31 Meditations for #Advent and #Christmas 8th Day: HIS SOLDIERS’ ARMOR

5 December 2016

“The King Who is to come; O come let us adore Him.”


To the soldiers of our King the shield of Faith is indispensable. Without Faith it is impossible to please God, and without Faith no one can be a true soldier of Jesus Christ. It is the Faith of the Christian that overcomes the world and puts the devil to flight. The Faith of the martyrs won them their crown; the Faith of confessors enabled them to work miracles; it is this Faith which is dear to every true Catholic beyond all else. And this Faith must be a living Faith, if it is to avail us against the foe. It must be actuated by charity; it must comprise firm confidence in God and dependence on Him. With such a Faith we are secure against all the assaults of the King’s enemies.

christian soldierThe Christian soldier must also have the sword of the Spirit, which is the “Word of God,” and which consists in obedience to all those holy inspirations that God puts into our minds, and all the holy lessons that we learn from Holy Scripture, the sermons we hear, the pious books we read, and the example of others. These holy inspirations are chiefly gained in prayer, and without prayer we shall never be safe. Without prayer we never shall be able to put the devil to flight, and to withstand the seductive influence of the world, and the temptations of the flesh.

The Christian soldier must also be clothed with the breastplates of justice. Justice is the virtue which makes us give to each his due, and primarily which makes us give God His due. To God we owe everything we have; nothing is really our own. Yet how grudging we are in giving to God His due in our worship, in our alms, in our remembrance of Him, and our dependence upon Him.

Source: CatholicHarborofFaithandMorals.com

The Second Sunday in Advent by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

4 December 2016
The day dawns for the soul when Christ approaches, for He is "the Light of the World."

The day dawns for the soul when Christ approaches,
for He is “the Light of the World.”

“Art thou he that art to come, or do we look for another?”–Matt. 11, 3.

A Person roused from sound slumber whilst darkness still envelops the earth, is unable to say what hour it is of the night. But if his wandering gaze discover through the casement the rosy tinge of early dawn, he knows well that day is at hand. And if the rays of the sun fall upon his couch, and brightness fill the chamber, he pauses not to ask: Art thou the sun, or shall we wait for another? It is day!

Day dawns for the soul when Christ approaches; Holy Writ calls Him “the Sun.” He Himself says that He is “the Light of the World.” Let us consider today this office of Jesus Christ as the Sun and the Light of the world in connection with a threefold night and a threefold day. The threefold night to which I refer is: the night of sin the night of death and the night of the grave. He who changes this night into day is:

Christ, the Sun–on the day of conversion–at the hour of death and on the day of judgment.

When Christ, the Sun, shines and diffuses His light in this threefold night, then the soul that loves Him does not ask: Is it Thou? but she exultingly cries: It is Thou!

Mary, thou Dawn of Morning on the firmament of salvation, pray for us, that the light of day illumine our souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

Sin is a state of spiritual night. The sinner lives in darkness, and his deeds are deeds of darkness. But as soon as a true conversion of heart opens the way for Jesus into the benighted soul, the shadows of spiritual darkness vanish, and light diffuses there its glowing splendor. It suddenly becomes day; the soul begins to know herself, to understand the wretchedness of her former existence, and to see what is meant by a change of heart, a permanent one, such as the Lord demands of her.

She can hardly conceive how it was possible that she, a child of the Church, in the midst of a flood of light, could live in such blindness; how it was possible that, having been instructed in the faith from her youth, and having it before her eyes in its eternal greatness, she looked upon it as a thing of no consequence, and esteemed it so little. How is it possible that she lived without fear in so many and so great dangers–yes, even sought temptations and dallied with them–that professing a belief in hell, she continued to live in sin, not concerned, that at any moment, by a sudden death, she might sink into the eternal flames of hell, if God withdrew His merciful hand?

The meaning of the words of Christ: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his soul,” becomes all at once clear to the repenting sin ner; he sees how vain is all striving and seeking after fortune, honor, and pleasure, with which the children of the world endeavor to satisfy the cravings of their hearts.

The scales fall from his eyes. He determines to follow Christ and to tread the path that leads to salvation. He looks upon his model and hears His assurance: “It is I!” Yea, it is He. It was He alone, the Light of the world, who could awaken and enlighten a soul that had slept and dreamed so many years in the night and darkness of sin.

Jesus, it is Thou! I follow Thee! What man, who after having led the life of a sinner, and become truly converted to God, will not acknowledge the truth of my words?

But now, Christian, put the question to yourself: Are you truly converted? Have you not lived, perhaps for many a long year, in the state of sin? Have you, blinded by the allurements and false light of this world, forgotten heaven for earth, and with the eternal truths of the Gospel ringing in your ears, been solicitous only to enjoy the goods, honors, and pleasures of this life? Happy are you, indeed, if day has already dawned on you! In gratitude for this priceless gift of conversion, walk henceforward as a child of light and practise, with redoubled zeal, the works of grace. Preserve yourself from all dangers of a relapse, for, the night into which you would then sink would be still darker and more baneful, as Christ himself warns you: “The last state shall be worse than the first.” Experience teaches us the truth of these words in regard to relapsing sinners.

The second night which Christ, the resplendent Sun of the world, changes into noon-day, is the sad night of death.

Good reason have we to speak of that night. The dying do not see though their eyes are open; their pupils do not move, even though the light falls upon them. Thus veiled with the darkness of night is also the eye of their mind. They do not know all that the word “dying” implies, nor what follows that dread ordeal; horrible darkness and fearful gloom encompass them.

But how the night changes into day when Christ comes! Even the sinner then sees his soul by an unwonted light. The deeper the shadows of death gather on his mortal eyes, the clearer he recognizes the vanities of the world, the folly of his life, the thoughtlessness and frivolity with which he has wasted the precious hours. He sees now better than ever before the greatness and multitude of his sins. Christ approaches, daylight breaks upon his soul but only to reveal the horror of his state.

How differently does Christ, the Sun, brighten the night of death for the just, whose light He has been upon the path of life. Listen to what is told of the death of a saintly hermit.

As he lay upon his death-bed, surrounded by a number of other hermits who wished to witness his happy release, his face suddenly shone with a strange light, and he said softly: “Behold the choir of Patriarchs comes to meet me.” After a little while he spoke again: “Behold the choir of Prophets comes,” and a still brighter light rested on his countenance. Not long after he said with tremulous joy: “The Apostles of Christ are here, and wish to take me with them.” When he again moved his lips, and they asked him to whom he was speaking, he replied: “The angels are here and invite me to go with them; but I have begged them to leave me a little longer here below that I may do penance.” One of the elder hermits said to him: “Holy father, you need do no more penance.” And lo! the face of the dying man beamed still brighter, and saying exultingly: “Behold, Christ comes!” he gave up his soul unto the Lord at the dawn of eternal day.

Yes, if Christ during our life has been the Sun in whose light we have been walking, then He will also change the night of our death into a day of consolation.

The third night is the night of the grave. A well- known Easter hymn says:

“Short is for me the dismal night,
Until the angel calls: ‘T is light!”

That the stillness of the grave resembles the night, needs no illustration, nor that day everlasting dawns when the trumpet of the angel sounds, and Christ, the Sun, appears as our Judge, and a supernatural light illuminates the book of conscience of angels and of men.

But how different on that day is the effect of that light! “Ye mountains! fall upon us, and ye hills, cover us! “Thus at the left of the judgment-seat of Christ, the all-knowing Judge, the reprobate will cry in shame and despair.

But what happiness will fill the just at His right hand, when their virtues and their victories are revealed to the whole world, and they enter with the children of God into the kingdom of eternal reward, that kingdom, whose day knows no evening, and where Christ, the Sun, shines in everlasting glory! Amen!

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“Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen.”–Matt. 11, 4.

