December Feast Days

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Hail Mary, full of grace”. For thousands of centuries, millions of times per day the Virgin Mary is greeted by the faithful with the greeting of the Archangel, that we hear resonating anew in today’s Gospel. The sons of the Church learn from the words of the Archangel Gabriel that the fullness of the mystery of God’s grace was realized in Holy Mary. St Paul the Apostle teaches us that the Father made all fullness dwell in His Incarnate Son (c.f. Col 1:12-20), which overflows from Christ’s head and spills out on His Mystical Body that is the Church. Before descending in Body, Christ’s fullness was spread in a unique and unrepeatable way on Mary, predestined from eternity to be the Mother of God.

Significantly in the first reading, the liturgy recalls the figure of Eve, the mother of all the living. The Fathers of the Church saw in Mary, the new Eve that unties the knot bound by the first woman. The knot of disobedience tied by Eve, was untied by the obedience of Mary. As Eve was created in purity and integrity, also the new Eve was miraculously preserved from the contamination of original sin because she had to give humanity the Word, who was incarnated for our ransom.

Saint Irenaeus compares the virginity of the pure earth from which Adam was drawn to the virginity of the immaculate humanity of Mary from which the Second Adam was drawn. ‘And as the protoplast himself, Adam, had his substance from untilled and as yet virgin soil (for God had not yet sent rain, and man had not tilled the ground (Genesis 2:5)) so did He who is the Word, recapitulating Adam in Himself, rightly receive a birth, enabling Him to gather up Adam [into Himself], from Mary, who was as yet a virgin’ (Adversus hereses III, 21:10).

Blessed Pope Pius IX on the 8th of December 1854 proclaimed the Dogma of the faith revealed by God that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin” (Denz.-Schonm, 2083). If the official proclamation of the dogma is relatively recent, the profession of faith by Christians and the liturgy is very ancient in this regard. Furthermore, four years later the same Virgin Mary, appearing in Lourdes to St Bernadette, confirmed the truth of the doctrine by presenting herself with the title ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’.

Mary’s predestination to this singular grace—consistent with the suspension of the universal decree by which every man, from the moment of his conception is contaminated with original sin—leads us to ponder in the deepest depths the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity’s salvific plan. God, One and Triune, had foreseen from the very beginning the future incarnation of the Word culminating in the redemption of human nature that had fallen into sin. He therefore predestined pure Mary, so that He could draw from her uncontaminated humanity, which the Son could adopt in order to re-establish in Himself the original purity of creation and reorientate it to eternal glory.

For this reason, in the second reading of today’s liturgy, St Paul reminds us that God wants to see us holy and immaculate before Him. The purity of our origins seemed to be irredeemably lost. However, in Immaculate Mary, God found the perfect solution to reverse the disaster made from the misuse of our liberty, and returned humanity to the original purity that seemed hopelessly lost.

Mary’s Immaculate Conception is a direct consequence of her Divine Maternity. St Anslem of Aosta wrote: ‘Assuredly, it was fitting that the Virgin be beautified with a purity than which a greater cannot be conceived, except for God’s. For, toward her, God the Father was so disposed to give His only Son who was naturally one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Virgin.’ (De conceptu virginali et originali peccato, XVIII)

This link between the privilege of Divine Maternity and Mary’s Immaculate Conception results also in her superiority with respect to us. She is a perfect image of the Church in heaven, the new triumphant Jerusalem, that won’t have any marks nor will there be pain and death. This is why today’s preface recites: ‘…she was to be a worthy mother of your Son, your sign of favour to the church at its beginning, and the promise of its perfection as the bride of Christ, radiant in beauty’. Also in heaven Mary is not and will never be only a disciple, but her Son’s most exalted. She is and will always be the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, the Queen of the Angels and Saints. Therefore, the preface of the Mass adds: ‘…You chose her from all creatures to be our advocate with you and our pattern of holiness.’

Mary was Immaculate because she had to be the Mother of God. She, herself has received the original grace of purity and the final state of the blessed life that we also, by collaborating with Divine Grace, hope one day to receive.

