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Thought for the Day – 23 December – What Jesus Wants From Us

Thought for the Day – 23 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

What Jesus Wants From Us

“Let us contemplate Jesus lying on a rough pallet of straw in the manger.
When we see Him looking at us, let us ask ourselves what it is that He requires of us.
In fact, He wants many things from us.
First of all, He wants us to weep for our sins and to promise, never to fall again, as long as we have the assistance of His grace, for which we should pray continually.
For this, He has become man and has entered into the world.
For this He will work miracles, preach His doctrine and shed His Precious Blood on the Cross.
All this He will do to redeem us from sin and to win Heaven for us.

If we return to the path of sin, we destroy the divine work of redemption, inasfar as it applies to ourselves.
We make Christ’s passion, death and resurrection useless in our case.
We brush aside the chain of favours with which His love has girdled us – the Gospel, the Sacraments and the Church, our good mother who is always at our side to instruct and direct us, to rescue us from peril and, to distribute to us, the gifts of her divine Founder.
When we sin, we commit an act of base ingratitude to Jesus and accomplish our own eternal ruin.

The Infant Jesus longs for us to give our hearts to Him.
Since He has given us His own, why should we be unwilling to give ours to Him?
Who or what can we love, if we do not love Jesus?
Nothing else is capable of giving us peace of soul and resignation in suffering.
Jesus alone can bestow these gifts on us, as long as we love and follow Him and abandon ourselves completely to His Holy Will.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, FATHERS of the Church, MARIAN QUOTES, QUOTES of the SAINTS, St JOHN the BAPTIST, The NATIVITY of JESUS, The O ANTIPHONS, The WORD

Advent Reflection – 23 December – “He spoke, blessing God ” – Luke 1:64

Advent Reflection – 23 December – O Emmanuel – Readings: Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24, Psalms 25:4-5,8-9, 10 and 14, Luke 1:57-66

The Lord is at hand, come, let us adore Him.

“He spoke, blessing God ” – Luke 1:64

REFLECTION – [John the Baptist said:] “I am the voice, the voice crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord.” So I cannot be silent, Lord, in Your presence. “I need to be baptised by you and do you come to me?” (Mt 3:3.14).
At my birth I took away my mother’s barrenness and while still an infant, I healed my father’s dumbness, for You gave me in childhood, the gift of working miracles. But when You were born of the Virgin Mary, in the way You willed and in a manner known to You alone, You did not take away her virginity but while preserving it intact, You gave her, in addition, the name of “mother.” Her virginity did not hinder Your birth, nor did Your birth destroy her virginity. On the contrary, two opposites, motherhood and virginity, were easily united by You, because the laws of nature have their origin in You.
I am a mere man, sharing in the grace of God but You are both God and man because of Your love for humankind (cf. Wis 1:6). ” – Homily attributed to Saint Gregory the Illuminator (c 213-270) Bishop – Homily on the holy Incarnation, 4

PRAYER
O Emmanuel,
King and Lawgiver
Desire of the nations,
Saviour of all people,
Come and set us free,
Lord, our God!

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, GOD ALONE!, MARIAN REFLECTIONS, MARY'S MONTH, MEDITATIONS - ANTONIO CARD BACCI, QUOTES - J R R Tolkien and MORE, QUOTES on HUMILITY, QUOTES on LOVE of GOD, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, The DIVINE INFANT, The INCARNATION, The REDEMPTION, The WILL of GOD

Thought for the Day – 22 December – The Humility of Mary

Thought for the Day – 22 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

The Humility of Mary

“The profound humility of Mary was commensurate with her high dignity.
As Dante put it, she was the humblest and noblest of creatures. “Umile ed altra piu che creatura” (Paradiso 33:2)
None of the saints was humbler than Mary, just as none of them was greater.
It was an Archangel who came down from Heaven and bowed before her as he praised her in the highest terms as “full of grace” and announced the unique dignity she was to receive as Mother of God.
She bowed her head in turn and declared herself to be the handmaid of the Lord, ready to do His will in all things.
Then she went to visit and congratulate her cousin, Elizabeth, because she had heard from the Angel that she was to be the mother of the Precursor.
When she arrived at the house, she was greeted by Elizabeth with the words: “How have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Far from being flattered, however, Mary attributed all her glory to God and replied with the Magnificat, a hymn of praise and gratitude in God’s honour.
It was the same when Jesus was born in the manger at Bethlehem.
There was a sudden brightness in the sky and the angels sang “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace among men of goodwill.”
But even though she held the Lord of Heaven and earth, in her arms, the Blessed Virgin asked for nothing for herself.
Her only desire was to do the will of God.
The love of Jesus was enough for her.
She did not seek her own glory but the glory of God.
Likewise, on the weary journey into Egypt, she was content because, she was with Jesus and in the obscure life of Nazareth, she desired no other treasure but Her divine Son.
During His public life, she followed Him in silence.
Once only she spoke in a submissive tone, in order to ask a favour for others but not for herself.
It was at the wedding celebrations in Cana, when she asked for the first miracle, in such a way, that it was not even apparent that it was she who had wrung the favour from the filial heart of Jesus.
It was always like that, up to the time of Calvary and the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost.
She remained humbly in the background all the time.
Now, after her departure from this earth, her humility has been gloriously crowned in the dogma of the Assumption and in her Coronation as Queen of Angels and of Saints.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

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Quote/s of the Day – 22 December – My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord – Luke 1:46

Quote/s of the Day – 22 December – Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent, O Rex Gentium/O King of all Nations, Readings: 1 Samuel 1:24-28, 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8, Luke 1:46-56

“Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” – Luke 1:46-47

“The Lord has exalted me by a gift so great,
so unheard of, that language is useless to describe it
and the depths of love in my heart can scarcely grasp it.
I offer then all the powers of my soul
in praise and thanksgiving.
As I contemplate His greatness,
which knows no limits,
I joyfully surrender my whole life,
my senses, my judgment,
for my spirit rejoices in
the eternal Godhead of that Jesus,
that Saviour,
whom I have conceived in this world of time.”

“Those who refuse to be humble cannot be saved.
They cannot say with the prophet:
See, God comes to my aid;
the Lord is the helper of my soul.
But anyone who makes himself humble,
like a little child,
is greater in the kingdom of heaven.”

St Bede the Venerable (673-735)
Father and Doctor of the Church

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Advent Reflection – 22 December – O Rex Gentium/O King of all Nations – ‘ … that we might see Him, touch Him and hear Him speak.”

Advent Reflection – 22 December – Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent, O Rex Gentium/O King of all Nations, Readings: 1 Samuel 1:24-281 Samuel 2:14-56-78Luke 1:46-56

The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.

O KING OF ALL NATIONS
and keystone of the Church
come and save man,
whom You formed from the dust!

