Friday, December 19, 2014

O Radix Jesse


O Root of Jesse, who stands as the ensign of the people; before whom kings shall fall silent; to whom the nations shall pray: come and deliver us, do not delay.
Here is commentary from Fr. Mark:
O Root of Jesse

The image of the Root of Jesse comes from the eleventh chapter of Isaiah where he says, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of His root” (Is 11:1). It is the passage that enumerates the gifts of the Holy Ghost; from the Vulgate, the Catholic tradition counts seven gifts. “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And He shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord” (Is 11:2-3). This means that when we cry out, “Come,” to the Root of Jesse who is Christ, we are, in the same prayer, invoking the Holy Ghost who, in His sevenfold gift, comes to us with the Son.

The Tree of the Cross

Isaiah goes on to say in the tenth verse of the same chapter: “On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of Him.” The Root of Jesse is given, not only to Israel, but as a signal to the nations, a standard around which all peoples will rally. In fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus says of himself, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32). The Root of Jesse is already the profile of the Cross: a figure of the glorious standard of the King, the Vexilla Regis of which we sing in the Vespers hymn of September 14th. Today’s O Antiphon opens onto the paschal mystery: the Root of Jesse announces that the advent of the Son is ordered to the mission of redemption that He will accomplish on the Tree of the Cross. (Read more.)
Here is a quote from the ancient Ambrosian liturgy:
Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the invisible God.
There did he deign to dwell, whom seven thrones cannot hold

And she bore him as a light weight in her womb.

(from Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol I)

(Artwork from Holy Cards)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

O Adonai

O Adonai and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the flaming bush, and gave him the law on Sinai, come and redeem us by thy outstretched arm.

From Vultus Christi:
Again today the great cry goes up, a cry wrung from the depths of our being, a cry framed between two expressive words: O and Veni. The musical treatment of both words is the same: do-fa-mi. The interval do-fa is a stretching heavenward. We hardly reach the dominant fa of our confidence when we fall to the precarious mi, an unstable note in the second mode, one that suggests just how fragile we are. The mi is suspended: we have cast our prayer upward into the heavens. The uncertainty of the mi obliges us to hope against hope, to believe without seeing, to abandon our prayer once we have thrown it into the heavens, trusting that the hand of God will receive it and take it to heart.
ADONAI
Yesterday we called to the Christ, naming Him Wisdom, Sapientia; today we call Him ADONAI, Sacred Lord, Master of All, Majesty. Today we have the most Jewish of the O Antiphons: ADONAI, Moses, and Sinai — the Lord God, the man of God, and the mountain of God are named in a single brief prayer. ADONAI is used frequently in the Hebrew scriptures. The Jews use it in place of the holy and unutterable name, the name that it is forbidden to pronounce. You see, then, the significance of this name given to Christ. Christ is the “angel of God” who appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush (cf. Ex 3:2). “And, lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, ‘I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt” (Ex 3:2-3). (Read more.)

(Artwork courtesy of Micki)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Great Antiphons: O Sapientia

Today the "O Antiphons" begin at Vespers. The antiphon for today is O Sapientia.
O Wisdom coming forth from the mouth of the Most High God, Your lordship is over all that is, stretching from the beginning to the end, You who order all things with might and with sweetness, come teach us the path of prudence.
Fr. Mark has a beautiful meditation on the meaning of true wisdom. To quote:
We call upon Christ as Holy Wisdom, the eternal Wisdom of the Father, and we make a very specific petition: “Come, teach us the way of prudence.” What is prudence? It is the habit of using our reason, in every circumstance, to discern what is our true good and of choosing the means to achieve it. Saint Thomas calls prudence “right reason in action.” Prudence is an austere virtue because it means that we will not allow our decisions, our course of action, or our reactions to be determined by our emotions.
When we allow our choices to be determined by fear–fear of loss, fear of rejection, fear of making a mistake, fear of failure, fear of the future, or any other fear–we are not being prudent. When we allow our choices to be determined by an unwise love, a disordered love, we are not being prudent. When we choose impulsively, we are not being prudent. When we delay choosing and put off acting, we are not being prudent. Prudence has to do with choosing wisely so as to act wisely. And so today, we cry out to Wisdom, begging to be taught the way of prudence. (Read more.)

