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On the Function of the Theologian

© 2010 by Steven Schultz

     The theologian’s vocation fulfills a critically important role within the life of the Church.  Pope John Paul II taught, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth…”  By helping provide reason for faith, the theologian assists the People of God, again as John Paul II put it, “…so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”  One of the most important documents explaining the role of the theologian is Donum Veritatis.  We shall use this document as our guide in exploring the function of the theologian, as well as showing how dissent from the Magisterium impedes the true function of the theologian.[1]

An important point to contemplate at the outset is the fact, in Donum Veritatis, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith teaches that the role of theologian is a vocation.[2]  The work of a theologian is not simply a “job” or ordinary labor.  Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia defines vocation thus: “In the Christian life, the divine calling to follow a certain course of action in life…”[3]  By evoking the term vocation, the Congregation sets apart the work of a theologian as something special.

Donum Veritatis teaches us that “the truth which sets us free is a gift of Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 8:32).  Man’s nature calls him to seek the truth while ignorance keeps him in a condition of servitude… In the Christian faith, knowledge and life, truth and existence are intrinsically connected.  Assuredly, the truth given in God’s revelation exceeds the capacity of human knowledge, but it is not opposed to human reason.”[4]  The Sacrament of Baptism serves as the initiation into the mystery of Christ and sets the believer on a search for deeper understanding, or as St. Paul puts it, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18).[5]  Theology is the method by which believers “search for an understanding of the faith” and “is therefore something indispensable for the Church.”[6]

This indispensable role of theology has always been important for the Church, particularly “in times of great spiritual and cultural change,” so that She may carry out God’s plan, “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4).  In this mission, theology is exposed to risks “since it must strive to ‘abide’ in the truth (cf. Jn 8:31), while at the same time taking into account the new problems which confront the human spirit.”  As we shall see, these risks are greatest when theologians dissent from the Magisterium, but mitigated when theologians operate with reverence and respect for the Magisterium.[7]

The vocation of the theologian is “to pursue in particular way ever deeper understanding of the Word of God found in Sacred Scriptures and handed on by the living Tradition of the Church.”  Fr. Aidan Nichols sums up this function by stating, “The task of theology is the disciplined exploration of what is contained in revelation.”[8]  In order to fulfill their vocation, theologians must operate in communion with the Magisterium, which has the responsibility to safeguard the deposit of faith.  In providing a deeper understanding of the faith, the theologian also “aids the People of God in fulfilling the Apostle’s command (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) to give an accounting for their hope to those who ask it.”[9]

Theology “seeks ‘reasons of faith’ and offers these reasons as a response to those seeking them.”  Through this process, theology becomes obedient to Christ’s command to make “disciples” of all nations and teach them, “for men cannot become disciples if the truth found in the word of faith is not presented to them (cf. Rom 10:14f).”  Theology contributes to the faith by enabling it to be communicated.  By the act of faith, man begins to love God.  This love leads him to seek deeper understanding of the beloved – theology helps satisfy this desire.[10]

The theologian is called to a high standard.  “Since the object of theology is the Truth, which is the living God and His plan for salvation revealed in Jesus Christ, the theologian is called to deepen his own life of faith and continuously unite his scientific research with prayer.”[11]  Similarly, while theology has developed into a true and proper science, and must hold to rigorous critical standards, it must not succumb to a critical spirit of feeling or prejudice.  Commitment to theology requires a spiritual effort to grow in virtue and holiness.[12]  Theologians must also recognize the human ability to know truth.  Divine revelation evaluates other sciences, not vice versa.[13]

A theologian must remember he is part of the People of God and must show respect for them by presenting only “teaching which in no way does harm to the doctrine of the faith” — which is Truth.[14]  Likewise, “the freedom proper to a theological research is exercised within the Church’s faith.”[15]  Consequently, theology, rightly done, “entails in essence an objective discussion, a fraternal dialogue, an openness and willingness to modify one’s own opinions.”[16]  While enjoying academic freedom, the theologian must accept as principles the object of theology as being given by divine Revelation, handed on and interpreted in the Church under the authority of the Magisterium.[17]

