In memory of my dear Aunt Nanny,(Helen Lenox Springer), who died on 1 January, 2004, and to my beloved maternal grandparents, John Mason and Edith Helen (Sheely) Hopkins, who died forty years ago, I offer this hymn in honor of them.
"Be Still, My Soul" was sung at my grandparents' funeral in August of 1969. It expresses their faith in the Lord, and my own faith, given to me by God, through them.
May Aunt Nanny, Grandpa and Grandma Hopkins rest in peace. Amen.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Today we commemorate St. Thomas Becket, also known as St. Thomas of Canterbury, martyred for his stand against civil powers usurping those of the Church. He is a relevant saint for our own day, when secular powers are undermining and taking away civil liberties, especially those pertaining to the Church and the exercise of religious freedom.
St. Thomas, pray for us, that we may remain faithful to God and His holy Church no matter what the cost!
Image from: http://fullhomelydivinity.org/images/Becket%20icon.jpg
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Today, the 27th of December, is the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist. His feast is suppressed in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, because it is the Sunday of the Holy Family. He is commemorated in the Extraordinary Rite in a low Mass, and optionally in a High Mass (sung).
Saint John is a very important saint. His Gospel begins with "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God..." The mystical and sacramental meaning of the Incarnation are very important in Saint John's Gospel. In the Extraordinary Form, this first section of his Gospel is read after each Mass. It is a meditation upon the reality that God-is-with-us.
In honor of Saint John I offer this, the opening antiphon (introit) of the Mass in honor of Saint John in the Extraordinary Form:
Saint John, the Beloved, pray for us, pray for priests, that we all may love the Lord and Spouse of the Church with the fervent love you lived so well!
Friday, December 25, 2009
A child is born to us and a son is given to us, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and he shall be called the Angel of great counsel. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he hath worked wonders.
Introit for the Third Mass of Christmas Day
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The Adoration of the Kings and Christ on the Cross, attributed to Benedetto Bonfigli (about 1465-75).
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.
There has been a lot of preparation for all kinds of activities and the next few days will be busy for most. Some, however, have no one in this world to share the Christmas celebration. These, especially, are most beloved by God; they share in the loneliness and solitude that our Lady and St. Joseph must have felt the night Jesus was born. "No room at the inn", the Gospel writers tell us. No room for the Son of God, His most Holy Mother and His valiant and obedient Guardian. No room.
And so, the God of Gods, the Lord of Lords, the Son of the Eternal Father is born where animals were kept. The simple animals of the stable witness the miraculous birth. They even, in some traditions, keep the Baby Jesus warm. They represent all of creation; the very creation this Child, as Second Person of the Trinity, created.
Only they are privileged, with the Holy Virgin and St. Joseph, to be present at this most wondrous event.
The angels, shepherds and in this image, the Magi, will come to adore the new-born King. But in the silence of the night, the Word came to us. Silently. In solitude.
The solitude and poverty of the Crib will repeat itself at the Cross. Mary, Mother of God, is there also, with a few faithful women, and St. John, the Beloved Disciple (perhaps like St. Joseph?). Jesus wears a simple covering for modesty; like the swaddling cloths. The wood of the Cross replaces the wood of the manger. Instead of angels and shepherds, the cursing, accusing and taunting voices of the soldiers, the thieves and some of those who wanted His death surround Him not with "Gloria in excelsis Deo" but words of hatred and violence.
The Cross and the Crib are two sides of the same mystery: the great and boundless Love of God that shows itself in suffering, poverty, and contempt. "O Magnum Mysterium" is an ancient term for the Christmas mystery, but it is also a description of the Paschal Mystery. It is good to keep them together; otherwise, we are either mindless of the sufferings of the Lord and of others, or we are dragged down into despair by human suffering and anguish.
The words of this beautiful song are:
O magnum mysterium
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in præsepio.
Beata virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt
portare Dominum Christum, Alleluia!
O great mystery
and wondrous sacrament,
that animals should see the newborn Lord
lying in their manger.
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy
to bear the Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia!
Our prayers and remembrances to you all; whether you are immersed in family activities, visiting friends and relatives, or are alone these days. God loves you so much He comes as an innocent Child, so vulnerable that He would frighten no one or make them feel anything but devotion (as one does before a new born child). And shown at first, to the animals. Never feel that you are ever alone.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Magnificat anima mea Dominum!
My soul magnifies the Lord,
My spirit rejoices in God my Savior
For He has looked on his servant in her lowliness,
From this day all generations shall call me blessed.
The Almighty has done great things for me,
And Holy is His Name.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
In these days preceding Christmas, take some time to reflect, meditate and rejoice in the "new song" that our Lord Jesus Christ has brought to us in His Birth. His Holy Mother loves us all as her children. She is the instrument by which God's Face was revealed to this world grown so cold, dark and hellish. She is the Mother at the crib as well as the Mother beneath the Cross. She shares our joys and sufferings.
Take time to pray a Rosary, reflect before her image, do some kind deed to someone in need in Her honor.
And for your Advent reflection, I offer this video in Her honor:
or this one:
The Gospel today in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is from St. Luke, chapter 3, verses 1-6. It sets the tone for these last days before the feast of our Lord's Nativity on December 25th. The call to conversion, to penance, to openness to God and His marvelous works is sounded by Saint John the Baptist. Saint Luke records the exact historical moment of the Baptist's call to prepare the way for the Messiah, the "anointed One". And he shows how this call is recorded in the Prophet Isaiah with these words:
The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight;...What is crooked must be made straight. and rough ways smooth. Then all mankind shall see God's salvation.
This call is extended to us, today, after all these years of the preaching of the Gospel. The Word of the Lord is timeless, it "breaks into" our history in the Sacred Liturgy where Christ is present, truly present, as He was on the days He walked this earth.
Saint John the Baptist is a relevant saint for these times (as he has been throughout the ages), but especially so for our own day. The darkness of sin and evil, the breakdown of family life, the lack of reverence for human life in all its awful manifestations, the lukewarmness of so many, and the hostility to the Truth, Jesus Christ our Lord, in His Church, manifest for us who believe, the urgency of the call to repentance, fidelity and witness in the midst of this present age.
God is faithful. He sent us His Son to die for us, to give Himself to us in the Most Holy Eucharist and in His Holy Church. God gave us a Mother, Mary Most Pure. He also has given us the witness of countless saints who through their lives of heroic virtue and intercession for us gives us the strength and inspiration to live for Him.
In the Mass of today, the Opening Antiphon (Introit) calls down the "dew" of God: His Holy Spirit, upon this parched and tired earth.
Skies send down dew, and let the clouds rain the Just One; let the earth open and flower forth a Saviour. The heavens tell God's glory and the sky proclaims the works of His hands.
May the Lord, His Blessed Mother, Saints Joseph and John the Baptist help you to prepare for the great feast of Jesus' Birth. Know that you all are in our small monastic community's prayers each day.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Today is the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas, the Star of the New Evangelization.
We had our formation day with our laity and celebrated the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Mass.
May our Lady, the Queen of the Americas, and the Rosa Mystica, pray for our nation, for all the world, that the culture of death may be defeated, during this most dark of hours.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Pope Benedict dedicated his pre-Angelus address to an explanation of why Mary is "Immaculate" and what that title might say to us.
He quoted from the book of Genesis and the Gospel of Luke in providing the illustration for the visitors and pilgrims at St. Peter's.
Referring to the passage from Genesis first, he recounted the words of God in Gen. 3:15 about how, after original sin, God made a promise to Satan, then in serpent form, that "the offspring" of woman would strike at his head.
And, the pope continued, "the day would come when 'a son of woman' would do this very thing.”
"So, through the offspring of the woman, God himself wins," concluded Benedict XVI.
He "has defeated once and for all the age old tempter."
For this reason, he explained, so often you see the renderings of the "Immaculate One" with the serpent underfoot.
Turning to today's Gospel, the Holy Father noted, "The evangelist, Luke, on the other hand, shows us the Virgin Mary that receives the announcement of the celestial Messenger. She appears as the humble and authentic daughter of Israel, true Zion in which God wishes to make his dwelling. She is the young descendant from which shall be born the Messiah, the just and merciful King." It was through her that God decided to rebuild his people, said the Pope.
"Differing from Adam and Eve, Mary remained obedient to the will of the Lord, with all of her being she pronounces her 'yes' and she puts herself fully at the disposal of the divine design."
"She's the new Eve, true 'mother of all the living,' of all that through their faith in Christ receive eternal life."
"What immense joy to have as a mother Immaculate Mary!" the Holy Father exclaimed to the crowd, explaining that they can ask her for help in times of need. "Each time that we experience our fragility and the suggestion of evil, we can turn to her, and our heart will receive light and comfort."
We must remember in the trying times, he continued, that "we are her children and the roots of our existence are deeply rooted in the infinite grace of God."
He then invited the faithful to entrust their lives, families and the entire world to the Immaculate Virgin, that we might find in her as the Church does a "star" to direct us to the course of Christ.
Pope Benedict plans to take his own advice and entrust himself to the Virgin Mary at the monument dedicated to her in Rome's Piazza di Spagna later this afternoon.
Image: Murillo's Immaculate Conception