•           With EP I of the First Sunday of Advent the new liturgical year begins. The Lectionary cycles are as follows: Year B: Sunday cycle; and Cycle II: Weekday cycle (Ordinary Time).

•           Volume I of the Liturgy of the Hours is used until the end of the Christmas season.


Lectionary 5: 1) Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; 2) Ps 85:9-14;  3) 2 Peter 3:8-14: 4) Mark 1:1-8


FOCUS:          As John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord, so we, too, must prepare for his coming by being Jesus’ disciples – his witnesses in the world. Our readings today give us hope that Jesus is coming, but also offer a challenge to prepare the way before him. John the Baptist’s words in today’s Gospel point us to Jesus while challenging us to repent. In order to prepare the way and make straight his paths, we must be willing to sometimes go out on a limb and be that voice crying in the wilderness, proclaiming the mightiness of our Savior. As we await new heavens and a new earth (2), let us make clear the way of the Lord (1, 3) by being servants of justice, truth, and peace (Ps).


In the first reading from Isaiah, we hear a voice that cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord. In the second reading, we are reminded that we will not know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return, so we must be ready. Today’s Gospel talks of John the Baptist proclaiming a baptism of repentance.



               ∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Monday, December 11, 2017     MONDAY OF ADVENT- SECOND WEEK

Optional Memorial: Saint Damasus I, Pope

Lectionary 181: 1) Isaiah 35:1-10; 2) Ps 85:9ab, 10-14;  3) Luke 5:17-26.


FOCUS:          God is with us. We have only to look with the eyes of our heart in order to experience God’s presence. At this time of year, we may feel pressure to “go, go, go” – do this and buy that. The beautiful season of Advent calls us to do just the opposite. Advent can help us prepare room in our hearts for the God who wants so much to dwell in our hearts. God has come to save us (1) in Christ Jesus. He offers us peace (Ps), forgiveness, and healing (2).


In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes how God will come to save all of creation. The dry, barren desert will be restored, our broken humanity will be healed and we will be led back to God along the holy way. In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a paralyzed man.

Damasus, † 384; preserved papal archives; devoted to the relics and resting places of the martyrs; combated the anti-pope Ursinus, as well as Arian and Donatist heresies; first pope to speak of Rome as the “Apostolic See”; encouraged St. Jerome to produce a new translation of the Latin Bible, later to form the main part of the Vulgate.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞




Tuesday, December 12, 2017         OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE – FEAST

Lectionary 690A:  1) Zechariah 2:14-17 or Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab:  2) (Ps) Jdt 13:18bc, 19; Luke 1:26-38 or Luke 1:39-47

Note: or any readings from the Lectionary for Ritual Masses (vol. IV), the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, nos. 707-712   Pss Prop


FOCUS:          Today we celebrate the unique place of Mary in God’s plan of salvation for all nations. With the coming of Christ into our world, God enters into humanity in a new and dynamic way. Mary’s role in this great drama as mother is essential, and is yet another example of how God has chosen and blessed the people who belong to him. Today, we celebrate that blessing bestowed upon the nations of the Americas in the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Lord sends the Twelve to proclaim the kingdom (2); peace and healing of the sick testify to its advent (1, Ps). As suggested: A woman, clothed with the sun (lb), daughter of the Most High God (Ps), proclaims the greatness of the Lord (2b), the One who comes to dwell with us (1a). She is the servant of the Lord (2a).


In our reading from Revelation, we hear a vision of a woman in labor. In the Gospel from Luke, Mary travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and when Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, the child she carries leaps in her womb.

In 1531 Our Lady appeared four times to a native convert, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (meaning “the talking eagle”), at Tepeyac, near Mexico City. A member of the Chichimeca people, he was perhaps a leader of his own people and may have been involved in the area’s textile industry. Known for his holiness, he devoted himself, tradition says, to the pilgrims who came to see the miraculous image of Mary imprinted on his cloak. Pope John Paul II canonized him 31 July 2002.

