Saturday, November 21, 2009





Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday morning met privately with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. During the talks, the two men elaborated on the challenges face by all Christian communities at the beginning of this millennium, and the need to encourage forms of collaboration and common witness when addressing them. They also spoke about recent events which have affected relations between the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion, and reaffirmed their common will to continue and strengthen ecumenical relations between Catholics and Anglicans. In the coming days, there will be a meeting to prepare for the third phase of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic theological dialogue. (SOURCE:


Meeting with Artists(Saturday, 21 November 2009)Dear Cardinals,Brother Bishops and Priests,Distinguished Artists,Ladies and Gentlemen,With great joy I welcome you to this solemn place, so rich in art and in history. I cordially greet each and every one of you and I thank you for accepting my invitation. At this gathering I wish to express and renew the Church’s friendship with the world of art, a friendship that has been strengthened over time; indeed Christianity from its earliest days has recognized the value of the arts and has made wise use of their varied language to express her unvarying message of salvation. This friendship must be continually promoted and supported so that it may be authentic and fruitful, adapted to different historical periods and attentive to social and cultural variations. Indeed, this is the reason for our meeting here today. I am deeply grateful to Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, and likewise to his officials, for promoting and organizing this meeting, and I thank him for the words he has just addressed to me. I greet the Cardinals, the Bishops, the priests and the various distinguished personalities present. I also thank the Sistine Chapel Choir for their contribution to this gathering. Today’s event is focused on you, dear and illustrious artists, from different countries, cultures and religions, some of you perhaps remote from the practice of religion, but interested nevertheless in maintaining communication with the Catholic Church, in not reducing the horizons of existence to mere material realities, to a reductive and trivializing vision. You represent the varied world of the arts and so, through you, I would like to convey to all artists my invitation to friendship, dialogue and cooperation.Some significant anniversaries occur around this time. It is ten years since the Letter to Artists by my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II. For the first time, on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Pope, who was an artist himself, wrote a Letter to artists, combining the solemnity of a pontifical document with the friendly tone of a conversation among all who, as we read in the initial salutation, “are passionately dedicated to the search for new ‘epiphanies’ of beauty”. Twenty-five years ago the same Pope proclaimed Blessed Fra Angelico the patron of artists, presenting him as a model of perfect harmony between faith and art. I also recall how on 7 May 1964, forty-five years ago, in this very place, an historic event took place, at the express wish of Pope Paul VI, to confirm the friendship between the Church and the arts. The words that he spoke on that occasion resound once more today under the vault of the Sistine Chapel and touch our hearts and our minds. “We need you,” he said. “We need your collaboration in order to carry out our ministry, which consists, as you know, in preaching and rendering accessible and comprehensible to the minds and hearts of our people the things of the spirit, the invisible, the ineffable, the things of God himself. And in this activity … you are masters. It is your task, your mission, and your art consists in grasping treasures from the heavenly realm of the spirit and clothing them in words, colours, forms – making them accessible.” So great was Paul VI’s esteem for artists that he was moved to use daring expressions. “And if we were deprived of your assistance,” he added, “our ministry would become faltering and uncertain, and a special effort would be needed, one might say, to make it artistic, even prophetic. In order to scale the heights of lyrical expression of intuitive beauty, priesthood would have to coincide with art.” On that occasion Paul VI made a commitment to “re-establish the friendship between the Church and artists”, and he invited artists to make a similar, shared commitment, analyzing seriously and objectively the factors that disturbed this relationship, and assuming individual responsibility, courageously and passionately, for a newer and deeper journey in mutual acquaintance and dialogue in order to arrive at an authentic “renaissance” of art in the context of a new humanism.That historic encounter, as I mentioned, took place here in this sanctuary of faith and human creativity. So it is not by chance that we come together in this place, esteemed for its architecture and its symbolism, and above all for the frescoes that make it unique, from the masterpieces of Perugino and Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli, Luca Signorelli and others, to the Genesis scenes and the Last Judgement of Michelangelo Buonarroti, who has given us here one of the most extraordinary creations in the entire history of art. The universal language of music has often been heard here, thanks to the genius of great musicians who have placed their art at the service of the liturgy, assisting the spirit in its ascent towards God. At the same time, the Sistine Chapel is remarkably vibrant with history, since it is the solemn and