Category Archives: Advent

Who can satisfy God’s Infinite Justice? Who can save us? – only God.

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‘Let the nations be glad and exult, for you rule the world with justice.’ Ps 66:2

“What will become of me who have so many faults with which to reproach myself? But where sin abounds, Grace also abounds (Rom 5:20). And as Your mercy, O God, is eternal, I shall sing Your goodness forever, Your goodness, Your justice, not mine. I have only hours because You are my justice. Should I fear that it will not be enough for both of us? But, Your justice is infinite and remains forever and it will cover both of us with its immensity. In me it will cover the multitude of my sins, while in You, O Lord, it will only conceal the treasures of Your goodness which await me in the wounds of Christ. Here I shall find Your infinite sweetness, hidden, it is true, and only for those who are willing to surrender themselves.” St Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church

‘The judgement of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice—the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all. The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together—judgement and grace—that justice is firmly established: we all work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Nevertheless grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our “advocate”, or parakletos (cf. 1 Jn 2:1).’ (Spe salvi 47)

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-by Br Augustine Marogi, OP

“We can tell a great deal about someone by learning about his or her family tree. Names of ancestry can reveal many things about a person, such as ethnicity, language, history, and perhaps even his or her geographical location. For today’s Gospel reading, the Church gives us Christ’s genealogy, His human family tree. Some Church Fathers have noted that St. Matthew’s genealogy proves the Messiah’s Davidic royal ancestry, which was an important feature of the Christ who was to restore the Davidic Kingdom to the Jews. Others have appealed to Christ’s genealogy to refute the heretical claims of those who tampered with the Saviour’s human or divine nature. Genealogies for the modern audience can be a tedious endeavour, one to which the natural response is a mixture of exacerbation and dutiful compliance.

For a voracious reader of the Scriptures, however, entire narratives unfold when certain biblical names are mentioned in Christ’s genealogy, and usually these narratives reveal a horrific aspect of our human condition. Among the names that stand out are those whose conduct is notably condemnable. Here are some examples:
Judah and Tamar both appear in Christ’s genealogy. Tamar was married to Judah’s firstborn, Er, who was so “wicked” that the “Lord slew him” (Gen 38:7). Judah’s second son, being obliged to marry his deceased brother’s wife (according to the practice of levirate marriage), refused to fulfil his duty of begetting children from her. Instead, he engaged in a contraceptive conjugal act, and as a result the Lord “slew him” as well (Gen 38:10). Judah had a third son, who should have married Tamar. But seeing that both of his older sons had died as a result of their marriage to Tamar, Judah sent her to her father’s house to live as a widow, while making the excuse that his youngest son, Shelah, was a minor. Even though Shelah had reached the age of maturity, he declined to marry Tamar. In the end, Tamar resorted to dressing up like a prostitute to lure her father-in-law, Judah. She bore twins and named them Perez and Zerah. Perez is a great grandfather (many times removed) of Our Lord.

Other sundry characters are in Christ’s family tree. Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, whom David killed after having committed adultery with his wife. Rahab was a “harlot” (Jos 2:1), and Ahaz was the king of Judah who “burned his son as an offering” to Molech (2 Kgs 16:3), “shut up the doors to the house of the Lord” (2 Chron 28:24), “built” an “altar” in Jerusalem for the gods of Damascus, and “threw the blood of his peace offerings” on his idolatrous altar (2 Kgs 16:11,13). David, Solomon, the wife of Uriah (Bathsheba), Rahab and King Ahaz all appear in Christ’s genealogy.

How do we reconcile this deplorable succession of Christ’s human lineage with the holiness, purity, and majesty of His Divine Person?

This question begs itself. The reader cannot help but make the comparison between Christ’s sinlessness and humanity’s wickedness. On one hand, there is degenerate, contemptible, and shameful humanity, which is screaming for a saviour and begging for someone to rescue it from its brokenness. On the other hand, there is God in His infinite perfection and holiness. God and humanity were separated through a great chasm called original sin, and a mediator was necessary to bridge the two together again. When we read about the deplorable condition of humanity, which manifests itself in Christ’s genealogy, we are looking at a mirror image of ourselves, and while we were originally made in God’s image, sin entered the world and disfigured that image in us. A quick look at the list of names in Christ’s genealogy will reveal that no human being, despite how holy he or she may be, can satisfy God’s infinite justice and restore the human image of God to its former beauty. Thus, God chose to become man. He “became human to make humans divine.”

