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Sunday, March 25, 2012

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD : SUN. MARCH 25, 2012

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VATICAN : POPE : MEXICO GOD WANTS US TO BE HAPPY - ANGELUS
EUROPE : LONDON : INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCEE ON MATERNAL RIGHTS
ASIA : CHINA : UNDERGROUND CLERGY DETAINED FOR GOVERNMENT "LEARNING"
AFRICA : KENYA : CRISIS DUE TO FORCED EVICTIONS
AUSTRALIA : WORD ON FIRE FR. ROBERT BARRON WITNESS
AMERICA : MEXICO : POPE'S VISIT LIVE ON POM TV
TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : SUN. MARCH 25, 2012 : 5TH SUN. LENT
TODAY'S FEAST : MARCH 25 : THE ANNUNCIATION TO MARY
 
VATICAN : POPE : MEXICO GOD WANTS US TO BE HAPPY - ANGELUS
 
RADIOVATICANA REPORT: MESSAGE TO YOUTH IN PLAZA
Below the full text of Pope Benedict’s discourse to young people in Plaza de la Paz, Guanajuato: Dear Young People,
I am happy to be able to meet with you and to see your smiling faces as you fill this beautiful square. You have a very special place in the Pope’s heart. And in these moments, I would like all the children of Mexico to know this, especially those who have to bear the burden of suffering, abandonment, violence or hunger, which in recent months, because of drought, has made itself strongly felt in some regions. I am grateful for this encounter of faith, and for the festive and joyful presence expressed in song. Today we are full of jubilation, and this is important. God wants us to be happy always. He knows us and he loves us. If we allow the love of Christ to change our heart, then we can change the world. This is the secret of authentic happiness.
This place where we stand today has a name which expresses the yearning present in the heart of each and every person: “la paz”, Peace. This is a gift which comes from on high. “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:21). These are the words of the Risen Lord. We hear them during each Mass, and today they resound anew in this place, with the hope that each one of you will be transformed, becoming a sower and messenger of that peace for which Christ offered his life.
The disciple of Jesus does not respond to evil with evil, but is always an instrument of good instead, a herald of pardon, a bearer of happiness, a servant of unity. He wishes to write in each of your lives a story of friendship. Hold on to him, then, as the best of friends. He will never tire of speaking to those who always love and who do good. This you will hear, if you strive in each moment to be with him who will help you in more difficult situations.
I have come that you may know my affection. Each one of you is a gift of God to Mexico and to the world. Your family, the Church, your school and those who have responsibility in society must work together to ensure that you receive a better world as your inheritance, without jealousies and divisions.
That is why I wish to lift up my voice, inviting everyone to protect and to care for children, so that nothing may extinguish their smile, but that they may live in peace and look to the future with confidence.
You, my dear young friends, are not alone. You can count on the help of Christ and his Church in order to live a Christian lifestyle. Participate in Sunday Mass, in catechesis, in apostolic works, looking for occasions of prayer, fraternity and charity. Blessed Cristóbal, Antonio and Juan, the child martyrs of Tlaxcala, lived this way, and knowing Jesus, during the time of the initial evangelization of Mexico, they discovered that there is no greater treasure than he. They were children like you, and from them we can learn that we are never too young to love and serve.
How I would like to spend more time with all of you, but the time has already come for me to go. We will remain close in prayer. So I invite you to pray continually, even in your homes; in this way, you will experience the happiness of speaking about God with your families. Pray for everyone, and also for me. I will pray for all of you, so that Mexico may be a place in which everyone can live in serenity and harmony. I bless all of you from my heart and I ask you to bring the affection and blessing of the Pope to your parents, brothers and sisters, and other loved ones. May the Virgin accompany you. Thank you very much, my dear young friends.
ANGELUS FOR SUNDAY STAY WITH MARY
RADIOVATICANA REPORT:
“At this time, when so many families are separated or forced to emigrate, when so many are suffering due to poverty, corruption, domestic violence, drug trafficking, the crisis of values and increased crime, we come to Mary in search of consolation, strength and hope”. Said Pope Benedict XVI in his Angelus reflections from the raised altar of the Bicentennial Park in Guanajuato Mexico, before a crowd of half a million faithful. “She is the Mother of the true God, who invites us to stay with faith and charity beneath her mantle, so as to overcome in this way all evil and to establish a more just and fraternal society”.Below the full text of Pope Benedict XVI's Angelus address: Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of the grain of wheat that falls to the ground, dies and bears much fruit. This is his response to some Greeks who approached Philip asking: “we would like to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21). Today we invoke Mary Most Holy and we ask her: “show Jesus to us”.
As we now pray the Angelus and remember the Annunciation of the Lord, our eyes too turn spiritually towards the hill of Tepeyac, to the place where the Mother of God, under the title of “the Ever-Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe” has been fervently honoured for centuries as a sign of reconciliation and of God’s infinite goodness towards the world.
My predecessors on the Chair of Saint Peter honoured her with affectionate titles such as Our Lady of Mexico, Heavenly Patroness of Latin America, Mother and Empress of this continent. Her faithful children, in their turn, who experience her help, invoke her confidently with such affectionate and familiar names as the Rose of Mexico, Our Lady of Heaven, Virgin Morena, Mother of Tepeyac, Noble Indita.
Dear brothers and sisters, do not forget that true devotion to the Virgin Mary always takes us to Jesus, and “consists neither in sterile nor transitory feelings, nor in an empty credulity, but proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to recognize the excellence of the Mother of God, and we are moved to filial love towards our Mother and to the imitation of her virtues” (Lumen Gentium, 67). To love her means being committed to listening to her Son, to venerate the Guadalupana means living in accordance with the words of the blessed fruit of her womb.
At this time, when so many families are separated or forced to emigrate, when so many are suffering due to poverty, corruption, domestic violence, drug trafficking, the crisis of values and increased crime, we come to Mary in search of consolation, strength and hope. She is the Mother of the true God, who invites us to stay with faith and charity beneath her mantle, so as to overcome in this way all evil and to establish a more just and fraternal society.
With these sentiments, I place once again this country, all Latin America and the Caribbean before the gentle gaze of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I entrust all their sons and daughters to the Star of both the original and the new evangelization; she has inspired with her maternal love their Christian history, has given particular expression to their national achievements, to their communal and social initiatives, to family life, to personal devotion and to the Continental Mission which is now taking place across these noble lands. In times of trial and sorrow she was invoked by many martyrs who, in crying out “Long live Christ the King and Mary of Guadalupe” bore unyielding witness of fidelity to the Gospel and devotion to the Church. I now ask that her presence in this nation may continue to serve as a summons to defence and respect for human life. May it promote fraternity, setting aside futile acts of revenge and banishing all divisive hatred. May Holy Mary of Guadalupe bless us and obtain for us the abundant graces that, through her intercession, we request from heaven.

