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Monthly Archives: November 2015

A “CHRISTMAS” WHICH IS BEING CELEBRATED FROM NOVEMBER ONWARDS HAS CEASED TO BE CHRISTMAS

ADVENT – REFLECTING ON THE NEED I HAVE FOR CHRIST TO COMPLETE IN ME THE WORK BEGUN LONG AGO

A “CHRISTMAS” WHICH IS BEING CELEBRATED FROM NOVEMBER ONWARDS HAS CEASED TO BE CHRISTMAS

“… The beauty of Christmas unlike, say, Thanksgiving, is not grounded in a celebration of human achievement successfully concluded. It does not stem from the beauty of human nature. It is, rather, a reminder that human beauty and virtues have their origins in the divinity of the Incarnate Christ. We are celebrating not simply the fact that Christ aspired to become a man like us; we are celebrating the fact that in becoming Man Christ wished to raise our humanity to his immortal nature. The perfection and beauty of the Christ Child is that of God-with-Us, not of some idealised version of what I was in childhood.

 

THE PREPARATION FOR A MORE INTENSE ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST

 

To want to celebrate Christ’s birth then, for the Christian should theoretically be inseparable from a period of preparation in which I reflect on the need I have for Christ to come now, and to complete in me the work begun long ago – not just when he was born, but before time itself existed, when I was chosen in him, when his ‘Incarnate form’ became the possibility of my existence, the pattern of my humanity and the promise of my happiness. I need to become aware of the ever increasing urgency of the task of modelling my own life, my own sense of what makes for happiness on his own, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. The preparation cannot be just for a season of mirth; it must be for a more intense encounter with Christ through the medium of his historical Incarnation, which is an outward, visible sign of a divine reality which is the real reason for celebration. Without an explicit awareness of this Christological heart, as suggested by the very name Christmas, the outward, visible signs of celebration are Pagan and hollow.

 

ACKNOWLEDGING HIS ETERNAL DESIRE TO BECOME GOD-WITH-US

 

It is the Church as the Bride of Christ, who shows us how to share in such intimacy with Christ that the Spirit will be able to act in the depths of our souls to reproduce the pattern of Christ’s humanity in us. This presence of Christ, she reminds us, is dynamic. We should be celebrating it not merely as the recollection of a past occurrence, but as the possibility of Christ being born in our own time and milieu, in our own heart through faith, in prayer and sacrament, as we acknowledge his eternal desire to become God-With-Us. To bring us into this intimacy of likeness to Christ, the Church has given us Advent, not an anticipated Christmas.

 

A MAJOR MYSTERY OF FAITH

 

Not until December 17 does the liturgy focus on the birthday of the Child. If we do so, we are neglecting a major mystery of our faith, the truth that Christ will come again, that Christ will return in majesty to take us fully to himself. He has told us in no uncertain terms that he expects to find us watching, not just keeping up appearances.”

– From “Diary of a City Priest” by Pstor Iuventus, available from Amazon. This excerpt was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue December 6 2013.

 
 

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MEDITATIONS FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING

 

“On this great Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, let us today prayerfully reflect on what some holy people have said about Jesus:

 

• ‘Nothing is mine, I no longer have anything but Jesus. No place, no thing, no person, no thought, no feelings, no suffering can turn me away from Jesus. He is for me honour, delight, heart and soul. He whom I love is fatherland, Heaven already! My treasure! My love! Jesus, and Jesus crucified alone makes my happiness.’ (St Bernadette)

 

• ‘The Lord ate from a common bowl, and asked the disciples to sit on the grass. He washed their feet, with a towel wrapped around his waist – He who is Lord of the universe.’ (St Clement of Alexandria)

 

• ‘Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills my breast; But sweeter far thy face to see, and in thy presence rest.’ (St Bernard)

 

• ‘To holy people the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport. His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living.’ (Blessed John Henry Newman)

 

• ‘Jesus is the sun of our souls, whence they receive all grace, light and influence. And the earth of our hearts should be in continual movement towards him in order to receive in all its parts and powers the favourable aspects and benign influences of this great luminary.’ (Cardinal Pierre de Berulle)

 

• When placed on the rack to be tortured for her faith: ‘Know, tyrant, that you cannot pluck my faith from my heart! Jesus Christ is my all-in-all, He is my treasure, my life, my bliss, my capitol, my temple, my altar, and nothing can separate Him from me.’ (St Macra).

