Third Sunday of Advent
Joy is the theme of this Sunday's Holy Mass. Despite our self-praised progress, real joy is missing from modern life. Why? Because true religion is ignored. "There hath stood one in the midst of you whom you know not." (Gospel). Only He can "bring light to the darkness of our minds," (Prayer). Only He can bless, deliver and forgive (Offertory). Only He can "say to the fainthearted, "take courage" (Communion). Hence, the repeated plea to God "to come" (Gradual). "The Lord is nigh," but at the same time the Epistle warns us against presumption. During the days before Christmas "be nothing solicitous" about selecting or receiving mere tinsel gifts, but pr epar e "by prayer with thanksgiving" and "keep your minds in Christ," the True Cause of our joy. Today is Feast of St. Eusebius E. M., of IV Century Sardinia, who fought the heresy of Arianism with St. Hilary, Pope Liberius and St. Damasus, was exiled and had harsh treatment resulting in his death in 371, who is regarded as a Martyr due to his ill treatment. Not commemorated under the rubrics of the Missal of Pope St John XXIII, we should pray to the Saint for strength to be strong Catholics.
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are traditional days of fast and abstinence for Catholics. Traditionally, those 7 years and older need observe only abstinence on Friday. Those 21 to 65 take only one full meal and two collations, together adding up to a bit less than a full meal. On Wednesday and Saturday meat with the main meal only. On Friday no meat. The fasting and abstinence are in preparation for Christ’s coming on Christmas Day and to pray for any new priests being ordained on the Ember Saturday. The Ember Days are full of the message of making a sacrifice through fasting and deprivation of the senses to strengthen and improve oneself. The message ought to be that unless one makes some sacrifice, making himself pleasing to God, he may not make it to Heaven and the Beatific Vision. Fasting and abstinence on a few days of the year to improve one’s spirituality is pleasing to Our Lord, and we ought not to wear a baleful face to show everybody how much suffering is being endured as the “hypocrites” about who Christ, made adverse comment. Do it because you love Jesus Our Saviour, Who died on the Cross to open the Gates of Heaven for us poor sinners and to redeem us.
These refer to the Magnificat antiphons at Vespers each evening from the 17th December to the 23rd December. They are referred to as the "O Antiphons" because the title of each one begins with the vocative particle "O".
17 December: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
18 December: O Adonai (O Lord)
19 December: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
23 December: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)
Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite will be celebrated at St Francis of Assisi Church, Llay at 1230pm tomorrow (Sunday 9th December 2018).
The liturgy on this second Sunday of Advent unfolds the interior and social aspects of Christ’s coming.
The Introit, for instance, refers to Sion, holy mount of Jerusalem, so often mentioned as the symbol of the interior life of the faithful soul; it speaks also of the soul as a docile sheep led by God.
It publishes His coming “to save the nations.” After calling upon God to “stir up our (interior) hearts” in the Prayer, so as to “prepare,” notice how the Epistle stresses social charity, “to receive one another as Christ also hath received you.”
Again, the Gospel enumerates some of the interior and social “works of Christ,” which together with His miracles, testify that He is the long-expected Divine Saviour of the world. The blind of soul now see; the lame of will now walk; the lepers of sin are absolved; the poor become rich with a new Gospel.
The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" or PCED has recently responded to a set of 29 questions from a Polish priest on various aspects of the traditional Latin Mass.
Some of the points are already well known, some not so. To make sense of the PCED response, please read the letter from the priest alongside or before you read the reponse from the PCED.
Of particular note are responses on Saturday Evening Vigil Masses and I'm pleased that Rome has issued further clarity on the use correct appointment credentials for the subdeacon at High Mass.
A new year is upon us, and again we are called upon to consider our last end. The world must be in fear and trembling because it is the world. We are called upon to not love this world, but to long for Heaven. The description of the destruction of this world causes all those who love this world to fear and tremble. The lovers of God long for the dissolution of this world and the union with God in eternity.
The world is at enmity with God and God with the world. We are called upon to love God and turn our backs upon the world and all that is of the world. We are to be in the world but not of the world. So as the world fears and trembles at its dissolution, the friends of God are to lift up their eyes knowing that the time of salvation is at hand.
St. Gregory says: “Let them grieve over the ruin of the world who have planted the roots of their hearts deep in the love of it, who neither look for the life to come nor are even aware that it is. But we who have learned of the joys of our heavenly home must hasten to it as speedily as we may. We should desire to go there with all haste and to arrive by the shortest way. And with what miseries does not the world urge us forward? What sorrow, what misfortune is there, that does not press upon us? What is this mortal life, but a way? And what folly would it be, let you carefully consider, to be weary with the fatigue of the way, and yet not eager to finish the journey!”
The season of Advent is one of penance and mortification. In the spirit of penance and mortification, we naturally spurn the pleasures of the world. The more proficient we become in this the less appealing are worldly pleasures.