(Artwork courtesy of Micki)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Novena

The novena in honor of the Divine Infant begins today. Let us pray for the unborn, and for all the children in the world, especially those who are suffering abuse or neglect.

INFANTOFPRAGUE NINE DAY NOVENA
 
[You may state your special intention for the Novena at the start
on the first day, or ask it anew each day.]


ORIGINAL PRAYER OF VEN. CYRIL TO THE MIRACULOUS INFANT JESUS OF PRAGUE 

JESUS, unto Thee I flee,
Through Thy mother praying Thee
in my need to succor me.

Truly, I believe of Thee
God Thou art with strength to shield me;
Full of trust, I hope of Thee
Thou Thy grace wilt give to me.

All my heart I give to Thee,
Therefore, do my sins repent me;
From them breaking, I beseech Thee,
Jesus, from their bonds to free me.

Firm my purpose is to mend me;
Never more will I offend Thee.

Wholly unto Thee I give me,
Patiently to suffer for Thee,
Thee to serve eternally.
And my neighbor like to me
I will love for love of Thee.

Little Jesus, I beseech Thee,
In my need to succor me,
That with Joseph and Mary
And the Angels, I may Thee
Once enjoy eternally. Amen.


FIRST DAY:
 
Happily familiar to Catholics the world over is the little Infant of Prague. The dear and charming statues of Him, copied from the miraculous image in the capital of harassed Czechoslovakia, belong now to the whole of Catholicity. Today they can be found everywhere. Christ is a king, the King. 

This fact we celebrate in the majestic, glorious Feast of Christ the King. But Christ is the King not only of power and might. He is the King not alone of terrible love, ruling from His Cross, the conquering monarch entering into the glory of His Heavenly kingdom. 

He is also the Infant King, the king of Bethlehem and of the nursery in Nazareth . . . the king too small to defend Himself save by flight into Egypt . . . the king small enough to hide in the Host or in a human breast. 

So before the little Infant of Prague we say:
 
THE PRAYER OF CHRIST THE KING
 
SECOND DAY:
 
Fundamental to Christianity and basic to our faith and hope is the fact that the Son of God, the second Person of the Blessed trinity, became a Baby. 

This was the wonder that exalted the early Christians and repelled the pagan monarchs.
Suddenly the best of good news broke over the horizon. The remote God was as near as Bethlehem. The great God had become as small as a baby. The hands that fashioned the universe were infant hands. The all-creative voice that had cried the stupendous "Fiat lux," broke into the cries of babyhood. 

"We can pick up our God in our arms and hold Him as we hold a child." The thought made early Christians joyous as they took Him as their guest in the Eucharist. 

To the pagan world the idea was repellent. A king must be powerful, aloof, threatening, crowned with awesome majesty. He must be reached through messengers and surrounded by the restraining pomp of courts. 

So God became a Baby. Christianity was born with the birth of an Infant King. Christ's birth was a rebirth for human souls. 

Before the Infant King we say: 

THE PRAYER OF CHRIST THE KING
 
THIRD DAY:
 
It was given to Wise Men to see the kingdom of Infancy. A million, million Christians have prayerfully and happily followed the Magi as they traveled from pagandom onto the very center of the Church. 
 
Exultantly Catholics have seen these men, the wisest of their times, pierce the thin veil of babyhood and know that a Child could be a king, and God could in His quest of hearts assume the most heartwarming disguise. 

Wise as only the holy are wise, they saw the majesty in humility and the strength in love. Before the Infant King they placed their royal treasures. 

How like they were to those holy souls who in far-off Prague placed about the Infant King the trappings of royalty. The three Wise Men gave Him jewels to stud into a crown, and gold to beat into fine thread for His royal raiment, and the perfumes that were burned only in the braziers that sent clouds of sacrificial incense upward to God. 