The way to reconcile the two opposites, God’s holiness and human misery, was through the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ. God’s holiness united itself to the weakness of human flesh. When God’s love in Jesus Christ encountered man’s hatred, Christ’s human flesh was subjected to an instrument of torture and death: the Cross. That vile object was an image of our fallenness, while He who was nailed to it was the Incarnation of God’s love. Overcoming the enmity between God and men, glorified in the Resurrection, Christ establishes a new family tree, one born from Him, one with many children in the Church: Christ’s family of sinners becomes a family of saints.”

Love, and on my knees weeping, begging for His mercy, always,
Matthew

We don’t know why God loves us.

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timothydanaher
-by Br Timothy Danaher, OP

Thomas Aquinas asks a fascinating question: What happened in your soul when it had its first thought? How did you first react when you looked out at life? He answers: With desire.

Technically, he says in his own language, “The first movement of the will is love.” For him, love has two parts: it begins in desire, which leads the mind to search the world, search our experience for something to match that desire; second, love ends in rest, in finally finding the thing we most desired from the beginning and being united to it. A fascinating idea, really, that since the very first moment of our life, we haven’t been happy by ourselves. We immediately began looking for something else to make us whole.

In this life, however, we struggle to ever reach that end, that rest. We remain stuck at the beginning, wrestling with desire. If our life had a soundtrack, it would be U2 playing “Desire”, on repeat, with us searching and sighing always for something more…

Early on, we think we can get beyond desire and be at rest. A boy may grow up dreaming of the perfect girl, of living married life “happily ever after.” Then he actually gets married, and happy though he may be, desire remains. Desire for something he can’t quite name, or understand, churns inside of him. “Even after the most thrilling experience… when you are quiet and alone, you perceive deep down a small voice saying, ‘Is that all there is?’ Nothing is enough: not praise, not success, not youth, not love. You are a thirst,” writes Thomas Dubay.

Desire is a central theme of the season of Advent. As the People of God, we again fix our attention on the coming of Christ, the “Desired of Every Nation,” into our world and into our lives. Still, it would be too easy to say, “Desire placed in material things or human relationships will disappoint us, but in Christ we find our rest.”

Did not He himself say, “Come to me… and I will give you rest?” Is He not the one thing our souls have been desiring, the one thing we’ve always been looking for since our first moments? Only God can fill that God-shaped hole in us, and He so happens to be Emmanuel, God-with-us. Then why are we still not satisfied?
Once again, we can reference another U2 song, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. If we’ve found God, and we’re still not satisfied, it must be something about us, then, and not Him.

There is another song written by my Uncle Mark (whom I’ve written about in a previous blog post). He works as a lawyer in Pittsburgh but writes music as a passion and a way of processing. The song is simply called “Desire.”

Talking to him about it, he explained:

‘I’ve always had a desire to make sense of everything. But life has a way of beating you down, and there’s an instinct to not fight to make sense anymore. The tide’s coming, and you go with it and make the best of it. This life is so contingent… But through that, there’s still a desire you can’t shake. You can’t dismiss the greater purpose. If we’re supposed to just ‘get along,’ why does this continue?’

Christ doesn’t take away our desire. He actually gives us a new desire, a thirst for God, not always easy to reconcile with our busy, contingent lives, filled with so much desire for other things. God, it so happens, is very different from us, and it takes a long time (and some very elaborate strategies on His part) for us to acquire a real taste for Him. Sometimes He blesses us, other times He lets our mortal dreams and mortal expectations crumble, like castles built in the sand. He does it all so we might learn to desire Him, which might seem selfish of Him, but after all, He’s God. He’s different. And He alone is worthy of our whole hearts.

So I, a Christian, sit here in this mortal life, still trying to make sense of things, still trying to love an eternal God. “We do not know how to pray as we ought,” how to love as we ought, and yet “the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings” (Rom 8:26).