The Magisterium has a pastoral role of vigilance over the Faith.  “It seeks to ensure the People of God remain in the truth which sets free.”[18]  Theologians must understand this “proper mission of the Magisterium and collaborate with it.”[19]  The nature of the task to religiously guard and loyally teach the faith (Revelation) “implies the Magisterium can make pronouncements ‘in a definitive way’ on propositions which, even if not contained among the truths of the faith,” derive necessarily from Revelation itself.[20]  Therefore, morality can also be an object of the authentic Magisterium.  “Moral teachings [contained in Revelation] which per se could be known by natural reason” can be infallibly taught by the Magisterium.[21]

The Magisterium and theology “while having different gifts and functions, ultimately share the same goal: preserving the People of God in the Truth which sets free and thereby making them ‘a light to the nations’.”[22]  The Magisterium authentically teaches the doctrine of Jesus and the Apostles; theology provides a deeper meaning to this doctrine.[23]  In obedience to the faith, whatever the Magisterium proclaims, even if not infallible, must be firmly accepted and held.[24]  With this in mind, the theologian is charged with aiding future understanding of the Magisterium’s pronouncements, not refuting them.

Dissent is public opposition to the Magisterium.  Among the factors fostering dissent is growth of the ideology of philosophical liberalism, which places greater credence on individual thought than authority of tradition.  Dissent also comes about when public opinion is manipulated by “mass media” and people are pressured to conform.  However, we must remember the Church has always held “nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will.”[25]

Some believe theologians are not bound to any Magisterial teaching unless it is proclaimed infallibly, especially with regard to specific moral norms, believing it’s largely up to the individual to accept or reject teachings as he sees fit.[26]  Two arguments are often put forth to defend dissent.  The first is a hermeneutical argument which claims the Magisterium is nothing more than debatable theology.  The second is a theological pluralism/relativism which calls the integrity of the faith into question.[27]  Another form of dissent says “truth” is determined only by a majority opinion of a large number of Christians at a particular time on a particular issue.[28]

However, “the freedom of the act of faith cannot justify dissent.”[29]  It is a voluntary act to live in the faith and submit one’s will to the will of God.  Being subjects to the Law of God, we cannot appeal to the rights of man in order to oppose the Magisterium.[30]  Likewise, appealing to the so-called “obligation” to follow one’s conscience is not a justification for dissent since “conscience is not an independent and infallible faculty.”[31]

The mission and responsibility of the Magisterium with regards the Word of God gives it the power to pronounce against the work of theologians who harm the faith.   The Church is organized on a hierarchical structure instituted by Christ; not a democracy or poll for consensus of public opinion.  Therefore, theologians must operate in a spirit of communion to build Christ’s Body in unity and truth.[32]  As Cardinal Avery Dulles writes, “room must be made for responsible dissent [disagreement] in the Church, but dissent must not be glorified as though church authorities were generally ignorant, self-serving, and narrow-minded.”[33]

Bishops and theologians must remember “Christ is the definitive Word of the Father (cf. Heb 1:2)…He is the Truth who sets us free (cf. Jn 8:36; 14:6).”[34]  Consequently, our response to His Word is one of selfless, willing obedience.  The Virgin Mary, in her free and complete surrender of her will to the will of God, serves as our model of accepting and serving the Word of God.[35]

This article is copyright and may not be reporduced or reposted in any form without express written permission of the author.


Endnotes

[1] Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (Boston, MA: Pauline, 1998), 7.

[2] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Veritatis – On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian (May 24, 1990), 6.

[3] Rev Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ed., Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, Revised Edition (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1998), 996.

[4] Donum Veritatis (DV), 1.

[5] DV, 1

[6] DV, 1.

[7] DV, 1.

[8] Aidan Nichols, The Shape of Catholic Theology (Collegville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991), 32.

[9] DV, 6.

[10] DV, 7.

[11] DV, 8.

[12] DV, 9.

[13] DV, 10.

[14] DV, 11.

[15] DV, 11.

[16] DV, 11.

[17] DV, 12.

[18] DV, 20.

[19] DV, 20.

[20] DV, 16.

[21] DV, 16.

[22] DV, 21.

[23] DV, 21.

[24] DV, 23.

[25] DV, 32.

[26] DV, 33.

[27] DV, 34.

[28] DV, 35.

[29] DV, 36.

[30] DV, 36.

[31] DV, 38.

[32] DV, 37, 39, 40.

[33] Avery Dulles, Craft of Theology (New York: Crossroad, 1992), 14.

[34] DV, 41.

[35] DV, 42.

