MARY, OUR MOTHER

Saturday, March 31, 2007


Holy Week Readings and

Thanksgiving Prayer

by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.

www.crossroadsinitiative.com

Holy Week, the annual remembrance of the Lord's suffering, death, and resurrection, has always been the most important event of the Christian calendar right from the beginning. The early Christians observed the special days of Holy Week in a spirit of prayerful gratitude, overwhelmed by how far God was willing to go to bring us back to Himself. They were particularly amazed by the way the events of Jesus' death and final victory were so mysteriously prefigured in the Old Testament.

In order to enrich our own Holy Week prayer, we've printed selections below from two ancient Holy Week homilies, followed by a special Holy Week thanksgiving prayer appropriate for either personal or corporate use. May these resources serve to deepen our appreciation of the wisdom and love displayed in the Father's marvelous plan of salvation! For more free Holy Week/Triduum resources, visit the Lent and Holy Week section of The Crossroads Initiative Library.

Saint Ephrem on Holy Week, Early Church FatherSt. Ephrem (A Syrian deacon who wrote around 360 A.D.)

Our Lord subjected his might, and they seized him,

so that through his living death he might give life to Adam.

He gave his hands to be pierced by nails

to make up for the hand which plucked the fruit.

He was struck on his cheek in the judgment room

to make up for the mouth that ate in Eden.

And while Adam's foot was free, his feet were pierced.

Our Lord was stripped that we might be clothed.

With the gall and vinegar he sweetened

the poison of the serpent which had bitten men.

St. Melito (a Holy Week sermon from the Bishop of Sardis given around 170 A.D.)

Holy Week remembers the Passion of Jesus Christ Crucified

This is the one who patiently endured many things in many people:

This is the one who was murdered in Abel, and bound as a sacrifice in Isaac,

and exiled in Jacob, and sold in Joseph,

and exposed in Moses, and sacrificed in the lamb,

and hunted down in David, and dishonored in the prophets.

This is the one who became human in a virgin,

who was hanged on the tree, who was buried in the earth,

who was resurrected from among the dead,

and who raised mankind up out of the grave below to the heights of heaven.

The one who hung the earth in space, is himself hanged;

the one who fixed the heavens in place, is himself impaled;

the one who firmly fixed all things, is himself firmly fixed to the tree.

The Lord is insulted, God has been murdered,

the King of Israel has been destroyed by the right hand of Israel.

This is the lamb that was slain. This is the lamb that was silent.

This is the one who was taken from the flock, and was dragged to sacrifice,

and was killed in the evening, and was buried at night;

the one who was not broken while on the tree,

who did not see dissolution while in the earth.

who rose up from the dead, and who raised up mankind from the grave below.

A Thanksgiving Prayer For Use During Holy Week

Adam, Jesus, Holy Week, EasterFather of Mercy and Salvation,

As you planted the tree of life in the Garden of Eden, so you have planted the cross of your Son in the New Paradise, replacing the tree that brought us death with the gracious tree that brings us life.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As you judged the earth by water and saved Noah by means of the ark, so you judged the world in the water of your Son's pierced side, and saved a remnant through the wood of his cross.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As Abraham's only son, the son he loved, bore to Moriah the wood of his sacrifice, so your only Son, the beloved Son, bore his cross to Golgotha, that the blessing of Abraham might be given to the world.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

Jospeh Coat of many colors

As Joseph was sold by his brothers and reckoned as dead, yet was raised in glory to the King's right hand, so you Son was delivered to death by his brothers and raised in glory by your Spirit to rule at your side.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As the blood of the lamb turned away the angel of death and delivered Israel from Pharaoh's reign, so the blood of your Son has saved us from death and delivered us from bondage to Satan and the world.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies with blood to atone for the sins of the people, so your Son entered the true Holy Place and presented the blood that atones for the sins of the world.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

Moses, Exodus, 40 Days of Lent

As Moses raised the serpent in the wilderness to heal those who suffered for their sin, so the Son of Man was lifted up on the cross to bear our sin and make us whole.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

As Jonah lay three days in the belly of the whale, and was raised from death to preach repentance to the Gentiles, so your Son was raised from the bowels of the earth to reconcile all nations to yourself.

Response: Glory to you, O Lord.

For the Seven Last Words of Jesus, CLICK HERE -

To prepare your heart for Holy Week, be sure to check out Triduum, Suggestions for Personal Prayer.

For more Holy Week & Easter Readings and Reflections please visit The Lent and Holy Week, and the Early Church Fathers sections of The Crossroads Intiiative Library.


Download and Print Noah's Ark and Lent

To download and print His Death is our Hope by St. Augustine - Click here!

For more Catholic resources to feed your faith, visit the Crossroads Initiative Homepage.



THE LIFE IN NAZARETH

4. Routine.
Yet, there is a difficulty to be avoided. If want of order begets inconstancy, too strict an adherence to order might bring about mechanical routine, namely, the doing of things out of mere, machine-like, robot-like habit.

And this, of course, leads to indifference, to spiritual lukewarmness, to the doing of things without relish and without profit. Do not, consequently, mistake mechanical automatic routine for order.

Your advancement will be great if you do with real fervor whatever you do out of rule. Mechanical routine does to our spiritual life what the moth does to clothes. It spoils everything. A great part of the merit of our actions--and sometimes the whole of their merit--vanishes on account of this accursed mechanical routine.