 

• ‘Oh, if everyone were to know how beautiful Jesus is, how amiable He is! They would die from love.’ (St Gemma Galgani)

 

• ‘The violence of Jesus is deep love, not sword or the prison, which is how we always want to resolve the problems which seem insoluble to us.’ (Carlo Corretto – Little Brother of Jesus & spiritual writer)

 

• ‘Nothing restrains anger, curbs pride, heals the wounds of malice, bridles self-indulgence, quenches the passions, checks avarice and puts unclean thoughts to flight as does the name of Jesus.’ (St Bernard).

– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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PRAYER TO CHRIST, THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE

O Christ Jesus, I acknowledge thee King of the Universe. All that has been created has been made for thee. Exercise over me all thy sovereign rights.

I renew the promises of my Baptism. I renounce Satan and all his works, and all his pomps, and I promise to live a good Christian life and to do all in my power to procure the triumph of the rights of God and thy Church.

Divine Heart of Jesus, I offer thee my poor efforts in order to obtain that all hearts may acknowledge thy Sacred Royalty, and that thus the Kingdom of thy peace may be established throughout the Universe. Amen.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Prayers for Today

 

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FROM THE DESERT TO RANSOMING CAPTIVES: ST FELIX OF VALOIS

St Felix of Valois, Memorial: November 20

Felix, once called Hugh, was born in France of the royal family of the Valois. When a youth, he began to think of withdrawing into solitude out of his desire for contemplation.

After being made priest, he retired into a place of solitude, where he lived for some years with St John of Matha.

Counseled by an angel of God

Then, counseled by an angel of God, both set out for Rome, where they obtained from Pope Innocent III, who had likewise been divinely counseled, approbation for a new Order for the ransom of captives.

An Order for the ransom of captives

He gave the Order a white habit marked with a cross of two colours, as it was worn by the angel, and he named the new foundation after the Most Holy Trinity.

Soon, in the diocese of Meaux, a place called Cerfroi, they built the first monastery of the Order. There Felix received an extraordinary favour from the Blessed Virgin Mary, when she appeared in the midst of the choir, wearing the habit marked with the cross of the Order. Full of years and merits, he died in the Lord in the year 1212.

Prayer:

O God, who by heavenly inspiration graciously called forth blessed Felix, your Confessor, from the desert to the work of ransoming captives; grant, we beseech you, that by his intercession, and liberated by your grace from the captivity of our sins, we may be led into our heavenly fatherland. Through our Lord.

– From: Roman Breviary, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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ST MARTIN OF TOURS: AT FIRST, HIS PARENTS DID NOT WANT HIM TO BE RECEIVED INTO THE CHURCH

“The Bishop of Tours is among the most famous of saints, thanks perhaps to a first-class hagiographer, Sulpicious Severus, and the inspiring tale of the cloak. His shrine in western France became a stopping point on the road to Santiago de Compostela.

Born in modern-day Hungary in 316, Martin grew up in Pavia, now Lombardy, where his father, a tribune, was stationed. But he spent most of his life in France. This pan-Europeanism made him such a pivotal figure at a time when Christianity had become the religion of the empire, yet still more dominant in the east. Indeed, when Martin, aged 10, signified his intent to join the Church his parents strongly disapproved, the army being one of the last hold-outs of the old gods, especially Mithras.

HIS PARENTS DIDN’T WANT HIM TO BE RECEIVED INTO THE CHURCH

Aged 15, he joined the cavalry, as he was expected to do, and was stationed in northern Gaul, but after two years he was charged with cowardice after a battle with the Gauls in which he declared that his faith prevented him from engaging the enemy. ‘I am a soldier of Christ,’ he said. ‘I cannot fight.’ To show his bravery, Martin volunteered to go unarmed to the battlefront. The offer was accepted. But he was saved when the enemy surrendered.

ST MARTIN OFFERED TO GO UNARMED TO THE BATTLEFRONT

He now went to Caesarodunum, present-day Tours, where he became involved in the Arian [people who denied the Holy Trinity] controversy and had to flee to Italy, where he converted a brigand on the way. Following a dream he headed east and also converted his mother, though he failed to win around his father.