Immaculate Mary is full of grace. She is not only Christ’s disciple, who with the help of grace has overcome the chains of sin, but she is totius Trinitatis nobile triclinium, the noble resting place of the Holy Trinity (St Thomas Aquinas, Exposito Salutationis Angelicae, I). The Immaculate, full of grace, will always be Mother and Queen for that elect part of the Church that we hope one day to join, that will one day joyfully sing before the Almighty.

~Source:Catholic culture.org

Miracles of Jesus

The Crucifix of Genazzano,Italy

Located only 47 kilometers east of Rome, the city of Genazzano is privileged to have two miraculous images. The one that has garnered the most attention is a fresco portrait of the Blessed Virgin that somehow detached itself from the wall of a church in Scutari, Albania, when the city was invaded by the Turks and was miraculously transported to Genazzano on April 25, 1467. Known as Our Lady of Good Counsel, the image appeared under unusual circumstances before a huge crowd that had assembled for a festival.

The second miraculous image is also a fresco and portrays Jesus on the Cross with the Blessed Mother on one side and St. John the Evangelist on the other. The city of Genazzano is seen in the background. Described as being a Roman work of the 15th century, this portrait of Our Lord is also found in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Good Counsel and has a remarkable history. During the papacy of Pope Martin V of Genazzano, the pontiff exempted his native city and the city of Cave from taxes. Later, when Paul III was raised to the papacy, he ignored the earlier exemptions and not only reinstated the taxes but also increased them. When Perugia rebelled against the Pope, Prince Ascanio Colonna and the soldiers of Genazzano joined the revolt. In retaliation, Genazzano was invaded by papal troops under Count Nicolo Orsini on March 25, 1541.

During the occupation, an extraordinary event took place. It was the year 1557. The Augustinian papal sacristan, Bishop Angelo Rocca, who was also the founder of the famous Library Angelica in Rome, wrote at the time, In Genazzano, situated in the territory of Rome, at the time of Paul III the territory was at war. A soldier, playing cards in the public square, lost all his money. He blasphemed God and His Mother and entered raging into the church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and officiated by the friars of St. Augustine. With his sword he inflicted several wounds upon the forehead, the stomach and the legs of the Crucified who was there above the altar, not without the shedding of blood. The soldier who had profaned and struck the sacred image was at once killed by the other soldiers and his body cut to pieces. But the sword of the blasphemer and profaner was marvelously twisted in such a way that a sword-maker would have had great difficulty to imitate it in a long period of labour. As a souvenir of this impiety and of such a wonder, the sword is kept near the sacred image to the present day. According to the writings of Padre Angelo de Osigo, we are told that in the year 1640, master craftsman Andrea Barbarano succeeded in straightening the sword by using fire and pounding it numerous times with a heavy hammer. But immediately the sword returned to its twisted form. The sword, still in this condition, is presently kept in a niche to the right of the sacred image. The Crucified still bears the marks inflicted by the solder. These take the form of slashes and puncture marks.

December Feast Days

St.Ambrose

Saint Ambrose, also known as Aurelius Ambrosius, is one of the four original doctors of the Church. He was the Bishop of Milan and became one of the most important theological figure of the 4th century.

Ambrose was born around 340 AD to a Roman Christian family. He grew up with his siblings, Satyrus and Marcellina, in Trier, Belgic Gaul (present-day Germany). It is believed by many that when Ambrose was just an infant, a swarm of bees landed on his face and left behind a drop of honey. To his father, this was a sign that Ambrose would become someone great with a wonderful sense for speaking.

After Ambrose’s father passed away, he was educated in Rome, where he studied law, literature and rhetoric. Ambrose received a place on the council, like his father, and was made consular prefect, or the Governor, of Liguria and Emilia around 372. Ambrose?s headquarters were in Milan, the then second capital of Italy.

Ambrose remained Governor until 374 when he became the Bishop of Milan. After the former Bishop of Milan died, Ambrose attended the election to prevent any uproars between the Nicene Church and the Arians. While giving an address, the assembly began calling for him to become the next bishop.

Ambrose was known for his Nicene beliefs, but Arians also favored him because he had previously shown charity in theological matters. However, being neither baptized or trained in theology, Ambrose refused to become the next bishop.

He ran and attempted to hide, but his colleague gave him up. Within a week’s time, Ambrose was baptized, ordained and duly consecrated bishop of Milan on December 7, 374.

As bishop, he donated all of his land and gave his money to the poor. This made him widely popular and often times more politically powerful than even the emperor.

