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Catholic Caucus: Daily Mass Readings, 12-19-12
USCCB.org/RNAB ^ | 12-19-12 | Revised New American Bible

Posted on 12/18/2012 8:10:19 PM PST by Salvation

December 19, 2012

 

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

 

Reading 1 Jgs 13:2-7, 24-25a

There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,
whose name was Manoah.
His wife was barren and had borne no children.
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
"Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son.
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb.
It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel
from the power of the Philistines."

The woman went and told her husband,
"A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed.
I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me,
'You will be with child and will bear a son.
So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.
For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb,
until the day of his death.'"

The woman bore a son and named him Samson.
The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him;
the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 71:3-4a, 5-6ab, 16-17

R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother's womb you are my strength.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD;
O God, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

Gospel Lk 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division's turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord."

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
"How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."
And the angel said to him in reply,
"I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time."
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
"So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others."


TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS: advent; catholic; prayer
For your reading, reflection, faith-sharing, comments, questions, discussion.

1 posted on 12/18/2012 8:10:27 PM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...
Alleluia Ping!
 
If you aren’t on this ping list NOW and would like to be, 
please Freepmail me.

2 posted on 12/18/2012 8:14:01 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

3 posted on 12/18/2012 8:16:32 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a

Samson, God’s Nazirite from His Mother’s Womb


[2] And there was a certain man of Zorah of the tribe of the Danites whose
name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children [3]. And
the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you
are barren and have no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son. [4]
Therefore beware and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean,
[5] for lo, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his
head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth; and he shall begin to
deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” [6] Then the woman came and
told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his countenance was like
the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible; I did not ask him whence
he was, and he did not tell me his name; [7] but he said to me, ‘Behold, you
shall conceive and bear a son; so then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat
nothing unclean, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth to the day
of his death.’”

[24] And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson; and the boy
grew and the Lord blessed him. [25a] And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir
him.
*******************************************************************************************
Commentary:

13:1-21:25. History repeats itself once more (cf. 13:1): infidelity causes the
Israelites to lose the Lord’s favor. On this occasion they fall foul of the Philis-
tines, a Mediterranean people who had come down the coast and on to the
plains of Canaan; their military strength proved superior to Israel’s. However,
God again decides to send a liberator—Samson, of the tribe of Dan.

The story of Samson begins with the announcement of his birth; his parents
are told that he will be a Nazirite, consecrated to God, from his birth (13:2-
24). The account goes on to portray Samson as a rather empty-headed per-
son (14:1-19), and reports various feats which show that God endowed him
with a physical strength which enabled him to deal with his people’s enemies,
despite his personal defects (14:20-16:3). Still, he will end up being seduced
by Delilah and revealing to her the secret or his strength: as a result he will
fall into the hands of the Philistines and be imprisoned (16:4-22). Eventually
his hair will grow back and he will avenge himself for how he was treated,
losing his own life in the process but causing the death of many Philistines
(16:23-31).

After narrating the story of Samson, the sacred writer again tags on some
other stories as an appendix. To his account of the deeds of Deborah he
attached the ancient canticle celebrating her victory; and after the death of
Gideon he described in detail the (failed) coup of Abimelech one of Gideon’s
sons. Now he brings in two stories which are similar in so far as the protago-
nist in each is a Levite and both men were given hospitality by Ephraimites.
Their connection with the history of Samson is through the tribe of Dan, to
which Samson belonged. The first of these two accounts (17:1-18:31) is con-
nected with the migration of the tribe of Dan (from their original place, in the
Shephelah, beside where the Philistines were in control, towards the north of
the country, to the slopes of the mountains of Lebanon), and the protagonist
is a Levite, who is taken in first by a man of Ephraim and later by the Danites
(17:1-18:31). The second story deals with another Levite given hospitality by
an Ephraimitein Gibe-ah, but the Benjaminites of that city want to sexually
abuse him and they ill-treat his concubine so badly that she dies. This sparks
a concerted attack on Benjamin by the other tribes which almost wipes out
the Benjaminites (19:1-21:25).

Both episodes show ever more clearly the internal anarchy affecting the tribes
of Israel and the decadent state of morality to which they have been reduced;
there is no one capable of re-establishing order—as the text repeatedly says,
“in those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his
own eyes” (17:6 and 21:25; cf. 18:1 and 19:1).

Thus, the book draws to a close by illustrating that, despite the exceptional
patience and mercy of God who constantly forgave his people for their unfaith-
fulness and raised up one savior after another, Israel continued to sin against
him. Therefore, they could have no reason to complain against God if he left
them at the mercy of their enemies. When the sacred writer was gathering all
these ancient traditions during the Babylonian exile and composing this book
in its present form, he made it quite clear that they could not blame the course
of events on the Lord or argue that his power had weakened: history shows
that they themselves were to blame for what happened.

13:2-25. Samson’s vocation was decided by God from even before he was
conceived. This account has a structure similar to that of the calling of Gideon
(6:11-23). God sends his angel to a woman who is barren and tells her she will
have a son (v. 5), who will be consecrated to God as a Nazirite (cf. Num 6:1-21
and its note), and he will perform a specific mission—to save his people from
the Philistines. In this account, vocation, dedication to God and mission are
all closely linked.

The main features of vocation are outlined here. The initiative comes from God
who sees his people’s predicament and prepares, from birth onwards, a man
who will save them from their enemies. In due course he announces his plans
through a messenger: an angel presents himself to the wife of Manoah (v. 3)
— she sees him as a “man of God” (v. 6) — and he tells her about God’s plans.
The couple’s readiness to go along with God’s will is plain to see (vv. 8 and
12). As happens in some supernatural communications, in special circum-
stances the Lord offers some remarkable sign to demonstrate that the mes-
sage indeed comes from him and that what he says will happen (cf. 6:21; Lk
1:20, 36).

Some of God’s ways of acting to be seen in Gideon’s vocation (6:11-24) are
also found in the annunciation to Mary (cf. Lk 1:26-38). The way Manoah and
his wife make themselves available for God’s plan to work, as also Mary’s great
refinement and generosity in doing the divine will, are messages to the reader
of God’s word in Scripture—to check his or her own readiness to go along with
God’s plans.

*******************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


4 posted on 12/18/2012 8:17:48 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Luke 1:5-25

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold


[5] In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of
the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name
was Elizabeth. [6] And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the
commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. [7] But they had no child,
because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

[8] Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
[9] according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the tem-
ple of Lord and burn incense. [10] And the whole multitude of the people were pra-
ying outside at the hour of incense. [11] And there appeared to him an angel of
the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. [12] And Zechariah was
troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. [13] But the angel said to him,
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will
bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. [14] And you will have joy and
gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; [15] for he will be great before the
Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the
Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. [16] And he will turn many of the sons
of Israel to the Lord their God, [17] and he will go before him in the spirit and po-
wer of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient
to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

[18] And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old
man, and my wife is advanced in years.” [19] And the angel answered him, “I
am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you,
and to bring you this good news. [20] And behold, you will be silent and unable
to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not be-
lieve my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” [21] And the people were
waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. [22] And
when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had
seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb.
[23] And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

[24] After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid
herself, saying, [25] “Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when He looked
on me, to take away my reproach among men.”

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

6. After referring to the noble ancestry of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the evangelist
now speaks of a higher type of nobility, the nobility of virtue: “Both were righteous
before God.” “For not everyone who is righteous in men’s eyes is righteous in
God’s; men have one way of seeing and God another; men see externals but
God sees into the heart. It can happen that someone seems righteous because
his virtue is false and is practiced to win people’s approval; but he is not virtuous
in God’s sight if his righteousness is not born of simplicity of soul but is only si-
mulated in order to appear good.

“Perfect praise consists in being righteous before God, because only he can be
called perfect who is approved by Him who cannot be deceived” (St. Ambrose,
“Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.”).

In the last analysis what a Christian must be is righteous before God. St. Paul is
advocating this when he tells the Corinthians, “But with me it is a very small thing
that I should be judged by you or by any human court. It is the Lord who judges
me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes,
who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the pur-
poses of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God” (1
Corinthians 4:3ff). On the notion of the just or righteous man, see the note on
Matthew 1:19.

8. There were twenty-four groups or turns of priests to which functions were allo-
cated by the drawing of lots; the eighth group was that of the family of Abijah (cf.
1 Chronicles 24:7-19), to which Zechariah belonged.

9-10. Within the sacred precincts, in a walled-off area, stood the temple proper.
Rectangular in form, there was first a large area which was called “the Holy
Place”, in which was located the altar of incense referred to in verse 9. Behind
this was the inner sanctum, called “the Holy of Holies”, where the Ark of the Co-
venant with the tablets of the Law used to be kept; only the high priest had ac-
cess to this, the most sacred part of the temple. The veil or great curtain of the
temple separated these two area from one another. The sacred building was sur-
rounded by a courtyard, called the courtyard of the priests and outside this, at
the front of the temple, was what was called the courtyard of the Israelites,
where the people stayed during the ceremony of incensing.

10. While the priest offered incense to God, the people in the courtyard joined
with him in spirit: even in the Old Testament every external act of worship was
meant to be accompanied by an interior disposition of self-offering to God.

With much more reason should there be this union between external and internal
worship in the liturgical rites of the New Covenant (cf. “Mediator Dei”, 8), in the
liturgy of the Church. Besides, this consistency befits the nature of man, com-
prised as he is of body and soul.

11. Angels are pure spirits, that is, they have no body of any kind; therefore,
“they do not appear to men exactly as they are; rather, they manifest themselves
in forms which God gives them so that they can be seen by those to whom He
sends them” (St. John Damascene, “De Fide Orthodoxa,” 2, 3).

In addition to adoring and serving God, angelic spirits act as God’s messengers
and channels of His providence towards men; this explains why they appear so
often in salvation history and why Sacred Scripture refers to them in so many
passages (cf., e.g. Hebrews 1:14).

Christ’s birth was such an important event that angels were given a very promi-
nent role in connection with it. Here, as at the Annunciation to Mary, the arch-
angel St. Gabriel is charged with delivering God’s message.

“It is no accident that the angel makes his appearance in the temple, for this an-
nounces the imminent coming of the true Priest and prepares the heavenly sacri-
fice at which the angels will minister. Let it not be doubted, then, that the angels
will be present when Christ is immolated” (St. Ambrose, “Expositio Evangelii Sec.
Lucam, in loc.”).

12. “No matter how righteous a man be, he cannot look at an angel without fee-
ling afraid; that is why Zechariah was alarmed: he could not but quake at the pre-
sence of the angel; he could not take the brightness that surrounded him” (St.
John Chrysostom, “De Incomprehensibili Dei Natura”). The reason for this is not
so much the angels’ superiority to man as the fact that the grandeur of God’s ma-
jesty shines out through the angel: “And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Bles-
sed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to
me, ‘These are true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but
he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your bre-
thren who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God’” (Revelation 19:9-10).

13. Through the archangel God intervenes in an exceptional way in the married
life of Zechariah and Elizabeth; but the message he brings has much wider refe-
rence; it has significance for the whole world. Elizabeth is already quite old but
she is going to have a son who will be called John (”God is gracious”) and he
will be the forerunner of the Messiah. This showed that “the fullness of time” (cf.
Galatians 4:4) was imminent, for which all righteous people of Israel had yearned
(cf. John 8:56; Hebrews 11:13).

“Your prayer is heard,” St. Jerome comments, “that is to say, you are given more
than you asked for. You prayed for the salvation of the people, and you have been
given the Precursor” (”Expositio Evangelium Sec. Lucam, in loc.”). Our Lord also
sometimes gives us more than we ask for: “There is a story about a beggar mee-
ting Alexander the Great and asking him for alms. Alexander stopped and instruc-
ted that the man be given the government of five cities. The beggar, totally con-
fused and taken aback, explained, ‘I didn’t ask for that much.’ And Alexander re-
plied, ‘You asked like the man you are; I give like the man I am” (St. J. Escriva,
“Christ Is Passing By”, 160). Since God responds so generously and gives us
more than we ask for, we should face up to difficulties and not be cowed by
them.

14-17. The archangel St. Gabriel gives Zechariah three reasons why he should
rejoice over the birth of this child; first, because God will bestow exceptional holi-
ness on him (verse 15); second, because he will lead many to salvation (verse
16); and third, because his whole life, everything he does, will prepare the way
for the expected Messiah (verse 17).