EUROPE : LONDON : INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCEE ON MATERNAL RIGHTS

IND. CATH. NEWS REPORT:
African mothers want healthcare not abortion

Delegates at conference
Mothers in Africa want maternal healthcare, not abortion, an international conference in central London has heard this week.

The 'Abortion or maternal health? What should the UK be funding in developing countries?' conference, on Tuesday, heard from an international lineup of leading experts in maternal healthcare, law and research. The conference was attended by medical professionals, bioethicists, students and religious representatives from
many countries.

Professor Robert Walley, a leading obstetrician and founder of MaterCare International, told the conference: "In the countries in which I work, one in seven mothers will die due to lack of medical equipment." It is ridiculous to supply women with abortion and condoms when they need access to emergency obstetrical care. "Abortion is a sin of commission, but failing to provide mothers with obstetrical care is a sin of omission", he said.

Professor Walley described obstetrics is the most privileged of professions. The advent of mass abortion and contraception in the 1970s lead to obstetricians who wouldn't support abortion being forcing out of the profession. "Because I was against abortion, I was told to change speciality or leave", said Professor Walley. Medics must live according to their consciences, which tells them not to perform abortions. Medics are trained to save life not destroy it. Professor Walley said that people in the developing world are getting angry at Western pro-abortion bullying.

MaterCare International's Charter of Maternal Rights secures both maternal health and the welcome of the gift of children. Since 2005 MaterCare International has run a maternal health project in Kenya, bringing healthcare and hope to rural mothers. MaterCare International also organises workshops with multi-disciplinary speakers to educate medics in ethics. The late Pope John Paul II gave direct support and inspiration to MaterCare International and Catholic obstetricians everywhere.

