Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59; Matthew 10:17-22
I suspect that at Christmas time many people slip away from the rejoicing crowd to cry by themselves, recalling in the height of joyfulness some deep sorrows. I confess that each year I do this at least once sometime during the day. For some, yesterday (Christmas), that day of great rejoicing, can be the darkest day of the year.
In the next few days we as Church slip out of the rejoicing to weep individually and collectively for our martyrs, those innocents who have died for the faith. True, we rejoice with the heavenly martyrs for their triumph over death and evil and yet at the same time we weep at their loss, the tragedy of violence, and the pain of separation.
Is 52:7-10; Hebr 1:1-6; Jn 1:1-18
* I believe in Jesus Christ and in the beauty of the gospel begun in Bethlehem.
* I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town; and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the world, in towns both large and small.
* I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no room, and I confess that my heart still often excludes Christ from my life today.
Christmas Eve. What a glorious, wonderful time. Anticipating the birth of Jesus. Right now it is so quiet and peaceful. But I know that just outside it is cold and dark. Sometimes it seems the world is spiraling out of control. You don’t have to look far to find greed, chaos, cynicism, violence and evil in the world. Fearful and uncertain, we ask, where is the hope? In fact, after reading the headlines you would think the order of the day should be despair rather than hope. Yet here we sit waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ. In the midst of the hopelessness of this world we have hope. Why is that? Are we a bunch of naïve Pollyannas? Are we delusional? Our hope is not baseless. Our hope is not some vague, wishful thinking. It is a solid rock. It is grounded in God’s character. Grounded in the fact that God loves us. How do we know?
- From 25.11 to 4.12 the second year Novice Sisters from the International Novitiate had their spiritual retreat in preparation for the ceremony of their First Profession. The sisters were accompanied by Father Emmanuel Msuli SAC and Sr. Małgorzata Lech SAC.
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
expectratio gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos,
Domines, Deus noster.
O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations, Savior of all people:
Come and set us free, Lord our God.
Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24; Luke 1:57-66
The Fire and the Light
Malachi means “my messenger.” Writing under cover of the generic, Malachi delivers the blunt message that renders prophets as suspect in their communities: now is the time to face our deeds and repent, to make right our relationship to God and return to our senses. The one who comes next will bring fire. The fire will consume our excuses and reduce mediocrity to ash. Be ready for the fire next time.
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.
O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of man:
Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.
Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24
Like a planet in conjunction Isaiah looms very large in the Advent Liturgy. Many of his expressions could almost be from the New Testament. John the Baptist comes even closer. But in Mary the contact is made; the Presence has become a reality.
“She will bear a son” (Matthew 1:21), or “You will bear a son” (Luke 1:31). Matthew’s gospel tells the story from Joseph’s point of view, Luke’s tells it from Mary’s. But the story is the same: the Child will soon be born of her.
O Oriens: O Antiphon for 21st December
O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.
O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.
O Clavis David or O Key of David
O Key of David, (Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7)
and Scepter of the house of Israel (Numbers 24:17): You open and no man closes; you close and no man opens (Isaiah 22:22). * Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death (Ps 107:10).
Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 1:26-38
"The virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel [because "God is with us"].
The Church has always seen Isaiah's prophecy fulfilled in the conception of Jesus in Mary's womb through the power of the Holy Spirit. We humans will never fathom the depth of the Divine Love precipitating God's entrance into history in the womb of an insignificant Jewish virgin in an insignificant little country.
And Immanuel, "God with us," did not merely live on our planet two thousand years ago; He has remained with us ever since. In baptism Immanuel is born again in us through water and the Holy Spirit. We humans will never fathom the depth of Divine Love moving the eternal God to dwell even in our insignificant little hearts.
On Sunday morning, December 8th at 9.00 a.m. in the Tanzanian parish of St. Noe, Poli Singisi / Arusha, a solemn Mass in honor of the Immaculate Conception began, during which ten Novice Sisters made their First Profession. The newly professed Sisters are from the first group of Novices who have completed a full two-year program of their formation in the International Novitiate, which was inaugurated on September 8th 2017. The Sisters come from Tanzania, Rwanda and DR Congo. The ceremony today was an historic event for the Congregation of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters.
O Radix Jesse or O Root of Jesse
O Root of Jesse, (Isaiah 11:1)
You stand for the ensign of mankind (Isaiah 11:10); before You kings shall keep silence and to You all nations shall have recourse (Isaiah 52:15). * Come, save us, and do not delay (Habakkuk 2:3).
The Gift of Silence
Judges 13:2-7, 24-25; Luke 1:5-25
" . . . when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary." Luke 1:22
The sounds of the season can be beautiful, mesmerizing.
They also can be distractions as we await the coming of our Lord.
Two narratives today anticipate wondrous births: Babies whose comings are proclaimed by an angel of God.