By the fall of Adam the whole human family lost its right to heaven, the end and aim of that supernatural life to which we had been raised in the person of our head. But in the designs of God we were all to be redeemed through the merits of the Word made flesh, and have all our sins forgiven, yea, all our sins. Not only were we supplied with a remedy against original sin in the laver of baptism, but we were also put in a condition to have subsequent actual sins blotted out through the merits of our Saviour, if we would but return to God, and use the means that Christ left in charge of His Church for the remission of sin. Whoever departs from this life in the state of sanctifying grace, which is always bestowed when sins are forgiven, enters heaven a fully redeemed soul.

It is a great pity that few preserve the grace of baptism till the end of their lives, and a still greater pity that many, who have had the misfortune to offend God by personal sin after baptism, do not receive the Sacrament of penance worthily. Their reconciliation with God is only a deception. They confess, and remain what they were before confession–sinners. They promise with their mouths, but how soon after confession one could ask: Is it you, who was lately converted? The promise of a reform made to the minister of Christ in the confessional was only self-delusion. Your confession has not healed your soul, it was only a new sacrilege.

The question is, therefore: What is the surest sign of a good confession, and of a true reconciliation with God? I reply: The words of Christ in today’s Gospel point it out: “Relate to John: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again.”

Let us, therefore, consider the spiritual significance of these miracles as tokens and evidences of a true conversion and reconciliation with God.

Mary, Mother of mercy, refuge of sinners, pray that God may grant us the grace of a worthy confession, and that by our reformed life we may prove our reconciliation to God! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

Relate to John: “The blind see” The sinner passes his days in blindness. Christ on the cross prayed for sinners, saying: “Father, they know not what they do.” This is the case, especially, of the Christian sinner. He becomes blind. He believes all that faith teaches him concerning his end and destiny and the path of salvation; about the horror of sin, the dangers of delay, the last judgment, and the eternal consequences of sin and still he is, in effect, blind to these truths. He gazes upon them all with the eyes of his mind, but they have no influence on him; it is as if he saw them not at all. But how different it is when, by a true conversion to God, the scales fall from his eyes! Then how distinctly he sees all these truths in their eternal grandeur! He can not understand how the transparent wiles of Satan could so delude him that, with faith in his heart, he yet lived year after year in sin.

Now he sees the presumption and folly of his sinful life. Now he sees the path of salvation clearly, and understands what he has to do to save his soul and live a life pleasing to God. The blind–they see!

Is that the case with you, converted sinner? If so, thank God; you have made a worthy confession.

Relate to John: “The deaf hear.” God continually calls on the sinner to do penance and reform. He admonishes him by His own word, and by the exhortation and example of his brethren. He reproves and warns him by accidents, by death, by misfortunes of various kinds, and by interior enlightenment and inspiration. But the sinner, clinging to his passions, remains deaf. All these admonitions reach the ear of his mind to as little purpose as if he did not hear them at all. Let a preacher or confessor speak to him ever so impressively, the words do not enter his heart.

How different, on the contrary, are the feelings of him who at last opens his heart to the call of grace urging him to conversion and penitence! The exhortation of the priest finds a ready entrance to his soul; he heeds the admonition and advice of the minister of God.

Now he who formerly was deaf to the thunder of the divine threats, becomes conscious of the soft voice of heavenly inspirations which invite him to purchase back by zeal in the practice of virtue that time, which he lost and wasted by his former sinful life. The deaf hear!

Converted sinner! is that your case? Have you been deaf? Have you confessed and opened the ear of your heart? Do you now hear the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, who invites you to perfect yourself in Christian justice? You hear? Thank God that you have confessed worthily.

Relate to John: “The lame walk” The sinner, who confesses either from habit or because he has no choice in the matter remains lame.

His confessor, no doubt, instructs him on the means which he must employ not to offend God and to grow daily in virtue; the sinner, however, not really anxious to be converted, listens, promises to fulfill the duties of his station as a zealous Christian but does not fulfill his promise. After confession he does not say his morning or evening prayers more frequently; he neglects, as before, to hear mass; he does not receive the holy Sacraments oftener than formerly; he does not have an eye to the conduct of his children, or of those whom God has placed in his charge. He remains lame!

But how differently does he live who has been truly converted! He commences an entirely different life, and becomes an example to others by the solicitude he evinces to save his soul. The lame walk!

Converted sinner! is that your case? Have you been lame, and can you now after your confession say: “The charity of Christ presseth me?” (2 Cor. 5, 14). Can you now affirm: Lord, since I have made peace with Thee, “I have gone the ways of Thy law.” If so, give thanks to God; thou hast, without doubt, made a worthy confession.

Relate to John: “The dead rise again, the lepers are cleansed, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Were you spiritually dead through mortal sin? Have you arisen? Have you never since you made a general confession grievously offended God? Has it really been your earnest endeavor to preserve yourself from the stains of venial sins? Are you cleansed from the leprosy of entirely voluntary imperfections? And you, who in bygone days gave scandal through your sinful conduct, are you now the good odor of the Lord, to the edification of all those around you? and do you endeavor to convert and sanctify them?–Give thanks to God for, you have confessed worthily.

We can, with right, apply the words of David to such a conversion: “This is the change of the right hand of the Most High” (Ps. 76, 11). These effects are moral miracles, not less wonderful than the sudden healing of bodily diseases. Rather they are still more admirable. St. Augustine is right when he says, that the conversion of a sinner is a greater miracle than that recorded in Genesis: “God said: Let there be light! and there was light.”

Nothingness could not oppose Omnipotence. The will of man could, for God made him free. In the creation of the world the will of God alone acted, but in the conversion of a sinner it is necessary that a human will co-operate. This becomes still clearer when we compare, as we have done, the cure of physical and spiritual blindness, deafness and lameness.

It is for this reason that, after a conversion, we hear people say: I never should have believed that this person would be converted; it is a miracle! And so it is. These miracles are the fruits of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, and will bear testimony to the divinity of His mission until the end of time. Amen !

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“What went you out to see? A reed shaken with the wind?”–Matt. 11, 7. ***

As today’s Gospel testifies, Christ was asked a question: “Art thou He?” But He, in turn, put questions to His interlocutors, His first question being: “What went you out to see? A reed shaken with the wind?”

A reed is, as the words of Christ Himself imply, the emblem of inconstancy and thoughtlessness. How important this question of Christ is to each of us! The answer which Christ sent by the disciples of John to their master signified, that He was really the promised Messiah, who had come to save mankind. Now, what can be the principal cause that the fruit of His redemption is lost even to many who, cleansed from their sins in baptism, have become children of the Church; or to those who, having sinned as children of the Church, have regained the state of sanctifying grace?

I answer: Man’s instability of purpose and faithlessness in keeping his promises. There are in this regard, especially, four different classes of moral reeds. What these are is the question which I shall answer today.

O Mary, thou who didst stand under the Cross, and didst crush the serpent’s head; brave woman, whom the Holy Ghost called blessed, obtain for us the constancy of true children of God! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God !

The Gospel narrative of today exemplifies, in the many questions recorded, a remarkable trait of our nature. Man is instinctively given to questioning, and to seek for information, even concerning things that have for him no special interest. Children exhibit this propensity in a wonderful degree. No sooner do they commence to talk than the process of questioning is begun: “Father–mother, what is that? For what is this used?” How often have you yourself, from the days of your childhood, interrogated others? There is only one question man seldom asks himself with due earnestness, and it is the most momentous of all, namely: “Who am I? How do I live? What will become of me?”

Men often reach an advanced age, say of seventy or eighty years; they have, in the course of their lives, asked numberless questions; they have become learned men, renowned politicians, great statesmen, influential merchants, and yet leave this world without having ever put to themselves that important question: Who am I?

A Christian, especially, should ask himself over and over again: In what state is my soul? Am I, perhaps, a reed? Am I constant in the service of God?

As I said before, thoughtlessness and inconstancy are the cause why so many of those who once lived in the state of grace have abandoned the path of salvation, and are lost. An emblem of this was the reed with which Christ, scourged and crowned with thorns, appeared before the people on Good Friday. Had not this same people who then filled the air with shouts of: “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” gone out six days before to meet Him, crying: “Hosanna! blessed is He who cometh!”