…For he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name. … Luke 1:49

REFLECTION – “Then Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour … He has helped Israel his child (Lk 1:54 Gk), remembering his mercy and the covenant he made with Abraham and his descendants forever.”
Do you observe how the Virgin surpasses the perfection of the patriarch and seals the covenant God made with Abraham when He said to him: “This is to be the covenant between me and you”? (Gn 17:11) … It is the song of this prophecy that the holy Mother of God addressed to God when she said: “My soul magnifies the Lord …, for He who is Mighty has magnified me; holy is His name. In making me the mother of God He preserves my virginity. The full number of every generation is summed up within my womb, that they may be made holy in it. For He has blessed all ages, men and woman, young people, children, the old” (…)

“He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly” (…) The lowly, the gentile peoples hungry for righteousness (Mt 5:6), have been exalted. By making known their lowliness and hunger for God and by begging for God’s word, just as the Canaanite woman asked for crumbs (Mt 15:27), they have been satisfied with the riches concealed within the divine mysteries.
For Jesus Christ our God, son of the Virgin, has handed out to the gentiles the whole inheritance of divine favours.
He has raised up Israel his child: not just any Israel but His child, on whose exalted birth He bestows honour. This is why the Mother of God calls this people her child and her heir. God, who found this people worn out by the letter, wearied by the Law, calls it to His grace. By giving this name to Israel He raises him up, “remembering his mercy, as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.”
These few words sum up the whole mystery of our salvation. Wanting to save humankind and seal the covenant established with our fathers, Jesus Christ then “inclined the heavens and came down” (Ps 18[17]:10).
Thus He manifested Himself to us, putting Himself within our reach so that we might see Him, touch Him and hear Him speak.” – A 4th century homily (Incorrectly attributed to Gregory of Neocaesarea, called “Thaumaturgos”, no. 2)

Prayer – The Magnificat
The Canticle of Mary
Luke 1:46-55

My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour
He looks on His servant in her lowliness
Henceforth, all ages will call me blessed:
The Almighty works marvels for me,
holy is His Name!
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear Him.
He puts forth His arm in strength
and scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones
and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, His servant,
remembering His mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his sons forever.
Amen

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, MEDITATIONS - ANTONIO CARD BACCI, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, QUOTES - J R R Tolkien and MORE, QUOTES on GOSSIP, QUOTES on HUMILITY, QUOTES on PRAYER, QUOTES on SELF-DENIAL, QUOTES on SILENCE, QUOTES on SIN, The DIVINE INFANT, The NATIVITY of JESUS

Thought for the Day – 21 December – The Silence of the Divine Infant

Thought for the Day – 21 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

The Silence of the Divine Infant

Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word of God, made man, the infinite and substantial image of the Divine Intellect.
Nevertheless, the Divine Infant, Whom we adore in the stable at Bethlehem, is mute and silent.
The voluntary humiliation of the Son of God is such, that He, the Word of God, cannot utter a single human syllable.
By this chosen silence, however, He teaches us many things.
In the first place, He teaches us humility and self-denial.
He teaches us, moreover, to recollect ourselves in the Presence of God, so that it may be easier for us to speak with Him and for Him, to make known what He requires of us.
The silence of prayer brings forth divine consolations and inspirations to holiness,

Do we love to be silent?
It is not necessary to become hermits but, it is essential, from time to time, to place ourselves quietyly in the Presence of God.
God cannot be heard through the noise and confusion of the world, whereas, He speaks clearly to the soul, which seeks the silence of prayer.
In any case, if we go about looking for the gossip and idle chatter of the world, it is almost impossible not to offend God.
“Avoid profane and empty babblings,” St Paul urges us, “for they contribute much to ungodliness” (2 Tim 2:16).
“If anyone does not offend in word,” adds St James, “he is a perfect man” (Js 3:2).
“The tongue is a little member,” he continues but, goes onto emphasis that it is capable of doing either a great deal of good or a great deal of harm.
“With it, we bless God the Father and, with it, we curse men, who have been made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren ought not to be so” (Js 3:5-10).

There are two main lessons which we should learn, therefore, from the silence of the Divine Infant.
We should learn to love recollection and, we should learn to make proper use of the gift of speech, which can be an equally powerful weapon, in the cause of good, or, in the cause of evil!”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

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Advent Reflection – 21 December – O Oriens/O Radiant Dawn – Being aware of the Lord’s Presence – Luke 1:41,44

Advent Reflection – 21 December – O Oriens/O Radiant Dawn – Weekdays of Advent, Readings: Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18, Psalms 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21, Luke 1:39-45

The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit … “For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” – Luke 1:41,44

REFLECTION – “When the angel revealed his message to the Virgin Mary he gave her a sign to win her trust. He told her of the motherhood of an old and barren woman to show that God is able to do all that he wills.
When she hears this Mary sets out for the hill country. She does not disbelieve God’s word; she feels no uncertainty over the message or doubt about the sign. She goes eager in purpose, dutiful in conscience, hastening for joy.
Filled with God, where would she hasten but to the heights? The Holy Spirit does not proceed by slow, labourious efforts. Quickly, too, the blessings of her coming and the Lord’s presence are made clear – as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child leapt in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Notice the contrast and the choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary’s voice but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Mary’s presence but he is aware of the Lord’s – a woman aware of a woman’s presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of our salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.
The child leaps in the womb; the mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, he fills his mother with the same Spirit. John leaps for you and the spirit of Mary rejoices in her turn. When John leaps for joy, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit but we know, that though Mary’s spirit rejoices, she does not need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Her Son, who is beyond our understanding, is active in His mother in a way beyond our understanding. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord. Elizabeth says – Blessed are you because you have believed.
You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges His works.
Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh but, we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Saviour.
In another place we read – Magnify the Lord with me. The Lord is magnified, not because the human voice can add anything to God but because he is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God and if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and, in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.” – St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop, Father and Great Latin Doctor – An excerpt from A Commentary on Luke, Book 2

PRAYER –
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.

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, MEDITATIONS - ANTONIO CARD BACCI, QUOTES - J R R Tolkien and MORE, QUOTES on HUMILITY, QUOTES on REPARATION, QUOTES on SACRIFICE, QUOTES on SILENCE, QUOTES on SUFFERING, The DIVINE INFANT, The NATIVITY of JESUS

Thought for the Day – 20 December – The Swaddling Clothes of the Divine Infant

Thought for the Day – 20 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

The Swaddling Clothes of the Divine Infant

“Mary, like other mothers in those days, wrapped the Infant Jesus in swaddling clothes.
The Divine Child quietly offered this new humiliation to His heavenly Father.
He saw prefigured in these bands, the ropes with which He would be bound in the garden of Gethsemane, even after He had given sinful humanity, His celestial teaching, example and miracles and finally, His own Body inthe Sacrament of the Eucharist.
He saw in them too, the chains with which He would be secured to the pillar, in order to be scourged in the Praetorium of Pilate among the jeers and insults of the onlookers.
He saw in them, finally, the cords with which, after having been condemned to the ignominious death of the Cross, He would be tied, while being led to the place of execution on Mount Calvary.
Filled with infinite love for stricken humanity, the Heart of the Divine Infant offered all this, in advance, to His Father in heaven.

Are we making any effort to return such great love?
Like Jesus, we are often obliged to endure, both physical and moral anguish.
Have we the resignation to offer it all to Jesus, or do we squander our opportunities in useless complaining or in acts of impatience and rebellion?
We shall have to go on suffering anyway but, in the latter case, we may have to suffer even more and shall lose all merit in the sight of God.

Let us kneel down before the Holy Infant wrapped in His swaddling clothes and, let us promise to endure everything for His sake and in reparation for our sins.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

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Quote/s of the Day – 20 December – “Hail, full of grace,”

Quote/s of the Day – 20 December – The Fourth Sunday of Advent – O Clavis David/O Key of David – Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-5,8-12, 14, 16, Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29, Romans 16:25-27, Luke 1:26-38

“[Jesus] became man by the Virgin
so that the course, which was taken
by disobedience in the beginning,
through the agency of the serpent,
might be also, the very course
by which it would be put down.
Eve, a virgin and undefiled,
conceived the word of the serpent
and bore disobedience and death.
But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy
when the Angel Gabriel announced to her,
the glad tidings, that the Spirit of the Lord
would come upon her
and the power of the Most High would overshadow her,
for which reason, the Holy One being born of her,
is the Son of God.
And she replied
‘Be it done unto me according to your word’
[Luke 1:38]”

St Justin Martyr (c 100- c 165)
Apologist, Theologian, Philosopher,
Father of the Church and Martyr

“The angel greeted Mary with a new address,
which I could not find anywhere else in Scripture.
I ought to explain this expression briefly.
The angel says, “Hail, full of grace.” …
I do not remember having read these words elsewhere in Scripture.
An expression of this kind, “Hail, full of grace,”
is not addressed to a male.
This greeting was reserved for Mary alone.”