Look at Our Lady in Nazareth. Order, method, rule, exactness and perseverance prevailed there. But there was no mechanical routine. Why? Because She always kept in the presence of Jesus. The presence of God and the presence of Mary are the great means of combating thoughtless routine.


Friday, March 30, 2007



THE LIFE IN NAZARETH

3. Perseverance.
As a consequence of what we said before you can see the necessity of perseverance. Inconstancy springs up from want of order. Are you not persuaded that perseverance is an essential element of love? Love which lasts but a few days, love which is fickle and whimsical is not real love.

Take then, the pulse of your perseverance and you will be able to measure your love. You will then realize that in order to be constant you must abide by a rule and be subject to order. Make that the test of your loyalty.

Thursday, March 29, 2007



One Date for Easter for all Christians - Make your voice heard!

The Resurrection is at the centre of the Christian faith, without it there is no Christianity. However, nearly every year, Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox celebrate Easter on different dates, sometimes as much as five weeks apart! The feast of love for Christians should be celebrated on the same date. There is One faith, One God, One Messiah, One Holy Spirit and we have 2 dates for Easter!!! This is a scandal! Jesus says in TLIG he wants His Passion and Resurrection celebrated on ONE DATE ! He asks us to pray for this.

If you do not understand why Jesus wants Easter celebrated on one date for all denominations click on the link and read about it on this new website: www.onedate.org.

This new website aims to collect 1 million signatures and we have a long way to go!!! Sign the petition and send it to your friends. If those of us who read TLIG do not take action and all get at least 10 other people to sign this petition...who will take action? We have to act. We must understand, we need to understand what Unity is about. A house divided cannot stand! Click read and sign now.



THE LIFE IN NAZARETH

2. Life of Order.
This is the first thing that you must consider in Nazareth: the order that reigns supreme in the Family. Contemplate Joseph through his toil and labor, the bread-winner of the Family. But it was the Mother who directed and regulated everything; and how admirably She did it!

Order means everything in its place and every action being subjected to a rule and to a purpose. To act prompted by pleasure or displeasure is not order. Order demands that we do everything at its proper time, whether with pleasure or with fatigue, whether we like it or dislike it, duty being our sole concern. If you are just pushed around by your inclinations and led by your impressions, one day you might be enthusiastic and the next day tepid. Then you will not feel like doing anything and whatever you do will probably be done badly, ungracefully and unwillingly. Is this not often the case? Now watch the example of Our Heavenly Mother. She aways does Her duty, fulfilling exactly at every moment what She is expected to do.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Wednesday, March 28, 2007



Meditation 50

THE LIFE IN NAZARETH

1. Outstanding Model.
The life of the Holy Family in Nazareth was apparently ordinary, hidden, of no special value. There is nothing in it to attract the attention of the world. Their neighbors take no notice of them. There is nothing in it spectacular and glamorous. Only silence, obscurity, the uneventful routine of ordinary life. Reflect, however, that in Nazareth you have a school of sanctity. That little home in Nazareth is the studio where all great virtues are shaped. There you find all which on earth is great and beautiful in the sight of God. All the saints have gone to Nazareth for lessons. No life of perfection is possible unless based on the study and imitation of Nazareth.

On the other hand reflect that Nazareth contains the greatest part of the life of Jesus. He is Our Master and Model, but while He acted as Master only for three years He was Model for about thirty. He wanted to teach us as much with His practical life as with His teaching. Nothing should then be more familiar to you than the life of Nazareth. There you will find a solution for every problem. Ask yourself indeed, whether you often remember the hidden life of Nazareth, whether you are fond of it, whether you daily devote thought to the life of fervor which prevailed in the little house of Nazareth.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Tuesday, March 27, 2007



Sr. Lucia’s convent needs help

The Carmelite convent in which Sr. Lucia of Fatima spent most of her life needs help finishing a museum dedicated to her life and message before May 13, the anniversary of Fatima. This March 28 would have been her 100th birthday, so there is special significance to finishing the museum this year.
Information on how you can help is at the link above.


IN EXILE

3. The Return.
One fine day the Angel appeared again and ordered Them to return. Herod is dead. Everything is over. Why do you not oftener think that everything passes; that all comes to an end? Very prudently however, St. Joseph does not want to return to Bethlehem lest Archaelaus, the son of Herod, were just like his father. Again the Angel appears to him and tells him that he has done the right thing. They should remain in Nazareth.

Prudence has never been an enemy of obedience. Express your desires and your difficulties with humility and then like St. Joseph wait with holy indifference for an answer. But do not stick stubbornly to your views. Do not grow disgusted or angry if Superiors do not give way to you. Prudence, yes, but at the same time submission.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Monday, March 26, 2007



IN EXILE

2. In Egypt.
They arrived at last; but where, it is not known. We may suppose that They did not remain in the first frontier post. They would probably wait a few days before taking a decision. They would enquire and take Their bearings.

Perhaps Joseph or Our lady received guidance as to where God wanted Them to stay. Or maybe He left that matter to Their own discernment, as He often does in order that man may exercise the virtue of prudence. But finally Their abode was fixed in the vicinity of Heliopolis, where some other Jewish families had settled.

Now stop to consider the emergency dwelling of the Holy Family. In Bethlehem They had a home, poor though it was. Joseph had his workshop there. But now they have nothing. They must beg for whatever They need. Contemplate Our Heavenly Mother reduced to the condition of a beggar. They had nothing and They had to beg for everything.