History repeats itself in glad insistence. The gifts that were laid at the feet of the Infant of Bethlehem, modern faith has duplicated for the Infant of Prague. 

We join the Magi in saying:
 
THE PRAYER OF CHRIST THE KING
 
FOURTH DAY:

Our age likes to think of itself as wise and grown up and sophisticated. Often we see our age for what it is, old and tired and faltering to an atomic grave. 

It was the wisest of all teachers, Christ Himself, Who reminded us that unless we become as little children we shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Nicodemus was puzzled by the whole idea of rebirth, infancy, childhood. Christ explained to him, on that secret night of his abashed visit, the rebirth through Baptism. All His life Christ explained to the tired old world of His age the importance of the virtues that keep the world young. 

Sin makes men old. Virtue keeps them immortally young. Sin speeds us to quick death. 
Virtue wings us to endless life. "Suffer the little children to come unto me . . . for such is the Kingdom of God" . . . men and women of childlike faith in their Father in Heaven . . . men and women unwearied by the dull pounding of sin . . . 

How wise the Church to encourage us, of this weary old generation, to kneel before the holy Infant and learn once more the beauties of childhood and the virtues of a heart that never grows old. 

Before the young King, the Infant God, we say:
 
THE PRAYER OF CHRIST THE KING
 
FIFTH DAY:
 
"Unless you . . . become as little children . . ." 

Who among us does not turn back to the happy days of childhood? The incredible moment of our first Holy Communion . . . the day when in Confirmation we became temples of the Holy Spirit . . . the years when mother and father were all in all to us and carried every burden and guarded us against all dangers. 

Those were the days without worry or burden, without the demands of each day pressing hard upon us. The world was new and beautiful, and God was very near. We walked with our guardian Angel. We knew the Saints by their favorite names. 

Sin had not put its lines on our soul. We loved purely, and we acted on warm, generous impulses. Why regret childhood? Saints grow old; but they are the happy children of God's tenderest protecting care, whatever their weight of years or mantle of responsibility. We might ask God to give us back the childhood of our souls, our simple faith, our untarnished love, our clear vision of the supernatural, our trust in our fellow men, our glimpses of Heaven all around us. 

All this we ask of the Infant of Prague in:
 
THE PRAYER OF CHRIST THE KING
 
SIXTH DAY:
In an age that depends upon adult cleverness, it is like God to work miracles before the statue of a little child. 

The statue of the Infant of Prague has been a wonder-working statue. In itself it is, as all statues are, stone or plaster or wood. In its symbolism it is deep and precious and meaningful. 

So it has been that near the feet of the Baby King the sick have found their health, the troubled their peace, the weary their rest, the doubting their faith, the despairing their hope. 

Strangely enough it has been toward temporal affairs, the affairs that are constantly bungled and mismanaged by the wise adults of earth that the miracles have flowed most frequently. Why not? God has used the wisdom of the simple to confound the wise, as He used the Babe of Bethlehem to upset the wiles of Herod and brought into ancient Egypt the eternal Word of God, His Infant Son. 

Miracles there will always be, but only for the trusting hearts. In a cynical world, only a humble heart shall be so blessed. So asking for simple faith, which is always the fountain of the greatest miracles, we say: 

THE PRAYER OF CHRIST THE KING
 
SEVENTH DAY:

Before the Infant Christ was born into the world, childhood was not a precious thing. Life was cheap, and the attitude of the pagan world toward new life was contemptuous. Only those who were strong enough to enforce their demands had any rights. 

Then came the Infant Christ, and for the first time childhood became precious. Every baby born into the world by God's hope and design was His child and heir. Christianity saw in strong, pure, religious youth the guarantee of strong, pure, religious nations. 

Marriage was founded no longer chiefly upon the lust of man and woman, a love that was to ripen into the living symbol of love --- the newborn baby. The child completed upon earth the trinity of the home--- itself an incarnate spirit of love --- as the Holy Spirit of love completed the Trinity in Heaven. 

