Vol 12 Issue 49 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
December 7, 2019 ~ Saint Ambrose, opn!
1. What is the Holy Eucharist
2. Second Sunday in Advent
3. Immaculate Conception
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
Last Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Protestant Service called the Novus Ordo Missae. So that you do not point to me and say it is my opinion, let me point to the National Catholic Register [http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/the-mass-of-paul-vi-at-50], a recognized weekly of the Conciliar Church:
Vatican | Dec. 1, 2019
The Mass of Paul VI at 50: Marking the Golden Jubilee of the New Order
Why the Mass Was Revised
The Second Vatican Council brought about a sea change in many aspects of the Catholic Church, and none more so than, 50 years ago, when the Mass of Paul VI — the Novus Ordo, the New Order of the Mass — was officially promulgated on Nov. 30, the First Sunday of Advent, 1969.
The emergence of the new order of the Mass marked a historical change in the way that the Church prayed in its liturgy and celebrated the Eucharist.
The reason for this change is linked directly to the Council’s constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which called for a revision of the liturgy, including greater use of the vernacular, the introduction of a three-year cycle of scriptural readings for Sunday Mass compiled in the Lectionary, and a restoration of general intercessions (the Prayer of the Faithful).
Additional changes in the Mass stem from the work of the Consilium, a body of bishops and liturgists commissioned by Paul VI in 1964 and led by its controversial secretary, then-Father and later Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, who according to memoirs of some Consilium members pushed for novelty in the reforms. The Consilium’s members served as architects for the changes to the Mass called for — and others that were not called for — by Sacrosanctum Concilium.
Today, liturgists and theologians look back on the new form of the Mass, explaining what drove the revisions to the liturgy and how the changes were received.
Pope, Council and Consilium
Since its promulgation, the new order of the Mass has been called the Mass of Paul VI, although, according to Father Dennis Gill, director of the Office for Divine Worship of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and professor of sacred liturgy at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, the idea for a new form of the Mass did not originate with Paul VI but was the result of an interpretation of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the proposals pushed by the Consilium.
The Conciliar document on the liturgy also called for a balanced approach to reform by retaining “sound tradition” on the one hand and being “open to legitimate progress” on the other, said Father Kocik. He noted that the document pointed to examples of such balance: allowing for greater use of the vernacular, while also preserving the use of Latin in the liturgy, and allowing for cultural variations in the Mass while also maintaining the unity of the Roman Rite. Sacrosanctum Concilium also noted that Gregorian chant — the sacred music of the Church — “should be given pride of place in liturgical services” while also allowing for “other kinds of sacred music” and music from within particular cultures.
“These are balanced proposals for reform,” Father Kocik said.
Derivations From the Council
But this same balance was missing when it came time for the Consilium to integrate these principles into the revised form of the Mass, said Father Peter Stravinskas, president of the Catholic Education Foundation and editor of the apologetics journal The Catholic Response.
“The Consilium had been deputed to make changes the Council Fathers had in mind,” he told the Register, “but there was a sort of hostile takeover, and the Consilium went far beyond the mandate of the Council Fathers. A very heavy ideological scalpel was taken to the Roman Rite. And of course we move on from there to things that aren’t even in the Roman Missal, like standing for Communion, facing the people, altar girls, Eucharistic ministers and Communion in the hand. … If the Council Fathers went to the average parish Mass today, they would be stunned because none of this was envisioned.”
According to Susan Benofy, former research editor and longtime contributor to the liturgical journal Adoremus Bulletin, the motivations behind the Consilium’s derivations reach back to early 20th-century efforts at liturgical reform.
“The principles of Sacrosanctum Concilium were largely the same as those that guided the reform that had already taken place from the time of Pope Pius X onward,” Benofy told the Register. “These principles had been promoted by the preconciliar liturgical movement, but within that movement there were different emphases.”
“One group stressed catechesis so the people understood the liturgy and so could participate more fruitfully in it. Another group stressed adapting the rite as the way to encourage participation,” Benofy added. “It was the latter idea that apparently dominated the Consilium and those prominent in the implementation of the reform.”
The Consilium introduced a number of changes to the Mass not called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium, Father Kocik said, including a new penitential rite and new offertory prayers, and “three new Eucharistic Prayers were added (and more came later) for optional use as alternatives to the Roman Canon, which for more than a thousand years had been the sole Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Rite in all its legitimate variants.”