When pondering these things, there are two questions I love to ask, which I hope to take up again this Advent.

The first: Is Christ enough for me? If He doesn’t seem to be, I must beg Him to be. “Be enough for me, Jesus. You are what I seek. You are my life.”

And the second: Why does God love us? No theologian can help us here. We don’t know why God loves us. We only know that He loves us.

“For to you is born this day… a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). Some questions are not asked to receive an answer, but only as a way to express our wonder at being loved.

He is the pearl of great price that has been placed in our hands, in our lives. But we need to be constantly reminded of this, bombarded as we are by a million other thoughts and emotions, we who are always tempted to believe that those other things are more real than Christ is. So God speaks to us this Advent, and in all times of our life, in the words of the song: “Why are you so sad? Don’t you know what’s in your hand?”

Love, and just accepting that He loves me, and you. He does. Otherwise, why are we here? Random accident? How terrible, pointless, and nihilist an answer is THAT.
Matthew

Be vigilant!!!

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-by Aquinas, etc.

“Advent is a unique season of the ecclesial year and one that is uniquely misunderstood. It is not solely about the coming of the Lord as the Son of Mary, a baby in the manger. It is also about the coming of the Lord in judgment at world’s end. This is why it is a penitential season. And it is also why the first Gospel reading of Advent includes this from the book of Luke.

Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36)

Be vigilant and pray, says the Lord Jesus. Why? So that we may have strength. Strength for what? Strength to escape “the tribulations that are imminent” and also to stand before the Son of Man. That is rather alarming. Please note that Jesus is not talking to just anyone here; He is telling this to His disciples, including the Apostles. Why should they of all people need to pray for strength to stand before Him?

This does not mean that He considered them to be unbelievers (Judas excepted of course). In fact I suspect that there are at least a few people who would confirm that strength is just exactly what one needs when he stands before God.

Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! (Isaiah 6:5)

And:

We will certainly die, for we have seen God. (Judges 13:22)

And:

Now, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord, our God, any more, we shall die. (Deuteronomy 5:25)

Do not the Lord’s words of warning sound very much in keeping with what Isaiah, Manoah, and all Israel thought when they were in God’s presence? “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31. So it makes sense, it seems to me, for this to be a penitential season. We are preparing to meet our God at His coming! Yes, there will be joy for His people but God is an infinitely awesome God. Who can have the heart to stand in the presence of such a great God? I think this is why Jesus tells us to pray that we may have strength to stand before Him. Advent is not only about Christmas. The Day of the Lord is both great and terrible (Malachi 3:23).

But who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can stand firm when He appears? (Malachi 3:2)

Love, striving, through His grace, to be vigilant & strong! He comes!!!
Matthew

Advent, 4th, 5th, & 6th Circumstances – St Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church

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-The Vision of St Bernard, by Fra Bartolomeo, 1504, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

Circumstance 4: For what end must we believe that He came?

“This question is the next in order to be examined; nor will the search demand much labour, for the end and purpose of His coming is proclaimed by His words and His works. To seek after the one sheep of the hundred that had strayed He hastened from the mountains. For our sake He came down from heaven, that His mercies and His wonders might be openly proclaimed to the children of men. O wonderful condescension of God in this search! O wonderful dignity of man who is thus sought! If he should wish to glory in this dignity, it would not be imputed to him as folly. Not that he need think anything of himself, but let him rejoice that He Who made him should set so high a value on him. For all the riches and glory of the world, all that is desirable therein, is far below this glory–nay, can bear no comparison with it. “Lord, what is man that thou should magnify him? and why settest thou thy heart upon him?” (cf Job 7:17).

I still further desire to know why He should come to us, and not we rather go to Him, for the need was on our side, and it is not usual for the rich to go to the poor, though otherwise willing to assist them. It was indeed our place to go forward to Him, but there stood a twofold impediment in the way; for our eyes were heavy, and He “dwelt in light inaccessible.” We lay as paralytics on our beds, and could not raise ourselves to the Divine elevation. Wherefore this most benign Saviour and Physician of souls descended to us from His lofty throne, and tempered His brightness to the weakness of our sight. He clothed Himself with His most glorious and spotless body as with the shade of a lantern, thus attempering to us His splendour. This is that bright and shining cloud upon which the Lord was to descend upon Egypt, as the Prophet Isaiah foretold. (cf Isaiah 19:1).

