God's Echo: The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, First Friday, January 1, 2016

J.M.J. It seems natural that the Church would set aside a day during the Christmas season to venerate in a particular way Mary the Mother of God. That day is today. The very first day of the New Year is dedicated to remembering the Woman of Nazareth who brought forth from her virginal womb Jesus the Son of God Who in turn reconciled us to His Heavenly Father through the unmistakable action of the Holy Spirit.

The timing of this wondrous event, that the Son of God would take to Himself a human nature, was wholly God’s. He alone decided when to enter our human history in such a radical, unique and permanent way.
As Saint Paul wrote in his Letter to the Galatians, the Father sent His Son to us, which is the mystery we call the Incarnation, in “the fullness of time.” In other words, it was precisely the best time. None other would do.

The maiden known as Mary, an uncomplicated but incredibly deep, spiritual, and sinless girl, became the Mother of Jesus Christ. She is truly the Mother of God, given that her only Son Jesus our Risen Lord is God.
When we hear the title “Mother of God,” we think of the corresponding privilege that God gave Mary—her Divine Maternity. This special honor is the most fundamental of all the privileges that Mary possesses. That Our Blessed Lady is the Mother of God undergirds all she is and all we know about her.

Not only is Mary God’s Mother but she is also our Mother. This privilege we call her Spiritual Maternity. As Jesus bridges the gap between God and the fallen human race due to the fact that Christ is one Divine Person with a divine nature and a human nature, so, too, Our Blessed Mother is a bridge between our Creator and us thanks to her Divine Maternity and her Spiritual Maternity.

One of the Church’s great Saints is Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort. This saintly and simple French priest wrote in his beautiful book entitled The Secret of Mary that Our Blessed Mother is “the admirable echo of God.” He explained his reason. “When we say ‘Mary,’ she answers, ‘God.’ When, with Saint Elizabeth, we call her ‘Blessed,’ she glories God.”
Saint Louis de Montfort makes good sense. Mary is God’s Echo.
During her earthly existence, the Holy Name of God continually reverberated in her Immaculate Heart.
The same is true even now that Our Lady is glorified in Heaven. She praises the Living God without ceasing. The Holy Name of Jesus her Divine Son is always on her pure lips.
The Mother of God is God’s Echo. Our Spiritual Mother is God’s Echo. When we address her, she replies to us by turning to our Creator. In her profound humility she acknowledges her dependence on God for everything.
We, too, recognize our reliance on the Lord. There is nothing good that we can do without Him. Therefore, we turn to Him often in prayer.
We pray not only for ourselves but also for countless other persons and their pressing needs. Like Mary we become God’s Echo. When our neighbor asks us to pray for him, we respond as Our Blessed Lady did: With complete confidence in the strength and authority of Almighty God, we address ourselves to Him, lifting up those petitions that others have entrusted to us.
Look at what happens when we invoke the Lord’s powerful Name upon others. We have the word of God to tell us in the First Reading from the Book of Numbers: “I will bless them.”
Imagine the golden opportunity we enjoy to do good to others by interceding for them. When we pray for them, the Lord blesses them. This is exactly what the Mother of God does for us. When we approach her, she turns to our kind Lord, Who answers Mary by blessing us and those for whom we intercede.
The Psalmist sang out: “May God have pity on us and bless us; may He let His Face shine upon us.” Our Blessed Mother constantly exhorts Our Lord to show His mercy to us. And we call forth His mercy on our brothers and sisters.
The Mother of God . . . our Spiritual Mother . . . God’s Echo. Each phrase denotes Mary the Ever-Virgin and immaculately conceived Mother of Christ who has been assumed into Heaven and is currently praying for us near the throne of her Divine Son. With Mary and her chaste husband Saint Joseph, we adore the Baby Jesus Who is our Lord and God. He made His sinless Mother’s loving presence in our lives a reality.
In this Christmas Season when the exchange of presents is customary, what gift can we offer Our Blessed Lady on this her Feast? The best one possible: a renewed commitment to Jesus Christ her Son. Our fervent following of Jesus pleases His Mother. She sees our attempts and invokes God’s mercy upon us, thereby making fruitful our efforts to love and obey her Son Jesus.
Happy Feast Day, O Mother of God. You are our Spiritual Mother and God’s Echo. We are happy and grateful for what Jesus had done for you and in you. We love you. Help us always!

