New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Active Participation - 'Spirit of the Liturgy' by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Of course, external actions - reading, singing, the bringing up of the gifts - can be distributed in  sensible way. By the same token, participation in the Liturgy of the Word (reading, singing) is to be distinguished from the sacramental celebration proper. We should be clearly aware that external actions are quite secondary here. Doing really must stop when we come to the heart of the matter: the oratio. (The Eucharist prayer). It must be plainly evident that the oratio is the heart of the matter, but that it is important precisely because it provides a space for the actio (action) of God.  Anyone who grasps this will easily see that it is not now a matter of looking at or toward the priest, but of looking together toward the Lord and going out to meet him.
The almost theatrical entrance of different players into the liturgy, which is so common today, especially during the Preparation of the Gifts, quite simply misses the point. If the various external actions (as a matter of fact, there are not very many of them, though they are being artificially multiplied) become the essential in the liturgy, if the liturgy degenerates into general activity, then we have radically misunderstood the 'theo-drama' of the liturgy and lapsed almost into parody. True liturgical education cannot consist in learning and experimenting with external activities. Instead one must be led towards the essential actio that makes the liturgy what it is, toward the transforming power of God, who wants, through what happens in the liturgy, to transform us and the world.  In this respect, liturgical education today, of both priests and laity, is deficient to a deplorable extent. Much remains to be done here.

A little Christmas Meditation - Dr. Plinio Correa De Oliveira

The state of world events is so uncertain that it is impossible to know the conditions in which we will celebrate Christmas or what the New Year will bring. This will be a Christmas in which Americans are filled with uncertainty, trials and insecurity.

One could rightly ask: “Is it proper to have these concerns during Christmastime? Shouldn’t we have only consolations, joys and satisfactions during this season?”

To answer this question, we should consider the first Christmas night. Saint Joseph and, above all,Our Lady were filled with inexpressible joy in the grotto in Bethlehem.

However, before the Child Jesus was born,they suffered affliction. They had spent the night seeking a dignified place for Our Lord’s birth. Saint Joseph was humiliated seeing that his spouse would have to deliver the Christ Child in a stable where animals ate. While there could not have been a more stupendous event that evening, neither could there have been humbler surroundings.

The manger was all Saint Joseph and Our Lady had to offer the Child Jesus. Thus, the evening was filled with unfathomable joys, but also had its sufferings.

Although the Christ Child knew that Providence had dictated the conditions of His birth, it is possible that Our Lady and Saint Joseph did not know. They could have been filled with doubts concerning the reasons for their poor surroundings, perhaps even attributing them to a wrong doing of their own. Though faultless, Saint Joseph, who was most responsible for providing for the Holy Family,probably asked Our Lord’s pardon for the lowly accommodations he had furnished for His delivery.

Nevertheless, the joys of the evening so surpassed the sadness in it, that the latter was completely forgotten.
We should celebrate Christmas in the same manner, even though we are concerned with the crisis in the Church and breakdown of society and aware of our insufficiency to face these calamities.

The realization that we are chosen to follow Our Lady throughout these troubling times should fill us with joy and overcome the sadness we endure because our personal failings and the godlessness that surrounds us.
At the feet of the newborn Christ Child, we should thank Him for having called us to this struggle and these times. We should realize that we will be capable of persevering because of His Redemption for which His birth was a necessary condition. We ought to express this gratitude through the intercession of Our Lady, the Universal Mediatrix, and Saint Joseph.

We should ask Saint Joseph, Our Lady and the Christ Child for a soul continually mindful of Our Lady’s words at Fatima: “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph!”

Thus, we will be able to overcome all sadness and advance joyfully in the fight, seeking heroism and even sacrifice.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Once in Royal David's City

I was on youtube and I found this in the morning today.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

St. John the Evangelist - 27th December 2012 - a commentary by Dr. Plinio

Biographical selection:

After martyrdom, the most noble and courageous sacrifice one can make to God is that of the virginity and chastity. This is why the liturgical calendar chose the first day after Christmas to celebrate of martyrdom of St. Stephen, model of the martyrs, and the second day, December 27, to celebrate the feast of St. John, model of virgins.

St. John was from the family of David, and therefore a member of the family of the Most Holy Virgin; he was a relative of Our Lord by flesh. While the others were Apostles and Disciples, he was the Friend of Our Lord. This predilection was because of his virginity.

He was, according to the Gospel, the Disciple that Jesus loved. This simple phrase is enough to give him glory. This love was for St. John the starting point of the other gifts he received. He was, for example, the first defender of the Divine Word, the Son as co-substantial to the Father, which was being denied by a heresy. The teachings of St. John on this point soar to the heights of the Divine Sun, like an eagle that flies toward the blazing star.

If the face of Moses shone with light after he spoke with God, how much more brilliant and resplendent the face of St. John would have been after he rested his head over the Heart of Jesus, where he received secret treasures of wisdom and science.

Christ was the son of Mary. When He died, Jesus left Mary to St. John. Who on earth could merit such a legacy? The Savior could have left the care of the Most Holy Virgin to Angels. But from the height of the Cross He saw his virgin Disciple, and his chastity made him worthy of such a priceless treasure. The beautiful comment of St. Peter Damian describes this very well: “Peter received the Church, the Mother of men, as his inheritance, but John received Mary, the Mother of God.”

