Mary Christmas!: Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25, 2019


J.M.J.


Jesus Christ is still present among His brothers and sisters two thousand years after His initial appearance. Article 7 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) from the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (1962-1965) declared:

. . . Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, Who formerly offered Himself on the Cross”, but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the Sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself Who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself Who speaks when the Holy Scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20) .

Christmas affords us an excellent opportunity to reflect well on the Most Blessed Sacrament and to ask ourselves how we reverence the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

Jesuit Father Segundo Llorente (1906-1989) was an outstanding missionary to the faithful of Alaska. A brilliant and humble priest, Father Llorente spent himself in the service of the indigenous of Alaska for decades.

Years ago, in a meditation entitled “Strange Things Happen on the Night of Christmas,” this Spanish religious offered his thoughts on the adoration due the Most Blessed Sacrament. This powerful essay, which was published in the February 1998 newsletter of the Catholic Society of Evangelists, seems more pertinent now than when it first was penned.

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A priest told me what happened to him once in his first parish. After the Midnight Mass on Christmas Day he personally locked the church. With the keys in his pocket he went to his room and had a good sleep. At 7:30 in the morning he got up and went back to the church intending to have one hour of prayer all to himself. He opened the side door leading to the sacristy, turned on a light and then turned on the lights for the church. As he opened the sacristy door and walked into the church, he literally froze. Strange people clad in the poorest of clothes occupied most of the pews and all were in total silence. No one so much as wiggled and nobody cared to look at him. A small group was standing by the Nativity Scene contemplating the manger in total silence.

The priest recovered quickly and in a loud voice asked them how they got in. Nobody answered. He walked closer to them and asked again. “Who let you in?” A woman answered totally unconcerned: “Strange things happen on the night of Christmas.” And back to total silence. The priest went to check the main door and found it locked just as he had left it. He was now determined to get the facts and turned his face to the pews; but they were empty. The people had vanished.

He kept this puzzle to himself for some time. Unable to hold it in any longer, he told me just what I have told you. Could I help with any plausible explanation? Let me hurry to say that the priest in question is a model of sanity and is as well educated academically as most of the priests I know, if not better.

My explanation was and still is as follows. Those were dead people who were doing their purgatory, or part of it, in the church. It is safe to assume that we atone for our sins where we committed them. Those people were immersed in total silence. Why? Consider the irreverences committed before the Blessed Sacrament; how many people act out in church: chatting, giggling, and looking around. After Mass some people gather in small groups around the pews and turn the church into a market place with no regard for Christ’s Real Presence in the tabernacle. Why did they vanish? They did not vanish. They simply became invisible; but they remained tied to their pews unable to utter one single word to atone for their disrespectful chatter while living.

The Blessed Sacrament is no laughing matter. There is a price tag to all we do or say. In the end it is God Who gets the last laugh—so to speak. Those people had to give the Blessed Sacrament the adoration and respect that Christ deserves. For how long? Only God can answer that. Why did the priest see them? So he could pray for them and for all other Poor Souls detained in other churches. Why other priests do not see these people? Well, perhaps they already know in theory that souls can be detained in churches as well as anywhere else, so they do not need a miracle.

Why were they clad in such poor clothes? To atone for their vanity while living. People often use clothes not so much to cover their nakedness but as a status symbol to impress others. But God is not impressed by, say, mink coats. Also people walk into church with hardly any clothes. In the summer months it is not unusual for people—mostly women—to go to receive Holy Communion in the most indecent clothing. The pastor may or may not put up with it; but God will have His day in court about this. Rags could be an appropriate punishment for these excesses.

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Absent an official declaration from the Church that the above episode recounted by Father Llorente is true, one may dismiss it. But the deeper meaning cannot be summarily rejected, namely, that the Sacred Heart of Emmanuel, Who comes to us, is really, truly and substantially present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar and is to be “praised, adored and loved with grateful affection at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world, even until the end of time. Amen.”

Our Lady, the Co-Redemptrix?: The Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 22, 2019


J.M.J.