Father Kocik acknowledged that there may be good arguments for these changes, “but the fact remains that these are radical reforms contravening [Sacrosanctum Concilium’s] insistence that ‘any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.’” . . .
However one looks at the Novus Ordo, it was a rupture from the Catholic Holy Mass, be it for good as the liberal Conciliarist would claim, or for the worst as conservative Conciliarist would claim—but still a rupture from the Catholic Faith. This is why we do not participate in these non-Catholic New Order services.
As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit.—The Editor
WHAT IS THE HOLY EUCHARIST
By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
The first sprouts [of the anti-Liturgical Movement] are seen in the decree Sacrosanctum Concilium of the II Vatican Council concerning the Liturgy which is as follows concerning the Holy Eucharist:
THE MOST SACRED MYSTERY OF THE EUCHARIST
47. At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity [cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem, VI, n. 13.], a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us [Roman Breviary, feast of Corpus Christi, Second Vespers, antiphon to the Magnificat.].
48. The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God’s word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator [cf. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John, book XI, chap. XI-XII: Migne, Patrologia Graeca, 74, 557-564.], they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all.
49. For this reason the sacred Council, having in mind those Masses which are celebrated with the assistance of the faithful, especially on Sundays and feasts of obligation, has made the following decrees in order that the sacrifice of the Mass, even in the ritual forms of its celebration, may become pastorally efficacious to the fullest degree.
50. The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.
For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.
51. The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years.
52. By means of the homily the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian life are expounded from the sacred text, during the course of the liturgical year; the homily, therefore, is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself; in fact, at those Masses which are celebrated with the assistance of the people on Sundays and feasts of obligation, it should not be omitted except for a serious reason.
53. Especially on Sundays and feasts of obligation there is to be restored, after the Gospel and the homily, “the common prayer” or “the prayer of the faithful.” By this prayer, in which the people are to take part, intercession will be made for holy Church, for the civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all mankind, and for the salvation of the entire world [Cf. 1 Tim. 2:1-2.].
54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.
Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.
And wherever a more extended use of the mother tongue within the Mass appears desirable, the regulation laid down in Art. 40 of this Constitution is to be observed.
55. That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended.
The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact [Session XXI, July 16, 1562. Doctrine on Communion under Both Species, chap. 1-3: Condlium Tridentinum. Diariorum, Actorum, Epistolarum, Tractatuum nova collectio ed. Soc. Goerresiana, tome VIII (Freiburg in Br., 1919), 698-699.], communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See, as, for instance, to the newly ordained in the Mass of their sacred ordination, to the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism.
56. The two parts which, in a certain sense, go to make up the Mass, namely, the liturgy of the word and the eucharistic liturgy, are so closely connected with each other that they form but one single act of worship. Accordingly this sacred Synod strongly urges pastors of souls that, when instructing the faithful, they insistently teach them to take their part in the entire Mass, especially on Sundays and feasts of obligation.
57. 1. Concelebration, whereby the unity of the priesthood is appropriately manifested, has remained in use to this day in the Church both in the east and in the west. For this reason it has seemed good to the Council to extend permission for concelebration to the following cases:
a) on the Thursday of the Lord’s Supper, not only at the Mass of the Chrism, but also at the evening Mass.
b) at Masses during councils, bishops’ conferences, and synods;
c) at the Mass for the blessing of an abbot.
2. Also, with permission of the ordinary, to whom it belongs to decide whether concelebration is opportune:
a) at conventual Mass, and at the principle Mass in churches when the needs of the faithful do not require that all priests available should celebrate individually;
b) at Masses celebrated at any kind of priests’ meetings, whether the priests be secular clergy or religious.
1. The regulation, however, of the discipline of con-celebration in the diocese pertains to the bishop.
2. Nevertheless, each priest shall always retain his right to celebrate Mass individually, though not at the same time in the same church as a concelebrated Mass, nor on Thursday of the Lord’s Supper.
