fatherly, in providing for our necessities! Thou choosest Bethlehem for Thy birth-place, because Bethlehem signifies the house of bread. In this, Thou teachest us that Thou art our Bread, the nourishment and support of our life. With God as our food, we cannot die. O Wisdom of the Father, living Bread that hast descended from heaven, come speedily into us, that thus we may approach to Thee and be enlightened 2 by Thy light, and by that prudence which leads to salvation.

-- Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The "O" Antiphons

Fr William Saunders introduces us to the O antiphons of these final days of Advent, beginning with the 17th of December.

Chant settings for the O antiphons can be found here.

(Art: Illuminated manuscript, British Library.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

"NOT THE SAME": To receive Communion on the tongue or in the hand, to kneel or stand.

Kneeling for communion and communion on the tongue: "Profound meaning," says Cañizares

In an interview granted this Sunday to Spanish daily La Razón, the new Prefect of Divine Worship, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, had this to say on an important liturgical matter:

[La Razón:] Nevertheless, Benedict XVI has reiterated in some instances the propriety of receiving communion kneeling and in the mouth. Is it something important, or is it a mere matter of form?

[Cañizares:] - No, it is not just a matter of form. What does it mean to receive communion in the mouth? What does it mean to kneel before the Most Holy Sacrament? What does it mean to kneel during the consecration at Mass? It means adoration, it means recognizing the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; it means respect and an attitude of faith of a man who prostrates before God because he knows that everything comes from Him, and we feel speechless, dumbfounded, before the wondrousness, his goodness, and his mercy. That is why it is not the same to place the hand, and to receive communion in any fashion, than doing it in a respectful way; it is not the same to receive communion kneeling or standing up, because all these signs indicate a profound meaning. What we have to grasp is that profound attitude of the man who prostrates himself before God, and that is what the Pope wants.

(Thanks to Rorate Caeli.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Rejoice in the Lord always...

"...pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks ."

Rejoice in the Lord, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.

"The consequences of original sin and of all men's personal sins put the world as a whole in the sinful condition aptly described in St. John's expression, 'the sin of the world.' (Jn 1:29)" (CCC 407)

John the Baptist guides us in Advent, a people who look to Christ alone to take away our sins and to open heaven for us when he comes again in glory. Christ is the "Lamb of God", to whom we confidently go to receive the fullness of God's mercy: "Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi". Go humbly, and with a sense of urgency, to receive him who unburdens us of the weight of death and the shame of sin and gives us in exchange his unending, divine life.

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent.

Dignitas Humanae: "On the Dignity of the Human Person"

Visit "What Do Catholics ReallyBelieve?" to read a good summary of the newly released Church instruction called Dignitas Humanae.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One Soul

These calculations of diminishing crowds as a basis for judging the need and value of things in the life of the Church, in particular the spiritual treasure of holy Mass, are as shallow and superficial as those who come once and then drop out.

The reason for offering the extraordinary form of holy Mass is that our Holy Father has asked that we make it available along with the ordinary form of holy Mass. Basta.

The superficial you will always have with you.

One soul is of infinite value. One soul at holy Mass is enough for the Lord.

(Photo: Thanks to In Caritate Non Ficta.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

First Extraordinary Form Mass at Mount Saint Mary's in ca. 50 Years

The extraordinary form of the Roman rite of holy Mass was celebrated on the grounds of Mount Saint Mary's Seminary by Monsignor Charles Pope, of the Archdiocese of Washington, on 8 December. The deacon was Father Paul D. Scalia of the Diocese of Arlington, the subdeacon was Father John C. Fritz (2000 Mount grad) of the Diocese of Rockford (studying at Catholic University). All three priests say the traditional Latin Mass in the D.C./Arlington area. The homilist was Father Frederick L. Miller, a systematic theology professor at the Mount. This solemn liturgy was the first of its kind offered at the Immaculate Conception chapel on the Emmitsburg, Maryland, campus in about half a century.

More information is available in the story on this event in The Washington Times.

(Thanks to Matthew Gray, second year MSMS seminarian of the Diocese of Charleston, SC, for the photos.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


December 9, 2008



Where: Press briefing room, UN headquarters, New York

Contact: Austin Ruse, President 202 -393-7002 (office), 202-531-3770 (cell)

UN Headquarters, New York – Tomorrow, December 10th, a coalition of social conservative groups from around the world will present a petition of 330,000 names calling for Member States of the United Nations to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as protecting the unborn child from abortion and protecting the traditional family.

The group formed in response and in opposition to petition efforts by pro-abortion groups International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International that are calling for a right to abortion on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We are proud not only to match but far surpass the efforts of pro-abortion groups,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), the primary organizer of the petition drive. “We launched our drive only two months ago and have generated more than 300,000 names from all over the world.”

