DONATE TO JCE NEWS

Friday, March 25, 2011

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: FRI. MAR. 25, 2011












CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: FRI. MAR. 25, 2011: HEADLINES-

AFRICA: IVORY COAST: CALL TO END EU EMBARGO ON MEDICINE BY ARCHBISHOP

AMERICA: USA: BISHOPS CAUTION OBAMA ADMIN. TO CONSIDER LIBYA'S POPULATION

TODAY'S GOSPEL: MAR. 25: LUKE 1: 26- 38

2011

THE PEDAGOGICAL VALUE OF CONFESSION

VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received participants in an annual course on the "internal forum" organised by the Apostolic Penitentiary. The penitentiary is presided by Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli and its regent is Bishop Gianfranco Girotti O.F.M. Conv. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)

In his address to the participants the Holy Father spoke of the "pedagogical value of sacramental Confession" for both priests and for the penitents themselves.

On the subject of priests he said: "The priestly mission represents a unique observation point from which we are daily granted the privilege of contemplating the splendour of divine mercy. ... By administering the Sacrament of Penance we can receive profound lessons of humility and faith. For each priest, this is a powerful call to an awareness of his own identity. Never could we hear the confessions of our brothers and sisters merely on the strength of our own humanity. If they come to us it is only because we are priests, configured to Christ, the Supreme and Eternal Priest, and granted the capacity of acting in His Name and Person, so as to make present the God Who forgives, renews and transforms.

"The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance has a pedagogical value for the priest, which concerns his faith, the truth and poverty of his person; and it nourishes in him an awareness of his sacramental identity", the Pope added.

"Sacramental reconciliation is certainly one of the moments in which individual freedom and self-awareness are called to express themselves particularly clearly", he went on. "It is perhaps for this reason too that, in an age of relativism and of the consequent reduced awareness of self, the practice of this Sacrament should also have diminished. The examination of conscience has an important educational value. it teaches us to look sincerely at our own lives, to compare them with the truth of the Gospel and to evaluate them with parameters that are not only human but drawn from divine Revelation. Comparison with the Commandments, with the Beatitudes, and above all with the Precept to love, represents the first great 'school of penance'", he said.

"Dear priests", the Holy Father concluded, "do not fail to give appropriate space to exercising the ministry of Penance in the confessional. To be welcomed and heard is also a human sign of God's welcome and goodness towards His children. Integral confession of sin also helps penitents to be humble, to recognise their own fragility and, at the same time, to achieve an awareness of the need for God's forgiveness and the belief that divine Grace can transform life".

AC/ VIS 20110325 (440)

HOLY FATHER RECEIVES PRELATES OF SYRO-MALANKAR CHURCH

VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received prelates of the Syro-Malankar Church, who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

"The apostolic traditions which you maintain enjoy their full spiritual fruitfulness when they are lived in union with the Church universal", said the Pope in his English-language remarks. "In this sense, you rightly follow in the footsteps of the Servant of God Mar Ivanios, who led your predecessors and their faithful into full communion with the Catholic Church. Like your forefathers, you too are called, within the one household of God, to continue in firm fidelity to that which has been passed down to you".

"The deposit of faith handed down from the Apostles and faithfully transmitted to our times is a precious gift from the Lord", said the Holy Father, noting that "due to its ancient roots and distinguished history, Christianity in India has long made its proper contribution to culture and society, and to its religious and spiritual expressions. It is through a determination to live the Gospel ... that those whom you serve will make a more effective contribution to the entire body of Christ and to Indian society, to the benefit of all. May your people continue to flourish by the preaching of God's word and by the promotion of a fellowship based on the love of God".

Benedict then turned to consider the challenges facing the prelates in their work, especially the shortage of parish priests. In this context he encouraged them not to lose heart because "small Christian communities have often, as you know, given outstanding witness in the history of the Church. ... It is this divine presence which must remain at the centre of your people's life, faith and witness, and which you their pastors are called to watch over so that, even if they must live far from their community, they will not live far from Christ".