Should any one ask me: In comparing to reeds the different characters of men and their way of living, how many classes might be enumerated? I would answer: There are chiefly four: the impenitent–the relapsing–the light-minded–the despondent. To all of these the words of the Wise Man are addressed: “Winnow not with every wind, and go not into every way” (Eccles. 5, 11).

I say that the first class of these reeds is composed of impenitent sinners. Even these are sometimes moved. They feel the need of conversion, particularly when a death among their relations or friends occurs, or when they themselves are dangerously ill, or when they see their companions in sin awakened by the grace of God and converted.

If they still visit the church, they are sometimes moved by a powerful sermon. Perhaps, even at this moment, such reeds are before me; they are resolving within themselves, to change their sinful life; and yet, they scarcely will have left the church, when another wind will blow, and then, instead of finishing their conversion by a thorough confession, they will allow themselves to be deluded by their companions, and will commit, even today, another mortal sin.

Impenitent sinner! you who are here before my eyes! lay your hand upon your heart and ask yourself whether I am right. Have you not more than once said to yourself: I will change my life, else I am lost for all eternity? You were, perhaps, already half-way to the church. Yes, many a one even stands before the confessional, but, losing patience at waiting so long, he leaves the church, postpones his confession, and remains, what he was–a sinner!

The wind that turns this reed, is the wind of a worldly spirit, pressure of business, the example of others, the society of his equals, the thought: I will do it later, I am young yet, a man can always be converted. He does not think of the continually growing power of passion, that sins have their measure, that God can forsake us and withdraw grace from us. He hopes to live for a long time yet, and lo! suddenly death breaks the reed; the sinner dies and is lost.

The second class of reeds are the relapsing sinners. The sinner, we suppose, carries into effect his resolution– he goes to confession–he confesses worthily and is reconciled to God. But how fares it with his constancy? Alas! numberless are the relapsing sin ners! How few Christians would be lost if, after confession, they did not fall again into mortal sin! The wind that turns these reeds, is the wind of temptations and of occasions to commit sin, which they do not avoid because they think themselves strong. It is carelessness in resisting temptation at the very first moment, and in not making use of the armor which the Apostle recommends in order that we may conquer in the struggle against the enemies of salvation: the world, the flesh and hell.

Christ, as a warning to these reeds, said: “The evil spirit compelled to leave one dwelling, retires into the wilderness.” This means: he leaves the sinner for a short time in peace; for he knows that the sinner, in his new zeal, would withstand every temptation. But after a time he returns, bringing along seven worse spirits than himself, and endeavors to find an entrance into his former dwelling; and should he succeed, then is the last state worse than the first.

The third class of reeds are the light-minded, who, though they take good care not to commit mortal sin, are full of good intentions; yes, they are even determined to walk in the path of sanctity, but remain nevertheless the same imperfect beings, soiled with number less voluntary venial sins.

In fact, instead of going onward, they retrograde in the path of sanctity and become more and more negligent. The wind that turns these reeds, is the wind of carelessness and imprudence, especially in their intercourse with people? who are animated more by the spirit of the world than the spirit of piety–the wind of frivolity, which makes them shorten and slur over their prayers, neglect the frequent reception of the sacraments, immerse their whole souls in worldly interests, and rush heedlessly into amusement and dissipation.

The fourth class of reeds are the despondent, who, from want of trust in God, make resolutions only to break them. The wind which turn these reeds hither and thither are the numberless scruples and doubts with which the evil spirit tortures and deludes them. Such reeds are also in danger of being broken by the pressure of despair.

God grant us grace that we may not belong to any of these reeds, but may walk before the Lord with the determination and faithfulness of St. John! Amen!

*** : The copyright on this image is owned by Mrs V Bryant and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.


31 Meditations for Advent and Christmas: Day Seven

4 December 2016

“The King Who is to come; O come let us adore Him.”


Our King, in spite of His Divine perfections, in spite of His power. His claims to rule, and His unspeakable goodness and love, has nevertheless many and irreconcilable enemies.

God over LuciferHis first enemy is the devil, or rather the innumerable company of devils who make it their one object to insult and outrage Him with insatiable fierceness and hatred. They spare no pains, they neglect no means within their reach, to carry on a deadly war against Him and His soldiers. Nothing can satisfy their malice and their fury. Their one object is to destroy the happiness and ruin the souls of all those who are stamped with the image of our King. How is it that, knowing this, I so often listen to their suggestions?

His second enemy is the world around us, which acknowledges principles opposed to those by which our King desires that we should be guided. It is actuated by a covert selfishness, by self-love, by earthly ambition, by a desire to be highly esteemed by others, by the greed of gain. It seeks to explain away the precepts of our King, and it despises His counsels. It puts Him, as far as possible, in the background or out of sight. Do I not too often act on these worldly principles?

His third enemy is our own nature, tainted as it is with sin. Self-will is strong within us, defying God. Concupiscence bribes us by the promise of pleasures, which will make us enemies of our King, or at least will weaken our fidelity to Him. Pride urges us on to actual rebellion, in matters great or small. Do I fight manfully against these enemies of my King?

Second Sunday of Advent †Dominica Secunda Adventus† Propers & Music

4 December 2016

The Season of Advent

(Dominica Secunda Adventus)
2nd Class – Violet Vestments


Introit  Isaias 30, 30

POPULUS Sion, ecce Dóminus véniet ad salvándas gentes: et audítam fáciet Dóminus glóriam vocis suæ in lætítia cordis vestri. Ps. 79, 2. Qui regis Israel, inténde: qui dedúcis, velut ovem, Joseph.  V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.

PEOPLE OF Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations; and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard in the joy of your heart. Ps. 79, 2. Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.  V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent

EXCITA DOMINE corda nosta ad præparándas Unigéniti tui vias: ut per ejus advéntum purificátis tibi méntibus servíre mereámur.  Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculórum. Amen.

STIR UP our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son, that through His coming we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds.  Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
Epistle (Romans 15, 4-13)

Léctio Epistolæ beáti Pauli Apóstoli ad Romános.

Lesson from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans.

FRATRES: Quæcúmque scripta sunt, ad nostram doctrínam scripta sunt: ut per patiéntiam, et consolatiónem Scripturárum, spem habeámus. Deus autem patiéntiæ et solátii, det vobis idípsum sápere in altérutrum secúndum Jesum Christum; ut unánimes, uno ore honorificétis Deum, et Patrem Dómini nostri Jesu Christi. Propter quod suscípite ínvicem, sicut et Christus suscépit vos in honórem Dei. Dico enim Christum Jesum minístrum fuísse císrcumcisiónis propter veritátem Dei, ad confirmándas promissiónes patrum: gentes autem super misericórdia honoráre Deum, sicut scriptum est: Proptérea confitébor tibi in géntibus Dómine, et nómini tuo cantábo. Et íterum dicit: Lætámini gentes cum plebe ejus. Et iterum: Laudáte omnes gentes Dóminum: et magnificáte eum omnes pópuli. Et rursus Isaías ait: Erit radix Jesse, et qui exsúrget régere gentes, in eum gentes sperábunt. Deus autem spei répleat vos omni gáudio, et pace in credéndo: ut abundétis in spe, et virtúte Spíritus Sancti.

BRETHREN, what things soever were written, were written for our learning; that through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one toward another, according to Jesus Christ: that with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another; as Christ also hath received you, unto the honour of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to Thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to Thy name. And again He saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with His people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and magnify Him, all ye people. And again, Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse; and He that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing: that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Gradual  Psalm 49, 2, 3, 5

EX SION spécies decóris ejus: Deus maniféste véniet. V. Congregáte illi sanctos ejus, qui ordinavérunt testaméntum ejus super sacrifícia.