Today’s feast recalls the apparitions of Mary at the hill of Tepeyac from 9-12 Dec. 1531 to the native convert, Juan Diego (see 9 Dec.); known to the Aztecs as Tecoatlaxope (or de Guadalupe in Spanish), meaning “she will crush the serpent of stone”; declared patroness of the Americas by Pope Pius XII and raised to the rank of feast for all the countries of the Americas by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 25 March 1999.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Wednesday, December 13, 2017    WEDNESDAY OF ADVENT- SECOND WEEK

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Lectionary 183: 1) Isaiah 40:25-31; 2) Ps 103:1-4, 8, 10;  3) Matthew 11:28-30.              see 692: 2 Cor 10:17-11:2 Mt 25:1-13


FOCUS:          God invites us to rely on him for strength. Our all-powerful God will never abandon his covenant with us. As with the Israelites, God has provided for us and will continue to provide, giving strength to the fainting, and endurance to those who hope in him. Advent is the time for us to remind ourselves of this, and to prepare for the return of the Lord. Merciful and kind (Ps), the Lord gives strength to the weary (1) and to all who are overburdened (2).


In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah speaks to the Judean exiles in Babylon, and reminds them that their Lord is the eternal God and they should not lose hope. In the Gospel, Jesus invites all who are burdened to come to him for rest, and to follow his example of being meek and humble of heart.                                                                          Lucy, † probably in Sicily c. 304 under Diocletian; because of her name, she is the patroness of those afflicted with diseases of the eye and associated with festivals of light, especially in Scandinavia; mentioned in the Roman Canon; patroness of Syracuse and all Sicily.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Thursday, December 14, 2017     THURSDAY OF ADVENT- SECOND WEEK

OBLIGATORY MEMORIAL: Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Lectionary 184: 1) Isaiah 41:13-20; 2) Ps 145:1, 9-13b;  3) Matthew 11:11-15.                                                                                         see 693:1 Cor 2:1-10a; Lk 14:25-33 for Saints Day Scripture.


FOCUS:          God abounds in faithfulness and love for us. Advent is a time of waiting, and promise. Throughout the Old Testament, God promised a close relationship to his people, Israel. Now is the time to stay focused on God’s promise, and prepare ourselves to be ready to receive Jesus, the fulfillment of that promise. The Lord is compassionate (Ps), Israel’s redeemer (1), whose coming John the Baptist heralded (2).


In the reading from the prophet Isaiah, God promises to restore Israel, and provide for their every need with great generosity. In the Gospel from Matthew, Jesus speaks of the greatness of John the Baptist, which all the prophets and the law prophesied.

John of the Cross, † 1591; born in Fontiveros, Spain c. 1542; mystic and poet; ally of Teresa of Jesus of Avila (15 Oct.) in founding the reformed (“Discalced”) Carmelite friars [O.C.D.]; suffered cruel imprisonment and privations by the unreformed Carmelites; authored The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night of the Soul, The Spiritual Canticle, and The Living Flame of Love; known as the “Mystical Doctor”; Discalced Carmelites today number some 4,000 religious.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Friday, December 15, 2017       FRIDAY OF ADVENT- SECOND WEEK

Lectionary 185: 1) Isaiah 48:17-19: 2) Ps 1:1-4, 6; 3) Matthew 11:16-19.


FOCUS:          Trust in God and remain faithful to his commands. We are called to trust in God and his promises, and also to follow his commands and teachings. If we are faithful people, we will recognize Christ in those around us. Although worldly distractions can get us off-track temporarily, we know as Jesus’ disciples that his is the one and only way. Isaiah exhorts his listeners to follow the Lord (1, Ps). Jesus exposes the lack of wisdom and obstinacy of his contemporaries (2).


In the first reading from Isaiah, the Israelites are told that God teaches them what is for their good, and that faithfulness to his commandments will be rewarded. In the Gospel, Jesus asks the crowd what he should compare their generation to, and offers disagreeable children as the answer.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Saturday, December 16, 2017          SATURDAY OF ADVENT- SECOND WEEK

Lectionary 186: Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11; 2) Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 3) Matthew 17:9a, 10-13.


FOCUS:          As we move through Advent, let us prepare our hearts and our homes to receive the Messiah. People too often place undue burdens on themselves this time of year. Between all the busyness of the season and trying to choreograph the perfect family Christmas, we can lose sight of why we have the season of Advent. We would be well-advised to take a deep breath and a step back, and work to prepare our hearts and minds for Jesus’ coming. Elijah, a type of precursor of the Messiah (1), is identified with John whose death foretells that of Jesus (2), the Son of Man (Ps).