"One of the ways in which you exercise your role as teachers of the faith to the Christian community", the Pope concluded his remarks to the bishops, "is through catechetical and faith formation programmes. ... Since 'instruction should be based on Holy Scripture, Tradition, liturgy, and on the teaching authority and life of the Church', I am pleased to note the variety and number of programmes that you currently employ. Along with the celebration of the Sacraments, such programmes will help ensure that those in your care will always be able to give an account of the hope which is theirs in Christ".

AL/ VIS 20110325 (440)


POPE WRITES TO THE NEW MARONITE PATRIARCH

VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father has granted the "Ecclesiastica Communio" requested of him in accordance with canon 76 para. 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches by His Beatitude Bechara Rai, canonically elected as Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites by the Synod of Bishops of the Maronite Church meeting in Bkerke, Lebanon, on 15 March.

For the occasion, Benedict XVI has also written a Letter to the new patriarch in which he says: "May the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Lebanon, the Virgin of the Annunciation whose name you bear make you a messenger of unity, so that the Lebanese nation (thanks also to all the religious communities present in your country and to their ecumenical and inter-religious dynamism) may accomplish her mission of solidarity and peace, in the East and in the entire world".

.../ VIS 20110325 (160)

AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Bishop Vincent Paulos Kulapuravilai of Marthandom of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

- Bishop Joshua Ignathios Kizhakkeveettil of Mavelikara of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

- Bishop Yoohanon Chrysostom Kalloor of Pathanamthitta of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

- Bishop Thomas Naickamparampil, apostolic exarch of the apostolic exarchate for Syro-Malankar faithful in the United States of America, and apostolic visitor for Syro-Malankar faithful in Canada and Europe.

This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

AL:AP/ VIS 20110325 (120)

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Valter Dario Maggi, auxiliary of Guayaquil, Ecuador, as bishop of Ibarra (area 4,986, population 347,000, Catholics 332,800, priests 101, permanent deacons 1, religious 263), Ecuador. He succeeds Bishop Julio Cesar Teran Datari, S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Vincenzo Bertolone, S.d.P. of Cassano allo Jonio, Italy, as metropolitan archbishop of Catanzaro-Squillace (area 1,806, population 248,000, Catholics 244,300, priests 182, permanent deacons 17, religious 212), Italy. The archbishop-elect was born in San Biagio Platani, Italy in 1946, he was ordained a priest in 1975 and consecrated a bishop in 2007. He succeeds Archbishop Antonio Ciliberti, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Paul Sueo Hamaguchi, pastor of the cathedral church of Takamatsu, Japan, as bishop of Oita (area 14,071, population 2,376,414, Catholics 6,288, priests 50, religious 228), Japan. The bishop-elect was born in Higashi Shutsu, Japan in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1975.

- Appointed John Eijro Suwa of the clergy of Osaka, Japan, moderator and pastor of the pastoral zone of Kochi Takamatsu, as bishop of Takamatsu (area 18,903, population 4,031,481, Catholics 5,100, priests 46, religious 84), Japan. The bishop-elect was born in Kobe, Japan in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1976. He succeeds Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, S.D.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Granted the confirmation requested of him in accordance with canon 153 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches by Archbishop Sviatoslav Schevchuk, canonically elected as major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Ukraine, by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church meeting in Lviv, Ukraine, on 23 March.