Circumstance 5: It is now fitting that we should consider the time of our Lord’s coming.

He came, as you know, not in the beginning, nor in the midst of time, but in the end of it. This was no unsuitable choice, but a truly wise dispensation of His infinite wisdom, that He might afford help when He saw it was most needed. Truly, “it was evening, and the day was far (Luke 24:29); the sun had well nigh set, and but a faint ray of his justice light and heat remained on earth. The light of Divine knowledge was very small, and as iniquity abounded, the fervour of charity had grown cold. No angel appeared, no prophet spoke. The angelic vision and the prophetic spirit alike had passed away, both hopelessly baffled by the exceeding obduracy and obstinacy of mankind. Then it was that the Son of God said “Behold, I come” (Hebrews 10:7). And “while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, the almighty word leaped down from heaven from thy royal throne” (Wisdom 18:14-15). Of this coming the Apostle speaks: “When the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son” (Galatians 4:4). The plenitude and affluence of things temporal had brought on the oblivion and penury of things eternal. Fitly, therefore, did the Eternal God come when things of time were reigning supreme. To pass over other points, such was the temporal peace at the birth of Christ that by the edict of one man the whole world was enrolled.

You have now heard Who He is that comes, whence, whither, and to whom He comes; the cause, likewise, and the time of His coming are known to you.

Circumstance 6: One point is yet to be considered namely, the way by which He came.

This must be diligently examined, that we may, as is fitting, go forth to meet Him. As He once came visibly in the body to work our salvation in the midst of the earth, so does He come daily invisibly and in spirit to work the salvation of each individual soul; as it is written: “The Spirit before our face, Christ the Lord.” And that we might know this spiritual advent to be hidden, it is said: “Under his shadow we shall live among the Gentiles” (Lamentations 4:20). Wherefore, if the infirm cannot go far to meet this great Physician, it is at least becoming they should endeavour to raise their heads and lift themselves a little to greet their Saviour. For this, O man, you are not required to cross the sea, to penetrate the clouds, to scale the mountain-tops. No lofty way is set before you. Turn within thyself to meet thy God, for the Word is nigh in thy mouth and in thy heart. Meet Him by compunction of heart and by confession of mouth, or, at least, go forth from the corruption of a sinful conscience, for it is not becoming that the Author of purity should enter there.

It is delightful to contemplate the manner of His visible coming, for His “ways are beautiful, and all his paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17). “Behold,” says the Spouse of the Canticles, He cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills” (Song of Songs 2:8). You see Him coming, O beautiful one, but His previous lying down you could not see, for you said: “Shew me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou liest” (Song of Songs 1:7). He lay feeding His angels in His endless eternity with the vision of His glorious, unchanging beauty. But know, O beautiful one, that that vision is become wonderful to thee ; it is high, and thou canst not reach it. Nevertheless, behold He hath gone forth from His holy place, and He that had lain feeding His angels hath undertaken to heal us. We shall see Him coming as our food, Whom we were not able to behold while He was feeding His angels in His repose. “Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.” The mountains and hills we may consider to be the Patriarchs and the Prophets, and we may see His leaping and skipping in the book of His genealogy. “Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob” (Matthew 1:2), etc. From the mountains came forth the root of Jesse, as you will find from the Prophet Isaiah: “There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root, and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him” (Isaiah 11:1-2a). The same prophet speaks yet more plainly: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel, which is interpreted, ‘God with us’ ” (Isaiah 7:14). He Who is first styled a flower is afterwards called Emmanuel, and in the rod is named the virgin. But we must reserve for another day further consideration of this sublime mystery, as there is ample material for another sermon, especially as to-day’s has been rather long.”

Love, Joyful Advent, He comes!!!
Matthew

Advent, 2nd & 3rd Circumstance – St Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church

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-St Bernard of Clairvaux, as shown in the church of Heiligenkreuz Abbey near Baden bei Wien, Lower Austria. Portrait (1700) with the true effigy of the Saint by Georg Andreas Wasshuber (1650-1732), (painted after a statue in Clairvaux with the true effigy of the saint)

Circumstances 2 and 3: Behold, you have heard Who He is that comes; consider now whence and to whom He comes.