austere setting of events that mark the history of the Church and of mankind. Here as you know, the College of Cardinals elects the Pope; here it was that I myself, with trepidation but also with absolute trust in the Lord, experienced the privileged moment of my election as Successor of the Apostle Peter.Dear friends, let us allow these frescoes to speak to us today, drawing us towards the ultimate goal of human history. The Last Judgement, which you see behind me, reminds us that human history is movement and ascent, a continuing tension towards fullness, towards human happiness, towards a horizon that always transcends the present moment even as the two coincide. Yet the dramatic scene portrayed in this fresco also places before our eyes the risk of man’s definitive fall, a risk that threatens to engulf him whenever he allows himself to be led astray by the forces of evil. So the fresco issues a strong prophetic cry against evil, against every form of injustice. For believers, though, the Risen Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. For his faithful followers, he is the Door through which we are brought to that “face-to-face” vision of God from which limitless, full and definitive happiness flows. Thus Michelangelo presents to our gaze the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End of history, and he invites us to walk the path of life with joy, courage and hope. The dramatic beauty of Michelangelo’s painting, its colours and forms, becomes a proclamation of hope, an invitation to raise our gaze to the ultimate horizon. The profound bond between beauty and hope was the essential content of the evocative Message that Paul VI addressed to artists at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on 8 December 1965: “To all of you,” he proclaimed solemnly, “the Church of the Council declares through our lips: if you are friends of true art, you are our friends!” And he added: “This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the human heart, and is that precious fruit which resists the erosion of time, which unites generations and enables them to be one in admiration. And all this through the work of your hands . . . Remember that you are the custodians of beauty in the world.”Unfortunately, the present time is marked, not only by negative elements in the social and economic sphere, but also by a weakening of hope, by a certain lack of confidence in human relationships, which gives rise to increasing signs of resignation, aggression and despair. The world in which we live runs the risk of being altered beyond recognition because of unwise human actions which, instead of cultivating its beauty, unscrupulously exploit its resources for the advantage of a few and not infrequently disfigure the marvels of nature. What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation – if not beauty? Dear friends, as artists you know well that the experience of beauty, beauty that is authentic, not merely transient or artificial, is by no means a supplementary or secondary factor in our search for meaning and happiness; the experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful.Indeed, an essential function of genuine beauty, as emphasized by Plato, is that it gives man a healthy “shock”, it draws him out of himself, wrenches him away from resignation and from being content with the humdrum – it even makes him suffer, piercing him like a dart, but in so doing it “reawakens” him, opening afresh the eyes of his heart and mind, giving him wings, carrying him aloft. Dostoevsky’s words that I am about to quote are bold and paradoxical, but they invite reflection. He says this: “Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here.” The painter Georges Braque echoes this sentiment: “Art is meant to disturb, science reassures.” Beauty pulls us up short, but in so doing it reminds us of our final destiny, it sets us back on our path, fills us with new hope, gives us the courage to live to the full the unique gift of life. The quest for beauty that I am describing here is clearly not about escaping into the irrational or into mere aestheticism.Too often, though, the beauty that is thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful, superficial and blinding, leaving the onlooker dazed; instead of bringing him out of himself and opening him up to horizons of true freedom as it draws him aloft, it imprisons him within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy. It is a seductive but hypocritical beauty that rekindles desire, the will to power, to possess, and to dominate others, it is a beauty which soon turns into its opposite, taking on the guise of indecency, transgression or gratuitous provocation. Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond. If we acknowledge that beauty touches us intimately, that it wounds us, that it opens our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of seeing, of being able to grasp the profound meaning of our existence, the Mystery of which we are part; from this Mystery we can draw fullness, happiness, the passion to engage with it every day. In this regard, Pope John Paul II, in his Letter to Artists, quotes the following verse from a Polish poet, Cyprian Norwid: “Beauty is to enthuse us for work, and work is to raise us up” (no. 3). And later he adds: “In so far as it seeks the beautiful, fruit of an imagination which rises above the everyday, art is by its nature a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, the artist gives voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption” (no. 10). And in conclusion he states: “Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence” (no. 16).These ideas impel us to take a further step in our reflection. Beauty, whether that of the natural universe or that expressed in art, precisely