AFRICA: IVORY COAST: CALL TO END EU EMBARGO ON MEDICINE BY ARCHBISHOP

Agenzia Fides REPORT - “I call on all to respect life. In the name of the right to health, I ask that the European Union drop the embargo on medicine”. This is the appeal launched through Fides by Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan. “You do not need a lot of arguments to understand that life is sacred and that it must be protected. The fifth commandment says 'Thou shalt not kill'. Every person has the right to health and life. Therefore, the embargo on medicine is an act that goes against that right. So I ask the European Union to lift this embargo so that people may receive care.
Since 28 February an embargo on medicine decreed by the European Union has been in effect, to force Gbagbo to resign and hand over power to Ouattara. “I issue an appeal to the two leaders (Gbagbo and Ouattara) so stop the killings and violence,” concludes Archbishop Kutwa.
The clash between the armed forces, who support the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo (who has not accepted the results of the presidential ballot in November and is considered the legitimate president of the country), and militants close to President-elect, Alassane Ouattara, is causing serious damage among the civilian population in Abidjan and in other areas of Côte d'Ivoire. “The exodus of people continues. The noise of artillery ceased half an hour ago. For now we have a truce. Yesterday we suffered a very heavy bombardment. Civilians continue to die, killed by stray rounds and artillery shots,” Sister Rosaria tells Fides, from the Congregation of the Holy Family of Spoleto, in Abobo, the neighbourhood in Abidjan where the fighting began between Gbagbo's security forces and the 'invisible commando', a group close to President-elect Alassane Ouattara.
“A climate of fear now reigns in Abidjan. The city is emptying out. Those who can, escape to the villages where they have friends or relatives able to accommodate them” said another local source from the Church to Fides, who for safety reasons, cannot be named. A crack could come from the call for dialogue launched by Gbagbo, who has acknowledged that violence and the use of force are not the solution to the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire.

ASIA: PAKISTAN: BROTHER OF MURDERED MINISTER NOW ADVISOR TO PM

ASIA NEWS REPORT-Paul Bhatti, MD, will tour in the various provinces to see the situation first hand. The Christian community protests inadequacies in investigation into murder of the Catholic minister. Three days of fasting and prayer for justice and peace. Asia Bibil takes part behind prison bars.

Lahore (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Paul Bhatti, brother of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Pakistani minister for minorities killed March 2 while leaving his home in Islamabad (03/02/2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistani minister who defended Asia Bibi, is assassinated) has been named “special adviser "to the Prime Minister of Pakistan for religious minorities. The brother of the murdered minister will have substantially the same responsibilities as Shahbaz. Paul, who is a doctor and lived abroad, and also in Italy, yesterday met the Minister of Interior, Rehman Malik.

Paul and the Minister discussed various issues related to the assassination of the Christian leader, the advisor said he wanted to continue the work of his brother.Paul Bhatti has appealed to scholars and religious leaders from various schools of thought and faith to create a united front against terrorism. He has also decided to tour in the various provinces to verify the situation first hand and meet with leaders of various religious minorities.

Meanwhile Christian activists continue to protest over shortcomings in the investigation into Bhatti’s assassination. They reveal attempts to mislead public opinion and a lack of political will to arrest and punish those responsible, probably linked to Islamic groups who are holding the government hostage.Paul Bhatti has also expressed his disappointment over the lack of results from the inquiry into his brother’s murder and has called for the creation of a parliamentary commission of inquiry. The Christian community of Pakistan has launched a joint appeal for three days of prayer and fasting to demand that peace and stability are restored in the country. The three days end today. Even Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy and awaiting trial on appeal, is in the fasting for peace and justice in Sheikpura prison, as well as her husband and her children.

AMERICA: USA: BISHOPS CAUTION OBAMA ADMIN. TO CONSIDER LIBYA'S POPULATION

USCCB REPORT: Bishops Ask Administration to Weigh Use of Force in Libya in Light of Duty to Protect Human Life and Dignity

WASHINGTON (March 25, 2011)—As the U.S. and other nations take military action to protect the people of Libya from their own government, the U.S. bishops asked the Obama administration to stay focused on this limited goal and mission, as well as the wellbeing of the civilian population.

“Important questions include: How is the use of force protecting the civilian population of Libya? Is the force employed proportionate to the goal of protecting civilians?” wrote Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a March 24 letter to National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon. The bishop also urged that the use of force be continually evaluated in light of these questions: “Is it producing evils graver than the evil it hopes to address?” and “What are the implications of the use of force for the future welfare of the Libyan people and the stability of the region?”

“We know these are difficult questions to which there are few easy answers, but it is our moral responsibility as a nation to rigorously examine the use of military force in light of the need to protect human life and dignity,” said Bishop Hubbard.

Bishop Hubbard said the purpose articulated in UN Security Council Resolution 1973 to demand “a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians” appears to meet the traditional criterion of “just cause,” but said the U.S. bishops joined Pope Benedict XVI in following the military action in Libya with “great apprehension.”