58. A new rite for concelebration is to be drawn up and inserted into the Pontifical and into the Roman Missal.
What this document did was equate the Mass with the other sacramentals, that is, rites the Church instituted on her own initiative and which could be changed or dispensed without detriment to the Catholic Faith and Divine precept. It adopts all of the demands of the Protestants and the condemned Synod of Pistoia. It does not state clearly what the Holy Eucharist is, now allowing error to emerge on the same level as truth—even though the Church had forbade and condemned errors and then clearly defined all that pertained to the Holy Eucharist at the Council of Trent. The Vatican II document placed the Bible on the same par as the Holy Eucharist, rejecting Tradition from which alone Scripture receives its authenticity. The immediate consequences: Communion in the hand, all standing to receive, no genuflections, tabernacle placed at side counter table, women as eucharistic ministers, no purifications, and Protestants—who absolutely do not believe in Transubstantiation—allowed to receive.
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
MATTHEW xi 2-10
At that time: When John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he that shall not be scandalised in me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? A prophet? Yea, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.
EXPOSITION FROM THE CATENA AUREA
JEROME: He asked, not as one who was ignorant, but as the Saviour asked where they had laid Lazarus: so that those who indicated the place of the sepulchre would be so much the better prepared to believe when they should see the dead rising. So John, soon to be put to death by Herod, sends his disciples to Christ, so that by seeing the signs and wonders wrought by the Master they would believe in Him, and by speaking with Him, would learn for themselves. That John’s disciples had a certain feeling of bitterness towards the Lord, because of envy, is apparent from their question on a previous occasion, as when they said: why do we and the Pharisees fast, and your disciples do not fast?
CHRYSOSTOM: As long as John was with his disciples, he strove continually to convince them of the truth with regard to the Christ. Now, being about to be put to death, he strove even more earnestly. For he was fearful lest he leave his disciples in an unsettled state of mind, and that they might remain alienated from Christ, towards Whom, from the beginning, he had striven to lead them. If he were simply to say to them: go, follow Him; for he is greater than me, he would not at all have persuaded them. More, by speaking in this way, they would only think that he wished to humble himself, and thus they would have become even more attached to him.
What therefore does he do? He waits till in due time he hears from them, that Christ is working miracles. Neither does he now send all of them, but only two, whom he perhaps knows to be more open to conviction than the rest, so that they themselves might make a straightforward enquiry, and, from what they saw, might learn for themselves how great was the distance between the Baptist and Christ.
HILARY, as above: John therefore was not studying his own ignorance, but that of his disciples. In order that they might learn that he had been preaching none other than this Christ, he sends his disciples that they might behold His works; so that what he had himself taught them, concerning Christ, might now be confirmed by Christ’s own signs and wonders.
CHRYSOSTOM, as above: Christ, discerning the purpose of John, did not simply say in reply: Yes, I am he. Because by such a reply He would but revive their antipathy. For they would think, though they might not say, that which the Pharisees had already said to Him: Thou givest testimony of thyself (Jn. viii. 13). For this reason he made them learn the answer from His miracles, thus giving a reply that was simple and unanswerable. For the testimony of deeds is more credible than that of words. Accordingly, He there and then cured the lame, the blind, and many others. He did this, not in order to teach John, who already knew, but these disciples, who were still doubtful. Hence the Gospel goes on: and Jesus making answer said to them: go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them.
JEROME: What is last mentioned is not the least significant. For the poor understand either the poor in spirit, or, without doubt, the poor of this world. So that in the preaching of the gospel there is no distinction between high and low, rich and poor. This proves the impartiality of the Master, the truthfulness of the Instructor, since He seeks without preference the salvation of each one.
CHRYSOSTOM: Saying: blessed is he that shall not be scandalised in Me, He reproaches John’s messengers. For they had been scandalised in Him. Without openly making known their doubt, leaving it within their own hearts, He secretly forgives their offence.
HILARY: He makes clear that of which John had already warned them, saying: blessed is he in whom there was nothing of scandal concerning Himself. For it was through fear of this, lest they be scandalised, that John had sent his disciples. So that they would learn from Christ Himself. GREGORY Hom. 6 in Evang: The minds of those who had not believed suffered grave scandal in regard to Christ, when after so many miracles they beheld Him dying. Hence Paul has said: We preach Christ crucified a stumbling block to the Jews (l Cor. i. 23). What then does He mean here: Blessed is he that is not scandalised in me, unless signifying in clear terms the abjection and lowliness of His own death? It is as if He openly said: “I perform wonders, but I do not refuse also to suffer humiliations. Because in my death I shall go the way of men, men must take care that they do not despise Me in death, though they now honour Me because of these wonders.”