In St. John the Baptist two prophecies of Malachi are fulfilled; in them we are told
that God will send a messenger ahead of Him to prepare the way for Him (Mala-
chi 3:1; 4:5-6). John prepares the way for the first coming of the Messiah in the
same way as Elijah will prepare the way for His second coming (cf. St. Ambrose,
“Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.”; St. Thomas Aquinas, “Commentary on
St. Matthew”, 17, 11, “in loc.”). This is why Christ will say, “What did you go out
to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom
it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare
Thy way before Thee’” (Luke 7:26-27).

18. Zechariah’s incredulity and his sin lie not in his doubting that this message
has come from God but in forgetting that God is almighty, and in thinking that he
and Elizabeth are past having children. Later, referring to the conception of John
the Baptist, the same angel explains to Mary that “with God nothing will be im-
possible” (Luke 1:37). When God asks us to take part in any undertaking we
should rely on His omnipotence rather than our own meagre resources.

19-20. “Gabriel” means “might of God”. God commanded the archangel Gabriel
to announce the events connected with the incarnation of the Word; already in
the Old Testament it was Gabriel who proclaimed to the prophet Daniel the time
of the Messiah’s coming (Daniel 8:15-26, 9:20-27). This present passage deals
with the announcement of the conception and birth of Christ’s Precursor, and it
is the time same angel who will reveal to the Blessed Virgin the mystery of the
Incarnation.

24. Elizabeth hid herself because of the strangeness of pregnancy at her age
and out of a holy modesty which advised her not to make known God’s gifts pre-
maturely.

25. Married couples who want to have children, to whom God has not yet given
any, can learn from Zechariah and Elizabeth and have recourse to them as inter-
cessors. To couples in this situation St. Escriva recommended that “they should
not give up hope too easily. They should ask God to give them children and, if it
is His will, to bless them as He blessed the Patriarchs of the Old Testament.
And then it would be advisable for both of them to see a good doctor. If in spite of
everything God does not give them children, they should not feel frustrated. They
should be happy, discovering in this very fact God’s will for them. Often God does
not give them children because He is ‘asking more’. God asks them to put the
same effort and the same kind and gentle dedication into helping their neighbors
as they would have put into raising their own children, without the human joy that
comes from parenthood. There is, then, no reason for feeling they are failures or
for giving way to sadness” (”Conversations”, 96).

Here is the authoritative teaching of Bl. John Paul II on this subject: “It must not
be forgotten, however, that, even when procreation is not possible, conjugal life
does not for this reason lose its value. Physical sterility in fact can be for spouses
the occasion for other important services to the life of the human person—for exam-
ple, adoption, various forms of educational work, assistance to other families and
to poor or handicapped children” (”Familiaris Consortio”, 14).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


5 posted on 12/18/2012 8:18:44 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Scripture readings taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd

Readings at Mass


First reading Judges 13:2-7,24-25 ©
There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife was barren, she had borne no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to this woman and said to her, ‘You are barren and have had no child. But from now on take great care. Take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For you will conceive and bear a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb. It is he who will begin to rescue Israel from the power of the Philistines.’ Then the woman went and told her husband, ‘A man of God has just come to me; his presence was like the presence of the angel of God, he was so majestic. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not reveal his name to me. But he said to me, “You will conceive and bear a son. From now on, take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb to his dying day.”’
  The woman gave birth to a son and called him Samson. The child grew, and the Lord blessed him; and the spirit of the Lord began to move him.

Psalm Psalm 70:3-6,16-17 ©
My lips are filled with your praise, with your glory all the day long.
Be a rock where I can take refuge,
  a mighty stronghold to save me;
  for you are my rock, my stronghold.
Free me from the hand of the wicked.
My lips are filled with your praise, with your glory all the day long.
It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,
  my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth,
  from my mother’s womb you have been my help.
My lips are filled with your praise, with your glory all the day long.
I will declare the Lord’s mighty deeds
  proclaiming your justice, yours alone.
O God, you have taught me from my youth
  and I proclaim your wonders still.
My lips are filled with your praise, with your glory all the day long.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia, alleluia!
Root of Jesse, set up as a sign to the peoples,
come to save us,
and delay no more.
Alleluia!

Gospel Luke 1:5-25 ©
In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both getting on in years.
  Now it was the turn of Zechariah’s section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot, as the ritual custom was, to enter the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense there. And at the hour of incense the whole congregation was outside, praying.
  Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, ‘Zechariah, do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you must name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink. Even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the disobedient back to the wisdom that the virtuous have, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.’
  Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.’ The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel who stand in God’s presence, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. Listen! Since you have not believed my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will be silenced and have no power of speech until this has happened.’ Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuary so long. When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had received a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them, and remained dumb.
  When his time of service came to an end he returned home. Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept to herself. ‘The Lord has done this for me’ she said ‘now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered among men.’

6 posted on 12/18/2012 8:22:11 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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On The Unfolding of God's Self-Revelation
On the Beauty of God's Plan of Salvation
On Bearing Witness to the Christian Faith
On the Splendor of God's Truth
On the Knowledge of God
Archbishop Chaput says Year of Faith holds solution to relativism
Following the Truth: The Year Of Faith – 10 Things You Should Know [Catholic Caucus]
Papal Encyclical on Faith Announced

On the Desire for God
On the Ecclesial Nature of Faith
On the Nature of Faith
Catechism's benefits explained for Year of Faith (Catholic Caucus)
A Life of Faith: Papal Theologian Speaks on the Grace of Faith
ASIA/LAOS - "Year of Faith" amid the persecutions of Christians forced to become "animists"
From no faith to a mountain-top of meaning: Father John Nepil (Catholic Caucus)
Living the Year of Faith: How Pope Benedict Wants You to Begin [Catholic Caucus]
Share Your Faith in This Year of Faith: Two keys to help you do it.
On A New Series of Audiences for The Year of Faith

Pope will deliver year-long teaching series on restoring faith
Pope Benedict XVI Grants Plenary Indulgence to Faithful [Catholic Caucus]
Pope, at Marian shrine, entrusts Year of Faith, synod to Mary (Catholic Caucus)
Catholic Church Calls for Public Prayers in Offices on Fridays
Highlights in the Plan for Year of Faith: Traditional Events Will Take on Special Perspective
Catholic Church calls for public prayers in offices on Fridays
Vatican Unveils Logo for Year of Faith [Catholic Caucus]
Miami Prelate Recalls Pope's Visit to Cuba, Looks to Year of Faith [Catholic Caucus]
The World-Changing Year of Faith [Catholic Caucus]
Vatican to Issue Recommendations for Celebrating Year of Faith

7 posted on 12/18/2012 8:23:58 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Following the Truth: Avoiding Advent Pitfalls
The Awkwardness of Advent
Cloistered Benedictines top charts with Advent album
Advent: Jesus is Coming!
Why Do Catholics Celebrate Advent? The Call to Begin Again (Ecumenical Caucus)
Resources for Liturgy and Prayer for the Seasons of Advent and Christmas [Catholic Caucus]
New prayers for Advent season [Catholic Caucus[ (Read and Rejoice!)
Father Cantalamessa's 3rd Advent Homily, "The Christian Response to Rationalism"

Father Cantalamessa's 2nd Advent Sermon, "The Christian Response to Secularism"
Evangelization Needs Belief in Eternity, Says Preacher, Father Cantalamessa Gives Advent Sermon to Pope and Curia
Father Corapi: How Do We Prepare Well for the Coming of the Lord
Father Cantalamessa's 1st Advent Sermon: "The Christian Answer to Atheist Scientism"
A Simple Way to Pray around the Advent Wreath: Prayers for Every Day During Advent
Advent 2010 -- Day by Day
History, Customs and Folklore of Advent [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Ready or Not: Here Advent Comes
The Journey To Bethlehem is Not Comfortable! (Last week of Advent)
Humble Praise and Joyful Anticipation: Fourth Sunday of Advent

Celebrating Advent in a Culture of Fear
Grave of the Craving (Do We Embrace our Dependence on God during Advent?)
Advent -- A Season of Hope
A New Holiday Tradition -- Construct a Jesse Tree with your family during Advent
Pope on Advent: With Jesus, there is no life without meaning
Advent: Awaiting God's Justice -- Pope Benedict XVI
St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
Advent Reflections for 2008
Bringing our fallen-away relations back to Church during Advent
History and Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

Rediscovering Advent in the (St.) Nick of Time
Catholic Traditions for Advent and Christmas
Mary's Gift of Self Points the Way, "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 1 of 4
The Perfect Faith of the Blessed Virgin "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 2 of 4
Theotokos sums up all that Mary is: "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 3 of 4
Reclaiming the Mystery of Advent, Part One: The Meaning of Advent
Renewing the Mystery of Advent, Part Two: The Witness of John the Baptist
Why “Gaudete?”, Part Three (Third Sunday of Advent)
Sunday before Nativity
Holy Mary and the Death of Sin - "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 4 of 4

Catholic Liturgy - Rose-Colored Vestments on Gaudete Sunday
Advent through Christmas -- 2007
Immaculate Conception Novena -- starts November 30th [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Advent 2007 -- Day by Day
Making Advent a Reality (the seasons are out of whack)
The Advent Workshop -- lots of information and activities
Jesse Trees (genealogy of Jesus activity for families)
Advent Wreath & Candles (Prayers for the Family)
Advent Overview
Reclaiming the Mystery of Advent, Part One: The Meaning of Advent

Celebrating Christ’s Advent [Archbishop Raymond Burke]
Praying through Advent -- 2006
The Paradox of Advent
Experience the Joy of Advent
Advent: the Reason for the Season
The Advent Wreath
Advent Activity - The Jesse Tree
That incredible shrinking Advent-Christmas season (Christmas should start, not end, Dec. 25)
Advent Thoughts: Some of the Church Fathers on the Divinity of Christ
The Relationship Between Advent and the Change in the Seasons (Dom Guéranger)

8 posted on 12/18/2012 8:24:53 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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  PRAYERS AFTER
HOLY MASS AND COMMUNION

 


Leonine Prayers
    Following are the Prayers after Low Mass which were prescribed by Pope Leo XIII who composed the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, and were reinforced by Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII to pray for the conversion of Russia. Below the normal Leonine Prayers is the longer version of the Prayer to St. Michael, composed by His Excellency Pope Leo XIII to defend against The Great Apostasy.
Latin

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructis ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
(Said 3 times)

    Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae, vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Evae. Ad te suspiramus gementes et fientes in hac lacrymarum valle. Eia ergo, Advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte. Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis, post hoc exilium, ostende. O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

    Oremus. Deus, refugium nostrum et virtus, populum ad te clamantem propitius respice; et intercedente gloriosa, et immaculata Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beato Joseph, ejus Sponso, ac beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, et omnibus Sanctis, quas pro conversione peccatorum, pro libertate et exaltatione sanctae Matris Ecclesiae, preces effundimus, misericors et benignus exaudi. Per eundum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio; contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis, satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute in infernum detrude. Amen.

Cor Jesu sacratissimum. Miserere nobis.
Cor Jesu sacratissimum. Miserere nobis.
Cor Jesu sacratissimum. Miserere nobis.

Vernacular

   Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
(Said 3 times)

   Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee to we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mouring and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

   Let us pray.
O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with mercy upon the people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the glorious and immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Saint Joseph her spouse, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy mercy and goodness hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of the Holy Mother the Church. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

   Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.


Complete Prayer to Saint Michael
    The following is the longer version of the vital prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 after his startling vision as to the future of the Church. This prayer was dedicated for the Feast of St. Michael 1448 years from the date of the election of the first Leo - Pope Saint Leo the Great. Everyone is familiar with the first prayer below which was mandated by His Holiness as part of the Leonine Prayers after Low Mass. Below are both the short and longer versions of this poignant prayer which should never be forgotten.

    Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou, O heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out. as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

    V: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
    R: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.
    V: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
    R: As we have hoped in Thee.
    V: O Lord hear my prayer.
    R: And let my cry come unto Thee.

    V: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls. Amen.


Prayer Before the Crucifix

   Look down upon me, O good and gentle Jesus, while before Thy face I humbly kneel, and with burning soul pray and beseech Thee to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment; the while I contemplate with great love and tender pity Thy five most precious wounds, pondering over them within me, calling to mind the words which David Thy prophet said of Thee, my good Jesus: "They have pierced My hands and My feet; they have numbered all My bones."

