Quote/s of the Day – 2 January – Christmas Weekday and The Memorial of St Basil the Great (329-379) and St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390), Readings: 1 John 2:22-28, Psalm 98:1-4, John 1:19-28
“It is a voice which cries out where it seems that no one can hear it — for who can listen in the desert? — and which cries out in the disorientation caused by a crisis of faith. We cannot deny that the world today is in a crisis of faith. One says: “I believe in God, I am a Christian” — “I belong to this religion…” But your life is far from being Christian – it is far removed from God! Religion, faith is but an expression: “Do I believe?” — “Yes!” This means returning to God, converting the heart to God and going on this path to find Him. He is waiting for us. This is John the Baptist’s preaching – prepare.
Prepare for the encounter with this Child who will give our smile back to us.”
General Audience, 7 December 2016
“The hairsplitting difference between formed and unformed makes no difference to us. Whoever deliberately commits abortion is subject to the penalty for homicide.”
St Basil the Great (329-379)
Father & Doctor of the Church
“Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.”
St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390)
(from his writings on his friendship with St Basil)
“If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, such a one is a stranger to the Godhead.”
St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390)
Father & Doctor of the Church
Second Thought for the Day – 31 December – The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas and the Memorial of Blessed Alain de Solminihac (1593-1659) Bishop of Cahors, France
2018 was the 400th Anniversary the Priestly Ordination of Blessed Alain de Solminihac. His Diocese of Cahors, France launched a Year of Vocations to conincide with this event of their former Bishop. One of their aims, besides promoting vocations, was to make known the life and holiness of Blessed Alain. Bishop Laurent Camiade, the current Bishop of Cahors, wrote:
“It is wonderful to know that you are called to holiness and it is inspiring to answer the call, to give your whole life, for consecration in the Church. All Christians are concerned with the “universal vocation to holiness.” Some are specifically called to give their whole life – religious consecration, or in an institute, hermit or order of the virgins, or commitment to celibacy with a view to being ordained a priest.
Providence wanted 2018 to be the 400th anniversary of the Priestly Ordination of Blessed Alain de Solminihac. He was Ordained Deacon on 25 March 1617 and Priest on 22 September 1618. In 1636, he was called again to become Bishop of Cahors. This is why, after having spoken to different councils, I hope that we will take advantage of this Anniversary to return to listening to the teachings of Blessed Alain. He teaches us with his vigorous and profound words … and by his exemplary life, to strive to be courageous, ardent and sober.
Today, as in Alain de Solminihac’s time, devoting his whole life to God involves difficulties. Celibacy according to a sober lifestyle has never been obvious. In the time of Blessed Alain, the choice of becoming a priest, religious or nun, made it possible to ensure material security, thanks to a system of benefits attached to abbeys or dioceses. As a result, in the 17th century, not all consecrated persons had internalised, the spiritual conditions, for living in accordance with their state and the clergy did not always give a good testimony. It is in this context, that Blessed Alain would become a “reformer”, that is to say, a demanding promoter of coherence between vocation and lifestyle.
Alain de Solminihac put spirituality and fidelity to the duties linked to the received mission first. “You must follow the good pleasure of God as soon as you know it , he wrote, and accomplish it by immediately turning your eyes to God, remaining in a simple expectation to receive another sign or command, without wasting time delight in the satisfaction of having accomplished this adorable Will of God.”
The requirements of Blessed Alain sometimes provoked reactions of opposition but they also attracted many young people, happy to give themselves, in a way that made sense and above all, pushed by the Holy Spirit who wanted this for the Church. His motto was Faith and Valour! and he lived up to it!
It is clearly a current need to relaunch the call to specific vocations (priests, religious, nuns, consecrated). The desire to give all of one’s life to follow Christ, exists in many young people (recent statistics prove it) but this is seldom realised, as we can see.
The priests and seminarians of our Diocese are deeply attached to Our Lady of Rocamadour, who played an often decisive role in their engagement. Blessed Alain fought with all the vigour of his temper, to keep this sanctuary in the Diocese of Cahors. We are therefore grateful to him for these graces which, by the will of God, reflect from the pierced heart of Christ, to our local Church. Blessed Alain considered Rocamadour to be the most famous Marian place in the kingdom . He was very attached to Mary who, he explains, “had more humility than all the other saints, because, holier than the others, she had a more perfect knowledge of the excellence of God and by consequence of her own nothingness. “
May Blessed Alain de Solminihac help us to share his missionary ardour and his discreet humility.”
Quote/s of the Day – 27 December – Feast of St John the Evangelist and the Third Day of the Christmas Octave
“John’s God-illumined mind, conceived the incomparable height of divine wisdom, when he reclined on the Redeemer’s breast, during the holy Last Supper meal (Jn 13:25). And because “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3) are within the heart of Jesus, it is from there, that he drew and from there, that he greatly enriched our wretchedness, as people who are poor and generously distributed these goods, taken from their source, for the salvation of the whole world. And because this blessed John speaks about God in a marvellous way, that cannot be compared to that of anyone else, it is only right that the Greeks as well as the Latins have given him the name of “Theologian”. Mary is “Theotokos” because she has truly given birth to God; John is “Theologos” because he saw in an indescribable way, that the Word of God, was with the Father before the beginning of time and was God (Jn 1:1) and because, too, he spoke about this, with extraordinary depth.”