HILARY, as above: Mystically, an even fuller understanding is to be had of that which John did here. For as a prophet he prophesied even in the very circumstances of his imprisonment; because in him the Law became silent. The Law had been foretelling of Christ and the forgiveness of sins, and had promised likewise the kingdom of heaven. And John had brought to completion this work of the Law. The Law now silent, imprisoned by the wickedness of men, as it were held in bonds and shut away, so that Christ might not be made known, then sends to look upon the Gospel, so that doubt may be changed to belief in its doctrine, through seeing the works of the Gospel.
AMBROSE, on Luke Ch. 7: Perhaps these two disciples whom he sent, signify the two peoples; the one believing for the Jews, the other for the Gentiles. CHRYSOSTOM, in Matth. Hom. 36: As to John’s disciples, his purpose was accomplished. Now satisfied concerning Christ because of the wonders they had seen, they returned whence they came. But it was also necessary to correct the minds of the people who, from this interrogation by John’s disciples, may have been led to erroneous conclusions, being unaware of John’s purpose. They might have said among themselves that he who had testified so much concerning Christ, seems to believe differently now, and even doubts if He really is the Christ. Have they quarrelled, that he now speaks in this manner to Jesus? Or has prison changed his mind? Or was that which he proclaimed before but vain and foolish talk?
HILARY, in Matth. 11: Lest the words He had just spoken to the disciples be wrongly applied to the Baptist, as though it were he that were scandalised in Christ, the Scripture adds: And when they, the disciples, went their way, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John. CHRYSOSTOM: Only when they went their way did He speak, lest He might appear to flatter. Again, in correcting the people, He did not openly refer to their suspicions, but guided their minds towards an explanation of what had been troubling them, and had occasioned their doubts, thus showing them that He knew their hidden thoughts. For He did not say to them as He did to the Pharisees: Why do you think evil in your hearts (Mt. ix. 4). For though they had thought evil, it was through ignorance, not malice. And so He did not speak severely to them, but speaking on John’s behalf He showed that the Baptist had not fallen away from his first belief. He proves this as well from their own testimony, as by His own words. He proved it, not alone by what they said, but by what they had done. And so He says: What went you out into the desert to see? As if He said: for what reason did you, abandoning the cities, gather together in the wilderness? So great a multitude would not have come and with such eagerness, into the desert, unless expecting to see something great, something wonderful, something more enduring than the arid desert.
GLOSS: They had not at this time gone out into the desert to see John, for he was not then in the desert, but in prison. But our Lord was speaking of the past. Because the people had gone out frequently to the desert to see John while he was in the desert.
CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 38 in Matth: Passing over any other possible defect, He removes from their mind the suspicion of levity the crowd had inwardly entertained concerning John, saying: a reed shaken by the wind? GREGORY, Hom. 6 in Evang: Which suspicion He disposed of, not by alleging, but by denying. Scarcely does the breath of the breeze touch the reed than it bends the other way. In this the carnal soul is signified, which, as soon as it is touched by inclination or delight, inclines in that direction. A reed shaken by the wind John was not, but a man no allurement would turn from his path. As if the Lord should say: JEROME: was it for this you went out into the desert: that you might see a man like a reed in character turned about by every wind, of such changeable mind that he is uncertain now of what he before proclaimed? Or perhaps he is moved by jealousy against Me, and his preaching was but a following after vain glory that from it he might make profit? But why should he seek wealth? That he might revel in feasting? But his food was locusts and wild honey. Was it that he might dress richly? But his clothing was of camel’s hair. And so he adds: but what went you out to see? A man clothed in soft garments?
CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 38 in Matth: That John is unlike a fickle reed you have proved by your own eagerness in going out to see him in the desert. No man either can say that John was first constant, then afterwards, giving himself to pleasure, became inconstant. For just as one is by nature irascible, and another becomes so by illness, some are fickle by nature, others become so by giving themselves to wantonness. John was not fickle by nature, for which it was He had said: what went you out to see, a reed shaken by the wind? Neither, giving himself to pleasure, had he lost the excellence of virtue which he possessed. That he was no servant of pleasure, his poverty alone, as well as his prison, confirms. Had he wished to be clothed in soft garments he would have dwelt, not in the desert, but in the houses of kings. Hence we have: Behold they who are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings. JEROME: From this it is indicated to us that austere living and the preaching of the Gospel, must keep away from the palaces of kings, and the houses of luxury-living men.