Indulgence of ten years; a plenary indulgence if recited after devout reception of Holy Communion, Raccolta 201)

Anima Christi - Soul of Christ

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds, hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
In the hour of my death, call me.
And bid me come to Thee, that with
Thy saints I may praise Thee for ever and ever. Amen.

Indulgence of 300 days; if recited after devout reception of Holy Communion, seven years Raccolta 131)

Prayer for Vocations

   O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst take to Thyself a body and soul like ours, to teach us the glory of self-sacrifice and service, mercifully deign to instill in other hearts the desire to dedicate their lives to Thee. Give us PRIESTS to stand before Thine Altar and to preach the words of Thy Gospel; BROTHERS to assist the priests and to reproduce in themselves Thy humility; SISTERS to teach the young and nurse the sick and to minister Thy charity to all; LAY PEOPLE to imitate Thee in their homes and families. Amen

9 posted on 12/18/2012 8:26:41 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Prayers for The Religion Forum (Ecumenical)
10 posted on 12/18/2012 8:27:45 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Continue to Pray for Pope Benedict [Ecumenical]
11 posted on 12/18/2012 8:31:38 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Jesus, High Priest
 

We thank you, God our Father, for those who have responded to your call to priestly ministry.

Accept this prayer we offer on their behalf: Fill your priests with the sure knowledge of your love.

Open their hearts to the power and consolation of the Holy Spirit.

Lead them to new depths of union with your Son.

Increase in them profound faith in the Sacraments they celebrate as they nourish, strengthen and heal us.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant that these, your priests, may inspire us to strive for holiness by the power of their example, as men of prayer who ponder your word and follow your will.

O Mary, Mother of Christ and our mother, guard with your maternal care these chosen ones, so dear to the Heart of your Son.

Intercede for our priests, that offering the Sacrifice of your Son, they may be conformed more each day to the image of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saint John Vianney, universal patron of priests, pray for us and our priests

This icon shows Jesus Christ, our eternal high priest.

The gold pelican over His heart represents self-sacrifice.

The border contains an altar and grapevines, representing the Mass, and icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney.

Melchizedek: king of righteousness (left icon) was priest and king of Jerusalem.  He blessed Abraham and has been considered an ideal priest-king.

St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests.


12 posted on 12/18/2012 8:34:40 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Pray a Rosary each day for our nation.

Pray the Rosary

1.  Sign of the Cross:  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

2.  The Apostles Creed:  I BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

3.  The Lord's Prayer:  OUR Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

4. (3) Hail Mary:  HAIL Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen. (Three times)

5. Glory Be:  GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Fatima Prayer: Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.

Announce each mystery, then say 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, 1 Glory Be and 1 Fatima prayer.  Repeat the process with each mystery.

End with the Hail Holy Queen:

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve! To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears! Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus!

O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Final step -- The Sign of the Cross

 

The Mysteries of the Rosary

By tradition, Catholics meditate on these Mysteries during prayers of the Rosary.
The biblical references follow each of the Mysteries below.


The Glorious Mysteries
(Wednesdays and Sundays)
1.The Resurrection (Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-18, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-29) [Spiritual fruit - Faith]
2. The Ascension (Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:6-11) [Spiritual fruit - Christian Hope]
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13) [Spiritual fruit - Gifts of the Holy Spirit]
4. The Assumption [Spiritual fruit - To Jesus through Mary]
5. The Coronation [Spiritual fruit - Grace of Final Perseverance]


13 posted on 12/18/2012 8:35:29 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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~ PRAYER ~

St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle
 Be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the devil;
May God rebuke him, we  humbly pray,
 and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
 by the power of God,
 Cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.
 Amen
+

14 posted on 12/18/2012 8:37:05 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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A Prayer for our Free Nation Under God
God Save Our Country web site (prayer warriors)
Prayer Chain Request for the United States of America
Pray for Nancy Pelosi
Prayer and fasting will help defeat health care reform (Freeper Prayer Thread)
Prayer Campaign Started to Convert Pro-Abortion Catholic Politicians to Pro-Life
[Catholic Caucus] One Million Rosaries
Non-stop Rosary vigil to defeat ObamaCare

From an Obama bumper sticker on a car:

"Pray for Obama.  Psalm 109:8"

   

PLEASE JOIN US -

Evening Prayer
Someone has said that if people really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless.
Did you know that during WWII there was an advisor to Churchill who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every day at a prescribed hour for one minute to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people and peace?  


There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America. If you would like to participate: Every evening at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (8:00 PM Central) (7:00 PM Mountain) (6:00 PM Pacific), stop whatever you are doing and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, and for a return to a Godly nation. If you know anyone else who would like to participate, please pass this along. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have.    Please forward this to your praying friends.


15 posted on 12/18/2012 8:38:36 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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immaculate_conception.jpg (155743 bytes)
 
December Devotion: The Immaculate Conception

Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. The month of December is traditionally dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first moment of her conception, by a singular privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior and hers, was preserved from all stain of original sin. This age-old belief of the Church was defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854 as an article of revealed truth.

Mary was in need of redemption and she was indeed redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. The manner of Mary's redemption, however, was unique. Instead of being freed from original sin after having contracted it, she was preserved from contracting it. This was a most fitting favor for the Mother of the Redeemer.

INVOCATION
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

The Immaculate Conception from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.”  The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”. The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.

The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”.  By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.

 

PRAYER OF POPE PIUS XII
This prayer, dedicated to Mary Immaculate, was composed by the Pope for the Marian Year (December 8, 1953-December 8, 1954), which was proclaimed to mark the centenary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Enraptured by the splendor of your heavenly beauty, and impelled by the anxieties of the world, we cast ourselves into your arms, 0 Immacuate Mother of Jesus and our Mother, Mary, confident of finding in your most loving heart appeasement of our ardent desires, and a safe harbor from the tempests which beset us on every side.

Though degraded by our faults and overwhelmed by infinite misery, we admire and praise the peerless richness of sublime gifts with which God has filled you, above every other mere creature, from the first moment of your conception until the day on which, after your assumption into heaven, He crowned you Queen of the Universe.

O crystal fountain of faith, bathe our minds with the eternal truths! O fragrant Lily of all holiness, captivate our hearts with your heavenly perfume! 0 Conqueress of evil and death, inspire in us a deep horror of sin, which makes the soul detestable to God and a slave of hell!

O well-beloved of God, hear the ardent cry which rises up from every heart. Bend tenderly over our aching wounds. Convert the wicked, dry the tears of the afflicted and oppressed, comfort the poor and humble, quench hatreds, sweeten harshness, safeguard the flower of purity in youth, protect the holy Church, make all men feel the attraction of Christian goodness. In your name, resounding harmoniously in heaven, may they recognize that they are brothers, and that the nations are members of one family, upon which may there shine forth the sun of a universal and sincere peace.

Receive, O most sweet Mother, our humble supplications, and above all obtain for us that, one day, happy with you, we may repeat before your throne that hymn which today is sung on earth around your altars: You are all-beautiful, O Mary! You are the glory, you are the joy, you are the honor of our people! Amen.

Prayer Source: Prayer Book, The by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D. and Jex Martin, M.A., The Catholic Press, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1954


Litany of the Blessed Virgin

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, hear us
Christ, graciously hear us

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us God the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us God the Holy Spirit, ...
Holy Trinity, one God, ...

Holy Mary, pray for us
Holy Mother of God, pray for us
Holy Virgin of virgins, ...
Mother of Christ, ...
Mother of Divine Grace, ...
Mother most pure, ...
Mother most chaste, ...
Mother inviolate, ...
Mother undefiled, ...
Mother most amiable, ...
Mother most admirable, ...
Mother of good counsel, ...
Mother of our Creator, ...
Mother of our Saviour, ...
Virgin most prudent, ...
Virgin most venerable, ...
Virgin most renowned, ...
Virgin most powerful, ...
Virgin most merciful, ...
Virgin most faithful, ...
Mirror of justice, ...
Seat of wisdom, ...
Cause of our joy, ...
Spiritual vessel, ...
Vessel of honour, ...
Singular vessel of devotion, ...
Mystical rose, ...
Tower of David, ...
Tower of ivory, ...
House of gold, ...
Ark of the covenant, ...
Gate of heaven, ...
Morning star, ...
Health of the sick, ...
Refuge of sinners, ...
Comforter of the afflicted, ...
Help of Christians, ...
Queen of Angels, ...
Queen of Patriarchs, ...
Queen of Prophets, ...
Queen of Apostles, ...
Queen of Martyrs, ...
Queen of Confessors, ...
Queen of Virgins, ...
Queen of all Saints, ...
Queen conceived without original sin, ...
Queen assumed into heaven, ...
Queen of the most holy Rosary, ...
Queen of Peace, ...

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord God, 
that we, Thy servants,  may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body:  and, by the glorious intercession of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin,  be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal gladness. 
Through Christ, our Lord. 

Amen.


 

Why Catholics Believe in the Immaculate Conception

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION NOVENA [Prayer]
Essays for Lent: The Immaculate Conception
"I Am The Immaculate Conception"
The Corona of the Immaculate Conception [Catholic Caucus]
Catholic Caucus: Immaculate Conception Novena Prayer Thread
New chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Lebanon at National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Feast of the The Conception by St. Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos December 9th
On the Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Mary: "Trust Jesus, he will save you" (Catholic Caucus)
I Love that Woman! My Unworthy Reflections on The Immaculate Conception

LAND OF MARY IMMACULATE [Ecumenical]
Mary as the New Eve - St. Irenaeus
Mary - the Immaculate Ark of the New Covenant [Catholic Caucus]
THE LIFE OF BLESSED JOHN DUNS SCOTUS, Defender of the Immaculate Conception [Catholic Caucus]
An Unfathomable Marian Richness [Catholic Caucus]
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: The Immaculate Conception of Mary
History of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8 [Catholic Caucus]
Preserved Sinless from the Moment of Humanity (Dogma of the Immaculate Conception) [Catholic Caucus]
I Love that Woman! My Unworthy Reflections on The Immaculate Conception [Catholic Caucus]
Father Marquette's Devotion to the Immaculate Conception (Catholic Caucus)

St. John Neumann and the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (Catholic Caucus)
Our Jewish Roots: The Immaculate Conception [Ecumenical]
And It Was Night. The Real Story of Original Sin [Ecumenical]
I Love that Woman! My Unworthy Reflections on The Immaculate Conception
Mary Immaculate: Patroness of the United States [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Catholic/Orthodox Caucus: The Immaculate Conception: A Marvelous Theme - Novena Starts Nov. 30
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION - Satan's Mighty Foe(Catholic Caucus)
Ark of the new covenant
Historian reveals how Pius IX decided to proclaim dogma of Immaculate Conception (Catholic Caucus)
The Immaculate Vs. the Proud

Immaculate Conception Novena -- starts November 30th [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Blessed John Duns Scotus Champion Of Mary's Immaculate Conception (CATHOLIC CAUCUS)
The Crusade of Mary Immaculate - St. Maximilian Kolbe (Catholic Caucus)
The Early Church Fathers on the Immaculate Conception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Three Reasons the Church’s Enemies Hate The Immaculate Conception
Her saving grace - the origins of the Immaculate Conception
Mary Is a Model Who Works With Us and in Us
U.S. Catholic bishops to renew consecration of nation to Immaculate Conception
Catholic Meditation: To the Immaculate Conception on this Election Day
Saint Bernadette of Lourdes (Sermon from 1934)

My visit to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
On Solemnity of Immaculate Conception - "In Mary Shines the Eternal Goodness of the Creator"
The Belief of Catholics concerning the Blessed Virgin: the Second Eve
Pope makes pilgrimage to Mary statue in Rome, marking the feast of the Immaculate Conception
Pope: Mary the Immaculate Conception... (text of BXVI speech)
"Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te" (The Immaculate Conception)
The Immaculate Conception — Essential to the Faith
"Who Are You, Immaculate Conception?"
TURKEY Ephesus: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception at Mary’s House
Coming Dec 8th. Feast of the "Immaculate Conception"

Why the Immaculate Conception?
Catholic Encyclopedia: Immaculate Conception (The Doctrine and Its Roots)
The Immaculate Conception of Our Lady December 8
Mary's Immaculate Conception: A Memorable Anniversary
Ineffabilis Deus: 8 December 1854 (Dogma of the Immaculate Conception)
Why do we believe in the Immaculate Conception?
John Paul II goes to Lourdes; reflections on the Immaculate Conception
Your Praises We Sing--on the Dogma of the Proclamation of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8th
Eastern Christianity and the Immaculate Conception (Q&A From EWTN)
Memorandum on the Immaculate Conception [Newman]

16 posted on 12/18/2012 8:39:15 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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December 2012

Pope's intentions

General Intention: That migrants throughout the world may be welcomed with generosity and authentic love, especially by Christian communities.