They would probably tell the people about Their misfortune, about Herod's persecution from which They had run away. And the Jewish families of the neighborhood, touched by the story, would perhaps take Them into their house until They could find a better place. Later on, little by little, and by dint of sacrifice They would manage to set up Their little house and even a small workshop for Joseph and then They would live on his work.

Come, offer your heart again as a shelter to Our Blessed Lady. Envy those good people who were able to console and help the Holy Family in their tribulations. Why do you also not try to be a consoler of Jesus, of Joseph and of Mary whenever They go about unsuccessfully looking for souls wherein to take shelter? Do you not see that this would bring the greatest happiness into your heart?

Lastly, see how God, whilst allowing this trial, fills Them with consolation. They labor, They toil, They suffer, but with joy and confidence in God. Their stay in Egypt lasted several years. It is evident that there it was that Jesus showed the first charms of His childhood. There He muttered His first words. There He called Our Lady for the first time "Mother." There He uttered the first prayers that She taught Him; and how Our Lady would fall into ecstasies on seeing Her Son join His little hands and pray with great fervor and devotion! There He put on His first childish tunic. There He played His first games on the banks of the Nile River. Often He brought Our Lady a bunch of flowers, receiving from Her in return an ardent kiss. What consolations Our Lord pours on the souls that sacrifice themselves for Him. No mother had ever suffered so much, but there was no happier Mother than Mary.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]



THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
[Transferred]

Every year this feast recalls anew Mary's reply to God's angelic messenger: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word." Mary knew from the Scriptures that the Redeemer would be "led as a sheep to the slaughter" (Isa. 53) for the salvation of mankind; because her will was in total union with God's, she accepted her role in His plan for our salvation. No sooner had she offered her perfect consent than the Second Person of the Holy Trinity took on a human nature, a human body, and took up His abode in Mary's womb, humbly dependent upon her care.

Every work of the Creator is called to perfection, and perfection consists in obedience. The heavens and the earth inevitably announce the glory of God, but to human beings alone God granted a free will to serve Him. At the Annunciation, the obedience of Mary brought Christ down on earth to save fallen humanity. We, too, are called upon to co-operate with the Creator. The glory of God awaits our human word of obedient consent. Like Mary, let us unite our human will with the divine Will, so that Christ will dwell in us too!

Saint Leo the Great

Early Church Father & Doctor of the Church

Saint Leo, The Early Church Fathers, Lent, Fasting, Catholic Church

This excerpt from a letter by St. Leo the Great (Epist. 28 ad Flavianum, 3-4: PL 54, 763-767) is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the Feast (Solemnity) of the Anunciation which usually is celebrated on March 25. St. Leo I, one of the Early Church Fathers, was such an extraordinary teacher that he is one of only a handful of Popes throughout history to have been dubbed "the Great." Here, in his typically lyrical language and powerful imagry, he celebrates the unfathomable mystery of God becoming man in the womb of a Virgin who had the courage to say "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done unto me according to your word." Through the Father's love and Mary's faith, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Lowliness is assumed by majesty, weakness by power, mortality by eternity. To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that was incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in the other.

He who is true God was therefore born in the complete and perfect nature of a true man, whole in his own nature, whole in ours. By our nature we mean what the Creator had fashioned in us from the beginning, and took to himself in order to restore it.

For in the Savior there was no trace of what the deceiver introduced and man, being misled, allowed to enter. It does not follow that because he submitted to sharing in our human weakness he therefore shared in our sins.

He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself visible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.

Thus the Son of God enters this lowly world. He comes down from the throne of heaven, yet does not separate himself from the Father’s glory. He is born in a new condition, by a new birth.

He was born in a new condition, for, invisible in his own nature, he became visible in ours. Beyond our grasp, he chose to come within our grasp. Existing before time began, he began to exist at a moment in time. Lord of the universe, he hid his infinite glory and took the nature of a servant. Incapable of suffering as God, he did not refuse to be a man, capable of suffering. Immortal, he chose to be subject to the laws of death.

He who is true God is also true man. There is no falsehood in this unity as long as the lowliness of man and the pre-eminence of God coexist in mutual relationship.

As God does not change by his condescension, so man is not swallowed up by being exalted. Each nature exercises its own activity, in communion with the other. The Word does what is proper to the Word, the flesh fulfills what is proper to the flesh.

One nature is resplendent with miracles, the other falls victim to injuries. As the Word does not lose equality with the Father’s glory, so the flesh does not leave behind the nature of our race.

One and the same person - this must be said over and over again - is truly the Son of God and truly the son of man. He is God in virtue of the fact that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He is man in virtue of the fact that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

St. Leo the Great was one of the Fathers of the Church. For an overview of these Early Church Fathers by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, click here.

To download and Print "The Mystery of the Incarnation" PDF, Click here.