“He comes from the heart of God the Father to the womb of a virgin mother; He comes from the highest heaven to this low earth, that we whose conversation is now on earth may have Him for our most desirable companion. For where can it be well with us without Him, and where ill if He be present? “What have I in heaven, and besides Thee what do I desire upon earth? Thou art the God of my heart and the God that is my portion for ever” (Psalm 73:25-26) and “though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” if only “thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).

But here I see that our Lord descends not only to earth, but even to hell; not as one bound, but as free among the dead; as light that shines in the darkness, “and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Wherefore His soul was not left in hell, nor did His holy body on earth see corruption. For Christ “that descended is the same also that ascended…that he might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:10) “who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). And elsewhere we read, He “hath exalted as a giant to run his way…His going forth is from the highest heavens, and his circuit even to the end thereof” (cf Psalm 19:7). Well might St. Paul cry out: “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). In vain would the Apostle labour to raise our hearts upwards if he did not teach us that the Author of our salvation is sitting in heaven.

But what follows? The matter here is indeed abundant in the extreme; but our limited time does not admit of a lengthened development. By considering Who He is that comes, we see His supreme and ineffable majesty, and by contemplating whence He comes, we behold the great highway clearly laid out to us. The Prophet Isaiah says: “Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from afar” (Isaiah 30:27). By reflecting whither He comes, we see His inestimable and inconceivable condescension in His descending from highest heavens to abide with us in this miserable prison-house. Who can doubt that there was some grand cause powerful enough to move so sovereign a Majesty to come “from afar,” and condescend to enter a place so unworthy of Him as this world of ours. The cause was in truth great. It was His immense mercy, His multiplied compassion, His abundant charity.”

Love, Joyful Advent!! He comes!!!
Matthew

Advent, 1st Circumstance – St Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church

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-St Bernard

“The name of this great annual commemoration is sufficiently familiar to us; its meaning may not be so well known.

When the unhappy children of Eve had abandoned the pursuit of things true and salutary, they gave themselves up to the search for those that are fleeting and perishable.

To whom shall we liken the men of this generation, or to what shall we compare them, seeing they are unable to tear themselves from earthly and carnal consolations, or disentangle their minds from such trammels? They resemble the shipwrecked who are in danger of being overwhelmed by the waters, and who may be seen catching eagerly at whatever they first grasp, how frail soever it may be. And if anyone strive to rescue them, they are wont to seize and drag him down with them, so that not infrequently the rescuer is involved with them in one common destruction. Thus the children of the world perish miserably while following after transitory things and neglecting those which are solid and enduring, cleaving to which, they might save their souls. Of truth, not of vanity, it is said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

Do you, therefore, to whom as to little ones God has revealed things hidden from the wise and prudent, turn your thoughts with earnestness to those that are truly desirable, and diligently meditate on this coming of our Lord (cf Matthew 11:25). Consider:

1. Who He is that comes,
2. Whence He comes,
3. To whom He comes,
4. For what end He comes,
5. When He comes, and
6. In what manner He comes.

This is undoubtedly a most useful and praiseworthy curiosity, for the Church would not so devoutly celebrate the season of Advent if there were not some great mystery hidden therein.

Circumstance 1: Wherefore, in the first place, let us with the Apostle consider in astonishment and admiration how great He is Who comes.

According to the testimony of Gabriel, He is the Son of the Most High, and consequently a coequal with Him. Nor is it lawful to think that the Son of God is other than coequal with His Father. He is coequal in majesty; He is coequal in dignity. Who will deny that the sons of princes are princes, and the sons of kings kings?

But how is it that of the Three Persons Whom we believe, and confess, and adore in the Most High Trinity, it was not the Father, nor the Holy Ghost, but the Son that became Man? I imagine this was not without cause. But “who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34). Not without some most deep counsel of the Blessed Trinity was it decreed that the Son should become Incarnate. If we consider the cause of our exile, we may perchance be able to comprehend in some degree how fitting it was that our deliverance should be chiefly accomplished by the Son.

