‘Mary amazes us; her heart is limpid, totally open to God’s light. Her soul is without sin, it is not weighed down by pride or selfishness. Elizabeth’s words enkindle in her spirit a canticle of praise, which is an authentic and profound “theological” reading of history: a reading that we must continually learn from the one whose faith is without shadow and without wrinkle.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord”. Mary recognises God’s greatness. This is the first indispensable sentiment of faith. It is the sentiment that gives security to human creatures and frees from fear, even in the midst of the tempest of history.
Going beyond the surface, Mary “sees” the work of God in history with the eyes of faith. This is why she is blessed, because she believed. By faith, in fact, she accepted the Word of the Lord and conceived the Incarnate Word. Her faith has shown her that the thrones of the powerful of this world are temporary, while God's throne is the only rock that does not change or fall.
Her Magnificat, at the distance of centuries and millennia, remains the truest and most profound interpretation of history, while the interpretations of so many of this world's wise have been belied by events in the course of the centuries.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us return home with the Magnificat in our heart. Let us bring the same sentiments of praise and thanksgiving of Mary to the Lord, her faith and her hope, her docile abandonment in the hands of Divine Providence.
May we imitate her example of readiness and generosity in the service of our brethren. Indeed, only by accepting God’s love and making of our existence a selfless and generous service to our neighbour, can we joyfully lift a song of praise to the Lord.
May the Blessed Mother, who invites us this evening to find refuge in her Immaculate Heart, obtain this grace for us’.
Pope Benedict XVI
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary didst prepare an habitation meet for the Holy Spirit: mercifully grant that we, celebrating with devout mind the festival of the same Immaculate Heart, may be enabled to live after thine own Heart; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘My God, my Saviour, I adore thy Sacred Heart, for that heart is the Seat and Source of all thy tenderest human affections for us sinners. It is the instrument and organ of thy love. It did beat for us. It yearned over us. It ached for us, and for our salvation. It was on fire through zeal, that the glory of God might be manifested in and by us. It is the channel through which has come to us all thy overflowing human affection, all thy Divine Charity towards us. All thy incomprehensible compassion for us, as God and Man, as our Creator and Redeemer and Judge, has come to us, and comes, in one inseparably mingled stream, through that Sacred Heart. O most Sacred symbol and Sacrament of Love, divine and human, in its fulness, thou didst save me by thy divine strength, and thy human affection, and then at length by that wonder-working blood, wherewith thou didst overflow’.
St John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
‘[T]he Father of Mercies had so amplified and enlarged the bowels of his mercy that, although restrained by the bounds of the three-fold poverty – that is to say the pressing obligations of his debts, the confiscation of the property of his diocese, and above all the pressures of dearth and famine – he could never restrain the natural kindness of his heart which was filled with the generosity of true charity. For instance, Sir Richard de Bagendon, a prudent man who belonged to a military order and who was the saint’s brother according to the flesh, was in trusted with the care of the bishop’s estates. On one occasion he remarked that the Bishop had scarcely enough to provide for his own and therefore should not give so lavishly to such great numbers of the poor; the bishop, however, overflowed in the bowels of his goodness and replied, “My dear brother Richard is it just or right in the sight of God that we should eat and drink from the vessels of gold and silver while Christ in his poor is crucified with hunger and the poor are faint and dying from lack of nourishment?” And he added, “I know very well how to eat and drink from a wooden bowl or platter, just as my father did. Therefore, let these gold and silver vessels be taken and sold and with the money feed the limbs of Christ who redeemed us and ours not with corruptible gold and silver but with his own precious blood. My horse, too, is a fine and valuable animal. Let him be sold as well and let the money he fetches be used to feed Christ’s poor”’.
from the Life of St Richard, Bishop of Chichester by Ralph Bocking
Most merciful Redeemer, who gavest to thy Bishop Richard a love of learning, a zeal for souls, and a devotion to the poor: grant that, encouraged by his example, and aided by his prayers, we may know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day; who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘“Preach Christ as born, and set forth his death; so that both the heart may believe by imitating the one who is slain, and the mouth may receive the sacrament of his Passion for its cleansing”.