On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, 2019, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica. In his homily, given in Spanish, the Holy Father said, “When they come with stories that we had to declare this, or make this other dogma or that, let us not get lost in foolishness.” 

Pope Francis was referring to the proposal submitted by some clergy, consecrated and laity for the definition of a new dogma: Mary, the Mother of God, is the Co-Redemptrix.

In his Introduction to Mary: The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion (Goleta, California: Queenship Publishing Company, 2006), Mark I. Miravalle, Professor of Theology and Mariology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Steubenville, explains how Our Lady is said to be the Co-Redemptrix, a term that has been used since the fourteenth century.

“The title, ‘Co-redemptix,’ refers to Mary’s unique participation with and under her Divine Son Jesus Christ, in the historic Redemption of humanity. The prefix, ‘Co,’ comes from the Latin ‘cum,’ which means ‘with.’ The title of Coredemptrix applied to the Mother of Jesus never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the divine Lord of all, in the saving process of humanity’s Redemption. Rather, it denotes Mary’s singular and unique sharing with her Son in the saving work of Redemption for the human family. The Mother of Jesus participates in the redemptive work of her Savior Son, who alone could reconcile humanity with the Father in His glorious divinity and humanity.” (94-95)

Mary’s entire existence has been one of cooperation with the Lord. So it was on Calvary. She who was preserved by God from Original Sin at the moment of her conception and heard from the mouth of Simeon that “you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Saint Luke 2:35) accepted the salvific death of her Son not with a “hands-off” approach but instead by embracing it. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) of November 21, 1964, painted this picture of Our Blessed Lady’s collaboration with the Almighty, which included her heroic surrender to Christ’s ignominious death.

“Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associated herself with His sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which was born of her.” (58)

Deacon Miravalle continued: “Mary uniquely participated in the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary and in the acquisition of the graces of Redemption for humanity (theologically referred to as ‘objective redemption’). Mary offered her Son and her maternal rights in relation to her Son to the Heavenly Father in perfect obedience to God’s will and in atonement for the sins of the world. Mary’s offering of her own Son on Calvary, along with her own motherly compassion, rights and suffering, offered in union with her Son for the salvation of the human family, merited more graces than any other created person. As Pope Pius XII confirmed in his encyclical On the Mystical Body, Mary “offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father, together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and her motherly love, like a New Eve for all children of Adam.” (96)

Despite her enormous grief as she watched her Son die, Our Lady generously “yielded” Jesus to the purpose the Father through the Holy Spirit intended, namely the reconciliation of the human race to its Creator. Although what Mary did on Calvary was secondary and subordinate to what Christ did, it was, nevertheless, necessary because God made it so. In His unparalleled wisdom, the Lord required this all-encompassing—and real—sacrifice from Mary, who lived her fiat on Calvary with incredible trust in God as she had at the Annunciation.

During his homily, Pope Francis stated his preference for “disciple” to describe Our Lady rather than “Co-Redemptrix.”

When asked about Mary as the Co-Redemptrix, this correspondent answers that the notion, which has been taught for centuries, is within the common teaching of the Church. Any definition can only be decided by the Pope of the moment or an Ecumenical Council under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.



Our Lady's Newest Bishop: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Thursday, December 12, 2019


J.M.J.

Pope Francis has appointed the Reverend Father Donald Edward DeGrood as the Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux Falls.

We rejoice in this great news, and we promise to pray for Bishop-Elect DeGrood.

From the Website of the Holy See:


Il Santo Padre ha accettato la rinuncia al governo pastorale della Diocesi di Sioux Falls (U.S.A.), presentata da S.E. Mons. Paul Joseph Swain.
Il Santo Padre ha nominato Vescovo di Sioux Falls (U.S.A.) il Rev.do Donald Edward DeGrood, del clero dell’Arcidiocesi di Saint Paul and Minneapolis, finora Parroco della Saint John the Baptist Parish a Savage, Minnesota.
Rev.do Donald Edward DeGrood
Il Rev.do Donald Edward DeGrood è nato 14 febbraio 1965 a Faribault (Minnesota). Ha compiuto gli studi ecclesiastici presso il Seminario Saint Paul a Saint Paul, Minnesota.
È stato ordinato sacerdote per l’Arcidiocesi di Saint Paul and Minneapolis il 31 maggio 1997.
Dopo l’ordinazione è stato Viceparroco della All Saints Parish a Lakeville (1997-2000), Direttore Spirituale del Saint John Vianney Seminary (2000-2004), Parroco della Saint Peter Parish a Forest Lake (2004-2013), Parroco della Blessed Sacrament Parish a Saint Paul (2013-2015). Dal 2013 al 2017 è stato Vicario Episcopale per il Clero. Dal 2017 è Parroco della Saint John the Baptist Parish a Savage. È stato Membro di molteplici Comitati diocesani. È anche Membro del Board del Seminario Saint Paul.


http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2019/12/12/0995/02036.html#usa

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and George Herman "Babe" Ruth, Jr.: Memorial of Saint Sabas, Thursday, December 5, 2019


J.M.J.


In the October 1948 issue of Guideposts appeared an article by Babe Ruth. It arrived some weeks earlier--August 16th to be exact, the day on which the extraordinary athlete died.

What follows is an excerpt that details the importance of the Sacraments, Our Lady's intercession through Her Miraculous Medal and the good, honest guidance offered by a friend.



In December, 1946, I was in French Hospital, New York, facing a serious operation. Paul Carey, one of my oldest and closest friends, was by my bed one night.

“They’re going to operate in the morning, Babe,” Paul said. “Don't you think you ought to put your house in order?”

I didn’t dodge the long, challenging look in his eyes. I knew what he meant. For the first time I realized that death might strike me out. I nodded, and Paul got up, called in a Chaplain, and I made a full Confession.

“I’ll return in the morning and give you Holy Communion,” the Chaplain said, “But you don’t have to fast.”

“I’ll fast,” I said. I didn’t have even a drop of water.

As I lay in bed that evening I thought to myself what a comforting feeling to be free from fear and worries. I now could simply turn them over to God. Later on, my wife brought in a letter from a little kid in Jersey City.

“Dear Babe," he wrote, “Everybody in the seventh grade class is pulling and praying for you. I am enclosing a Medal which if you wear will make you better. Your pal–Mike Quinlan.

"P.S. I know this will be your 61st homer. You’ll hit it.”

I asked them to pin the Miraculous Medal to my pajama coat. I’ve worn the Medal constantly ever since. I’ll wear it to my grave.


May the Soul of George Herman Ruth, Jr., rest in peace. Amen.

Our Lady of Loreto and Pope Francis: Saint Francis Xavier, Tuesday, December 3, 2019


J.M.J.


     Pope Francis recently decreed that the Feast of Our Lady of Loreto, which is celebrated on December 10th, is now on the General Roman Calendar, meaning that the Feast may now be liturgically commemorated throughout the world on that same day.

     Since the Middle Ages, the Holy House of Nazareth has been venerated in Loreto, Italy, and is, in the words of Robert Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, even today “visited by many faithful pilgrims in order to nourish their faith in the Word of God made flesh for us.”

    Cardinal Sarah continued: “In the Holy House, before the image of the Mother of the Redeemer and of the Church, Saints and Blesseds have responded to their vocation, the sick have invoked consolation in suffering, the people of God have begun to praise and plead with Mary using the Litany of Loreto, which is known throughout the world. In a particular way all those who travel via aircraft have found in her their heavenly patron.”

     The Feast of Our Lady of Loreto “will help all people, especially families, youth and religious to imitate the virtues of that perfect disciple of the Gospel, the Virgin Mother, who, in conceiving the Head of the Church also accepted us as her own.”

     In the United States of America, this Feast join others with a distinctly Marian character during the middle of Advent: The Immaculate Conception (December 8th); Saint Juan Diego (December 9th); Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12th).

     V. Our Lady of Loreto. R. Pray for us.

O Mother, Take Care Of Us!: First Sunday of Advent, December 1, 2019


J.M.J.


Saint John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
From Parochial and Plain Sermons Volume 5, Number 6.