Bibliography

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Donum Veritatis – On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian.  May 24, 1990.

Dulles, Avery.  The Craft of Theology.  New York: Crossroad, 1992.

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, New Testament, Second Catholic Edition RSV.  San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2010.

John Paul II.  Fides et Ratio.  Boston, MA: Pauline, 1998.

Nichols, Aidan.  The Shape of Catholic Theology.  Collegville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991.

Stravinskas, Rev Peter M. J., Ed.  Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, Revised Edition.  Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1998.

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St. Joseph of Cupertino

Month of Our Lady of Sorrows

Sunday, September 12 – 16th Sunday after Pentecost (Traditional) / 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

The Most Holy Name of Mary (Traditional, New)

Monday, September 13

St. John Chrysostom (407), Bishop, Doctor of the Church, Patron of Orators (New)

Tuesday, September 14 – Exaltation of the Holy Cross (335, 629) (Traditional, New)

St. Maternus (1st c.), Bishop (Historical)

St. Notburga (1313), Virgin, Patroness of Peasants, Servants and the Poor (Historical)

Wednesday, September 15 – The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady (Traditional) / Our Lady of Sorrows (New)

St. Nicomedes (90), Martyr (Traditional)

St. Catherine of Genoa (1510), Widow (Historical)

Thursday, September 16

Sts. Cornelius (253), Patron, Martyr, & Cyprian (258), Bishop, Martyr (Traditional, New)

Sts. Euphemia, Lucy and Geminianus (4th c.), Martyrs (Tradiational)

Friday, September 17

(Obligatory Day of Abstinence from Meat or Substitution of Some Other Sacrifice)

St. Robert Bellarmine (1621), Jesuit, Bishop, Cardinal, Doctor of the Church (New)

The Imprinting of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi (1224) (Traditional)

St. Hildegarde (1179), Abbot (Historical)

Saturday, September 18

St. Joseph of Cupertino (1663), Priest, Religious, Patron of Aviators and Those Who Fly (Traditional)

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From the Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962:

This season begins with the Feast of the Blessed Trinity and is the longest of the Liturgical Year.  It may comprise from twenty-four to twenty-eight weeks and differs considerably from the other liturgical seasons.

In the Liturgical Year there is a historical progression, beginning in Advent with the waiting for the coming of the Messias, followed by His birth at Christmas.  During the Sundays after Epiphany, the Holy Childhood is commemorated, while during Lent we are reminded of the fasting in the desert and the Passion of our Lord.  The sacred cycle is completed at Eastertide, and the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.

In this last part of the ecclesiastical year, the Church, guided by the Holy Ghost, continues the work of the Redemption, realized during the preceding part of the Liturgical Year.

“The Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind whatsoever I shall have said to you.”

This last season of the Liturgical Year is filled with feasts of major importance: those of the Blessed Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart, the Assumption and Nativity of our Lady, All Saints, and All Souls.

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Our Lady of Lourdes

Sunday, February 7 – Sexagesima Sunday (Traditional)/5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (New)

St. Romuald (1027), Abbot, Founder of the Camaldolese Order (Traditional)

St. Richard of Lucca (722), King, Father of Sts. Walburga, Willibald and Winnebald (Historical)

Monday, February 8

St. Jerome Emiliani (1537), Priest, Founder, Patron of Orphans & Abandoned Children (New)

St. Josephine Bakhita (1947), Virgin, Religious (New)

St. John of Matha (1213), Priest, Founder of the Trinitarians (Traditional)

Tuesday, February 9

St. Cyril of Alexandria (444), Bishop, Doctor of the Church (Traditional)

St. Apollonia (249), Virgin, Martyr, Patroness of Dentists (Traditional)

St. Nicephorus (260), Martyr (Historical)

Wednesday, February 10

St. Scholastica (543), Virgin, Religious, Founder, Twin of St. Benedict, Patron of Convulsive Children (Traditional, New)

Thursday, February 11

Our Lady of Lourdes (1858) (Traditional, New)

St. Saturninus, (304), Priest and Companion, Martyr (Historical)

Friday, February 12

Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servites (1233) (Traditional)

St. Eulalia (304), Virgin, Martyr (Historical)

Saturday, February 13

St. Catherine de Ricci (1589), Virgin, Florentine Dominican & Visionary (Historical)

St. Polyeucte (259), Roman Officer (Historical)

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Jesus at Cana

The marriage in Cana of Galilee is commemorated: the first miracle of Jesus.  Mary, full of charity, asks of Jesus His first miracle.  Jesus, at the request of His Mother, anticipates the hour appointed for the manifestation of His Divinity to His disciples, so that He puts His power at the service of His love.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui coelestia simul et terrena moderaris: supplications populi tui clementer exaudi: et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus, Per Dominum nostrum.