Origen (c 185-253)
Priest, Theologian, Father

“The whole universe was created by God
and God was born of Mary.
God created all things
and Mary gave birth to God.
The God who made all things,
gave Himself form through Mary
and thus, He made His own creation.
He who could create all things from nothing,
would not remake His ruined creation without Mary.
God, then, is the Father of the created world
and Mary the mother of the re-created world.
God is the Father, by whom all things were given life
and Mary the mother,
through whom all things were given new life.
For God begot the Son,
through whom all things were made
and Mary gave birth to Him as the Saviour of the world.
Without God’s Son, nothing could exist;
without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed.
Truly the Lord is with you,
to whom the Lord granted,
that all nature should owe,
as much to you as to Himself.”

St Anselm (1033-1109)
Magnificent Doctor
Marian Doctor

“Mary is the great mould of God …
He who is cast in this divine mould
is soon formed and moulded in Jesus Christ
and Jesus Christ in him.
With little effort and in a short time,
he will become divine,
since he is cast in the same mould
which formed a God.”

St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716)

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Advent Reflection – 20 December – O Clavis David/O Key of David

Advent Reflection – 20 December – The Fourth Sunday of Advent, Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-5,8-12, 14, 16, Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29, Romans 16:25-27, Luke 1:26-38

The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.

O KEY OF DAVID,
and Sceptre of the House of Israel,
who opens and no-one shuts,
who shuts and no-one opens.
Come and bring forth the captive from his prison,
he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end.” – Luke 1:32-33

REFLECTION“The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David and the virgin’s name was Mary.” What is said of the house of David applies not only to Joseph but also to Mary. It was a precept of the law that each man should marry a wife from his own tribe and kindred. Saint Paul also bears testimony to this when he writes to Timothy: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my Gospel” (2 Tm 2:8) …

“He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.” The angel refers to the kingdom of the Israelite nation as the throne of David because, in his time, by the Lord’s command and assistance, David governed it with a spirit of faithful service … As David had once ruled the people with temporal authority, so Christ would now lead them to the eternal kingdom by His spiritual grace …

“He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.. The house of Jacob here refers to the universal Church which, through its faith in and witness to Christ, shares the heritage of the patriarchs. This may apply either to those who are physical descendants of the patriarchal families, or to those who come from gentile nations and are reborn in Christ by the waters of baptism. In this house Christ shall reign forever and “of his kingdom there will be no end.”
During this present life, Christ rules in the Church. By faith and love He dwells in the hearts of His elect and guides them by His unceasing care toward their heavenly reward. In the life to come, when their period of exile on earth is ended, He will exercise His Kingship, by leading the faithful to their heavenly country. There, forever inspired by the vision of His presence, their one delight will be, to praise and glorify Him.” – St Bede the Venerable (673-735) Priest and Monk, Father and Doctor of the Church – Homilies for Advent, no 3

PRAYER – Lord, at the angel’s message, Mary, the immaculate Virgin became the temple of God and was filled with the light of the Holy Spirit, when she received Your divine Word. Grant that, after her example, we may humbly and steadfastly follow Your will. Through Christ the Incarnate Word, our Lord and Saviour, with the Holy Spirit, one God for all ages, amen.

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, MEDITATIONS - ANTONIO CARD BACCI, QUOTES - J R R Tolkien and MORE, QUOTES for CHRIST, QUOTES on HUMILITY, QUOTES on LOVE of GOD, QUOTES on SANCTITY, The DIVINE INFANT, The HEART, The NATIVITY of JESUS

Thought for the Day – 19 December – The Cradle of the Divine Infant Jesus

Thought for the Day – 19 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

The Cradle of the Divine Infant Jesus

Enter once more with faith and love into the stable of Bethlehem.
As soon as her Son has been miraculously delivered without any damage to her virginity, Mary adores Him and, with such maternal love as we could never conceive of, she takes Him to her heart.
Joseph, kneeling in ecstasy at the sight, bows reverently and kisses the forehead of the Divine Infant.
In this moment of blis, he is well rewarded for his unshaken faith and for all the sacrifices which he has made from his youth until the time of his alliance with Mary.

Now Mary and Joseph look around and, since they can find no better cradel for the Baby Jesus, they place Him upon some straw in a manger and cover Him with a rough linen coth.
They have nothing else to give the Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of the Universe, Who wishes, at this early stage, to present us with this wonderful example of humility and voluntary poverty.
But each of them has once treasure to offer, for they offer and dedicate their hearts to Jesus.
Mary’s heart is only less beautiful and pure than that of our Divine Redeemer and St Joseph’s is similar to hers.

Jesus did not come to look for human wealth or greatness but, He came in search of men’s hearts, so that He might make them holy.
Throughout the centuries there have been many generous-hearted people who joined with Mary and Joseph in loving Jesus and in dedicating themselves entirely to Him.
Does your heart belong completely to Jesus?

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, FATHERS of the Church, ONE Minute REFLECTION, QUOTES for CHRIST, SAINT of the DAY, St JOHN the BAPTIST, The INCARNATION, The O ANTIPHONS

Advent Reflection – Saturday of Advent – 19 December – O Radix Jesse/O Root of Jesse – ‘a voice pointing to the Word’

Advent Reflection – Saturday of Advent – 19 December – O Radix Jesse/O ROOT OF JESSE – Readings: Judges 13:2-724-25Psalms 71:3-45-616-17Luke 1:5-25

The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.

O ROOT OF JESSE,
that stands for an ensign of the people,
before whom the kings keep silence
and unto whom the Gentiles
shall make supplication,
come, to deliver us and tarry not.

“And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak, until the day that these things take place because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” – Luke 1:20

REFLECTION “You will be speechless… until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words.” Voice and word are not the same thing where we are concerned, since a voice can be heard without it conveying any meaning, without words and the word can likewise be communicated to our minds without a voice, as in the wandering of our thoughts. In the same way, since the Saviour is Word…, John differs from Him in being voice, by comparison with Christ, who is Word. This is what John himself answered to those who asked him who he was: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths’” (Lk 3:4; Jn 1:23).
Perhaps this is the reason – because he doubted the birth of the voice that would reveal the Word of God – why Zachariah lost his voice but recovered it again, when that voice was born, who is the Word’s forerunner (Lk 1:64). Since, for the mind to be able to grasp the word intended by the voice, we must hear the voice. It is also why, according to the time of his birth, John is slightly older than Christ – for we perceive the voice before the word. Thus John points to Christ since it is with the voice that the Word is made known. Likewise, Christ was baptised by John, who admitted his need of being baptised by Him (Mt 3:14)… In brief, when John pointed to Christ it was as a man pointing to God, the incorporeal Saviour, as a voice pointing to the Word…”… Origen (c 185-253) Priest, Theologian, Father

PRAYER – Deepen our faith Lord, as we celebrate the great mystery of the Incarnation, by which You revealed to the world the splendour of Your glory, through the most pure Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever, amen.

Posted in "Follow Me", ADVENT REFLECTIONS, GOD is LOVE, MEDITATIONS - ANTONIO CARD BACCI, QUOTES on LOVE of GOD, The INCARNATION, The NATIVITY of JESUS

Thought for the Day – 18 December – Preparation for the Nativity

Thought for the Day – 18 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

Preparation for the Nativity

“The Birth of Our Lord is the most wonderful and most moving mystery of divine omnipotence and goodness.
At first thought, the idea of the infinite God becoming man, would seem impossible.
Between God and man, there is a vast abyss.
Why should God have bridged this gap and assumed our poor mortal nature, becoming like us in everything but sin, while still remaining God?
It is a hard question for the human mind to answer.
There is only one reply, however.
The immensity of God’s power and justice is equalled, by the immensity of His love.
It was simply because God loved us infinitely that He took pity on us, lost as we were in sin.
He assumed a human body and became man and, He suffered and died for us, so that we might love and obey Him more easily and follow in the way of goodness.

To our poor intellects, God seems not only immense and infinite but also, very remote.
For this reason, God determined to come closer to us, so that He became as one of us.
He was a tiny infant, crying in a manger; then, He was a lovable young boy Who spoke words of eternal wisdom among the doctors in the Temple; then, He was a prophet Who traversed the countryside of Palestine, teaching and working miracles; finally, He died a martyr’s death on the Cross in the cause of truth and goodness.
Reflecting on this mystery of infinite love, let us adore and love Him.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

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Advent Reflection – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December – “She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus” – Matthew 1:21

Advent Reflection – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December O Adonai/O Lord
Jeremiah 23:5-8, Psalm 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19, Matthew 1:18-24

The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.

O LORD AND RULER
of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the flame
of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai,
Come and redeem us with outstretched arms.

“She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus” – Matthew 1:21

REFLECTION – “The Name of Jesus is a divine Name that the Lord made known to Mary through the voice of the Archangel Gabriel: “You will give him the name Jesus” (Lk 1:31). A name that, for this reason, is called “above all names,” “the only name by which we can be saved” (Phil 2:9; Acts 4:12). This great Name is compared to oil by the Holy Spirit: “Your name is oil poured out” (Sg 1:3). Why? Because, as Saint Bernard explains, just as oil is both light, food and medicine, so the Name of Jesus is light for our minds, food for our hearts, medicine for our souls.
Light for our minds – it was the brilliance of this Name that enabled the world to pass from the shadows of idolatry to the light of faith. We were born in a land whose inhabitants were all pagans before the coming of the Lord. We should have been as they were if He had not come to enlighten us. So how should we not give thanks to Jesus Christ for the gift of faith! (…)
Food for our hearts – this, too, is what the Name of Jesus is. For it calls to our minds all the painful work Jesus accomplished to save us. This is how He comforts us in tribulation, strengthens us to walk along the way of salvation, revives our hope and inflames us with love for our God.
And medicine for our souls – Jesus’ Name makes them strong in the face of temptation and our enemies’ attacks. Do they hear this holy Name? The powers of hell tremble and take to flight. This is what Saint Paul says: “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld” (Phil 2:10). No-one who is tempted will fall if he calls on Jesus and so long as he calls, he will persevere and be saved.” – St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) Bishop and named The Most Zealous Doctor of the Church – Meditations for the Octave of Christmas, no 8

PRAYER Write Your Blessed Name, Upon My Heart
By Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)

Write Your blessed name,
O Lord,
upon my heart,
there to remain so indelibly engraved,
that no prosperity,
no adversity shall ever move me
from Your love.
Be to me a strong tower of defence,
a comforter in tribulation,
a deliverer in distress,
a very present help in trouble
and a guide to heaven
through the many temptations
and dangers of this life.
Amen

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, CHRISTMASTIDE!, MEDITATIONS - ANTONIO CARD BACCI, The NATIVITY of JESUS

Thought for the Day – 17 December – The Cave of Bethlehem

Thought for the Day – 17 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

The Cave of Bethlehem

“Why, asked Bossuet, should the Eternal Word of God, infinitely and everlastingly happy, have deigned to assume in time, the fallen state of humanity?
Why should He have chosen, as the scene of His miraculous life of love, this insignificant world, a planet almost imperceptible among the myriads of gigantic heavenly bodies?
It was for the very same reason, Bossuet replied, that propmpted Him, once He had become man, to choose as His birthplace, the tiny and unknown village of Nazareth in Galilee rather than Rome, the centre of power, or Athens, the centre of learning, or Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.
Our world is the Nazareth of creation, one of the smallest planets in the firmament.

God did not even choose, moreover, to be born in the poor but comparatively comfortable house at Nazareth.
He preferred to be born in the strange town of Bethlehem.
It was the cradle of His ancestral line but it gave Him no welcome and compelled Him to be born in a cold and squalid barn on the straw of a manger.
God had no need of human grandeur.
His power and majesty shone more brightly through the insignificance of the objects and means which He employed in order to fulfil His purpose.
It would be ridiculous to imagine, even for a moment, that He had any need of human aid in order to accomplish His designs.
God chooses the weak things of the world in order to confound the strong!” (Missale Romanum, Miss. Virg et Mart).

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

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Advent Reflection – 17 December – O Wisdom / O Sapientia …….

Advent Reflection – 17 December – O Wisdom ……. – Readings: Genesis 49:28-10Psalms 72:1-23-47-817Matthew 1:1-17

The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.

O Wisdom
O Sapientia

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia-
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae
.

O Wisdom, coming forth from the Mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other,
mightily and sweetly ordering all things-
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise your hand on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you.” – Genesis 49:8

REFLECTION – “This text appears to be directed to the Patriarch Judah, indeed but more so that later Judah is meant, the true Confessor who was born of that tribe and who alone is praised by His brothers; of them He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers.”
He is the Lord by nature but a brother by grace; His hands, which He stretched out to an unbelieving people, are on the back of His enemies.
For with those same hands and by that same passion, Christ protected His own, subjugated hostile powers and made subject to Himself, all people who were without faith and devotion.
Of these the Father says to His Son, “And you will rule in the midst of your enemies.”
It was their own wickedness that made them enemies, not Christ’s will. In this there is a great gift of the Lord. Previously, spiritual wickedness generally used to make our neck bend to the yoke of captivity. Thus even David wrote that he felt, in some way, the hands of those who triumphed over him, for he said, “Upon my back sinners have wrought.”
But now spiritual wickedness is subject to the triumph of Christ and to His hands, as it were; that is, wickedness undergoes the affliction of captivity, being subject forever in deeds and in works.
And, it is He indeed, to whom the sons of His Father bow down, when we bow down to Him; for he has permitted us to call upon the Father and, to be subject to the Father, is to be subject to virtue.” – St Ambrose (340-397) One of the original four Doctors of the Latin Church – (The Patriarchs, 4)

PRAYER – Collect:
O God,
Creator and Redeemer of human nature,
Who willed
that Your Word should take flesh
in an ever-virgin womb,
look with favour on our prayers,
that Your only Begotten Son,
having taken to Himself our humanity,
may be pleased to grant us
a share in his divinity.
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

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Thought for the Day – 16 December – The Lamb of God

Thought for the Day – 16 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

The Lamb of God

“Jesus had only one consolation in the midst of His terrible sufferings.
His mother, Mary was beside the Cross along with His beloved Apostle and the holy women who had always followed Him.
Mary loved her Son with a love greater than that of any mother, which is the greatest love possible on earth.
She loved Jesus with the heart of a Mother and of a Virgin – He was her only treasure.
Moreover, she loved Him, not only as her Son but, also as her God.
Precisely because she loved Him as her God, her love was in perfect harmony with the divine will.

She understood the mystery which led Jesus to accept death on the Cross – the mystery of the Redemption.
“He was offered because it was his own will” (Isa 53:7).
He was offered on our behalf, as a voluntary victim to His heavenly Father.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

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Advent Reflection – 16 December – “Are you the one who is to come” … Luke 7:19

Advent Reflection – 16 December – Wednesday of the Third week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-25, Psalms 85:9 and 10, 11-12, 13-14, Luke 7:18-23

“Are you the one who is to come” … Luke 7:19

REFLECTION – “The Lord, knowing that without the Gospel nobody’s faith may be complete – for the Sacred Scripture begins from the Old Testament but is brought to fulfilment by the New – does not answer questions about Himself, with words but, by acts. “Go, he says and tell John what you have seen and heard – the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” This testimony is complete because, it is of Him they had prophesied: “The Lord sets prisoners free; the Lord gives sight to the blind. The Lord raises up those who are bowed down … The Lord shall reign forever, through all generations!” (Ps 145[146]:7f). These are the signs of a power that is not human but divine …
And yet these are only the least examples of the testimony given by Christ. What makes the fullness of faith is the Lord’s cross, His death, His burial. This is why, after giving the answer we have quoted, He also says: “And blessed is the one who takes no offence at me.” In fact, the cross could have indeed provoked the fall of the Chosen ones but, there is no greater testimony of a divine person, nothing that seems to go further beyond human forces, than this offering of one man for the entire world. Through this only, the Lord reveals Himself fully. Furthermore, this is how John had defined Him: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). – St Ambrose (340-397) Bishop of Milan and Father and Doctor of the Church – Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, 5, 99-102

PRAYER – Almighty God, let the splendour of Your glory dawn in our hearts. May the coming of Your only Son dispel all darkness and reveal that we are children of light. By the care and love of Your Mother and ours, may we be ever strong as we carry our own crosses after You. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, amen.

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, DECEMBER - The IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, MARIAN REFLECTIONS, MEDITATIONS - ANTONIO CARD BACCI, QUOTES - J R R Tolkien and MORE, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on HOPE, QUOTES on LOVE of GOD, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, THEOLOGICAL

Thought for the Day – 12 December – The Theological Virtues of Our Lady

Thought for the Day – 12 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

The Theological Virtues of Our Lady

“The three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, shone like constellations throughout the life of Mary.
“Blessed is she who has believed” (Lk 1:45), St Elizabeth said of her.
Mary’s life was one long act of faith and of love.
She lived continuously in the presence of God, being united to Him by lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity.
Her spirit of constant prayer was the result of her intense practice of these theological virtues.
When the Archangel Gabriel came down from Heaven, to bring her the tidings of her divine motherhood, he found her absorbed in prayer.
When St Elizabeth praised and called her the Mother of her Lord, Mary, from the depths of her faith, attributed everything to God and glorified Him in her Magnificat.
When the baby Jesus was born in the cave of Bethlehem, she adored Him with faith, hope and love, as her God and future Saviour.
When she realised that Herod was searching for her Son to put Him to death, she placed her confidence in Him.
She fled with Him into Egypt and brought Him back later, to their land, always with the same faith, hope and love.
Her faith and hope were not weakened by the loss of Jesus in Jerusalem, only her mother’s love was disturbed, on this occasion.
When it seemed in that hidden life of Nazareth, that Jesus was leading a life of pointless silence, her faith and hope in Him, did not fade, while her love grew greater from day to day.
In the triumphs and sorrows of His public life, she continued to practice, to an extraordinary degree, these three virtues – on the road to Calvary, at the foot of the Cross, at the removal of Our Lord’s body from the Cross, at the tomb, at the glorious Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost.
At last, when she was alone in this world without Jesus, these three virtues seemed to burn more brightly in her soul.
She thought only of Jesus, hoped in Jesus alone and loved Jesus alone.
Then Jesus rewarded the lively faith, expectant hope and flaming charity of His Mother, for on her assumption into Heaven, these three virtues shared in her triumph and coronation.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

Posted in ADVENT QUOTES, ADVENT REFLECTIONS, DECEMBER - The IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MARIAN PRAYERS, MARIAN QUOTES, MARIAN REFLECTIONS, MARIAN TITLES, MOTHER of GOD, Our MORNING Offering, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, The IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

Our Morning Offering – 12 December – Mary Immaculate! By St John Damascene

Our Morning Offering – 12 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Readings: Zechariah 2:14-17, Judith 13:18, 19, Luke 1:26-38.

Mary Immaculate!
By St John Damascene (675-749)
Father and Doctor of the Church

Today, the root of Jesse has produced its shoot,
she will bring forth a Divine flower for the world.
Today, the Creator of all things,
God the Word,
composes a new book:
a book issuing from the heart of His Father
and written by the Holy Spirit,
who is the tongue to God.

O daughter of King David and Mother of God,
the universal King.
O Divine and living object
whose beauty has charmed God the Creator;
your whole soul is completely open
to God’s action and attentive to God alone.

All your desires are centred
only on what merits to be sought
and is worthy of love.
You harbour anger only for sin and its author.
You will have a life superior to nature,
but not for your own sake.
For it has not been created for you
but has been entirely consecrated to God,
who has introduced you into the world
to help bring about our salvation
in fulfillment of His plan,
the Incarnation of His Son
and the Divinisation of the human race.

Your heart will find nourishment in the words of God,
like the tree planted near the living waters of the Spirit,
like the tree of life
that has yielded its fruit in due time,
the incarnate God who is the life of all things.

Your ears will be ever attentive to the Divine words
and the sounds of the harp of the Spirit,
through whom the Word has come to take on our flesh.
Your nostrils will inhale the fragrance of the Bridegroom,
the Divine fragrance with which He scented His humanity.

Your lips will savour the words of God
and will rejoice in their Divine sweetness.
Your most pure heart,
free from all stain,
will ever see the God of all purity
and will experience ardent desire for Him.

Your womb will be the abode
of the one whom no place can contain.
Your milk will provide nourishment for God,
in the little Infant Jesus.
Your hands will carry God
and your knees will serve
as a throne for Him
that is more noble
than the throne of the Cherubim.

Your feet, led by the light of the Divine Law,
will follow Him along an undeviating course
and guide you to the possession of the Beloved.

You are the temple of the Holy Spirit,
the city of the living God,
made joyous by abundant flowers,
the sacred flowers of Divine grace.
You are all-beautiful
and very close to God,
above the Cherubim
and higher than the Seraphim,
right near God Himself!

Image Excerpt

O daughter of King David
and Mother of God,
the universal King.
O Divine and living object
whose beauty has charmed God the Creator;
your whole soul is completely open
to God’s action and attentive to God alone.
… Your womb will be the abode
of the one whom no place can contain.
Your milk will provide nourishment for God,
in the little Infant Jesus.
Your hands will carry God
and your knees will serve
as a throne for Him
that is more noble
than the throne of the Cherubim.
… You are the temple of the Holy Spirit,
the city of the living God,
made joyous by abundant flowers,
the sacred flowers of Divine grace.
You are all-beautiful
and very close to God,
above the Cherubim
and higher than the Seraphim,
right near God Himself!
Amen

Posted in ADVENT PRAYERS, ADVENT REFLECTIONS, CHRIST, the WAY,TRUTH,LIFE, DIVINE MERCY, DOCTORS of the Church, GOD ALONE!, LENTEN THOUGHTS, ONE Minute REFLECTION, PRAYERS for SEASONS, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, QUOTES for CHRIST, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on GRATITUDE, QUOTES on LOVE of GOD, QUOTES on SIN, The INCARNATION, The NATIVITY of JESUS, The PASSION, The WORD

Advent Reflection – 11 December – ‘… I want to love You with all my heart.’

Advent Reflection – 11 December – Friday of the Second week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 48:17-19, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6, Matthew 11:16-19

Let us adore the Lord, the king who is to come.

“For John came, neither eating nor drinking and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.” … Matthew 11:18-19

REFLECTION – “O Fire ever burning,” let us say together with Saint Augustine – “inflame our souls.”
O incarnate Word, You became man to strike in our hearts the fire of divine love, how is it You should find in us such great ingratitude?
You held nothing back to enable us to love You; You went as far as to sacrifice Your blood and Your life.
What is the reason we humans remain unmoved by such great gifts?
Is it because we know nothing about them? Not at all.
People understand and believe, it is for love of them, You came down from heaven to put on human flesh and take on the burden of their woes.
They know it is for love of them, You willed to lead a life of constant suffering and undergo a shameful death.
How explain, after all this, their living in such absolute forgetfulness of Your unequalled kindness?
They love their family, they love their friends, they even love their livestock! … it is for You alone they are without love and without gratitude!
But what am I saying? In accusing others of ungratefulness, I condemn myself since my conduct in Your regard is even worse than theirs.
Nevertheless, Your mercy gives me courage.
I know how long it has borne with me, to forgive me and set me on fire with Your love, if only I am willing to repent and love You.

Oh yes, my God, I want to repent … I want to love You with all my heart.
I well see how my heart … has abandoned You to love the things of this world but I also see how, in spite of this betrayal, You yet claim it as Your own.
And so, with all the strength of my will, I consecrate it and offer it to You. Therefore, be pleased to inflame it wholly with Your holy love and grant, that from now on, it may love no other thing but You …
O my Jesus, I love You, I love You, my sovereign Good!
I love You, sole Love of my soul.

O Mary, my mother, you are the “mother of noble loving” (Sir 24:24 Vg.), grant me the grace of loving my God.
It is from you that I hope to gain it.” – St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) – Bishop and Most Zealous Doctor of the Church – 1st Sermon for the Octave of Christmas

PRAYER – Lord, watch over Your people, who come to You in confidence. Strengthen the hearts of those who hope in You. Give courage to those who falter because of their failures. In this holy season of Advent, lead them closer to You in hope, by the power of Your Holy Spirit. May Mary Immaculate, our Mother and Advocate be our eternal succour. Through Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for all eternity, amen.

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, MARIAN PRAYERS, MARIAN TITLES, ONE Minute REFLECTION, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on CONVERSION, QUOTES on ETERNITY, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on GRATITUDE, QUOTES on HEAVEN, QUOTES on MEDIOCRITY, QUOTES on SANCTITY, QUOTES on SIN, QUOTES on VIRTUE, The WORD

Advent Reflection – 10 December – Let us fulfil what is right and holy!

Advent Reflection – 10 December – Thursday of the Second week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 41:13-20Psalms 145:1 and 9,10-1112-13Matthew 11:11-15 and the Feast of Our Lady of Loreto

Let us adore the Lord, the king who is to come.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might
. – Psalm 145:10-11

REFLECTION – “My children, eternal life is being offered to us, the kingdom of heaven is made ready and Christ’s inheritance awaits us – the enjoyment of innumerable and unimaginable blessings, the happiness of a great joy and of immortality, glory and honour without measure and all the other blessings in such great number, that human language is not sufficient to make known its grace and mercy (cf. Wsd. 3:9)!
So let us run from now on with increased energy and above all you, lazy, recalcitrant, dull of heart, friends of murmuring who, unless you improve, are like the cursed fig tree. We surround it with manure (cf. Lk 13:8) and it takes no root at all, we water you with words and not a bit of growth results! “Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees” (Lk 3:9) and I will silence the rest. Let us seek out the fight, bravely pour with our sweat, adorn ourselves with crowns, gain praises and gather up like a treasure “what eye has not seen, and ear has not heard and what has not entered the human heart” (1 Cor 2:9).

Let us rule our lives by that of our fathers, that which goes back to the origin, let us follow in the footsteps of their virtues, love their upright deeds, make of our way of life an image of their own. (…) Yes, let us work together with them! Let us act with them! Let us follow in their footsteps! Yes! Let us, too, fulfil what is right and holy! In this way we will share in their glory, we will be crowned and, together with them, exult in the kingdom of heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom belongs the glory and the power, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.” – St Theodore the Studite (759-826) Catechesis 72 (from the Great Cathecheses)

PRAYER – O God, You willed that, at the message of an angel, Your word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant to Your suppliant people, that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with You. Through the same Christ our Lord.

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Thought for the Day – 8 December – THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

Thought for the Day – 8 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

“Let us read the first chapter of St Luke’s Gospel in order to try and understand, as far as possible, the Immaculate Conception and the sublime holiness of Mary.
“The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David and the virgin’s name was Mary. And when the angel had come to her, he said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women’” (Lk 1:26-28).
The Blessed Virgin was troubled when she heard these words but the Angel reassured her.
He told her that she had found favour with God and added, that she would become the Mother of God, for the Word would become flesh in her womb through the power of the Holy Spirit, in such a manner that in her nature, the privileges of virginity and of the divine motherhood, would be miraculously united.
Mary then gave her assent to the will of God and, her ‘fiat’ placed her on a pedestal, high above all the generations of humanity and all the choirs of the angelic kingdom.

It is on this passage of the Gospel, that the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, chiefly depends.
She was full of grace and the supremely beloved of God.
How then could she have been subject to the rule of sin which we inherited from Adam?
If her soul had been stained with sin at the first moment of her conception, she would not have enjoyed the special favour of God and the plenitude of grace.
She was, moreover, predestined to become the Mother of God.
Was it possible that the divine Word, Who was to become her Son, could have permitted her soul to have been sullied, even for a single instant, by sin, which deprives us of grace and makes us enemies of God?
It was on good grounds, therefore, that the Church defined, that from the first moment of her conception, Mary was free from all taint of sin, by a singular privilege conferred on her by God and through the merits of her divine Son, Jesus Christ.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

Posted in ADVENT PRAYERS, ADVENT QUOTES, ADVENT REFLECTIONS, DECEMBER - The IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, DOCTORS of the Church, DOGMA, ENCYCLICALS, FATHERS of the Church, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MARIAN PRAYERS, MARIAN QUOTES, MARIAN TITLES, MOTHER of GOD, PAPAL PRAYERS, PRAYERS for SEASONS, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, The IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

Quote/s of the Day – 8 December – “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Quote/s of the Day – 8 December – The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

“I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Our Lady of Lourdes to St Bernadette
25 March 1858

“Come, then and search out Your sheep,
not through Your servants or hired men
but do it Yourself.
Lift me up bodily and in the flesh,
which is fallen in Adam.
Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary,
a Virgin not only undefiled
but a Virgin whom grace had made inviolate,
free of every stain of sin.”

St Ambrose (340-397)
Father and Doctor of the Church

“He came down into the Virgin’s womb,
a womb unstained, unspotted,
hallowed by the touch of divine unction.”

St Amadeus of Lausanne (1108-1159)

O Most Holy Virgin
By St Pope Pius X (1835-1914)

Most holy Virgin,
who pleased our Lord and became His Mother,
Virgin Immaculate in your body and soul,
in your faith and love,
at this solemn jubilee of the promulgation of the dogma
which proclaimed you
to the entire world as conceived without sin,
look kindly on us, unfortunate ones,
who implore your powerful protection.
The infernal serpent,
upon whom the primeval curse was laid,
continues, alas, to attack and tempt
the hapless children of Eve.
Ah! Do you, our blessed Mother,
our Queen and Advocate,
who at the first moment of your conception
did crush the enemy’s head,
do you gather together our prayers
and we beseech you (our hearts one with yours),
present them before God’s throne,
that we may never allow ourselves
to be caught in the snares laid for us
but that we may reach the portal of salvation
and that the Church and Christian society
may once more chant the hymn of deliverance,
of victory and of peace.
Amen

“Enraptured by the splendour of your heavenly beauty
and impelled by the anxieties of the world,
we cast ourselves into your arms,
O Immaculate Mother of Jesus and our Mother Mary,
confident of finding in your most loving heart,
appeasement of our ardent desires
and a safe harbour from the tempests
which beset us on every side.

“O crystal fountain of faith, bathe our minds with the eternal truths!
O fragrant Lily of all holiness,
captivate our hearts with your heavenly perfume!
O Conqueress of evil and death,
inspire in us a deep horror of sin,
which makes the soul detestable to God and a slave of hell!