HE SUBSEQUENTLY CONVERTED HIS MOTHER

He was kicked out of the Balkans by some Arians and was expelled from Milan for again standing up for Trinitarian Christianity. After living as a hermit for some time, he returned to France in 361 and founded a monastery that would become the Benedictine Liguge Abbey, one of the earliest monastic foundations in France. He became bishop in 371, and impressed the pagans by agreeing to stand by a sacred tree if they cut it down – it missed him. He was a dedicated campaigner for prisoners. It is said that local governors and even emperors would try to avoid him lest they were persuaded to free more prisoners.

PATRON SAINT OF SOLDIERS

He became the patron saint of soldiers and his cult enjoyed a renaissance in France following the defeat of 1871 and the Paris Commune. A basilica to St Martin at Tours, designed in a neo-Byzantine style, was consecrated in 1925.”
– This article was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue November 8 2013. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link)

 

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GOD HAS AND IS EVERYTHING – WHY DID HE CREATE US, THEN?

THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY OF BLESSED JOHN DUNS SCOTUS – GOD IS ALL AND HAS ALL; WHY DID HE CREATE US, THEN?

“LOVE AND ONLY LOVE IMPELLED GOD TO CREATE US.” (BLESSED JOHN DUNS SCOTUS)

 

THE BLISS OF LOVING AND BEING LOVED

 

Realising that you cannot love someone unless you know them, Blessed John Duns Scotus turned his attention to knowing as much about God as reason and revelation could teach him. Anybody who takes the trouble to make something must have a reason for making it, or they are simply mindless. So God must have had a reason for creating the universe and everything in it. Now bearing in mind that He is self-sufficient and needs nothing to add to His own personal happiness, why did He need to create anything? He could only have created something for someone else’s happiness; for them to enjoy the pure unadulterated bliss of experiencing what it’s like to enjoy loving and being loved all the time.

 

GOD SHARES LOVE WITH HIS CREATURES

 

If yet again you ask why someone loves another then I can only answer that I do not know, not because love is irrational, but because it is super-rational and therefore above understanding of a rational creature. Rousseau put it this way: “The heart has reasons that the mind knows nothing about.” [I, as a human being, as well as other fellow-humans, do know the feeling, when you experience something that makes you really happy, you feel the urge to share this experience.] I know it’s rather silly to try and project our feelings into God, but disagreeing with other great theologians of his time, Scotus insisted that we do share our “being” with God. And, as further to this we have been created in His image and likeness, I don’t think that it is utterly outrageous to suggest that my petty feelings might well have been experienced by God, if one can talk about a pure Spirit as having feelings as we do. What I’m trying to say is, just as I would [love] to share my little human ecstasy with others, God must have loved to share his divine ecstasy with others too. Anyway that’s what John Duns Scotus meant when he said that love and only love impelled God to create us.

 

THE WORD DRAWS MEN INTO THE MYSTICAL BODY, INTO THE PURE, LIVING LOVE

 

From all eternity, eons before and quite independent of our fall from grace, God’s plan was to create all things in the “Word”, and then the “Word” would be made flesh as His masterwork, to be the King of Creation – Christ the King. He would rule with a love powerful enough to penetrate everyone and draw them up into His mystical body. There, in, with and through Him, they would be caught up and into the life and loving that endlessly surged to and fro between the Father and the Son. If this is not good news I don’t know what is. This is the Good News we [celebrate at] Christmas, when the Word was made flesh for the first time, so that we could be made divine. As the poet John Donne put it: ” ’twas much that God became like man before, but that man should be made like God much more”.

– This is an excerpt of an article by David Torkington published in “Messenger of Saint Anthony”, issue 12/12

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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PRAYER TO ST MARTIN DE PORRES FOR EMPLOYMENT

 

Compassionate St Martin de Porres, you were always a generous and dedicated worker. Not one day of your life found you idle. Help me now in these difficult times to find suitable employment. I have no wish to be without work. By your prayers I hope to be given a situation where I can use to the full all the gifts that God has given to me. Intercede for me that I will obtain guidance in seeking out possible opportunities. When I am employed obtain for me the graces to be faithful and diligent for the glory of God, for my own good and that of all people we serve. Ask God to give me health of mind and body and generosity in meeting the needs of others. I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 
 

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