He studied theology with Simplician, a presbyter of Rome. Using his new education, along with his knowledge of Greek, he took the time to study the Old Testament and Greek authors. He used all of this while preaching; his abilities impressed Augustine of Hippo, who previously thought poorly of Christian preachers.

After meeting Ambrose, Augustine reevaluated himself and was forever changed. In 387, Ambrose baptized Augustine, who he had a great influence on. St. Monica, Augustine’s mother, loved Ambrose “as an angel of God who uprooted her son from his former ways and led him to his convictions of Christ.”

According to legend, Ambrose tried to put an end to Arianism in Milan. He often attempted to theologically dispute their propositions. The Arians appealed to many high position leaders, but Ambrose was able to stay one step ahead. The Arians increasing strength proved troublesome for Ambrose. Around 386, the Emperor Valentinian II and his mother, Justine, along with many other people, including clergy, laypersons, and military, professed Arianism.

They demanded some of the churches in Milan be dedicated to them, one in the city and one in the suburbs. Ambrose refused and was ordered to appear in front of the council, where he then spoke eloquently in defense of the Church. He is quoted with stating: If you demand my person, I am ready to submit: carry me to prison or to death, I will not resist; but I will never betray the church of Christ. I will not call upon the people to succour me; I will die at the foot of the altar rather than desert it. The tumult of the people I will not encourage: but God alone can appease it.

The imperial court did not like Ambrose’s religious principles, but he was sought out to help and speak to Magnus Maximus to prevent him from descending upon Italy. Ambrose was successful.

During a second attempt, the embassy was not successful and Milan was taken. Justine and Valentinian II fled, but Ambrose stayed. He is credited with doing a great service to the sufferers during this time.

In 385, Ambrose once again refused handing over the Portian basilica to Valentinian II, this time to be used by Arian troops. A year later, Ambrose was again ordered to hand over the church for Arian use. Ambrose and his congregation barricaded themselves within the church walls until the imperial order rescinded.

After Theodosius I, emperor of the East, married Justine, Ambrose had him excommunicated for the massacre of 7,000 people. The emperor did several months? worth of public penance.

In his later years, Ambrose retired in Bologna and assisted in the transferring of saints Vitalis and Agricola’s relics.

Two years after Theodosius died, after he acquired the possession of the Roman empire, Ambrose passed away on April 4, 397. He was succeeded as bishop of Milan by Simplician.

Ambrose’s body remains in the church of St. Ambrogio in Milan, along with the bodies of Saints Gervase and Protase.

St. Ambrose was generous to the poor. He considered them not a group of outsiders, but rather those of the united people. To him, giving to the poor was just a repayment of God’s resources, which were intended for everyone equally.

He introduced reforms in the order and manner of public worship. He was known for his “liturgical flexibility that kept in mind that liturgy was a tool to serve people in worshiping God, and ought not to become a rigid entity that is invariable from place to place.”

Ambrose is credited with advising Augustine of Hippo to follow local liturgical customs. “When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are,” he stated. This advice remains today, and is translated in English as the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

Some believe Ambrose was a Christian Universalist, based on interpretations of his writing. The Theological treatises of Ambrose had great influences on Popes Damasus, Siricius and Leo XIII. Ambrose studied largely on the virginity of Mary and her role as Mother of God. He viewed celibacy as superior to marriage and saw Mary as virginity’s model.

Ambrose authored many of the Church’s important writings and hymns. He is credited with composing the repertory Ambrosian chant, also known as the Antiphonal Chant. He is also credited with composing the hymn “Te Deum,” which is believed to have been written when he baptized Augustine of Hippo.

St. Ambrose is the Confessor and Doctor of the Church. He is the patron saint of bee keepers, beggars, learning and Milan, and his feast day is celebrated on December 7.

~Source:catholic online

Novenas

Novena to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Day 9

Day 9

PRAYER TO THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.

Amen.

O Mother of the King of the Universe, most perfect member of the human race, “our tainted nature’s solitary boast,” we turn to you as mother, advocate, and mediatrix. O Holy Mary, assist us in our present necessity. By your Immaculate Conception, O Mary conceived without sin, we humbly beseech you from the bottom of our heart to intercede for us with your Divine Son and ask that we be granted the favor for which we now plead…

(State your intention here…)

O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.