Mary, Full of Grace--Thursday, December 31, 2015

J.M.J. "Mary full of grace--Mother of Jesus! We love and honor our Jesus when we love and honor her . . . Our best honor to Mary is the imitation of her virtues--her life a model for all conditions of life."

--Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821)

Our Lady Who Offers Her Divine Son to Us: Christmas Day, Friday, December 25, 2015

J.M.J. "Today, the Son of God is born, and everything changes.  The Savior of the world comes to partake of our human nature; no longer are we alone and forsaken.  The Virgin offers us her Son as the beginning of a new life.  The true light has come to illumine our lives so often beset by the darkness of sin.  Today we once more discover who we are!  Tonight we have been shown the way to reach the journey’s end.  Now must we put away all fear and dread, for the light shows us the path to Bethlehem.  We must not be laggards; we are not permitted to stand idle.  We must set out to see our Savior lying in a manger.  This is the reason for our joy and gladness: this Child has been 'born to us'; He was 'given to us', as Isaiah proclaims (cf. 9:5).  The people who for for two thousand years has traversed all the pathways of the world in order to allow every man and woman to share in this joy is now given the mission of making known 'the Prince of peace' and becoming His effective servant in the midst of the nations."

--Pope Francis, Homily during the Midnight Mass, Thursday, December 24, 2015, Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

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Posting will resume, God willing, on Thursday, December 31st.

Mary's Son--The Long-Awaited Messiah: Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24, 2015

J.M.J. This is one of my favorite articles that I have published--and most of it does not come from me!

Please read on.

Our Lady is the Ever-Virgin Mother of God who has shared Christ with us.

During this last day before Christmas, our hearts turn more than ever to the same Jesus Christ and His Coming among us.

He is still present among His brothers and sisters two thousand years after His initial appearance. We know that Christ is with us in several ways: through His Word proclaimed, by the ministry of His priests, whenever two or more gather in His Sacred Name and in a most unique and exalted fashion in the Most Holy Eucharist.

Christmas Eve 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 Holy Eucharist. 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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"Strange Things Happen on the Night of Christmas"

"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." 

The Mother of Jesus, The Mother of John, The Mother of All of Us: Wednesday, December 23, 2015

J.M.J. "Jesus told His disciple, 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, brought Mary into his home, into his life. Spiritual writers have seen in these words of the Gospel as an invitation to all Christians to bring Mary into their lives. Mary certainly wants us to invoke her, to approach her confidently, to appeal to her as our Mother.

--Saint Josemaria Escriva' (1902-1975)

Our Lady Magnifies the Lord: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

J.M.J. Venerable Bede, in his Commentary on Luke, offers the following.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.

Mary looks back to the beginning of her song, where she said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. Only that soul for whom the Lord in His love does great things can proclaim His greatness with fitting praise and encourage those who share her desire and purpose, saying: Join with me in proclaiming the greatness of the Lord; let us extol His Name together.

Those who know the Lord, yet refuse to proclaim His greatness and sanctify His Name to the limit of their power, will be considered the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. His Name is called holy because in the sublimity of His unique power He surpasses every creature and is far removed from all that He has made.

Jesus and Mary Remember: Monday, December 21, 2015

J.M.J. At this time of year, I like to recall that Christmas Day as reckoned on the 25th of December is an ancient Feast in the Church, meaning that our ancestors of many centuries ago commemorated the Nativity of Christ on December 25th as we do.

The Reverend Cyril Charles Martindale, S.J. (1879-1963), in The Catholic Encyclopedia published more than a hundred years ago, when referring to when Christmas was first celebrated on December 25th, declared:

At Rome, then, the Nativity was celebrated on 
25 December before 354; in the East, 
at Constantinople, not before 379, 
unless with Erbes, and against Gregory, 
we recognize it there in 330. 