Today, this is what the universal Church does; [Jesus] established for her today on mount Sion a feast of fat things full of marrow, a two-fold richness, both inward and outward: he gave them his true body, inwardly and outwardly fattened with all spiritual strength and charity, and he bade them give it to those who believed in him. Whence, “It is firmly to be believed, and confessed with the mouth, that the very body which the Virgin bore, which hung on the Cross and lay in the tomb, which rose the third day and ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven: this body the Church truly makes daily, and gives to her faithful”. At the words: This is my body, bread is transubstantiated into the body of Christ, which confers an unction of double richness on whoever receives it worthily. It lessens temptation and stirs up devotion. And so it is called “a land flowing with honey and milk”, which makes sweet what is bitter and nourishes devotion. Unhappy he, who comes in to this banquet without the wedding garment of charity or penitence, because he who eats unworthily, eats damnation to himself. What fellowship has light with darkness?’
from a sermon on The Lord’s Supper by St Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231
Grant, O Lord, that the solemn festival of thy holy Confessor Saint Anthony may bring gladness to thy Church: that being defended by thy succour in all things spiritual, we may be found worthy to attain to everlasting felicity; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the most effective means of living always in the company of Our Lord Jesus whom we receive in Holy Communion. It consists of an ardent love for Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist with grief at seeing him so little honoured, and it includes acts of reparation for the contempt and offences committed against him. Our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an extended act of love for him who shows us the greatest possible love by offering his Body and Blood for us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
In his fourth apparition to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Our Lord revealed his Sacred Heart, declaring: “Behold this Heart which has so loved men that It spared nothing, even going so far as to exhaust and consume Itself, to prove to them Its love. And in return I receive from the greater part of men nothing but ingratitude, by the contempt, irreverence, sacrileges and coldness with which they treat me in this Sacrament of Love. But what is still more painful to me is that even souls consecrated to me are acting in this way”.
When the devotional life is neglected, there follows a loss of gratitude and reverence, and a coldness before Our Lord in the Eucharist. Our Lord asked Saint Margaret Mary to make known his desire for a renewed devotion to his Sacred Heart so that he might give his love ever more abundantly, and that we might respond with gratitude, returning our love for his divine love’.
Raymond, Cardinal Burke
‘St Barnabas shines out in the pages of the New Testament as an eminent example of that faithful priesthood which does according to that which is in the heart and mind of God. When, not unnaturally, the members of the Church he had come to persecute were afraid of Saul of Tarsus, it was Barnabas who had faith in the reality of his conversion and was prepared to trust his penitence. That which Ananias began in the life of his great convert, Barnabas helped to complete by his loving ministry to the one who became his great fellow apostle. The priesthood is for the uniting of souls to the Lover of souls. The priest only comes between the soul and God to make more short and clear to the soul her union with her Lord’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
O Lord God Almighty, who didst endue thy holy Apostle Barnabas with singular gifts of the Holy Ghost: leave us not, we beseech thee, destitute of thy manifold gifts, nor yet of grace to use them always to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
On the occasion of the 99th birthday of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, some poignant words from The Coronation Service, 2 June 1953.
‘I, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh do become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks. So help me God’.
‘It was on his dear Iona that Columba found so many occasions for displaying that deep tenderness for all creation, that supernatural intimacy with creatures, that is so attractive in the lives of many saints. Numerous are the tales which reveal his power with Nature. One night in his hut he agonised in prayer over the pain of the world, the pain of evil, and of cruelty, and of a sinner’s death, holding it all against the pain of the Son of God on Calvary.
Columba had an especial devotion to the Cross of Christ, and through the dark hours he pondered on it. Worn out at last, he lay down on the stone that was always his bed, with his head on the stone pillow, and fell asleep. When he awoke he saw, sitting in the whole of the wall that did duty for a window, a robin. “Have you a song, red-breast?” asked Columba. At that the robin tilted his head, opened wide his shining eye on the saint, and sang a song so sweet that Columba, big man that he was, trembled at the beauty of it. And he understood the song of the birds, which told how he was in his nest near the great Cross upon which hung the Christ, how he saw Him white and bleeding, how the Christ looked at him with eyes so full of pain that he flew to Him and pressed his little brown breast on his forehead, trying to pull out one of the wounding thorns, trying to soften the suffering, so that his own breast was covered in blood. “My breast is red”, sang the bird, “for I saw Him die”. Columba felt his own heart enlarge with love for the Saviour as he listened to his tender song, and he at once wished to praise God for the bird and for its message. Carried away by his impetuous feelings, he knocked the wooden clapper which called the monks together for their services, and when they all came running, he told them of the bird’s song, and how even this tiny morsel of life and helped to ease Christ’s pain.