O Almighty and everlasting God, Who dost govern all things both in heaven and on earth: mercifully hear the prayers of Thy people, and grant us Thy peace in our time.  Through our Lord.

Epistle – Rom 12:6-16

Christians love one another with the charity of brotherhood, being of one mind one towards another.

Brethren: Having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith; or ministry, in ministering; or he that teacheth, in doctrine; he that exhorteth, in exhorting; he that giveth, with simplicity; he that ruleth, with carefulness; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.  Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good.  Loving one another with the charity of brotherhood, with honour preventing one another.  In carefulness not slothful. In spirit fervent. Serving the Lord. 12 Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer.  Communicating to the necessities of the saints. Pursuing hospitality. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not.  Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep: being of one mind one towards another: not minding high things, but consenting to the humble.

Gospel – Jn. 2:1-11

Miracle at Cana in Galilee: a type of Transubstantiation.

At that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there.  And Jesus also was invited, and His disciples, to the marriage.  And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to Him: They have no wine.  And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to Me and to thee?  My hour is not yet come.  His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye.  Now there were set there six water pots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece.  Jesus saith to them: Fill the water pots with water.  And they filled them up to the brim.  And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now and carry to the chief steward of the feast.  And they carried it.  And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom and saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now.  This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested His glory and His disciples believed in Him.

Let us do well what our Savior tells us: let us fill our hearts with the water of penitence, and this tepid water will be changed into the wine of fervent love…Do we wish to be fervent in prayer?  Let us nourish ourselves with good thoughts during the day, making frequent prayerful aspirations.  Do you wish to be recollected in prayer?  Outside of prayer keep yourself as if you were there, and do not waste time in useless reflections, either on yourself or on what happens around you.  Do not amuse yourself with trifles…Nourish yourself the whole day long with pious thoughts on the infinite goodness of our God…Practice well what you have been taught until now, and rest in the Providence of God; for He will never fail to supply what is necessary for you.” – St. Francis de Sales

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The Holy Family

The special devotion which sets forth the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the model of virtue for all Christian households began in the seventeenth century.  It commenced almost simultaneously in Canada and France: the Association of the Holy Family being founded in Montreal in 1663, and the Daughters of the Holy Family in Paris in 1674.  Numerous other congregations and associations under the patronage of the Holy Family have been established since that time, and they are spread over the world.  The archconfraternity was established by Pius IX in 1847.  In 1893 Leo XIII approved a feast for Canada, and Benedict XV extended the Feast of the Holy Family to the whole Church and ordered its celebration to take place on the Sunday after Epiphany.

Domine Jesu Christe, qui Mariae et Joseph subditus domesticam vitam ineffabilibus virtutibus consecrasti: fac nos, utriusque auxilio Familiae sanctae tuae exemplis instrui: et consortium consequi sempiternum: Qui vivis et regnas.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, being subject to Mary and Joseph, didst sanctify home life with ineffable virtues: grant that, with the aid of both, we may be taught by the example of Thy Holy Family, and attain to eternal fellowship with them: Who livest and reignest.

Gospel Lk. 2:42-52

The Devine Child Jesus sits in the midst of the doctors who are astonished at His wisdom and His answers.

When Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not.  And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day’s journey and sought Him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance.  And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem seeking Him.  And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions.  And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him, they wondered.  And His mother said to Him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.  And He said to them: How is it that you sought Me?  Did you not know that I must be about My father’s business?  And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them.  And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.  And His mother kept all these words in her heart.  And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.

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Holy Family

The Feast of the Birth of our Lord.  On this day all priests are granted by the Church the privilege of celebrating three Masses.  Formerly the Masses for this day were celebrated at intervals; that is, at midnight, at dawn, and in the day time, a custom still observed in Cathedrals, monastic communities, and many parish churches.  They are said always – by each priest who uses this privilege – in the order in which they are arranged in the Missal, namely: 1) the Midnight Mass, 2) the Mass of the Dawn, 3) the Mass of the Day; even though the times at which they are said do not correspond to their titles.