That is quite some time ago!

Perhaps this bit of information seems somewhat arcane. Yet, it does matter insofar as God allowed the development of the Christmas Feast to proceed as it did.

We are united with those who have gone before us marked with the signs of faith and charity, and we never fail to pray for them. And let us thank them for their good example.

May we do the same for the next generation.

The Mission of Our Lady as the Immaculate Coredemptrix Continued after Calvary: Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 20, 2015

J.M.J. "God alone is our help and salvation. And yet, the Woman also participates, in an exceptional though integral way, in this divine role. But how? Certainly, from the standpoint of salvation history, it is through her role as the Immaculate Coredemptrix. She helped Our Lord accomplish the work of Redemption in a quite singular way. And yet, her saving role did not end on Calvary. She serves as divine helpmate now by conceiving the life of Christ in her children-to-be in the order of grace. In a word, she conceives grace in the soul: the conception of faith."

--The Reverend Giacinto Marie Dagesse, "Immaculate Faith," in Missio Immaculatae International, Volume 11, Number 6 (November/December 2015), 35.

Another Daughter of Mary Will Be Canonized: Saturday, December 19, 2015

J.M.J. We rejoice in the great announcement regarding Blessed Mary Teresa of Calcuta, often called "Mother Teresa." God willing, Pope Francis will canonize her in 2016, during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. 

Here is an article, which has been slightly adapted, that I wrote before her Beatification in 2003.

"An Extraordinary Servant"

During these joyful and unrepeatable days in Rome during October--the month of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, a beautiful vivid poster is being displayed in vestibules of churches and on storefronts and other places that depicts Pope John Paul II holding the hand of his dear friend Mother Mary Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), the Foundress of the Missionaries of Charity.

The Holy Father's sincere affection and esteem for the holy woman who worked with "the poorest of the poor" wherever they were continues unabated six years after her death. And now the Vicar of Christ, in Saint Peter's Square on October 19 ("Mission Sunday"), will proclaim her "Blessed."

The relationship between the Successor of Saint Peter and the "Sister of the Slums" was close and meaningful. One could readily observe the unmistakable joy on the radiant faces of these two remarkable persons when they encountered each other.

On June 16, 2002, Pope John Paul II had the distinct pleasure of canonizing someone he met decades ago (and to whom he confessed in the Sacrament of Penance): Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the Capuchin Franciscan friar who bore the Sacred Wounds of Jesus on his body.

Again, he will raise to the glories of the Altar another person--Mother Teresa--whom he knew and admired greatly.

Mother Teresa is a study in the Christian virtues. She possessed those essential qualities that each disciple of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ must have: faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, humility, chastity . . . .
What she did was done for Jesus and His Ever-Virgin Mother. She wished for no terrestrial notoriety, realizing that it was passing and devoid of substance. She was firmly convinced that true and abiding contentment is not found in earthly honors but in the only "honor" that is worth anything: Everlasting Life in Heaven.

Her pressing goal was plain for all to see: to live with the Most Blessed Trinity forever in Paradise. And to that end, she would not be deterred. She cheerfully surrendered herself to the Creator and placed herself under His merciful hand.

Mother Teresa's unabashed persistence encourages others to share in the good fight. We will never regret our perspiration and tears that we shed in attempting to obtain spiritual perfection. Surely, Christ Himself will not forget our efforts--however faulty--to imitate Him.

The meek servant of the Gospel known as Blessed Mary Teresa of Calcutta is a brilliant light in the stifling darkness of our present era. We will be, also, when we spurn sin and, like Mother Teresa, embrace the Gospel of Jesus, spreading it--however we can--far and wide.

Blessed Mary Teresa of Calcutta, we love you tenderly. Pray for us! 

The Angelus Reminds Us: Friday, December 18, 2015

J.M.J. How could anyone forget the contribution that Mary made to the Incarnation?

The Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity became man in the chaste womb of the Ever-Virgin.