OUT OF SION the loveliness of His beauty: God shall come manifestly. V. Gather ye together His saints to Him; who have set His covenant before sacrifices.
Lesser Alleluia

During the week, should the Mass of the Sunday be resumed, the Alleluias and verse following are omitted, and only the Gradual is said.

ALLELÚJA, allelúja. V. Ps. 121, 1. Lætátus sum in his, quæ dicta sunt mihi: in domum Dómini íbimus.  Allelúja.

ALLELUIA, alleluia. V. Ps. 121, 1. I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. This text copied without authorisation from the SSPX website for Great Britain. Alleluia.
Gospel (Matthew 11, 2-10)

st john in prison
+ Sequéntia sancti Evangélii secúndum Mattheum.

+ Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew.

IN ILLO témpore: Cum audisset Joánnes in vinculis ópera Christi, mittens duos de discípulis suis, ait illi: Tu es, qui ventúrus es, an álium exspectámus? Et respóndens Jesus, ait illis: Eúntes renuntiáte Joánni, quæ audístis, et vidístis, Cæci vident, claudi ámbulant, leprósi mundántur, surdi áudiunt, mórtui resúrgunt, páuperes evangelizántur: et beátus est, qui non fúerit scandalizátus in me. Illis autem abeúntibus, cœpit Jesus dícere ad turbas de Joánne: Quid exístis in desértum, vidére? arúndinem vento agitátam? Sed quid exístis vidére? hóminem móllibus vestítum? Ecce qui móllibus vestiúntur, in dómibus regum sunt. Sed quid exístis vidére? prophétam? Etiam dico vobis, et plus quam prophétam. Hic est enim, de quo scriptum est: Ecce ego mitto Angelum meum ante fáciem tuam, qui præparábit viam tuam ante te.

AT THAT time when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples, he said to Him: Art Thou He that art to come, or do we look for another? and Jesus making answer, said to them, Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them; and blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings.  But what went you out to see? a prophet? yea, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is He of whom it is written, Behold I send My angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee.

Offertory  Psalm 84, 7, 8

DEUS, TU convérsus vivificábis nos, et plebs tua lætábitur in te; osténde nobis Dómine misericórdiam tuam, et salutáre tuum da nobis.

O GOD, TURNING, Thou wilt bring us life; and Thy people shall rejoice in Thee: show us, O Lord, Thy mercy, and grant us Thy salvation.


PLACÁRE, quæsumus, Dómine, humilitátis nostræ précibus et hóstiis: et ubi nulla súppetunt suffrágia meritórum, tuis nobis succúrre præsídiis. Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculórum.  Amen.

BE APPEASED, we beseech Thee, O Lord, by the prayers and offerings of our lowliness, and where no support of merits is at hand, do Thou hasten to us with Thine aid. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
Preface of the Most Holy Trinity

On Trinity Sunday, at Votive Masses of the Blessed Trinity and on all Sundays throughout the year, except in Paschaltide and on feasts which have their own proper


VERE DIGNUM et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus: Qui cum unigenito Filio tuo, et Spiritu Sancto, unus es Deus, unus es Dominus: non in unius singularitate personae, sed in unius Trinitate substantiae. Quod enim de tua gloria, revelante te, credimus, hoc de Filio tuo, hoc de Spiritu Sancto, sine differentia discretionis sentimus. Ut in confessione verae sempiternaeque Deitatis, et in personis proprietas, et in essentia unitas, et in majestate adoretur aequalitas. Quam laudant Angeli atque Archangeli, Cherubim quoque ac Seraphim: qui non cessant clamare quotidie, una voce dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus…

IT IS TRULY meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God. Who with Thine only-begotten Son and the Holy Ghost art one God, one Lord: not in the unity of a single person, but in the trinity of a single nature. For that which we believe of Thy Son, that same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or discrimination. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, we shall adore distinction in persons, oneness in being, and equality in majesty. This the angels and archangels, the cherubim, too, and the seraphim do praise; day by day they cease not to cry out, saying as with one voice: Holy, Holy, Holy…

Preface for Advent

The following Preface was promulgated in the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum and may be said ad libitum by the celebrant of the Mass.

VERE DIGNUM et justum est, æquum et salutáre, nos tibi semper et ubíque grátias ágere: Dómine sancte, Pater omnípotens, ætérne Deus: per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Quem pérdito hóminum géneri Salvatórem miséricors et fidélis promisísti: cujus véritas instrúeret ínscios, sánctitas justificáret ímpios, virtus adjuváret infírmos. Dum ergo prope est ut véniat quem missúrus es, et dies affúlget liberatiónis nostræ, in hac promissiónum tuárum fide, piis gáudiis exsultámus. Et ídeo cum Angelis et Archángelis, cum Thronis et Dominatiónibus, cumque omni milítia cæléstis exércitus, hymnum glóriæ tuæ cánimus, sine fine dicéntes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus…

IT IS TRULY meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to Thee, holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, through Christ our Lord. Whom Thou, clement and faithful, promised as a Saviour to the lost race of men; Whose truth instructed the ignorant, Whose sanctity justified the impious, Whose virtue strengthened the weak.

Therefore while the advent approaches of Him Whom we exult in pious joys in this confidence of Thy promises. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army we sing a hymn to Thy glory, ever saying: Holy, Holy, Holy…
Communion (Baruch 5, 5; 4, 36)

JERÚSALEM surge, et sta in excélso, et vide jucunditátem, quæ véniet tibi a Deo tuo.

ARISE, O Jerusalem, and stand on high: and behold the joy that cometh to thee from thy God.


REPLÉTI cibo spiritualis alimóniæ, súpplices te, Dómine, deprecámur: ut hujus participatióne mystérii, dóceas nos terréna despícere et amáre cælésti Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculórum. Amen.

FILLED WITH the food of spiritual nourishing, we humbly beseech Thee, O Lord, that by our partaking of this mystery Thou wouldst teach us to contemn earthly and love heavenly things. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

31 Meditations for Advent and Christmas : Day Six

3 December 2016

“The King Who is to come; O come let us adore Him.”


In our last meditation we saw that we enroll ourselves in the service of our King at our Baptism, our Confirmation, whenever we offer ourselves to God. What is the nature of that st nicholas with advent wreathservice?

It is a service obligatory on all. Every rational being born into the world is bound to enlist in it, and that under the severest penalties. This follows from our relation to our King as our Creator and our God. Whether we acknowledge the obligation or not, it continually is present for us, and embraces our whole life. No human being is exempt from the service of his Creator. Do I recognize this relation, and do I rejoice in it?

The service of the King, though obligatory, is not compulsory. We can hold aloof from Him, and serve other masters, if we choose. He does not force the free will of any of his subjects. Man’s perverse will can, if he chooses, set itself in opposition to the will of God, and can so remain through all eternity. It is in the hands of each individual man to enlist in his King’s service or not. How have I used my liberty? Have I attached myself to my King in willing subjection, or stood aloof from His service?

Yet we must join some service. If we do not serve our King, we shall of necessity fall under the dominion of some other master. Independence is impossible to any created being, however much he may desire it. To shirk the service of the King is to sink into some form of vile and disgraceful servitude. It is only in His service that true liberty can be found. Do I realize and act upon this?

Source: CatholicHarborofFaithandMorals

31 Meditations for Advent and Christmas : Day Five

1 December 2016

“The King Who is to come; O come let us adore Him.”


bandw adventThe Kingdom of our King is no earthly Kingdom. This was. the mistake made by Herod; he thought the new-born King was come to wrest from him his scepter as King of Judaea. Our Lord Himself expressly declared: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” All worldly ambition is therefore not only out of place in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, but is directly at variance with its spirit. Do not I too often set my heart on earthly things, and make them the objects of my ambition, instead of those things that belong to the Kingdom of my King and will find favor with Him?