Missionary Intention: Christ, light for all humanity. That Christ may reveal himself to all humanity with the light that shines forth from Bethlehem and is reflected in the face of his Church.


17 posted on 12/18/2012 8:40:21 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Advent Weekday
First Reading:
Psalm:
Gospel:
Judges 13:2-7, 24-25
Psalm 71:3-6, 16-17
Luke 1:5-25

O God, who in the heart of Thy Son, wounded by our transgressions, dost mercifully vouchsafe to bestow upon us the infinite wealth of your love; grant, we beseech Thee, that revering it with meet devotion, we may make a worthy reparation for our sins.

-- Collect, Feast of the Sacred Heart - 1945 Missal


18 posted on 12/18/2012 8:46:42 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Just A Minute Just A Minute (Listen)
Some of EWTN's most popular hosts and guests in a collection of one minute inspirational messages. A different message each time you click.

19 posted on 12/18/2012 8:48:30 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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The Angelus 

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: 
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 

Hail Mary . . . 

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 

Hail Mary . . . 


Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 

Let us pray: 

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Amen. 


20 posted on 12/18/2012 8:53:21 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Information:
Bl. Urban V
Feast Day: December 19
Born: 1310 Grizac, Languedoc, France
Died: December 19, 1370 Avignon, France



21 posted on 12/19/2012 9:12:17 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Interactive Saints for Kids

Blessed Urban V

 
Feast Day: December 19
Born:1310 :: Died:1370

Blessed Urban's name before he became pope was William de Grimoard. He was born at Grisac, Languedoc in France. He became a Benedictine monk in Chirac near his home. As a priest he taught canon law, then became Vicar General, later the Abbot of a big Monastary and advisor to the Queen.

He was finally chosen Pope and took the name Urban V. At this time, the Pope lived in a city called Avignon, in France. He loved the Benedictine order so much that even after becoming Pope, he still wore the Benedictine habit (long robe).

After many years Urban made up his mind to go to Rome, because that is where the Pope should live. The Pope is the bishop of Rome, and Urban knew that his place was in Rome.

There were many difficulties. The people in France objected to his going, but Urban did what he felt was right.

The people of Rome were overjoyed to have the Pope back. They were especially joyful to have such a holy man as was Urban V. He set about at once to repair the great churches of Rome.

He worked very hard to unite the Eastern and Western Churches. He helped the poor, and encouraged the people to be fervent and holy again. Emperor Charles V showed great respect to the Holy Father.

But Urban had many problems. He was getting sicker and weaker all the time. Many of his cardinals kept advising him to go back to Avignon and at last he gave in.

As he prepared to leave Rome, the people of the city begged him to stay. He was very sad, but left anyway. About three months later, he died.

It was not right for Urban to leave Rome, because as the bishop of Rome he belonged there. But aside from this weakness, he was a very holy and good man and he was called "a light of the world and a way of truth."

Sometimes we are faced with difficult decisions to make. At these times, let us pray for the light of Christ to guide us.

22 posted on 12/19/2012 9:17:03 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Catholic
Almanac:

Wednesday, December 19

Liturgical Color: Violet


Today the Church remembers St. Anastasius I, who became pope in 399 A.D. He worked to combat the heresy of Donatism, which falsely claimed that the validity of the sacraments depended on the moral character of the priest.


23 posted on 12/19/2012 2:00:23 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Catholic Culture

Daily Readings for: December 19, 2012
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: O God, who through the child-bearing of the holy Virgin graciously revealed the radiance of your glory to the world, grant, we pray, that we may venerate with integrity of faith the mystery of so wondrous an Incarnation and always celebrate it with due reverence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Advent: December 19th

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Today is the third of the O Antiphons. Christ the King, the Lord! Divine Wisdom, Adonai, the powerful God, is at the same time man with flesh and blood of the house of Jesse, the father of King David. Truly, the right of kingship has now passed from the house of David. The glory that once clothed the royal family has faded and withered, leaving only a blighted and withered root. But from this root is to spring a glorious blossom, the King of the world. "He shall rule from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth. Before Him the Ethiopians shall fall down and His enemies shall lick the ground. The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents: the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall serve Him" (Ps. 71:8-11). To Him God has said, "Thou art My Son. . . . I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for Thy possession" (Ps. 2:7 f.).

O Antiphons ~ Root of Jesse


O Root of Jesse
"Come to deliver us and tarry not." The world cries out for Christ its King, who shall cast out the prince of this world (John 12:31). The prince of this world established his power over men as a result of original sin. Even after we had been delivered from the servitude of Satan through the death of Christ on the cross, the prince of this world attempts to exercise his power over us. "The devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour" (I Pet. 5:8). In these trying times, when faith in Christ and in God has largely disappeared, when the propaganda of a pagan culture is broadcast everywhere, and the forces of evil and falsehood rise up to cast God from His throne, who does not feel the power of the devil? Does it not appear that we are approaching that time when Satan will be released from the depths of hell to work his wonders and mislead, if possible, even the elect? (Apoc. 20:2; Matt. 24:24.)

"Come, tarry not." Observe how thoroughly the world of today has submitted to the reign of Satan. Mankind has abandoned the search for what is good and holy. Loyalty, justice, freedom, love, and mutual trust are no longer highly regarded. Establish, O God, Thy kingdom among us, a kingdom established upon truth, justice, and peace. "Come, tarry not." "Thy kingdom come."

Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

3rd O Antiphon:
A standard to the peoples,
Before whom kings are mute,
To whom the nations will appeal,

COME
To deliver us,
Delay, please, no longer.

Today is Day Four of the Christmas Novena.



24 posted on 12/19/2012 2:09:20 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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O ROOT OF JESSE
December 19

Symbols: Plant with Flower

Come to deliver us, and tarry not.

O Root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come to deliver us, and tarry not.

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

The flower which springs up from the root of Jesse is another figure of Christ. Isaiah prophesied that the Savior would be born from the root of Jesse, that He would sit upon the throne of David, and in Christ this prophecy is fulfilled.

Recommended Readings: Isaias 11:1-12


25 posted on 12/19/2012 2:15:32 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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The Word Among Us

Meditation: Luke 1:5-25

3rd Week of Advent

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard.” (Luke 1:13)

Albert Einstein once said: “you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a mir­acle.” It seems as though Zechariah started out as the former and ended up as the latter.

Today’s Gospel reading praises Zechariah, along with his wife Elizabeth, for being “righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the com­mandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly” (Luke 1:6). Yet Zechariah scoffs. “Who? Us? We’re an old couple, ready to retire. You’ve got to be kidding!” While Elizabeth is “filled with the Holy Spirit” and immedi­ately recognizes Mary as the mother of the Savior (1:41-45), Zechariah’s mind, led by human reasoning, is still under a shadow of unbelief. He joins a venerable list of biblical “doubters,” including the apos­tles Thomas and Saul of Tarsus, as well as Abraham’s wife, Sarah, who laughs at her own late parenthood. But God doesn’t discard them for their lack of faith. In fact, he uses it for our edification and his glory!

In the end, Zechariah testifies to the fact that God not only for­gives, he rewards—in this case with insight, faith, and a holy progeny. Zechariah’s lengthy silence turns into a blessing, a chance to contemplate Scripture and to watch the promises of God’s “holy prophets from of old” come to their fulfillment. As soon as he names his son, Zechariah is “filled with the Holy Spirit” and moved to rejoice in “the tender mercy of our God” (Luke 1:78).

How reassuring it is to know that our past doubts and our inability to trust God don’t cloud his desire to bless us! Just as God poured his grace on Zechariah, he will show his favor to us as well. In fact, our Father is constantly at work molding us into the trusting, believing disciples he knows we can become.

God has a marvelous plan for you, just as he did for Zechariah and his family. What’s more, he longs to show you his plan. So in prayer today, fix your eyes on your heav­enly Father. Imagine him smiling on you with love and compassion. Then practice Zechariah’s prayerful silence—not as a punishment but so that you might hear God’s voice and feel his love in your heart.

“Father, speak to me as I quiet myself before you.”

Judges 13:2-7, 24-25; Psalm 71:3-6, 16-17


26 posted on 12/19/2012 2:32:04 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Marriage = One Man and One Woman
Til' Death Do Us Part

Daily Marriage Tip for December 19, 2012:

“I was a stranger and you made me welcome.” (Mt. 25:38) Who is the last stranger who visited your home? How would you rate your family’s hospitality? Who will be the next guest?  


27 posted on 12/19/2012 2:37:20 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Vultus Christi

19 December, O RADIX IESSE

 on December 19, 2012 7:55 AM |
 
big-17.jpg

I could have chosen one of the many medieval images of the Tree of Jesse to illustrate this O Antiphon, but instead I chose this 18th century Gesù Bambino from Southern Italy. Now, this may be because I have a not so secret affinity for all things Neapolitan, but it is also because there is something in this Gesù Bambino that goes to the heart of the O Antiphon I am meditating. The Child Christ is holding a little wooden cross. He is gazing at it intently and there is a mysterious sorrow in his eyes. He is also offering the cross to anyone willing to receive it from His hands. This is the Child before Whom kings shall shut their mouths and Whom the nations shall seek. "Lifted up from the earth, He will draw all things to Himself" (cf. Jn 12:32).

O Root of Jesse (Ac 13:22-23),
standing as a sign to the peoples (Is 11:10),
before whom kings shall shut their mouths (Is 52:15),
and whom the nations shall seek (1 K 10:24; 2 Chr 9:23):
Come and deliver us and do not delay (Hab 2:3; Rev 22:20).

O Root of Jesse

The image of the Root of Jesse comes from the eleventh chapter of Isaiah where he says, "And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of His root" (Is 11:1). It is the passage that enumerates the gifts of the Holy Ghost; from the Vulgate, the Catholic tradition counts seven gifts. "And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And He shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord" (Is 11:2-3). This means that when we cry out, "Come," to the Root of Jesse who is Christ, we are, in the same prayer, invoking the Holy Ghost who, in His sevenfold gift, comes to us with the Son.

The Tree of the Cross

Isaiah goes on to say in the tenth verse of the same chapter: "On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of Him." The Root of Jesse is given, not only to Israel, but as a signal to the nations, a standard around which all peoples will rally. In fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, Jesus says of himself, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12:32). The Root of Jesse is already the profile of the Cross: a figure of the glorious standard of the King, the Vexilla Regis of which we sing in the Vespers hymn of September 14th. Today's O Antiphon opens onto the paschal mystery: the Root of Jesse announces that the advent of the Son is ordered to the mission of redemption that He will accomplish on the Tree of the Cross.

antiphona_o_radix_jesse.gif

Like a Root Out of Dry Ground

The next line brings the mystery of the Cross into focus more clearly: "before whom kings shall shut their mouths." The text, taken from Isaiah 52, leads directly into the Song of the Suffering Servant. "So He shall startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of Him" (Is 52:10). This silence of the kings of the earth expresses numbed astonishment. They are dumbstruck by the humble Root of Jesse gloriously exalted, all the more because, "He grew up before the Lord like a young plant a like a root out of dry ground; He had no form or comeliness that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces" (Is 53:2-3).

The Verbum Crucis

The silence of the kings of the earth is their amazement before the triumph of the Cross. The verbum Crucis, the "word of the Cross" (1 Cor 1:18) shuts the mouth of every earthly king. The psalm given us for the Introit of the Christmas Mass In Nocte will describe the machinations of earthly powers against the Christ of God: "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and His anointed" (Ps 2:2). But already, in today's O Antiphon, we see them judged from the Cross; they have no judgments to give, no verdicts, and no decrees, "for the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor 1:25).

All the Earth Desires to See His Face

The next line of the antiphon -- "and whom the nations shall seek" -- is not quite as easy to grasp. Its meaning is in the verb used in the Latin text: quem gentes deprecabuntur. The verb deprecari means to implore, to seek favour, to entreat, or to seek, as in Psalm 44:13, "The richest of the people shall seek your favour." The underlying sense of deprecabuntur is found in two very revealing related passages. "And all the earth desired to see Solomon's face, to hear his wisdom, which God had given in his heart" (1 K 10:24). The same text occurs in 2 Chronicles 9:23. You recognize it, I think, as the very text used for the first antiphon of the First Vespers of Christmas: "The King of Peace is magnified and all the earth desires to see His face."