Ruse said, “I suspect that Marie Stopes and IPPF will present a few thousand names. This shows what we have known all along; that abortion is supported mostly by elites while every day people are for protecting the unborn child.”

Ruse’s group along with the Pro-Life Federation of Poland, the Institute of Family Policy of Spain, United Families International of the US, and US-based Concerned Women for America will present the petition at UN headquarters and in private meetings with Ambassadors.

The UN Petition for the Unborn Child and the Family asserts that the rights presented in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are inherent to every person and that governments should extend the right to life to all members of the human family, including the unborn child. The petition also calls on governments to: protect the family “as the fundamental group unit of society,” give special assistance to motherhood and childhood and promote the rights of parents.


Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
© Copyright 2008 Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Praise the glory of His grace"

Immaculate Conception

The "yes" of a Virgin, "full of grace", brings forth as immaculate dawn the radiance of perfect day. The Son rises upon a world shaking off the confusion of night.

"Lift up your heads", see the light that is come upon you, call her blessed who receives the Life in her own womb which will bless the fruit of every womb.

Praise the glory of His grace which saves, through her, all men from sin. Amen.

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

(Photo by author of skies over Bacoli peninsula, Italy.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Behold the Lamb!"

John the Baptist is the great voice of Advent, the one who speaks forth as the great prophet, making a highway for our God and Savior to be born.

As well, he is also the great servant of the liturgy, reminding us that it must be the Lamb of God we encounter in the proclamation of the Word and the sacrament of the Eucharist. John speaks to remind us to shun all deformations and human manipulations of the sacred liturgy that might distort and pervert its purpose. We cannot be saved by human agendas. We can only be saved by God - the God for whom we prepare in these four sacred weeks.

Let us celebrate the liturgy free of errors and carelessness, that all of God's people might truly "Behold the Lamb", and then be truly free. Let us place the sacred first; thus we place God first and "meet Christ in the liturgy."

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent.

(Art: Caravaggio,St. John the Baptist c. 1604. Oil on canvas, 172,5 x 104,5 cm,Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

For "Mary Full of Life" still no room at the inn says PP of Portland

The campaign of fear in the face of Life continues as Planned Parenthood of Portland removes a billboard to prevent posting of pro-life ad on their property. See story here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sancta Missa Dominicae I Adventus

Philip Johnson of In Caritate Non Ficta shown here, to the right of Father Tim Meares, serving holy Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. For more photos and video visit Argent by the Tiber.

Benedict XVI: "Called to be hope"

"The word that sums up this particular state in which we await something that is supposed to manifest itself but which we also already have a glimpse and foretaste of, is 'hope.' Advent is the spiritual season of hope par excellence, and in this season the whole Church is called to be hope, for itself and for the world. The whole spiritual organism of the mystical body assumes, as it were, the 'color' of hope. The whole people of God begins the journey, drawn by this mystery: that our God is 'the God who comes' and who calls us to come to meet him. In what way? Above all in that universal form of hope and expectation that is prayer, which finds its eminent expression in the Psalms, human words by which God himself has placed and continually places the invocation of his coming on the lips and hearts of believers. Let us pause for a moment, then, on the two Psalms that we prayed a short while ago and that follow each other in the biblical text itself: 141 and 142, according to the Hebrew numbering."

For complete text of Pope Benedict's homily for the First Sunday of Advent, visit Zenit.

(Photo by Fr. Kevin M. Cusick, General Audience, 12 November 2008.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Be on guard!"

In response to Our Lord's warning we pray, as He teaches in the text of the Our Father: "deliver us from the Evil One". It is in the spirit of watchfulness that we are "on guard" against temptation and worldly anxiety.

"This petition goes to the root of the preceding one, for our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to 'lead' us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both 'do not allow us to enter into temptation' and 'do not let us yield to temptation.'

"'God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one'; on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle 'between flesh and spirit'; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength."

-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2846.

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the First Sunday of Advent.

(Photo of Halaberdiere Stefano del Croce, Pontifical Swiss Gaurd, at the Porta delle Campane, Basilica of Saint Peter's, Vatican City State, by Donald L. Richardson.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"The world as we know it is passing away"

Pray for victims of terror in Mumbai and elsewhere around the tortured world, "groaning in agony", as it awaits the justice and judgment of God.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turning Together to the Lord in Tulsa

Archbishop Slattery of Tulsa will celebrate the liturgies of Advent and Christmas in his Cathedral "versus Deum" that is, "toward the Lord" and expresses his hope "that this common posture of the Church at prayer will help you to experience the transcendent truth of the Mass in a new and timeless way" and "that this restored practice will help us understand that at Mass we participate in the authentic worship which Christ offers to His Father by being ‘obedient unto death.’"