We are not our own, any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves; we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We cannot be our own masters. We are God’s property by creation, by redemption, by regeneration. He has a triple claim upon us. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter?

Is it any happiness, or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way,—to depend on no one,—to have to think of nothing out of sight,—to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgment, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man – that it is an unnatural state – may do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end. No, we are creatures; and, as being such, we have two duties, to be resigned and to be thankful.

Let us then view God’s providences towards us more religiously than we have hitherto done. Let us try to gain a truer view of what we are, and where we are, in His kingdom. Let us humbly and reverently attempt to trace His guiding hand in the years which we have hitherto lived. Let us thankfully commemorate the many mercies He has vouchsafed to us in time past, the many sins He has not remembered, the many dangers He has averted, the many prayers He has answered, the many mistakes He has corrected, the many warnings, the many lessons, the much light, the abounding comfort which He has from time to time given.

Let us dwell upon times and seasons, times of trouble, times of joy, times of trial, times of refreshment. How did He cherish us as children! How did He guide us in that dangerous time when the mind began to think for itself, and the heart to open to the world! How did He with his sweet discipline restrain our passions, mortify our hopes, calm our fears, enliven our heavinesses, sweeten our desolateness, and strengthen our infirmities! How did He gently guide us towards the strait gate! how did He allure us along His everlasting way, in spite of its strictness, in spite of its loneliness, in spite of the dim twilight in which it lay!

He has been all things to us. He has been, as He was to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our God, our shield, and great reward, promising and performing, day by day. “Hitherto hath He helped us.” “He hath been mindful of us, and He will bless us.” He has not made us for nought; He has brought us thus far, in order to bring us further, in order to bring us on to the end.


The Holy Angels--Adoring Their Lord and Venerating Their Queen: Feast of Saint Andrew, Saturday, November 30, 2019


J.M.J.



Years ago, my Grandmother, who was my Mother’s mother, told me that she learned as a young child that the Holy Angels are “created spirits.” Her assertion reminded me that she, who was born in 1897 and had been taught well by her parents, the Priests and the Sisters, knew the distinction between God as “The Uncreated Spirit” and the Angels who had been created in time.

Such truths today are probably not widely known by Catholics of any age, never mind children. How we need to pray and fast for a fresh start!

  The existence of those created spirits, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.” (328)

In a passage that has become famous, the great Saint Augustine wrote: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.’” (329)

The Angels possess an intellect and a will as we do. Yet, their intellects have not been darkened and their wills have not been weakened by Original Sin as have ours.

The same Catechism reminds us:

Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are His angels: ‘When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him . . .’ They belong to Him because they were created through and for Him: ‘for in Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him.’ They belong to Him still more because He has made them messengers of His saving plan: ‘Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?’ (331)

And the Holy Angels have adored and served God with fidelity. They continue in this vein.

From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word Incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God ‘brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship Him.’’ Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: ‘Glory to God in the highest!’ They protect Jesus in His infancy, serve Him in the desert, strengthen Him in His agony in the garden, when He could have been saved by them from the hands of His enemies as Israel had been. Again, it is the angels who ‘evangelize’ by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection. They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at His judgment. (333)

Each of us benefits from the presence and assistance of our Guardian Angel, whose mission is, according to the “Prayer to the Guardian Angel,” “to light, to guard, to rule and guide.” Again, the Catechism:

From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.’ Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God. (336)

We are obliged to recognize that there are other angels, who are not holy, who do all they can to tempt us and lead us to Hell. These are the demons who are under the exacting, ungentle and hateful tyranny of Satan. We rebuff their constant and maniacal efforts by sincere recourse to Our Lord, Our Lady, Saint Joseph and all the Angels and Saints as well as by the worthy and frequent reception of the Holy Sacraments of the Church.

As we read and hear Sacred Scripture during these Seasons of Advent and Christmas and note the continuous intervention of the Holy Angels, we can only marvel at who the Angels are and what they do. These “created spirits” proclaimed the Lordship of Our Lord Jesus Christ while they protected Him, Our Lady and Saint Joseph. And we know from faith and experience that their benevolent and timely help remains with us and overshadows us twenty centuries later.