The author of the Book of Sirach unfolds some of the great drama and glory surrounding the great prophet Elijah. Elijah is also a key figure in today’s Gospel from Matthew, as Jesus reflects on the connection between this great prophet and the last of the prophets, John the Baptist.

  • Tomorrow, the Third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday, so-called from the first word of the antiphon at the Introit. Gaudete (“Rejoice”), taken from the Latin translation of Phil 4:4-5, sets a tone of joyful expectation for the Lord’s birth and Second Coming, as does the permitted use of rose colored vestments.
  • Beginning tomorrow, the Advent weekdays are intended to serve to prepare more directly for the Lord’s birth (General Norms, 42).
  • Advent Preface II is used at Mass; proper Invitatories, hymns, daily propers, and proper antiphons at MP and EP, as well as the “O” Antiphons at the Magnificat, are used in the celebration of the Hours.
  • Tomorrow, announce holy day of obligation, The Nativity of the Lord, a week from Monday next, as well as the schedule of Christmas liturgies which will be celebrated.

PN The “O” Antiphons sung at Vespers may be used more extensively these final days of Advent (e.g., as verses for the Gospel Acclamation). The hymn, “0 Come, 0 Come, Emmanuel,” based on these antiphons, may fittingly be sung at the Eucharist and the Hours.

For the Blessing of a Christmas Tree, see BB, nos. 1570-1596, or HB, 78-81.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Lectionary 8: 1) Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; 2) (Ps) Lk 1:46-50, 53-54; 3) 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; 4) John 1:6-8, 19-28.


FOCUS:          Rejoice in your God, the God of hope and light. The world literally grows darker each day this time of the year. But as dark as the world grows, the darkness will not overcome the light. Jesus is the light of the world. He illumines our darkness with his love and truth. We are able to sit in the darkness with confidence that the Lord is with us. John witnesses to one who is to come, one far mightier than he (3), one who will proclaim freedom and deliverance (1) from sin and death. As we await his coming again in glory (2), let us join with Mary in singing the praises of God (Ps).


Today’s readings are readings of hope for a future that is bright with promise. Isaiah announces a year of favor from the Lord in which all manner of suffering is soothed. Saint Paul reminds us to rejoice, to pray always and to give thanks in all circumstances. In John’s Gospel, we hear that the Light has come into the world, and it cannot be extinguished.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞


    ♦      ♦      ♦       D A I  L  Y     R E F L E C T I O N S      ♦     ♦     ♦


 ∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞   




Reflection – Sunday, December 10, 2017 Second Sunday of Advent   

The Gospel according to Mark has no infancy narrative. Like an archer, Mark directs his arrow to the heart of the mat­ter. John the Baptist was the herald of the Messiah. How can believers trust this? He did what Isaiah prophesied. He wore a hairy animal skin and leather girdle. He did not point to himself but to the Coming One. He lived as an ascetic to prepare himself, and he invited the people to prepare themselves through repentance. This is the essence of the spirituality of Advent. We listen to John to stir our hope. We celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We pray, fast, and give—not as exercises of conversion as during Lent but to embody and bear witness to our hope.                      Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 8.




∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Reflection – Monday, December 11, 2017 Advent Weekday   

The people Isaiah addresses are threat­ened by drought, desert, famine, wild beasts, outlaws, and slave traders. To leave one’s village was to be extremely vulnerable. Security, peace, and free­dom were surely central to Israel’s mes­sianic longings. The Advent season challenges us to understand our deepest longings in a vastly different time. Are our ultimate yearnings worthy of God’s coming to fulfill them?                            Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 9.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Reflection – Tuesday, December 12, 2017 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Paintings of the Virgin Mary in her pre­natal state are rare. Some theologians believe such images encouraged doubts about her perpetual virginity. The Vir­gin of Guadalupe is an exception. The black band tied high above her waist was the practice of pregnant Aztec women. The apparition that revealed the image on Juan Diego’s tilma occurred on December 12, within the liturgical season of Advent then as now. This feast ties believers to the prayerful expectancy of Mary as she prepared to deliver Jesus Christ. During Advent, we too should “sing and rejoice” that God is coming to dwell among us in the flesh.                       Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 10.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Reflection – Wednesday, December 13, 2017                                                                                     Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