The Kingdom of our King is a Heavenly Kingdom. He Himself speaks of it as the Kingdom of Heaven. He brought it down with Him from Heaven to earth, in order to found it among men. It was founded on earth, in order to provide fresh members for it, as it exists and will exist to all eternity, in Heaven. All those who belong to it must have their hearts set on Heaven. They must seek those things that are above. They must do their best to conform themselves to the Kingdom of Christ as it exists in Heaven. My God! grant that I may be one of the loyal members of Thy Kingdom on earth, that so I may deserve to be joined to its happy company in Heaven.

The Kingdom of Jesus Christ is the Kingdom of truth. He tells us that the object of His coming into the world was to give testimony to the truth. The Kingdom of our King must be the home of perfect truth. No lie can enter into it; no error can be incorporated with its teaching. He who loves the truth is attracted towards the true Catholic Church; he who hates it hates also the Church of Christ.

‘A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS’: The gospel truth behind how a humble ‘Peanuts’ holiday classic defied the odds

1 December 2016

By Michael Cavna
originally published by Cavna in 2011.

BEFORE THE STEADY STREAM of Emmy Awards and Grammy nominations and Oscar consideration came The Idea — the one that producer-director Lee Mendelson, nearly a half-century later, calls with a certain zest “the best idea I’ve had in my entire life.”

“I’d just made a documentary about the best baseball player in the world,” Mendelson tells Comic Riffs, referring to his award-winning NBC work about Willie Mays. “So I decided to make a documentary about the worst baseball player in the world.”

That, naturally, would be Charlie Brown. Mendelson read a “Peanuts” strip about the perennially losing hurler and thought: Why not make a documentary about the cartoon’s creator?

It turned out to be the best pitch Mendelson ever made.

Mendelson called fellow Northern California resident Charles Schulz — “his phone number was listed right in the book,” the producer recalls — and proposed the documentary. Fortunately, Mendelson says, Schulz had seen “A Man Named Mays” and liked it. “Sure, come on up,” Schulz replied, so Mendelson motored up from San Francisco to Sebastopol and right there in the heart of wine country, the inspired ideas began to ferment and a 38-year friendship and creative partnership took root.

(Charlie Brown Christmas / courtesy of Peanuts Worldwide)

By 1965, the two men — working with veteran Disney and Warner Bros. animator Bill Melendez — collaborated on their first work, the holiday special “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” a TV show that took chances and defied certain conventions (eschewing even a laugh track) and, ultimately, remained utterly authentic to the trio’s collective vision.

The debut of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” would capture not only the Emmy and Peabody awards, but also roughly half the people watching television across America. And its place in the nation’s holiday hearth has remained fixed ever since. As the special celebrates its [49th] anniversary this week — and the strip enjoys its 63rd year — ABC airs the “Peanuts” special tonight for the first time of the season. (CBS check local listings: approx. 8:30 pm EST)

As viewers tune in to see a sparse and wilting “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” — a conifer embodiment of “Chuck’s” hard-luck seasonal mood that soon entered our national vernacular — a question about this beguilingly humble cartoon perseveres: Why, precisely, does ”A Charlie Brown Christmas” endure?


“I think it has to do with the impact that ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ had on the viewer when he or she first saw it,” Jean Schulz, the late cartoonist’s wife and shepherd of the “Peanuts” estate, tells Comic Riffs. “It might have been as a child sitting with parents. Or it might have been adults in their 40s or 50s who were delighted to see a meaningful, adult-themed show that brushed aside the platitudes that surround public dialogue and then passed this on to their children and grandchildren.

“I think,” she emphasizes, “these first impressions are very important to us.”

In his recent autobiographical book “Manhood for Amateurs,” the Pulitzer-winning novelist Michael Chabon wrote of the “Peanuts” special’s lasting appeal.

“That show, in its plot, characters, and perhaps above all in its music,” Chabon tells Comic Riffs, “captures an authentic bittersweetness, the melancholy of this time of year, like no other work of art I know.”

“Mother Goose and Grimm” creator Mike Peters worked with Mendelson on a ’90s animated series based on Peters’ strip. To Peters, the greatness of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” springs eternal.

“There has not been a Christmas that we or one of our kids hasn’t bought a sad, pathetic ‘Charlie Brown Christmas tree,’ “Peters tells Comic Riffs. “The smallest, most scrawny tree we could find for some cherished place in our home.

“Sparky [Schulz], Mendelson and Melendez have touched something deep in our American soul with ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas,’ “ the Pulitzer-winning cartoonist continues. “As with any great piece of art, as many times that you see it , you take away something new. The humor, the heart, the laughter and the tears.


Lee Mendelson smiles like a man who believes in serendipity.

“I’ve never actually looked up the word in the dictionary,” Mendelson, 78, says with a laugh, “but yes, I believe in serendipity. I had it with ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas,’ and it continued for 40 more years. It’s happened too often not to believe in it.”

(Mendelson and I first met in October of 2010 when he came to the National Portrait Gallery for a “Peanuts” 60th anniversary celebration and Charles Schulz portrait unveiling. Were it not for a series of seeming coincidences, I should note, we would not have lunched in D.C. and discussed the origins of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”)

Part of the magic of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Mendelson says this week, is the evocative appeal of the music. It was in 1963 that the producer was in a car heading across the Golden Gate Bridge when he heard Vince Guaraldi’s “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.”

Mendelson was struck by the jazz track and contacted Guaraldi, who happened to be a fellow San Franciscan. The producer hired Guaraldi for the planned documentary, and soon after got a call from the composer.

“He said, “I’ve got to play this thing for you,’ ” Mendelson recounts. “I said, ‘I hate to hear it over the phone,’ but he insisted. He played [what became] ‘Linus and Lucy.’ It was jazz for adults but still had a childlike quality.

“Right then, I had the weirdest feeling, the strangest thought: that someday, this music is going to have an effect on my life.”


Mendelson and Schulz’s first collaboration was the planned documentary, which featured the cartoonist drawing and discussing “Peanuts.” The strip launched in October 1950 in only a handful of newspapers, but by 1963 had amassed a large national following. The two men shopped their new project to agencies but, to the producer’s surprise, they couldn’t land a buyer.

Stymied, Mendelson took industrial production jobs to pay the bills. He had worked at the Bay Area station KPIX-TV after graduating from Stanford in 1954, and had rapidly become a veteran of documentary filmmaking: His film on the 1915 San Francisco World’s Fair, “The Innocent Fair,” had led to a “San Francisco Pageant” series that won a Peabody Award. Buoyed by that success, Mendelson left the station to hang out the shingle of his own production company.

Yet one thing Mendelson had never attempted was animation.

Early in 1965, however, Coca-Cola came calling. Executive John Allen — whom Mendelson calls “the hero who had kept the flame burning” — remembered the “Peanuts” pitch of two years prior. Now, he had a counter pitch.

“Charlie Brown was getting huge by April 1, 1965, when Time magazine put ‘Peanuts’ on its cover,” Mendelson says. “We got a call from [ad agency] McCann Erickson, which had Coca-Cola as a client. … They weren’t interested in a documentary, but they said: ‘Have you and Mr. Schulz considered doing a Charlie Brown Christmas show?’

“Of course I said, ‘Yes.’ “

Mendelson called Schulz with the pitch: “There was a long pause — it felt like an hour, though it was probably five seconds. Then Sparky said, ‘Okay, come on up.’ ”

(Peanuts Worldwide & United Media) )


Charles Schulz was long viewed as a man plagued by anxiety, self-doubt and fear of rejection. Yet when it came to the production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Mendelson says, Schulz was the epitome of confidence and assured cool.

After the initial call to Mendelson, Coca-Cola and McCann Erickson were going to make their decision in one week’s time. Translation: In an era when Western Union was their fastest form of written communication, Mendelson and Schulz had only a few days to cobble together an outline.

They immediately brought aboard Melendez, who several years earlier worked with Schulz on a Ford account featuring “Peanuts.” Melendez — who had never headed the animation of a full-length cartoon — flew up from Southern California. On the clock, the collaboration moved swiftly.