The letter is available online: www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/callafrica/2011-03-24BishopHubbardtoNationalSecurityAdvisor.pdf

http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2011/11-059.shtml

EUROPE: GREAT BRITAIN: MASS IN HONOR OF LADY OF WALSINGHAM

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT:
National Mass in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham | Lady of Walsingham,Archbishop Vincent Nichols,950th Jubilee Year



The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, will preside at a Solemn Mass on Saturday 26 March at 2pm, in Westminster Cathedral to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

This year Walsingham celebrates the 950th Anniversary of the vision of the Lady Richeldis and the founding of the Shrine in 1061. The Mass marks the beginning of six months of celebrations ending on the Feast of our Lady of Walsingham on Saturday 24th September.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham was established in 1061 when Richeldis de Faverches prayed to undertake some special work to honour Our Lady. According to the Pynson ballad (c1485), Mary, in answer to her prayer, led her in spirit to Nazareth and showed her the house where the Annunciation occurred, asking her to build a replica in Walsingham to serve as a memorial.

The Holy House was built and a religious community took charge of the foundation. Walsingham went on to become one of the greatest Shrines in Medieval Christendom. Today, the Shrine attracts 100,000 pilgrims during the pilgrimage season.

For more information on the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, see:http://www.walsingham.org.uk/

http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=17927

AUSTRALIA: ARTIST- MR. JUNIPER BECOMES MEMBER OF ORDER OF AUSTRALIA

CATH NEWS REPORT: Depicting the history of salvation throughout the rebuilt St Patrick’s Cathedral in Bunbury is the highlight of internationally-renowned West Australian artist Robert Juniper’s career, reports The Record.

Juniper has depicted stories from the Bible for 14 seven-metre high window walls, two rose windows and a five-metre wide tapestry for the new St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Mr Juniper - whose art has been presented in group shows of Australian contemporary art in London, USA, New Zealand, Europe, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and New Caledonia – became a member of the Order of Australia this year.


“I was very excited. I thought it was going to be a highlight of my artistic career, because of the hugeness of the scale and being on the ground floor of a new Cathedral. Not many artists get that opportunity. I was very honoured and excited to be asked to do the job,” he said.But he said one of his greatest honours was when Cathedral architect Marcus Collins approached him to design the windows, where his trademark depictions of recognisable Australian flora and fauna are ever-present.

Bishop Gerard Holohan was sceptical about the economy of recruiting such a high-profile artist, but a visit to Mr Juniper’s Darlington home studio confirmed to the prelate that “the decision was fairly clear he’d be able to do what we were looking for”.

“The original plan was simply to have colour glass patterns in the windows as we thought we wouldn’t be able to afford an artist. I was going to leave that to future Bishops,” Bishop Holohan said.

“Then Marcus Collins indicated Bob (Juniper) would be interested in the project and, while initially I was sceptical because he’s an artist so great and I didn’t know he could do religious art; but part of my conversion was going to his home looking at his art;” then the decision was clear, he said.

Mr Juniper’s brief was simple: to create images that were understandable to a child and colourful. They must also have a catechetical value.

http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=25510

TODAY'S SAINT: MAR. 25: FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION

The Annunciation

Feast: March 25



Information:

Feast Day:March 25

This great festival takes its name from the happy tidings brought by the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary, concerning the incarnation of the Son of God. It commemorates the most important embassy that was ever known: an embassy sent by the King of kings, performed by one of the chief princes of his heavenly court; directed, not to the kings or emperors of the earth, but to a poor, unknown, retired virgin, who, being endowed with the most angelic purity of soul and body, being withal perfectly humble and devoted to God, was greater in his eyes than all the sceptres in the world could make a universal monarch. Indeed God, by the choice which he is pleased to make of a poor virgin, for the accomplishment of the greatest of all mysteries and graces, clearly demonstrates that earthly diadems, dignities, and treasures are of no consideration with him; and that perfect humility and sanctity alone constitute true greatness. God, who is almighty, can do all things by himself, without making use of the concurrence of creatures. Nevertheless he vouchsafes. in his exterior works, most frequently to use their co-operation. If he reveals his will and speaks to men, it is by the intervention of his prophets, and these he often enlightens by the ministry of angels. Many of the ancient patriarchs were honored by him with the most sublime commissions. By Moses he delivered his people from the Egyptian slavery, by him he gave them his law, and he appointed him mediator in his alliance with them. When the Son of God became man, he could have taken upon him our nature without the co-operation of any creature; but was pleased to be born of a woman. In the choice of her whom he raised to this most sublime of all dignities to which any pure creature could be exalted, he pitched upon her who, by the riches of his grace and virtues, was of all others the most holy and the most perfect. The design of this embassy of the archangel is as extraordinary as the persons concerned in it. It is to give a Saviour to the world, a victim of propitiation to the sinner, a model to the just, a son to this Virgin, remaining still a virgin, and a new nature to the Son of God, the nature of man, capable of suffering pain and anguish in order to the satisfaction of God's justice for our transgressions. And the Son of God being to take a human body formed of her substance, the Holy Ghost, who, by a power all-divine, was to her in place of a spouse, was not content to render her body capable of giving life to a Man-God, but likewise enriched her soul with a fulness of grace, that there might be a sort of proportion between the cause and the effect, and she the better qualified to co-operate towards this mystery of sanctity.

The angel begins his address to her with This is not the first time that angels appeared to women: but we find not that they were ever treated with that respect which the angel Gabriel shows to Mary. Sarah and Agar were visited by these celestial spirits, but not with an honour like that wherewith the angel on this occasion addresses the Blessed Virgin, saying, He considers her as the greatest object among creatures of God's favour, affection, and complacency. He admires in her those wonderful effects of the divine liberality, those magnificent gifts and graces, those exalted virtues, which have placed the very foundation of her spiritual edifice on the holy mountains, in a degree of perfection surpassing that of all pure creatures He admires that perfect gratitude with which she always received God's grace, and her perfect fidelity in corresponding with it, and advancing in sanctity, by the help thereof, with a solicitude answerable to her love and gratitude, for the preservation and increase of so inestimable a treasure. The first encomium which St. John gives us of the glory of the is, that he was God forbid that we should say that Mary was full of grace in the same manner as her Son; for he is the very source and origin of it, the saints, Mary not excepted, whatever degree they possess of grace and sanctity. St. Luke assures us also that St. Stephen was full of grace and the Holy Ghost, but it was a fullness in regard to a less capacity, and in relation to a lower function. Moreover, to St. Stephen and other saints, who have received large portions of heavenly grace, we may say, in those other words of the angel, : but those very favours, though very great in themselves, were not to be compared with that which from all eternity was reserved for Mary. God made the saints the object of his gratuitous election, and he qualified them with his graces to be the messengers of his Son, the preachers and witnesses of his gospel; but Mary was his choice, and was furnished with his graces to bear the most illustrious, the most exalted title of honour that heaven could bestow on a pure creature, to conceive of her proper substance the divine Word made man. If then the grace of God so raises a person in worth and merit that there is not any prince on earth who deserves to be compared with a soul that is dignified with the lowest degree of sanctifying grace; what shall we say or think of Mary, in whom the fullness of grace was only a preparation to her maternity? What shall we think of ourselves, (but in an opposite light,) who wilfully expose this greatest of all treasures on so many occasions to be lost, whereas we ought wilfully to forego and renounce all the advantages and pleasures of this world, rather than hazard the loss of the least degree of it, and be most fervent in our supplications to God for the gaining, preserving, and increasing so great a treasure: forasmuch as it is a pledge of God's love, a participation of his Spirit, and a title to the possession of his heavenly kingdom. But who can be surprised at those inestimable treasures which God, on this occasion, with so liberal a hand, bestows on Mary, if he considers the purport of the following words of the angel: . He is with her in a manner more intimate, more perfect, and more divine than he ever was or will be with any other creature. He is with her, not only by his essence, by his presence, by his power; for he is thus with all his creatures: He is with her, not only by his grace touching her heart and enlightening her understanding; he is thus many times with the sinner: He is with her, not only with his sanctifying grace, making her agreeable in his sight, and placing her in the number of his children; he is present in this manner with all the just: He is with her, not only by a special protection guiding her in his ways, and leading her securely to the term of salvation; this he does for the elect: but he is also with her by a substantial and corporeal presence, residing personally and really in her. In her, and of her substance, is this day formed his adorable body; in her he reposes for nine months, with his whole divinity and humanity. It is in this ineffable manner that he is with Mary, and with none but Mary. O glorious Virgin, thrice happy Mother, from this source and ocean of all grace what heavenly blessings in so long a space of time must have flowed upon you! and what honors must be due to one so nearly allied to our great Creator! What intercession so prevalent as that of the