Sunday, March 25, 2007



Our Lady's Medjugorje Message of March 25, 2007

"Dear children, I desire to thank you from my heart for your Lenten renunciations. I desire to inspire you to continue to live fasting with an open heart. By fasting and renunciation, little children, you will be stronger in faith. In God you will find true peace through daily prayer. I am with you and I am not tired. I desire to take you all with me to Heaven, therefore, decide daily for Holiness. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Once again Our Lady is reminding us how important fasting and sacrifice is to our spiritual life. Through our little offerings, especially abstaining from certain evils in this world; i.e., television, movies, saloons, etc., we will grow in holiness. She also reminds of our obligation to pray daily, even if we are tired. She says, "I am not tired!" Our Lady's not tired of coming to us and assisting us with the graces we need to get to Heaven, we shouldn't be tired of offering a Rosary each day to Her in thanksgiving for these graces that She has obtained from God for us! It's up to us, we have the free will to decide for God or not. Please, dear friends, let us all decide for Heaven!!!
Deacon John



At today's Angelus, the Holy Father spoke about the Incarnation of Christ through the Annunciation to Mary:


Focusing his comments on the Annunciation, the Pope began by telling those present that "The Annunciation, found in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, was a humble, hidden event. Nobody saw it and nobody knew about it except Mary."

Nevertheless, he emphasized, the Annunciation "is at the same time a decisive event in human history."

With this event, the Word of God became incarnate and a "new era of history began." The Holy Father drew a parallel between Mary's "Yes" to the Angel and Jesus' "Yes" to His Father's Will, saying, "The 'Yes' of Mary is a perfect reflection of the Christ's 'Yes' when He enters the world."

This "Yes" can be found in the Letter to the Hebrew's interpretation of Psalm 39, he continued, where it is written that, "I come, O God, to do Thy Will." Because of this, "The Annunciation is also a Christological Feast Day, because it celebrates a central mystery of Christ: His Incarnation."

According to the Pope, "Mary's response to the Angel is undertaken by the Church, which is called to make Christ present throughout history." Additionally, the "Yes" of the Saints, "especially the martyrs," renews the "Yes" of Jesus and Mary. This is why the Church chooses March 24th to "celebrate the Day of Prayer and Penance for Martyr Missionaries."

The Martyr Missionaries, he continued, "are the 'hope of the world' because they testify that Christ's love is stronger than violence and hate." Christian martyrs do not seek to be killed, "but they are ready to give their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel."

The Pope concluded his Angelus address by asking the faithful to contemplate "the Madonna who, on Calvary, is a sign of the 'Yes' given in Nazareth." He then prayed for her intercession, "so that the Church may be faithful to its mission and give the world courageous testimony of the love of God."

Below is an excerpt from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux:


Annunciation and Mary's Fiat--

St Bernard

The Whole World

Awaits Mary's Response

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Bernard,Catholic Church, Love, Doctor of the Church

This excerpt from a homily In Praise of the Virgin Mother by St. Bernard (Hom. 4, 8-9: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 4 [1966], 53-54) is used in the Roman Office of Readings on December 20, in the fourth week of Advent, but it is also a great reading for the Solemnity (Feast) of the Annunciation of the Lord on March 25. Bernard dramatically celebrates Mary's Fiat, or statement of consent in response to the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel, behold the handmaiden of the Lord; "let it me done to me according to your word."

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.


The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.


Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.


Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.


Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

For more Catholic resources to feed your faith,

visit the Crossroads Initiative Homepage.



Meditation 49

IN EXILE

1. The Discomforts of the Journey.
Consider the hardships of that trip, seemingly endless and so full of fatigue. Perhaps, at the beginning They would not dare travel during the day but, not to be seen, would wait for the night.

Contemplate Our Lady with Her Son in Her arms, never abandoning Him even for a second, full of anxiety, taking shelter in some hideout with St. Joseph during the day and taking advantage of the darkness in order to continue the flight. How little and how uncomfortably would They rest during those days!

Remember the trip to Bethlehem. It also was full of inconveniences, but after all it was a peaceful journey. Now, instead, it is a flight. They are running away from a blood-thirsty tyrant, from a ruthless persecutor. You, no doubt, when you had some contradiction or trouble have spent some sleepless night. The night seemed endless: the hours seemed not to advance. Now compare that with the nights that Our Blessed Lady had to spend, during Her flight to Egypt, in the face of so many hardships.

What would They eat? They had had no time to make provision; and even if time had been available They had no money. But in fact no time was allowed Them. If, at least, one full day had been granted to Them to make preparations for the journey! But not even that. And where would They sleep? On the hard ground under a tree or perhaps sharing some untidy cave with animals.

Now compare your fastidiousness with the sufferings of your Heavenly Mother. You are so thin-skinned and She, although She was much more delicate than you, was so brave. See whether in front of Her you will have the impertinence to complain when anything is wanting to you, when things do not go according to your taste, when you have to bear some little discomfort.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]



Imagine Our Lady's Joy at the Annunciation
(March 25)

Imagine the joy in the Heart of Mother Mary, as She is told that She was chosen to be the Mother of the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior and Redeemer of the world! Imagine what bliss to know that the Lord of all things was dwelling in Her womb! Our Lady always wanted to be the 'Handmaid of the Lord' (Luke 1:35) in His holy house (temple), but now She is told that She will be that Temple, housing the Lord of lords, the King of kings!

Imagine the smile that came upon Our Lady's lips as She accepting this role and dignity of being the Mother of the Redeemer! We could look at numerous paintings and sculptures of this moment of joy, but let the Holy Spirit stir your imagination and contemplate that beautiful smile on the holy face of Mother Mary. We could do this by devoutly praying and meditating on the first decade of the Franciscan Crown: "The Immaculate Virgin Mary joyfully conceived Jesus by the Holy Ghost."