Litany of the Blessed Virgin

Litany of the Blessed Virgin

Lord, have mercy on us

Christ, have mercy on us

Lord, have mercy on us

Christ, hear us

Christ, graciously hear us

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us God the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us God the Holy Spirit, …

Holy Trinity, one God, …

Holy Mary, pray for us

Holy Mother of God, pray for us

Holy Virgin of virgins, …

Mother of Christ, …

Mother of Divine Grace, …

Mother most pure, …

Mother most chaste, …

Mother inviolate, …

Mother undefiled, …

Mother most amiable, …

Mother most admirable, …

Mother of good counsel, …

Mother of our Creator, …

Mother of our Saviour, …

Virgin most prudent, …

Virgin most venerable, …

Virgin most renowned, …

Virgin most powerful, …

Virgin most merciful, …

Virgin most faithful, …

Mirror of justice, …

Seat of wisdom, …

Cause of our joy, …

Spiritual vessel, …

Vessel of honour, …

Singular vessel of devotion, …

Mystical rose, …

Tower of David, …

Tower of ivory, …

House of gold, …

Ark of the covenant, …

Gate of heaven, …

Morning star, …

Health of the sick, …

Refuge of sinners, …

Comforter of the afflicted, …

Help of Christians, …

Queen of Angels, …

Queen of Patriarchs, …

Queen of Prophets, …

Queen of Apostles, …

Queen of Martyrs, …

Queen of Confessors, …

Queen of Virgins, …

Queen of all Saints, …

Queen conceived without original sin, …

Queen assumed into heaven, …

Queen of the most holy Rosary, …

Queen of Peace, …

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord God,

that we, Thy servants, may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body: and, by the glorious intercession of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal gladness.

Through Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

Eucharistic Miracles

Eucharistic Miracle of Avignon France

On November 30, 1433, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for public adoration in a small chapel cared for by a confraternity known as “the Gray Penitents.” Suddenly, Avignon was flooded when the Rodano, the river crossing the city, overflowed. By boat, two members of the confraternity managed to reach the chapel where the Blessed Sacrament had been left for adoration and was now unattended. When they entered the chapel, they saw that the waters were divided to the right and to the left, leaving the altar and the monstrance perfectly dry.

The Eucharistic miracle of Avignon occurred in the Chapel of the Holy Cross, home of the Gray Penitents, whose founding goes back to the time of pious King Louis VIII. This king, in order to celebrate his victory over the Albigensian heretics who denied the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, had organized a solemn act of reparation on September 14, 1226, the liturgical feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

In the official documentation of this event, which is still preserved in the chapel of the Gray Penitents, we read that on November 30, 1433, while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the little chapel for public adoration, the city of Avignon was hit by a terrible flood. The Rodano river overflowed after days of heavy rain. In the confusion, Armand and Jehan de Pourzillhac-Fature, the latter being the head of the confraternity at the time, with great effort struggled to reach the chapel by boat in order to save the monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament.

From the gates the two men looked into the chapel toward the altar to see what had happened to the monstrance. They saw that the water, which was almost six feet deep inside the chapel, had parted to the right and to the left of the altar, like two walls, and the altar and the monstrance had remained dry and untouched.

News of the miracle spread rapidly, and all the people, together with the authorities, hastened to the place singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Several hundred persons witnessed the miracle. The Confraternity of the Gray Penitents decided that the anniversary of the miracle would be celebrated each year in the chapel on the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle.

Even today every November 30th the brothers gather at the Chapelle des Penitents Gris to celebrate the memory of the miracle. Before Benediction, the brothers sing a sacred chant taken from the Canticle of Moses, which was composed after the parting of the Red Sea. “I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant…At a breath of your anger the waters piled up, the flowing waters stood like a mound, the flood waters congealed in the midst of the sea… In your mercy you led the people you redeemed; in your strength you guided them to your holy dwelling” (Exodus 15:1-18).

This scene is very interesting as it recalls the Lord’s power coming from the bible. The crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:19-22), the crossing of the Jordan River (Joshua 3:14-17), and the anointing of Elisha by Elijah (2 Kings 2:7-8, 13-14) shows that God has shown this sign before.