Today, our nation and almost all of the nations of the world have once more spurned the precious gift of life and infancy, in its blood-lust for abortion and fetal experimentation.They violate their own dignity and know not what it is they truly do. We need the Infant of Prague and His innocence more than we ever have. 

As we look upon the Infant of Prague, we are glad that God became weak so that we could learn tenderness and mercy to the weak. We are glad that the Infant in the holy house gave marriage its high dignity and the home its beautiful sanctity.
Conscious of the dignity of of childhood, we say:
 
THE PRAYER OF CHRIST THE KING

EIGHTH DAY:

Children give us an amazing opportunity to show our generosity. The decent adult cannot fail to feel a strong impulse toward giving when he sees the smile and the outstretched hands of an infant. 

Infancy becomes and excuse for human generosity. Certainly infancy has the power to waken even in the most selfish breasts the desire to give. Christmas proves this power --- Christmas that centers around the Child in the manger and the children in our homes.
Those holy souls who bedecked the Infant of Prague manifested beautifully this response of human generosity to childhood. 

They clothed the Infant as we love to clothe a child in rich robes. They placed upon His Infant head a jeweled crown. 

Then they did in symbol what God had done in reality: They placed in the tiny hands of the Infant Christ the world, of which He is Creator and over which He rules, and the scepter, symbol of His dominion over all mankind. So does God impress on a worldly-wise and selfish world, the need of simple, generous love. And He commands our love in the guise of a baby.
Out of generous hearts we speak:
 
THE PRAYER OF CHRIST THE KING 

NINTH DAY:

Christ is our King; of that there is no doubt. Though He was battered and broken, He could stand in the presence of Pilate, representative of Rome's powerful monarch, and accept the governor's wondering question about His royalty.
"You say ----- and rightly ----- that I am king." 

No other king was ever more truly king in his own right than was Christ. As St. John points out in his glorious opening verses, the world is His, for He made it. 

When He established the unending Kingdom of His Church, He took over the world, knowing that the Church would see kingdoms and empires, republics and democracies rise and fall while it went its calm way. 

But most important He is King because a million, million men and women have freely and gladly accepted Him. He is the King of hearts, the Monarch of souls, the Ruler of men's lives, the Master of their destinies. He is the Sovereign Who never disappoints, the Emperor Who walks at the side of His humblest subject. 

He Who said: "I will be with you all days even to the consummation of the world," has chosen to keep His promise to us in our day in the guise of an infant, if only to confound our worldliness. 

Before the Infant King we say:
 
THE PRAYER OF CHRIST THE KING

Monday, December 15, 2014

Octave-day of the Immaculate Conception

Fr. Angelo has a magnificent post about our Queen. To quote:
This interpretation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is confirmed and strengthened with the support of the Church’s understanding of Apocalypse 12, another militant passage in which the Woman is pitted against the serpent (this time in the form of a red dragon). In this passage Our Lady is clothed with sun, stands on the moon and is crowned with twelve stars. In some images of the Immaculate Conception of the Imagery of Genesis 3 and Apocalypse 12 are combined, both strengthening the symbolism and using the one passage to interpret the other (as Ruben’s renders it above). This imagery of Apocalypse 12 indicates both a state of militancy and triumph. Our Lady is both suffering here on earth and glorified in heaven. This is because She is the personification of the Church, which is both militant and triumphant. Those of us who still suffer already share in the victory of those who have passed through the veil. This is particularly true in the way in which we participate in the victory of the Woman. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gaudete Sunday

