Our Morning Offering – 11 December – Wednesday of the Second week of Advent, Year A
Grant us Your Light, O Lord By The Venerable St Bede (673-735) Father and Doctor of the Church
Grant us Your light, O Lord,
so that the darkness of our hearts,
may wholly pass away
and we may come at last,
to the light of Christ.
For Christ is that morning star,
who, when the night of this world has passed,
brings to His saints,
the promised light of life
and opens to them,
Our Morning Offering – 6 December – Friday of the First week of Advent, Year A
A 10th Century Catholic Advent Prayer
You are our eternal salvation,
The unfailing light of the world.
You are truly our redemption.
Grieving that the human race was perishing
through the tempter’s power,
without leaving the heights
You came to the depths
in Your loving kindness.
Readily taking our humanity
by Your gracious will,
You saved all earthly creatures,
long since lost,
Restoring joy to the world.
Redeem our souls and bodies, O Christ,
and so possess us as Your shining dwellings.
By Your first coming, make us righteous;
At Your second coming, set us free:
So that, when the world is filled with light
and You judge all things,
We may be clad in spotless robes
and follow in Your steps, O King,
Into the heavenly hall.
Our Morning Offering – 5 December – Thursday of the First week of Advent, Year A
Advent Prayer – God of Hope
God of hope,
who brought love into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope,
who brought peace into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope,
who brought joy into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope,
the rock we stand upon,
be the centre, the focus of our lives
always and particularly this Advent time.
who is our hope,
in union with the Holy Spirit,
one God forever,
Our Morning Offering – 13 December – Monday of the First week of Advent, Year A
DAILY ADVENT PRAYER By Fr Henri J M Nouwen (1932-1996)
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send Your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We, who have so much to do, seek quiet spaces
to hear Your voice each day.
We, who are anxious over many things
look forward to Your coming among us.
We, who are blessed in so many ways
long for the complete joy of Your kingdom.
We, whose hearts are heavy
seek the joy of Your presence.
We, are Your people,
walking in darkness,
yet seeking the light.
To You we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”
Our Morning Offering for the Souls in Purgatory – 16 November – Saturday of the Thirty Second week in Ordinary Time, Year C
Prayer for the Faithful Departed By St John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
Meditations and Devotions of the Late Cardinal Newman
O God of the Spirits of all flesh,
O Jesu, Lover of souls,
we recommend unto Thee,
the souls of all those Thy servants,
who have departed with the sign of faith
and sleep the sleep of peace.
We beseech Thee, O Lord and Saviour,
that, as in Thy mercy to them,
Thou became man,
so now, Thou would hasten the time
and admit them to Thy Presence above…
May the heavens be opened to them
and the Angels rejoice with them …
May all the Saints and elect of God,
who in this world suffered torments
for Thy Name, befriend them,
that, being freed from the prison beneath,
they may be admitted into the glories of that Kingdom,
where, with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
Thou lives and reigns,
one God, world without end …
Eternal rest give to them, O Lord.
And may perpetual light shine on them.
Thought for the Day – 13 November – St Stanislaus Kostka SJ (1550-1568) Jesuit Novice and the Month of the Holy Souls
Stanislaus kept a journal during his novitiate. His notes, for one so young, reflect a great understanding of the need to constantly prepare for death. Here are a few excerpts:
“Consider how hard it is for a person to be separated from any place he has loved deeply. How much harder the soul will find it when the time comes to leave the mortal body, its companion so dear. And the great fear it will experience in that moment, because its salvation is at stake and it must stand in the presence of the one it has so offended. If the just man will scarcely be saved, what about me a sinner?
But think of the great joy the good will feel, at the thought of the service they’ve paid to God. They will be glad, because they’ve suffered something for love of Him back there and didn’t fix their hope and attention on the things of this world, that we leave so soon. Think of the joy that the soul will feel, in its escape from the prison of this body. So long has it lived in perpetual exile, expelled from its own heavenly home. How much greater it’s uncontainable joy and complete satisfaction when it arrives in its own country, to enjoy the vision of God, with the angels and the blessed.