At the stone altar outside the church, Columba prepared to offer the praise of the Eucharist, his brethren all kneeling round; but first he raised his arms above his head and cried in his big, deep voice, “Come, all ye birds”. At once they came, flying through the air, which was just receiving its first glow of warmth from the sun climbing the eastern sky, flying in from all sides – little birds from the fields, big birds from the sea; larks and wrens, gulls and plovers, curlew and cormorants – all were there, and many others. “Peace to you from God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost”, said Columba. And “Peace”, answered the birds. They stayed quietly to hear the Mass, and at the end the Abbot, turning, blessed not only the monks but also the birds. Then all flew off, except the robin, who again piped his tender notes. “Peace in the Name of the Trinity”, said Columba. “Peace in the Name of Christ”, sang the bird’.
Sibyl Harton, 1898-1993
‘The supreme revelation is that God is love: note the full meaning and significance of the words, not God does, can, will love, but the simple statement He is Love. We can only partially understand because the revealed truth and the fullest revelation is given in the Person, life and teaching of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. From Him St John, the great apostle of the love of God, learnt the truth. In his Gospel and epistles he regards this as the primary fact in the revealing of truth. God is love, and in the Godhead Himself, which we try to explain by the doctrine of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. Our Lord speaks of God not as a solitary being but as One. Within the oneness of the Godhead He thinks, acts, loves in a Trinity of personal relationships, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is this which Christians come to understand from the revelation of Jesus Christ. In the Holy Scripture there is not an exact definition, yet you find apostolic writers and ancient Fathers without any sense of contradiction speaking of one God, and of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit led them all into truth and the best language that could be found for leading us to understand something of the Godhead is the Holy and Undivided Trinity’.
Raymond Raynes CR, 1903-1958
O Holy Ghost, whose temple I
Am, but of mud walls and condensed dust,
And being sacrilegiously
Half wasted with youth’s fires, of pride and lust
Must with new storms be weather-beat;
Double in my heart Thy flame,
Which let devout sad tears intend; and let
(Though this glass lanthorn, flesh, do suffer maim)
Fire, Sacrifice, Priest, Altar be the same.
John Donne, 1572-1631
‘God calls all sorts of people to his Kingdom – literally all sorts. Our different gifts, like our differing degrees of virtue and sin, are inseparable from our common citizenship of Christ’s realm. God uses us as we are, that our virtues might be properly directed, and our sins, once acknowledged, forgiven. The Holy Spirit is the infusion of many gifts, and they match and correspond to the many types of talent, expertise and experience which men and women accumulate in life. Instead of being frustrated because the world does not appear to want them, it should be our joy to realise that the very essence of calling in the Spirit is all about different gifts being employed, not in earthly advancement, but in preparation for an eternal citizenship. As usual, we bring suffering upon ourselves when we trust our own evaluation of our worth. Whitsun is an occasion of great spiritual serenity, for the simplest person with the most residual gifts now finds that the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, that things of lowly recognition in the world are loved by God in eternity’.
Dr Edward Norman (Canon Chancellor of York Minster, 1999-2004)
now a layman in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
‘The heart of Pentecost is spontaneity. Pupils are always to be overshadowed by their tutor’s wisdom, and what if that tutor is divine? The disciples of Jesus had their learning first; the moments were all too few and precious in which they could study the words and ways of a divine master. Then like the good master that he was, he saw that he could teach them no more by word and presence; so he turned to another business he had on hand, he went and died for them; having told them of an inward teacher who would finish their education by a different sort of instruction; by truth springing from the heart, not entering through the ear. The loss of their first teacher left them powerless, without direction or aim, except to pray and wait for the new teacher from heaven. And then, and then when the day of Pentecost was fully come, their bodies and the air surrounding them trembled with spiritual thunder. A rushing wind sang in their ears, the fire ran out in tongues, their lips moved, and sound broke out as by a power not their own. This was the new teaching from heaven; but what did it say? To what did it move? The Spirit would show in due time; but meanwhile at least here was spontaneity, here was life’.