Imagine Our Lady, alone in that small, simple room at Nazareth. As Her usual custom, She was praying to God the Father to send the Promised One, who would save His chosen people; and that She would love to serve as a handmaid. the woman who would be chosen to be His Mother. With Her eyes closed, suddenly She feels a presence near Her. Startled, as She opens Her eyes, She sees an Angel, who is smiling at Her. But this is no ordinary Angel, it is the Archangel Gabriel, who has been sent by Almighty God with the most important message since the beginning of the world!

"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." (Luke 1:28)

Imagine how sweet and full of respect those words of salutation were! Imagine what humble thoughts are racing through Our Lady's mind as She listens and questions this holy apparition! "How can this be, since I know not man," (Luke 1:34) She exclaims, Her Heart pounding with excitement.

"The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." (Luke 1:35)

Imagine Our Lady's dignity as She responds like a Queen, full of joy, the joy of all ages. Mary gives Her Fiat: "Be it done unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38) Immediately Christ becomes present in her womb, as three drops of Her Immaculate blood leave Most Pure Heart, descending into Her womb, where instantly the Holy Spirit conceives the Body, Blood and Soul of Christ Jesus, and hypostatically joins the divinity; True God and True Man!

Imagine and contemplate that the God whom the universe cannot contain is housed in that tabernacle of flesh, Mother Mary's tiny womb! This is the chosen time, longed for by the Holy Angels; the chosen people Israel; and by the Blessed Trinity Itself! Now the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us! (John 1:14)

Imagine the bliss Mary experienced as She received this tremendous honor. She was now True Mother of God, and the Holy One beneath Her Heart is the Lord of heaven and earth, Son of God and Redeemer; True light of the world! Let us share in Our Lady's bliss, especially when we receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, exclaiming with Her: "Now He is here, right here within me. And He is my Jesus, to love and cherish. O God, what joy and bliss is mine!"

Deacon John

Saturday, March 24, 2007



"SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS"

VATICAN - WORDS OF DOCTRINE - An Exhortation which convinces and admonishes
Rev. Nicola Bux and Rev. Salvatore Vitiello

Vatican City (Fides Service) - It is an ‘exhortation’, from the Latin etymology convincere; and it is ‘apostolic’, because it has the authority of the college of the Successors of the Apostles with Pope Benedict XVI at its head; ‘post-synodal’, because it is the fruit of an institution with which the Church, since about the 5th century, has expressed her being a community on a journey together; the title is “Sacramentum caritatis” since it treats the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ which Jesus entrusted to his disciples and to us and whose effect is communion, being one in heart and mind like the communion He lives with the Father and the Spirit, and for which he gave his life (cfr n 10).

The theme of the Eucharist was proposed to John Paul II by the Bishops taking part in the Synod in 2001 who felt the need to examine the real incidence of the Eucharist on the life of the Church as summit of her path of initiation and reconciliation and also as source of her life and mission in the world. Pope Benedict XVI presided the 11th Synod of Bishops in 2005, and urged the bishops not only to extol the Eucharist but above all to experience its power. Yes, the “Bread of the strong”, which contains the divine-human power of the Saviour, the incarnate Word, the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary, the Lord crucified and risen, the living God in body and blood, soul and divinity. He is the comfort - cum-fortis - of the saints, of all who unite themselves to Him in vivifying Communion. He is the Living One whose presence, as Revelation recalls, is adored by the hosts of heaven and on earth must be adored by all who believe in Him.

Only the presence of Christ can move the human heart to the depth. Christ promised: “I am with you until the end of time”. This is why the Synod teaches this truth first of all, and the various connected themes: the Church is a communion whose head is Christ is visibly represented on earth by the Bishop of Rome and all the Bishops of the Church in communion with him. It is therefore fundamental to understand that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ present today and that through the Eucharist the freedom of God comes to encounter the freedom of mankind. A freedom which is always part of the world’s travail in every epoch.

At the end of the Synodal assembly the Fathers approved fifty proposals, (in Latin propositiones). The third proposal, which quoted almost to the letter the Pope’s own magisterial intervention, recalled among other things “instituting the Eucharist Jesus accomplished something radically new: accomplishing in Himself the new and eternal Covenant…the true sacrificial Lamb gave himself once and for all in the paschal mystery and He has the power to free mankind from sin and the shadows of death for ever”. This theme is developed at numbers 9-10 in the Exhortation. This is the Lamb which is sacrificed; this is the Lamb with which we are nourished. The Mass is truly a mystical sacrifice which becomes a banquet for those called to take part in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Truly blessed are those who are called! Those who wear the wedding garment woven with a life lived in God’s grace and in the practice of the virtues of faith, hope and love.

Therefore from the Exhortation “Sacramentum caritatis” the whole Church may draw new impulse for her faith in the Eucharist, in which Jesus is present in a unique and incomparable manner. However bishops and priests know that the term exhortation in Latin is synonymous with admonition [counsel or warning against fault or oversight]: it counsels the laity to participate actively, fully and fruitfully in the mystery celebrated; ordained minister in primis to celebrate in “adherence to the liturgical norms in all their richness; indeed, for two thousand years this way of celebrating has sustained the faith life of all believers, called to take part in the celebration as the People of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (n 38). The whole Church in this way will reinvigorate her faith in the Eucharistic Mystery expressed in the Liturgy celebrated and lived as adoration. The Liturgy which can and must communicate to the men and women of today love to live in this world and hope in the glory to come in the next.