We are given many rights by God and most of them enjoin some worldly pleasure. It is in voluntarily renouncing our own rights and pleasures that we are able to draw closer to God. Jesus, as God, has a right to the best that the world has to offer, yet He spurned it all and took up a life of poverty, and humility. He is inviting us in a similar manner to spurn so many things of this world.
The things of this world are not bad. All that God has made is good. We do not spurn the world and its pleasures because they are evil in themselves. It is the use that men make of these things that is evil. When we seek the pleasures of this life in preference to, or in place of the pleasures of God and eternity we sin. God demands that we love Him with a love of preference. The good things of this earth very often supersede our love for God and in this manner we fall into idolatry. We seek things rather than God.
To aid us in overcoming this fault, we are led by our Holy Mother the Church, to enter into the season of Advent and willingly spurn these passing pleasures for a time. In doing this, we imitate Jesus in His poverty and humility, and we discipline ourselves so that we are not overcome and carried away by the pleasures of this world.
Many mortify themselves during Advent because they are being forced to do this by the laws of the Church. This is good, but not the best approach that we can take in preparing for Christmas. Jesus is asking us to willingly do this for the love of Him.
Let us distance ourselves from the world and some of its pleasantries for this time. And remind ourselves that they are all passing away. This world and all its pleasures are only for a time. Either we will leave them or they will leave us. On that day of separation, we need to have assembled some spiritual pleasures for us to enjoy in eternity. If we have only clung to this world and the things of this world, we will be greatly afflicted for all of eternity.
If we have not allowed ourselves to become attached to this world and its pleasures, we will find it easier to let go of them and reach out for better joys and greater pleasures. The first step is in following St. Paul’s admonition to use the things of this world as if we used them not. We do this by denying ourselves the use of them from time to time. Let us make the most of this season of Advent by doing just that. May we begin now to lift up our hearts and eyes to Heaven; in penance letting go of this earth; and longing for the coming of Jesus.
Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the final Sunday after Pentecost will be celebrated at St Winefride's. Well Street. Holywell on Sunday 25th November at 11:30am
As we contemplate the end of the ecclesiastical year, Our Holy Mother Church draws our attention to the end of the world.
Prior to this end there are many terrible things that have been foretold. Many have formed a kind of obsession with the end times and focus all their attention to the great evils that will take place at that time. There is no doubt that it will be a terrible time for the majority of souls because most will be damned. Those who do not love God completely have much to fear. They will be led astray by false prophets and deceived by the anti-Christ. We are informed that almost all men will in that day bow down and worship the anti-Christ as God. This anti-Christ will perform all manner of lying wonders. He will imitate all the miracles that Jesus performed while He was here on earth, except for the restoring of life to the dead.
He (the anti-Christ) will appear to command the weather and storms; he will appear to restore sight to the blind, make the lame walk, etc. Mankind will bow down before him and accept him as God. The believers of the True God will be marginalized or martyred, but for their sake (the elect) the days will be shortened.
Enoch and Elias will return and they will challenge him to raise the dead. We are told that they will be beheaded by the anti-Christ and then Christ will return in all His glory. The entire world that had followed the anti-Christ will now become consumed with fear. They will call out for the mountains and the hills to cover them, but there will be no place to hide. All the dead will rise from their graves.
The damned will rise with all their sins now visible in their bodies. They will be the ugliest and vilest things that man has ever seen. By their very appearance everyone will know that they are among the damned. The Final Judgment will not take but a moment as all will see the sins of men and goodness and justice of God. The foulness of the lives of the damned will be physically seen. They will repulse everyone even themselves. Yet, there will be no escaping from themselves, there will be no alcohol or drugs to numb the senses. These damned men will forever have to live with themselves in this miserable state as well as live with all those like themselves and the devils. They were created to love and be with God and they will know and feel this desire and emptiness in their souls very intensely and for all of eternity. They will forever desire to be with God but will forever hate Him and be repulsed by Him. This unspeakable torment will be much worse than the fires of Hell which we are told is thousands of times more intense than the hottest fires here on earth.
Nothing will be hidden after the General Resurrection. The sins of the damned will be visible and if we could only see them now we would most probably faint away in fear and trembling. The virtues of the faithful, however will be equally visible to all of creation.
The servants of God have sinned and sometimes grievously sinned, but they have repented and have done penance. The scars of their sins will be visible as the wounds of Christ were still visible in His resurrected Body. They will not be signs of their failures but, rather signs of their victories over these falls. The devils and the damned will be eager to point out the failures of the blessed. The angels and saints will also be ready to show that these are not scars for damnation, but badges of honor because they were repented of and amended. The wounds of sin had been shown to the Divine physician and the healing remedies were applied. While the scar remains, it remains now only as a victory of God, and His humble servants, over sin.