because it opens up and broadens the horizons of human awareness, pointing us beyond ourselves, bringing us face to face with the abyss of Infinity, can become a path towards the transcendent, towards the ultimate Mystery, towards God. Art, in all its forms, at the point where it encounters the great questions of our existence, the fundamental themes that give life its meaning, can take on a religious quality, thereby turning into a path of profound inner reflection and spirituality. This close proximity, this harmony between the journey of faith and the artist’s path is attested by countless artworks that are based upon the personalities, the stories, the symbols of that immense deposit of “figures” – in the broad sense – namely the Bible, the Sacred Scriptures. The great biblical narratives, themes, images and parables have inspired innumerable masterpieces in every sector of the arts, just as they have spoken to the hearts of believers in every generation through the works of craftsmanship and folk art, that are no less eloquent and evocative.In this regard, one may speak of a via pulchritudinis, a path of beauty which is at the same time an artistic and aesthetic journey, a journey of faith, of theological enquiry. The theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar begins his great work entitled The Glory of the Lord – a Theological Aesthetics with these telling observations: “Beauty is the word with which we shall begin. Beauty is the last word that the thinking intellect dares to speak, because it simply forms a halo, an untouchable crown around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another.” He then adds: “Beauty is the disinterested one, without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which both imperceptibly and yet unmistakably has bid farewell to our new world, a world of interests, leaving it to its own avarice and sadness. It is no longer loved or fostered even by religion.” And he concludes: “We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past – whether he admits it or not – can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.” The way of beauty leads us, then, to grasp the Whole in the fragment, the Infinite in the finite, God in the history of humanity. Simone Weil wrote in this regard: “In all that awakens within us the pure and authentic sentiment of beauty, there, truly, is the presence of God. There is a kind of incarnation of God in the world, of which beauty is the sign. Beauty is the experimental proof that incarnation is possible. For this reason all art of the first order is, by its nature, religious.” Hermann Hesse makes the point even more graphically: “Art means: revealing God in everything that exists.” Echoing the words of Pope Paul VI, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II restated the Church’s desire to renew dialogue and cooperation with artists: “In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art” (no. 12); but he immediately went on to ask: “Does art need the Church?” – thereby inviting artists to rediscover a source of fresh and well-founded inspiration in religious experience, in Christian revelation and in the “great codex” that is the Bible.Dear artists, as I draw to a conclusion, I too would like to make a cordial, friendly and impassioned appeal to you, as did my Predecessor. You are the custodians of beauty: thanks to your talent, you have the opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement. Be grateful, then, for the gifts you have received and be fully conscious of your great responsibility to communicate beauty, to communicate in and through beauty! Through your art, you yourselves are to be heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity! And do not be afraid to approach the first and last source of beauty, to enter into dialogue with believers, with those who, like yourselves, consider that they are pilgrims in this world and in history towards infinite Beauty! Faith takes nothing away from your genius or your art: on the contrary, it exalts them and nourishes them, it encourages them to cross the threshold and to contemplate with fascination and emotion the ultimate and definitive goal, the sun that does not set, the sun that illumines this present moment and makes it beautiful.Saint Augustine, who fell in love with beauty and sang its praises, wrote these words as he reflected on man’s ultimate destiny, commenting almost ante litteram on the Judgement scene before your eyes today: “Therefore we are to see a certain vision, my brethren, that no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived: a vision surpassing all earthly beauty, whether it be that of gold and silver, woods and fields, sea and sky, sun and moon, or stars and angels. The reason is this: it is the source of all other beauty” (In 1 Ioannis, 4:5). My wish for all of you, dear artists, is that you may carry this vision in your eyes, in your hands, and in your heart, that it may bring you joy and continue to inspire your fine works. From my heart I bless you and, like Paul VI, I greet you with a single word: arrivederci!(SOURCE:



A community of Benedictine sisters living in the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph have released a Christmas CD titled “Christmas at Ephesus.” Proceeds from their new CD, comprised of traditional carols as well as the sisters' compositions, will go toward the building of a new monastery. The Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles are still new to the Kansas City Catholic community, invited by Bishop Robert W. Finn in 2006. A traditional monastic community of women who desire to emulate the Blessed Virgin Mary by living in quiet seclusion at the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus, they are a joyful group who sing while at work, at prayer or at play.
