Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
Here in the Archdiocese of New York, we are observing the solemnity of Our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven. Before Our Lord was taken up into Heaven, the last thing He did was to raise His hands in blessing. The last thing Our Lord did on earth was to bless His disciples, with a view that they might become a blessing for others. On this Ascension Thursday, we might consider how the Lord has blessed in so many ways. As we reflect on these blessings, we might ponder how we can become a blessing for others. Perhaps this means being more compassionate or merciful; perhaps more generous with our time; perhaps saying only the good things, the encouraging things people need to hear.
To help us to further reflect on the mystery of this great feast, consider part of what Pope Francis said at the Wednesday general audience of April 17:
Thursday, May 9 is Ascension Thursday, a Holy Day of Obligation
Masses will be offered at the following times:
Wednesday, May 8
5:30 pm – Sung Vigil Mass of the Ascension
Thursday, May 9
8 am (no music)
12:10 pm (no music)
6:30 pm – Solemn Mass of the Ascension
Note: There will be NO 5:30 pm Mass on Thursday, May 9.
This Fourth Sunday of Easter is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Friends, please say a prayer that the Lord of the harvest may continue to send laborers into his harvest.
The pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, explained in an October 6, 2012 letter: ”Vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life are born out of the experience of a personal encounter with Christ, out of sincere and confident dialogue with him, so as to enter into his will. It is necessary, therefore, to grow in the experience of faith, understood as a profound relationship with Jesus, as inner attentiveness to his voice which is heard deep within us. Continue Reading »
In the second reading (1 Cor 12:31-13:13) for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, St. Paul explains to the fractious Corinthians that the more excellent way is the way of love. Charismatic gifts such as speaking in tongues or the ability to prophesy do not necessarily contribute to a person’s holiness. Indeed, without love “I am nothing” and “I gain nothing.”
As Christians, our mission is to bring the loving presence of Jesus Christ Continue Reading »
Sometimes we might not pay that much attention to the word conversion. Perhaps we think: “I have been Catholic my whole life, I have no need of conversion.” Perhaps we think: “Okay, I converted to Catholicism, or I converted back to Catholicism after doing my own thing for a number of years, but that was a one-time event.” Yet, in all honesty, the entire Christian life is one ongoing process of conversion as we, with the help of God’s grace, convert more and more to the ways of Christ.
On January 25, Catholics throughout the world celebrated the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles. It is a day that honors the conversion of that zealous persecutor of the early Christians, the one who was not only present but was even consenting to the martyrdom of St. Stephen. We honor St. Paul’s conversion from persecutor of Christ, to preacher of Christ. We honor a man who converted Continue Reading »
Beginning in February, the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer will dedicate our Tuesday evenings to celebrating the Year of Faith. A schedule of topics will be posted soon. Pope Benedict XVI announced this Year of Faith in October 2012 as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the most recent ecumenical council, Vatican II.
Here at St. Vincent Ferrer, we will offer a two part program. First, Fr. Walter Wagner will offer a number of reflections centered around the question “What is Faith?” Second, Fr. John Chrysostom Kozlowski will build on Fr. Walter’s insights and discuss how we live our faith through the sacramental life of the Church. This program will afford us the opportunity to reflect on and discuss the great gift of faith and how that gift is expressed through the seven sacraments.
Speaking of the sacraments, the Catholic News Service has a great little article entitled: ”When the pope administers the sacraments.” So, in case you were wondering when the pope celebrates the seven sacraments, follow this link.
A blessed and happy Christmas to all!
Back on the Third Sunday of Advent, we were told, “Be joyful!” (Gaudete!) in anticipation of the coming celebration of the Birth of Christ.
That day has arrived! Christ is born for us and so we sing joy to the world. This notion of joy is embedded within the Christian life – it comes with the territory of following Christ. Joy is a fruit, a natural outgrowth, of the divine life of charity within our souls.
To help us to meditate on what Christian joy is, enjoy the following audio clip from Fr. Paul Murray, OP, of the Irish Dominican Province. You may recall, Fr. Murray delivered the St. Albert the Great Lecture here at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer back in September. His spiritual insights are worth the listen. Click here to listen.
As we have hit the home stretch before Christmas, the readings and prayers all turn our attention to the coming celebration of the birth of Christ. One of the most striking prayers during this time is the antiphon that is associated with Mary’s prayer, the Magnificat, that is prayed at Vespers (Evening Prayer). Every evening, from December 17-23, the antiphons highlight a different title for the Messiah. Since these antiphons all begin with the word O, they are called the O antiphons.
What I find fascinating about these antiphons is twofold. First, each one reveals something about who this Messiah is, how unique He is, how He fulfills the ancient prophecies and how strongly we desire and need Him to come into our lives. And, second, as a unit, these antiphons are meant to build up a little excitement within us. Consider each antiphon (this only works in Latin, so bear with me): Continue Reading »
From the day’s first lesson, from The 2nd Letter of St. Peter:
Beloved: Wait for and hasten the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire. But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace. And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.
Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
From one of St. Boniface’s Letters
In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s indifferent stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.
The ancient fathers showed us how we should carry out this duty… They lived under emperors who were pagans; they all steered Christ’s ship–or rather, his most dear soupse, the Church. This they did by teaching and defending her, by their labors and sufferings, even to the shedding of blood….
Let us continue to fight on the day of the Lord. The days of anguish and of tribulation have overtaken us; if God so wills, let us die for the holy laws of our fathers, so that we may deserve to obtain an eternal inheritance with them.
Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf…
In our continuing catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn from the prayer of Mary and the Apostles awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to the “little Pentecost” described in the fourth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. After the arrest and release of Peter and John, the community joined in prayer and “the place where they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness” (v. 31).
This prayer shows the unity of the early community, which asks only to proclaim the word of God fearlessly in the face of persecution. It seeks to discern present events in the light of God’s saving plan and the fulfilment of prophecy in the mystery of Christ.
It also begs God to accompany by his power the preaching of the Gospel. May this prayer of the early Church inspire our own prayer. May we seek to discern God’s loving plan in the light of Christ and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, who bestows the hope which does not disappoint (cf. Rom 5:5).
Below is the text from Pope Benedict’s Easter Vigil homily. I’ve marked a few insights in bold that I found particularly arresting (7 April 2012).
Easter is the feast of the new creation. Jesus is risen and dies no more. He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death. He has taken mankind up into God himself. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, as Saint Paul says in the First Letter to the Corinthians (15:50). On the subject of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection, the Church writer Tertullian in the third century was bold enough to write: “Rest assured, flesh and blood, through Christ you have gained your place in heaven and in the Kingdom of God” (CCL II, 994). A new dimension has opened up for mankind. Creation has become greater and broader. Easter Day ushers in a new creation, but that is precisely why the Church starts the liturgy on this day with the old creation, so that we can learn to understand the new one aright. At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word on Easter night, then, comes the account of the creation of the world. Two things are particularly important here in connection with this liturgy. On the one hand, creation is presented as a whole that includes the phenomenon of time. The seven days are an image of completeness, unfolding in time. They are ordered towards the seventh day, the day of the freedom of all creatures for God and for one another. Creation is therefore directed towards the coming together of God and his creatures; it exists so as to open up a space for the response to God’s great glory, an encounter between love and freedom. On the other hand, what the Church hears on Easter night is above all the first element of the creation account: “God said, ‘let there be light!’” (Gen 1:3). The creation account begins symbolically with the creation of light. The sun and the moon are created only on the fourth day. The creation account calls them lights, set by God in the firmament of heaven. In this way he deliberately takes away the divine character that the great religions had assigned to them. No, they are not gods. They are shining bodies created by the one God. But they are preceded by the light through which God’s glory is reflected in the essence of the created being.
What is the creation account saying here? Light makes life possible. It makes encounter possible. It makes communication possible. It makes knowledge, access to reality and to truth, possible. And insofar as it makes knowledge possible, it makes freedom and progress possible. Evil hides. Light, then, is also an expression of the good that both is and creates brightness. It is daylight, which makes it possible for us to act. To say that God created light means that God created the world as a space for knowledge and truth, as a space for encounter and freedom, as a space for good and for love. Matter is fundamentally good, being itself is good. And evil does not come from God-made being, rather, it comes into existence only through denial. It is a “no”.
At Easter, on the morning of the first day of the week, God said once again: “Let there be light”. The night on the Mount of Olives, the solar eclipse of Jesus’ passion and death, the night of the grave had all passed. Now it is the first day once again – creation is beginning anew. “Let there be light”, says God, “and there was light”: Jesus rises from the grave. Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God’s pure light. But this applies not only to him, not only to the darkness of those days. With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God’s new day, new for all of us.
But how is this to come about? How does all this affect us so that instead of remaining word it becomes a reality that draws us in? Through the sacrament of baptism and the profession of faith, the Lord has built a bridge across to us, through which the new day reaches us. The Lord says to the newly-baptized: Fiat lux – let there be light. God’s new day – the day of indestructible life, comes also to us. Christ takes you by the hand. From now on you are held by him and walk with him into the light, into real life. For this reason the early Church called baptism photismos – illumination.
Why was this? The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil. The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general. If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other “lights”, that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk. Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars of the sky are no longer visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment? With regard to material things, our knowledge and our technical accomplishments are legion, but what reaches beyond, the things of God and the question of good, we can no longer identify. Faith, then, which reveals God’s light to us, is the true enlightenment, enabling God’s light to break into our world, opening our eyes to the true light.
Dear friends, as I conclude, I would like to add one more thought about light and illumination. On Easter night, the night of the new creation, the Church presents the mystery of light using a unique and very humble symbol: the Paschal candle. This is a light that lives from sacrifice. The candle shines inasmuch as it is burnt up. It gives light, inasmuch as it gives itself. Thus the Church presents most beautifully the paschal mystery of Christ, who gives himself and so bestows the great light. Secondly, we should remember that the light of the candle is a fire. Fire is the power that shapes the world, the force of transformation. And fire gives warmth. Here too the mystery of Christ is made newly visible. Christ, the light, is fire, flame, burning up evil and so reshaping both the world and ourselves. “Whoever is close to me is close to the fire,” as Jesus is reported by Origen to have said. And this fire is both heat and light: not a cold light, but one through which God’s warmth and goodness reach down to us.
The great hymn of the Exsultet, which the deacon sings at the beginning of the Easter liturgy, points us quite gently towards a further aspect. It reminds us that this object, the candle, has its origin in the work of bees. So the whole of creation plays its part. In the candle, creation becomes a bearer of light. But in the mind of the Fathers, the candle also in some sense contains a silent reference to the Church,. The cooperation of the living community of believers in the Church in some way resembles the activity of bees. It builds up the community of light. So the candle serves as a summons to us to become involved in the community of the Church, whose raison d’être is to let the light of Christ shine upon the world.
Let us pray to the Lord at this time that he may grant us to experience the joy of his light; let us pray that we ourselves may become bearers of his light, and that through the Church, Christ’s radiant face may enter our world (cf. LG 1). Amen.
Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb. (John Donne, “Annunciation”)
“Salvation to all that will is nigh”. This opening line certainly draws us to consider human freedom, most especially the Virgin’s. She, of course, willed that very salvation God offers to the world through His incarnation: “Let it be done unto me… [Fiat mihi].” Thus, the Virgin’s fiat reprises and renews creation’s divine fiat (“Let there be…”)… even as both historically hang in the balance of the incarnately crossed measure of our existence (the agonized Christ in the garden: “Father if it is not possible… thy will be done” [fiat voluntas tua]).
On the other hand, I think the contemporary poet Denise Levertov is off the mark in her “Annunciation”:
But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness. (from “Annunciation“)
Not due to an ungenerous reading, the poetically rendered pro-choice campaign rings blatantly and bathtetically. The otherwise pretty (if over-simple) poem is debased in these final lines of the poem’s section.
Moreover, the poet gives the lie to her worldly wisdom’s inanity when she extols Our Lady’s courage. For, Our Lady is clearly not “pro-choice.” Indeed, freedom is integral; but not only are all choices not thereby integral; furthermore, to be “integral” doesn’t mean formal or primary. (A baby is clearly a “human,” even if it cannot [in its present state] truly make “choices.”)
Indeed, the object of Mary’s courageous act was not “choice” (which is not the same thing as liberty): Her object was the Word of life, the all of being, the inscrutably outpouring wisdom of God’s loving will.
This returns us to Donne, whose “all” in “all that will” refers principally to the all of God; (it does not primarily serve as a pronoun for human agents, I believe). Whence the second line: “That all, which always is all everywhere.” Donne deftly communicates the absolute transcendence of God and His Providential inescapability through the paradoxes that follow in ll. 3 and 4: “Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear, / Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die”. The paradoxes are then trumped in terms of metaphysical mystery: “Ere by the spheres time was created, thou / Wast in his mind, who is thy Son and Brother.”
This is how we have “light in dark”: by accepting the transcendent primacy of God’s invitation to welcome the truth of His consuming love.
So, perhaps (even if but for a moment), Levertov is correct:
Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.
But even if she is correct, once again, she betrays herself, and her own song is “sullen,” for it does not end with God’s clemency. Because of her existential fundament of human choice, her poem’s final prospect is the darkness of damnation.
Thankfully, Donne has poetically redeemed the secular paean to freedom — by going beyond the “spheres” and “time['s]” first beginning, which comprises the horizon of human freedom– and into the eternal mind of God, which is always thinking of love; and which is therefore always light.
Indeed, salvation is always near to all of His will. God desires all to be saved; and in strict apposition, He desires all to come to the knowledge of the truth: For there is one God and one mediator… who have himself as a ransom for all (see 1 Tim 2.4–6).
As Our Lady is the most nighh unto Him in whom the all of God was pleased to dwell (Col 1.19-20), let us go to her, and through her, ad Jesum.
Our Holy Father’s masterful catechesis about the beginning and significance of Lent:
Dear brothers and sisters,
in this Catechesis I would like to dwell briefly on the season of Lent, which begins today with the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday. It is a journey of forty days that will lead us to the Paschal Triduum, memorial of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, the heart of the mystery of our salvation. In the early centuries of the Church this was the time when those who had heard and accepted the message of Christ began, step by step, their journey of faith and conversion to receive the sacrament of baptism. It was a drawing close to the living God and an initiation of the faith to be gradually accomplished, through an inner change in the catechumens, that is, those who wished to become Christians and thus be incorporated into Christ and the Church.
Subsequently, penitents, and then all the faithful were invited to experience this journey of spiritual renewal, to conform themselves and their lives to that of Christ. The participation of the whole community in the different steps of the Lenten path emphasizes an important dimension of Christian spirituality: redemption is not available to only a few, but to all, through the death and resurrection of Christ. Therefore, those who follow a journey of faith as catechumens to receive baptism, those who had strayed from God and the community of faith and seek reconciliation and those who lived their faith in full communion with the Church, together knew that the period before Easter is a period of metanoia, that is, of inner change, of repentance, the period that identifies our human life and our entire history as a process of conversion that is set in motion now in order to meet the Lord at the end of time.
In an expression that has become typical in the Liturgy, the Church calls the period in which we are now entering “Quadragesima,” in short a period of forty days and, with a clear reference to Sacred Scripture, it introduces us to a specific spiritual context. Forty is in fact the symbolic number in which salient moments of the experience of faith of the People of God are expressed. A figure that expresses the time of waiting, purification, return to the Lord, the awareness that God is faithful to his promises. This number does not represent an exact chronological time, divided by the sum of the days. Rather it indicates a patient perseverance, a long trial, a sufficient period to see the works of God, a time within which we must make up our minds and to decide to accept our own responsibilities without additional references. It is the time for mature decisions.
The number forty first appears in the story of Noah.
This just man because of the flood spends forty days and forty nights in the ark, along with his family and animals that God had told him to bring. He waits for another forty days, after the flood, before finding land, saved from destruction (Gen 7,4.12, 8.6). Then, the next stop, Moses on Mount Sinai, in the presence of the Lord, for forty days and forty nights to receive the Law. He fasts throughout this period (Exodus 24:18). Forty, the number of years the Jewish people journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land, the right amount of time for them to experience the faithfulness of God: ” Remember how for these forty years the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the wilderness… The clothing did not fall from you in tatters, nor did your feet swell these forty years, “says Moses in Deuteronomy at the end of the forty years of migration (Dt 8,2.4). The years of peace enjoyed by Israel under the Judges are forty (Judg. 3,11.30), but, once this time ended, forgetfulness of the gifts of God begins and a return to sin.