As we contemplate the end of the year and the end of the world, may we tremble with fear lest we become complacent and end up among the damned that will tremble when it is too late. May we no longer remain idle, but set about healing our putrid wounds of sin by a true and sincere repentance. In this manner, we can with virtuous humble faith, lift up our eyes to Heaven and longingly sigh along with St. John: 'Come Lord Jesus, Come'.
This Sunday, we consider how very large things begin as something small and seemingly insignificant. The mustard seed and the bit of leaven are both small and for this reason humble, but within they contain very great potential. Showing us once again how God exalts the humble and humbles the proud.
The Church here on earth is in this humble state, for Christ says: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like . . .” We are in a seed stage here on earth, the full potential, growth, and development will only truly be seen from eternity in Heaven. We see that the seed must die to itself and be buried in order to develop and grow into the great plant that it is destined to be. And the bit of leaven must be buried or hidden in the mass of flour. Hidden deep within the flour the leaven slowly begins to influence and change the flour around it until it is all transformed into leaven like itself. This is the same manner that the Church here on earth is to transform this earth. She finds Herself buried in this earth surrounded by all kinds of evil or sinful men. It is Her mission in all truth and faith to spread the Gospel and the humility of Christ crucified transforming the evil into good the proud to humility. Her mission is to join individual men into one body: the Body of Christ just as the leaven joins the flour into one dough.
As we consider today’s parable we are given a greater insight into last week’s parable. There we saw that the wheat and the cockle were permitted to grow together side by side; here we see that the purpose is so that the sinner may be turned or converted in all humility and receive life as a member in the one Mystical Body of Christ. The Church for a time appears small and insignificant but in eternity we will see something completely different. Compared with the mega-churches of the heretics the Church looks insignificant, but in this humble state She is promised great things in eternity. In this humble state She draws to Herself and Christ all who will be converted and live. The rest no matter how big they are will all wither up and die.
We see in the lives of the saints, especially those saints that seem most humble and hidden from the world, that good men are attracted to them and in seeing and hearing them are gradually transformed by them. If we consider the meekness of St. Francis who in espousing the lowly virtues of poverty, chastity, and obedience, strove to die to himself; found that to the contrary he began to live (live in Christ). His followers soon filled the earth – each striving to follow and imitate this simple and humble little man. This one soul has since been multiplied many times over. Many souls have entered the Franciscan orders to develop the virtues of St. Francis within themselves.
We do not wish nor does St. Francis desire that we should make a false god of him. This is a most repulsive idea to every truly humble soul. St. Francis sought only to follow Christ and he did so very well. He even bore the very wounds of Christ in his body. So in imitating or following St. Francis, we are likewise imitating and following Jesus Christ.
Christ is like the tiny mustard seed or as a bit of leaven hidden in flour – humiliated and dying upon the cross only to develop and draw men to Himself. From this death and hidden state He is lifted up and elevated on High. All those who believe and are baptized fill up what was lacking in Christ (Col 1,24) transforming their evil former dead selves into living members of Christ, in a sense, growing the Body of Christ. Each of us accomplishes this as we draw nearer to Christ and allow Him to transform us. We must take up our crosses daily, humbly dying to ourselves as we follow Christ to Calvary. It is in this dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life. (Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi)
We cannot just look to Christ as the Protestants do thinking that Jesus has done everything and so there is nothing left for us to do but, believe. To glory in the name of Christian without becoming Christ-like is a vain and empty illusion. We also find many “religious” that glory in the name of their founders, but who have none of the founder’s spirit living within them. Neither do they follow the religious order’s spirit, or Christ. As such they do not have life in them even if they should appear to be much greater or more numerous than the true religious or the true Catholics.
Here on earth it is not numbers or quantity that God is interested in. It is quality. One soul in all humility imitating and following Christ in His suffering and death is worth more than the whole world living in the sins of pride and vanity. From one such soul we see that God can do great things as He did with St. Francis of Assisi. Both, His Church here on earth, and the individual people who form this Mystical Body are like the humble mustard seed or the bit of leaven. All who will join in this and receive life must likewise enter by the same path of humble virtue, dying to themselves. All other ways are deceptive illusions of devils. We cannot save this life if we want eternal life. (Luke 9, 24) We cannot enter the Church or a religious life and not also take up the spirit of the Church or the order. To try and do both is foolishness. “You cannot serve two masters. . .” (Matt. 6, 24)
If we will allow Christ to live within us by dying to ourselves, we shall become like Him and draw others with ourselves to Him; just as St. Francis and all the other saints have done.
Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco: Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui facis mirabilia magna solus: praetende super famulos tuos, et super congregationes illis commissas, spiritum gratiae salutaris; et, ut in veritate tibi complaceant, perpetuum eis rorem tuae benedictionis infunde.
Kevin Jones is the local representative for the Latin Mass Society in Wrexham Diocese. Any views expressed neither represent those of the Latin Mass Society or the Diocese of Wrexham.