Whenever we participate in the Angelus, which the Church recites daily at 6:00 a.m., 12:00 Noon and 6:00 p.m., we finally arrive at the climax of this venerable prayer: 

V. "And the Word was made flesh,"

R. "And dwelt among us."

This was no mere academic exercise. God became man! And Our Blessed Lady played her unparalleled and inimitable role.

For that, let us rejoice.

The Mary-Eve Parallel in Living Color: Thursday, December 17, 2015

J.M.J. Please look at "Mary and Eve," a Pencil and Ink drawing by Sister Grace Remington, O.C.S.O. (copyright 2005).

Many thanks to Kerrie for sharing it.

I find this to be a remarkable depiction . . . a study in contrast, if you will, between Our Lady and Eve.

Thanks to Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, Bishop and Martyr (circa 130-circa 200), we have the useful insight of the Mary-Eve Parallel: Our Lady's fiat canceled the "no" of Eve's disobedience.

Now, I hope with confidence that Eve is in Heaven. My comments are not to disparage her, but rather to acknowledge that any comparison with the Ever-Virgin Mother of God does not go well for the other party!

Here is what I found.

Eve: distressed; downcast; unable to look directly at Our Lady; clothed with her hair; immodest attire; red is often a color of passion; her appearance is sensual, even seductive; flowers adorn her head; sterile; the serpent (Satan) has its grip; holds an apple, which is different from the abundant fruit seen in the trees that God allowed; grasps Our Lady's hand but dares not, because of her sin, touch her Womb where Christ resides.

MARY: peaceful; hopeful; looks directly at Eve; robed in a white dress; modest attire; white is for purity, while blue is for royalty; her appearance is utterly beautiful and respectful; no adornment necessary; with Child; crushes the head of the serpent (Satan) without fear; no desire for material goods; touches tenderly Eve's face.

What have I missed?

Our Lady=The New Eve

The Pure Virgin Who Saw Christ: Wednesday, December 16, 2015

J.M.J. "O Mother most pure, make us pure of heart! May we, this Advent, travel with you along the dusty roads to Bethlehem. May we, this holy Christmas, see Christ as you saw Him, lying on that harsh straw in the stable of Bethlehem."

--The Servant of God Catherine Doherty (1896-1985)

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A great short story entitled, "Come . . . . . . . . . . ! Infant Jesus!", courtesy of "America Needs Fatima."

Mary and the Incarnation: Tuesday, December 15, 2015

J.M.J. As Advent soon gives way to Christmas, we refocus our attention on Christ and His Incarnation.

Truly, the Incarnation--the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity becoming flesh in the chaste womb of the Virgin Mary--occurred nine months before the Birth of Jesus. Our Lord became incarnate of the sinless Mary when she spoke her fiat.

We cannot overestimate the continuing importance of the Incarnation, which was the act whereby the Logos, that is, the Word of the Father came to dwell among us.

As the Prologue (1:1-18) of the Holy Gospel according to Saint John declares, "And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth." (verse 14)

Let us rejoice with Mary in this Truth!

Our Lady and Her Special Son, Saint John of the Cross: Monday, December 14, 2015

J.M.J. Saint John of the Cross (1542-1591), Priest and Doctor, had a lively and persevering love for the Mother of God.

In an article entitled "Mary and the Holy Spirit in the Writings of John of the Cross," the Reverend Emmanuel J. Sullivan, O.C.D., wrote:

"In addition to the four Marian references in his major works, there is also a very significant reference to Mary in John's Prayer of a Soul Taken with Love. John always manifested a deep awareness that he belonged totally to Mary, and in this very beautiful little prayer, he gives expression to his equally deep conviction that Mary belongs totally and completely to each one of us. In this prayer, John speaks for all of us as he says to our heavenly Father:

"You will not take from me, my God, what You once gave me, in Your only Son, Jesus Christ, in Whom you gave me all I desire.

"Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. (Sayings of Light and Love, 26-27)

"I find this reference to Mary, in a certain sense, even more significant than all the others. Here John isn't just recounting wonderful things about Mary, but is telling us she is ours, with us and for us, always and everywhere. He is telling us that we must realize and appreciate that Mary belongs totally and completely to each one of us. Our guide on the road to union with God is no distant stranger, but our very own Blessed Mother."