The prophet Elijah takes forty days to reach Horeb, the mountain where he meets God (1 Kings 19.8). Forty are the days during which the people of Nineveh do penance for the forgiveness of God (Gen 3.4). Forty were also the years of the reign of Saul (Acts 13:21), David (2 Sam 5:4-5) and Solomon (1 Kings 11:41), the first three kings of Israel. Even the biblical Psalms reflect on the meaning of the forty years, such as Psalm 95 for example, of which we heard a passage: “If you would listen to his voice today! ” Oh, that today you would hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert. There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works. Forty years I loathed that generation; I said: “This people’s heart goes astray; they do not know my ways”(vv. 7c-10).
In the New Testament Jesus, before beginning of his public life, retires to the desert for forty days without food or drink (Matt. 4.2): he nourishes himself on the Word of God, which he uses as a weapon to conquer the devil. The temptations of Jesus recall those the Jewish people faced in the desert, but could not conquer. Forty are the days during which the risen Jesus instructs his disciples, before ascending to heaven and sending the Holy Spirit (Acts 1.3).
A spiritual context is described by this recurring number forty, one that remains current and valid, and the Church, precisely through the days of Lent, intends to maintain its enduring value and make us aware of its efficacy. The Christian liturgy of Lent is intended to facilitate a journey of spiritual renewal in the light of this long biblical experience and especially to learn how to imitate Jesus, who in the forty days spent in the desert taught how to overcome temptation with the Word of God. The forty years of Israel’s wandering in the desert present us with ambivalent attitudes and situations. On the one hand they are the first season of love between God and his people when He spoke to his heart, continuously indicating the path to follow to them. God had pitched his tent, so to speak, in the midst of Israel, He preceded it in a cloud or a pillar of fire, ensured its daily nourishment showering manna upon them, and bringing forth water from rock. Therefore, the years spent by Israel in the desert can be seen as the time of the special election of God and adherence to Him by the people. The time of first love. On the other hand, the Bible also shows another image of Israel’s wanderings in the desert: it is also the time of the greatest temptations and dangers, when Israel murmured against God and wanted to return to paganism and builds its own idols, as a need to worship a closer and more tangible God. It is also a time of rebellion against the great and invisible God.
This ambivalence, a period of special closeness to God, of first love and of temptation, the attempted return to paganism that characterized Israel in the desert, we find once again in a surprising way even in Jesus’ earthly journey, of course without any compromise with sin. After his baptism of repentance in the Jordan, in which he takes upon himself the destiny of the Servant of Yahweh God who renounces himself and lives for others and places himself among sinners, to take upon himself the sins of the world, Jesus went to stay in the desert for forty days in deep union with the Father, thus repeating the history of Israel and all these rhythms of forty days a year. This dynamic is a constant in the earthly life of Jesus, who always seeks moments of solitude to pray to his Father and remain in close and intimate communion with Him alone, and exclusive communion with Him, and then return among the people. But in these times of “desert” and special encounter with the Father, Jesus is exposed to danger and is assailed by temptation and the seduction of devil, who offers him another messianic way, far from God’s plan, because it passes through power, success, dominion and not through the total gift on the Cross. This is the alternative, messianism of power, of success, not messianism of gift and love of self.
This ambivalence also describes the condition of the pilgrim Church in the “desert” of the world and history. In this “desert” we believers certainly have the opportunity to profoundly experience God, an experience that makes the spirit strong, confirms the faith, nourishes hope, animates charity; an experience that makes us partakers of Christ’s victory over sin and death through the Sacrifice of love on the Cross. But the “desert” is also the negative aspects of the reality that surrounds us: the arid, the poverty of words of life and of values, secularism and the materialist culture, which shut people within a horizon of mundane existence, robbing them of all reference to transcendence. And this is also the environment in which the sky above us is obscured, because covered by the clouds of egoism, misunderstanding and deception. Despite this, even for the Church of today the time of the desert can be transformed into a time of grace, because we have the certainty that even from the hardest rock God can bring forth the living water that refreshes and restores.
Dear brothers and sisters, in these forty days that will lead us to Easter may we find new courage to accept with patience and with faith situations of difficulty, of affliction and trial, knowing that from the darkness the Lord will make a new day dawn. And if we are faithful to Jesus and follow him on the way of the Cross, the bright world of God, the world of light, truth and joy will be gifted to us once more: it will be the new dawn created by God himself. May you all have a good Lenten journey!
Our upcoming events surrounding the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. Indeed, we just celebrated St. Thomas’s feast on the 28th. But due to the use of the Dominican Rite we can do it again on the old day of our brother’s memorial, 7 March. His Mass will be preceded by Fr. Mansini’s lecture on 6 March.
The prior of our convent, Fr. John Langlois, O.P., delivers the homily at the 8 am.
Our Holy Father’s worldwide Christmas message:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world! Christ is born for us! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the men and women whom he loves. May all people hear an echo of the message of Bethlehem which the Catholic Church repeats in every continent, beyond the confines of every nation, language and culture. The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all.
This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us! This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand is Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps 40:2).
This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7). This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!”
The very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright; it makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God and were saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are those who are in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To realize this is the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of escape, provided that there is Someone who hears us and can come to our assistance.
Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation.
Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: “Come to save us!” Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice.
Together let us ask God’s help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state of insecurity. May the international community not fail to offer assistance to the many displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been sorely tried.
