Thought for the Day – 15 December – The tongue is loosened because a voice is born.

Thought for the Day – 15 December – Third Sunday of Advent, Year A, Gaudete Sunday – Readings: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10, Psalm 146:6-10, James 5:7-10, Matthew 11:2-11

The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness
Saint Augustine (354-430)

Bishop and Great Western Father and Doctor of the Church
An excerpt from his Sermon 293the-tongue-is-loosened-because-a-voice-is-born-24-june-2019-birth-of-john-the-baptist and 15 dec 2019 gaudete

…John is born of a woman too old for childbirth, Christ was born of a youthful virgin. The news of John’s birth was met with incredulity and his father was struck dumb. Christ’s birth was believed and He was conceived through faith.

Such is the topic, as I have presented it, for our inquiry and discussion.   But as I said before, if I lack either the time or the ability to study the implications of so profound a mystery, He who speaks within you, even when I am not here, will teach you better, it is He whom you contemplate with devotion, whom you have welcomed into your hearts, whose temples you have become.

John, then, appears as the boundary between the two testaments, the old and the new. That he is a sort of boundary the Lord himself bears witness, when He speaks of the law and the prophets up until John the Baptist.   Thus He represents times past and is the herald of the new era to come.   As a representative of the past, he is born of aged parents, as herald of the new, he is declared to be a prophet while still in his mother’s womb.   For when yet unborn, he leapt in his mother’s womb at the arrival of blessed Mary.   In that womb, he had already been designated a prophet, even before he was born, it was revealed that he was to be Christ’s precursor, before they ever saw one another.  These are divine happenings, going beyond the limits of our human frailty. Eventually he is born, he receives his name, his father’s tongue is loosened.   See how these events reflect reality.

Zechariah is silent and loses his voice until John, the precursor of the Lord, is born and restores his voice.   The silence of Zechariah is nothing but the age of prophecy lying hidden, obscured, as it were and concealed before the preaching of Christ.   At John’s arrival, it becomes clear, when the one who was being prophesied is about to come.   The release of Zechariah’s voice at the birth of John is a parallel to the rending of the veil at Christ’s crucifixion.   If John were announcing his own coming, Zechariah’s lips would not have been opened.   The tongue is loosened because a voice is born.   For when John was preaching the Lord’s coming he was asked – Who are you?   And he replied – I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.  The voice is John but the Lord in the beginning was the Word.   John was a voice that lasted only for a time, Christ, the Word in the beginning, is eternal.i-am-the-voice-the-voice-is-john-but-st-augustine-24-june-2019-nativity-of-st-john-the-baptist and 15 dec 2019 gaudete sun


Quote/s of the Day – 17 December – Gaudete Sunday – “Rejoice in the Lord always”

Quote/s of the Day – 17 December – Gaudete Sunday

“Gaudete in Domino semper”

“Rejoice in the Lord always”

Philippians 4:4philippians 4 4 rejoice in the lord always gaudete in domine semper 15 dec 2019 gaudete sunday.jpg

Rejoice, O star that goes before the Sun.
Rejoice, O womb of the Incarnate God.
Rejoice, for through you, all creation is renewed,
Rejoice, for through you, the Creator became a baby.
Rejoice, O Virgin and Bride!

Akathist Hymn to Mary (c Fifth Century)rejoice o star that goes before the sun - akathis hymn to mary gaudete sunday 15 dec 2019.jpg

“Open wide your door to the One who comes.
Open your soul, throw open the depths of your heart
to see the riches of simplicity,
the treasures of peace,
the sweetness of grace.
Open your heart and run to meet
the Sun of eternal light
that illuminates all men.”

St Ambrose (340-397)
Father and Doctor of the Churchopen wide your door to the one who comes - st ambrose 15 dec 2019.jpg

“Awake, you who lie in the dust,
awake and give praise.
Behold, the Lord comes with salvation.
He comes with salvation,
He comes with unction,
He comes with glory.
Jesus cannot come without salvation,
Christ cannot come without unction,
nor the Son of God without glory.
For He Himself is salvation,
He is unction,
He is glory,
as it is written,
‘A wise son is the glory of his father.'”

St Bernard (1090-1153)
Doctor of the Churchawake you who lie in the dust, ....he who is to come - st bernard - gaudete sunday 15 dec 2019.jpg


Advent Reflection – 15 December – Gaudete Sunday – The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.