"Rejoice" in the Lord, and "Rejoice," O Highly-Favored Daughter: Third Sunday of Advent, December 13, 2015

J.M.J. The Third Sunday of Advent throws into relief the notion of joy, which resonated in the Heart of Mary.

Our Lady did not need to enter Heaven to become joyful. She always was, even from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception.

Are you filled with joy? If not, can you identify the obstacle?

O Mary, give us joy!

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A wonderful documentary to anticipate, thanks to "Rome Reports":

Our Lady of Guadalupe: Saturday, December 12, 2015

J.M.J. Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

The Beautiful Ever-Virgin Mother is our Ever-Virgin Mother. Let us love, honor ad imitate Her as never before!

At Guadalupe, Our Lady referred to Herself as the "Perpetual Virgin Mary"--the dogma of Her Perpetual Virginity having been unhesitatingly taught by the Church since the earliest times.

Our Lady of Guadalupe said to the future Saint, Juan Diego:

"Know for certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God through Whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, the Master of Heaven and earth. It is my earnest wish that a temple be built here to my honor. Here I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful Mother, the merciful Mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes."

Please enjoy this video, courtesy of "Rome Reports."

Our Mother Who Dispenses Mercy: Friday, December 11, 2015

J.M.J. In his remarkable book, The Mother of the Savior and Our Interior Life, Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (1877-1964) addressed the subject of Our Lady as the Mother of Mercy. "The title of Mother of Mercy is one of Mary's greatest. Mercy is not the same thing as mere emotional pity. Mercy is in the will, pity is but a good inclination of the sensibility. Pity, which does not exist in God Who is a pure spirit, leads us to suffer in unison with our neighbor as if we felt his suffering in ourselves. It is a good inclination but usually a timid one, being accompanied by fear of harm to ourselves and often helpless to render effective aid."

Our Lady, along with her Divine Son, Jesus, offers to us a pattern for our efforts to be merciful. In fact, the Son and the Mother are the template for our attempts to pardon others. "She teaches us, though, that if mercy is not justice it is not opposed to it as injustice is, but unites itself to it and goes beyond it: most of all in pardoning, for to pardon is to go beyond what is demanded by justice in forgiving an offense."

Father Garrigou-Lagrange explained that Our Mother of Mercy, to whom Pope Francis has entrusted the preparations for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, "reminds us too that God often gives us His mercy more than we need, more than He is obliged in justice to Himself to give; that He gives us more than we merit--the grace of Holy Communion, for example, which is not merited."

Reflect on how the merciful Ever-Virgin is for us, in the words of the Litany of Loreto, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, Help of Christians.

Continuing the Reflection--Our Lady's Immaculate Conception: Wednesday, December 9, 2015

J.M.J. "God adorns Mary with all grace. He makes her worthy of carrying Him and receiving Him into the world. He comes to her as into His tabernacle. He rests for nine months in her as on His throne. He comes to us through her."

--Cardinal Pierre De Berulle (1575-1629)

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Saint Peter's Square
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"In a few moments I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door of Mercy. We carry out this act--as I did in Bangui--so simple yet so highly symbolic, in the light of the word of God which we have just heard. That word highlights the primacy of grace. Again and again these readings make us think of the words by which the angel Gabriel told an astonished young girl of the mystery which was about to enfold her: 'Hail, full of grace' (Lk 1:28).

"The Virgin Mary was called to rejoice above all because of what the Lord accomplished in her. God's grace enfolded her and made her worthy of becoming the Mother of Christ. When Gabriel entered her home, even the most profound and impenetrable of mysteries became for her a cause for joy, a cause for faith, a cause for abandonment to the message revealed to her. The fullness of grace can transform the human heart and enable it to do something so great as to change the course of human history.