(Photo courtesy of NLM: Archbishop Slattery)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fight FOCA

Visit "What do Catholics Really Believe?" to find out about FOCA and resolve to fight this law which the President-elect has promised to sign and which will, when passed, replace Roe v. Wade as the law of the land, legalizing a supposed "right" to end the lives of unborn children, discovered and "legislated" by the Supreme Court in 1973.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"My kingdom is not of this world"

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world." Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." (Jn 18. 36-38)

Before Pilate, Christ proclaims that he has "come into the world, to bear witness to the truth." (Jn 18:37) The Christian is not to "be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord." (2 Tim 1:8) In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep "a clear conscience toward God and toward men." (Acts 24:16) (CCC 2471)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, Universal King.

(Photo: Christ in Majesty, National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holy Mass: "Ineffable" gift

"A new translation

"We also approved, after intense discussion, and a number of amendments, many prayers to be included in the new missal. Our readers may wonder why the church is, once again, looking to change the prayers at Mass, which we have been praying now for many years. Let me say, that I am entirely supportive of this change. The new translations restore a certain sacredness to the words in these prayers.

"My old friend and former colleague, Archbishop Al Hughes, served on a commission in Rome, where he goes several times a year, called “Vox Clara” (“Clear Voice”). The archbishop, like myself, graduated from Boston College High School, but I dare say he is a much better Latinist than I am. Remember, the church has very little experience with Mass in modern languages. For 500 years, the text of the Mass of the Roman rite was Latin, which at one time was almost a universal language.

"The effort was to protect the sacredness of the text, and also to protect sound theology. An excellent job has been done, and we expect within a few years there will be a whole new translation of the Mass. I am not anxious about that change. I welcome it and support it.

"Surely, there will be a serious pastoral responsibility, especially on the part of priests and bishops to work hard to prepare our people for this change. But I have always found
that if we catechize and teach properly, if we explain the reasons for it and show that this is better and more beautiful, our people will rally behind it. It is a pastoral task, which we can face together.

"Also, the Mass is not something that we make up. We receive it as a gift, an enormous and ineffable gift from Christ through the church. This translation would be better English, more sacred, and will help us to pray. It is a change, which is foundational and helpful and will require the collaboration of all of us.

"Also, this is favored by the Holy See, and a keen obligation of the bishop is always to be in communion with the successor of Peter."

--His Excellency the Most Rev. John M. D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend on deliberations at the November conference of the USCCB.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

These men are addicts

Why are they smiling? They had a life with drugs and are now discovering a life with God.

They are Comunita Cenacolo, the "Community of the Cenacle". Read more at Hope Reborn.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More on Paestum

Mosaic floors like a tapestry 2,000 years old. Ruts worn in the surface of a Roman road mark the daily path of oxcarts and chariots. Drainage canals run between the palaces of the wealthy to carry away rain water, garbage and sewage. An ancient Greek votive temple was buried by the Romans and walled off in respect for the customs of the ancients. Precise temple designs proclaim the glory of the Creator as reflected in human gifts of intellect, design and labor. A special greeting to Deacon Tom, Judy and family whose "cognome" graces a town along the Tirrhenian sea coast between Paestum and Salerno.

A new "sport": Eucharist desecration

The boredom of a sick and decadent "cult of death" has found a new source of entertainment in desecration of the Eucharist.

A new video on YouTube taunts and threatens, the producer promising to go to Mass every day and smuggle the Eucharist out of the church in order to desecrate and videotape the sacrilege as a new source of amusement.

You can request that YouTube pull the offending videos by visiting America Needs Fatima and using the on-line form provided.

Blessings and thanks for your help,

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Plastic surgery, liposuction, botox and all that

We are the servants of God, and are responsible to God for the way we use the abilities he has given us. How we use our abilities to enrich and help others is our fulfillment of Christ's command to love others as we love ourselves.

On the natural level, God equips each one of us with unique talents, abilities, and aptitudes. No one person will ever be exactly like another or have the ability to excel in every discipline. All the plastic surgery, diets, workout programs, steroids or makeup in the world cannot change this fact.

Happiness lies not in changing our physical appearance to be like someone else; it lies in fully realizing our God-given identity of talents and gifts through a virtuous and generous life. Recognizing and accepting God's plan for each of us is essential for our happiness.

C.S. Lewis wisely wrote, in The Problem of Pain, "When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy."

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

(Photo by MCITL: Pieta, Basilica of San Pietro, Roma.)

General audience, Rome, 12 November 2008

Franciscan University of Steubenville students were very visible and very audible at the audience last Wednesday. Sustained and loud cheers for the Holy Father rang out and cries of "We love you, Papa" were heard when the group was announced to the crowd of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's square.

Above: Members of the choir of Saint Andrew the Apostle Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, sang for the Holy Father when their group was announced.
(Photos by MCITL. Rights reserved.)