Monday, April 8, 2013


MARGARET THATCHER the 1st female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has died at the age of 87. She was leader of the conservative party from 1975-1990. She was one of the longest serving Prime Ministers from 1979-1990.  Upon assuming the role of PM she paraphrased St. Francis, "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony, where there is error, may we bring truth, where there is doubt, may we bring faith, and where there is despair may we bring hope." Thatcher was nicknamed the "Iron Lady" by a Soviet journalist. Thatcher was born on October 13, 1925 and died on April 8, 2013.  Her father was a grocery store owner. She was born as Margaret Roberts in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Her older sister was named Muriel. Margaret grew up as a strict Methodist. She received
a degree from Oxford studying chemistry. In 1951 Margaret married Denis Thatcher a divorced businessman. She became a barrister in 1953 and gave birth to twins Carol and Mark. In 1959 she was elected as an Member of Parliament. She retired from public life in 2002 after suffering a stroke. Her husband died in 2003. May she rest in peace - please pray for her soul.



Vatican Radio REPORT For the Christian, "making progress" means "lowering oneself" on the road of humility in order allow God’s love to emerge and be clearly seen. This was the central focus of Pope Francis’ homily on Monday morning at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel. The liturgy was attended by some of the Sisters of Charity, who renewed their vows, the staff of the Vatican Television Center, the Brazilian Program of Vatican Radio, and the long-time Papal photographer, Arturo Mari.

The way of Christian humility rises up to God, as those who bear witness to it “stoop low” to make room for charity. The liturgical feast of the Annunciation occasioned this reflection from Pope Francis, as he celebrated the Annunciation Mass on Monday morning. The Pope said that the road taken by Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the imperial census was a road of humility. There was the humility of Mary, who “did not understand well,” but “[entrusted] her soul to the will of God.” Joseph was humble, as he “lowered himself” to take on the “great responsibility” of the bride who was with child.

“So it is always with God’s love,” said Francis, “that, in order to reach us, takes the way of humility.” This was the same way that Jesus walked, a way that humbled itself even unto the Cross. Pope Francis went on to say that, for a Christian, “[T]his is the golden rule,” according to which progress and advancement always come through lowering oneself. “One can take no other road,” he said, adding, “if I do not lower myself, if you do not lower yourself, you are not a Christian.”

Pope Francis went on to say, “Being humble does not mean going on the road,” with “downcast eyes.” Such was not the humility of Jesus, or his mother or his foster father, Joseph. The Holy Father underlined that the way of humility is the one that leads to the triumph of the Resurrection. “Let us ask God for the grace of humility,” he prayed, “that humility, which is the way by which charity surely passes,” for, “if there is no humility, love remains blocked, it cannot go [forward].”


Vatican City, 8 April 2013 (VIS) – At 5:30pm in the Basilica of St. John Lateran yesterday, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated Mass, during which he officially took possession of the Cathedra of the Bishop of Rome. At the taking of possession, there was an act of obedience carried out by a representation of Rome's ecclesial community. Just as at the Mass inaugurating his Petrine ministry—when six cardinals, two from each of the three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon, represented the entire College of Cardinals—representatives from the Diocese of Rome made the act of obedience: Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of Rome; the vice gerent and an auxiliary bishop of the diocese; a pastor and assistant pastor; a deacon, male religious, and female religious; as well as a family and a young lay man and lay woman.
Find below the full text of the Pope's homily.

It is with joy that I am celebrating the Eucharist for the first time in this Lateran Basilica, the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. I greet all of you with great affection: the very dear Cardinal Vicar, the auxiliary bishops, the diocesan presbyterate, the deacons, the men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I offer my greetings, too, to the mayor and his wife, and to all the civil authorities. Together let us walk in the light of the risen Lord.

1. Today we are celebrating the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as “Divine Mercy Sunday”. What a beautiful truth of faith this is for our lives: the mercy of God! God’s love for us is so great, so deep; it is an unfailing love, one which always takes us by the hand and supports us, lifts us up and leads us on.

2. In today’s Gospel, the Apostle Thomas personally experiences this mercy of God, which has a concrete face, the face of Jesus, the risen Jesus. Thomas does not believe it when the other Apostles tell him: “We have seen the Lord”. It isn’t enough for him that Jesus had foretold it, promised it: “On the third day I will rise”. He wants to see, he wants to put his hand in the place of the nails and in Jesus’ side. And how does Jesus react? With patience: Jesus does not abandon Thomas in his stubborn unbelief; he gives him a week’s time, he does not close the door, he waits. And Thomas acknowledges his own poverty, his little faith. “My Lord and my God!”: with this simple yet faith-filled invocation, he responds to Jesus’ patience. He lets himself be enveloped by divine mercy; he sees it before his eyes, in the wounds of Christ’s hands and feet and in his open side, and he discovers trust: he is a new man, no longer an unbeliever, but a believer.

Let us also remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him: “Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in me”. Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus, and he weeps. How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus – how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!

Let us think too of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus: their sad faces, their barren journey, their despair. But Jesus does not abandon them: he walks beside them, and not only that! Patiently he explains the Scriptures which spoke of him, and he stays to share a meal with them. This is God’s way of doing things: he is not impatient like us, who often want everything all at once, even in our dealings with other people. God is patient with us because he loves us, and those who love are able to understand, to hope, to inspire confidence; they do not give up, they do not burn bridges, they are able to forgive. Let us remember this in our lives as Christians: God always waits for us, even when we have left him behind! He is never far from us, and if we return to him, he is ready to embrace us.

I am always struck when I reread the parable of the merciful Father; it impresses me because it always gives me great hope. Think of that younger son who was in the Father’s house, who was loved; and yet he wants his part of the inheritance; he goes off, spends everything, hits rock bottom, where he could not be more distant from the Father, yet when he is at his lowest, he misses the warmth of the Father’s house and he goes back. And the Father? Had he forgotten the son? No, never. He is there, he sees the son from afar, he was waiting for him every hour of every day, the son was always in his father’s heart, even though he had left him, even though he had squandered his whole inheritance, his freedom. The Father, with patience, love, hope and mercy, had never for a second stopped thinking about him, and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach: he is back! And that is the joy of the Father. In that embrace of the son there is all of this joy: he is back! God is always waiting for us, he never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we can regain confidence, hope – always! A great German theologian, Romano Guardini, said that God responds to our weakness by his patience, and this is the reason for our confidence, our hope (cf. Glaubenserkenntnis, Würzburg, 1949, p. 28). It is like a dialogue between our weakness and the patience of God, a dialogue that, if we will engage in it, gives us hope. 

3. I would like to emphasize one other thing: God’s patience has to call forth in us the courage to return to him, however many mistakes and sins there may be in our life. Jesus tells Thomas to put his hand in the wounds of his hands and his feet, and in his side. We too can enter into the wounds of Jesus, we can actually touch him. This happens every time that we receive the sacraments with faith. Saint Bernard, in a fine homily, says: “Through the wounds of Jesus I can suck honey from the rock and oil from the flinty rock (cf. Deut 32:13), I can taste and see the goodness of the Lord” (On the Song of Songs, 61:4). It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his heart. Thomas understood this. Saint Bernard goes on to ask: What can I count on? On my own merits? No, “My merit is God’s mercy. I am by no means lacking merits as long as he is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are manifold, I too will abound in merits” (ibid., 5). This is important: the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love. Saint Bernard even states: “So what if my conscience gnaws at me for my many sins? ‘Where sin has abounded, there grace has abounded all the more’ (Rom 5:20)” (ibid.). But some of us may think: my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable, my unbelief is like that of Thomas; I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that he is waiting for me, of all people. But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him. How many times in my pastoral ministry have I heard it said: “Father, I have many sins”; and I have always pleaded: “Don’t be afraid, go to him, he is waiting for you, he will take care of everything”. We hear many offers from the world around us; but let us take up God’s offer instead: his is a caress of love. For God, we are not numbers, we are important, indeed we are the most important thing to him; even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to his heart.

Adam, after his sin, experiences shame, he feels naked, he senses the weight of what he has done; and yet God does not abandon him: if that moment of sin marks the beginning of his exile from God, there is already a promise of return, a possibility of return. God immediately asks: “Adam, where are you?” He seeks him out. Jesus took on our nakedness, he took upon himself the shame of Adam, the nakedness of his sin, in order to wash away our sin: by his wounds we have been healed. Remember what Saint Paul says: “What shall I boast of, if not my weakness, my poverty? Precisely in feeling my sinfulness, in looking at my sins, I can see and encounter God’s mercy, his love, and go to him to receive forgiveness.

In my own life, I have so often seen God’s merciful countenance, his patience; I have also seen so many people find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him: Lord, I am here, accept my poverty, hide my sin in your wounds, wash it away with your blood. And I have always seen that God did just this – he accepted them, consoled them, cleansed them, loved them.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his tenderness, so beautiful, we will feel his embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love.

After the Mass, from the Loggia of the Archbasilica, the Holy Father greeted the faithful gathered outside the church, and offered them his blessing: 

Brothers and sisters, 

Buona sera! I thank you so much for your company in today's Mass. Thank you so much! I ask you to pray for me. I need it. Don't forget this. Thanks to all of you! And let us all go forward together, the people and the Bishop, all together, going forward always in the joy of the Resurrection of Jesus. He is always at our side. 

May God bless you! 

(He blessed the people.)

Many thanks! See you soon!
Vatican City, 8 April 2013 (VIS) – On the Sunday that concludes the Easter Octave, which John Paul II named Divine Mercy Sunday, the Pope greeted the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the Regina Coeli with the words of the risen Christ: “Peace be with you”. He explained that it is a peace that goes beyond a simple greeting or wish: “It is a gift,” he said. “The precious gift that Christ gives to his disciples, after having passed through death and hell.” It is a peace that is “the fruit of the victory of God's love over evil … and of forgiveness. The true peace that comes from experiencing God's mercy.”
The Holy Father then spoke of Jesus' appearances to his disciples who were locked in the Cenacle. Thomas wasn't present at the first appearance and he didn't believe what the apostles told him of it. At the second, when he was there and Jesus invited him to touch his wounds, Jesus said to him “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
“And who are those who believe without having seen?” the pontiff asked. They are “other disciples, men and women of Jerusalem who, although not having met the risen Jesus, believed in the witness of the apostles and the women. This is a very important word about faith; we can call it the beatitude of faith. In every time and in every place there are the blessed who, through the Word of God proclaimed in the Church and witnessed to by Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is God's love incarnate, Mercy incarnate. And that goes for all of us!”
However, along with peace, Jesus gave his disciples the Holy Spirit, “so that they might bring the forgiveness of sins—the forgiveness that only God can give and that cost the blood of the Son—to the world. The Church is sent by the risen Christ to bring the remission of sins to humanity and thus to make the Kingdom of love grow; to sow peace in our hearts so that we might also affirm it in our relationships, in society, and in institutions. The Spirit of the risen Christ casts out the fear in the hearts of the Apostles and compels them to leave the Cenacle in order to bring forth the Gospel. Let us also have more courage to witness to our faith in the risen Christ! Let us not be afraid to be Christians or to live as Christians!”
Vatican City, 8 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy,
- Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo, apostolic nuncio to Kenya and titular of Castello,
- Archbishop Hector Ruben Aguer of La Plata, Argentina, and
- Dr. Nikolaus Schneider, president of the German Evangelical Church, with his wife and entourage.
On Saturday, 6 April, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and
- Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Vatican City, 8 April 2013 (VIS) – His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, with the consent of the Synod of Bishops of the Coptic Catholic Church in conformity with Canon 85, para. 2(2) of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches and giving notice to the Apostolic See, has transferred Bishop Boutros Kamal Fahim Awad Hanna to the Eparchial See of Minya of the Copts. Bishop Hanna was previously curial bishop of Alexandria of the Copts and titular of Mareotes.
The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi (of the Italo-Albanians) presented by Bishop Sotir Ferrara, in accordance with canon 201 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. At the same time, the Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Paolo Romeo, archbishop of Palermo, Italy, as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the same eparchy, Piana degli Albanesi (area 420, population 30,200, Catholics 28,700, priests 29, permanent deacons 4, religious 159), Palermo, Italy.
Vatican City, 8 April 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:
- appointed Bishop Michael Owen Jackels as Metropolitan Archbishop of Dubuque (area 45,074, population 979,560, Catholics 206,843, priests 216, permanent deacons 91, religious 861), Iowa, USA. The archbishop-elect, previously bishop of Wichita, Kansas, USA, is a member of the Subcommittee on the Catechism in the U.S. Conference of Bishops. He succeeds Archbishop Jerome George Hanus, O.S.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
- appointed Msgr. John Thomas Folda as bishop of the Diocese of Fargo (area 92,650, population 396,000, Catholics 89,400, priests 120, permanent deacons 43, religious 126), North Dakota, USA. The bishop-elect was born in Omaha, Nebraska, USA in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1989. Since ordination he has served in several academic and pastoral roles, most recently as rector of the St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Nebraska, USA. He was named a chaplain of His Holiness in 2007.
- appointed Bishop Reynaldo Gonda Evangelista as bishop of Imus (area 1,287, population 2,843,000, Catholics 2,433,000, priests 261, religious 701), Philippines. Previously bishop of Boac, Bishop Evangelista is president of the Commission for Vocations on the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.
- appointed Archbishop Brian Udaigwe, titular of Suelli, as apostolic nuncio to Benin.
On Saturday, 6 April, the Holy Father appointed Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, O.F.M., as secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop and assigning him the titular see of Bellicastrum. The archbishop-elect was born in Lodoselo, Spain in 1953 and was ordained a priest in 1977. Since ordination he has served in several academic and administrative roles, most recently as minister general of the Order of Friars Minor. Archbishop-elect Rodriguez is a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.



By  on Monday, 8 April 2013
Baroness Thatcher (Photo: PA)
Baroness Thatcher (Photo: PA)
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has said he is praying for the repose of the soul of Baroness Thatcher and for the “intentions of all those who now mourn her”.
In a statement issued on behalf of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, the archbishop said: “It was with sadness that we heard the news of the death of Baroness Thatcher, who served this country for many years both as a Member of Parliament and as Prime Minister. We pray for the repose of her soul and for the intentions of her family and all those who now mourn for her.”
Margaret Thatcher died after a stroke this morning at the age of 87.



Four Copts and a Muslim shot dead in Khosous. The imams incite violence against Christians. Christian kindergarten and homes burned. At a funeral in the Cathedral of St. Mark, a group attack the funeral procession with Molotov cocktails and stones. Morsi and al-Azhar condemn the violence. The police almost totally absent. The Christians accuse the government of failing to provide any security for the minority. 

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - There is growing tension between groups of Christians and Muslims after the killing of four Copts and a Muslim in the district of Khosous. At the funeral of the Christian victims, held yesterday in the Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo, another Christian was killed and at least 80 were injured after the funeral procession was attacked by unidentified groups.
It all began on April 5 in Khosous, on the outskirts of Cairo. The clashes between Christians and Muslims was sparked by graffiti with a swastika on the wall of an Islamic building, which the Muslims attributed to Christians. Some buildings of the Christian community were torched and shots were fired. Four Christians were killed along with a Muslim.

According to a Coptic priest in Khosous, the violence is rooted in a dispute between a Christian and a Muslim family that has lasted for three months. The problem had been solved, but a few days ago a group of Salafis threatened a Christian woman. Father Suriel, from the church of Mar Girgis, says that "some imams incited a mob against the Copts and the church during a meeting in the mosque", giving rise to attacks and clashes. A mob with covered faces also burned the Mar Girgis kindergarten, a Baptist church and shops belonging to Christians.

According to witnesses, security forces arrived very late and clashes continued in their presence. The four Christians killed were Marsouq Atteya, Morkos Kamal, Victor Manqarios and Essam Zakhary. All were shot by automatic rifles in the face, the heart, the head and shoulders. The bullets were fired from the top down.

At the funeral yesterday in the Cathedral of St. Mark, those present began shouting slogans against President Morsi for the lack of security. On leaving the church, the funeral procession was attacked by unknown groups with stones and Molotov cocktails. The faithful responded by throwing stones in turn. In the clashes a Christian was killed. A church building caught fire, but the fire was extinguished. At the funeral there was little police presence who arrived in greater numbers following the unrest to dispel the crowds using tear gas. But sporadic incidents have also continued throughout the night.

President Mohamed Morsi phoned the Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II to express his solidarity. "Every attack on the cathedral - he said - is an attack on my person." The Coptic Patriarch urged calm. The Muslim Brotherhood has called on everyone to "reject and condemn violence.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb has denounced the clashes and sent his representatives to the area to calm the situation. Tayyeb said that protecting Egypt from sectarian violence and racism is a religious and national duty because "the blood of all the Egyptians is precious."
But according to some priests, under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, the situation of Christians has worsened and the Christian minority accuses Morsi's government of failing to sufficiently protect their freedom.



Alfonso Dhlakama
MAPUTO, April 5, 2013,(CISA) -Four people have died and sixteen more injured in an early morning clash between the police and the supporters of RENAMO, the main opposition party in Mozambique, in Muxungué,province of Sofala.
Violence broke out when RENAMO militants attacked the police station to free their comrades arrested a few hours before.
The RENAMO(Mozambique National Resistance) fought against the government of Frelimo (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) during the civil war of 16 years which ended in 1992 after which they became the main opposition party.
Tension has been rising for several months since the leader of the RENAMO, Alfonso Dhlakama retired in the old military base of his movement in the forest of Gorongosa, in the province of Sofala in central Mozambique, surrounding himself with armed militants.
From his base in Dhlakama, Alfonso issued an ultimatum to President Armando Guebuza to accept the formation of a national unity government.
“We are dealing with disturbing facts that should not be over emphasized. So far the clashes figures have been localized in the area” sources at the local Church told Fides.
“There are some sections of the RENAMO that have taken a hard line, but there are also several appeals for calm, for an end to these acts of disorder and to resume the dialogue between the parties. These appeals come not only from the Catholic Church but also from other Christian denominations.”
On April 8, the Bishops will meet in Assembly and it is likely that they will release a statement on the situation that the Country is experiencing.
The government on the one hand seeks a moderate approach to try to resolve the dispute, however, they must prove that they have the situation under control, and therefore intervenes with police actions, which lead to clashes.
Tension increases in relation to the administrative elections in November that the RENAMO has stated its intention to boycott” say our sources.


CVA RELEASE: Catholic Voices Australia is a Melbourne-based initiative founded by a team of lay Catholics with a specific goal: to provide the media with access to well-informed, practising Catholics who will represent the Catholic Church truthfully and passionately in the media.
Pope Benedict’s announcement to abdicate the Holy See and the papal election that followed, provided Catholic Voices Australia with the prime opportunity to train six ‘ordinary’ Catholics who were then prepared to comment on television and radio regarding this historical event.
Catholic Voices Australia is now extending this initiative by opening an application process with the purpose of training a wide range of Catholic Voices to assist the media by shedding light on any current issues where a Catholic perspective is required.
  • We welcome applications from any practising, committed Catholics aged between 20-45 who come from all walks of life and are living in Melbourne.
  • Applicants must also be available on one of the interview dates and on all four training weekends.
  • Interviews will be held on Friday evening April 26 and Saturday April 27 in Melbourne.
  • Training weekends, each lasting from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, will be on May 17, 18, 19 (this will be a residential weekend); May 31 and June 1, 2; June 14, 15, 16; and July 5, 6, 7 in Melbourne.
  • Follow the links provided
Chris Bergin
Kathleen O’Shea
Robert Dugdale
Madeleine Dugdale
Therese Nichols
Penny Badwal
Catholic Voices Australia
Putting the Church's case in the public square
All Media enquires can be directed to:
Kathleen O'Shea: 0422 087 485
Madeleine Dugdale: 0412 399 627
General enquiries can be directed to
Think you might like to be a CV?
  • Email for an application form.
  • The deadline for applications is
    20 April 2013


    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.

    TODAY'S FEAST : MARCH 25 : THE ANNUNCIATION TO MARY - moved due to Holy Week

    The Annunciation
    Feast: March 25

    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 <Hail! full of grace.>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, <Hail! full of grace.> 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. <Full of grace.> The first encomium which St. John gives us of the glory of the < Word made flesh> is, that he was <full of grace and truth.> 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, <from whose fulness all> the saints, Mary not excepted, <have received> 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, <You have found favour with God>: 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: <The Lord is with thee>. 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 <Mother of divine grace!>
    The angel concludes his address with these words: < Blessed art thou among women>.<Blessed>, 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 <generations>, 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, <That a virgin should conceive and bring forth a son>;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: <She revolved in her mind>, says St. Luke, <what manner of salutation this should be.> 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, <Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour before God.> 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, <How shall this be?> 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: <Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.> 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 <Missa praesanctificatorum>, 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