May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods.
May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace grant peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world, and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. May he grant renewed vigour to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good.
May the birth of the Saviour support the prospects of dialogue and cooperation in Myanmar, in the pursuit of shared solutions. May the Nativity of the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizens.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace. Let us open our hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say to him, with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum nos!”
It’s a bit odd that, having descended the mountain of Transfiguration with our Lord, the disciples ask about Elijah and not Moses (today’s Gospel). After all, it was Moses to whom the Law was given, Moses who led the people out of captivity, and Moses who built the Tabernacle after the heavenly pattern. Indeed, the infidelity that the prophets excoriate is an infidelity in terms of Moses’ covenantal patrimony.
Two differences between the way these men of God manifest divine power can be considered, and which point to the prominence of Elijah for our Gospel.
Moses is able to divide the sea, to conquer the Amalekites, and to draw water from a rock. But he does this largely by way of mere gestures–stretching forth of the hands and striking with the staff. No words accompany these actions. To be sure, Moses received unique commands and inspirations from God to do such and such, but his instrumentality remains–as it were–dumb. Hence, the people witness and experience this power as if from the outside, which is the second point. Moses brings down the tablets of law that God Himself inscribed: but the people do not ascend the mountain, and Moses merely gives what he has received.
Differently, our first lesson points out, Elijah’s amazing deeds are connected with his “words,” which are as “a flaming furnace.” It is by “the Lord’s word that he shut the heavens and three times brought down fire.” It is his words that communicate his “wondrous deeds.” Indeed, the parity between God’s word and the prophet’s words is such that Sirach asks–with reference to Elijah! (i.e., not God as such)–”whose glory is equal to yours?!”
Elijah’s glory is greater than that of Moses. He does equally great deeds, for example splitting the Jordan river (2 Kings 2.8) as Moses did the Red Sea. But moreover, like Christ, Elijah raises the dead (1 Kings 17.23).
Because these works, as emphasized by Sirach, are effected by Elijah’s words, the people are privy to the will and presence of God in a way that they did not have with Moses. As a result, all who have “seen” Elijah are blessed.
Consequently, the prophetic tradition to which the wisdom author, Sirach, witnesses, recognizes that the Messianic age is one where words communicate power. Indeed, the Messiah is the very Word made flesh. The ultimate gesture of God is that His selfsame Word is made manifest in the Nativity of His Son! God wants us to hear the words of His works!
Coming down from the mount of Transfiguration, then, the disciples ask a somewhat academic question about why “scribes” say that Elijah has to come first. Jesus simply responds by saying that Elijah has come! Our Lord emphasizes the fact that the words of the Bible (specifically, Malachi 4.1-5) and the words of God’s preachers (specifically, John the Baptist) manifest what needs be seen. People do not “recognize” what they ought because they have not heeded aright the words that have been preached to them.
Today, St. John the Baptist encourages us to recognize the Messiah by heeding the words of his tradition. A great attention to the Word of God as constitutive of any kind of spirituality is necessary…
as it is to the words of the liturgy, which are taken from the Bible and traditional preaching of the Church’s Saints. Our new translation provides precisely this opportunity to make a straight pathway in our hearts for the Lord.
The Church entrusts her ordained ministers with the prophetic task to manifest uniquely the works of God through the celebration of the sacraments. When the people respond “And with your Spirit,” they are making a unique response to God’s ordained ministers because to these latter have been imparted a special share in the Spirit of the Almighty. That special share is what empowers them in a unique and Elijah-like way to say “The Lord be with you”… not only so that they might mean it themselves, but so that they might effect it for others!
From Pio Nono’s Apostolic Constitution, Ineffabilis Deus, 8 December 1854
… The Fathers and writers of the Church, well versed in the heavenly Scriptures, had nothing more at heart than to vie with one another in preaching and teaching in many wonderful ways the Virgin’s supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin, and her renowned victory over the most foul enemy of the human race. This they did in the books they wrote to explain the Scriptures, to vindicate the dogmas, and to instruct the faithful. These ecclesiastical writers in quoting the words by which at the beginning of the world God announced his merciful remedies prepared for the regeneration of mankind—words by which he crushed the audacity of the deceitful serpent and wondrously raised up the hope of our race, saying, “I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed”—taught that by this divine prophecy the merciful Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was clearly foretold: That his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.
This sublime and singular privilege of the Blessed Virgin, together with her most excellent innocence, purity, holiness and freedom from every stain of sin, as well as the unspeakable abundance and greatness of all heavenly graces, virtues and privileges—these the Fathers beheld in that ark of Noah, which was built by divine command and escaped entirely safe and sound from the common shipwreck of the whole world; in the ladder which Jacob saw reaching from the earth to heaven, by whose rungs the angels of God ascended and descended, and on whose top the Lord himself leaned in that bush which Moses saw in the holy place burning on all sides, which was not consumed or injured in any way but grew green and blossomed beautifully; in that impregnable tower before the enemy, from which hung a thousand bucklers and all the armor of the strong; in that garden enclosed on all sides, which cannot be violated or corrupted by any deceitful plots; as in that resplendent city of God, which has its foundations on the holy mountains; in that most august temple of God, which, radiant with divine splendors, is full of the glory of God; and in very many other biblical types of this kind. In such allusions the Fathers taught that the exalted dignity of the Mother of God, her spotless innocence and her sanctity unstained by any fault, had been prophesied in a wonderful manner.