(Agenzia Fides 22/3/2007; righe 45, parole 678)




THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT

3. The Obedience.
Now consider the sublime obedience of the Holy Family. How exactly, how quickly, how readily They carry out the divine orders. They set out on Their journey immediately. See their diligence in fulfilling the Will of God. See, at the same time, Their humility, in not raising any objection, in not making the slightest remark. Moreover, They obey with great perseverance. Through all that long pilgrimage They proceed tranquilly, calmly. Never impatient. Because They see the Will of God at every step of Their journey. It is God's command: that is enough. Divine Providence is wise, is just, is bountiful, and knows perfectly well what it wants. What shining lesson of humility, of submission, of patience in contradiction! What a sublime example of obedience! Do not try to excuse yourself when you are disobedient. Do not say that you have an angel by your side who tells you clearly what is the Will of God. You know that is not true. The only angel for you is your Superior, he speaks to you in the name of God. How is it that when you do not like what he tells you, when you do not see the reason of what he orders you, you think that he is mistaken and then you obey badly? Who is, indeed, the one who is mistaken? He when commanding, or you when failing to obey? Just look at Mary in this phase of Her life and then answer.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Friday, March 23, 2007

Notre Dame du Cap

OUR LADY OF THE CAPE
A dear friend, Archbishop David, said to me that after reading my posts, he didn't see a reference about Our Lady of the Cape. I told him I would search it out. I found this page:

http://www.catholictradition.org/Children/ducap.htm

which has the whole miraculous story of Notre Dame du Cap, which is very enlightening!
Check it out!
Deacon John



THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT

2. The Details of the Flight.
Though this order was so hard, yet God makes no attempt to lighten it. Indeed, on the contrary, the flight is rendered more arduous by the circumstances.

Arise, now, without waiting for the dawn, without letting a moment pass, without a moment's hesitation. God wants it. There is no time for delay. Merely to do His Holy Will. Take the Child and Its Mother. Flight is always painful and hard, but much more so when it must be done in the company of other weak persons. Joseph is not to fly alone. He must go in the company of the Mother and the Child, and this enormously increases the difficulties. Flee, as though you were criminals who must profit by the darkness of night to slink away. But was there no other way out? Could not God have hidden the Child away? Did He not save Moses in similar circumstances without having recourse to a shameful flight?

It would appear that God chooses the most painful and the hardest ways for His own.

Go to Egypt. Humanly speaking this is absurd. Egypt is so far away. About ten days journeying. And during this time the poor pilgrims could well be found by the soldiers of Herod and thus give them ample chance to kill the Child. Moreover, Egypt is an unknown country where idolatry prevails. How could They safely remain in such a place? But was there not a more favorable country? Moreover, how long is all this going to last? This they are not told. Remain there until further notice. This is terrible. If it were a matter of a few days They could take with them whatever was absolutely essential. But if they were going to stay, perhaps for years, what should they take? These doubts and uncertainties redouble their sorrow. Did Mary break down at that moment? Did heavy tears roll down Her most pure cheeks? She remains serene. Let the Will of God be done.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Thursday, March 22, 2007



Meditation 48

THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT

1. The Order of Departure.
God avails Himself of Herod's cruelty to send a painful trial to the Holy Family. It is always thus, although we are seldom aware of it. Everything comes from the hand of God, or is, at least, allowed by God for our welfare. It is hard for us to welcome a trial or to resign ourselves to it when we do not see its ultimate purpose. Then we should recall the Holy Family. they were resting at dead of night after a hard day's toil, in their poor and comfortless house. St. Joseph had to earn the daily bread. Our Lady could not allow Herself the luxury of a maid-servant, but had to do everything by Herself. So that when night fell on that blessed home both all exhausted would drop into their beds. How well earned was that rest.

Contemplate that scene, see the greatest personalities of mankind reposing in those poor beds. Mary's sleep is an anxious one. The slightest noise would awaken Her. Although She trusts in Divine Providence, Her heart remains watchful. she cannot forget what She has heard, and even in dreams Her imagination depicts scenes of horror which have already begun, or perhaps are going to begin the following day, with the killing of the holy innocents.

She does not leave Her Child alone, the little baby sleeps in Her arms. How peacefully Jesus rests in the arms of His Mother! There is no softer cradle for Him. No better resting place can be found than in Her arms.

But all of a sudden an angel comes to disturb that rest. On God's orders he wakens up Joseph and orders Him to take the road to exile.

St. Joseph accepts the divine command but trembles at the thought of having to break the news to Mary. She, in Her turn, receives it with renewed resignation and pressing more tightly Her little Baby and imprinting one more ardent kiss on His forehead sets out to obey.

Try to imagine the sorrow and contrariety that this painful awaking must have caused Mary. However, not a word of protest; not a murmur of discontent. Indeed a fine example for us.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Wednesday, March 21, 2007



THE HOLY INNOCENTS

3. The Divine Child.
Here Jesus teaches us how the plans of men come to naught when confronted with His power and wisdom. You can see that in the easy way He dispels the designs and orders of Herod. He also teaches us, by allowing His cradle to be surrounded by the wailing of innocent children, that sacrifice is inseparable from His life; that all. even the innocent, must go that same way. Even innocence itself must be accompanied by penance.