It is Gaudete Sunday. Let us rejoice, for the Lord is near. As Fr. Mark says :
Today’s Introit is one of the few drawn from Saint Paul. It is an exhortation to joy, but its mood is quiet and reflective. “Joy to you in the Lord at all times; once again I wish you joy. Give proof to all of your courtesy. The Lord is near. Nothing must make you anxious; in every need, make your requests known to God, praying and beseeching Him, and giving Him thanks as well” (Phil 4:4-6). What the Latin gives as, “gaudete,” and the English as “rejoice,” is astonishingly rich in Saint Paul’s Greek. Any one translation would be inadequate. Paul says, “chaírete.” It is the very same word used by the angel Gabriel to greet the Virgin of Nazareth. “Chaire, kecharitoménè!” “Joy to you, O full of grace!” (Lk 1:28). The word is untranslatable. Just when we think we have seized its meaning once and for all, another door opens inside it. “Chaírete” was the ordinary greeting of the Greeks. It embraces health, salvation, loveliness, grace, and joy, all at once. In the mouth and in the ear of Christians, the taste of the word is indescribable. “Grace to you, and loveliness, and joy in the Lord; again I wish you grace, and loveliness, and joy” (Phil 4:4). Paul’s greeting is not so much an imperative — a command to be joyful — as it is the imparting of a gift in the Lord. “What I wish for you, what I send you, what I give you in the Lord is grace, and loveliness, and joy.” (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Mind of the Immaculate

From Fr. Angelo:
The Immaculate is a living ideal, a pattern of life to be replicated by our external comportment, and more importantly, by our interior lives. She lives enthroned, not merely in paradise, but in the hearts and minds of those who truly love Her. In this way She is alive and active in and through us, influencing directly the choices we make as a Mother who loves and nurtures us. This we must remember every time we think of Her. Here we will find true enlightenment and our feet will be led into the way of peace (Luke 1:79) to “the summits of our desired holiness,” to peaceful rest and blissful union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But to achieve this our thought of Her must be prayerful and profound. This is only made possible by humble meditation and prayer.

Thinking about the Immaculate

St. Maximilian Kolbe was a man who during his whole life meditated and contemplated in this fashion. He was consumed by a truth in which he believed with all his mind and heart. Often he spoke of his love and zeal for the Mother of God in terms of a “fixed ideal,” and for love of Her he wished to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die.

Now, St. Maximilian was not an idealist, not a man chasing after a dream. Nor was his ideal some abstract principle formulated by philosophers, rather it was a person, the knowledge of whom had been handed on to him through infallible divine revelation. This person, the Church taught him, is the Immaculate Mother of God, given to us as our Mother by Her divine Son. Throughout the Christian era the Church had spoken about Her in the most solemn fashion, indicating the central and unique role She plays in salvation history, and defining precisely the nature of Her dignity and role in the lives of men. For this reason St. Maximilian came to fully appreciate the holiness of this Woman without stain, and the love of the Mother of God who became also our Mother.

For good reason, then, Saint Maximilian links together a disciplined reading or study habit with a filial prayer relationship with Mary. Perfectly harmonized spiritual reading or study and a prayerful dependence on grace constitute the kind of meditation, leading to contemplation that fuels progress in the interior life. This is not merely a philosophical approach to life, which deals with everything in terms of some abstract ideal, nor is it simply a convenient or consoling spiritual experience of a transcendent person. Rather, it is a deep relationship with God who reveals and saves, and who is the only theoretical and practical basis for resolving the demands of life in this world.

Truth and Life

In the person of St. Maximilian, truth and life are perfectly harmonized. A man of great apostolic works and a hero of charity, St. Maximilian is hailed by our production-preoccupied culture as a practical man. Publisher, journalist, founder, reformer, missionary, scientific and organizational genius: he was a man ahead of his times. However, his indomitable energy, productivity and his concern for his fellow man are senseless if not for his life-long contemplation of the truth. In particular, one question preoccupied his thoughts from his youth to the death cell: Who are you, O Immaculate? In his blurring activity St. Maximilian was not a fanatic, nor a superman. He was a poor banished child of Eve, like the rest of us, who had been transformed by his ideal, because this ideal was true, and because this truth was the Woman conceived without sin, who became the Mother of God and the Mediatrix of All Grace. (Read more.)
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