In like manner did they use the words of the prophets to describe this wondrous abundance of divine gifts and the original innocence of the Virgin of whom Jesus was born. They celebrated the august Virgin as the spotless dove, as the holy Jerusalem, as the exalted throne of God, as the ark and house of holiness which Eternal Wisdom built, and as that Queen who, abounding in delights and leaning on her Beloved, came forth from the mouth of the Most High, entirely perfect, beautiful, most dear to God and never stained with the least blemish….
Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”
From Our Holy Father’s Wednesday catechesis 24 October 2007
Saint Ambrose transferred to the Latin environment the meditation on the Scriptures which Origen had begun, introducing in the West the practice of lectio divina. The method of lectio served to guide all of Ambrose’s preaching and writings, which stemmed precisely from prayerful listening to the Word of God. The famous introduction of an Ambrosian catechesis shows clearly how the holy Bishop applied the Old Testament to Christian life: “Every day, when we were reading about the lives of the Patriarchs and the maxims of the Proverbs, we addressed morality”, the Bishop of Milan said to his catechumens and neophytes, “so that formed and instructed by them you may become accustomed to taking the path of the Fathers and to following the route of obedience to the divine precepts” (On the Mysteries 1, 1). In other words, the neophytes and catechumens, in accordance with the Bishop’s decision, after having learned the art of a well-ordered life, could henceforth consider themselves prepared for Christ’s great mysteries. Thus, Ambrose’s preaching – which constitutes the structural nucleus of his immense literary opus – starts with the reading of the Sacred Books (“the Patriarchs” or the historical Books and “Proverbs”, or in other words, the Wisdom Books) in order to live in conformity with divine Revelation.
It is obvious that the preacher’s personal testimony and the level of exemplarity of the Christian community condition the effectiveness of the preaching. In this perspective, a passage from St Augustine’s Confessions is relevant. He had come to Milan as a teacher of rhetoric; he was a sceptic and not Christian. He was seeking the Christian truth but was not capable of truly finding it.
What moved the heart of the young African rhetorician, sceptic and downhearted, and what impelled him to definitive conversion was not above all Ambrose’s splendid homilies (although he deeply appreciated them). It was rather the testimony of the Bishop and his Milanese Church that prayed and sang as one intact body. It was a Church that could resist the tyrannical ploys of the Emperor and his mother, who in early 386 again demanded a church building for the Arians’ celebrations. In the building that was to be requisitioned, Augustine relates, “the devout people watched, ready to die with their Bishop”. This testimony of the Confessions is precious because it points out that something was moving in Augustine, who continues: “We too, although spiritually tepid, shared in the excitement of the whole people” (Confessions 9, 7).
Augustine learned from the life and example of Bishop Ambrose to believe and to preach. We can refer to a famous sermon of the African, which centuries later merited citation in the conciliar Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum: “Therefore, all clerics, particularly priests of Christ and others who, as deacons or catechists, are officially engaged in the ministry of the Word”, Dei Verbum recommends, “should immerse themselves in the Scriptures by constant sacred reading and diligent study. For it must not happen that anyone becomes” – and this is Augustine’s citation – “”an empty preacher of the Word of God to others, not being a hearer of the Word in his own heart’” (n. 25). Augustine had learned precisely from Ambrose how to “hear in his own heart” this perseverance in reading Sacred Scripture with a prayerful approach, so as truly to absorb and assimilate the Word of God in one’s heart.
Dear brothers and sisters, I would like further to propose to you a sort of “patristic icon”, which, interpreted in the light of what we have said, effectively represents “the heart” of Ambrosian doctrine. In the sixth book of the Confessions, Augustine tells of his meeting with Ambrose, an encounter that was indisputably of great importance in the history of the Church. He writes in his text that whenever he went to see the Bishop of Milan, he would regularly find him taken up with catervae [lots] of people full of problems for whose needs he did his utmost. There was always a long queue waiting to talk to Ambrose, seeking in him consolation and hope. When Ambrose was not with them, with the people (and this happened for the space of the briefest of moments), he was either restoring his body with the necessary food or nourishing his spirit with reading. Here Augustine marvels because Ambrose read the Scriptures with his mouth shut, only with his eyes (cf. Confessions, 6, 3). Indeed, in the early Christian centuries reading was conceived of strictly for proclamation, and reading aloud also facilitated the reader’s understanding. That Ambrose could scan the pages with his eyes alone suggested to the admiring Augustine a rare ability for reading and familiarity with the Scriptures. Well, in that “reading under one’s breath”, where the heart is committed to achieving knowledge of the Word of God – this is the “icon” to which we are referring -, one can glimpse the method of Ambrosian catechesis; it is Scripture itself, intimately assimilated, which suggests the content to proclaim that will lead to the conversion of hearts.
In either hand the hastening Angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappeared.
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms.
Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon:
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
Thus concludes Milton’s great epic poem, Paradise Lost.
But today, our lessons and feast sing of paradise regained.
The Temple that the visionary prophet Ezekiel saw is the Church, the heavenly Jerusalem, of which we are members. The water flows down, southward, because Zion is a city set on a hill … but its nourishing water bears East, whence we were banished. And now, for all those renewed in the temple’s baptismal water, fruit trees of every kind grow – the Church’s sacraments of faith, and her members’ works of charity: food and medicine for ourselves and the world.
Paradise is regained because the body of Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. His Cross is our Tree of Life, and from his side flow water and blood: Blood for the Temple sacrifice that ended all sacrifices; Water for the river of life that even now extends to us the garden of paradise.