The angel concludes his address with these words: ., as being chosen preferably to all of her sex, to be the glorious instrument, in the hand of God, for removing the maledictions laid on mankind in punishment of their sins, and in communicating to them the source of all good. And on this account it was that succeeding , as she foretold of herself,regarding her as the centre in which all the blessings of the Old and New Testament are drawn together.

Though we are obliged to consider the eminent quality of Mother of God as the source of all other graces bestowed on the Blessed Virgin, it must yet be owned it is not the greatest, and that she was happier in loving Jesus Christ than in having conceived him and brought him forth. She isand above the rest of creatures, not precisely on account of her maternity, but because she received a fulness of grace proportioned to the dignity to which she was chosen. So the" according to the remark of the holy fathers, she was happier for her sanctity than for her dignity: for her virtues than for her privileges. Among her virtues, that of purity seems particularly deserving of notice on this solemnity, as the epistle for this festival records that memorable prophecy of Isaias, ;8 the most remarkable of the signs God had promised the world for making known the accomplishment of the mystery of man's redemption. And indeed right reason seemed to require that she, who was to be the mother of God, should be of an integrity above reproach, and incapable of yielding to any solicitation: it was highly fit her virginity should be perfectly pure, and removed as far as possible from the least suspicion of blemish. For this reason, the moment God had chosen her to be his mother, he exacted from her the most authentic proofs of an inviolable attachment to purity. Thus, it is not in a crowd, or in idle conversation, but in a retreat, that the angel finds her. It is not from the distraction of diversions and entertainments that he calls her aside to deliver his message: no; she is alone in her house, with the door shut; "and," as St. Ambrose says, "he must be an angel that gets entrance there." a Hence, according to the same holy father, it was not the angel's appearance that gave her trouble, for he will not have it to be doubted but heavenly visions and a commerce with the blessed spirits had been familiar to her. But what alarmed her, he says, was the angel's appearing in human form, in the shape of a young man. What might add to her fright on the occasion was his addressing her in the strain of praise, which kind of words flattery often puts in the mouths of ill-designing men. And how few, alas, are able to withstand such dangers! But Mary, guarded by her modesty, is in confusion at expressions of this sort, and dreads the least appearance of deluding flattery. Such high commendations make her cautious how she answers, till in silence she has more fully considered of the matter: , says St. Luke, Ah, what numbers of innocent souls have been corrupted for want of using the like precautions! Mary is retired, but how seldom now-a-days are young virgins content to stay at home! Mary is silent when commended, and answered not a word till she had well considered what she ought to say: but now it is to be feared that young women never think so little as when they ale entertained with flattery. Every soothing word is but too apt to slide from the ear to the heart; and who can tell what multitudes, by their unwary methods, suffer shipwreck of their modesty, and then of their purity. For how can this be long-lived after having lost all its guardians? No, it cannot be. Unless a virgin be assiduous in prayer and spiritual reading, modest in her dress, prudent and wary in her choice of company, and extremely careful in the government of her eyes and tongue when she happens to be in conversation with the other sex, there is but too much reason to apprehend that either her heart is already betrayed, or in danger of being vanquished by the next assault of her spiritual enemy. A dread of, and a speedy flight from all dangerous occasions is the only security of virtue and innocence. Presumption wants no other tempter. Even Mary, though confirmed in grace, was only secure by this fear and distrust in herself. A second cause why Mary was disturbed at the words of the angel was because they contained her praises. Humble souls always tremble and sink with confusion in their own minds when they hear themselves commended; because they are deeply penetrated with a sense of their own weakness and insufficiency, and they consider contempt as their due. They know that the glory of all gifts belongs solely to God, and they justly fear lest the poison of praise should insinuate itself into their minds; being sensible how infinitely dangerous honors and flattery are to humility. Are these our sentiments? Do we never speak of ourselves to our own advantage? Do we never artfully praise ourselves, or willingly lend an ear to what flatterers say to applaud us? Are we troubled when we hear ourselves praised? What gives trouble but to too many is, that men give them not what they take to be their right; and that their praises equal not the notion they have framed of their merits. The high eulogiums bestowed on Mary by the angel she answers no otherwise than by a profound silence, by a saintly trouble of mind, which, with a modest blush, appears in her countenance. The angel, to calm her disquiets, says to her, He then informs her that she is to conceive and bring forth a son whose name shall be Jesus, who shall be great, and the son of the Most High, and possessed of the throne of David, her illustrious ancestor. Mary, who according to St. Austin had consecrated her virginity to God by a vow, is not at all weakened by the prospect of such a dignity in her resolution of living a virgin; but, on the contrary, out of a just concern to know how she may comply with the will of God without prejudice to her vow, neither moved by curiosity, nor doubting of the miracle or its possibility, she inquires, Nor does she give her consent till the heavenly messenger acquaints her that it is to be a work of the Holy Ghost, who, in making her fruitful, will not entrench in the least upon her virginal purity, but cause her to be a mother, still remaining, as she desires, a pure virgin.