But see how in a moment the scene changes. What was sorrow and tragedy is turned into joy and glory. Jesus always triumphs after persecution. Who would not feel like following that eternal Vanquisher? In His tiny hand we can already see the power to dispose of the destinies of men.

Lastly, ask Our Lady for light to detect your passions, for strength and will to overcome them. Passions duly checked might become a strong source of power. See, for instance, the determination which Herod brings to his evil designs. He stops at nothing. If he had placed this determination at the service of good, he might have been a saint. Direct your passions towards Jesus and Mary; bring the fire of your love for them into devotion and loyalty to them. You will then easily overcome the hindrances which bestrew the path of sanctity.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Tuesday, March 20, 2007



THE HOLY INNOCENTS

2. The Children.
How lovely and sweet appear those children, the first-fruits of martyrdom. Many think they are to be pitied, but seen in the eyes of faith how fortunate they are! Though newly born, they are already saints. The Church has canonized them and keeps their feast at Christmas-tide. Their innocent souls enjoy in Heaven the rewards assigned to innocence, but God gave them another and better life that none will ever be able to snatch from them. And why? Because they died for Jesus. They died in the place of Jesus and for His sake. That is the reason of their happiness as it is indeed the reason of every happiness. To work, to suffer, to sacrifice ourselves, even to die for Our lord: this is the only thing really worthwhile, the only thing that can make us happy now and for ever.

What would have become of those children, had they not died for Our Lord? They would probably not be saints, nor glorified with any crown. They might have become simple peasants, workers, shepherds, soldiers. Who knows they might even have become those very executioners who took part in the passion and death of Jesus. They might have become anything; but in fact see what they are now, just because they approached Jesus and His Holy Mother. How does Mary look upon them? Would She not keep within Her heart fond remembrance and affectionate gratitude towards those victims who took the place of Her Son? Could She ever forget them?

Reflect on it, and deeply imprint it on your heart. if you want Our Lady never to forget you, if you want Jesus to reward you, approach Him, love Him, suffer for Him, sacrifice yourself for His sake.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Monday, March 19, 2007



THE ANNUAL APPARITION OF OUR LADY TO
MIRJANA DRAGICEVIC-SOLDO ON MARCH 18, 2007


The visionary Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo had daily apparitions from June 24th 1981 to December 25th 1982. During the last daily apparition, Our Lady gave her the 10th secret, and told her that she would appear to her once a year, on the 18th of March. It has been this way through the years.

This year several thousand pilgrims gathered to pray the Rosary at the Cenacolo Community in Medjugorje. The apparition lasted from 14:07 to 14:12 and Our Lady gave the following message:

"Dear children! I come to you as a Mother with gifts. I come with love and mercy. Dear children, mine is a big heart. In it, I desire all of your hearts, purified by fasting and prayer. I desire that, through love, our hearts may triumph together. I desire that through that triumph you may see the real Truth, the real Way and the real Life. I desire that you may see my Son. Thank you."

Once again Our Lady is calling us to follow Her Son, Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life! She especially reminds us to persevere in our Lenten fasts and prayer, so that, whatever the future holds, whether we live or die, we may see Jesus, our final end! Our Lady desires that we join our hearts to Hers, through daily consecration to her Immaculate Heart, so that, She says, "our hearts may triumph together!" Isn't that wonderful news! Imagine us so small creatures, working with Our Lady to glorify Almighty God! What a blessing! If we keep this in our thoughts, every day will be a joy to us, no matter what happens in our life. Remember, persevere! The Triumph is coming soon!
Deacon John


SAINT JOSEPH
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Confessor
Patron of the Universal Church
Joseph, a member of the royal family of David, was leading the obscure life of a village carpenter when God chose him to be the spouse of the Blessed Virgin and the foster father of the Incarnate Word. Scripture tells us that Joseph was just, pure, gentle, prudent, and a lover of holy silence. Above all, this humble guardian of the Child Jesus was unfailingly obedient to the divine will.
Joseph is not mentioned after he and Mary lost the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple and, following three days of agonized search, found their boy discoursing divinely with the learned doctors of the Law. The great task of the foster father of Christ must have been finished before the marriage feast at Cana and the beginning of the Savior's public ministry. Untold millions have since then invoked St. Joseph as the patron of a happy death.
ENTRANCE HYMN (Ps. 91:13-14)
The just man shall flourish like the palm tree; he shall grow like a cedar of Lebanon planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. Ps. 91:2. It is good to praise the Lord, and to sing to Your name, O Most High. V. Glory be . . .
TRADITIONAL PRAYER
O Lord, may the merits of the spouse of Your most Holy Mother assist us, so that what we cannot obtain through our own efforts we may have through his intercession; who lives and rules with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Saint Joseph has always been one of my favorites! I've asked his assistance every day for the past 40 years that I will be a good father, husband, and have the virtue of chastity according to my state in life. I'm sure that without his intercession for me, I would have turned out quit different than I am. Thank you Saint Joseph!!!This Feast was a special day in New York. Us Italians made a big deal out of St. Joseph's Day, maybe because the Irish just went wild with their St. Patrick! Of course we were more subdued. There was no parade, and no parties at the local pub; it was more solemn and special. I remember looking forward to the St. Joseph's Bread that the ladies made at home. These loaves were brought to church to be blessed after the Mass celebrated in honor of St. Joseph. Then they were distributed to all the people there and what was left over was given to the homeless or homebound. These were good memories!
Here is an ancient prayer to Saint Joseph that is supposed to keep you from sudden death, nor be drowned, nor be burned in fire, if it it carried and recited.
Saint Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh Saint
Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son, all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanks-giving and homage to the most loving of fathers. Oh Saint Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. Saint Joseph, Patron of the departing souls, pray for us. Amen.