Christ the King

What is described in today's Great O is this: the kings of the earth, dumbstruck by the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection, are forsaken by the nations who, instead of following them in their worldly wisdom and power, now seek Christ, the Root of Jesse, the King who rules from the Tree of the Cross with the wisdom that the world dismisses as folly and with the power that the world judges weak.

The Waiting of All the Ages

The last part of the antiphon is the plea itself that begins with the great cry, "Veni -- O come" with its dramatic do-fa interval leaving the second syllable suspended for what seems like a long moment on the mi. In that suspended mi, we are meant to hear the waiting of all the ages! "O Come, and deliver us, and do not delay."

Coming Soon

The inspiration for the last phrase comes from the book of Habakuk. The Lord himself assures His prophet that the vision promised him will come to pass. "If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay" (Hab 2:3). The antiphon also sends us to the hope held out by the second to the last line of the whole Bible. There, Jesus himself, "the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star" (Apoc 22:16) says, "Surely I am coming soon" (Apoc 22:20). In that word of His lies all our hope.


28 posted on 12/19/2012 2:47:01 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Vultus Christi

Benedictus XVI Super Missus Est

 on December 19, 2012 9:17 PM |
annunc.jpg

The Holy Father gave this sermon Super Missus Est today at the General Audience in the Paul VI Hall. Preaching Super Missus Est, that is, on the Gospel of the Annunciation on the Ember Wednesday of Advent is a Benedictine tradition, still held in honour in many monasteries. Saint Bernard's sermons Super Missus Est are among the best known and best loved. The subtitles below are my own.

Reflecting on this, text after a day here at Silverstream Priory that was rich in encounters of all sorts, I must conclude that it is hugely important that the Holy Father's weekly teachings reach the ordinary Catholic faithful the world over. There has been, not only here in Ireland, but everywhere, a dearth of authentic catechesis.

Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will send forth a famine into the land: not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord. And they shall move from sea to sea, and from the north to the east: they shall go about seeking the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. In that day the fair virgins, and the young men shall faint for thirst. (Amos 8:11-13)

Indeed, there is a famine in the land -- a famine of hearing the word of the Lord; for this reason do the fair virgins and the young men faint for thirst. Pray God to send preachers and teachers to His people, not of the sort that tickle the ears of their hearers with novelties, and trade in the false coin of compromises with the truth, but, rather, of the sort capable of bringing divine fire and light to those who languish in a world that, almost by the day, grows colder and more hostile to the truth.

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the journey of Advent, the Virgin Mary has a special place as the one who in a unique way waited for the fulfillment of the promises of God, accepting Jesus in faith and in the flesh, the Son of God, in full obedience to the divine will. Today I would like to reflect with you briefly on Mary's faith, beginning from the great mystery of the Annunciation.

An Invitation to Joy

"Chaire kecharitomene, ho Kyrios meta sou", "Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Lk 1:28). These are the words - recounted by the Evangelist Luke - with which the Archangel Gabriel greets Mary. At first glance, the term chaîre, "rejoice", looks like a normal greeting, common in the Greek world, but this word, when read against the background of the biblical tradition, takes on a much deeper meaning. This same term is present four times in the Greek version of the Old Testament, and always as a proclamation of joy at the coming of the Messiah (cf. Zeph 3:14; Joel 2:21; Zech 9:9; Lam 4:21). The angel's greeting to Mary is thus an invitation to joy, a deep joy, it announces the end of the sadness that there is in the world in front of the limits of life, suffering, death, wickedness, the darkness of evil that seems to obscure the light of the divine goodness. It is a greeting that marks the beginning of the Gospel, the Good News.

The Lord is With You

But why is Mary invited to rejoice in this way? The answer lies in the second part of the greeting: "The Lord is with you." Here, too, in order to understand the meaning of the expression we must turn to the Old Testament. In the Book of Zephaniah, we find this expression "Rejoice, O daughter of Zion, ... the King of Israel, the Lord is in your midst ... The Lord, your God, in your midst is a mighty savior" (3:14-17). In these words there is a double promise made to Israel, to the daughter of Zion: God will come as a savior and will dwell in the midst of his people, in the womb - as they say - of the daughter of Zion. In the dialogue between the angel and Mary, this promise is fulfilled to the letter: Mary is identified with the people espoused to God, she is truly the daughter of Zion in person; in her is fulfilled the expectancy for the final coming of God, in her the Living God makes his dwelling.

In His Hands, Without Reserve

In the angel's greeting, Mary is called "full of grace"; in Greek the word "grace," charis, has the same linguistic root as the word "joy." In this expression, it also clarifies further the source of Mary's delight: the joy comes from grace, it comes, that is, from communion with God, from having a so vital a connection with Him, from being the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, totally shaped by the action of God. Mary is the creature who in a unique way has opened the door to her Creator, she has placed herself in his hands, without reserve. She lives entirely from and in the relationship with the Lord; she is in an attitude of listening, attentive to recognize the signs of God in the journey of her people; she is inserted into a history of faith and of hope in the promises of God, which constitutes the fabric of her existence. And she submits freely to the word received, to the divine will in the obedience of faith.

Journey to a Land Unknown

The Evangelist Luke narrates the story of Mary through a fine parallel with the story of Abraham. As the great patriarch is the father of believers, who responded to God's call to leave the land in which he lived, his safety, to begin the journey to a land unknown and possessed only in the divine promise, so Mary relies with full trust in the word that the messenger of God announces and becomes a model and mother of all believers.

Mysterious and Difficult, Almost Impossible to Accept

I would like to emphasize another important point: the opening of the soul to God and to his action in faith also includes the element of darkness. The relationship between human beings and God does not erase the distance between Creator and creature, it does not eliminate what the Apostle Paul said before the depth of the wisdom of God, "How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Rom 11:33). But the one who - like Mary - is totally open to God, comes to accept the will of God, even if it is mysterious, even if it often does not correspond to our own will and is a sword that pierces the soul, as the old man Simeon will say prophetically to Mary, when Jesus is presented in the Temple (cf. Lk 2:35). Abraham's journey of faith includes the moment of joy for the gift of his son Isaac, but also the time of darkness, when he has to go up to Mount Moriah to carry out a paradoxical act: God asks him to sacrifice the son he had just given him. On the mountain, the angel tells him: "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me"(Gen 22:12); Abraham's full trust in the God who is faithful to his promises exists even when his word is mysterious and difficult, almost impossible to accept. So it is with Mary, her faith lives the joy of the Annunciation, but also passes through the darkness of the crucifixion of the Son, to reach the light of the Resurrection.

Moments Where God Seems Absent

It is no different for the journey of faith of each one of us: it encounters moments of light, but also meets with moments where God seems absent, his silence weighs on our hearts and his will does not correspond to our own, to what we would like. But the more we open ourselves to God, welcome the gift of faith, put our trust in Him completely - like Abraham and like Mary - the more He makes us able, us with his presence, to live every situation of life in peace and in the assurance of his faithfulness and of his love. But this means going out of oneself and one's projects, because the Word of God is a lamp to guide our thoughts and our actions.

I Must Be in My Father's House

I would like to pause once more to dwell on one aspect that emerges in the infancy narratives of Jesus narrated by St. Luke. Mary and Joseph bring their son to Jerusalem, to the Temple to present him to the Lord and consecrate him as required by the law of Moses, "Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord" (Lk 2:22-24). This gesture of the Holy Family acquires a more profound sense if you read it in the light of the evangelical knowledge of Jesus when he is twelve, who, after three days of searching, is found in the Temple discussing scripture with the teachers. To the words full of Mary and Joseph's concern: "Son, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety", corresponds the mystery of Jesus' answer: "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"(Lk 2:48-49). That is, in the property of the Father, in the Father's house, like a son is. Mary must renew the deep faith with which she said "yes" at the Annunciation; she must accept that precedence that the true Father of Jesus has; she must leave that Son whom she generated free to follows his mission. And Mary's "yes" to the will of God, in the obedience of faith, is repeated throughout her life, until the most difficult moment, that of the Cross.

The Understanding that Only Faith Can Provide

Faced with all this, we can ask ourselves: how was Mary able to live this path beside her Son with such a strong faith, even in the moments of darkness, without losing full trust in the action of God? There is an underlying attitude that Mary assumes in the face of what happens in her life. At the Annunciation she is disturbed by hearing the angel's words - it is the fear a person feels when touched by the closeness of God - but it is not the attitude of those who are afraid in front of what God may ask. Mary reflects, she ponders the meaning of this greeting (cf. Lk 1:29). The Greek word used in the Gospel to define this "reflection", "dielogizeto", evokes the root of the word "dialogue." This means that Mary comes into intimate dialogue with the Word of God that has been announced, she does not consider it superficially, but pauses, she lets it her penetrate her mind and her heart to understand what the Lord wants from her, the announcement's meaning. We find another hint of Mary's interior attitude in front of the action of God, again in the Gospel of St. Luke, at the time of the birth of Jesus, after the adoration of the shepherds. Luke affirms that Mary "treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart" (Lk 2:19), in Greek the term is symballon, we could say that She "held together", "put together" in her heart all the events that were happening; she placed each single element, every word, every fact within the whole and compared it, guarded it, recognizing that everything comes from the will of God. Mary does not stop at a first superficial understanding of what happens in her life, but is able to look deeper, she allows herself to be questioned by the events, processes them, discerns them, and gains that understanding that only faith can provide. It is the profound humility of the obedient faith of Mary, who welcomes into herself even what she does not understand of the action of God, leaving it to God to open her mind and heart. "Blessed is she who believed in the word of the Lord"(Lk 1:45), exclaims her relative Elizabeth. It is precisely because of this faith that all generations will call her blessed.

The Glory of God Dwells in the Womb of a Virgin

Dear friends; the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord which we will soon celebrate, invites us to live this same humility and obedience of faith. The glory of God is not manifested in the triumph and power of a king, it does not shine in a famous city, in a sumptuous palace, but dwells in the womb of a virgin, it reveals itself in the poverty of a child. The omnipotence of God, also in our lives, acts with the force, often silent, of the truth and of love. Faith tells us, then, that the defenseless power of that Child in the end overcomes the noise of the powers of the world. Thank you!


29 posted on 12/19/2012 2:49:36 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Regnum Christi

Doubting Zechariah
| SPIRITUAL LIFE | SPIRITUALITY
Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent



Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Luke 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute. Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”

Introductory Prayer: Grant me the grace to make the most of this time of anticipation for your arrival at Christmas, Lord. My faith rests in you, my hope looks toward spending eternity with you. Help me grasp the value of time in the face of eternity.

Petition: Lord, help me to see the signs that you send into my life.

1. Seeing, yet Disbelieving: Zechariah had no excuse for doubting. There he was: in the sanctuary of the Lord, burning incense ― a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was a privileged moment, a sacred space. Even an angel appears! If ever a man should have been prepared for a special message, it was Zechariah. Yet he doubts. He doesn’t believe. He had followed "all the commandments," yet his fidelity didn’t translate into a living faith at a crucial moment. Do we fall into the same trap? We say many prayers, but react with skepticism when God has a special request. Why is that? Are we trying to show love when we pray? Or are we just rattling on?

2. Excuses, Excuses: Zechariah thought his age would hinder God’s plan. He underestimated God’s power. Indeed, it is not God who is limited; rather, we are the ones who limit God, so to speak. Throughout the Bible, God called on unlikely people. Moses probably stuttered (cf. Exodus 4:10). Jeremiah was "too young" (Jeremiah 1:6). Peter was uneducated (Acts 4:13). Saul of Tarsus hated Christians (cf. Acts 9:1). All were unlikely prophets or apostles ― yet they let God use them. What’s my excuse for saying no to God? Am I too busy? Too old? Too young? Too unworthy? Could God be calling me to do something that I think is beyond my capability?

3. Plowing Ahead: God goes ahead with his plan despite Zechariah’s lack of faith. The Almighty was anxious to raise up a fitting herald (St. John the Baptist) for his Son. So he left Zechariah speechless for a time. We shouldn’t be surprised if God plows ahead with his own plans in our lives, even when we resist him. He might do something unusual in our lives in order to keep his plans advancing. Could those setbacks really be God’s hand at work? Might he be preparing us for something better?

Conversation with Christ: I like to think that I’m less stubborn than Zechariah, Lord. But sometimes it is hard to accept your will. I might even feel as if I have "missed the boat," and that you are no longer interested in me. Help me reject this kind of thinking and to have confidence in you.