The name Lucy is derived from the Latin word for light. Her feast day aptly points to the winter solstice, when natu­ral light increases and the Light of the World will be celebrated. Legend says that Lucy, a Christian virgin, wore a wreath of candles on her head to light her way so that both hands were free to carry provisions to the needy and prisoners under cover of darkness. Named in the ancient Roman Canon, Lucy and her valorous martyrdom echo through the centuries. She embodies those praised in Isaiah whose “hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar as with eagles’ wings.”                                          Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 11.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



 Reflection – Thursday, December 14, 2017                                                                                              Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

In an interesting liturgical subtlety and contrast, St. Lucy (light) is followed by St. John of the Cross, who identified the “dark night of the soul.” A Carmelite friar entrusted by St. Teresa of Avila to reform the male branch of their order, John was subjected to incredible physi­cal and spiritual abuses. It is important in this season of festivities to be reminded of the Cross. The birth of Jesus is not a sweet fairy tale, but a por­trait of the hardships faced by many, especially the poor. John’s spiritual doc­trine, formed by personal experience, shows that even those closest to God in prayer may bear a cross.                                               Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 12.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Reflection – Friday, December 15, 2017        Advent Weekday

Some scholars propose that the passage above refers either to a familiar chil­dren’s game of the time, or an argument among the children about which game to play. Likewise, disciples of Jesus and disciples of the Baptist apparently argued about their respective teachers and their practices (for example, John 3:25-26). Christian “wisdom” embraced the Baptist as the new Elijah long fore­told (Matthew 17:12-13).                                         Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 13.


∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞


 Reflection – Saturday, December 16, 2017 Advent Weekday    

Elijah (c. 900 BC) is Judaism’s most beloved prophet. He courageously con­tended with Ahab, the king of Israel, and the false gods and prophets that had nearly eclipsed the true God of Israel. Having ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot, he became to Jews the harbin­ger of the messiah. Sabbath prayers invoke the hope of his coming and a cup of wine is poured for him at Passover. Do you look for religious signs of Christ’s coming? What inspirational customs do you have? Do you cultivate a sense of hope in your prayer and preparations?      Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 14.


∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Reflection – Saturday, December 16, 2017 Advent Weekday

Elijah (c. 900 BC) is Judaism’s most beloved prophet. He courageously con­tended with Ahab, the king of Israel, and the false gods and prophets that had nearly eclipsed the true God of Israel. Having ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot, he became to Jews the harbin­ger of the messiah. Sabbath prayers invoke the hope of his coming and a cup of wine is poured for him at Passover. Do you look for religious signs of Christ’s coming? What inspirational customs do you have? Do you cultivate a sense of hope in your prayer and preparations?      Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 14.



∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞




Reflection –  Sunday, December 17, 2017         Third Sunday of Advent

If someone asks, “Who are you?” it is unlikely you will answer, “I am not Santa Claus,” “I am not the president.” We identify ourselves by what we are, and not by what we are not. John the Baptist was careful to draw attention away from himself. “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30). As human beings, we want to be known by who we are and what we do. As Christians, we must not let that need crowd out Christ. Like John, let us testify to the true Light and not to ourselves.                                                                               Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 15.


∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞       


Faith Catholic Online  December  10-17, 2017.
      Daily Prayer 2017, pages  15-23.
          Paulist Ordo

  ∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞



Human beings cannot live without hope. Unlike the animals, we are blessed—or cursed—with the ability to think about the future and to fear our actions to shaping it. So essential is this to human life, that human beings cannot live without hope, without something to live for, without something to look forward to. To be without hope, to have nothing to live for, is to surrender to death in despair. But we can find all sorts of things to live for and we can hope for almost anything: for some measure of success or security or for the realization of some more or less modest ambition; for our children, that they might be saved from our mistakes and sufferings and find a better life than we have known; for a better world, throwing ourselves into politics or medicine or technology so that future generations might be better off. Not all these forms of hope are selfish; indeed, they have given dignity and purpose to the lives of countless generations.
But one of the reasons why we read the Old Testament during Advent is to learn what’to hope for. The people of the Old Testament had the courage to hope for big things: that the desert would be turned into fertile land; that their scattered and divided people would eventually be gathered again; that the blind would see, the deaf hear, the lame walk; that not only their own people, but all the peoples of the earth, would be united in the blessings of everlasting peace. Clearly, their hopes were no different from ours or from any human being’s: lasting peace, tranquil lives, sufficiency of food, an end to suffering, pain and misery.
Thus we hope for the same things as the Old Testament people, for their hopes are not yet realized. But we differ from them in two ways. First, the coming of Jesus in history, as a partial fulfillment of God’s promises, immeasurably confirms and strengthens our hope. Secondly, we differ from the Old Testament people because Jesus has revealed to us that God is not afar off, but is already in our midst. Hence the importance in the Advent liturgy of John the Baptist and of Mary: because they recognized the new situation, they serve as models for the Church in discerning the presence of our Savior in the world.
Taken from “The Spirit of Advent,” Mark Searle, in Assembly, Volume 7:1. © Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, Notre Dame, IN
“Advent has a two-fold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight” (Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar [henceforth, Universal Norms], 39).
• Advent weekdays have their own proper Mass texts, and the Liturgy of the Hours draws from the Seasonal Proper as well as from the Ordinary.
• Advent begins this year with EP Ion Saturday, 2 December 2017, and ends after Midafternoon Prayer (None) on Christmas Eve.
• Prior to 17 December, Advent Preface I is used. On Memorials of the BVM and the saints, however, in this or any other season, the corresponding Preface in the Roman Missal may be used in place of the weekday or seasonal Preface.
• The Liturgy of the Hours provides an invitatory antiphon and a choice of hymns for use prior to 17 December.
• The use of the organ and other musical instruments and the decorating of the altar with flowers should be done in a moderate manner, as is consonant with the character of the season, without anticipating the full joy of Christmas (Ceremonial of Bishops [1989], 236). The same moderation should be observed in the celebration of Matrimony (Order of Celebrating Matrimony [2016], 32).
• The official color for the season of Advent is violet. The use of blue vestments for Advent is not approved for the United States.
PN Advent is a time to recall the cry of the early Christians: Maranatha! “Come, Lord Jesus!” A communal celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation according to Rite 11 of the Rite of Penance is one way of assisting the people of God in preparing for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. Such a liturgy might best be celebrated during the latter part of the Advent Season, and on a weekday rather than a Sunday.
The Advent Wreath, a popular symbol in many churches, may be placed in the narthex or gathering area, or near the ambo. Each Sunday the candle(s) of the wreath might be borne in procession, following the thurible and cross, or just ahead of the Gospel Book. Other creative uses are encouraged. For the Blessing of the Advent Wreath, see BB, nos. 1509-1540 or HB, 73-75.


  ∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞


The Prophecy Fulfilled before Our Eyes  —         Pierre-Marie DumontWho still reads the great French prophets of the 201h century? Who still reads Peguy, Claudel, Bernanos, Saint-Exupery? Each, from his viewpoint, railed against the coming of the same abomi­nation: “their” civilization was dying. While this civilization ought to have been perfected, so that the Kingdom of God on earth could truly grow, all that had constituted its genius was soon to vanish. Materialism, hedonism, self-preoccupation (today it would be called “personal development”) was about to submerge beauty, goodness, and truth, along with the true Faith and the ancient virtues. The sign of the coming of the end of this world was that terrifying metropolises were already reducing rural, pastoral civili­zation to objects fit to fill their museums. Since then, this prophecy has been fulfilled. The fertile ground that nurtured our civilization has gone. Villages have been deserted. Human relationships have been virtualized. Faith and devotion are fading. The moral com­pass that, far from constraining free men, once guided them, has been distorted. The poor, humble and proud, with that magnificent nobility celebrated by Thornton Wilder, have disappeared from the social landscape.. . . .the Word of God would no longer immediately touch hearts and minds. He who, directly or indirectly, has never worked the good earth by the sweat of his brow, never experienced seedtimes and harvests, never tended sheep or saved a stray lamb, finds himself de facto distanced from the Gospel and its parables. Let us not be saddened: we find ourselves spurred on to deepen our understanding of the Word of God, to improve our prayerful reading of it—and let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ remains present to the world even until his return in glory. But why not take advantage of our vacations in the countryside to rediscover, with a touch of nostalgia, a drop of the sap that nourished the fervor of our fathers in faith?    Magnificat, July 2016, page 432. PurpleConeFlower_7(24)2009_IMG_0985



   ∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞  



An Independence Day Prayer     We pray you, 0 God of might, wisdom, and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to your people, over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.We pray for the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare,that they may be enabled, by your powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.We recommend likewise, to your unbounded mercy, all our fellow citizens throughout the United States, that we may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your most holy law; that we may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.Grant this, we beseech you, 0 Lord of mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.ARCHBISHOP JOHN CARROLLArchbishop Carroll (†1815) was a priest for the Society of Jesus, and the first bishop of the United States.Magnificat, July 2016, pages 62-63.  ∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞       What can I do to fast in communion with others?       Prayer is always joined to fasting. Fasting triggers in this season a remembrance to pray for those being brought to the font, to full communion or to reconciliation. Only after we have shared the absence can we come with full hearts to the paschal banquet.Nine things that Pope Francis called upon Vatican Employees to do:They apply to us all…

  • “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”
  • “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention, and love.”
  • “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
  • “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity, and worldly decadence.”
  • “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
  • “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”
  • “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred, and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.
  • “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”
  • “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker… the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

It is a good list: It’s clearly rooted in Catholic teaching, but presented in a way that other Christian denominations can embrace as well. I am reasonably sure that all of us can find on this list at least one or two resolutions that speak to areas in which we really need to grow during this Lent.Have a good week and I’ll see you in church!Monsignor Jack 1-3-5

 ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞

  HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD              Speaking the Painful Truth  —       Anthony EsolenHOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLDSpeaking the Painful Truth  —       Anthony EsolenTHE TWO WOMEN WERE FINALLY ALONE. The room WaS Spartan, with a single wooden bed, a desk, some schoolbooks, fishing tackle kept in a corner, and a couple of skiing poles. A photograph was mounted on the wall, of two tanned young men in a skiff, with the spires of Stockholm in the background. It was a boy’s room, but the boy had left home to join the Swedish army. It was May, 1940.”Sigrid,” said her friend Alice, “I have bad news for you.” She had given Sigrid a day to rest from her journey across the mountains from Norway, in a truck packed so tight with soldiers and refugees, Sigrid—a middle-aged woman with some heft to her, and a countenance that looked as if she would brook no foolishness—had to sit on the lap of one of the men. The atmosphere in the truck had been tense, with Swedish boys expressing their eagerness to fight along­side the Norwegians against the Nazi invaders, and elder men telling them to shut up. News from the war front was also unrelievedly bad. Hitler had overrun Belgium and the Netherlands, and the German armies were pushing on to­ward Paris, the jeweled queen of European civilization.”Please, tell me quickly,” said Sigrid. She had had three children. One, a daughter, had died as a very young woman. Her sons Anders and Hans were still in Norway. The elder, Anders, had a commission as captain in the Norwegian army.”Your son Anders fell in the fighting at Segelstad bridge. He was brave, Sigrid, so brave,” said Alice, trembling. Sigrid, however, set her face like flint. Of Hans, they still knew noth­ing. A few days later they received a visit from a soldier who had been under Anders’ command. The Norwegians had tried to make the Nazi advance northward as costly as pos­sible, taking positions near bridges and mountain passes, and holding off hundreds of Germans with handfuls of men and a few machine guns here and there. Had Norway been made ready for the assault—had there not been Nazi toadies like Quisling in the highest positions in government—Hitler would have regretted sending Germans into that nation of strong, self-reliant, upright, and brave men and women.”And Anders, you know,” said the soldier, “was so incom­parably kind.” The word he used was snill. Sigrid Undset said that the word was untranslatable. It named a virtue—kind­ness—but with a quiet manner, undemonstrative, reserved; not burdening your victim with your goodness.Hans arrived shortly after, and he and his mother con­tinued on their flight to freedom, from Sweden to Moscow, from Moscow by a nine-day train ride to Vladivostok, from there to Korea and imperial Japan, from Japan via the Grover S. Cleveland to San Francisco.♦ WHO SUE WAS ♦Sigrid Undset, for my money, is the greatest woman nov­elist who ever lived. Unlike George Eliot, one of her two chief competitors for that distinction, she does not rely upon the structure of Christian morality without the Christian Faith. In her stories set in modern times, Undset shows how frail that morality must be, unless we recognize our personal frailty and our desperate need for the grace of Christ. Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) had lost the Methodist faith she was brought up in; Undset had gained the Catholic Faith she was not brought up in. Unlike Jane Austen, her other competitor, she was not the comfortably stationed daughter of an Anglican clergy­man, who could therefore take faith for granted and write about Christian morals and manners in the England of her time. Undset, when she entered the Catholic Church, knew she was entering into two thousand years of history, and so her greatest works, the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter and the tetralogy The Master of Hestviken, are set in medieval Norway, Catholic but still with remnants of the old pagan ways. They are national in the best sense: they celebrate the difficult virtues of her people and the beauty of a forbidding land, with its summer so wondrous yet so heart-breakingly short, its wildflowers, its mountains and fjords and ravines, its lonely lichen-topped outcrops of rock, its sudden green valleys, and its brave men wresting the means of life from the rich and cold and dangerous seas.The contrast between Sigrid Undset’s love of country and the pranked-up nationalism of Hitler and his blustering warmongers could not be greater. She despised the Nazis. Other people, not nearly enough, saw their evil; Undset saw also their stupidity and their cowardly ingratitude. For among the invading German soldiers, the Norwegians recognized quite a few whom they had taken into their homes as little boys, back in the famine years after the First World War. She was outspoken about it, and so she, like Dietrich von Hildebrand in Austria, was on the first page of the Nazi list of people to be murdered.Wherever she went, Sigrid Undset tried to find what vir­tues she could in the peoples she encountered. Germans, alas, were the exception. She had to fight her hardest to treat that people with forbearance. For her, the essence of the German spirit was expressed in the terrifying fable of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. The “hero” took his vengeance against the ungrateful people of Hamelin by turning their children essentially into rats, marching off to their death. I forgive the mother of a fallen son her anger.Undset held out hope for the great successor of European civilization, the United States. Even if Europe should fall (she was writing in 1941), the United States would carry the torch of that civilization’s commitment to brotherhood, equality, and democracy, understood as the natural flower­ing of the Christian Faith.♦ RETURN TO THE FUTURE ♦That’s the name of the book that describes her trek from Norway to the United States. It also describes her hope for the world. The future must be a return: a recovery of the Christian Faith in nations that had lost it, and a flourishing of the human good that man experiences as one of the blessings of that faith.Should Germany be defeated, the victors must resist with all their might the temptations of hatred and vengeance. How hard that would be, Undset shows us in her own per­son. But, she says, “hatred and thirst for revenge are sterile passions.” They engender nothing. They only destroy. “The most miserable poverty, the most unthinkable filth and squa­lor, the indescribable stench of refuse and decomposition which I saw and smelled everywhere in Soviet Russia are surely the fruit of the acceptance by Russia’s revolutionary heroes of a hate-consumed old German Jewish writer named Karl Marx and their identification of their future goals with his dreams of revenge against everything that happened to awaken his enmity.”Undset was no sentimentalist. It is true, she was a woman with a woman’s eye for the delicate and the beautiful; she is fond of describing flowers, handsome dress, lovely hair; the fine straw-roofed houses of even the poor in Japan; the tasteful Japanese temples; the reverent ceremonies of prayer she witnessed from the worshipers of Shinto. She has a woman’s scorn for the garish, grubby, slipshod, and gross: nine days on a Russian train with no running water and no flush toilets; Soviet stores with nothing to sell; water that had to be boiled before you could drink it; Soviet offi­cials content to bury themselves and their petitioners under a mountain of paper. Totalitarian systems fail on their own miserable terms: they deliver poverty instead of wealth, con­fusion instead of order, misery instead of happiness, family dissolution rather than strength, dependence rather than self-reliance, cowardice rather than courage.So much the more should the West return to its roots in the Christian Faith. That Faith is not an ideology, but the antidote to ideology. It tells the truth about God and man.Nowadays we construct social policies as if God were irrelevant, and as if everything that the wisest pagans had to say about man, and likewise the Christian Gospels that soar beyond the pagans, could be dispensed with. Yet we pretend that, if we were alive in Germany during the time of Hitler, we would not have gone along with the popular wave of the future, as the Nazis styled themselves. No, we’d have seen through it. Quisling did not. Knut Hamsen, like Undset a Nobel laureate, did not. Undset did. The Faith—un­compromised, uncontaminated with the current prevailing ideologies—gave Sigrid Undset eyes, and heart, and a pen to write words as if etched in stone by fire.(Anthony Esolen is professor and writer-in-residence at Thomas More College in N.H., translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House), and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal (MAGNIFICAT).   Magnificat, October 2017, pages 211-115.


∞      ∞      ∞     ∞      ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞     ∞