As a vital and happy follow-up message from Christmas, today's Mass establishes our dignity as "sons" and "heirs" of God, Whom we can call "Father" because of "His Son, made of a woman," Mary (Epistle).
Jesus actually "leapt down from heaven. . .with beauty...with strength" (Introit) to "direct our actions" in His Name (Prayer). Hence, the Gradual offers our "good word" of gratitude. The Gospel prophecy that Jesus is "a sign which will be contradicted" indicates what we also may expect as "Sons of God" yet it strengthens our hope, that if we but live with Mary at "Nazareth,"
Then the last words of the Gospel concerning Jesus may also be applied to us, "the Child grew and waxed strong, full of wisdom." The Offertory, Secret, and Post-communion speak of final victory because "they are dead who sought the life of the Child" (Communion).
Looking to next month, January is devoted to the Holy Infancy of Our Lord. Thus, we ought to think of ways to please the beautiful Infant Who, even as a Child, wished to suffer and give an example of humility for our edification
We've had at least ten minutes of traditional stability, calm waters, no threat looming and then today the news that a Motu Proprio that has already received the signature of the Holy Father will scrap the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED).
The PCED was established by Pope John Paul II's Motu Proprio 'Ecclesia Dei' in 1988.
The primary purpose of the PCED was to bring solace and care to those clergy who broke from the Society of St Pius X after the consecration of four priests as bishops by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre on the 30th June 1988.
St John Paul II deemed this as an illicit and schismatic act and many SSPX clergy left as a result. Indeed, some of the clergy returning to Rome went on to found the Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP).
As a well as being concerned with the ongoing negotiation with the SSPX to regularise them canonically, the PCED has become the regulator in matters pertaining to the delivery and administration of the Extraordinary Form after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave them additional responsibilities following his Moto Proprio 'Summorum Pontifcum' on the 7 July 2007. On 8 July 2009 he made the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) the ex officio head of the Commission.
So if the rumour is true, it should not be a complete shock - effectively the PCED role will be absorbed into the CDF - one could say that the tradition is moving more mainstream by this move. The raison d'être for the establishing it in the first place has to some extent been satisfied. However, one cannot help but think that there is an ulterior motive for the move.
The news was broken by Vaticanist Marco Tosatti and a Google translate of the Italian into English is shown below:
The Motu Proprio which sets the end of Ecclesia Dei as an independent Commission, and its integration as an Office in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is ready, signed by the Pontiff, and should have been published last Thursday. We ignore the reasons why the document has not yet been published.
It is a rather short legal text, in which it is said that since the pastoral emergency linked to the celebration of the Vetus Ordo, and which led to the creation of the Ecclesia Dei Commission thirty years ago, has come to an end, and as a result even the Commission in its current form no longer has any reason to exist.
We recall that the Motu Proprio of John Paul II, dated 2 July 1988, was born in reaction to the consecration of four bishops by Msgr. Marcel Lefebvre. Some of his powers and functions were modified by Benedict XVI in 2009. The document of John Paul II gave the Commission the right to "grant to anyone who asks for it the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition in force in 1962, and this according to the rules already proposed by the commission of cardinals "established for this purpose" in December 1986 after having informed the diocesan bishop ".
The Commission was the point of arrival of those who appealed to it to obtain a revision of the denials opposed by the bishops at the celebration of the Mass according to the Vetus Ordo.
Moreover, following the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI (2007), the commission supervises the application of the Motu Proprio, studies the possible updates of which liturgical texts of 1962 come to need: for example the presence of new saints in the calendar. Moreover, the Commission was the last instance for the faithful who asked for the celebration of Mass according to the extraordinary form, and they did not have a positive answer either from their parish priest or from their bishop.
It is now necessary to see how many, and which of these powers, can continue to be carried out by what will be the new "Office" Ecclesia Dei within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and whose last referent, evidently, will no longer be the responsible secretary, as before, but the prefect at the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The initial statement, according to which the pastoral emergency would have ended, gives rise to some doubts rather than legitimate. At the moment during the Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, voices of bishops and specialists are raised to deny legal validity to the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum" of Benedict XVI, and at the moment when there are bishops who are hindering directly or subtly the celebration of Mass according to the Vetus Ordo, to say that there is no pastoral emergency appears perhaps a bit risky.
Low Mass for the 4th Sunday of Advent takes place at St Winefride's, Well Street, Holywell on Sunday 23rd December 2018 at 11.30am
Once again our thoughts return to St. John the Baptist and his preaching of penance. He preached emphatically that all must practice penance and he baptized the people to symbolize the washing away of their sins by the true penance that they were entering upon.
St. John, himself practiced most severe penance. He lived in the desert and clothed himself with a garment made of camel's hair girded with a leather belt. He survived eating locusts and honey. So his preaching was not hypocritical as he practiced even more severely the penances that the called the people to practice.
We have likewise this voice preaching penance in our own conscience. Our conscience is often as an annoying child who constantly clamours until he obtains his will. Our conscience cannot be silenced by ignoring it. It is best for us to befriend our conscience as early as we can, and thus avoid a long period of painful stings from our conscience and the all imposing heaviness of sin that follows every sinner making him unhappy and discontent with everything.
Our holy mother the Church likewise preaches penance to us. She sends us preachers who announce to us the necessity of penance and transforming our lives.
She likewise sends us seasons and feasts to preach to us over and over again the need of penance. We have principally the seasons of Advent and Lent to remind us of the need to do penance. The feasts of Our Lord, the Blessed Mother and the saints all call out to us, of the necessity of purifying ourselves so that we can one day enjoy their company for all of eternity. For nothing stained can enter the kingdom of Heaven.
God likewise preaches to us directly through the various events of our lives. There are dangerous sicknesses, environmental disasters, political upheavals, economic difficulties, etc. All things on this earth come forth from the hand of God including these heavy crosses. As we are forced to bear these crosses we are being trained in the ways of penance.
Yet, with all these preachers of penance constantly admonishing us to penance there seem to be fewer and fewer true penitents.
Many delude themselves into thinking that they do not need to do penance. They imagine that because they have not robbed, murdered, or committed adultery, etc. that they have no need for penance. They have never taken the time to carefully examine their conscience and truly compare their lives to the model that Christ has given us in Himself and in His words. Many forget to examine their sins of thoughts or omissions. Our examinations of conscience are most often limited to words and actions, but this is only the beginning. There are probably many times more sins committed in thoughts than we ever imagine. God accepts the desire for the deed. And how often do we fail to do that which we should do?
There are many who think that they will have time later to do penance and that they can live on in their sin until that time. Young people often think that they can continue to live in sin and then when they are married they will then begin to live virtuously.
No one of us knows how much time we will have left on this world. Many are the sinners that are taken from this world in the very acts of sin by which they seal their eternal damnation.
And those who desire to live in their sins until later continue to heap sin upon sin. And as they continue in this way they develop a habit that becomes harder and harder to break. As a man lives so it is that he will likely die. If we live in sin we are likely to die in sin.
The time of penance is now. We can become a friend of God at this very moment if we so choose. He is always receptive to our true penances. The only thing that holds us back is ourselves. We will ultimately one day meet our Saviour face to face and we will either be welcomed with open arms by Him or we will be rejected by Him and cast into the infernal furnace of Hell. The choice is ours; we can either find a forgiving, loving Father or an exacting Judge.
All who at the coming of our Lord are not purified by true repentance and reconciled with God must hear those terrible words: "I know you not". Therefore do penance speedily, and save your immortal souls.
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.
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.