Lucifer, who rose brightly as the morning star, because he attempted to usurp a similitude with the Most High, and “it was thought robbery in him to equal himself with God,” an equality which was the Son’s by right, was cast down from heaven and ruined; for the Father was zealous for the glory of the Son, and seemed by this act to say: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And instantly “I saw Satan as lightning falling from heaven” (Luke 10:18).

Dust and ashes, why art thou proud? If God spared not pride in His angels, how much less will He tolerate it in thee, innate corruption? Satan had committed no overt act, he had but consented to a thought of pride, yet in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, he was irreparably rejected because, as the Evangelist says, “he stood not in the truth” (John 8:44). Fly pride, my brethren, I most earnestly beseech you. “Pride is the beginning of all sin” (Sirach 10:13) and how quickly did it darken and overshadow with eternal obscurity Lucifer, the most bright and beautiful of the heavenly spirits, and, from not only an angel, but the first of angels, transform him into a hideous devil! Wherefore, envying man’s happiness, he brought forth in him the evil which he had conceived in himself by persuading man that if he should eat of the forbidden tree he would become as God, having a knowledge of good and evil. Wretch! what dost thou promise, when thou knowest that the Son of God has the key of knowledge yea, and is Himself the “key of David, that shutteth and no man openeth” (cf Revelation 3:7) that “in Him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God?” (Colossians 2:3). Wouldst thou, then, wickedly steal them away to give them to men?

You see, my brethren, how true is the sentence of our Lord, “The devil is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). He was a liar in saying, “I will be like unto the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14) and he was the father of lies when he breathed his spirit of falsity into man. “You will be as gods” (Genesis 3:5). And wilt thou, man, “seeing the thief, run with him?” (Psalm 50:18). You have heard, my brethren, what has been read this night from Isaiah. The Prophet says to the Lord, “Thy princes are faithless, companions of thieves” or, as another version has it, “disobedient companions of thieves” (Isaiah 1:23). In truth, Adam and Eve were disobedient companions of thieves, for, by the counsel of the serpent, or, rather, of the devil in the serpent, they tried to seize upon what belonged by birthright to the Son of God. Nor did the Father overlook the injury, for the Father loveth the Son. He immediately took revenge on that same man, and let His hand fall on us all, “for in Adam all have sinned” and in his sentence of condemnation we have shared.

What, then, did the Son do, seeing His Father so zealous for His glory, and for His sake sparing none of His creatures? “Behold,” He says, “on My account My Father has ruined His creatures: the first of the angels aspired to My throne of sovereignty, and had followers who believed in him; and instantly My Father’s zeal was heavily revenged on him, striking him and all his adherents with an incurable plague, with a dire chastisement. Man, too, attempted to steal from Me the knowledge which belongs to Me alone, and neither doth My Father show him mercy, nor doth His eye spare him. He had made two noble orders sharing His reason, capable of participating in His beatitude, angels and men; but behold, on My account He hath ruined a multitude of His angels and the entire race of men. Therefore, that they may know that I love My Father, He shall receive back through Me what in a certain way He seems to have lost through Me. ‘It is on my account this storm has arisen take me and cast me into the sea’ (Jonah 1:12). All are envious of Me; behold I come, and will exhibit Myself to them in such a guise as that whosoever shall wish may become like to Me; whatsoever I shall do they may imitate, so that their envy shall be made good and profitable to them.”

The angels, we know, sinned through malice, not through ignorance and frailty; wherefore, as they were unwilling to repent, must of necessity perish, for the love of the Father and the honor of the King demand judgment. For this cause He created men from the beginning, that they might fill those lost places, and repair the ruins of the heavenly Jerusalem. For He knew “the pride of Moab, that he is exceedingly proud” (Isaiah 16:6) and that his pride would never seek the remedy of repentance, nor, consequently, of pardon. After man’s fall, however, He created no other creature in his place, thus intimating that man should yet be redeemed, and that he who had been supplanted by another’s malice might still by another’s charity be redeemed.