Austin Farrer, 1904-1968
‘When we pray “Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire”, we had better know what we are about. He will not carry us to easy triumphs and gratifying successes; more probably He will set us to some task for God in the full intention that we shall fail, so that others, learning wisdom by our failure, may carry the good cause forward. He may take us through loneliness, desertion by friends, apparent desertion even by God; that was the way Christ went to the Father. He may drive us into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. He may lead us from the Mount of Transfiguration (if he ever lets us climb it) to the hill that is called the Place of a Skull. For if we invoke Him, it must be to help us in doing God’s will, not ours. We cannot call upon the
Creator Spirit, by whose aid
The world’s foundations first were laid
in order to use omnipotence for the supply of our futile pleasures or the success of our futile plans. If we invoke Him, we must be ready for the glorious pain of being caught by His power out of our petty orbit into the eternal purposes of the Almighty, in whose onward sweep our lives are as a speck of dust. The soul that is filled with the Spirit must have become purged of all pride or love of ease, all self-complacence and self-reliance; but that soul has found the only real dignity, the only lasting joy. Come then, Great Spirit, come. Convict the world; and convict my timid soul’.
from Readings in St John’s Gospel by William Temple, 1881-1944
(Archbishop of Canterbury, 1942-1944)
Come with birds’ voices when the light grows dim
Yet lovelier in departure and more dear:
While the warm flush hangs yet at heavens’ rim,
And the one star shines clear.
Though the swift night haste to approaching day
Stay Thou and stir not, brooding on the deep:
Thy secret love, Thy silent word let say
Within the senses’ sleep.
Softer than dew. But where the morning wind
Blows down the world, O Spirit! show Thy power:
Quicken the dreams within the languid mind
And bring Thy seed to flower!
from the Letters of Evelyn Underhill, 1875-1941
For those able to join me, it was a joy to be to resume public Masses yesterday, the last day of Eastertide and the great solemnity of Whitsunday. We had good numbers for both Masses, with blustery wind blowing through my domestic oratory at the morning Mass to add to the atmosphere and drama of the occasion. The afternoon Mass - our first in church since mid-March - was a particularly special moment. The light was clear and bright, the air crisp, and there was an overwhelming sense of calm and peace over the whole church. The choir, assembled in their (socially distanced!) loft, sang Hassler’s Missa Secunda, and motets by Palestrina and Attwood, and the final Regina Caeli was sung lustily by all, with a palpable sense of joy and relief. And now the Octave - Whit Week - begins!
Whitsuntide by Emily Manning, 1845-1890
The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre of pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.
Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.
from Little Gidding by T.S. Eliot OM, 1888-1965
‘[W]hat is the end of all Christ’s mysteries? To make of Himself the example of all our supernatural life, the ransom for our sanctification and the source of all our holiness; to create for Himself an eternal and glorious fellowship of brethren like unto Himself That is why Mary, like a new Eve, is associated with the new Adam; but much more truly than Eve, Mary is the “Mother of all the living”, the Mother of all who live by the grace of her Son. This association was not only outward. Christ, being God, being the omnipotent Word, created in the soul of His Mother the feelings she was to have towards those who being born of her and living by His mysteries, He willed to constitute His brethren. The Blessed Virgin, for her part, enlightened by the grace abounding in her, responded to this call of Jesus by a Fiat of entire submission and in union of spirit with her Divine Son. In giving her consent to the Divine proposition of the Incarnation, she accepted to enter into the plan of the Redemption in a unique capacity; she accepted, not only to be the Mother of Jesus, but to be associated in all the mission of the Redeemer. To each of these mysteries of Jesus, she had to renew this Fiat full of love until the moment when she was able to say: “All is consummated”, after having offered at Calvary, for the world’s salvation, this Jesus, this Son, this Body she had formed, this Blood which was her own. At this blessed hour, Mary entered so deeply into the mind of Jesus that she may truly be called Co-redemptress. Like Jesus, she, at this moment, achieved the act of love of bringing us forth to the life of grace.
Mother of our Head, according to the thought of St Augustine, in bearing Him corporally, she became spiritually the Mother of all the members of this Divine Head. And because here below she is thus associated in all the mysteries of our Redemption, Jesus has crowned her not only with glory, but with power. He has placed His Mother at His right hand that she may dispose of the treasures of eternal life by a unique title – that of Mother of God: “The queen stood on Thy right hand”.