Resolution: I will pray a Hail Mary for the ability to say “yes” to God’s plans in my life.


30 posted on 12/19/2012 2:54:28 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

Barren

 

by Food For Thought on December 19, 2012 · 

John the Baptist came from a barren womb, so did Samson and some others who served the Lord. Jesus came from a virgin womb, from a heart reserved for God alone. Such is God’s way with people. Yet, when God works and enters our lives, miracles happen and our lives are full. So let us prepare for the coming of God this Advent, for his birth within the kingdom of our hearts. This is the time and the season of the Spirit’s reign when the barrenness of our hearts gives birth and bears the fruit of God.


31 posted on 12/19/2012 3:04:38 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
One Bread, One Body

One Bread, One Body

 


<< Wednesday, December 19, 2012 >>
 
Judges 13:2-7, 24-25
View Readings
Psalm 71:3-6, 16-17 Luke 1:5-25
 

OH, BABY!

 
"He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from His mother's womb." —Luke 1:15
 

God rescues His people by sending babies filled with the Holy Spirit. This has been God's plan throughout salvation history. God has always sent babies to redeem and deliver His people. The babies Samson (Jgs 13:5), John the Baptizer (Lk 1:16-17), and Jesus (Lk 1:32-33) are commissioned before conception to rescue God's people. In addition, Scripture presents baby Moses (Ex 2:2ff) as an infant who should have been killed but was rescued from certain death so he could rescue Israel.

Since God rescues His people by sending anointed babies, it stands to reason that Satan would fight strongly against the conception, delivery, and raising of babies. Millions of babies are aborted chemically and surgically each year. Many millions more never were conceived because of artificial contraception. Those babies who are conceived and survive the womb may still have to face the dangers of abuse, divorce, inadequate or unloving parenting, etc. Even babies with the best parents must survive the hostile culture of death and its assault on life. Jesus Himself was nearly assassinated by such a culture (see Mt 2:13ff).

Let's not reject God's plan of deliverance through babies and attempt to defeat it (Lk 7:30, RNAB). This Christmas, embrace the Infant Jesus and all babies. "Make disciples" (Mt 28:19) by fostering holy married couples who will conceive, bear, and nurture babies anointed from the womb. Jesus, "the Life" (Jn 11:25; 14:6), plans to defeat the culture of death through our openness to life. "Choose life" (Dt 30:19).

 
Prayer: Father, may I "be fertile and multiply" for You (Gn 1:28).
Promise: "Joy and gladness will be yours." —Lk 1:14
Praise: "O Flower of Jesse's stem, You have been raised up as a Sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in Your presence; the nations bow down in worship before You. Come, let nothing keep You from coming to our aid."

32 posted on 12/19/2012 3:09:01 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
 

33 posted on 12/19/2012 3:11:18 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Luke
  English: Douay-Rheims Latin: Vulgata Clementina Greek NT: Byzantine/Majority Text (2000)
  Luke 1
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zachary, of the course of Abia; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth. Fuit in diebus Herodis, regis Judææ, sacerdos quidam nomine Zacharias de vice Abia, et uxor illius de filiabus Aaron, et nomen ejus Elisabeth. εγενετο εν ταις ημεραις ηρωδου του βασιλεως της ιουδαιας ιερευς τις ονοματι ζαχαριας εξ εφημεριας αβια και η γυνη αυτου εκ των θυγατερων ααρων και το ονομα αυτης ελισαβετ
6 And they were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame. Erant autem justi ambo ante Deum, incedentes in omnibus mandatis et justificationibus Domini sine querela. ησαν δε δικαιοι αμφοτεροι ενωπιον του θεου πορευομενοι εν πασαις ταις εντολαις και δικαιωμασιν του κυριου αμεμπτοι
7 And they had no son, for that Elizabeth was barren, and they both were well advanced in years. Et non erat illis filius, eo quod esset Elisabeth sterilis, et ambo processissent in diebus suis. και ουκ ην αυτοις τεκνον καθοτι η ελισαβετ ην στειρα και αμφοτεροι προβεβηκοτες εν ταις ημεραις αυτων ησαν
8 And it came to pass, when he executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God, Factum est autem, cum sacerdotio fungeretur in ordine vicis suæ ante Deum, εγενετο δε εν τω ιερατευειν αυτον εν τη ταξει της εφημεριας αυτου εναντι του θεου
9 According to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord. secundum consuetudinem sacerdotii, sorte exiit ut incensum poneret, ingressus in templum Domini : κατα το εθος της ιερατειας ελαχεν του θυμιασαι εισελθων εις τον ναον του κυριου
10 And all the multitude of the people was praying without, at the hour of incense. et omnis multitudo populi erat orans foris hora incensi. και παν το πληθος ην του λαου προσευχομενον εξω τη ωρα του θυμιαματος
11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the alter of incense. Apparuit autem illi angelus Domini, stans a dextris altaris incensi. ωφθη δε αυτω αγγελος κυριου εστως εκ δεξιων του θυσιαστηριου του θυμιαματος
12 And Zachary seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him. Et Zacharias turbatus est videns, et timor irruit super eum. και εταραχθη ζαχαριας ιδων και φοβος επεπεσεν επ αυτον
13 But the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John: Ait autem ad illum angelus : Ne timeas, Zacharia, quoniam exaudita est deprecatio tua : et uxor tua Elisabeth pariet tibi filium, et vocabis nomen ejus Joannem : ειπεν δε προς αυτον ο αγγελος μη φοβου ζαχαρια διοτι εισηκουσθη η δεησις σου και η γυνη σου ελισαβετ γεννησει υιον σοι και καλεσεις το ονομα αυτου ιωαννην
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. et erit gaudium tibi, et exsultatio, et multi in nativitate ejus gaudebunt : και εσται χαρα σοι και αγαλλιασις και πολλοι επι τη γεννησει αυτου χαρησονται
15 For he shall be great before the Lord; and shall drink no wine nor strong drink: and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. erit enim magnus coram Domino : et vinum et siceram non bibet, et Spiritu Sancto replebitur adhuc ex utero matris suæ : εσται γαρ μεγας ενωπιον [του] κυριου και οινον και σικερα ου μη πιη και πνευματος αγιου πλησθησεται ετι εκ κοιλιας μητρος αυτου
16 And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. et multos filiorum Israël convertet ad Dominum Deum ipsorum : και πολλους των υιων ισραηλ επιστρεψει επι κυριον τον θεον αυτων
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people. et ipse præcedet ante illum in spiritu et virtute Eliæ : ut convertat corda patrum in filios, et incredulos ad prudentiam justorum, parare Domino plebem perfectam. και αυτος προελευσεται ενωπιον αυτου εν πνευματι και δυναμει ηλιου επιστρεψαι καρδιας πατερων επι τεκνα και απειθεις εν φρονησει δικαιων ετοιμασαι κυριω λαον κατεσκευασμενον
18 And Zachary said to the angel: Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years. Et dixit Zacharias ad angelum : Unde hoc sciam ? ego enim sum senex, et uxor mea processit in diebus suis. και ειπεν ζαχαριας προς τον αγγελον κατα τι γνωσομαι τουτο εγω γαρ ειμι πρεσβυτης και η γυνη μου προβεβηκυια εν ταις ημεραις αυτης
19 And the angel answering, said to him: I am Gabriel, who stand before God: and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. Et respondens angelus dixit ei : Ego sum Gabriel, qui asto ante Deum : et missus sum loqui ad te, et hæc tibi evangelizare. και αποκριθεις ο αγγελος ειπεν αυτω εγω ειμι γαβριηλ ο παρεστηκως ενωπιον του θεου και απεσταλην λαλησαι προς σε και ευαγγελισασθαι σοι ταυτα
20 And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak until the day wherein these things shall come to pass, because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time. Et ecce eris tacens, et non poteris loqui usque in diem quo hæc fiant, pro eo quod non credidisti verbis meis, quæ implebuntur in tempore suo. και ιδου εση σιωπων και μη δυναμενος λαλησαι αχρι ης ημερας γενηται ταυτα ανθ ων ουκ επιστευσας τοις λογοις μου οιτινες πληρωθησονται εις τον καιρον αυτων
21 And the people were waiting for Zachary; and they wondered that he tarried so long in the temple. Et erat plebs exspectans Zachariam : et mirabantur quod tardaret ipse in templo. και ην ο λαος προσδοκων τον ζαχαριαν και εθαυμαζον εν τω χρονιζειν αυτον εν τω ναω
22 And when he came out, he could not speak to them: and they understood that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he made signs to them, and remained dumb. Egressus autem non poterat loqui ad illos, et cognoverunt quod visionem vidisset in templo. Et ipse erat innuens illis, et permansit mutus. εξελθων δε ουκ ηδυνατο λαλησαι αυτοις και επεγνωσαν οτι οπτασιαν εωρακεν εν τω ναω και αυτος ην διανευων αυτοις και διεμενεν κωφος
23 And it came to pass, after the days of his office were accomplished, he departed to his own house. Et factum est, ut impleti sunt dies officii ejus, abiit in domum suam : και εγενετο ως επλησθησαν αι ημεραι της λειτουργιας αυτου απηλθεν εις τον οικον αυτου
24 And after those days, Elizabeth his wife conceived, and hid herself five months, saying: post hos autem dies concepit Elisabeth uxor ejus, et occultabat se mensibus quinque, dicens : μετα δε ταυτας τας ημερας συνελαβεν ελισαβετ η γυνη αυτου και περιεκρυβεν εαυτην μηνας πεντε λεγουσα
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he hath had regard to take away my reproach among men. Quia sic fecit mihi Dominus in diebus, quibus respexit auferre opprobrium meum inter homines. οτι ουτως μοι πεποιηκεν ο κυριος εν ημεραις αις επειδεν αφελειν το ονειδος μου εν ανθρωποις

34 posted on 12/19/2012 6:28:50 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex
5. There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7. And they had no child, because that Elizabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

CHRYS; St. Luke commences the history of his Gospel with Zacharias and the birth of John; relating one marvelous event before another, the less before the greater. For since a virgin was about to become a mother, it had been fore-ordained by grace that the old should previously conceive. He fixes the time, when he says, In the days of Herod, and in the following words adds his rank, king of Judea. There was another Herod, who killed John; he was tetrarch, whereas this one was king.

THEOPHYL; Now the time of Herod, i. c. of a foreign king, bears witness to our Lord's coming, for it had been foretold, The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come. For from the time that our fathers came out of Egypt, they were governed by judges of their own nation, until the Prophet Samuel; and then by kings, until the carrying away to Babylon. But after the return from Babylon, the chief power was in the hands of priests, until the time of Hyrcanus, who was both king and high priest. He was slain by Herod, after which the government of the kingdom was delivered over by the command of Augustus Caesar to this same Herod, a foreigner, in whose thirty-first year, according to the prophecy we have mentioned, Shiloh came.

AMBROSE; Divine Scripture teaches us with respect to those whom we commemorate, that not only the characters of the men themselves, but of their parents also, ought to be praised, that they might be distinguished by an inheritance, as it were, handed down to them of unspotted purity. Now not only from his parents, but also from his ancestors, St. John derives his illustrious descent, a descent not exalted by secular power, but venerable from its sanctity. Complete then is that praise which comprehends birth, character, office, actions, and judgments.

The office was that of the Priesthood, as it is said, A certain Priest of the name of Zacharias.

THEOPHYL; For John was allotted a Priestly tribe, that he might with the more authority herald forth a change of priesthood.

AMBROSE; His birth is implied in the mention made of his ancestors. Of the course of Abia, i.e. of high rank among the noblest families.

THEOPHYL; There were Princes of the Sanctuary or High Priests, both of the sons of Eleazar and the sons of Thamar, whose courses according to their respective services when they entered into the House of God David divided into twenty-four lots, of which the family of Abia (from which Zacharias was descended) obtained the eighth lot. But it was not without meaning that the first preacher of the new covenant was born with the rights of the eighth lot; because as the old Covenant is often expressed by the seventh number on account of the Sabbath, so frequently is the new Covenant by the eighth, because of the sacrament of our Lord's or our resurrection.

THEOPHYL; Wishing to show also that John was legally of Priestly descent, Luke adds, And his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth, for it was not permitted to the Jews to take a wife from any other tribe but their own. Elisabeth by interpretation signifies "rest," Zacharias "the remembrance of the land."