GREGORY, Hom. 6 in Evang: Let no one think that sin can be absent from luxurious living and the love of precious garments. For if there were no fault in it Our Lord would not have praised John for his austerity, nor Peter have reproved women for their craving for precious adornment (I Pet. iii. 3).
AUGUSTINE, De Doct. Christiana, 3; 12: Yet in all these things the fault lies, not in the use of things, but in the disordered appetite of the user. Whosoever uses things more sparingly than those among whom he lives, is either temperate, or overscrupulous. Whosoever uses them so as to exceed the measure of what is usual among goodliving people about him, either wishes to convey some meaning, or is a person without order in his life.
CHRYSOSTOM: Our Lord having vindicated the character of John, from the manner of his life and of his clothing, and from the thronging of people to him, shows also that he was a prophet, and more than a prophet, saying: what went you out to see? A prophet? I say to you and more than a prophet. GREGORY: it is the office of the prophet to foretell future events, not to point them out. John therefore is more than a prophet, because Him of whom He had prophesied, he had also pointed out, [indicating Him to his own disciples]. JEROME: in which he is greater than the other prophets; since to the office of prophet is added the dignity of Baptist, for he had baptised the Lord.
CHRYSOSTOM: Then he shows in what John is greater, saying: This is he of whom it is written: behold I send my angel before thy face. JEROME: That He might add to the merits of John, He recalls the testimony of Malachy (Mal. iii. 1), in which he is foretold as an angel. Let us not however infer that John was called an angel by community of nature, but rather from the dignity of his office; he was a messenger who announced the Coming of the Lord. GREGORY: That which is called angelus in Greek is in Latin nuntius or messenger. Fittingly, therefore, is he called angelus who had come to announce the Supernal Judge; so that he may possess in his name the dignity of his office.
CHRYSOSTOM: He reveals, therefore, in what John is greater than the other prophets; in this, namely; that he is near to Christ. And so the Scripture says: I send before thy face, that is, before Thee. For those who precede the king’s chariot are nobler than the others. In this way John is closer to the presence of Christ. GLOSS: Other prophets were sent that they might announce the Coming of the Lord; he was sent to prepare His path. Hence it is said: who shall prepare thy way before thee, that is, by preaching penance, and by baptising, he prepared the hearts of Christ’s hearers.
HILARY: Mystically, the desert must be considered as a place empty of the Holy Spirit, in which there is no dwelling place of God. In the reed we see a man who is absorbed in the vanity of the world, and in his own empty life. Within he is void of the fruit of truth, having a pleasing exterior, but an empty interior; responsive to the breath of every wind, that is, to every prompting of unclean spirits; never able to take a firm stand, and vain to the marrow of his bones. By garments is mystically signified the body which the soul as it were puts on, and which grows soft by luxury and wantonness. Kings is another name for the fallen angels. For these are the Powers of this world, not that they rule the world visibly, but rather the evil men in the world; hence they lord it over men. Accordingly, those dressed in luxurious garments are in the houses of kings, means, mystically: those whose bodies are lax and dissolute, through wantonness, are plainly the habitations of demons. GREGORY: John was not clothed in soft garments, because he did not condone with flattery the lives of those who were living in sin, but rather upbraided them in bitter words, saying: ye brood of vipers, who hath showed you to flee from the wrath to come?
DEC. 8, THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
“Thou art all fair, O Mary”
1. The liturgy places the beautiful feast of the Immaculate Conception in the middle of the Advent season. In the person of Mary, the sun of the redemption and salvation dawns, and through her Christmas is brought to us. Through her, Christ the Son of God announces His coming.