Full of confidence, let us then say to her with the church: “Show thyself a Mother: Mother of Jesus by thy influence with Him; our Mother by mercy towards us. May Christ receive our prayers through thee, this Christ Who, born of thee to bring us life, willed to be thy Son”. Who, indeed, better than she knows the Heart of her Son?’
Blessed Columba Marmion OSB, 1858-1923
O risen Saviour, bid me rise with thee
and seek those things which are above;
not only seek, but set my whole heart upon them.
Thou art in heaven, ever raising lives to thyself;
O, by thy grace, may mine be making that ascent
not in dream, but in truth,
now, tomorrow, always.
Daily in spirit, in thy Holy Spirit,
let me behold thee on the throne of GOD,
thou King reigning in holiness,
thou Conqueror of all evil,
thou Majesty of love,
very GOD and very Man,
of glory unimaginable and eternal,
in whom all hope is sure.
So, longing for thy courts,
let me rise, ascend, seek;
finding in the nearer light of thy countenance
higher and yet higher things
to love, to do and to attain.
Until, through the open door of heaven,
that most blessed voice shall speak;
‘Enter thou into thy Lord’s joy’,
and thy servant comes;-
to sing of thy glory and honour all the day long
and tell of all thy wondrous works;
knowing no end thereof,
for there is no end thereof.
from My God, My Glory: Aspirations, Acts and Prayers on the Desire for God, 1959
by Eric Milner-White OGS CBE DSO, 1884-1963
Photos from a visit to Canterbury Cathedral in May 2015, for this Feast of St Augustine of Canterbury.
‘St Augustine, strengthened by the encouragement of St Gregory, in company with the servants of Christ, returned to the work of preaching the word, and came to Britain. At that time, Ethelbert, king of Kent, was a very powerful monarch… Over against the eastern districts of Kent there is a large island called Thanet which, in English reckoning, is six hundred hides in extent. It is divided from the river Wantsum, which is about three furlongs wide, can be crossed in two places only, and joins the sea at either end. Here Augustine, the servant of the Lord, landed with his companions, who are said to have been nearly forty in number. They had acquired interpreters from the Frankish race according to the command of Pope St Gregory. Augustine sent to Ethelbert to say that he had come from Rome bearing the best of news, namely the sure and certain promise of eternal joys in heaven and an endless kingdom with the living and true God to those who received it. On hearing this, the king ordered them to remain on the island where they had landed and provided with all things necessary until he had decided what to do about them.
…Some days afterwards the king came to the island and, sitting in the open air, commanded Augustine and his companions to come thither to talk with him… [T]hey came endowed with divine not devilish power and bearing as their standard a silver cross and the image of our Lord and Saviour painted on a panel. They chanted litanies and uttered prayers to the Lord for their own eternal salvation and the salvation of those from whom and to whom they had come.
At the king’s command, they sat down and preached the word of life to himself and all his counts there present. Then he said to them, “The words and the promises you bring are fair enough, but because they are new to us and doubtful, I cannot consent to accept them and forsake those beliefs which I and the whole English race have held so long. But as you have come on a long pilgrimage and are anxious, I perceive, to share with us things which you believe to be true and good, we do not wish to do you harm; on the contrary, we will receive you hospitably and provide what is necessary for your support; nor do we forbid you to win all you can to your faith and religion by your preaching”. So he gave them a dwelling in the city of Canterbury, which was the chief city of all his dominions; and, in accordance with his promise, he granted them provisions and did not refuse them permission to preach’.
from The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, c.731, by St Bede the Venerable, 672-735
O God, who by the preaching and miracles of blessed Augustine, thy Confessor and Bishop, hast enlightened the English people with the light of the true faith: mercifully grant that by his intercession the hearts of them that have gone astray may return to the unity of thy truth; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Scenes from visits to the five canonically established English Oratories - Manchester, Oxford, London, York, and Birmingham - on this Feast of St Philip Neri. Prayers for all Oratorian Fathers and Brothers, with much gratitude for their ministry and charism; a light shining in the darkness of this world.
‘[St Philip’s] apostolate was neither of the pen nor, chiefly at any rate, of the pulpit; if you came under his influence, it was because he plucked you by the sleeve, folded you to his heart. And he was always there; as well expect to find Ars without St John Vianney, as Rome without St Philip. In this, above all, he has bequeathed his own spirit to his children. The sons of St Ignatius are ready to be sent off, at a moment’s notice, on some perilous mission; the sons of St Philip, called to a different form of self-sacrifice, are always at home. Nor is their love of room like the Benedictine’s love of his cell; the Benedictine’s abbey is his fortress, the Oratorian’s house is an open town, where all the world may pass through. He gives you that freedom which of all others is today most lacking: freedom of access.