Collect

Deus, qui hanc sacratissimam noctem very luminis fecisti illustration clarescere: da, quaesumus; ut, cujus lucis, ejus quoque gaudiis in coelo perfruamur: Qui tecum vivit et regnat.

O God, Who hast made this most holy night shine forth with the splendor of the true Light: grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who have known the mysteries of His light on earth, may enjoy also His happiness in heaven: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

Gospel (Lk. 2:1-14)

St. Luke tells us of the birth of our Lord: And Mary brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.

Now it came to pass in those days, that there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus that a census of the whole world should be taken.  This first census took place while Cyrinus was governor of Syria.  And all went to register, each to his own town.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem – because he was of the house and family of David – to register with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child.  And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds in the same district living in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of God shone round about them; and they trembled with great fear.

And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people; for this day is born to you in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.”

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Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Prope es tu, Domine, et omnes viae tuae veritas: initio cognovi de testimoniis tuis, quia in aeternum tu es.  Beati immaculate in via: qui ambulant in lege Domini.  Gloria Patri.  Prope es tu . . .

Thou art near, O Lord, and all Thy ways are truth: I have known from the beginning concerning Thy testimonies, and Thou art for ever.  Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lard.  Glory be to the Father.  Thou art near . . .

Epistle (Is. 11:1-5)

The Prophet Isaias announces to us the coming of Christ, the Sun of Justice.

Thus saith the Lord God: There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.  And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him: the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness, and He shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.  He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears: but He shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.  And justice shall be the girdle of His loins: and faith the girdle of His reins.

Gospel (Lk. 1:39-47)

The Visitation of our Blessed Lady.  The blessed Virgin Mary visits Elizabeth and Jesus visits and sanctifies John.  Wherefore St. John leaps with joy and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, exclaims: “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb.”

At that time Mary rising up, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Jude: and she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.  And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb: and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed art thou that hast believed, because these things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.  And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

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The Annunciation

On the Wednesday of Ember week in Advent, the Mystery of the Annunciation ic commemorated by many Churches.  The Mass is sung early in the morning.  That Mass is sometimes called the Golden Mass, Rorate Mass, or Messias Mass.  On that occasion the Church is illuminated, as a token that the world was still in darkness when the Light of the world appeared.  The Mass is called the Golden Mass possibly because in the Middle Ages the while of the Mass or at least the initial letters were written in gold, or on account of the golden magnificence of the solemnity, ot more probably on account of the special, great, “golden” grace which, at that time, is obtained by the numerous prayers.  It is called Rorate Mass after the first words of the Introit of the Mass: Rorate Coeli; and Messias Mass because the Church, like our Lady, expresses on that day her longing for the arrival of the Messias.

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut redemptionis nostrae ventura solemnitas, et praesentis nobis vitae subsidia conferat, et aeternae beatitudinis praemia largiatur.  Per Dominum nostrum.

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the coming solemnity of our redemption may both confer upon us assistance in this present life and bestow the rewards of everlasting blessedness.  Through our Lord.

Gospel (Luke 1:26-38)

At that time the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace: the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.  Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.  And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.  Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.  And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?  And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.  And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God.  And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12 – Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas

On December 9, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on one of the hills of the Guadalupe range to Juan Diego, a Mexican Indian.  Our Lady told him to build a chapel in her honor on the place of her apparition.  She left him with a picture of herself impressed upon his mantle and caused a miraculous spring to arise, in the waters of which many people were cured.  The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimage in the New World.

Deus, qui sub beatissimae Virginis Mariae singulari patrocinio constitutos, perpetuis beneficiis nos cumulari voluisti: praesta supplicibus tuis: ut cujus hodie commemoratione laetamur in terries, ejus conspectus perfruamur in caelis. Per Dominum nostrum.

O God, Who hast willed that, placed as we are under the especial patronage of the most blessed Virgin Mary, we should receive an abundant measure of unceasing favors: grant to us, Thy suppliant people, whose joy it is this day to honor her upon earth, for evermore to be made happy by seeing her in heaven.  Through our Lord.

Gospel (Lk: 1:39-47)

At that time Mary rising up, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Jude: and she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.  And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb: and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed art thou that hast believed, because these things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.  And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

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