Christmas Novena to the Christ Child – Day One – 16 December

Christmas Novena to the Christ Child – Day One – 16 December

God’s Love Revealed In His Becoming Man.

Because our first parent Adam, had rebelled against God, he was driven out of paradise and brought on himself and all his descendants the punishment of eternal death.   But the son of God, seeing man thus lost and wishing to save him from death, offered to take upon Himself our human nature and to suffer death Himself, condemned as a criminal on a cross.

“But, My Son,” we may imagine the eternal Father saying to Him, “think of what a life of humiliations and sufferings You wilt have to lead on earth. You will have to be born in a cold stable and laid in a manger, the feeding trough of beasts.
While still an infant, You will have to flee into Egypt, to escape the hands of Herod.
After Your return from Egypt, You will have to live and work in a shop as a lowly servant,
poor and despised.
And finally, worn out with sufferings, You will have to give up Your life on a cross, put to shame and abandoned by everyone.”
“Father,” replies the Son, “all this matters not. I will gladly bear it all, if only I can save man.”

What should we say if a prince, out of compassion for a dead worm, were to choose to become a worm himself and give his own life blood in order to restore the worm to life? But the eternal Word has done infinitely more than this for us. Though He is the sovereign Lord of the world, He chose to become like us, who are immeasurably more beneath Him than a worm is beneath a prince and He was willing to die for us, in order to win back for us the life of divine grace that we had lost by sin.

When He saw that all the other gifts which He had bestowed on us were not sufficient to induce us to repay His love with love, He became man Himself and gave all of Himself to us.

“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us;” 
“He loved us and delivered Himself up for us.”christmas novena - day one - 16 dec 2017 God_s Love Revealed In His Becoming Man.

O Great Son of God,
You became man in order to make Yourself loved by men.
But where is the love that men give You in return?
You gave Your life blood to save our souls.
Why then are we so unappreciative that,
instead of repaying You with love,
we spurn You with ingratitude?
And I, Lord, I myself more than others have ill treated You.
But Your Passion is my hope.
For the sake of that love which led You to take upon Yourself
human nature and to die for me on the cross,
forgive me all the offences I have committed against You.
I love You, O Word Incarnate;
I love You, O infinite goodness.
Out of love for You, that I could die of grief for these offences.
Give me, O Jesus, Your love.
Let me no longer live in ungrateful
forgetfulness of the love You bear me.
I wish to love You always.
Grant that I may always preserve in this holy desire.
O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother,
pray for me that Your Son, may give me,
the grace to love Him always, unto death.


Sunday Reflections – Gaudete Sunday

Sunday Reflections – Gaudete Sunday – The Third Sunday of Advent – 16 December 2018gaudete-sunday

What is special about the Third Sunday of Advent?   For much of the Church’s history, this Sunday had a special name:  “Gaudete” Sunday.   The traditions surrounding this Sunday go back as far as the fourth or fifth century, as does the season of Advent itself. Advent, our preparation for Christmas, was originally a forty-day penitential season like Lent.   In fact, since it used to begin on 12 November (just after the Memorial of St. Martin of Tours), it was called “St Martin’s Lent.”   “Gaudete Sunday” was the Advent counterpart to “Laetare Sunday,” which marks the mid-point in Lent.

On Gaudete Sunday, the season of Advent shifts its focus.   For the first two weeks of Advent, the focus can be summed up in the phrase, “The Lord is coming.”   But beginning with Gaudete Sunday, the summary might be, “The Lord is near.”   This shift is marked by a lighter mood and a heightened sense of joyous anticipation.

Liturgically, the colours lighten as well.   The priest usually wears rose-coloured vestments, a hue seen only on Gaudete Sunday and Laetare Sunday.   On this day, we light the third candle of the Advent wreath, which is also rose-coloured, or if you prefer, pink.
The word “Gaudete” is Latin for “Rejoice.”   This celebration is a reminder that God who loves us is still in charge and that we await His coming not with fear but with  tremendous joy.   Today’s Second Reading, from the Letter of St Paul to the Ephesians, reflects this joy:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.  Have no anxiety about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


The one exception to the audio barrage of so-called ‘Christmas Hymns’ we hear during Advent, is the simple chant “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”   This song, with its longing for the coming of the Saviour, genuinely belongs to Advent and not to Christmas.
Its melody is based on Gregorian chant and its verses are all taken from the Church’s “O antiphons.” These antiphons introduce the Magnificat, or Canticle of Mary, in the Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours from 17 December through 23 December.
Each antiphon begins with a traditional title for Christ.