THEOPHYL; John was born of just parents, that so he might the more boldly give precepts of justice to the people, which he had not learnt as novelties, but had received by right of inheritance from his ancestors. Hence it follows, And they were both just before God.

AMBROSE; Here their whole character is comprehended in their justice, but it is well said before God, for a man by affecting a popular good-will might seem just to me, but not be just before God, if that justice instead of springing from simpleness of heart, was a mere presence carried on by flattery. Perfect then is the praise, "that a man is just before God;" for he only is perfect who is approved by Him who cannot be deceived. St. Luke comprehends the action in the commandment, the doing justice in the justification. Hence it follows, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord. For when we obey the command of heaven we walk in the commandments of the Lord, when we observe justice we seem to possess the justification of the Lord. But to be "blameless" we must "provide things honest", not only before God, but also before men; there is no blame when both motive and action are alike good, but a too austere righteousness often provokes censure. A righteous act may also be done unrighteously, as when a man out of ostentation gives largely to the poor, which is not without just cause of blame. It follows, And they had no son, because Elizabeth was barren.

CHRYS; Not only Elisabeth, but the wives of the Patriarchs also, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, were barren, which was counted a disgrace among the ancients. Not that their barrenness was the effect of sin, since all were just and virtuous, but ordained rather for our benefit, that when you saw a virgin giving birth to the Lord, you might not be faithless, or perplexing your mind with respect to the womb of the barren

THEOPHYL; And that you might learn that the law of God seeks not a bodily increase of sons but a spiritual, both were far advanced, not only in the body but in the Spirit, "making ascents in their heart," having their life as the day not as the night, and walking honestly as in the day.

8. And it came to pass, that while he executed the Priest's office before God in the order of his course,
9. According to the custom of the Priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

THEOPHYL; The Lord appointed by the hand of Moses one High Priest, at whose death another was to succeed in due order. This was observed until the time of David, who by the command of the Lord increased the number of the Priests; and so at this time Zacharias is said to have been performing his Priest's office in the order of his course, as it follows: But it came to pass, when Zacharias was performing the Priest's office in the order of his course before God, according to the custom of the Priesthood, his lot was, &c.

AMBROSE; Zacharias seems here to be designated High Priest, because into the second tabernacle went the High Priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and the sins of the people.

THEOPHYL; It was not by a new lot that he was chosen when the incense was to be burnt, but by the old lot, whereby according to the order of his Priesthood he succeeded in the course of Abia.

It follows, And all the multitude of the people, &c. Incense was ordered to be carried into the Holy of Holies by the High Priest, the whole people waiting without the temple. It was to be on the tenth day of the seventh month, and this day was to be called the day of expiation or propitiation, the mystery of which day the Apostle explaining to the Hebrews, points to Jesus as the true High Priest, who in His own blood has entered the secret places of heaven that he might reconcile the Father to us, and intercede for the sins of those who still wait praying before the doors.

AMBROSE; This then is that High Priest who is still sought by lot, for as yet the true High Priest is unknown; for he who is chosen by lot is not obtained by man's judgment. That High Priest therefore was sought for, and another typified, the true High Priest for ever, who not by the blood of victims, but by His own blood, was to reconcile God the Father to mankind. Then indeed there were changes in the Priesthood, now it is unchangeable.

11. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13. But the angel said to him, Fear not, Zacharias: for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
14. And you shall have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

CHRYS; When Zacharias entered into the temple to offer up prayers to God for all men, interceding between God and man, he saw an angel standing within, as it is said, And there appeared to him an angel.

AMBROSE; It is well said that there appeared an angel to Zacharias, who suddenly beheld him; and this is the expression especially used by Divine Scripture with respect to angels or God, that what cannot be seen beforehand may be said to appear. For things which are the objects of our senses are not seen as He is seen, Who is seen only as He will, and Whose nature is not to be seen.

ORIGEN; And we speak thus not only of the present time, but also of the future. When we shall have passed from the world, God will not appear to all men, nor will the angels, but to him only who has a clean heart. The place will neither hinder nor serve any one.

CHRYS; But the angel evidently came not in a dream, because the tidings he brought were too hard to be understood, and needed therefore a more visible and marvelous manifestation.

DAMASCENE; Angels, however, are revealed not as they really are, but transformed (as men are able to behold them) into whatever the Lord commands.

THEOPHYL; It is said the altar of incense, because the other altar was set apart for burnt offerings.

AMBROSE; It was not without good reason that the angel appeared in the temple, for the coming of the true High Priest was now announced, and the Heavenly Sacrifice was preparing at which angels were to minister. For one cannot doubt that an angel stands by where Christ is sacrificed. But he appeared at the right hand of the altar of incense, because he brought down the token of Divine mercy. For the Lord is on my right hand, so that I should not be moved.

CHRYS; The justest of men can not without fear behold an angel; Zacharias therefore, not sustaining the sight of the angel's presence, nor able to withstand his brightness, is troubled, as it is added, Zacharias was troubled. But as it happens, when a charioteer is frightened, and has let loose his reins, the horses run headlong, and the chariot is overturned; so is it with the soul, when it is taken by any surprise or alarm; as it is here added and fear fell upon him.

ORIGEN; A new face suddenly presenting itself to the human eye, troubles and startles the mind. The angel knowing this to be the nature of man, first dispels the alarm, as it follows, But the angel said to him, Fear not.

ATHAN; Whereby it is not difficult to discern between good and bad spirits, for if joy has succeeded to fear, we may know that relief has come from God, because the peace of the soul is a sign of the Divine Presence; but if the fear remains unshaken, it is an enemy who is seen,

ORIGEN; The angel not only soothes his fears, but gladdens him with good tidings, adding, For your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth shall bear a son.

AUG; Now here we must first consider that it is not likely that Zacharias, when offering sacrifice for the sins or for the salvation or redemption of the people, would neglect the public petitions, to pray (though himself an old man, and his wife also old) that he might receive children; and, next, above all that no one prays for what he despairs of ever obtaining. And even up to this time, so much had he despaired of ever having children, that he would not believe, even when an angel promised it to him The words, Your prayer is heard, must be understood therefore to refer to the people; and as salvation, redemption, and the putting away of the sins of the people was to be through Christ, it is told Zacharias that a son shall be born to him, because that son was ordained to be the forerunner of Christ.

CHRYS; Or it means, that this was to be the proof of his prayer having been heard, namely, that a son should be born to him, crying, Behold the Lamb of God!

THEOPHYL; As if when Zacharias asks, How shall I know this? the angel answers, Because Elisabeth shall bring forth a son, you shall believe that the sins of your people are forgiven.

AMBROSE; Or, as follows; Divine mercy is ever full and overflowing, not narrowed to a single gift, but pouring in an abundant store of blessings; as in this case, where first the fruit of his prayer is promised; and next, that his barren wife shall bear a child, whose name is announced as follows; And you shall call his name John.

THEOPHYL; It is meant as a token of particular merit, when a man has a name given him or changed by God.

CHRYS; Which must be the meaning here, for those who from their earliest years were destined to shine forth in virtue, received their names at the very first from a divine source; while those who were to rise up in later years, had a name given them afterwards.

THEOPHYL; John is therefore interpreted, "one in whom is grace, or the grace of God;" by which name it is declared, first, that grace was given to his parents, to whom in their old age a son was to be born, next, to John himself, who was to become great before the Lord; lastly, also to the children of Israel, whom he was to convert to the Lord. Hence it follows, And he shall be a joy to you, and a cause of rejoicing.

ORIGEN; For when a just man is born into the world, the authors of his birth rejoice; but when one is born who is to be as it were an exile to labor and punishment, they are struck with terror and dismay.

AMBROSE; But a saint is not only the blessing of his parents, but also the salvation of many; as it follows, And many shall rejoice at his birth, Parents are reminded here to rejoice at the birth of saints, and to give thanks. For it is no slight gift of God to vouchsafe to us children, to be the transmitters of our race, to be the heirs of succession.

15. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
16. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

AMBROSE; Next to his becoming the rejoicing of many, the greatness his virtue is prophesied; as it is said, For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord. The greatness signified is not of the body, but of the soul. Greatness in the sight of the Lord is greatness of soul, greatness of virtue.

THEOPHYL; For many are called great before men, but not before God, as the hypocrites. And so in like manner was John called great, as the parents of John were called just, before the Lord.

AMBROSE; He extended not the boundaries of an empire, nor brought back in triumph the spoils of war, (but, what is far greater,) preaching in the desert he overcame by his great virtue the delights of the world, and the lusts of the flesh. Hence it follows; And he shall drink no wine nor strong drink.

THEOPHYL; Sicera is interpreted "drunkenness," and by the word the Hebrews understand any drink that can intoxicate, (whether made from fruits, corn, or any other thing.) But it was part of the law of the Nazarites to give up wine and strong drink at the time of their consecration. Hence John, and others like him, that they might always remain Nazarites, (i.e. holy,) are careful always to abstain from these things. For he ought not to be drunk with wine (in which is licentiousness) who desires to be filled with the new wine of the Holy Spirit; rightly then is he, from whom all drunkenness with wine is utterly put away, filled with the grace of the Spirit. But it follows, And he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit.

AMBROSE; On whomsoever the Holy Spirit is poured, in him there is fullness of great virtue; as in St. John, who before he was born, when yet in his mother's womb, bore witness to the grace of the Spirit which he had received, when leaping in the womb of his parent he hailed the glad tidings of the coming of the Lord. There is one spirit of this life, another of grace. The former has its beginning at birth, its end at death; the latter is not tied down to times and seasons, is not quenched by death, is not shut out of the womb.

GREEK EXPOSITOR; But what John's work is to be, and what he will do through the Holy Spirit, is shown as follows; And many of the children of Israel shall he turn, &c.

ORIGEN; John indeed turned many, but it is the Lord's work to turn all to God their Father.

THEOPHYL; Now since John (who, bearing witness to Christ, baptized the people in His faith) is said to have turned the children of Israel to the Lord their God, it is plain that Christ is the God of Israel. Let the Arians then cease to deny that Christ our Lord is God. Let the Photinians blush to ascribe Christ's beginning to the Virgin. Let the Manichaeans no longer believe that there is one God of the people of Israel, another of the Christians.

AMBROSE; But we need no testimony that St. John turned the hearts of many, for to this point we have the express witness of both prophetic and evangelical Scriptures. For the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, and make His paths straight; and his baptisms thronged by the people, declare the rapid progress of conversion. For the forerunner of Christ preached, not himself, but the Lord; and therefore it follows, And he shall go before Him. It was well said, that he shall go before Him, who both in birth and in death was His forerunner.

ORIGEN; In the spirit and power of Elijah. - He says not, in the mind of Elijah, but in the spirit and power For the spirit which was in Elijah came upon John, and in like manner his power.

AMBROSE; For never is the spirit without power, nor power without the spirit. And therefore it is said, in the spirit and power; because holy Elijah had great power and grace. Power, so that he turned back the false hearts of the people to faith; power of abstinence, and patience, and the spirit of prophecy. Elijah was in the wilderness, in the wilderness also was John. The one sought not the favor of king Ahab; the other despised that of Herod. The one divided Jordan; the other brought men to the Saving waters; John, the forerunner of our Lord's first coming; Elijah of His latter.

THEOPHYL; But what was foretold of Elias by Malachi, is now spoken by the angel of John; as it follows, That he should turn the hearts of the parents to the children; pouring into the minds of the people, by his preaching, the spiritual knowledge of the ancient saints. And the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; i.e. not laying claim to righteousness from the works of the law, but seeking salvation by faith.

GREEK EX. Or else; The Jews were the parents of John and the Apostles; but, nevertheless, from pride and infidelity raged violently against the Gospel. Therefore, like dutiful children, John first, and the Apostles after him, declared to them the truth, winning them over to their own righteousness and wisdom. So also will Elias convert the remnant of Hebrews to the truth of the Apostles.

THEOPHYL; But because he had said that Zacharias' prayer for the people was heard, he adds, To make ready a people prepared for the Lord; by which he teaches in what manner the same people must be healed and prepared; namely, by repenting at the preaching of John and believing on Christ.

THEOPHYL. Or, John made ready a people not disbelieving but prepared, that is, previously fitted to receive Christ.

ORIGEN; This sacrament of preparation is even now fulfilled in the world, for even now the spirit and power of John must come upon the soul, before it believes in Jesus Christ.