Last year the sisters recorded their first CD, “Echoes of Ephesus,” described by the prioress, Mother Therese McNamara, as a window into the life of the community. “People didn’t know about us,” she said. “But since that CD, they’ve been bringing us their prayer requests, for priests and for vocations, and priests have been coming to us for retreats.”
The sisters recently broke ground for a new monastery near Gower, Missouri. The proceeds from the Christmas CD will go toward that building plan.
The sisters have been encouraged by the success of the CD released last year. Nearly 60,000 copies were sold or given out. Their music and charism caught the attention of Ian Byrne, a Kansas City businessman and lead singer for the local Irish band The Elders. Through Byrne, the sisters connected with Steve Phillips, a recording engineer and musician with the band. With his assistance, the CD was recorded at Conception Abbey, where the acoustics are just right. Production costs were reduced by packaging the discs in cardboard cases.
Mother Therese is pleased with the results. “A lot of the arrangements are our own,” she said. “We recorded a fresh translation of Silent Night from the original German. One of the sisters did the translation and another set it to music. The church’s organ was broken so composer Franz Gruber played the accompaniment for Stille Nacht on his guitar.”
Some of the songs are familiar carols; others are original compositions by the sisters. Almost every day, one of the sisters is inspired to write a song, Mother Therese said. “We’re not professionals,” she said. “We just love to sing.”
The CDs, Christmas at Ephesus and Echoes of Ephesus, can be purchased for $20 online at the community’s website:



The Catholic Herald reports that Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton has told Catholics not to get “fixated” with issues such as the liturgy and contraception.In a pastoral letter read out in churches in his diocese last weekend, he also revealed that he was reported to the Vatican for comments he made about Confession in a previous letter. Bishop Conry wrote: “In May of this year I wrote a letter to you all and suggested that you might go along to the priest and talk about the one thing that was the biggest obstacle in your relationship with God. Someone was clearly unhappy with this and reported this advice to the Vatican. I had a very kind letter from the Holy See asking me to correct the impression I might have given, and I am very happy to do this.”In his letter Bishop Conry had suggested that people go to the confessional to talk about how the spark had gone out of their relationship with God, and what was making them tired. “Go to the priest and talk about these things, the way in which your relationship with God might have grown stale,” he wrote. But in his most recent pastoral letter he explained: “I was not suggesting that this is an alternative to the traditional practice of confession of sins, an integral part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I was hoping that it might be a way back to the Sacrament for many people, a ‘toe back into the water’. The Church’s traditional teaching is that serious sins (what used to be called ‘mortal sins’) should be confessed at least once a year before receiving Communion, and that even the less serious sins (so-called ‘venial sins’ or ‘everyday faults’ as the Catechism puts it) should also be confessed, in order to form our conscience and help us advance along our spiritual path. All this is explained very clearly in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in Chapter 2, Article 4, ‘The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation’.”But Bishop Conry added: “It is all too easy to get caught up and even fixated with single issues, whether this is in religion or politics. So many people tend to focus on liturgy – even the language of the Mass – as if this somehow expresses the core of our beliefs. “Others campaign on the moral issues of the day. Someone said recently that a person’s attitude to Humanae Vitae was a ‘litmus test’ of being a Catholic, whereas many might not know what Humanae Vitae is. “These are all undoubtedly important issues, but they will never get anywhere near expressing our faith in its entirety, and we can ask if some of these questions are actually fundamental to faith at all.”Critics have accused the bishop of being hostile to the introduction of the Extraordinary Form since the Pope’s Motu Proprio in 2007. But he has always maintained that he never attempted to restrict its use, only that some of the demands of traditionalist Catholics were “over the top”. (SOURCE:



UCAN reports that Hue archdiocesan officials hope to visit a jailed fellow priest, Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, who is in a state-run hospital after suffering a stroke.

Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly (right) talks with a security official at Ba Sao detention camp in October
Hue Church leaders have petitioned Thua Thien-Hue provincial security officials on Nov. 17 to visit Father Ly, a priest of the archdiocese. "We hope to meet him next week," said a priest from Hue Archbishop's House.
The priest, who requested anonymity, said Church officials first heard about Father Ly's condition from his nephew, Nguyen Cong Hoang, after he visited his uncle in a special ward at a Hanoi hospital on Nov. 16.
Hoang told the Church officials that Father Ly suffered the stroke on Nov. 14 while praying in his room at the Ba Sao camp in Ha Nam province in northern Vietnam. Father Ly has been serving his sentence there since 2007.
"He's now able to eat chao (rice porridge), read newspapers, watch television and walk around his room, which is under guard," Hoang said.
He said Nguyen Thi Hieu, Father Ly's sister, was to visit the priest in hospital. Prison officials informed her of the stroke the day after it happened, Hoang added.
This is the second stroke Father Ly has suffered this year. Two priests from the archdiocese visited him in September after he suffered his first stroke.
On that occasion, the two priests also met prison and security officials at the camp and asked them to allow the jailed priest to get medical treatment in hospital.
Father Ly was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in December 1983 for allegedly undermining national unity and causing public disorder. In 2001, he was sentenced to 15 years' jail for allegedly disseminating anti-government propaganda.
He was released from prison in February 2005 but remained under house arrest in the Hue archbishop's residence. He was arrested again on Feb. 18, 2007, and sentenced to eight years in March of that year for anti-government activities after he allegedly helped organize a pro-democracy party.



CNS reports that just weeks after the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops for Africa in Rome, Catholics across the continent said they hope their church leaders will do more to promote good governance and to fight corruption, HIV and AIDS, poverty and injustice."After the synod, their task is clear. They have to make the church relevant and credible: relevant in touching the real lives of people, credible through practicing what they preach. That's their challenge," said Ife Ngwowudu, 40, a parishioner at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Lagos, Nigeria.He said church leaders should focus on promoting reconciliation on a continent where violence and conflict are the order of the day."The majority of Africans are poor and victims of diseases such as HIV and AIDS due to poverty. In this area, the church can play a critical role by advocating more for economic justice," Ngwowudu said.The three-week Synod of Bishops for Africa ended in Rome Oct. 25, but in telephone interviews from around Africa, Catholics expressed their hopes for the church's next steps.The 57 propositions that synod members submitted to Pope Benedict XVI for his use in drafting a document on Africa's pastoral directions included calls for a new spirituality to counter bad government, ethnic tensions, disease, exploitation by multinational companies and the cultural agenda of foreign aid organizations.Mercy Chifundo, 36, a congregant at St. John Parish in Mzimba, Malawi, said she is more concerned about the need for African bishops to ensure that governments provide their citizens with good and efficient social services."While I acknowledge that there is some degree of success in some countries through governments' intervention, I am still personally troubled to see what is happening in most key sectors like health, education, agriculture and governance in most African states," she told Catholic News Service."In my country, for instance, these areas are in chaos due to (a) serious funding crisis resulting in the unnecessary deaths of our people. I feel that only the serious intervention of the church to dialogue with governments can bring new hope to people," said Chifundo, who works for the Malawi branch of the Catholic Church's international charitable agency