Our Morning Offering – 18 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception”and also the Feast of Our Lady of Expectation
O Purest of Creatures, Sweet Mother, Sweet Maid ByFr Frederick W Faber C.Orat. (1814-1863)
O Purest of creatures, sweet Mother, sweet maid, The one spotless womb wherein Jesus was laid! Dark night hath come down on us, Mother! and we Look out for thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea!
Deep night hath come down on this rough-spoken world, And the banners of darkness are boldly unfurled; And the tempest-tossed Church,— all her eyes are on thee; They look to thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea!
He gazed on thy soul, it was spotless and fair, For the empire of sin—it had never been there; None ever had owned thee, dear Mother but He. And He blest thy clear shining, sweet Star of the Sea!
Earth gave Him one lodging; t’was deep in thy breast, And God found a home where the sinner finds rest; His home and His hiding-place, both were in thee, He was won by thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea!
Raised in the Church of England, Frederick W Faber (born at Calverley, Yorkshire, England, 1814 and died Kensington, London, England, 1863) came from a Huguenot and strict Calvinistic family background. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford and ordained in the Church of England in 1839. Influenced by the teaching of John Henry Newman, Faber followed Newman into the Roman Catholic Church in 1845 and served under Newman’s supervision in the Oratory of St Philip Neri. Fr Faber wrote 150 hymns for the use of the Catholic faithful. One of his best known is , “Faith of Our Fathers.”
Our Lady of the Expectation – This Feast originated in Spain. When the Feast of the Annunciation (25 March) was transferred to 18 December because of the regulation forbidding Feasts in Lent, it remained on this date after the Annunciation was again celebrated on its original date. It impressed on the faithful, the sentiments of the Blessed Virgin as the time of her delivery approached.
St Malachi the Prophet St Mawnan of Cornwall Bl Miguel San Román Fernández St Phaolô Nguyen Van My St Phêrô Truong Van Ðuong St Phêrô Vu Van Truat Bl Philip of Ratzeburg St Rufus of Philippi St Samthann of Clonbroney St Theotimus of Laodicea
Martyrs of Northwest Africa – 42 saints: Mercedarian Redeemers – 6 beati – These are a group of Mercedarian friars who worked together, under the leadership of Saint Peter de Amer, to ransom (e.g., redeem) prisoners and minister to them after.
Thought for the Day – 18 December – The Memorial of Our Lady of Expectation
The Gospel message on this feast relates the story of the Annunciation. God asks a woman, His creature for a favour to be Mother of His Son and at the same time, He respects her freedom. She is free to say “yes” or “no.” There is a moment of waiting in heaven and on earth – God waits for her answer, the heavenly messenger waits for her answer, the first parents Adam and Eve wait for her answer, all confined in hell wait for her answer. With grateful heart, we thank Mary, the Wise and Prudent Virgin, for saying “yes” to God on our behalf. Her simple words: “Let what you have said be done to me” (Lk 1:38) brought down to us the Saviour and has changed the world forever . She obeyed the Angel, not the Devil and thus she pleased God – “Blessed are you because of your belief that the promise made to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk 1:45).
At the offertory, the Church blesses “Our Lady of Expectation” with the Angel’s greeting “Rejoice, so highly favoured. The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:29); “Of all women you are the most blessed and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk 1:42). Mary is doubly blessed – in her virginity and motherhood and thus stands as an ideal and inspiration for every woman single or married. Her virginal womb is blessed with the Divine Life. She is the Mother of every child ever conceived under the mother’s heart. What an example she offers to all expectant mothers to welcome, to nurture life and to bring it to the full maturity of Christ’s humanity. At the same time, we must pray for the end of abortion, the greatest evil in our days and to promote the civilisation of love and family life.
The Holy Virgin Mary, “Our Lady of Expectation”, is a great educator of the Christian family. Christmas is a family celebration. We all want to be home for Christmas. She teaches us how to love and enjoy our own humanity and the humanity of her Son, we celebrate on Christmas Day.
The Feast of Our Lady of Expectation – 18 December
Like a secret told by angels, getting known upon the earth, is the Mother’s expectation of Messiah’s speedy birth.