Moreover, had not Mary been deep-rooted in humility, what impression must not these great promises have made in her heart, at a time especially when the first transports are so apt to overflow the soul on the sudden news of an unexpected glory. The world knows, from too frequent experience, how strongly the promise and expectation of new dignities raise the spirits, and alter the words, the looks, and the whole carriage of proud men. But Mary is still the same, or rather much more lowly and meek in spirit upon the accession of this unparalleled dignity. She sees no cause to pride herself in her virtues, graces, and privileges, knowing that the glory of all these are due only to the divine Author and Bestower of them. In submission, therefore, to God's will, without any further inquiries, she expresses her assent in these humble but powerful words: What faith and confidence does her answer express! What profound humility and perfect obedience! She was saluted Mother of God, yet uses no word of dignity, but styles herself nothing more than his handmaid, to be commanded and employed by him as he shall think fittest. The world, as heaven had decreed, was not to have a Saviour till she had given her consent to the angel's proposal; she gives it, and behold the power and efficacy of her submissive fiat! That moment, the mystery of love and mercy promised to mankind four thousand years before, foretold by so many prophets, desired by so many saints, is wrought on earth. That moment, the Word of God is for ever united to humanity; the soul of Jesus Christ, produced from nothing, begins to enjoy God, and to know all things past, present, and to come: that moment, God begins to have an adorer who is infinite, and the world a mediator who is omnipotent; and, to the working of this great mystery, Mary alone is chosen to co-operate by her free assent. The prophets represent the earth as moved out of its place, and the mountains as melting away before the very countenance of God looking down upon the world. Now that he descends in person, who would not expect that the whole heavens should be moved? But another kind of appearance best suited his coming on this occasion, which was with the view of curing our pride by his wonderful humiliations, and thereby repair the injury the Godhead had suffered from our unjust usurpation; and not to show forth his grandeur, and display his all-glorious majesty. How far are the ways of God above those of men! how greatly does divine wisdom differ from human folly! how does every circumstance in this mystery confound the pride, the pomp, and the vain titles of worldly grandeur, and recommend to us the love of silence and sincere humility! Shall the disciples of Christ have other sentiments?