Caritas.She said she was glad that, at the synod, the bishops rededicated themselves to doing more to improve the spiritual, social and economic situation on the continent.Joseph Kalusa, a parishioner at the Cathedral of the Child Jesus in Lusaka, Zambia, said he is counting on the bishops to fight the greed and injustices being perpetrated against the weak and the voiceless in Africa.Kalusa said the serious state of injustices, corruption, poverty and underdevelopment in Africa call for tough church leaders who can stand up and speak out against the corrupt governments."We have always known the Catholic bishops to be fearless advocates for us, the poor, and after the synod our hopes are that they will even do more to protect our rights and improve our lives," said Kalusa, 47.He said that rather than relying on periodic pastoral letters and statements, the bishops should confront government officials to encourage dialogue on issues.His sentiments were echoed by Christopher Chitabwa, 34, a parishioner at St. John Maria Vianney Parish in Samfya, Zambia.Chitabwa said synod members identified various issues that have led to Africa's underdevelopment."That simply means our bishops exactly know the causes of our current state of affairs in Africa, and we expect them now to go flat out to help tackle these issues. They may not be government, of course, but they can so much help improve the situation," Chitabwa said.Zubeir Naranjo, a student at Comboni College in Khartoum, Sudan, said the church should make an effort to protect the environment. Naranjo, 26, said church officials have not always respected the truth regarding the disastrous ecological situation facing Africa, and he said the church must promote respect for the environment.Some Catholics across the continent also are pushing for an end to civil wars and arms trafficking in Africa through the active involvement of the church.John Phillips, a parishioner at Our Lady of Fatima Cathedral in Makeni, Sierra Leone, said African history has been littered by civil wars, coups and other forms of political violence. He said this unstable environment has made life miserable, particularly for the millions of innocent civilians living in West Africa.Brenda Nq'obile, a member of the justice and peace commission at St. Philip Benezi Parish in Meyerton, South Africa, expressed concern about African politics, often referred to as a "dirty game" because of the manner in which it has been practiced over the years. She said the church must find a way to minister to politicians."That way," Ng'obile said, "Africa will be a much better place to live, in that it shall have Christian public officers with (the) interest of the people's welfare at heart."(SOURCE:

Cath News reports that South Australia's parliament defeated a bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia as one Liberal MP pulled out his support. The conscience vote finished at 11 votes to 9.
Liberal MP David Ridgway rose just before the vote to withdraw his support and the bill was defeated, ABC reports. He told parliament he had rethought his position in light of his mother's death last week.
"I don't come to here with any great religious disposition as some members who are opposed to the bill or any other real position," he said.
"I just, at this point in time, don't feel comfortable supporting the bill." (source;


The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Feast: November 21
Feast Day:
November 21

Religious parents never fail by devout prayer to consecrate their children to the divine service and love, both before and after their birth. Some amongst the Jews, not content with this general consecration of their children, offered them to God in their infancy, by the hands of the priests in the temple, to be lodged in apartments belonging to the temple, and brought up in attending the priests and Levites in the sacred ministry. It is an ancient tradition, that the Blessed Virgin Mary was thus solemnly offered to God in the temple in her infancy. This festival of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, or, as it is often called by the Greeks, the entrance of the Blessed Virgin into the Temple, is mentioned in the most ancient Greek Menologies extant.
