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St Luke tells us about three significant forty-day periods in the life of our Lord. These are: -the time between the Nativity and the Presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:22) -the time that Jesus spent in the desert after His baptism (Luke 4:1-2) -the time between the Passion and the Ascension of our Lord (Acts 1:3) It would seem to be the case that the period in the wilderness was a necessary final preparation before the Messiah began His mission and that the period after the resurrection was a necessary final preparation before the Apostles undertook their mission, to proclaim the Good News to the world. I would argue that the first period constituted a necessary preparation for Mary before she undertook her mission as the Mother of God present in the flesh, Emmanuel, God with us.
The forty-days had an explicitly Marian dimension in that they constituted the time required for Mary to purify herself, according to the Law of Moses, after the birth of a son. Of course strictly speaking she could have dispensed with the requirement (as her Son could have done with circumcision on the eighth day) because the Law was only the shadow of things to come (Colossians 2:16-17) and the reality had now come in the form of the infant Christ. However since He was born of a woman, born under the Law (Galatians 4:4) it was seemly that the provisions of the Law should be adhered to until our Lord completed His mission on the cross at Calvary.
These days, though, were much more than the formal keeping of an outward legal prescription. They were a time of great and never to be repeated joy for the Blessed Virgin…. click here to read more
The loss of loved-ones is especially difficult at the holidays for believers and non-believers alike. But what if, assisted by our faith, we re-conceptualize the way we look at missing those who have gone to God before us? What if we can turn our grief into joy?
I know it is still Advent, but aren’t you just loving all the wonderful Christmas music? I am! I love them all, but there are some that I can listen to over and over and never tire listening to them. For fun, I thought I would share a few of them…continue reading…
I am so excited! Today marks the first day of the Saint Andrew Christmas novena! Today is the feast of Saint Andrew, a wonderful and powerful saint. He was a great Apostle and missionary of the Lord. He is mentioned several times in the gospel….Continue reading….
Christmas is on its way, whether you are ready for it or not! What better way to get your Christmas shopping started than with the purchase of a beautifully illustrated book about the very first Christmas morning of Christ’s birth! This lovely story, written by Catherine C. Gilmore, presents the morning of Christ’s birth from the animals point of view, that of a lamb, but also of a lion. The lamb represents the young and weak of society, and the lion represents the strong and mature; where both come together and recognize the babe as their King and true leader. Read more…
As a Christmas present from me to you, I offer you a homily about receiving Christmas Joy, written by a very good friend of mine, Father Paul Buchanan, who gave the following homily on Christmas day last year to parishioners at my church. At the time, Father Paul was a Transitional Deacon. He has since been ordained to the priesthood on June 28, 2014, and now serves at Saint Matthew Church, in Charlotte, NC.
Receiving Christmas Joy
Joy to the world! The Lord is come. We all know the line from the carol. But why do we rejoice on Christmas day? It’s not just “because God became a man” – although that is a wondrous thing, and an awesome thing… but it can also be an abstract thing. Something that makes us joyful, …Read More
Our Lady was the first Christian to celebrate Christmas. In the Advent meditation I ponder what her thoughts and feelings were as she marked this poignant anniversary in the years between the Ascension and her Assumption
“Historians are undecided about the date of the Nativity of our Lord although as a sort of reflex action they are almost unanimous in denying that it was 25 December as if giving credit to the wisdom of the Church was somehow a violation of their professional duty. Likewise there is some dispute about when the Catholics first started to celebrate this event as a dedicated Feast. Some say it was earlier and some later. What I think we can be fairly sure about though is that the Blessed Virgin Mary knew the date and that every year as it came around she would have pondered in her heart the events of the first Christmas and the significance which they bore. Of particular poignance for her must have been the Christmases which she marked in the years between her Son’s Ascension and her own Assumption. We cannot now enter into her thoughts, memories and prayers but we can consider those matters which most likely occupied her reflections and which perhaps should occupy ours also.
Our Lady was unique in many ways and led a unique life. Not the least singular facet of it was that she witnessed the death and burial of her Son, His return to life and His Ascension into heaven. These experiences could not but be present before the eyes of her memory every time she marked the anniversary of His birth. Each Christmas for her would be a kind of palimpsest where each recollection of an event or emotion from that night in Bethlehem would uncover a thousand thousand others associated with the life of her beloved Jesus...to read more click here
When the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation began to be proclaimed it immediately provoked strong reactions. Jews thought it a horrible blasphemy, Greeks a foolish absurdity. From the moment of their first encounter with it they realised its revolutionary implications for the world of thought and religion and reacted accordingly. So radical were these implications that even many who were attracted by the figure of Jesus rejected them and most of the heresies which the primitive Church had to battle, from Gnosticism to Arianism, aimed quite precisely at removing the doctrine of Incarnation from the Christian credo.
However with the spread of Christianity and the passage of time Incarnation became the new normal. It’s implications did not stop being revolutionary but these implications for the most part did stop being considered. Humans adapted to the extraordinary by banalising it, ignoring it or denying it under a form of words which implied accepting it. It belongs, however, to the peculiar genius of the Catholic Church that it is this doctrine above all others which she has held patiently, doggedly and unapologetically before the eyes of the faithful and the world these past two millennia or so. It is this which lies behind the myriad images of the baby Jesus and the crucified Christ, behind the cult of Mary and the saints, behind the relics, the shrines, the pilgrimages and most of all behind the holy sacrifice of the Mass as the ‘source and summit of Christian life.’ To the extent that we simply consider these things severally and together as just being the Catholic ‘brand’ the stuff that Catholics do then we miss the point that it is not just what Catholicism does but also what Catholicism is. To see why this is so we need to step back several paces so that we can encounter the doctrine of Incarnation as if for the first time. Click here to read more
Like many people December is for me a month when I call to mind the death of a loved one, my Mom passed away 7 December 1998. There is a sense that not being jolly at this time of year is a crime against the season. I reflect on how we can use the season of Advent as a time to prepare for the coming into our lives of Jesus, the healer of broken hearts