St Peter Damian (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church
“If Moses, after having conversed with God in the cloud, came from the Divine interview with rays of miraculous light encircling his head, how radiant must have been the face of St John, which had rested on the very Heart of Jesus, in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [Col. ii 3] how sublime his writings! how Divine his teaching!”
“Then too, as Son and Guardian of Mary, thou hast to present us to thine own and our Mother. Ask her to give us, somewhat of the tender love, wherewith she watches over the Crib of her Divine Son, to see in us, the Brothers of that Child she bore and to admit us, to a share of the maternal affection, she had for thee, the favoured confidant of the secrets of her Jesus.”
Thought for the Day – Saturday of Advent 21 December
Mary visits Elizabeth
Saint Ambrose of Milan (340-397)
Great Latin Father and Doctor of the Church
An excerpt from A Commentary on Luke, Book 2
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, laborious 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, it’s 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.
Quote/s of the Day – Saturday of Advent 21 December, Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14, Psalm 24:1-6, Luke 1:26-38 and The Memorial of St Peter Canisius (1521-1597) Doctor of the Church
God who is mighty, has done great things for me, holy is his name…
“While remaining the Mother of our Judge, Mary is a mother to us, full of mercy. She constitutes our protection. She keeps us close to Christ and she faithfully takes, the matter of our salvation, into her charge.”
Advent Reflection – The Weekdays of Advent – 20 December, Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14, Psalm 24:1-6, Luke 1:26-38
The Lord is at hand, come, let us adore Him.
And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” … Luke 1:34
REFLECTION – “Tell us, blessed David, how [the Word] descended. “He came down as rain upon the fleece, and as drops that water the earth.” (Ps 71:6 LXX). (…) It remains to discuss how the rain descends upon the fleece and how the drops flow out over the earth. (…)
The rain descends upon the fleece without sound, without movement, without any cleavage or division. It is gently poured out, peacefully received, sweetly drunk. Thus the drops gradually, little by little, spread over the earth falling down so wonderfully and so gently that their coming is scarcely perceived and as they depart, they bring forth the shoots. In the same way, the rain coming from beyond, above the heavenly waters, came down into the Virgin’s womb without human act, with no movement of concupiscence, her integrity unimpaired, the seal of her virginity still locked. Gently was it poured, calmly received, ineffably made flesh. It came drop by drop upon her soil, unseen as it entered and, as it departed, plainly going forth. (…)
We have told how the Word of God came down. Where He came down is made clear in like manner, for 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) Bishop, Cistercian Monk – On the praises of the Blessed Mary, homily III, SC 72
MEDITATION – ” Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” … Psalm 24:3-4
ADVENT ACTION – “O my Jesus, I am weak, grant me strength against temptation. I am infirm, I hope that Your precious blood will be my medicine. I am a sinner but I hope that Your grace will make me a saint. I acknowledge that I have co-operated with my own ruin but this day, I promise always, to call upon You and in this way co-operate with Your grace.” … St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
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.
Thought for the Day – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December – Readings: Jeremiah 23:5-8, Psalm 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19, Matthew 1:18-24
When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph … Matthew 1:18
Saint Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450)
Bishop of Ravenna, Father and Doctor of the Church
Sermon 146, on Mt 1:18
“His mother, Mary, was betrothed.” It should have been enough to say: Mary was betrothed. What can a betrothed mother mean? If she is a mother then she isn’t betrothed, if she is betrothed, then she isn’t yet a mother! “His mother, Mary, was betrothed” – betrothed by virginity, mother by fecundity. This was a mother without experience of a man but who yet experienced motherhood. How could she not be a mother before she had conceived who, after giving birth, remains both virgin and mother? When was she not a mother, she who is about to conceive Him, who set in motion, the time that gives things their beginning?
Why was the mystery of heavenly innocence given to a betrothed girl and not to a virgin who was still free? Why did a fiancé’s jealousy put his betrothed in peril? Why should such great virtue appear to be sin or salvation to be eternal danger?… What mystery exercises us in all this, my brethren? There is not a stroke, a letter, a syllable, a word, a name, a person in all the Gospel that is empty of Divine significance.
A betrothed girl was chosen that the Church, Christ’s betrothed, might also be signified according to the word of the prophet Hosea: “I will betroth you to me in right and justice, in love and mercy; I will betroth you in fidelity” (Hos 2:21-22). That is why John said: “The one who has the bride is the Bridegroom” (Jn 3:29). And Saint Paul: “I betrothed you to one Spouse to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11:2).
O Church, true spouse, who through the virginal birth [of baptism] conceives a new infancy from Christ!