By the consecration which the Blessed Virgin made of herself to God in the first use which she made of her reason, we are admonished of the most important and strict obligation which all persons lie under, of an early dedication of themselves to the divine love and service. It is agreed amongst all masters of Christian morality, that everyone is bound in the first moral instant of the use of reason to convert his heart to God by love; and if divine faith be then duly proposed to him (which is the case of Christian children) by a supernatural assent to it, he is bound then to make an act of faith; also an act of hope in God as a supernatural rewarder and helper, and an act of divine charity. Who can be secure that in the very moment in which he entered into his moral life and was capable of living to God, did not stain his innocence by a capital omission of this duty? How diligent and solicitous are parents bound to be in instructing their children in the first fundamental mysteries of faith, and in the duty of prayer, and in impressing upon their tender minds a sense of spiritual things in a manner in which their age may be capable of receiving it. These first fruits of the heart are a sacrifice of which God is infinitely jealous, an emblem of which were all the sacrifices of first fruits prescribed in the old law, in token that he is our beginning and last end. Such a heart, adorned with the baptismal grace of innocence, has particular charms. Grace recovered by penance is not like that of innocence which has never been defiled; nor is it the same happiness for a soul to return to God from the slavery of sin, as for one to give him her first affections, and to open her understanding and will to his love before the world has found any entrance there. The tender soul of Mary was then adorned with the most precious graces, an object of astonishment and praise to the angels, and of the highest complacence to the adorable Trinity, the Father looking upon her as his beloved daughter, the Son, as one chosen and prepared to become his mother, and the Holy Ghost as his darling spouse.
Her first presentation to God, made by the hands of her parents and by her own devotion, was then an offering most acceptable in his sight. Let our consecration of ourselves to God be made under her patronage, and assisted by her powerful intercession and the union of her merits. If we have reason to fear that we criminally neglected this duty at the first dawning of our reason, or, if we have since been unfaithful to our sacred baptismal engagements, such is the mercy and goodness of our gracious God, that he disdains not our late offerings. But that these may be accepted by him, we must first prepare the present he requires of us, that is, our hearts. They must be washed and cleansed in the sacred laver of Christ's adorable blood, by means of sincere compunction and penance; and all inordinate affections must be pared away by our perfectly renouncing in spirit, honours, riches, and pleasures, and being perfectly disengaged from creatures, and ready to do and suffer all for God, that we may be entirely his, and that neither the world nor pride, nor any irregular passion may have any place in us. What secret affections to this or that creature lurk in our souls, which hinder us from being altogether his, unless they are perfectly cut off or reformed! This Mary did by spending her youth in holy retirement, at a distance from the commerce and corruption of the world, and by the most assiduous application to all the duties and exercises of a religious and interior life. Mary was the first who set up the standard of virginity; and, by consecrating it by a perpetual vow to our Lord, she opened the way to all virgins who have since followed her example. They, in particular, ought to take her for their special patroness, and, as her life was the most perfect model of their state, they ought always to have her example before their eyes, and imitate her in prayer, humility, modesty, silence, and retirement.
Mary lived retired until she was introduced into the world and espoused to St. Joseph. Some think her espousals were at first only a promise or betrothing: but the ends assigned by the fathers, seem rather to show them to have been a marriage. These are summed up by St. Jerome as follows: that by the pedigree of Joseph, the descent of Mary from the tribe of Juda, might be demonstrated; that she might not be stoned by the Jews as an adulteress; that, fleeing into Egypt, she might have the comfort and protection of a spouse. A fourth reason, says St. Jerome, is added by the martyr Ignatius: that the birth of the Son of God might be concealed from the devil. The words of that apostolic father are: "Three mysteries wrought by God in silence were concealed from the prince of this world. the virginity of Mary, the bringing forth of her Son, and the death of the Lord." Not that God could fear any impediment to his designs from the devil; but he was pleased to effect these mysteries in silence and without worldly show and noise, that pride and hell might, by his all-wise and sweet providence, be more meetly triumphed over, whilst the devil himself hastened his own overthrow by concurring to the mystery of the cross. From the marriage of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, St. Austin shows that marriage requires no more than the mutual consent of the will between parties who lie under no impediment or inability to an indissoluble individual society of life. In this holy marriage we admire the incomparable chastity of Mary and Joseph; and the sanctity and honour, as well as the patronage and example, which that holy state receives from this mystery. In certain particular churches the espousals of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are honoured with an office on the 23rd of January.(SOURCE:


Luke 20: 27 - 40
There came to him some Sadducees, those who say that there is no resurrection,
and they asked him a question, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise up children for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children;
and the second
and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died.
Afterward the woman also died.
In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife."
And Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage;
but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage,
for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him."
And some of the scribes answered, "Teacher, you have spoken well."
For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

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