They are: “O Wisdom,” “O Leader of the House of Israel
[Adonai],” “O Root of Jesse’s Stem,” “O Key of David,” “O Radiant Dawn,” “O King of all the nations,” and finally, “O Emmanuel” which means “God with us.”    Each of these traditional titles for the Messiah connects the coming of Christ with the prophetic writings of the Old Testament.stained_glass_o_antiphons.jpg

On the last days of Advent, you may wish to add these “O Antiphons” to your
evening prayer, your prayer at table, or your bedtime prayer.

O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!
O Radiant Dawn,
splendour of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!

the o antiphons


Gaudete Sunday – The Blessing of the Christ Child Figurine

Gaudete Sunday – The Blessing of the Christ Child Figurine

Pope Benedict XVI St Peter’s Square
Third Sunday of Advent, 14 December 2008

This Sunday, the Third Sunday in the Season of Advent, is called “Gaudete Sunday”: “rejoice”, because the Entrance Antiphon of Holy Mass takes up St Paul’s words in the Letter to the Philippians where it says:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice”.   And immediately after he explains the reason, because “The Lord is at hand” (Phil 4: 4-5).   This is the reason for joy.   But what does “the Lord is at hand” mean?   In what sense must we understand this “closeness” of God?   The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians of Philippi, is evidently thinking of Christ’s return and invites them to rejoice because it is certain.   Yet, St Paul in his Letter to the Thessalonians, warns that no one can know the moment of the Lord’s coming (cf. 1 Thes 5: 1-2) and puts people on guard against any kind of alarmism, as if Christ’s return were imminent (cf. 2 Thes 2: 1-2).

Thus the Church, illumined by the Holy Spirit, already at that time understood increasingly better that God’s “closeness” is not a question of space and time but rather of love:  love brings people together!

This coming Christmas will remind us of this fundamental truth of our faith and in front of the manger we shall be able to savour Christian joy contemplating in the newborn Jesus the Face of God who made Himself close to us out of love.

In this light, it gives me real pleasure to renew the beautiful tradition of the Blessing of the Christ Child figurines, the miniature statues of the Baby Jesus to be placed in the manger.   I address you in particular, dear boys and girls of Rome, who have come this morning with your Baby Jesus figurines that I now bless.   I invite you to join me, following attentively this prayer:

God, our Father
You so loved humankind
that You sent us Your only Son Jesus,
born of the Virgin Mary,
to save us and lead us back to You.

We pray that with Your Blessing
these images of Jesus,
who is about to come among us,
may be a sign of Your presence and
love in our homes.

Good Father,
give Your Blessing to us too,
to our parents, to our families and
to our friends.

Open our hearts,
so that we may be able to
receive Jesus in joy,
always do what He asks
and see Him in all those
who are in need of our love.

We ask you this in the name of Jesus,
Your beloved Son
who comes to give the world peace.

He lives and reigns forever and ever.
Amen.Gaudete sunday the blessing of the Christ child figurine - pope benedict 16dec2018


Thought for the Day – 16 December 2018

Thought for the Day – 16 December 2018 – The Third ‘Gaudete’ Sunday of Advent

Saint Augustine (354-430)
Bishop and Great Western Father and Doctor of the Church

An excerpt from his Sermon 293

John is the voice but the Lord is the Word who was in the beginning.   John is the voice that lasts for a time, from the beginning, Christ is the Word who lives forever.

Take away the word, the meaning and what is the voice?   Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound.   The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart.

However, let us observe what happens when we first seek to build up our hearts.   When I think about what I am going to say, the word or message is already in my heart.   When I want to speak to you, I look for a way to share with your heart what is already in mine.

In my search for a way to let this message reach you, so that the word already in my heart may find a place also in yours, I use my voice to speak to you.   The sound of my voice brings the meaning of the word to you and then passes away.   The word which the sound has brought to you is now in your heart and yet it is still also in mine.

When the word has been conveyed to you, does not the sound seem to say – the word ought to grow and I should diminish?   The sound of the voice has made itself heard in the service of the word and has gone away, as though it were saying – my joy is complete.   Let us hold on to the word;  we must not lose the word conceived inwardly in our hearts.

Do you need proof that the voice passes away but the divine Word remains?   Where is John’s baptism today?   It served its purpose and it went away.   Now it is Christ’s baptism that we celebrate.   It is in Christ that we all believe, we hope for salvation in Him.   This is the message the voice cried out.

Because it is hard to distinguish word from voice, even John himself was thought to be the Christ.   The voice was thought to be the word.   But the voice acknowledged what it was, anxious not to give offence to the word.   I am not the Christ, he said, nor Elijah, nor the prophet.   And the question came:  Who are you, then?   He replied:  I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness – Prepare the way for the Lord!

The voice of one crying in the wilderness is the voice of one breaking the silence.   Prepare the way for the Lord, he says, as though he were saying:  “I speak out in order to lead Him into your hearts but He does not choose to come where I lead Him, unless you prepare the way for Him.”

To prepare the way means to pray well – it means thinking humbly of oneself.  We should take our lesson from John the Baptist.   He is thought to be the Christ, he declares he is not what they think.   He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory.

If he had said, “I am the Christ,” you can imagine how readily he would have been believed, since they believed he was the Christ even before he spoke.   But he did not say it, he acknowledged what he was.   He pointed out clearly who he was;  he humbled himself.

He saw where his salvation lay.   He understood that he was a lamp and his fear was that it might be blown out, by the wind of pride.”

I speak out in order to lead Him - st augustine - 16 dec 2018

“The very Son of God, 
older than the ages, 
the invisible,
the incomprehensible, 
the incorporeal, 
the beginning of beginning, 
the light of light, 
the fountain of life and immortality,
the image of the archetype, 
the immovable seal,
the perfect likeness,
the definition and word of the Father:
He it is who comes to His own image 
and takes our nature for the good of our nature
and unites Himself to an intelligent soul 
for the good of my soul, 
to purify like by like.”

St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390) Father and Doctor of the Churchthe-very-son-of-god-st-gregory-of-naziazen.17dec2017.gaudete sunday 2017

Come, O Come, Emmanuel!


come o come emmanuel - 16 dec 2018


Posted in ADVENT, DOCTORS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, The INCARNATION, The WORD

Advent and Christmas Wisdom with St Alphonsus Liguori

Advent and Christmas Wisdom with St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)

16 December – Gaudete Sunday

God has given His only Son to save us

“Consider, that the eternal Father has given His Son to the world, for the light and life of all people, in order that He might win salvation.
Consider also, that the Father, in sending His Son to be our Redeemer and Mediator has, in a certain sense, bound Himself to forgive us and love us. On the other hand, the divien Word, having accepted the invitation of His Father, has also bound Himself to love us – not for our own merits but rather, to fulfil the merciful will of His Father.”

Have no anxiety about anything but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6

Prayer (St Alphonsus)

O infinite God
and only love of my soul,
I thank You,
for having given me Your Son.
For the sake of this same Son,
accept me
and bind me with chains of love
to my Redeemer.
Amengaudete-sunday-17-dec-2018 REJOICE

Advent Action
We begin this third week of Advent asking to feel the joy that comes from knowing our Lord’s coming to us is near.
In these precious days ahead, we are praying, longing, hoping in the background of our everyday lives.
His mission is to the poor, the brokenhearted, prisoners and captives.   His mission is for us.   It is “good news,” full of healing, liberty and release.   We can smile today as we imagine the freedom He has won for us and how liberating it will be to live it, with Him, for others.
It is right to give our God thanks and praise and to follow His mission in our lives.
Jesus will come again, very soon!ero-cras-tomororow-i-will-come-17-dec-2017

Posted in ADVENT, Our MORNING Offering, POETRY

Our Morning Offering – The Third Sunday of Advent – 16 December 2018

Our Morning Offering – The Third Sunday of Advent – 16 December 2018

How Beautiful
By Daryl Madden

How beautiful
Your light this day
Reflection of
Colours arrayed

How beautiful
Your precious gift
Our daily bread
The soul to lift

How beautiful
Your living Word
Let soul be lead
By Spirit heard

How beautiful
Your blessed grace
Our gift, Your light
Souls to embrace

By courtesy of the Poet Daryl Madden beautiful poem prayer by daryl madden 16 dec 2018