“Schulz’s first thought was to have this revolve around a Christmas play,” Mendelson says. “He also said we should have some winter scenes, outdoor scenes. We also talked about the music: We would have some Beethoven, some traditional, and Schulz had liked so much of the music Guaraldi had written for the documentary.

“I had read ‘The Pine Tree’ by Hans Christian Andersen and threw out the idea of decorating this ‘ugly duckling’ of a tree,” Mendelson continues. “And Bill suggested that we animate some kind of dance sequence and we wanted to have them skate. All these ideas were flying around with no form, all in about an hour.”

Schulz wrote an outline that day. “And that was pretty much what we did,” Mendelson says. “Ninety percent of the show was out of whole cloth.”

Days later, Coca-Cola bought the project. Now the creative trio’s work really began.


Charles Schulz insisted on one core purpose: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” had to be about something. Namely, the true meaning of Christmas. Otherwise, Schulz said, “Why bother doing it?”

Mendelson and Melendez asked Schulz whether he was sure he wanted to include Biblical text in the special. The cartoonist’s response, Mendelson recalls: “If we don’t do it, who will?”

To Coca-Cola’s credit, Mendelson says, the corporate sponsor never balked at the idea of including New Testament passages. Neither, he says, did the network execs. The result — Linus’s reading from the Book of Luke about the meaning of the season — became “the most magical two minutes in all of TV animation,” the producer says.

In writing about the “Peanuts” special in “Manhood for Amateurs,” Chabon — a self-described Jewish “liberal agnostic empiricist” — shared: “I still know that chapter and verse of the Gospel of Luke by heart, and no amount of subsequent disillusionment with the behavior of self-described Christians, or with the ongoing progressive commercialization that in 1965 had already broken Charlie Brown’s heart, has robbed the central miracle of Christianity of its power to move me the way any truly great story can.”

Mendelson also credits part of the power of the scene to child voice actor Christopher Shea, whose tone of wise innocence, the producer says, fits the moment perfectly. And Peter Robbins — the original voice of Charlie Brown — tells Comic Riffs that he believes Shea’s reading is one of the most magical moments ever in animation.

Several years earlier, young voice actors were cast as “Peanuts” characters for a Ford commercial — this at a time when adult actors were typically cast to voice animated children. “They were 6 or 7 years old when they made the commercial,” Mendelson says of the “Peanuts” actors, “and now they were 10 or 11. But they were still the best voices.” (Melendez, meantime, was drafted to voice the sounds of Snoopy, which were speeded up by 10 times the rate at which they were recorded.)

“We needed an innocent voice for Linus, and a more ‘blah’ voice for Charlie Brown,” Mendelson says. “Once we recorded the kids, I knew we had something strong — especially when the Linus actor read from the Bible.”


With the national network debut just weeks away, Mendelson and Melendez were convinced they were going to become the guys who turned “Peanuts” the national treasure into an animated flop. Says the producer: “We thought we’d ruined Charlie Brown.”

“It was four weeks before we would be delivering ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ to CBS in New York” for broadcast,” Mendelson tells Comic Riffs. “Melendez and I joined a group of about 10 animators into a small room to see the first complete cut of the show.

((ABC / Peanuts Worldwide & United Media) )

“When it was finished, it was very quiet in the run,” he continues. ”Bill and I were concerned that it seemed slow and that perhaps wasn’t going to be received very well. Others in the room were less than enthusiastic.

“However, on animator in the back of the room stood up and said: ’You guys are nuts — this is going to run for years and years.’ “

(Mendelson notes that he noticed that Schulz’s name was misspelled in the closing credits as “Schultz” — “a bad omen that needed to be fixed right away,” he says — and that the closing credits were white over a snowy background, rendering them nearly illegible — “too costly to change; we had already gone way over budget.”)

So much had come together in a matter of months, including the opening theme. Mendelson thought that perhaps the opening ice-skating scene was too slow and that that it might help created a bigger beginning if the scene’s Vince Guaraldi track had lyrics. All the songwriters they turned to were currently busy, though, so in desperation, Mendelson sat at the kitchen table and wrote a poem in 10 minutes, he says.

The result: “Christmas Time Is Here.”

“The words just came to me,” Mendelson says. In short order, a Bay Area children’s choir was hired to sing the enduring tune that has been covered by a range of artists, including Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Barry Manilow and Sarah McLachlan.

At one point, McCann Erickson executive Neil Reagan — brother of the future president — was dispatched to San Francisco to check on the show’s progress. The genial ad exec was not encouraged by what he saw but much to the animation team’s gratitude, Mendelson says, Reagan kept a tight lip on his opinions when he returned to the agency.

Finally, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was screened for CBS executives — who promptly didn’t get it. “They didn’t get the voices. They didn’t get the music. They didn’t get the pacing,” Mendelson recalls. “They said: ‘This is probably going to be the last [“Peanuts” special]. But we’ve got it scheduled for next week, so we’ve got to air it.’ ”

On Dec. 9, 1965, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted. The special garnered glowing reviews. And half the United States tuned in.

“The next morning, I walked into my neighborhood coffee shop,” says Mendelson, referring to Towle’s Cafe in Burlingame, Calif., “and everyone was congratulating me. That’s when I knew we might have something.”

The next year, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” received a Peabody Award, as well as an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s Program. The irony, Mendelson notes, is that Schulz always wrote “Peanuts” with an adult audience in mind — but with enough warmth and distilled emotion and universality that the feature appealed to kids.

The Christmas special also kicked off a creative partnership among Schulz, Mendelson and Melendez that spanned 38 years, dozens of specials and multiple Emmys before Schulz died in 2000.

And still, the meaning of a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” continues to burn bright in America’s homes.

“Bravo for the [51st] year. … “ Mike Peters says. “I know it will be as fresh and funny and touching [51st] years from now.

(“Charlie Brown Christmas” / courtesy of PEANUTS Worldwide)

A Charlie Brown Christmas is available on DVD by clicking HERE

Novena to the Immaculate Conception for the USA

30 November 2016

Novena to the Immaculate Conception

Say once a day for nine days, starting on November 30 and ending on December 8

Fresco of the Immaculate Conception at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Wash. DC

Fresco of the Immaculate Conception at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Wash. DC

Immaculate Virgin! Mary, conceived without sin! Remember, thou wert miraculously preserved from even the shadow of sin, because thou wert destined to become not only the Mother of God, but also the mother, the refuge, and the advocate of man; penetrated therefore, with the most lively confidence in thy never-failing intercession, we most humbly implore thee to look with favor upon the intentions of this novena, and to obtain for us the graces and the favors we request. Thou knowest, O Mary, how often our hearts are the sanctuaries of God, Who abhors iniquity. Obtain for us, then, than angelic purity which was thy favorite virtue, that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, and that purity of intention which will consecrate every thought, word, and action to His greater glory. Obtain also for us a constant spirit of prayer and self-denial, that we many recover by penance that innocence which we have lost by sin, and at length attain safety to that blessed abode of the saints, where nothing defiled can enter.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

V. Thou are all fair, O Mary.
R. Thou art all fair, O Mary.
V. And the original stain is not in thee.
R. And the original stain is not in thee.
V. Thou art the glory of Jerusalem.
R. Thou art the joy of Israel
V. Thou art the honor of our people.
R. Thou art the advocate of sinners.
V. O Mary.
R. O Mary.
V. Virgin, most prudent.
R. Mother, most tender.
V. Pray for us.
R. Intercede for us with Jesus our Lord.
V. In thy conception, Holy Virgin, thou wast immaculate.
R. Pray for us to the Father Whose Son thou didst bring forth.
V. O Lady! aid my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us pray

Holy Mary, Queen of Heaven, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and mistress of the world, who forsakest no one, and despisest no one, look upon me, O Lady! with an eye of pity, and entreat for me of thy beloved Son the forgiveness of all my sins; that, as I now celebrate, with devout affection, thy holy and immaculate conception, so, hereafter I may receive the prize of eternal blessedness, by the grace of Him whom thou, in virginity, didst bring forth, Jesus Christ Our Lord: Who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, in perfect Trinity, God, world without end. Amen.