Rightly St. Paul proclaims, Christ alone is the foundation. He is the vine, whose flower forevermore blooms, and we are the branches, the Temple of God. Anyone who would trample through the garden, or corrupt but one of its flowers, will be destroyed by God, says the Apostle. Thus, in anticipation of this Final Judgment, Christ drives out of the Temple all those who would make God’s garden less than a thing of beauty, all those who would make a flower less than an act of heavenly worship. He purifies the Temple and waters the garden, giving us paradise.
Milton’s contemporary, George Herbert, sings with greater glory:
And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O my only light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.
These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide:
Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
Ours is not a solitary but humble way, that of a little flower, but lived in company with all the angels and saints, because in communion with Christ’s personal vicar on earth, the foundation stone’s own rock, the Pontifex Maximus, the great bridge builder between heaven and earth, the servant of servants in the Church’s worship of God. The Anglican poet priest Herbert did not see the ecclesial irony in his poem’s conclusion, posed to the eponymous “flower,” challenging: “Who would be more, swelling through store, / Forfeit their Paradise by pride.” But these chilling last lines on this shivering day encourage us to consider the tranquil warmth of the poet’s… and of the Creator’s beginning:
How Fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! Ev’n as the flowers in spring;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
Grief melts away
like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.
[Reposted from last year]
A plenary [i.e., full] indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful who:
-on any and each day from November 1 to 8, devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the departed;
-on All Souls’ Day [i.e., today] devoutly visit a church or an oratory and recite an Our Father and the Creed.
Of course, in being able to obtain in love either of these indulgences for your loved ones, the normal conditions are in order: in addition to excluding all attachment to sin, even venial sin [which we might generously interpret as meaning at the time of obtaining the indulgence], it is necessary to have a recent Sacramental confession (before or after), to receive Holy Communion on the day of, and prayer for the intention of the Pope.
God bless you and your loved ones. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon them. Amen.
Let us pray that our bishops will request and receive approval to have the memorial of Bl. John Paul II placed on our liturgical calendars in the States. As a blessed, one is not automatically venerated universally — as is the canonized saint. Bl. John Paul’s feast was chosen since it is the date of of his inauguration as the Vicar of Christ and Universal Shepherd, 1978. What follows is his homily from that day, and the approved English translation of the Collect that will be used in liturgical celebrations where he is remembered.
1. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). These words were spoken by Simon, son of Jonah, in the district of Caesarea Philippi. Yes, he spoke them with his own tongue, with a deeply lived and experienced conviction—but it is not in him that they find their source, their origin: “…because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven” (Mt 16:17). They were the words of Faith.
These words mark the beginning of Peter’s mission in the history of salvation, in the history of the People of God. From that moment, from that confession of Faith, the sacred history of salvation and of the People of God was bound to take on a new dimension: to express itself in the historical dimension of the Church.
This ecclesial dimension of the history of the People of God takes its origin, in fact is born, from these words of faith, and is linked to the man who uttered them: “You are Peter—the rock—and on you, as on a rock, I will build my Church.”
2. On this day and in this place these same words must again be uttered and listened to:
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Yes, Brothers and sons and daughters, these words first of all.
Their content reveals to our eyes the mystery of the living God, the mystery to which the Son has brought us close. Nobody, in fact, has brought the living God as close to men and revealed him as he alone did. In our knowledge of God, in our journey towards God, we are totally linked to the power of these words: “He who sees me sees the Father.” He who is infinite, inscrutable, ineffable, has come close to us in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary in the stable at Bethlehem.
All of you who are still seeking God, all of you who already have the inestimable good fortune to believe, and also you who are tormented by doubt: please listen once again, today in this sacred place, to the words uttered by Simon Peter. In those words is the faith of the Church. In those same words is the new truth, indeed, the ultimate and definitive truth about man: the son of the living God—”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
3. Today the new Bishop of Rome solemnly begins his ministry and the mission of Peter. In this city, in fact, Peter completed and fulfilled the mission entrusted to him by the Lord.
The Lord addressed him with these words: “…when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go” (Jn 21:18).
Peter came to Rome!
What else but obedience to the inspiration received from the Lord guided him and brought him to this city, the heart of the Empire? Perhaps the fisherman of Galilee did not want to come here. Perhaps he would have preferred to stay there, on the shores of the Lake of Genesareth, with his boat and his nets. But guided by the Lord, obedient to his inspiration, he came here!
According to an ancient tradition (given magnificent literary expression in a novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz), Peter wanted to leave Rome during Nero’s persecution. But the Lord intervened: he went to meet him. Peter spoke to him and asked. “Quo vadis, Domine? “—” Where are you going, Lord?” And the Lord answered him at once: “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.” Peter went back to Rome and stayed here until his crucifixion.
Yes, Brothers and sons and daughters, Rome is the See of Peter. Down the centuries new Bishops continually succeeded him in this See. Today a new, Bishop comes to the Chair of` Peter in Rome, a Bishop full of trepidation, conscious of his unworthiness. And how could one not tremble before the greatness of this call and before the universal mission of this See of Rome!
To the See of Peter in Rome there succeeds today a Bishop who is not a Roman. A Bishop who is a son of Poland. But from this moment he too becomes a Roman. Yes—a Roman. He is a Roman also because he is the son of a nation whose history, from its first dawning, and whose thousand-year-old traditions are marked by a living, strong, unbroken and deeply felt link with the See of Peter, a nation which has ever remained faithful to this See of Rome. Inscrutable is the design of Divine Providence!
4. In past centuries, when the Successor of Peter took possession of his See, the triregnum or tiara was placed on his head. The last Pope to be crowned was Paul VI in 1963, but after the solemn coronation ceremony he never used the tiara again and left his Successors free to decide in this regard.