THE HOLY INNOCENTS

1. Herod.
Who is he? A cruel tyrant, known for the deaths he caused. In his own family alone the death roll comprises his own wife, two of his children, two of his uncles. Five days before his death, when his rotten body was already being eaten by worms, he ordered the murder of a third son of his. Herod is a clear example of how far a man can go when enslaved by passion. Heron was a victim of ambition; in his eyes all else was insignificant when it was a matter of upholding his throne and preserving his crown. As soon as he hears the news of the birth of a child-king, the thought of killing him flashes through his mind. And when he is let down by the Magi, he issues the terrible order to slaughter all children below the age of two.

Hear the wailing and screaming of those poor mothers. Try to picture the scenes of horror, of wrath and despair when the order was executed by the soldiers. See the blood of those innocent victims flowing abundantly. And try to imagine the anguish and fear of Mary. How would She press Her beloved child against Her heart in order to hide and protect Him, especially when She could hear the screaming of the mothers, when the butchery had already begun. You could imagine the hours of anguish through which she lived.

In front of this scene of blood and sorrow, reflect on the terrible consequences of passion, how far it can reach, what frightful results can follow. What a terrible evil is passion in spate! It totally blinds us and drags us to the abyss. It makes us fear what we need not fear and makes us disregard what we ought to fear most.

Herod fears a little Child whereas he does not fear the dreadful cruel sin he is committing. Passion can drag a man to anything, even to crime. Passion is never satisfied, never says enough. Moreover, when we yield to it, passion gives us nothing neither happiness nor contentment. What did Herod get out of that bloodshed?

Reflect on this, see how barren passion always is, how easily we let ourselves be overcome by it. Examine your soul; see whether any passion is trying to get the upper hand of you. Check it; clamp it down, lest it subdue you.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Sunday, March 18, 2007


LENT, REPENTANCE & REPARATION
We are half way through Lent! This is a good time to reflect on our sins and weaknesses, a time of repentance for the many ways we rebel against God on a daily basis!
It's a time of self-denial and sacrifice in reparation for the many ways we fall short and offend God. A time to fast and abstain from some of the creature comforts and luxuries of our time, while focusing on the scourging, Passion and ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on a crude cross! If you were offered the opportunity of taking Jesus' place on the cross, would you willingly accept the scourging, Passion and cruel crucifixion? Would you? Could you? Here was the Son of God, who never sinned, yet He willingly allowed Himself to be brutally beaten, scourged, humiliated and crucified for our sins, just so that we may be united with God the Father in Heaven!
And so dear brother and sisters, let us focus on the seriousness of our sins, how God hates sin, the consequences of sin, how to avoid sin. A three letter word that is seldom mentioned anymore in our "politically correct" and "people friendly" "gathering places" for fear of upsetting anyone!
"For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin."
[Eccl. 7:20]. "For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again; but the wicked are overthrown by calamity." [Prov. 24:16].
IT WAS I WHO CRUCIFIED CHRIST

"For the word of the Cross is folly to
those who are perishing, but
to us who are being saved it is the power of
God." [1 Cor. 1:18].

After all, not a single atheist was involved in the trial and death of Jesus Christ. No atheist beat up St. Paul, crucified St. Peter, or tossed St. Lawrence on the griddle to roast. The people who did these things were all vibrantly "spiritual" people, filled with a certain piety and deeply affirming of their own sort of "religious values." This is why St. Paul tells us to walk, not as unwise, but as wise.
Wisdom, in Scripture, is more than bearded guys saying "deep things." It encompasses savvy and the quickness of wit required to size up every situation quickly. we need to ask if our culture is becoming more Christ-like or merely becoming more spiritual? If it's only the latter, we'd best be on our toes. After all, the devil is a spirit too. Today, ask God for the gift of discernment to help you be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove.
[Adapted from Christian Action News, March 2007]


Meditation 47

THE HOLY INNOCENTS


For your part adore God's judgments and orders whenever, and sometimes when you least expect it, suffering comes to try God's children.

Mary full of joy had gone to the Temple absorbed in the delightful contemplation of Her Son. That joy was increased when Simeon revealed Jesus as the Light and Salvation of mankind. But suddenly when inebriated by this divine joy, the Sword of Sorrow was trust into Her Heart. Poor Mother! Now She does not see in Jesus only Her lovely Son; She sees in Him a victim marked for the sacrifice, the Lamb of God who is going to be immolated for the salvation of the world. Approach Mary and whisper a word of consolation. Promise Her never to increase Her sorrows with your sins. Try to alleviate the wound made by Her sword of sorrow by atonement and amendment, by love.

This passage of the Gospel is the first fulfillment of Simeon's prophecy. Just a few days or perhaps even only a few hours have elapsed and Jesus begins publicly to appear as a sign of contradiction. Herod seeks to put Him to death. The sword of sorrow strikes the Heart of Mary and tortures Her soul. Let us devote our meditation to this important passage.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]