Reverend Fathers, you do not keep St Philip to yourselves; you share him with the world. Pray for us others, that we too may learn something of his spirit’.
from a sermon by Mgr Ronald Knox, preached at the London Oratory, Feast of St Philip Neri, 26 May 1951.
‘When Jesus had gone up from them, Mary and the apostles met and prayed. Their master, and her Son, was still the leader in their praying; they used his words, they shared his mind, they prayed with him as though they said the words after him. He was now, indeed, somewhat further from them than he used to be; further, even, than he had been from Peter, James and John in Gethsemane. There they had overheard his prayer, though he knelt beyond them up the hill. Now he was further still ahead, they could not see or hear him. But the further he was from them, the nearer he was to the heart of God; further from those who prayed, but nearer to the Mercy to whom all prayer ascends. Not nearer simply, it was not a matter of degree. He was there, had reached the goal, was one with the fountain from which all things always come. In Jesus they were there too, for he was one of them. They turned their faces upwards and stretched up their hands, and what he inspired them in his name to ask was asked by God from God’.
from The Crown of the Year: Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament, 1952
by Austin Farrer, 1904-1968
O God, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven: we beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thy Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church, in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on his nature, cannot ignore the figure of a woman, the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.
In some ways this was already present in the mind of the Church from the premonitory words of Saint Augustine and Saint Leo the Great. In fact the former says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church. These considerations derive from the divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer, which culminated at the hour of the cross.
Indeed, the Mother standing beneath the cross, accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal. She thus became the tender Mother of the Church which Christ begot on the cross handing on the Spirit. Christ, in turn, in the beloved disciple, chose all disciples as ministers of his love towards his Mother, entrusting her to them so that they might welcome her with filial affection.
As a caring guide to the emerging Church Mary had already begun her mission in the Upper Room, praying with the Apostles while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit. In this sense, in the course of the centuries, Christian piety has honoured Mary with various titles, in many ways equivalent, such as Mother of Disciples, of the Faithful, of Believers, of all those who are reborn in Christ; and also as “Mother of the Church” as is used in the texts of spiritual authors as well as in the Magisterium of Popes Benedict XIV and Leo XIII.
Thus the foundation is clearly established by which Blessed Paul VI, on 21 November 1964, at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council, declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother” and established that “the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles”.
Having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of this devotion might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety, Pope Francis has decreed that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar... and be now celebrated every year.
This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed, the Virgin who makes her offering to God’.
from the decree by Robert, Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 11 February 2018
‘[W] hat does the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord mean for us? It does not mean that the Lord has departed to some place far from people and from the world. Christ’s Ascension is not a journey into space toward the most remote stars; for basically, the planets, like the earth, are also made of physical elements.
Christ’s Ascension means that he no longer belongs to the world of corruption and death that conditions our life. It means that he belongs entirely to God. He, the Eternal Son, led our human existence into God’s presence, taking with him flesh and blood in a transfigured form.
The human being finds room in God; through Christ, the human being was introduced into the very life of God. And since God embraces and sustains the entire cosmos, the Ascension of the Lord means that Christ has not departed from us, but that he is now, thanks to his being with the Father, close to each one of us for ever. Each one of us can be on intimate terms with him; each can call upon him. The Lord is always within hearing. We can inwardly draw away from him. We can live turning our backs on him. But he always waits for us and is always close to us.
From the readings of today’s liturgy we also learn something more about the concrete way the Lord makes himself close to us. The Lord promises the disciples his Holy Spirit. The first reading that we heard tells us that the Holy Spirit will give “power” to the disciples; the Gospel adds that he will guide them to the whole truth. As the living Word of God, Jesus told his disciples everything, and God can give no more than himself. In Jesus, God gave us his whole self, that is, he gave us everything. As well as or together with this, there can be no other revelation which can communicate more or in some way complete the Revelation of Christ. In him, in the Son, all has been said to us, all has been given’.
Pope Benedict XVI
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that like as we do believe thy Only Begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ
to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon
A Treasure to be Shared
The Acolyte’s Toolbox