2. “Thou art all fair, O Mary, and the stain of original sin is not in thee” (Alleluia verse). Since we are children of Adam, the moment we are conceived we contract the guilt of original sin. From the first moment of our existence we are children of wrath, an object of abhorrence to God. Original sin has made us so ugly, so hateful, and so worthless, that its defilement has covered our whole soul and our whole person. Mary has been preserved from all this. From the first moment of her existence she was full of grace, perfectly pure and holy, and most pleasing to God in her heavenly beauty and holiness. She alone of all mankind has been preserved from the stain of original sin. She is the spotless lily, full of purity and light. “Thou art all fair, O Mary, and the stain of original sin is not in thee. Thy vesture is white as snow; and thy face is as the sun. Thou art the glory of Jerusalem [the Church]; thou art the joy of Israel; thou art the honor of our people” (Antiphons at Vespers), “There is no defilement in her; she is a ray of the eternal sun, a mirror without spot; she is brighter than the sun, whiter than snow” (Responsory at Matins). So also must each one be in whom God will take up His abode; bright, pure, spotless, a clear mirror of the glory and holiness of God. God comes only to the pure.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord” (Introit). Joyfully we add our prayers of thanksgiving to those the Church sends up to the throne of God in thanksgiving for Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Her gratitude is ours also. We realize that the immaculate Mother, like ourselves, is a member of the mystical body. Her purity, her abundant grace, her virtues, belong also to us. She has received this immense treasure, not so much for her own benefit as for that of her children and for that of the entire mystical body. By reason of her stainless and matchless purity she dared to conceive the Son of God. By virtue of her Immaculate Conception, this second Eve, the spotless helpmate of the second Adam, shared with her Son in the work of redemption and helped us to obtain the mercy of God, forgiveness for our sins, and temporal and eternal salvation. All the
spiritual favors we obtain from God come to us through Christ and His blessed mother.
Mary’s Immaculate Conception, her purity, and her abundant graces, therefore, belong also to us who are members of the mystical body of Christ. Since we are united to her through the mystical body, we may truly sing with her and with the Church: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, and with the robe of justice He hath covered me, as a bridegroom decked with a crown, and as a bride adorned with her jewels” (Introit).
3. “Thou art all fair, O Mary, and the stain of original sin is not in thee.” “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women” (Offertory).
Hail Mary, full of grace, holier than the saints, more exalted than the heavens, more glorious than the cherubim, more honorable than the seraphim, and of all creatures the most worthy of veneration. Hail, O dove, who brings to us the fruit of the olive and announces to us a Savior from the spiritual deluge and a harbor of safety . . . . Hail, glorious paradise of God, planted today in the East by His most benevolent and omnipotent hand, . . . and producing the matchless rose for the cure of those who have drunk the destructive and bitter potion of death. [St. Germanus; lesson at Matins.]
“Thou art all fair, O Mary.” The soul that is to be the dwelling place of God must indeed be pure. “Holiness becometh Thy house, O Lord” (Ps. 92:5). Purity, holiness, and sanctifying grace are the things that have value in the sight of God.
O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, didst make ready a worthy dwelling place for Thy Son: grant, we beseech Thee, that, as through the foreseen death of the same Son, Thou didst preserve His mother from all stain of sin, so may we likewise be pure in heart through her intercession and may come to Thee. Through the same Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
AND OUR CHILDREN
Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons
By Mary Reed Newland (1956)
Saints of Advent
ST. LUCY AND CHRISTMAS WHEAT
The feast of St. Lucy, December 13, is a favorite among many peoples, especially the Italian and Swedish. St. Lucy’s story is another of the hair-raising tales of martyrdom ending in heavenly triumph and we make the telling of it the focal point of our feast. We have Americanized somewhat the Swedish custom of the Lucy Bride, although we have never been able to work it so that the father and mother of this family were served the traditional coffee and sweet rolls in bed that morning. It is agreed, however, that it is a magnificent idea to be saved for the day when there will be fewer small fry to get up and out to the school bus on St. Lucy’s day.
Monica is always our St. Lucy, one of the rewards for being the only girl in the house. For her crown we omit the lighted candles (a trifle dangerous) but have the boys gather fresh princess pine from the woods. This is made into a wreath bound with two colors of ribbons with streamers to hang down her back. It is after she carries in a Swedish coffee ring crowned with a garland of lighted candles for dessert that she tells her story.
She begins by reminding the family that Lucy comes from the Latin word lux which means light; and since we are preparing for the coming of the Light of the World it is appropriate that her feast falls in Advent. She also reminds us that St. Gregory the Great placed St. Lucy, together with her patroness St. Agatha, in the Canon of the Mass, and there we ask God to grant us “some part and fellowship” with her.
St. Lucy was born in Sicily. Since her mother was ill four years with a hemorrhage, Lucy reminded her that a woman in the Gospels with the same complaint was cured by Our Lord, and suggested that perhaps praying at the tomb of St. Agatha, who died for love of Him, would procure her mother’s recovery. They went to the tomb and prayed all night until as they fell asleep St. Agatha appeared to Lucy in a vision, called her “sister” and foretold her martyrdom. Her mother was instantly cured, and as a thanksgiving she gave away most of her money and goods to the poor. She then permitted Lucy to give away all her money and goods to the poor, as well as take a vow of virginity. (Once at a retelling of this story one of our boys observed that probably her mother didn’t give away all her goods and money, because someone had to support Lucy.)