During the conference Terry Brown of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) told the conference how the SVP works to support poor women in Sudan and globally. Being pro-life and being pro-woman automatically go
together. Mr Brown asked delegates to pray for the work of both the SVP and SPUC.

Dr Obielumani Ideh, obstetrician and researcher from Nigeria, shared heartbreaking stories of the massive gap in healthcare between the UK and Africa. Women in Nigeria are forced to give birth in appalling conditions. Abuse and neglect of Nigerian women makes them scared of surgery such as caesareans.

In Nigeria, illegal abortions are being done under the euphemism of 'post-abortion care', said Dr Ideh. Abortion groups are selling manual vacuum aspirators (MVAs) which are being used to perform illegal abortions. Massive funding of the abortion group IPAS by the Nigerian government adds to a massive shortfall in real healthcare. Dr Ideh said that the problem of maternal mortality is mainly caused by governments failing to provide resources to doctors.

Source: SPUC/SVP
http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=20090

AFRICA : KENYA : CRISIS DUE TO FORCED EVICTIONS

Cisa News REPORT
NAIROBI, March 23, 2012 (CISA) -Forced evictions of people from urban slums across Africa is a “widespread and pernicious problem,” rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday March 22, warning of a “profound and deepening” crisis.
“Three-quarters of people who live in cities and towns south of the Sahara live in an informal settlement or slum,” said Amnesty’s Kenya director, Justus Nyang’aya. “Governments in Africa have not got to grips with this reality,” he added.
With growing urbanisation – by 2025, more Africans will live in a city or a town than a village – Amnesty said citizens must have legal protection and security of tenure, a current major block to development in slum areas.
Across Africa, large slum areas are often demolished with little or no warning, Amnesty added, in a campaign launched on the sidelines of a meeting of African housing ministers in Nairobi.
“Most people living in slums pay taxes, vote, put their children through school and contribute to the city’s economy,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty’s Africa director.
“Yet most have little or no access to sanitation, clean water, education and adequate healthcare,” he added.
Slum dwellers from across Africa gathered at the same conference centre – but excluded from the ministerial meeting itself – in the hope of adding pressure on ministers by describing the daily challenges they face.
“We are labelled criminals and trespassers… a typical case of giving a dog a bad name so as to kill it conveniently,” said Alhassan Ibn Abdallah, who lives in the Old Fadama slum in the Ghanaian capital Accra.
“Politicians only recognise us during their electioneering campaign, we are forgotten after we have voted them into power,” Abdallah said, adding fears of demolition meant people stayed in wooden huts at high risk of fire, rather than investing in more permanent concrete buildings.
“There is no dignity in begging, we want to be able to support our own families,” said Moreblessing Gwavuya, a slum resident in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, whose home was destroyed in government mass demolitions in 2005.
“All those dreams we had were shattered… no adequate notice was given, we were not consulted about our removal, we were not given any alternative, neither were we compensated for the destruction,” Gwavuya addded.
In Kenya, slum dweller Minicah Otieno said constitutional protections “remain paper rights” and are not applied in practice.
“We’re not asking the governor for any favours – we’re demanding that he respect the law,” said Marcus George Irimaka, a slum resident in Nigeria’s city of Port Harcout, where Amnesty says 300 000 face their homes being demolished.
SOURCE: CISANEWSAFRICA

AUSTRALIA : WORD ON FIRE FR. ROBERT BARRON WITNESS

ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY RELEASE
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
16 Mar 2012


Fr Robert Barron
During his recent visit to Australia, Chicago priest and founder of Word on Fire, Fr Robert Barron spoke with Bishop Peter Comensoli of the Archdiocese. He said often Christ is portrayed as a soft, friendly person expressing divine love which is how many people see him. Again while that is true there is definitely another side to Christ - the hard edge.
"There is anger and the tough side but people should not be afraid of that," Fr Barron said.
"It is not anger with us but with sin and Christ wants us to see that."
Fr Robert Barron is the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at the Mundelein Seminary. He also writes numerous columns and blogs and is regularly called upon by the secular media for commentary on a range of church and social issues.