O well-beloved of God,
hear the ardent cry which rises up from every heart.
Bend tenderly over our aching wounds.
Convert the wicked,
dry the tears of the afflicted and oppressed,
comfort the poor and humble,
quench hatreds, sweeten harshness,
safeguard the flower of purity in youth,
protect the holy Church,
make all men feel the attraction of Christian goodness.”

Ven Servant of God Pope Pius XII (1876-1958)

More here:
https://anastpaul.com/2019/12/09/quote-s-of-the-day-9-december-the-solemnity-of-the-immaculate-conception-from-the-fathers/

Posted in ADVENT PRAYERS, ADVENT REFLECTIONS, DECEMBER - The IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, DOCTORS of the Church, DOGMA, FATHERS of the Church, FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MARIAN PRAYERS, MARIAN REFLECTIONS, MARIAN TITLES, PAPAL ENCYLICALS, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, The FAITHFUL on PILGRIMAGE, The IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, The INCARNATION, The REDEMPTION, The WORD

Advent Reflection on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – 8 December – Mary, our Hope!

Advent Reflection on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – 8 December – Readings: Genesis 3:9-15, 20, Psalm 98:1-4, Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12, Luke 1:26-38

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” … Luke 1:38

REFLECTION – “If, as the Apostle declares, faith is nothing else than the substance of things to be hoped for” (Heb 11:1) everyone will easily allow, that our faith is confirmed and our hope aroused and strengthened, by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. The Virgin was kept the more free from all stain of original sin because she was to be the Mother of Christ and she, was the Mother of Christ, that the hope of everlasting happiness, might be born again in our souls.

Leaving aside charity towards God, who can contemplate the Immaculate Virgin without feeling moved to fulfill that precept which Christ called peculiarly His own, namely that of loving one another as He loved us? “A great sign,” thus the Apostle St John describes a vision divinely sent him, appears in the heavens: “A woman clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars upon her head” (Rv 12:1). Everyone knows that this woman signified the Virgin Mary, the stainless one who brought forth our Head.

The Apostle continues: “And, being with child, she cried travailing in birth and was in pain to be delivered” (Rv 12:2). John, therefore, saw the Most Holy Mother of God already in eternal happiness, yet travailing in a mysterious childbirth. What birth was it? Surely it was the birth of us who, still in exile, are yet to be generated to the perfect charity of God and to eternal happiness. And the birth pains, show the love and desire, with which the Virgin from heaven above, watches over us and strives with unwearying prayer to bring about the fulfilment of the number of the elect.

This same charity we desire that all should earnestly endeavour to attain, taking special occasion from … feasts in honour of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” … Saint Pius X (1835-1914) Pope from 1903 to 1914 – Encyclical “Ad diem illum laetissimum”

PRAYER O Mary, My Hope! By St John Damascene (675-749)
I salute you, O Mary!
you are the hope of Christians.
Receive the prayer of a sinner,
who loves you tenderly,
honours you in a special manner
and places in you the whole hope
of his salvation.
From you I have my life.
You reinstate me in the grace of your Son:
you are the sure pledge of my salvation.
I beseech of you, therefore, to deliver me
from the burden of my sins,
dispel the darkness of my mind,
banish from my heart the love of the world,
repress the temptations of my enemies
and so rule my whole life, that by your means
and under your guidance,
I may obtain everlasting happiness in heaven.
Amen

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, CHRIST, the WAY,TRUTH,LIFE, DIVINE MERCY, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, ONE Minute REFLECTION, PRAYERS for VARIOUS NEEDS, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, The INCARNATION, The NATIVITY of JESUS, The WORD

Advent Reflection – 7 December – ‘They were filled with awe” – Luke 5:26

Advent Reflection – 7 December – Monday of the Second Week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 35:1-10Psalms 85:9 and 1011-1213-14Luke 5:17-26 and the Memorial of St Ambrose (c 340-397)- Father and Doctor of the Church

Let us adore the Lord, the King who is to come.

And amazement seized them all and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”- Luke 5:26

REFLECTION – “The Word of God has come to dwell in man; he became “Son of man” in order to accustom man to receive God and God to dwell in man, as it has pleased the Father. See now why the sign of our salvation, Emmanuel born of a Virgin, has been given by the Saviour Himself (Is 7:14). Indeed, it is the Saviour Himself who saves men, since of themselves they cannot save themselves. (…) The prophet Isaiah has said: “Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak! Take courage, frightened hearts; be strong, fear not! Here is your God who comes with vindication; he himself comes, he comes to save us,” (Is 35:3-4). For it is only by God’s help and not of ourselves, that we can stand up to our salvation.

And here is another text where Isaiah predicted that the one who saves us is neither simply a man nor an incorporeal being: “It was not a messenger or an angel but the Lord himself who saved his people. Because of his love and pity he forgave them; he redeemed them himself,” (Is 63:9). Yet this Saviour is also truly man, truly visible: “City of Zion, behold: your eyes shall see our Saviour” (…) And another prophet has said: “He will again have compassion on us and cast into the depths of the sea all our sins,” (Mi 7:19) (…) From the land of Judah, from Bethlehem (Mi 5:1) will come the Son of God, He who is also God, to pour out His praise on all the earth (…) Thus God has become man indeed and the Lord Himself has saved us, by giving us the sign of the Virgin.” – St Irenaeus of Lyons (c 130-c 202) Bishop, Church Father, Theologian and Martyr – Against the heresies III

PRAYER – Prayer of St Ambrose
O Lord, who has mercy upon all,
take away from me my sins
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of Your Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore You,
a heart to delight in You,
to follow and enjoy You,
for Christ’s sake.
Amen

Posted in ADVENT QUOTES, ADVENT REFLECTIONS, CHRIST, the WAY,TRUTH,LIFE, ONE Minute REFLECTION, QUOTES for CHRIST, QUOTES of the SAINTS, St JOHN the BAPTIST, The BAPTISM of the LORD, The WORD

Advent Reflection – 6 December – “I am unworthy” – Mark 1:7

Advent Reflection – 6 December – The Second Sunday of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11, Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14 (8), 2 Peter 3:8-14, Mark 1:1-8

Prepare the way of the Lord
make his paths straight
” – Mark 1:3

I am unworthy to stoop down to loosen the thongs of his sandals” – Mark 1:7

REFLECTION – “Jesus came to John to be baptised by him. John tried to prevent him, saying: “I need to be baptised by you and yet you are coming to me?” (Mt 3:13-14)
“I am the voice, the voice crying in the wilderness – prepare the way for the Lord.”
So I cannot be silent, Lord, in Your presence. I “need to be baptised by You and do You come to me?” (…)
You existed from the beginning, You were with God and You were God (Jn 1:1). You are the radiance of the Father’s glory, the perfect image of the perfect Father (Heb 1:3). You are the true light enlightening every person who comes into the world (Jn 1:9). You were in the world yet You have come to where You were already. You have become flesh but You have not been changed into flesh. You have lived among us, appearing to Your servants in the likeness of a servant (Jn 1:14; 14:23; Phil 2:7). You, by Your holy name have bridged heaven and earth and do You come to me? You, so great, to such as I? King to herald, Master to servant? (…)

I know the distance between the earth and the Creator, between the clay and the potter.
I know how far I, a lamp lit by Your grace, am outshone by You, the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 3:20; Jn 5:35).
You are concealed by the pure cloud of Your body but I still recognise Your sovereignty.
I acknowledge my servile condition; I proclaim Your greatness.
I admit Your absolute authority and my own lowly estate.
“I am unworthy to undo the strap of your sandal;” how then could I dare to touch Your Immaculate Head?
How could I stretch out my hand over You, who “stretched out the heavens like a tent,” and “set the earth upon the waters” (Pss. 104[103]:2; 136[135]:6)? (…)
Surely it is not for me to pray over You, for You are the one who receives the prayers even of those who have no knowledge of You.” – Homily attributed to Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus the Wonderworker (c 213-270) Bishop (His life: https://anastpaul.com/2018/11/17/saint-of-the-day-17-november-st-gregory-thaumaturgus-the-wonder-worker-c-213-c-270/)

MEDITATION Bombarded as we are by a deafening decibel culture; battered by commercialism; bruised by the relentless onslaught of a consumerist society; dazed and dazzled as we are by tinsel, trash and trinkets; overwhelmed by fake news, fake viruses, fake politicians, fake economies – we need the wilderness of silence and solitude – to make that most intimate and intricate journey – the wilderness of our heart. The heart of our Advent preparation is the preparation of our heart.