Be it so, dear Lord, I beseech Thee. Be pleased to deliver me, for I am weak. Like Joseph of old, I was stolen away from my country, and here without any fault was cast into a dungeon. Yet I am not wholly innocent, but innocent compared with him who seduced me. He deceived me with a lie: let the truth come, that falsehood may be discovered, and that I may know the truth, and that the truth may make me free. But to gain the freedom I must renounce the falsehood when discovered, and adhere to the known truth; otherwise the temptation would not be human, nor the sin a human sin, but diabolical obstinacy. To persevere in evil is the act of the devil, and those who persevere in evil after his example deservedly perish with him.”

Love, Joyful Advent, He comes!!!
Matthew

Angelus

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-The Angelus (1857–59) by Jean-François Millet

(bell tolls:  6am, noon, 6pm)

℣. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ,
℟. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. * Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.

℣. Ecce ancilla Domini.
℟. Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. * Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.

℣. Et Verbum caro factum est.
℟. Et habitavit in nobis.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. * Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.

℣. Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genetrix.
℟. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Oremus.
Gratiam tuam, quæsumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, Angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem eius et crucem ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟: Amen.

English
℣. The Angel of the LORD declared unto Mary,
℟. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

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.

℣. Behold the handmaid of the LORD.
℟. Be it done unto me according to thy word.

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.

℣. And the Word was made flesh.
℟. And dwelt among us.

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.

℣. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
℟. That we might be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray,
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, 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.

Love & grace,
Matthew

Mary’s gift we must receive, too.

OrazioGentileschiAnnunciation2WGA08574
-The Annunciation, Orazio Gentileschi, circa 1623

carmelite_sisters_SHJ_LA
-by Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart, Los Angeles

“On the First Sunday in Advent, all over the world – in Los Angeles, in Rome, in Tibet – wherever Christians gather, in cathedrals and around kitchen tables, a single candle will be lit – the first candle of the Advent wreath. That single candle pierces the darkness. Hope is enkindled. Once again, as every year, the whole world waits.

In the Old Testament, we see that the prophet Isaiah waited. As he waited, he expressed Israel’s hope for the Messiah, announced there would be a birth of Emmanuel, ‘God-with-us’, and spoke about God’s preparation and humanity’s longing.

In the New Testament, John the Baptist waited. As he waited, he announced that the coming of the Messiah was near, called the people to prepare for Christ’s coming with baptism and conversion, and came before Christ as His precursor.

Mary, who accepted the invitation to become the Mother of the Messiah, waited for His birth. She was not asked to do anything herself but to let something be done to her. She was not asked to renounce anything but to receive an incredible gift. She was not asked to lead a special kind of life, to retire to the temple or claim special privileges. She was simply to remain in the world, to go forward with her marriage to Joseph, and to live the life of an artisan’s wife.

The whole thing was to happen secretly. There was to be no announcement. The Psalmist had hymned Christ’s coming on harps of gold. The prophets had foretold it with burning tongues. But now the loudest telling of His presence on earth was to be the heartbeat within the heartbeat of a child.

The one thing that God did ask of Mary was the gift of her humanity. God asked her to give Him her body and soul unconditionally and to give Him her daily life. Outwardly, her life would not differ from the life she would have led if she had not been chosen to be the bride of the Spirit and the Mother of God. During Advent, Christ rested in Mary, still, silent, helpless, and utterly dependent. The Creator trusted Himself to His creature. He trusted to her what was most important to Him – the expression of His love of His Father. He was mute; her voice was His voice; He was still; her footsteps were His journeys. He was blind; her eyes were His seeing. His hands were folded; her hands did the work of His hands. His life was her life. His heartbeat was the beating of her heart.

This was how Christ came in history. It is the same today as He comes to each one of us. For as surely as He rested in Mary – so He rests in you and in me. From the moment when the Christ-life is conceived in us, our life is intended for one thing – the expression of His love, His love for God and for the world. Our words are to be the words that He wants to speak. We must go to wherever He wants to go, and we must look at whatever He wants to see. Our life must be the living of His life, our loves the very loving of His heart.

There is the other aspect of Christ’s Advent – of His waiting while He remained hidden in Mary; His rest was a tremendous activity. He was making Himself from her – and – making her into Himself. From her eyes, He was making the eyes that would “weep over Jerusalem,” that would dance with sheer delight over children, that would close in death and open on the morning of the Resurrection. From her hands, He was making the hands that would heal and raise the dead and be nailed to the Cross. From her heart, He was making the heart whose love would redeem the world.