Advent Reflection – 15 December – Gaudete Sunday – Readings: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10, Psalm 146:6-10, James 5:7-10, Matthew 11:2-11

The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.gaudete-sunday-17-dec-2018-REJOICE and 15 dec 2019.jpg

“Are you he who is to come…” … Matthew 11:3

REFLECTION – “It is part of the Baptist’s approaching witness-to-death, that, even in prison, he must put up with the darkness God has given him.   He had expected a mighty One who would baptise with Spirit and fire.   And now there appears in the Gospel, this gentle One, who “will not quench a smouldering wick” (Is 42:3).   Jesus calms John’s disquie, by showing him that the prophecy is being fulfilled in Himself, in gentle miracles that still call for trusting faith:  “Blessed is the man who finds no stumblimg block in me.” Perhaps the darkness that burdens John as a witness to Christ, is the very reason why Jesus praises him to the crowd – he really is what he understood himself to be – the messenger sent in advance of Jesus to prepare the way.   John referred to himself as a mere voice in the wilderness, ringing out the marvel of the coming One.
The least among those belonging to the coming Kingdom is greater than John, who assessed himself as belong to the Old Covenant, yet, as “friend of the Bridegroom” he is showered with the light of new grace, as he humbly makes way for Christ.
On icons, he joins Mary the Mother, who also comes from the Old Covenant, yet steps across into the New Covenant, the two of them at the right and left hand, of the world’s Judge!” … Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) Theologian

MEDIATION – “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.” … St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of the ChurchI-speak-out-in-order-to-lead-Him-st-augustine-16-dec-2018 and 15 dec 2019.jpg

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 and 15 dec 2019.jpg

PRAYER – 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. Amen … St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor


Sunday Reflection – 15 December – To purify like for like

Sunday Reflection – 15 December – Gaudete Sunday

“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 Church

the-very-son-of-god-st-gregory-of-naziazen.17dec2017.gaudete-sunday-2017.and 15 dec 2019 gaudete sun reflecjpg.jpg


Our Morning Offering – 15 December – Let Your goodness, Lord, Appear to Us – An Advent Prayer by St Bernard

Our Morning Offering – 15 December – Gaudete Sunday

Let Your goodness, Lord,
Appear to Us
An Advent Prayer
By St Bernard (1090-1153)

Let Your goodness, Lord,
appear to us,
that we, made in Your image,
conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate
Your majesty, power and wonder,
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child
but You have brought us
the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love.
Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts
with Your soft, sweet cries.
Amenlet your goodness appear tp us o lord advent prayer of st bernard 15 dec 2019.jpg

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 15 December – Blessed Maria Vittoria De Fornari (1562–1617)

Saint of the Day – 15 December – Blessed Maria Vittoria De Fornari Strata (1562–1617) Widow, Nun, Foundress of the Order of the Annunciation – or Blue Nuns, of which she is the Patron.   Born in 1562 at Genoa, Italy as Victoria De Fornari and died on 15 December 1617 of natural causes.

Blessed Maria Vittoria was married for just under a decade and decided not to find another spouse after having a vision of the Madonna who instructed her to lead a chaste life of motherhood.   The widow decided to found an order not long after this based on the Carmelite charism.Maria_Vittoria_De_Fornari_Strata.jpg

Maria Vittoria De Fornari was born in 1562 in Genoa as the seventh of nine children to Girolamo Fornari and Barbara Veneroso.   When seventeen she desired to enter the convent but out of respect for her father’s wishes she married Angelo Strata.

It was a happy marriage.   Angelo encouraged his wife in her charitable works and defended her against those who said she should take more part in social events.   Maria Vittoria bore him six children, four boys and two girls – Angela, Barbara, Giuseppe, Leonardo, Alessandro, Angelo (1587–97).   Unfortunately, Signor Strata died after only nine years of married life.   Their eldest daughter Angela became a member of the Canons Regular of the Lateran – as did Barbara not long after – while Giuseppe entered the Minims – OM [the Mendicant Order founded by St Francis of Paola (1416–1507)] with Leonardo and Alessandro following him.

His death was traumatic to Vittoria.   She worried that she could not raise so large a family alone.   When a local nobleman asked her to marry him, she thought at first that it might be wise to accept, for the sake of her boys and girls.   But then she had a vision of Mary (which she wrote up at the request of her confessor) in which Our Lady told her, “My child Vittoria, be brave and confident, for it is my wish to take both the mother and the children under my protection.   I will care for your household.   Live quietly and without worrying.   All I ask is that you trust yourself to me and henceforth devote yourself to the love of God above all things.

Mary’s words settled Vittoria’s mind completely.  bl maria vittori de fornati strata.jpgShe took a vow of chastity and lived in retirement, giving all her time to prayer, the care of her family and the needs of the poor.

When eventually her children were raised (five of the six entered religious orders), Signora Strata revealed to the archbishop of Genoa a proposal that she had long been considering.   It was to found a strict new religious order of contemplative nuns. Dedicated to Mary’s Annunciation, the sisters would imitate her hidden life at Nazareth, devoting themselves to prayer and making vestments and altar linens for poor churches. Each member would add the names “Maria Annunziata” to her baptismal name.   The archbishop first had his doubts, since the money necessary to make the foundation was not available.   However, when a benefactor named Vincent Lomellini offered to purchase a convent for the widow, the prelate gave his permission.   Pope Clement VIII approved the order’s constitutions in 1604 and Maria Vittoria and ten companions made their solemn vows in the late summer of 1605.Vitrail_Sainte_Fornarie_Saint-Mihiel_271108

Early difficulties threatened the project but Our Lady kept the movement going.   A second house was established in Italy in 1612.   Others followed in Burgundy, France and Germany.   Each house was independent.   Today there are only three houses and 44 nuns.   To distinguish them from the order of the Annunciation established by St Joan of Valois, the Strata “Annunziate” are called “Le Turchine”, i.e. the “Turquoise Annunziate”, or “Blue Nuns” because of their sky-blue scapulars and cloaks.

She served as superior from the order’s founding until ill health saw her not re-elected in 1611 which she accepted with grace and tact. Her order received pontifical approval from Pope Paul V on 6 August 1613.

Blessed Maria Vittoria died on 15 December 1617 due to lung disease after having predicted the date of her own death. She is interred in Genoa.Blessed Maria Vittoria Relics 2 (1).jpg

Many widows like Maria Vittoria have had “second vocations” of this sort, entering religious orders after the death of their husbands.   St Elizabeth Seton, foundress of the American Sisters of Charity, was, of course, a memorable example.   Cloistered, contemplative orders are perhaps even more attractive to widows who are a little older.

The Beatification cause started under Pope Benedict XIV on 10 September 1746 and the late religious was titled as a Servant of God, while Pope Clement XIII confirmed her heroic virtue and named her as Venerable on 1 April 1759.   Pope Leo XII later approved two miracles attributed to her intercession, on 1 April 1828 and later Beatified her in Saint Peter’s Basilica on 21 September 1828.   Below is the Altar of her Relics, with Reverend Mother Maria Angela Borsa, Prioress of the Venerable Monastery of the Most Holy Annunciation and Incarnation in Genoa, Italy, before the relics of the Holy Foundress, Bl Maria Vittoria.

Blessed Maria Vittoria Relics Mother M Angela


‘Vittoria Who Overcame the World’, is a play on the words of Holy Scripture, often seen in pictures of the Blessed:  “For whatsoever is born of God, overcomes the world and this is the victory which overcomes the world, our faith.” [1 John 5,4]   It is uplifting to see her spiritual daughters continuing to overcome the spirit of the world, the flesh and the devil.

Our Lady of Protection.jpg
 The altar of Our Lady of Protection, a devotion particular to the order.
Posted in ADVENT, SAINT of the DAY

Third Sunday of Advent, Year A – Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday +2019 and Memorials of the Saints – 15 December

Third Sunday of Advent, Year A – Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday +2019
Gaudete Sunday:

Blessed Karl Steeb (1773 – 1856)
The Story of Blessed Karl:
St Margaret of Fontana
Bl Maria della Pace
Blessed Maria Vittoria De Fornari Strata (1562–1617)
St Mary Crocifissa di Rosa (1813 – 1855)

St Maximinus of Micy
St Offa of Essex
Bl Pau Gracia Sánchez
St Paul of Latros
Bl Ramón Eirin Mayo
St Silvia of Constantinople
St Urbicus
St Valerian of Abbenza
St Virginia Centurione Bracelli (1587-1651)

Martyrs of Drina – (5 beati): Also known as
• Daughters of Divine Charity of Drina
• Drina Martyrs
Five members of the Daughters of Divine Charity who were martyred while fighting off Chetnik rapists. They were –
Jozefa Bojanc
Jozefa Fabjan
Karoline Anna Leidenix
Kata Ivanisevic
Terezija Banja
Their martyrdom occured in December 1941 in Gorazde, Bosansko-Podrinjski, Bosnia-Herzegovina
They were Beatified on 24 September 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Martyrs of North Africa – (7 saints): A group of Christians martyred together for their faith in North Africa. The only details about them that survive are their names – Caelian, Candidus, Faustinus, Fortunatus, Januarius, Lucius and Mark.

Martyrs of Rome – (22 saints): A group of 22 Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Valerian. The only details we have are five of their names – Antonius, Irenaeus, Saturnin, Theodorus and Victor. c 258 in Rome, Italy.