18. And Zacharias said to the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19. And the angel answering said to him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak to you, and to show you these glad tidings.
20. And, behold, you shall be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because you believe not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
21. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22. And when he came out, he could not speak to them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned to them, and remained speechless.

CHRYS; Considering his own age, and moreover the barrenness of his wife, Zacharias doubted; as it is said, And Zacharias said to the angel, Whereby shall I know this? as if he said, "How shall this be?" And he adds the reason of his doubting; For I am an old man. An unseasonable time of life, an ill-suited nature; the planter infirm, the soil barren. But it is thought by some a thing unpardonable. in the priest, that he raises a course of objections; for whenever God declares any thing, it becomes us to receive it in faith, and moreover, disputes of this kind are the mark of a rebellious spirit.

Hence it follows; And the angel answering said to him, I am Gabriel, who stand before God.

THEOPHYL; As if he says, "If it were man who promised these miracles, one might with impunity demand a sign, but when an angel promises, it is then not right to doubt. It follows; And I am sent to speak to you.

CHRYS. That when you hear that I am sent from God, you should deem none of the things which are said to you to be of man, for I speak not of myself, but declare the message of Him who sends me. And this is the merit and excellence of a messenger to relate nothing of his own.

THEOPHYL; Here we must remark, that the angel testifies, that he both stands before God, and is sent to bring good tidings to Zacharias. GREG. For when angels come to us, they so outwardly fulfill their ministry, as at the same time inwardly to be never absent from His sight; since, though the angelic spirit is circumscribed, the highest Spirit, which is God, is not circumscribed. The angels therefore even when sent are before Him, because on whatever mission they go, they pass within Him.

THEOPHYL; But he gives him the sign which he asks for, that he who spoke in unbelief, might now by silence learn to believe; as it follows; and, behold, you shall be dumb.

CHRYS. That the bonds might be transferred from the powers of generation to the vocal organs. From no regard to the priesthood was he spared, but for this reason was the more smitten, because in a matter of faith he ought to have set an example to others.

THEOPHYL. Because the word in the Greek may also signify deaf, he well says, Because you believe not, you shall be deaf, and shall not be able to speak. For most reasonably he suffered these two things; as disobedient, he incurs the penalty of deafness; as an objector, of silence.

CHRYS. But the Angel says, And, behold; in other words, "At this instant." But mark the mercy of God in what follows: Until the day in which these things shall be performed. As if he said, "When by the issues of events I shall have proved my words, and you shall perceive that you are lightly punished, I will remove the punishment from you." And he points out the cause of the punishment, adding, Because you believe not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season; not considering His power Who sent me, and before Whom I stand. But if he who was incredulous about a mortal birth is punished how shall he escape vengeance, who speaks falsely of the heavenly and unspeakable birth?

GREEK EX. Now while these things were going on within the delay excited surprise among the multitudes who were waiting without, as it follows: And the people waited for Zacharias, an marveled that he tarried. And while various -suspicions were going about, each man repeating them as it pleased him, Zacharias coming forth told by his silence what he secretly endured.

Hence it follows, And when he came out, he could not speak.

THEOPHYL. But Zacharias beckoned to the people, who perhaps inquired the cause of his silence, which, as he was not able to speak, he signified to them by nodding. Hence it follows, And he beckoned to them, and remained speechless.

AMBROSE; But a nod is a certain action of the body, without speech endeavoring to declare the will, yet not expressing it.

23. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25. Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

THEOPHYL; During the time of their course, the priests of the temple were so occupied by their office, that they kept themselves not only from the society of their wives, but even from the very threshold of their houses. Hence it is said, And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days were accomplished, &c. For as there was then required a priestly succession from the root of Aaron, of necessity then a time was appointed for keeping up the inheritance. But as now not a carnal succession, but spiritual perfection, is looked for, the priests are enjoined (in order that they might ever be able to serve the altar) the perpetual observance of chastity.

It follows: But after those days, &c. that is, after the days of Zacharias's ministration were completed. But these things were done in the month of September, the twenty-second day of the month, upon which the Jews were bound to observe the feast of the Tabernacles, just before the equinox, at which the night began to be longer than the day, because Christ must increase, but John must decrease And those days of fasting were not without their meaning; for by the mouth of John, repentance and mortification were to be preached to men. It follows: And she hid, herself.

AMBROSE; What reason then for concealment, except shame? For there are certain allowed times in wedlock, when it is becoming to attend to the begetting of children; while the years thrive, while there is hope of child-bearing. But when in good time old age has come on, and the period of life is more fitted for governing children, than begetting them, it is a shame to bear about the signs of pregnancy, however lawful. It is a shame to be laden with the burden of another age, and for the womb to swell with the fruit of not one's own time of life. It was a shame then to her on account of her age; and hence we may understand the reason why they did not at this time come together, for surely she who blushed not at their coming together in their old age, would not blush at her child-bearing; and yet she blushes at the parental burden, while she yet is unconscious of the religious mystery. But she who hid herself because she had conceived a son, began to glory that she carried in her womb a prophet.

ORIGEN; And therefore he says, Five months, that is, until Mary should conceive, and her babe leaping with joy should prophesy.

AMBROSE; And though she might blush at the time of her child-bearing, on the other hand she rejoiced that she was free from reproach, saying, Thus has the Lord, dealt with me.

CHRYS. Truly He has loosed her barrenness, a supernatural gift He has bestowed upon her, and the unfruitful rock has produced the green blade. He has taken away her disgrace, in that He has made her to bring forth. Hence it follows: In the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

AMBROSE; For it is a shame among women not to receive that reward of marriage, which is the only cause of their being married.

CHRYS. Her joy therefore is twofold. of old. The Lord has taken away from her the mark of barrenness, and also given her an illustrious offspring. In the case of other births, the coming together of the parents only occurs; this birth was the effect of heavenly grace.

THEOPHYL; Now mystically by Zacharias may be signified the Jewish Priesthood, by Elisabeth the law itself; which, well administered by the teaching of the Priests, ought to have borne spiritual children to God, but was not able, because the Law made no one perfect. Both were just, because the law is good, and the Priesthood for that time holy; both were well stricken in years, because at Christ's coming both the Law and Priesthood were just bending to old age. Zacharias enters the temple, because it is the priest's office to enter into the sanctuary of heavenly mysteries. There was a multitude without the doors, because the multitude cannot penetrate mysteries. When he places frankincense on the altar, he discovers that John will be born; for while the teachers are kindled with the flame of divine reading, they find the grace of God flow to them through Jesus: and this is done by all angel, for the Law was ordained by angels.

AMBROSE; But in one man the voice of the people was put to silence, because in one man the whole people was addressing God. For the word of God has come over to us, and in us is not silent. He is dumb who understands not the Law; for why should you think the man who knows not a sound, to be more dumb than him who knows not a mystery. The Jewish people are like to one beckoning, who cannot make his actions intelligible.

THEOPHYL; And yet Elisabeth conceives John, because the more inward parts of the Law abound with sacraments of Christ. She conceals her conception five months, because Moses in five books set forth the mysteries of Christ; or because the dispensation of Christ is represented by the words or deeds of the saints, in the five ages of the world.

Catena Aurea Luke 1
35 posted on 12/19/2012 6:29:40 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: annalex


Annunciation to Zacharias

Giotto di Bondone

1320
Fresco, 280 x 450 cm
Peruzzi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence

36 posted on 12/19/2012 6:30:05 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: All
Archdiocese of Washington

On the Virtue of Holy Silence Before the Mysteries of God. A Meditation on the Silence Imposed on Zechariah

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

The Gospel of December 19th features the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and the conception of John the Baptist. And while there are certainly many teachings to be drawn from this passage, there is perhaps some value to focus for a moment on the imposition of silence made upon Zechariah. This aspect of the story maybe a particular value since we live in time marked By a lack of reflection and silence, and of often stridently expressed opinions and opposition to the hidden things of God.

The Gospel opens with a description of Zechariah and Elizabeth being devout observers of the Law, and with the observation that they have reached their later years without having children. Zechariah, in his priestly ministry, is selected to enter the Temple and offer incense at the designated hour. Within he encounters the Archangel Gabriel who announces the birth of John the Baptist. Zechariah wonders

How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.

In this he is rebuked by Gabriel for his lack of faith and told,

You will be silent and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time. (Luke 1:19)

This rebuke causes some wonderment on our part. For it would seem that Zechariah’s response is not unlike that of the Blessed Mother who said, How will this be, since I know not man? (Lk 1:34). In our puzzlement we must remember that we have before us only a written text. We cannot hear the tone of voice that was used, or see other clues that indicate the attitude of Zechariah as he wonders how this can be. There must have been differences, for Mary’s question brings reassurance from Gabriel, Zechariah’s question draws rebuke.

Whatever the reason, let us ponder the the punishment declared by the Archangel.

In the first place, it seems that err if we regard the action merely as a punitive. Rather, we ought also to see it as a kind of remedy. In effect The Archangel draws of Zechariah into a kind of holy silence before the great mystery of the conception of John the Baptist. This silence will give him time to reflect and ponder, without speaking.

There is a human tendency to be analytical. Our intellect is central to our glory, and we have well used it to master nature, and unlock many aspects of the created world. And yet, glorious though our intellect is, it is also something over which we tend to stumble. There is a time simply to become quiet and ponder in reverent silence the fact that there are many mysteries beyond our ability to analyze or dissect.

For many, who think merely in the flesh, mysteries are something to be solved, something to be conquered. We moderns especially, presume that anything we do not currently understand, anything currently mysterious, we will one day fully understand, it is just a matter of time.

But the Christian tradition speaks more cautiously, about mystery. Mystery is something requires reverence. Mysteries are often something meant to be appreciated and respected, not merely to be set upon in order to be solved or unraveled. This is especially true with mysteries related to God, and to some extent human person.

Consider for example the mystery of your own person. You know much about yourself, but much lies hidden. Many things about us defy simple analysis, or categorization. In the face of this mystery, silence and reverence are essential. And while are insights about our inner self grow deeper with the passing years, we can never say we have conquered the mystery of our very self. Scripture says,

More tortuous than all else is the human heart, and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind (Jer 17:9-10),

And if we are to have this reverence for our very self, we must also have it for one another. We must reverence the mystery of one another, never demanding insistently to know things which are not ours to know. And we must never arrogantly presume that we have someone “figured out.” To claim this trivializes the human person.

A fortiori – If reverence and a holy silence is appropriate before human mysteries, how much more reverent must our attitude be toward the mysteries of God and his ways. Scripture in many places commands us to a kind of holy silence before the mystery of God:

  1. Silence, all people, in the presence of the LORD, who stirs forth from his holy dwelling. (Zechariah 2:17)
  2. Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near. (Zephaniah 1:7)
  3. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
  4. Then Job answered the Lord:“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:4-6)

And thus we see in today’s Gospel, how Zechariah has imposed upon him the kind of holy silence, that he might reflect more deeply and reverently on the mysteries of God. He is not to speak, he is to be still, silent before the Lord who stirs from His holy dwelling. Words reduce and seek to capture mystery. Zechariah is to ponder in reverent silence. Not one word will he utter until it all comes true.

Zechariah also manifests another common human tendency, the tendency to scoff at things we do not understand. Rather than to draw back and seek to learn in holy silence and docility, we scoff at how unlikely or uncertain things are. Since we cannot understand it, it cannot possibly be. Never mind that with God all things are possible, or that even our sciences have shown us things which we never dreamed possible, discoveries of processes in nature that baffle the mind.

Yes, there is a time to speak, a time to ask, and a time to open our mouth in teaching. But there is also a time to sit quietly, to listen, to learn, ponder in silence. There is a time to reverence mystery in quiet, wordless admiration. There is a time to humbly except that there are many things beyond my ability to know or understand.

In this reverent silence there comes forth kind of holy wisdom, a wisdom that is not easily reduced to words. It is the wisdom that appreciates that the acceptance of mystery, is itself insight. It is a silence that opens us upward and outward away from the more tiny world of things we have “figured out.”

And thus Zechariah is reduced by the angel to silence, a holy and reflective silence before the mysterious and merciful work of God.

And what of us who are approaching the mystery of the incarnation, and who live in a world steeped in mystery? Do we scoff and what we do not understand? Do we rush to open our mouth in doubt or ridicule, or do silently ponder and listen, seeking to be taught? Do we accept that humility both opens the door to wisdom and is a kind of wisdom itself?

Find silence before Christmas: God stirs from His holy dwelling.


37 posted on 12/20/2012 6:48:25 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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