I am so ashamed and confused, because I see how many have been lost, on account of a single mortal sin and how many times, I have deserved eternal damnation.
I shall reflect on myself and ask: “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?”
Nine months into his novitiate he became very sick. Saint Stanislaus had drawn as his monthly patron for August the glorious martyr Saint Lawrence and in his honour he performed daily some penance or devotion. On the eve of his feast, he obtained leave to take the discipline, in the morning he went to Communion and then laid before the image of the saint a letter addressed to Our Lady, in which he begged that he might die on her Feast of the Assumption and he prayed Saint Lawrence to present to her his petition.
That night he was seized with a slight fever, which, however, rapidly increased and on Assumption Eve, he received the last sacraments. Then, as he lay dying, he had brought to him a little book containing a litany in his own writing of his monthly patron saints, whom he constantly invoked. At 3 a.m. on the Feast of the Assumption, he face suddenly lit up with joy and he breathed forth his soul to the Mother of God, who had come to conduct him to heaven. His confidence in the Blessed Virgin, which had already brought him many signal favours, was this time again rewarded. And shortly afterward he died. Stanislaus was only seventeen years old when he “arrived in his own country to enjoy the vision of God.”
The entire city proclaimed him a saint and people hastened from all parts to venerate his remains and to obtain, if possible, some relics.
Let us raise this prayer to God
God of infinite mercy, we entrust to Your immense goodness all those who have left this world for eternity, where You wait for all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Your Son, who died as a ransom for our sins. Look not, O Lord, on our poverty, our suffering, our human weakness, when we appear before You, to be judged for joy or for condemnation. Look upon us with mercy, born of the tenderness of Your heart and help us to walk in the ways of complete purification.
Pope Francis – Angelus, 2 November 2014
St Stanislaus Kostka, Pray for Us, still in exile and for all the souls in Purgatory, who long to arrive too, in their own country!
Saint of the Day – 30 September – Saint Gregory the Illuminator (c 257 – c 331) – “Apostle to Armenia” and “Father of Armenia”- Bishop, First Patriarch of the Armenian Church, Missionary, Wonder-worker – born Grigor Lusavorich in c 257 and died in c 331 of natural causes. Also known as Gregory the Enlightener. Patronage – Armenia.
The life of Saint Gregory was first recounted in a biography dating to c 460 and the more or less contemporary History of the Armenians by Agathangelos. The saint’s was born in and around Parthia between 239 to 257. He was the son of Anak Partev the Parthian, who, being in the pay of the rival Sasanian Empire in Persia (224-651), infamously murdered the Armenian king Khosrov of Kadj. The Lusavorich family was both wealthy and influential but they were all wiped out by the revenging relatives of Khosrov. Fortunately for Gregory, he, the sole survivor of the purge, was whisked away by his nanny to the safety of Cappadoccia.
Gregory was raised as a Christian and attended a Greek Christian school. On returning to Armenia, Gregory gained a position as a palace functionary at the court of the Armenian king. There he protested the pagan religion of the period and refused to participate in its rites. The reigning monarch was Tiridates IV (Trdat III or IV), or Tiridates the Great as he would become known and he had the troublesome Gregory imprisoned, tortured and thrown into the terrible Khor Virap prison at Artashat. Known as the “pit of oblivion,” nobody ever returned from Khor Virap.
When out hunting, Tiridates often behaved like a beast, hence the legend that he was transformed into a boar. A King, who was loved by his people and especially his sister, Khosrovidought, tried in vain to return him to his senses. Khosrovidought had a dream, seeing Gregory coming out of the dungeon and healing her brother! This was especially ironic, as the illness had only manifested itself following the king’s orders to murder a group of Christian nuns who had fled persecution in Rome. Khosrovidought told the people at the Court of her dream and revealed that Gregory was living and was the only man in the world who could cure the King. As Tiridat’s condition worsened his courtiers went to the pit and to their great surprise heard a feeble “yes” to the question: “Gregory, are you still alive?” For St Gregory had been in the pit for 13 years! They lowered the rope and out came a man with a long beard and soiled clothes. But his darkened face was wrapped in an aura of light. After dressing him properly,they took him to the presence of Tiridat. Moved by a powerful force which he could not control, Tiridat knelt down before his prisoner. Gregory, putting his hands on the King’s head, prayed for him. There,upon Tiridat was cured and became a new man. He said to Gregory: “Your God is my Go, your religion is my religion.” Gregory lifted him up and embraced him. From that moment, until their death, they remained faithful friends and worked together, each in his own way for the establishment of the Kingdom of God in Armenia, beginning in the year 301.