Bishop Peter Comensoli
Over the past four years he has been working on a major multi media project, the Catholicism Project which is a 10-part documentary series on the Catholic Church and now released on DVD.
Recently a guest in Australia of the Australian Catholic University Fr Barron travelled to Melbourne, Ballarat and Brisbane as well as Sydney talking to various groups, youth ,teachers and clergy.
It was a packed 13-day tour and although Fr Barron is well known on Youtube and his own site, this was the first time most people here at the opportunity to hear him speak and meet with him.
This second part of the three part interview with Bishop Comensoli is called "The Real Face of Christ".




ASIA : CHINA : UNDERGROUND CLERGY DETAINED FOR GOVERNMENT "LEARNING"

UCAN REPORT:
Will be released if they are 'intelligent enough in their learning,' officials say
ucanews.com reporter, Beijing
China
March 22, 2012
Catholic Church News Image of Bishop, priest taken for ‘learning classes’
Coadjutor Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin (right) and Father Paul Jiang Sunian of Wenzhou
Coadjutor Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou and his chancellor Father Paul Jiang Sunian were spirited away this week to attend “learning classes,” sources say.
Bishop Shao, 49, was appointed by the Holy See in to lead Wenzhou’s “underground” community in 2007 and is not recognized by the government.
He and Fr Jiang were taken on Monday.
If Bishop Shao and Father Jiang are “intelligent enough in their learning,” they will be allowed back soon; if not, they will be detained longer, local Church sources quoted government officials as saying.
“This implies their release depends on whether they accept the government’s religious policies,” one of the sources said.
Among 17 underground priests, a few of them have been summoned to meet with religious officials in the past two days, the sources said.
Some were told to remain behind while others were allowed to return home the same day, they added.
Though no official reasons have been given, the sources suspect the recent events may be linked to the secret episcopal ordination in Tianshui diocese in Gansu province last year.
Government officials are investigating who was involved in the ordination, they said.
Bishop John Wang Ruowang of Tianshui was taken away for “learning classes” at an undisclosed location in January.
A Church observer who asked not to be named said China’s religious policy is “moving backwards” and is reflected in the current situation with the Catholic Church and with the 30 Tibetan monks and nuns who have self-immolated in
the fight for religious freedom.
The spate of detentions of underground clergy since the fall of last year was a decision coming from the government, he noted.
On March 2, a bureau chief of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China told a joint meeting of leaders of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China that he hoped the two Church bodies could do a good job in “converting the underground community.”
http://www.ucanews.com/2012/03/22/bishop-priest-taken-for-learning-classes/

AMERICA : MEXICO : POPE'S VISIT LIVE ON POM TV

Agenzia Fides report - The Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Mexico, on the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI’s first apostolic visit in Mexico, are technically prepared to be able to follow step by step the Holy Father's visit and invite everyone to share this joy through the official website of the PMS www.ompemexico.org.mx, where the event is broadcast live.
"The Pope is the representative of Christ on earth and comes to bring a message of hope. Let us all listen carefully to the Successor of St. Peter, from our website, to the whole world", is what is said in the statement sent to Fides. The broadcasting will take place from Friday, March 23 live on the internet (Broadcasting) on www.ompemexico.org.mx/tv
The POM in Mexico have done extensive work in the field of multimedia: since 2005 the program "Abriendo Horizontes" is broadcast on channels TV ESNE (El Sembrador Nueva Evangelización), 441 de Cablevision and 145 on SKY. Until now, the PMS have prepared more than 80 different programs and in almost all there is room for an interview, a section for dialogue and questions (Hablemos todos) and one for formation and testimony (Desde la Mision)
(CE) (Agenzia Fides 24/3/2012)
Link correlati

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : SUN. MARCH 25, 2012 : 5TH SUN. LENT


Jeremiah 31: 31 - 34
31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,
32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD.
33 But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
Psalms 51: 3 - 4, 12 - 15
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment.
12 Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Hebrews 5: 7 - 9
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.
8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered;
9 and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
John 12: 20 - 33
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks.
21 So these came to Philip, who was from Beth-sa'ida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus.
23 And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.
27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.
28 Father, glorify thy name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
29 The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him."
30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.
31 Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out;
32 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
33 He said this to show by what death he was to die.

TODAY'S FEAST : MARCH 25 : THE ANNUNCIATION TO MARY

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 < Word made flesh> 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 < actual> 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: < Blessed art thou among women>., 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 < all> succeeding , as she foretold of herself, < should call her Blessed;> 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 is < blessed among women> and 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, < O blessed among women.> 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#ixzz1q9DgXQsj



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