"The feast of the Immaculate Conception expresses the grandeur of God's love. Not only does He forgive sin, but in Mary He even averts the original sin present in every man and woman who comes into this world. This is the love of God which precedes, anticipates and saves. The beginning of the history of sin in the Garden of Eden yields to a plan of saving love. The words of Genesis reflect our own daily experience: we are constantly tempted to disobedience, a disobedience expressed in wanting to go about our lives without regard for God's will. This is the enmity which keeps striking at people's lives, setting them in opposition to God’s plan. Yet the history of sin can only be understood in the light of God's love and forgiveness. Sin can only be understood in this light. Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures. But the promised triumph of Christ's love enfolds everything in the Father's mercy. The word of God which we have just heard leaves no doubt about this. The Immaculate Virgin stands before us as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfillment.

"This Extraordinary Year is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father Who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. It is He who seeks us! It is He who comes to encounter us! This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God's mercy. How much wrong we do to God and His grace when we speak of sins being punished by His judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by His mercy (cf. Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 12, 24)! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God's judgment will always be in the light of His mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love, of tenderness. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.

"Today, here in Rome and in all the dioceses of the world, as we pass through the Holy Door, we also want to remember another door, which fifty years ago the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council opened to the world. This anniversary cannot be remembered only for the legacy of the Council's documents, which testify to a great advance in faith. Before all else, the Council was an encounter. A genuine encounter between the Church and the men and women of our time. An encounter marked by the power of the Spirit, Who impelled the Church to emerge from the shoals which for years had kept her self-enclosed so as to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey. It was the resumption of a journey of encountering people where they live: in their cities and homes, in their workplaces. Wherever there are people, the Church is called to reach out to them and to bring the joy of the Gospel, and the mercy and forgiveness of God. After these decades, we again take up this missionary drive with the same power and enthusiasm. The Jubilee challenges us to this openness, and demands that we not neglect the spirit which emerged from Vatican II, the spirit of the Samaritan, as Blessed Paul VI expressed it at the conclusion of the Council. May our passing through the Holy Door today commit us to making our own the mercy of the Good Samaritan."

Our Lady, Immaculately Conceived: Tuesday, December 8, 2015

J.M.J. Happy Feast Day of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception.

And Happy Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which begins today. May God through Mary reward Pope Francis for this great initiative.

Here is a little article that I wrote some years ago.

Immaculate Mary

The Universal Church exults constantly, but especially every December 8th, in the truth of Our Blessed Mother's Immaculate Conception.

God shielded Mary from Original Sin. She did not inherit, as we did, the transgression of our parents Adam and Eve.

Pope Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878), in his December 8, 1854 Apostolic Constitution entitled, Ineffabilis Deus solemnly defined: "The most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, was by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of Original Sin. This doctrine is revealed by God and therefore must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful."

Like Jesus, Our Lady is sinless. She did not contract Original Sin nor did she commit actual sin, that is, the category of moral offenses with which we struggle. Mary lived virtuously by adoring her Creator, obeying His commands and serving her neighbors.

Each of us may rightly ask: If the Ever-Virgin is so excellent, how can I, sinful as I am, have anything in common with her?

First, we share Mary's human nature. She was and remains totally human. Hence, we have this real connection with her that opens up the possibility of a genuine relationship with her.

Second, the Mother of God freely and generously cooperated with the incredible grace that was granted her and persevered in it. This is what the Lord demands of us.

True, we were conceived with Original Sin, while Mary was not. But we have been redeemed through the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism. We have been given that long-awaited second chance. Consequently, there is no reason why we should not imitate Mary, cultivate--with the Lord's help--a deep rapport with her and strive for the degree of holiness that God wants for us.

In 1830, Our Lady instructed Sister (now Saint) Catherine Laboure (1806-1876) to have a medal struck, which we know as the Miraculous Medal, on which is stamped the affirmation and imperative: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

In 1858, only a little more than three years after the Bull of 1854, Mary asserted to little (now Saint) Marie Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), "I am the Immaculate Conception."

Yes, O Lady, you were immaculately conceived. And because you surrendered to the Holy Spirit, now you reign in Heaven with Jesus the Messiah. We delight with the great Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274), Bishop and Doctor of the Church, in offering you fitting veneration: "Mary the Virgin is the advocate of sinners and the glory and the crown of the just. She is the spouse of God, the abode of the Trinity and the most special resting place of the Son."