Pope John Paul I, whose memory is so vivid in our hearts, did not wish to have the tiara; nor does his Successor wish it today. This is not the time to return to a ceremony and an object considered, wrongly, to be a symbol of the temporal power of the Popes.
Our time calls us, urges us, obliges us to gaze on the Lord and immerse ourselves in humble and devout meditation on the mystery of the supreme power of Christ himself.
He who was born of the Virgin Mary, the carpenter’s Son (as he was thought to be), the Son of the living God (confessed by Peter), came to make us all “a kingdom of priests”.
The Second Vatican Council has reminded us of the mystery of this power and of the fact that Christ’s mission as Priest, Prophet-Teacher and King continues in the Church. Everyone, the whole People of God, shares in this threefold mission. Perhaps in the past, the tiara, this triple crown, was placed on the Pope’s head in order to express by that symbol the Lord’s plan for his Church, namely that all the hierarchical order of Christ’s Church, all “sacred power” exercised in the Church, is nothing other than service, service with a single purpose: to ensure that the whole People of God shares in this threefold mission of Christ and always remains under the power of the Lord; a power that has its source not in the powers of this world but in the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection.
The absolute and yet sweet and gentle power of the Lord responds to the whole depths of the human person, to his loftiest aspirations of intellect, will and heart. It does not speak the language of force but expresses itself in charity and truth.
The new Successor of Peter in the See of Rome, today makes a fervent, humble and trusting prayer: Christ, make me become and remain the servant of your unique power, the servant of your sweet power, the servant of your power that knows no eventide. Make me be a servant. Indeed, the servant of your servants.
5. Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ’s power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows “what is in man”. He alone knows it.
So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life.
Precisely today the whole Church is celebrating “World Mission Day”; that is, she is praying, meditating and acting in order that Christ’s words of life may reach all people and be received by them as a message of hope, salvation, and total liberation.
6. I thank all of you here present who have wished to participate in this solemn inauguration of the ministry of the new Successor of Peter.
I heartily thank the Heads of State, the Representatives of the Authorities, and the Government Delegations for so honouring me with their presence.
Thank you, Eminent Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church.
I thank you, my beloved Brothers in the Episcopate.
Thank you, Priests.
To you, Sisters and Brothers, Religious of the Orders and Congregations, I give my thanks.
Thank you, people of Rome.
Thanks to the pilgrims who have come here from all over the world.
Thanks to all of you who are linked with this Sacred Ceremony by radio and television.
7. I speak to you, my dear fellow-countrymen, pilgrims from Poland, Brother Bishops with your magnificent Primate at your head, Priests, Sisters and Brothers of the Polish Religious Congregations—to you representatives of Poland from all over the world.
What shall I say to you who have come from my Krakow, from the See of Saint Stanislaus of whom I was the unworthy successor for fourteen years? What shall I say? Everything that I could say would fade into insignificance compared with what my heart feels, and your hearts feel, at this moment.
So let us leave aside words. Let there remain just great silence before God, the silence that becomes prayer. I ask you: be with me! At Jasna Gora and everywhere. Do not cease to be with the Pope who today prays with the words of the poet: “Mother of God, you who defend Bright Czestochowa and shine at Ostrabrama”. And these same words I address to you at this particular moment.
8. That was an appeal and a call to prayer for the new Pope, an appeal expressed in the Polish language. I make the same appeal to all the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church. Remember me today and always in your prayers!
To the Catholics of French-speaking lands, I express my complete affection and devotedness. I presume to count upon your unreserved filial assistance. May you advance in the faith! To those who do not share this faith, I also address my respectful and cordial greetings. I trust that their sentiments of goodwill may facilitate the spiritual mission that lies upon me, and which does not lack repercussions for the happiness and peace of the world.
To all of you who speak English I offer in the name of Christ a cordial greeting. I count on the support of your prayers and your goodwill in carrying out my mission of service to the Church and mankind. May Christ give you his grace and his peace, overturning the barriers of division and making all things one in him.
[The Holy Father spoke in similar terms in German, Spanish, Portuguese, Czechoslovakian, Russian, Ukranian and Lithuanian].
I open my heart to all my Brothers of the Christian Churches and Communities, and I greet in particular you who are here present, in anticipation of our coming personal meeting; but for the moment I express to you my sincere appreciation for your having wished to attend this solemn ceremony.
And I also appeal to all men—to every man (and with what veneration the apostle of Christ must utter this word: “man”!)
— pray for me!
— help me to be able to serve you! Amen.
O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that the Blessed John Paul the Second
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. AMEN.
In addition to the Gospel that takes his name, St. Luke is recognized as the author of Acts. He seems to enter into his narrative of St. Paul’s journeys in 16.6 ff.
[Paul and Silas] traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them, so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas.
During the night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
When he had seen the vision, we sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.
Yesterday was (also) the feast of Bl. Bartolo Longo (1841-1926). A lay Dominican who had turned wholeheartedly to the true faith and to the Blessed Mother after swimming in the dark waters of magic and occultism. A powerful intercessor for those with fears of needing special deliverance, Bartolo Longo was a most zealous promoter of the Most Holy Rosary, and is behind this amazing and powerful rosary novena.
Today the Order celebrates with particular fervor Our Lady of the Rosary. In specific, today’s feast commemorates the great naval victory of the Christians over invading Turks at Lepanto on this day in 1571. The Dominican pope at the time, St. Pius V, initiated the roots of today’s celebration.
May Our Lady defend us all in battle.