30 November 2016

Posted by Sofia

The greatest thing about battling chronic illness these past years is that it taught me that shopping is really much better online. The first Christmas I was bedridden I fretted about not being able to get those I loved, Christmas gifts.

3 kings with giftsOf course everyone knew I was worried and tried to console me by saying it didn’t matter. Really? I guess if the Magi got sick and couldn’t make it to the Epiphany that would be okay and it didn’t matter? I don’t believe it.

It isn’t about what you spend but it is about emulating Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar in giving a meaningful gift that symbolized the importance of what they experienced. This is why we give gifts at Christmas. After all it’s a BIRTHDAY, isn’t it?

That first year, long before it became cool to shop online, QVC rescued me along with a few other retailers. The Catholic shopping experience online hadn’t gelled yet or I would have definitely done that. The amazing thing is that I was able to get meaningful gifts and even the wrapping paper etc right down to disposable tape dispensers online. I got great deals and free shipping like crazy.

I thought how out of such a sad experience of having loved ones watching you in your illness was that I could surprise them with a gift wrapped under the tree! The joy that they received that year was not the actual gifts they received but that I could do that (with a creche_under_christmas_tree_religious_christmas_card__14674.1405357332.380.380little help from my nurse) and not make myself worse in the process. For a day they forgot that I was so sick and we shared our Christmas like other families.

I must admit I love going out to a store just once to experience the atmosphere but I only go out to get some cards and a new ornament for the tree and do my shopping to this day all online. I put on a fire, turn on the Christmas music, sit up in bed with the computer and do what I still can’t do because of bad heart days.

In my experience of becoming a pro shopper online (If you haven’t signed up for Ebates yet for cash back, email me at alwayscatholicblog@gmail.com and I will be glad to explain it and send you a link to sign up) I have found I have discovered gems on the Internet I might have missed otherwise.

christine harkThe first of these gems is the new Christmas CD “Hark” from lyric soprano Christine Westhoff. Westhoff, as I have posted before, gave up a very promising career in opera to sing Sacred music for the glory of God. Christine Westhoff offers us a version of “O Holy Night” which I dare anyone to tell me it is not THE BEST. Similarly, the rest of the songs are exactly the balm our soul needs for this Holy Season in this crazy secular world. Now go buy “Hark” and listen to the REAL REASON FOR THE SEASON! Also, try “Ora Pro Nobis” as perhaps a gift for yourself, your priest or for anyone who loves beautiful music.

Here is the link to purchase “Hark” in CD format through Paypal or to contact Christine for other forms of payment:

Christine Westhoff.com

Both are available along with the digital versions here at CD Baby

Christine Westhoff is a new soprano for a new era in music. Hark AND Ora Pro Nobis available in digital format only on:

Amazon and Itunes

Now go do some shopping as I’m going to listen to O Holy Night for the 23rd time!
You won’t be sorry. In fact if the CD sells out you will be sorry you didn’t get more as gifts.



The Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ have a Gift Shop online. It’s called Seignadou Soaps & More Monastery Gift Shoppe of the Dominican Nuns of Summit, New Jersey. Believe me, the soaps and lotions are some of the best I ever used and the “MORE” is so much more and as wonderful as the soaps. I am sharing the email they sent me today so that perhaps you will discover that The Cloister Shop is a terrific place to find the perfect gift.,. the best part? You are helping to support the nuns at this beautiful monastery. Two gifts for the price of one.

So here is the info so you can go over there right now and shop! I ask you to click on their ad on the right side of the page as your purchase there helps to defray our costs of paying the domain fee here at Always Catholic. While you go to the right side to click on their ad, please also go to Battle Beads Rosary and Jewelry site for the best in handcrafted Rosaries, Religious and secular jewelry.Lastly, a direct link for Christine Westhoff’s “Hark” CD is on the sidebar and you can go straight to their sites from clicking on the ad.


Seignadou Soaps & More

Monastery Gift Shoppe of the

Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ

Cloister Shoppe Christmas!

Don’t forget! The Cloister Shoppe closes on December 17th
so that we can more deeply prepare
our hearts and home for the coming of Christ!

In the monastery the sights and sounds of Christmas begin just a day or two before Christmas but it’s not until after we sing Matins and Midnight Mass and place the Infant Jesus in the crib that the lights are turned on and we listen to Christmas music!

We celebrate Christmas for the full 12 days!

But we know that you need to do your Christmas shopping and we hope you will find many special gifts from the Cloister Shoppe!

We know YOU KNOW about our soap…

But did you know about our Candles?….our Pens?…our Catholic books, DVD’s and music CD’s.

and much much more…

This is just a SAMPLE of the beautiful gifts which can be purchased from the nuns. The quality of their handmade items could be sold in the most exclusive shops in NY or LA. the packaging and presentation are as stunning as the items. Truly a pearl online! Now go now and save yourself time, gas, money and know that your gifts will be so appreciated and that the nuns will also be very grateful for your support.



Love, love, love QVC but it is always this time of year to give truly unique Catholic gifts. As we approach tougher times to come, the best gift you can give someone is a unique Rosary, a bracelet that also is a Rosary and many other unique items that are jewelry and items of Faith.

The best I have found (and the Official Rosaries of Always Catholic) is at BattleBeads.com. Mary is someone who has been given the gift of making Rosaries that aren’t just beautiful, they are works of art. In addition, the Rosaries are made strong so they are practical as well.

The jewelry, both Religious and secular is some of the best quality I have seen and believe me SHOPPING is my middle name! Now, for the prices…RIDICULOUS and I mean ridiculously inexpensive. Mary is not looking to make money here. She wants people to pray and to get value for their money. Believe me, VALUE is what you get. The precious stones, the Swarovski crystals at prices NO ONE ELSE CAN BEAT!

Mary isn’t looking to get rich, this is a ministry, not a business. I must tell you that I have purchased jewelry and other interesting items that I have given as Christmas presents. The people I gave BattleBeads items to said it was their FAVORITE CHRISTMAS PRESENT. Hands down! Mary also has secular jewelry items that are stunning! Something for everyone…

So go to Battlebeads.com and do your shopping there, I guarantee you will be satisfied.
Most of all, Santa will be happy you are helping out!!

Happy Shopping!

Here’s a sample of Mary’s work:

Peach Rosary Brass Champagne Pearls Onyx Sacred Heart Rosary
Ruby Crystal Brass Rosary Aqua Swarovski Crystal Rosary Papal Pater Twirls Rosary
Cobalt Brigittine Rosary Onyx Rosary USA Chaplet
Life of Jesus BraceletOnyx Rosary Bracelet Millefiore Rosary BraceletCrystal Rosary Tree (NOT a 'cry tree') ;-) 5 Wounds ChapletMetal Angel Bookmark

Above is a selection of Rosaries, a Rosary Bracelet, a unique bookmark that I have given to many people and they love them! A really unique item and that is the Rosary Tree that stands on a nightstand or office desk.

Below, gorgeous Christmas earrings to wear while you shop online!

I could do pages on Mary’s items but it’s easier to take my word for it and get to BattleBeads.com and shop!!! Items available for Christmas delivery, Mary will advise on shipping costs. (Also very very reasonable.)
Now, go!! Tweet me (@alwayscatholic) and let me know how happy you are with your purchase and I will offer a special Rosary for your intentions on a BattleBeads Rosary.




Buy Catholic for Christmas!

Here are some additional links for monasteries and religious communities who sell outstanding products to support themselves.