Gregory first converted the people in the capital city and in its neighbourhood. There were no bishops or clergymen left in the country, because of the severe persecutions by Tiridat. Thus, Gregory could not find people in holy orders to baptise the neophytes. Gregory himself was still a layman. Therefore, the Royal Council decided to send Gregory back to Cæsarea to be ordained as a Priest and then Bishop of Armenia.
Armenia did became a Christian state and it was a momentous moment in the country’s history as the historian RG Hovannisian here explains:
“The conversion of Armenia to Christianity was probably the most crucial step in its history. It turned Armenia sharply away from its Iranian past and stamped it for centuries with an intrinsic character, as clear to the native population, as to those outside its borders, who identified Armenia almost at once as the first state to adopt Christianity.”
Armenia thus became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion.
As soon as Gregory returned to Armenis as the first Bishop (Katholikos) he set about formally establishing the Christian Church. Tiridates gave Saint Gregory up to 15 provinces of territory to establish the Armenian Church. The old pagan temples were torn down and the sites were converted to Christian ones and the whole nation was obliged to embrace the new faith. Churches and monasteries sprang up everywhere, including at the Khor Virap, Gregory’s home for so long, which was eventually converted into a monastery. The Armenian aristocracy quickly followed the royal family’s example and many noble families converted to Christianity.
Later in life, Gregory retired to the seclusion of the cave of Mane in northwestern Armenia where he lived as an ascetic. Gregory died there of old age around 331. The former bishop’s remains were buried at Tordan on the Euphrates River in the western province of Daranaghik, although later his bones would become prized relics in various churches across the country.
St Gregory governed the Armenian Church for about 25 years. He diligently worked for the internal organisation of the Church. His descendants carried on his work, notably his younger son Aristakes, who, known for his asceticism, was the next bishop and who attended the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 as St Gregory was too old.
Many Churches were built in his honour but perhaps the most celebrated was the cathedral at Ani built by the great architect Trdat for King Gagik (1001-1010).
He is commemorated as a Canonised Saint by all the ancient churches of the East and of the West, including the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches. The Armenian Church has set aside three holy days in honour of St Gregory, commemorating three of the main events of his life – firstly, his sufferings and entrance into the dungeon, secondly, His release from the dungeon and the conversion of Armenia to Christianity, thirdly, the discovery of his relics.
On St Pope John Paul II’s historic trip in 2001 to Armenia to mark the 1700thof the conversion of the Armenian nation to Christianity, he became inspired by a visit to Khor-Virab where Saint Gregory was confined. As a result, a statue of Saint Gregory the Illuminator now stands (unveiled on 19 January 2005) in the Vatican’s last remaining niche along the walls of Saints leading to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Almost 2,5 metres tall, it is situate at the site where visitors wait to climb the cupola. Thousands of visitors now wait under the gentle gaze of St Gregory the Illuminator of Armenia. See the Statue below.
On 26 June 2016, Pope Francis visited Armenia and made a special pilgrimage to the Church and Monastery, where St Gregory’s pit was located. It is here, in one of the Armenian Church’s most sacred places, that Francis concluded his trip. After being welcomed by the Monastery’s superior, the he and the Pope made their way down the small stairs to the room where St Gregory had been held in captivity for 13 years. There, they lit a candle in veneration. They then entered the adjacent chapel in procession and prayed in Armenian and in Italian. Finally, the Pope and Abbot Karekin went out onto the terrace overlooking Ararat and released two doves, in the direction of the Biblical mountain, which is now beyond the border in Turkey.