The same thing occurs when, allowing the infant Christ to rest in us, we wait patiently on His own timing of His growth in us and give Him just what He asks – the extremely simple things that are ourselves – our hands and feet, our eyes and ears, our words, our thoughts, our love.

Not only does He grow in us, be we are formed into Him.

It certainly seemed that God wanted to give the world the impression that it is ordinary for Him to be born of a human creature. It’s true. God did mean it to be the ordinary thing, for it is His will that Christ shall be born in every human person’s life and not, as a rule, through extraordinary things, but through the ordinary daily life and the human love that people give to one another.

We are not asked to do more than the Mother of God – surrender all that we are, as we are – to the Spirit of Love in order that our lives may bear Christ into the world. That is what we, also, shall be asked.

There is in every human heart, be it the heart of a man or a woman, an empty cradle, waiting for the birth of Christ to fill it. Those who have Him, those in whom He is born again day after day, have just this one work to do, to show the others that what they want, what they long for, is Christ.”

Love, Joyful Advent, He Comes!!!!
Matthew

Dec 8, 2015 – Our Final Judgment – Mt 25:31-46

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-dome of the basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Habit #2 of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is “Begin with the end in mind.” Sound advice. Sage advice. Today Advent and the Jubilliee of Mercy converge.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” -Pr 9:10

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

“Advent (Adventus) means arrival. Arrivals can be wonderful and joyous, but they can also scare the life out of us. They can be terrifying for something breaks in to upset and re-arrange the current state of affairs.

Jesus speaks of such an arrival and says to His disciples, “The coming of the Son of Man will repeat what happened in Noah’s time” (Mt 24:37). Those are not very reassuring words. Then He adds that people were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, right up to the time of the flood, and then, when it came, they were destroyed with shocking suddenness. The end of an old world had arrived, but the inhabitants of that world were clueless. A new world was coming, but its prospective citizens had no idea how to prepare for it.

What would that look like in our day? Well, imagine a huge comet crashing into the earth. Scientists tell us this would destroy civilization and life as we know it. But what if we knew that a comet was coming and we did nothing about it? We didn’t adjust in any way to it? This was the situation of those in Noah’s time and, Jesus suggests, those in His own time.

Jesus breaks into our sinful world like a cleansing fire or like a wild storm –or like a comet–and He brings a revolution. That’s the way He arrives.”
-Bishop Robert Barron

Fellow sinners!  Let us repent!  And, believe in the Gospel!!!

Love, and always in need of His mercy,
Matthew

Verbum patris humanatur

The word of the Father is made man,
while a maiden is greeted;
the greeted one is fruitful
without knowledge of man.
Behold, new joys!

A new manner of birth,
but exceeding in power of nature,
when the Creator of all things
is made creature.
Behold, new joys!

Hear of a birth beyond precedent:
a virgin hath given birth to the Savior,
the creature bears the Creator,
the daughter, the Father.
Behold, new joys!

In the Savior’s birth
there is no parent of our kind:
a maiden gives birth,
nor do the lilies of her chastity whither.
Behold, new joys!

The God-Man is given us,
the given One is shown to us,
while peace is announced to the nations
and glory to the heavens.
Behold, new joys!

Verbum patris humanatur, O, O!
dum puella salutatur, O, O!
salutata fecundatur
viri nescia.
Ey, ey, eya, nova gaudia!

Novus modus geniture, O, O!
sed excedens vim nature, O, O!
dum unitur creature
creans omnia.
Ey, ey, eya, nova gaudia!

Audi partem preter morem, O, O!
virgo parit salvatorem, O, O!
creatura creatorem,
patrem filia.
Ey, ey, eya, nova gaudia!

In parente salvatoris, O, O!
non est parens nostri moris, O, O!
virgo parit, nec pudoris
marcent lilia.
Ey, ey, eya, nova gaudia!

Homo Deus nobis datur, O, O!
datus nobis demonstratur, O, O!
dum pax terris nuntiatur,
celis gloria.
Ey, ey, eya, nova gaudia!

Love,
Matthew