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

There are many profound thoughts in this selection based on Dom Gueranger. I will not comment on all, but just several points.

First, it is very true that the sacrifice of virginity, the oblation of chastity, is so agreeable to God that it second only to martyrdom. This is because it confers on a soul a special affinity with God. Although chastity is a virtue that pertains to the body, it is principally a virtue of the spirit that rejects what is sordid and leaves the soul free to take wing in the realm of the spirit.

It represents a victory of the spiritual over the material that ennobles and increases the dignity of a human creature, giving him greater affinity with God. For this reason Our Lord loved St. John. He is remembered as the disciple that Jesus loved. The others were Apostles and Disciples, but he was the Friend, which means that he was the one closest to Him, the one whom Our Lord honored with a great confidence and intimacy. Our Lord had an appreciation for him that He did not have for the others.

An episode at the Last Supper is very characteristic in this respect. St. Peter wanted to know which of them would betray Our Lord after He told them that this would happen. So, St. Peter requested St. John to ask the question. St. Peter was not able to ask Our Lord directly and went to St. John as mediator.

The latter rested his head over Jesus’ chest and asked Him. You see here an allusion to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. John with his ear on the Divine Chest heard the Heart of Jesus beating. He understood those pulsations not only as a manifestation of love for mankind but also of anguish and sorrow because the Passion was drawing near.

Therefore, St. John appears as a virgin soul especially close to Our Lord and very devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Second, another gift unarguably beyond compare is that of receiving Our Lady as Mother. When He was dying, Our Lord left this priceless treasure, Our Lady, to His friend and favorite Disciple. To receive Our Lady is to receive the Queen of Heaven and Earth, the first among creatures after Christ. To receive Our Lady is to receive everything that God can give to a man. He could give nothing greater than that.

Here you have, then, another manifestation of the love God has for virgin souls. Our Lady was a virgin – a virgin who gave birth to a virgin Son, who at His death gave her to a friend, the virgin Disciple who was St. John.

Third, as a true counter-revolutionary, Dom Guéranger understood well that a full picture of St. John could not be sketched without mentioning that he was one of the first fighters against heresy. The first heresy that was already starting at that time regarded the human and divine natures of Our Lord Jesus Christ. St. John started fighting against those heretics as soon as they appeared. He was, therefore, a precursor of all those combatants for the Catholic Faith who would exist until the end of time, until the moment when Elias and Enoch will return to fight against the Antichrist.

We have, therefore, ample requests to present to St. John in our prayers. We should ask him to help us acquire the same qualities of soul he had in order to receive the reward granted to him: to have Our Lady with us always.

Some notes from the book 'The Spirit of the Liturgy' - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Now the priest - the 'presider', as they now prefer to call him - becomes the real point of reference for the whole liturgy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, to respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing. Not surprisingly, people try to reduce this newly created role by assigning all kinds of liturgical functions to different individuals and entrusting the "creative" planning of the liturgy to groups of people who like to, and are supposed to, "make their own contribution."
Less and less is God in the picture. More and more important is what is done by human beings who meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a 'pre-determined pattern'.  The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself. The common turning toward the east was not a "celebration toward the wall"; it did not mean that the priest "had his back to the people": the priest himself was no regarded as so important. For just as the congregation in the synagogue looked together toward Jerusalem, so in the Christian liturgy the congregation looked together 'toward the Lord'. As one of the fathers of Vatican IIs Constitution on the Liturgy' J.A. Jungmann, put it, it was much more a question of priest and people facing in the same direction, knowing that together they were in a procession toward the Lord. They did not close themselves into a circle; they did not gaze at one another; but as pilgrim People of God they set off for the Oriens, for the Christ who comes to meet us.

The Christmas Season Is a Time for Joy and Gratitude

The Christmas Season Is a Time for Joy and Gratitude - Abbot Guéranger, O.S.B

This is not the season for sighing or for weeping, for unto us a Child is born. He for whom we have been waiting is come, and He is come to dwell among us.

Great and long was our suspense; so much the more to let us love Him. The day will too soon come when this Child, now born to us, will be the Man of Sorrows, and then we will compassionate Him; but at present we must rejoice and be glad at His coming and sing around his crib with the angels. Heaven sends us a present of its own joy; we need joy, and forty days are not too many for us to get it well into our hearts. The Scripture tells us a secure mind is like a continuous feast, and a secure mind can only be where there is peace; now it is Peace that these blessed days bring to the earth; Peace say the Angels, to men of good will.

Intimately and inseparably united with this exquisite mystic joy is the sentiment of gratitude. Gratitude is indeed due to Him who, neither deterred by our unworthiness nor restrained by the infinite respect that becomes His sovereign Majesty, deigned to be born of His own creature, and have a stable for his birthplace.

Oh! How vehemently must He not have desired to advance the work of our salvation, to remove everything that could make us afraid of approaching Him, and to encourage us by His own example, to return, by the path of humility, to the heaven we had strayed from by pride!

Gratefully, therefore, let us receive the precious gift, this Divine Babe, our Deliverer.