Saint of the Day – 16 December – Blessed Sebastian Maggi OP (1414–1496)

Saint of the Day – 16 December – Blessed Sebastian Maggi OP (1414–1496) Religious Priest of the Order of Preachers, Confessor – born in 1414 at Brescia, Italy and died in 1496 at Genoa, Italy of natural causes.   Blessed Sebastian also served as the confessor to both Girolamo Savonarola (1452–1498) and Saint Catherine of Genoa (1447–1510).   His body is incorrupt.

Sebastian Maggi was born in Brescia to nobles in 1414.   He is related to Bishop Berardo Maggi who was also the Duke and Count of Brescia.

Maggi began his work in 1429 when he joined the Order of Preachers.   His intelligence was noticed and he later received a master’s degree in theological studies.   He rose through the ranks and became the superior of several religious Dominican houses.   He practised corporal mortification and was strict in discipline.   He would often tell his subordinates: “When you have committed a fault, come to me, not as prior but as your father.   If you will not have me as a father, you will find me a severe judge.”bl sebastian maggi op

He appointed the monk Girolamo Savonarola to the position of novice master and set that famous Florentine friar on his own path to fame.   In his time he was regarded as one of the greatest preachers in the Italian state.

Pope Alexander VI chose Father Maggi to investigate revelations that Savonarola claimed were given to him directly from God.   Savonarola appealed the choice and believed that Sebastian – as Vicar-General of the Lombard Congregation – would be biased and try to take over his recently-emancipated “San Marco” facility in Florence.   Alexander VI, however, had already decided to give the facility back to the Congregation, making Sebastian, Savonarola’s canonical superior.

Perhaps, if Sebastian Maggi had lived, he might have saved Savonarola from the political entanglements that sent him to his death.   Sebastian was his confessor for a long time and always testified in his favour when anyone attacked the reformer’s personal life.   It is hard to say just where he stood politically in the long and complex series of events concerning the separation of Lombard province from the province of Italy.   But all that has been written of him, conveys the same impression, he was a kind and just superior, who kept the rule with rigid care but was prudent in exacting it of others.

Girolamo Savonarola

Several times Sebastian Maggi was sent on missions of reform and he died on one of these.   On his way to a convent for visitation, he became ill at Genoa and died there in 1496.   He is buried at the Dominican “Santa Maria di Castello” complex in Genoa (see below).1280px-Genova-centro_storico-IMG_1503

History has written of Blessed Sebastian that his greatest virtues were seen in his governing.   As the prior of several convents, Blessed Sebastian often loved to wait on his Dominican sisters and brothers with his own hands and to minister to them when they were ill.   It was commonly said, that when Blessed Sebastian visited the sick, he did so with as much joy as attending a wedding.

Posted in ADVENT, SAINT of the DAY

Gaudete Sunday 2018 and Memorials of the Saints – 16 December

3rd ‘Gaudete’ Sunday of Advent (2018)

St Adelaide of Burgundy (c 931-999) Holy Roman Empress
About St Adelaide:

St Adelard of Cysoing
St Ado of Vienne
Bl Adolphus of Tunis
Bl Arnaldo of Tunis
St Albina of Caesarea
St Ananias
St Azarias
St Bean of Lough Derg
St Beoc
Bl Clemente Marchisio
St Dominic Dosso
Bl Elizabeth of Saint Francis
Bl Filip Siphong Onphithakt
St Irenion
Bl James of Tunis
Bl Jaume Mases Boncompte
St Jean Wauthier
St Macarius of Collesano
Bl Mary Fontanella
St Misael
St Nicholas Chrysoberges
Bl Raynald de Bar
Bl Sebastian Maggi OP (1414–1496)

Martyred Women of North-West Africa: A large group of women martyred in the persecutions of Hunneric, Arian King of the Vandals. 482 in North-West Africa.

Martyrs of Ravenna – (4 saints): A group of Christians martyred together. Four names and no other information has survived – Agricola, Concordius, Navalis and Valentine. c 305 at Ravenna, Italy.