May we always pattern our existence after yours, saying "yes" to the Risen Christ and "no" to sin!

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

Our Lady's Special Son: Monday, December 7, 2015

J.M.J. I love Saint Ambrose (circa 340-397), and I always will. 

By many centuries, he preceded my Patron, Saint Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), as the Bishop of Milan. 

And his incredible love for the Ever-Virgin, as witnessed in his many writings, continues to reverberate within the heart of the Church and her members even today.

How can one improve on this? Please see pages 650-653.


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Please pray for the Reverend Antonio W. Ramos, who commemorates his birthday today.

O Mary, Pray that We Will Understand!: Second Sunday of Advent, December 6, 2015

J.M.J. Let us beg the Holy Mother of God to intercede on our behalf that we will comprehend the meaning of her Son's Birth and--as Father Gerald E. Murray presents in the following excerpt--the meaning of history.

"Reading Christopher Dawson's writings in college left a lasting impression upon me. The great historian, a convert to Catholicism, helped me understand the Christian sense of history. The pagan notion of time, and thus history, is an endless, circular repetition of events--similar to the annual cycle of the seasons. Yet this repetitive way of interpreting reality imprisons man in a pointless round. Where are we heading if there is no end point to time, just a constant replay involving a changing cast of characters who come and go?

"Christian revelation, of course, solves this dilemma. Creation has a beginning and an end. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega. Our world and our lives come from Him, and our journey through life is a quest both to walk with Him at all times ('I am with you always, to the close of the age,' Mt 28:20), and to find Him as our merciful judge when our days on earth come to their end ('Come, O blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,' Mt 25:34).

"Given this linear understanding of history, stretching from the creation to the redemption and reaching fulfillment on the Last Day, our place in time and space is relatively easier to figure out. We want to be in that great procession of pilgrims which is the Church. God has put us on this earth at the time of His choosing to accomplish His purposes. Our duty is to seek His will as we look forward to seeing Him face to face either at the moment of our death, or at His Second Coming on the Last Day, if we live to see that day.

"Seeking to do God's will involves repetition of many good acts: prayers, sacrifices, reception of the sacraments, good works and kind deeds, especially towards the poor. That holy cycle of repetition is carried out in the perspective of our journey in time towards our goal, Christ. The Church has given us the Christian year as the organizing principle of our daily efforts to be with Christ, now and forever. We contemplate and celebrate Christ's life in the liturgical calendar. The Church repeats this cycle, year after year, to instruct and guide us on how to journey towards the eternal Jerusalem. This cycle of days and years is not endless and self-contained. It is directed towards the Last Day, when the Lord will return."

--The Reverend Gerald E. Murray, J.C.D., a passage from "The Coming of Advent," at "The Catholic Thing" (www.thecatholicthing.org), November 29, 2015.

Our Lady's First Saturdays: First Saturday, December 5, 2015

J.M.J. Our Lord visited Sister Lucia in Pontevedra, Spain, where she was a novice with the Dorothean Sisters, Jesus asked if she had "spread throughout the world what the heavenly Mother asked her to do." (Our Lord was referring to the devotion known as "The First Saturdays.") 

"Lucia replied to the Child that the Mother Superior could do nothing to spread this devotion, to which Jesus replied, 'It is true that that Mother Superior on her own can do nothing, but with My grace, she can do everything.'

Sister Lucia was sen to the Dorothean Sisters' house in Tuy, Spain. "It was here that she saw the beginning of the spread of this devotion throughout the world. Sister Lucia's own mother was one of the first to embrace the First Saturday devotion . . . ." 

"The devotion was officially approved in 1939."

--“First Saturday Bulletin,” World Apostolate of Fatima, USA (December 2015)

"The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have Designs of Mercy on You": First Friday, December 4, 2015

J.M.J. "Pray! Pray very much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High."

--The Guardian Angel of Portugal at the Loca do Cabe├žo, a tiny impression near Fatima, Portugal, to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco during the Summer of 1916