Refusing to marry her suitor because she had given herself to Christ, she was denounced by him as a Christian, tried in the praetorium and convicted, then sentenced to be despoiled in a house of ill-fame. (This can be adapted for children by saying she was sentenced to work in slavery with wicked people who were not pure of heart.) But when they tried to drag her off, she would not budge. They brought a yoke of oxen to drag her, but even they could not make her budge. Raging, her persecutors poured pitch, oil, and resin over her and ignited it, only to see her stand amid the flames as cool as a cucumber.
“How is it you do not burn!” they screamed. She replied that it was by the power of her Lord Jesus Christ that she was saved, in order that she might be a witness to Him. With that they plunged a dagger into her throat and she finally died and went straight to Heaven.
A legend that has grown up around St. Lucy has to do with her gouging out her eyes in order to destroy their beauty which had attracted so many admirers. This explains a statue we saw not long ago showing Lucy, sweet faced and crowned, sedately offering us her eyes on a silver platter. Thank you, no, dear St. Lucy—and I don’t believe you ever did it in the first place.
She is invoked, however, for assistance with diseases of the eyes, with dysentery and hemorrhages; she is the patron saint of Sicily, especially the city of Syracuse, and apparently the Swedish people fell in love with her when her plucky story was carried north by the early Christian missionaries, and she became their patron saint of schoolgirls. Among the invocations to include in night prayers on her feast is: “Please, dear St. Lucy, help us to love purity.”
A beautiful Hungarian custom on the feast of St. Lucy is to plant the “Christmas wheat.” Pressed gently into a pot of garden soil, watered, and kept in a moderately warm room, the wheat will be sprouted soft green by Christmas. Then the children may carry it to the creche as a gift for the Child Jesus, symbolic of the Eucharistic bread by which He feeds our souls at the altar as well as of the staff of life by which His Father keeps life in our bodies. For families living in country where wheat is grown, saving a handful of seed for this custom might be an annual event. For those who have no wheat at hand, the Sisters of Social Service (884 Tifft Street, Buffalo 20, N. Y.) send little packages of Christmas wheat together with an explanation of the custom, as thank offerings for alms for the support of their work.
THE FEAST OF LIGHTS
At about this time in December the Jewish people celebrate their Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah (Chanukah) called by them the Feast of Lights. It is good to know something about this feast since Our Lord celebrated it when He was here. St. John mentions Our Lord’s being in Jerusalem in the temple for the Feast of Dedication (10:22). It celebrates the victory of Judas Machabees over the Syrians, who had coerced many of the Israelites to idol worship and to abandoning the One God, and who had laid waste the Holy City. It is exciting reading in the Old Testament (First Book of Machabees), especially for boys who like accounts of wars and battles.
Following their victory the Jews set about purifying and refurbishing the temple, which had been despoiled and stripped of its furnishings, and it is the solemnity of the Dedication of the Temple which is celebrated with this feast. An ancient Jewish tradition tells that on returning to the temple the Jews found only one small jar of holy oil left behind for the sacred lamps, but it burned miraculously for eight days until new oil could be made. This is a joyful feast lasting eight days. Its name, “Feast of Lights,” comes from the custom of lighting eight candles, a new one each day, for the duration of the feast.
There is a connection between many feasts of the Old Law and many feasts of the New. Out of the Old Testament Christ came, and these are the feasts and stories of His people. The temple that was despoiled, then regained by the Machabees and rededicated, was the temple of our God as well as theirs, and the saints of the New Law like St. Barbara, St. Nicholas, St. Lucy are witnesses to the Son of their God as well as ours.
We have a book of photographs of the marvelous stone figures in the Bamberg Cathedral, and among them all, our favorites are sculptures titled Synagogue and Ecclesia (church). They are beautiful and they teach us this great lesson, that the Church came forth out of the Jews. Synagogue is blindfolded, but she seems to be pregnant.
In our preparation for the birthday of the Christ Child, we must not forget His desire for His own people, His flesh and blood. He came for them first, and then for us. We should remember to pray during Advent that soon they will receive Him.
(To be continued)
Father Krier will be in Pahrump December 19 and in Eureka December 26.
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