But what tongue can express the inward feelings and affections which; then filled the glowing heart of the most pure Mother of God? What light shone in her understanding to penetrate the mysteries and the excess of the unfathomed goodness of God! what ardours of holy love inflamed her will! what jubilee filled her soul! Let men redeemed exult and praise, returning to God their best homages of adoration, thanksgiving, and love. It is for this duty that the church has appointed this present festival, which we ought chiefly to consecrate to the contemplation of this adorable mystery with hymns of love, praise, and thanksgiving. It was the hope and comfort of all the ancient saints, and the great object of all their earnest prayers, tears, and sighs. The prophets had a view to it in all their predictions, this being the principal point in all the wonderful revelations of God made to his church since the fall of Adam in Paradise, whom he immediately comforted with a promise and glimpse of this glorious mercy. Every ordinance in the law which he gave the Jews was typical, and had either an immediate or at least an indirect relation to Christ and our redemption by him. Among the numberless religious rites and sacrifices which were prescribed them, there was not one which did not in some manner represent or allude to this mystery. How high an idea ought this circumstance to give us of its incomprehensible greatness, which its nature and wonderful effects and fruits must enhance beyond the power of words! We are lost in astonishment when we contemplate this prodigy of omnipotence and infinite wisdom and mercy, and adore it in raptures and silence.

Gerson cries out on this mystery: "What ought every heart to say or think! every religious, every loving and faithful heart? It ought to rejoice exceedingly in this singular comfort, and to salute you with Gabriel, On this day is the Saviour of mankind, true God and man, conceived in the womb of Mary. This day our Lady received a name more sublime than can be understood, and the most noble of all names possible after that of her Son, by which she is called the Mother of God. On this day the greatest of miracles is wrought. Hear the wonders of love and mercy on this festival: God is made man; and man, in the divine person, God: he that is immortal is become mortal, and the Eternal is born in time. A virgin is a mother a woman the mother of God; a creature has conceived her Creator!" St. Peter Chrysologus expresses the truth of this mystery as follows: "One virgin so receives and contains God in the lodging of her breast as to procure peace for the earth, glory for heaven, salvation for the lost, life for the dead, an alliance of those on earth with the blessed in heaven, and the commerce of God with the flesh."

From the example of the Virgin Mary in this mystery, how ardent a love ought we to conceive of purity and humility! According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Jerome, she would rather be the spouse of God in spirit, by spotless virginity, than his mother in the flesh; and so acceptable was this her disposition to God, that she deserved immediately to hear, that she should bring forth the Son of the Most High, still remaining a most pure virgin: nor would God have otherwise raised her to this astonishing honor. The Holy Ghost is invited by purity to dwell in souls, but is chased away by the filth of the contrary vice. The dreadful havoc which it now-a-days makes among Christian souls, calls for torrents of tears, and is the source of the infidelity and universal desolation which spreads on every side. Humility is the foundation of a spiritual life. By it Mary was prepared for the extraordinary graces. and all virtues with which she was enriched, and for the eminent dignity of Mother of God. St. Austin says that, according to an ancient tradition, this mystery was completed on the 25th of March. Both eastern and western churches celebrate it on this day, and have done so at least ever since the fifth century. This festival is mentioned by Pope Gelasius I, in 492. The council of Constantinople, in 692, orders the , as on Good Friday, to be said on all days in Lent, except Saturdays, Sundays, and the feast of the Annunciation. The tenth council of Toledo, in 656, calls this solemnity "the festival of the Mother of God," by way of excellence. To praise the divine goodness for this incomprehensible mystery of the incarnation, Urban II, in the council of Clermont, in 1095, ordered the bell to be rung every day for the triple Angelical Salutation, called Angelus Domini, at morning, noon, and night; which practice of devotion several popes have recommended by indulgences, as John XXII, Calixtus III, Paul III, Alexander VII and Clement X. The late Benedict XIII has augmented them to those who, at the aforesaid hours, shall devoutly recite this prayer kneeling



SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/theannunciation.asp#ixzz1Hextrz67

TODAY'S GOSPEL: MAR. 25: LUKE 1: 26- 38

Luke 1: 26 - 38
26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.28And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!"29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.30And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,33and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."34And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"35And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.36And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.37For with God nothing will be impossible."38And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Post a Comment