Monday, December 30, 2013

Our Lady of Zeitoun and the Flight into Egypt

Unveiling the Apocalypse offers an intriguing interpretation of Scripture and approved apparitions of modern times. To quote:
Despite being officially recognised as authentic by the local Cardinal Patriarch, the fact that Our Lady chose to appear over Coptic churches in Egypt, rather than Catholic churches elsewhere in the world has baffled some commentators, and can perhaps explain the lack of adequate devotion to these apparitions amongst Catholics.  It seems that many have failed to recognise the true significance of these apparitions lies above all in their timing and location. The Virgin Mary chose to appear over Coptic churches for two very simple reasons - firstly because she is re-tracing the steps of the Holy Family's flight into Egypt (and the vast majority of churches in Egypt are Coptic, especially those in locations associated with the sojourn of the Holy Family), and secondly, that despite not being in full communion with Rome, they show that Our Lady has deep love and respect for the Coptic Church, which like the rest of Oriental Orthodoxy, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church, offers a great devotion to her.
 
While some have recognised that Our Lady is in some way re-enacting the journey of the Holy Family during their flight into Egypt, none (to my knowledge) have went on to ponder the primary reason for their escape into the Egyptian wilderness and attempt to re-apply the same conditions to a modern context; or compare them with the account of Woman adorned with the Sun given in Rev 12 - which is basically the story of the nativity seen through an apocalyptic lens. 
 
The main and indeed only reason that the Holy Family fled into Egypt, was to escape from King Herod, who in an attempt to quash any potential Messianic usurpers to his throne, had ordered the massacre of any infants in the vicinity of Bethlehem under two years of age:
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. (Matt 2:13-21)
 (Read more.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Example of St. Joseph

In the words of Our Holy Father Pope Francis:
The Gospel does not explain his thoughts, but it tells us the basics: he seeks to do God's will and is ready to make a radical renunciation. Instead of defending himself and asserting his rights, Joseph chooses a solution that represents, for him, a great sacrifice. And the Gospel tells us that Joseph, 'being a righteous man and unwilling to disgrace her, decided to divorce her secretly'. This short sentence encapsulates a real inner drama, if we consider Joseph's love for Mary. But, as in the case of Abraham, the Lord intervenes: 'Joseph, son of David', he said, 'don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit'. (Read more.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Meditations from Fr. Mark. To quote:
In the end, for those who allow themselves to be illumined by the grace of the sacred liturgy today, there is a return to the song of the beginning. “Rejoicing, I will rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God. He has clothed me with the garment of salvation, and with the robe of justice he has wrapped me about, as a bride adorned with her jewels” (Is 61:10). This is the song not only of the beginning of today’s Mass; it is the song of Mary’s beginning in her mother’s womb. It is the song of every new beginning in grace. It is the song of every man and woman once paralyzed by fear, but now set free to stand unafraid in the sight of the Father. It is the song of every heart darkened and stained by sin, but now made bright and clean by grace. It is the song of every life wounded by sin, but healed by the Sun of Justice who, even now, will rise glorious above the altar “with healing in his wings” (Mal 4:2). The last word and the first belong to joy. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

History of Advent

We must look upon Advent in two different lights: first, as a time of preparation, properly so called, for the birth of our Saviour, by works of penance; and secondly, as a series of ecclesiastical Offices drawn up for the same purpose. We find, as far back as the fifth century, the custom of giving exhortations to the people in order to prepare them for the feast of Christmas. We have two sermons of Saint Maximus of Turin on this subject, not to speak of several others which were formerly attributed to St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, but which were probably written by St. Cesarius of Aries. If these documents do not tell us what was the duration and what the exercises of this holy season, they at least show us how ancient was the practice of distinguishing the time of Advent by special sermons. Saint Ivo of Chartres, St. Bernard, and several other doctors of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, have left us set sermons de Adventu Domini, quite distinct from their Sunday homilies on the Gospels of that season. In the capitularia of Charles the Bald, in 846, the bishops admonish that prince not to call them away from their Churches during Lent or Advent, under pretext of affairs of the State or the necessities of war, seeing that they have special duties to fulfill, and particularly that of preaching during those sacred times.
The oldest document in which we find the length and exercises of Advent mentioned with anything like clearness, is a passage in the second book of the History of the Franks by St. Gregory of Tours, where he says that St. Perpetuus, one of his predecessors, who held that see about the year 480, had decreed a fast three times a week, from the feast of St. Martin until Christmas. It would be impossible to decide whether St. Perpetuus, by his regulations, established a new custom, or merely enforced an already existing law. Let us, however, note this interval of forty, or rather of forty-three days, so expressly mentioned, and consecrated to penance, as though it were a second Lent, though less strict and severe than that which precedes Easter.
~from Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol. I

Advent Begins

From Fr. Mark:
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
In less than four weeks time we will be singing the opening antiphon of First Vespers of Christmas: Rex pacificus magnificatus est, cujus vultum desiderat universa terra, “The King of Peace is magnified, whose countenance the whole world desires [to see]“. Christ is the King of Peace. At His birth the choirs of angels filled the skies over Bethlehem, singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will” (Luke 2:14). The angels knew that the Son of God had come to establish peace between heaven and earth. Whereas Adam’s sin had set earth against heaven, and caused heaven to weep over the sin that devastated the face of the earth, Christ, by His coming, fulfilled the psalmist’s prophecy that earth would be be inhabited by peacemakers, and that He would give peace to all who would welcome Him into their hearts and allow Him to rule over them as King. “The meek shall inherit the land, and shall delight in abundance of peace” (Psalm 36:11). (Read more.)
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