Father Z’s Blog – Click on the Amazon Link to do your Amazon gift-shopping to help support FatherZ’s ministry.
Cistercian Nuns in Wisconsin – MONASTERY CRAFTSHOP – Hand & Prayer-Made Rosaries,Chotkis,Cards and Gifts
Sisters of Carmel – religious goods including custom rosaries using the “build a custom rosary” page
Mystic Monk Coffee – coffee, tea, drinkware, and more
Subiaco Abbey – Monk Sauce (Hot Sauce) and other food items, religious products, calligraphy, wood carvings, and more
Brigittine Monks’ Gourmet Confections – fudge and truffles
Gethsemani Farms – fruitcake, fudge, and cheese plus an Abbey Gift Shop with religious items, art, and more
Holy Spirit Monastery Gifts – food items, religious items, and more
Monastery Candy – caramel candies, chocolate-coated caramels, mint candies, chocolate hazelnut candies, truffles, and caramel sauce
Monastery Fruitcake – fruitcake, truffles, and creamed honey
Monastery Greetings – food and drink items, books, CDs, cards, pet items, and more from a variety of abbeys, convents, monasteries, and hermitages; some popular items not found elsewhere:Trappist Preserves, Praylines & Chimay Trappist Ale.
Monks’ Bread – bread, spreads, soups, coffee, sauces, dressings, baked goods, mugs, and more
Texas Nuns (Sisters from Mother Angelica’s Poor Clares) – Nonnavita soap
RedNuns Roberie and Scriptorium – original knitted garments,needlework and graphic arts
Trappists at Assumption Abbey in Missouri – Fruitcakes

Have a Blessed Advent and a Holy Christmas!


31 Meditations for Advent and Christmas : Day Four

30 November 2016

Season of Advent Liturgical Year 01

“The King Who is to come; O come let us adore Him.”


Jesus Christ is our King and Lord, and we are His subjects; nay, we belong to Him as His property and possession, because He has purchased us for a great price. The price He has paid is not gold or earthly treasure. It is nothing less than His own precious blood, of which He shed the last drop upon the Cross as the price of our redemption. Each drop of that blood had a greater value than all things that are in Heaven and on earth: yet our King gave it all, and at the cost of pain and anguish unspeakable, that we poor miserable wretches might be His loyal servants, instead of the slaves of the devil. Hence we belong entirely to Him, absolute, complete submission is our duty and our privilege.

Our King also has dominion over us as members of His mystical Body, the Church which He has founded, and which He has joined to Himself as His mystical Spouse. Inasmuch, then, as we belong to the Church, we claim Him as our Sovereign, and we also share in all the gifts and all the privileges that He has communicated to His holy Spouse. As the Church obeys Him, so ought we to do; as she can never be unfaithful to Him in the very smallest detail, so ought our devotion to enter into every action.

Our King also rules over us by our free choice. We chose Him at our Baptism by the voice of our Sponsors; we chose Him at our Confirmation by our own free will; we choose Him by each prayer we offer, each hymn we utter in His honor, each aspiration we make to Him to guide and help us, each time we cry out to Him, My Lord and My God! Once again, 0 Christ my Lord, I freely choose Thee as the King to rule my heart, my
will, my intellect, my whole self.

Mystery of Advent: The Liturgical Year
by Dom Prosper Gueranger, 1870

We find that this mystery of the Coming, or Advent, of Jesus is at once simple and threefold. It is simple, for it is the one same Son of God that is coming; it is threefold, because he comes at three different times and in three different ways. “In the first Coming,” says St. Bernard, “He comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty; and the second Coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third (Fifth Sermon for Advent).”

This, then, is the mystery of Advent. Let us now listen to the explanation of this threefold visit of Christ, given to us by Peter of Blois, in his third Sermon de Adventu: “There are three Comings of our Lord; the first in the flesh, the second in the soul, the third at the judgment. The first was at midnight, according to those words of the Gospel: At midnight there was a cry made, Lo the Bridegroom cometh! But this first Coming is long since past, for Christ has been seen on the earth and has conversed among men. We are now in the second Coming, provided only we are such as that He may thus come to us; for He has said that if we love Him, He will come unto us and will take up His abode with us. So that this second Coming is full of uncertainty to us; for who, save the Spirit of God, knows them that are of God? They that are raised out of themselves by the desire of heavenly things, know indeed when He comes; but whence He cometh, or whither He goeth, they know not. As for the third Coming, it is most certain that it will be, most uncertain when it will be; for nothing is more sure than death, and nothing less sure than the hour of death. When they shall say, peace and security, says the Apostle, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape. So that the first Coming was humble and hidden, the second is mysterious and full of love, the third will be majestic and terrible. In His first Coming, Christ was judged by men unjustly; in His second, He renders us just by His grace; in His third, He will judge all things with justice. In His first, a Lamb; in his last, a Lion; in the one between the two, the tenderest of Friends (De Adventu, Sermo III).”

The holy Church, therefore, during Advent, awaits in tears and with ardour the arrival of her Jesus in His first Coming. For this, she borrows the fervid expressions of the Prophets, to which she joins her own supplications. These longings for the Messias expressed by the Church, are not a mere commemoration of the desires of the ancient Jewish people; they have a reality and efficacy of their own,–an influence in the great act of God’s munificence, whereby he gave us His own Son. From all eternity, the prayers of the ancient Jewish people and the prayers of the Christian Church ascended together to the prescient hearing of God; and it was after receiving and granting them, that He sent, in the appointed time, that blessed dew upon the earth, which made it bud forth the Savior.

The Church aspires also to the second Coming, the consequence of the first, which consists, as we have just seen, in the visit of the Bridegroom to the Spouse. This Coming takes place, each year, at the feast of Christmas, when the new birth of the Son of God delivers the faithful from that yoke of bondage, under which the enemy would oppress them (Collect for Christmas Day). The Church, therefore, during Advent, prays that she may be visited by Him who is her Head and her Spouse; visited in her hierarchy; visited in her members, of whom some are living, and some are dead, but may come to life again; visited, lastly, in those who are not in communion with her, and even in the very infidels, that so they may be converted to the true light, which shines even for them. The expressions of the Liturgy which the Church makes use of to ask for this loving and invisible Coming, are those which she employs when begging for the coming of Jesus in the flesh; for the two visits are for the same object. In vain would the Son of God have come, eighteen hundred years ago, to visit and save mankind, unless he came again for each one of us and at every moment of our lives, bringing to us and cherishing within us that supernatural life, of which He and his Holy Spirit are the sole principle.

But this annual visit of the Spouse does not content the Church; she aspires after a third Coming, which will complete all things by opening the gates of eternity. She has caught up the last words of her Spouse, Surely, I am coming quickly (Apoc. xxii. 20); and she cries out to him, Ah! Lord Jesus! come (Ibid)! She is impatient to be loosed from her present temporal state; she longs for the number of the elect to be filled up, and to see appear, in the clouds of heaven, the sign of her Deliverer and her Spouse. Her desires, expressed by her Advent Liturgy, go even as far as this: and here we have the explanation of those words of the beloved Disciple in his prophecy: The nuptials of the Lamb are come, and his Spouse hath prepared herself!

But the day of this His last Coming to her, will be a day of terror. The Church frequently trembles at the very thought of that awful judgment, in which all mankind is to be tried. She calls it “a day of wrath,” on which, as David and the Sibyl have foretold, the “world will be reduced to ashes; a day of weeping and fear.” Not that she fears for herself, since she knows that this day will for ever secure to her the crown, as being the Spouse of Jesus; but her maternal heart is troubled at the thought that, on the same day, so many of her children will be on the left hand of the Judge, and, having no share with the elect, will be bound hand and foot, and cast into the darkness,where there shall be everlasting weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is the reason why the Church, in the Liturgy of Advent, so frequently speaks of the Coming of Christ as a terrible Coming, and selects from the Scriptures those passages, which are most calculated to awaken a salutary fear in the mind of such of her children as may be sleeping the sleep of sin.

This, then, is the threefold mystery of Advent. The liturgical forms in which it is embodied, are of two kinds: the one consists of prayers, passages from the Bible, and similar formulae, in all of which, words themselves are employed to convey the sentiments which we have been explaining; the other consists of external rites peculiar to this holy time, which, by speaking to the outward senses, complete the expressiveness of the chants and words.

Source: CatholicHarborofFaithandMorals.com

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