PRAYER – Almighty and merciful God, let neither our daily work nor the cares of this life prevent us from hastening to meet your Son. Teach us Holy Father God, silence and solitude, to hear and learn, then lead us into the company of Your Son, as He comes to save us! And may His Mother and ours, the most pure Virgin Mary be our intercessor and advocate. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.

Posted in "Follow Me", ADVENT REFLECTIONS, DIVINE MERCY, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, GOD is LOVE, ONE Minute REFLECTION, QUOTES for CHRIST, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on CONSCIENCE, QUOTES on CONVERSION, QUOTES on GRACE, QUOTES on PATIENCE

Advent Reflection – 5 December – ‘… But He still follows behind us …’

Advent Reflection – 5 December – Saturday of the First week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 30:19-2123-26,Psalms 147:1-23-4,5-6Matthew 9:35 – 10:156-8

Be born in us, O Lord!

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. … Matthew 9:36

REFLECTION – “A person is counselled to his face, so to speak, when he is created for righteousness and receives the precepts of rectitude. When he despises these precepts, it is as if he is turning his back to his Creator’s face. But He still follows behind us and counsels us, that we have despised Him but He still does not cease to call us. We turn our backs on His face, so to speak, when we reject His words, when we trample His commandments underfoot but He who sees that we reject Him, still calls out to us by His commandments and waits for us by His patience, stands behind us and calls us back when we have turned away.” … St Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) Father & Doctor of the Church – Forty Gospel Homilies, 34

PRAYER – Lord, to free man from his sinful state, You sent Your only Son into this world. Grant to us, who in faith and love, wait for His coming, Your gift of grace and the reward of true freedom. Be born in us O Lord! We ask our most pure Virgin Mary to guide us in her ways. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, CHRIST, the WAY,TRUTH,LIFE, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, GOD ALONE!, HOLY ORDERS, I BELIEVE!, ONE Minute REFLECTION, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on DISCIPLESHIP, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on LOVE of GOD, QUOTES on SIN, QUOTES on the PRIESTHOOD, The WORD

Advent Reflection – – 6 December – “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” – Matthew 9:28

Advent Reflection – – 6 December – Friday of the First week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 29:17-24,Psalms 27:1413-14,Matthew 9:27-31 and the Memorial of St John Damascene (675-749) Father and Doctor of the Church

Let us adore the Lord, the King who is to come.

When he entered the house, the blind men came to him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. … Matthew 9:28-30

REFLECTION – “O Lord, You led me from my father’s loins and formed me in my mother’s womb. You brought me, a naked babe, into the light of day, for nature’s laws always obey Your commands.
By the blessing of the Holy Spirit, You prepared my creation and my existence, not because man willed it or flesh desired it but by Your ineffable grace. The birth You prepared for me was such, that it surpassed the laws of our nature. You sent me forth into the light by adopting me as Your son and You enrolled me among the children of Your holy and spotless Church.
You nursed me with the spiritual milk of Your divine utterances. You kept me alive with the solid food of the body of Jesus Christ, Your only-begotten Son for our redemption. And He undertook the task willingly and did not shrink from it. Indeed, He applied Himself to it as though destined for sacrifice, like an innocent lamb. Although He was God, He became man and in his human will, became obedient to You, God His Father, unto death, even death on a cross.
In this way You have humbled Yourself, Christ my God, so that You might carry me, Your stray sheep, on Your shoulders. You let me graze in green pastures, refreshing me with the waters of orthodox teaching at the hands of Your shepherds. You pastured these shepherds and now, they in turn tend Your chosen and special flock. Now You have called me, Lord, by the hand of Your bishop to minister to Your people. I do not know why You have done so, for You alone know that. Lord, lighten the heavy burden of the sins through which I have seriously transgressed. Purify my mind and heart. Like a shining lamp, lead me along the straight path. When I open my mouth, tell me what I should say. By the fiery tongue of Your Spirit make my own tongue ready. Stay with me always and keep me in Your sight.
Lead me to pastures, Lord and graze there with me. Do not let my heart lean either to the right or to the left but let Your good Spirit guide me along the straight path. Whatever I do, let it be in accordance with Your will, now until the end.
And you, O Church, are a most excellent assembly, the noble summit of perfect purity, whose assistance comes from God. You in whom God lives, receive from us an exposition of the faith that is free from error, to strengthen the Church, just as our Fathers handed it down to us.” – From The Statement of Faith by St John Damascene, Priest“You have called me, Lord, to minister to Your people”

PRAYER – Lord, watch over Your people who come to You in confidence. Strengthen the hearts of those who hope in You. Give courage to those who falter because of their failures. In this holy season of Advent, lead them closer to You in faith and hope, by the power of your Holy Spirit. May they proclaim Your saving acts of kindness here on earth and one day, in Your eternal kingdom and may the prayers of St John Damascene bring us light and strength. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.

Posted in ADVENT REFLECTIONS, ARMOUR of CHRIST, GOD ALONE!, IGNATIAN/JESUIT SJ- Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, ONE Minute REFLECTION, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on FAITH, SAINT of the DAY

Advent Reflection – 3 December – ‘Ex Fide’ vs ‘Cum Fide’

Advent Reflection – 3 December – Thursday of the First week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 26:1-6,Psalms 118:1 and 8-919-2125-27Matthew 7:2124-27 and The Memorial of St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552)

Show forth Your power Lord and come.
Come in Your great strength and save us.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” … Matthew 7:24-25

REFLECTION – “The just, (that is to say those who in baptism have put on the new man created in justice) live, insofar as they are just, by faith, by the light that the sacrament of illumination brings to them. The more they live by faith, the more they realise in themselves, the perfection of His divine adoption. Notice this expression carefully: ‘EX fide,’ the exact meaning of this is that faith ought to be the root of all our actions, of all our life. There are souls who live with faith (CUM fide). They have faith and one cannot deny that they practise it. But it is only on certain occasions … that they remember their faith to any purpose. …
But when faith is living, strong, ardent, when we live by faith, that is to say, when in everything, we are actuated by the principles of faith, when faith is the root of all our actions, the inward principle of all our activity, then we become strong and steadfast, in spite of difficulties within and without, in spite of obscurities, contradictions and temptations. Why so? Because, by faith, we judge, we estimate all things as God sees and estimates them – we participate in the divine immutability and stability.
Is not this what our Lord said? “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them” – that is to live by faith – “will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse.” For Jesus Christ immediately adds: “it had been set solidly on rock” (Mt 7:24-25).” … Bl Columba Marmion (1858-1923) Abbot – Our Faith, the Victory over the World (Christ, the Ideal of the Monk)

PRAYER – God our Father, You open the gates of the kingdom of heaven to those who are born again of water and the Holy Spirit. Increase the grace You have given, so that the people who have been purified from all sin, may not forfeit the promised blessing of Your love. Grant that we may ever keep Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, before our eyes and do all in Him and through Him and for Him. And may the prayers of Your great missioner, St Francis Xavier, he who lived Your words, strengthen our faith.