Fr F W Faber (1814-1863) “Our Lady’s Expectations”
One of the most inspiring days preceding Christmas is the feast of “Our Lady of Expectation,” unknown to many today but still kept alive in many countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy and Poland as well as in a few religious orders. In older editions of missals, this feast is still listed as a votive Mass. The feast is celebrated on the 18 December, a week before Christmas Day.
Our Blessed Lady, well advanced in pregnancy, is portrayed in the highest dignity of her Divine Motherhood. Dressed in royal apparel as daughter of David the King, she awaits with joy the arrival of her divine Son, the Prince of Peace. Her whole posture suggests how she remains wholly consumed in contemplation of her Son under her heart. Her immaculate womb has become a living portable sanctuary of divinity. There are special prayers and novenas to “Our Lady of Expectation” available for women who cannot conceive or bear a child.
We can try to imagine what those nine months were like for The Blessed Virgin, knowing that the Lord grew within her, was one with her. We can only begin to understand the patience she had to possess, looking forward to both the glory and joy of the divine birth. We experience these same feelings—albeit to a lesser extent, no doubt—during this Advent season of preparation. We examine our lives and look forward to the saving grace of our Lord, as mediated by Our Blessed Mother. While the Lord’s plan was first enacted at the moment Mary was conceived without sin and made manifest to the Blessed Virgin at the Annunciation, it was made evident to the world at the moment of the Nativity. Prior to that, Mary had seen and heard what others had not and she had only one more week to anticipate the arrival of her son, Our Lord, the Redeemer of the World!
Our Blessed Mother was the original tabernacle, in which the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Saint Augustine wrote that Mary conceived the Word in her heart before she conceived the Word in her flesh—that as she anticipated the birth of Jesus, her faith grew simultaneously. The second Vatican Council declared that during the time of her pregnancy, the heart of the Incarnate Word beat gently below her immaculate heart – two immaculate hearts, beating silently and prayerfully as one.
We can imagine Mary’s nine-month journey as one of wonder and anticipation but given the circumstances she found herself in, we also know of her difficult journey, the doubts of Saint Joseph, the anxiety that she must have experienced during that time. But Our Blessed Mother demonstrated not only patience but also forbearance and deep trust in the Lord. She knew the road would not be easy—in fact, that her joy would almost certainly be linked to suffering throughout her life—but in hope and confidence placed her life in the Lord’s hands. As she prepared for the birth of Jesus, Mary emptied herself, allowing her body and soul to be filled with the grace and spirit of the Lord. During Advent, we pray for a similar experience, that we might approach the birth of Our Saviour with hope and confidence.
The votive Mass of “Our Lady of Expectation” is theologically enlightening and spiritually enriching for the time of Advent and Christmas. With the entrance antiphon, the Church prays with the prophet for the coming of the Just One from heaven that the earth may be ready to welcome the Saviour: “Send victory like a dew, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the just. Let the earth open for salvation to spring up” (Is 45:8).
In the opening prayer, the Church offers the prayer to God through Mary’s intercession: “O God who wished that your Word would take the flesh from the womb of the Virgin as announced by the Angel and whom we confess to be the true Mother of God, may we be helped by her intercession.”
Our Lady of the Expectation – This Feast originated in Spain. When the feast of the Annunciation (25 March) was transferred to 18 December because of the regulation forbidding feasts in Lent, it remained on this date after the Annunciation was again celebrated on its original date. It impressed on the faithful the sentiments of the Blessed Virgin as the time of her delivery approached.
St Malachi the Prophet
St Mawnan of Cornwall
Bl Miguel San Román Fernández
St Phaolô Nguyen Van My
St Phêrô Truong Van Ðuong
St Phêrô Vu Van Truat
Bl Philip of Ratzeburg
St Rufus of Philippi
St Samthann of Clonbroney
St Theotimus of Laodicea
St Winebald of Heidenheim
St Zosimus of Philippi
Martyrs of Northwest Africa – 42 saints:
Mercedarian Redeemers – 6 beati – These are a group of Mercedarian friars who worked together, under the leadership of Saint Peter de Amer, to ransom (e.g., redeem) prisoners and minister to them after.