Thursday, December 7, 2017

Saint December 8 : Immaculate Conception of Mary : Solemnity

The doctrine
In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."
"The Blessed Virgin Mary..."
The subject of this immunity from original sin is the person of Mary at the moment of the creation of her soul and its infusion into her body. " the first instance of her conception..."
The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents. Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply (conceptio seminis carnis, inchoata), which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body. Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her animation, and sanctifying grace was given to her before sin could have taken effect in her soul.
"...was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin..."
The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin. The state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death. " a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race."
The immunity from original sin was given to Mary by a singular exemption from a universal law through the same merits of Christ, by which other men are cleansed from sin by baptism. Mary needed the redeeming Saviour to obtain this exemption, and to be delivered from the universal necessity and debt (debitum) of being subject to original sin. The person of Mary, in consequence of her origin from Adam, should have been subject to sin, but, being the new Eve who was to be the mother of the new Adam, she was, by the eternal counsel of God and by the merits of Christ, withdrawn from the general law of original sin. Her redemption was the very masterpiece of Christ's redeeming wisdom. He is a greater redeemer who pays the debt that it may not be incurred than he who pays after it has fallen on the debtor. Such is the meaning of the term "Immaculate Conception."
Proof from Scripture
Genesis 3:15
No direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from Scripture. But the first scriptural passage which contains the promise of the redemption, mentions also the Mother of the Redeemer. The sentence against the first parents was accompanied by the Earliest Gospel (Proto-evangelium), which put enmity between the serpent and the woman: "and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and her seed; she (he) shall crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her (his) heel" (Genesis 3:15). The translation "she" of the Vulgate is interpretative; it originated after the fourth century, and cannot be defended critically. The conqueror from the seed of the woman, who should crush the serpent's head, is Christ; the woman at enmity with the serpent is Mary. God puts enmity between her and Satan in the same manner and measure, as there is enmity between Christ and the seed of the serpent. Mary was ever to be in that exalted state of soul which the serpent had destroyed in man, i.e. in sanctifying grace. Only the continual union of Mary with grace explains sufficiently the enmity between her and Satan. The Proto-evangelium, therefore, in the original text contains a direct promise of the Redeemer, and in conjunction therewith the manifestation of the masterpiece of His Redemption, the perfect preservation of His virginal Mother from original sin.
Luke 1:28
The salutation of the angel Gabriel — chaire kecharitomene, Hail, full of grace (Luke 1:28) indicates a unique abundance of grace, a supernatural, godlike state of soul, which finds its explanation only in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. But the term kecharitomene (full of grace) serves only as an illustration, not as a proof of the dogma.
Other texts
From the texts Proverbs 8 and Ecclesiasticus 24 (which exalt the Wisdom of God and which in the liturgy are applied to Mary, the most beautiful work of God's Wisdom), or from the Canticle of Canticles (4:7, "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee"), no theological conclusion can be drawn. These passages, applied to the Mother of God, may be readily understood by those who know the privilege of Mary, but do not avail to prove the doctrine dogmatically, and are therefore omitted from the Constitution "Ineffabilis Deus". For the theologian it is a matter of conscience not to take an extreme position by applying to a creature texts which might imply the prerogatives of God. Proof from Tradition
In regard to the sinlessness of Mary the older Fathers are very cautious: some of them even seem to have been in error on this matter.
Origen, although he ascribed to Mary high spiritual prerogatives, thought that, at the time of Christ's passion, the sword of disbelief pierced Mary's soul; that she was struck by the poniard of doubt; and that for her sins also Christ died (Origen, "In Luc. hom. xvii"). In the same manner St. Basil writes in the fourth century: he sees in the sword, of which Simeon speaks, the doubt which pierced Mary's soul (Epistle 260).
St. Chrysostom accuses her of ambition, and of putting herself forward unduly when she sought to speak to Jesus at Capharnaum (Matthew 12:46; Chrysostom, Homily 44 on Matthew). But these stray private opinions merely serve to show that theology is a progressive science. If we were to attempt to set forth the full doctrine of the Fathers on the sanctity of the Blessed Virgin, which includes particularly the implicit belief in the immaculateness of her conception, we should be forced to transcribe a multitude of passages. In the testimony of the Fathers two points are insisted upon: her absolute purity and her position as the second Eve (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:22).
Mary as the second Eve
This celebrated comparison between Eve, while yet immaculate and incorrupt — that is to say, not subject to original sin — and the Blessed Virgin is developed by:
Justin (Dialogue with Trypho 100),
Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.22.4), Tertullian (On the Flesh of Christ 17), Julius Firmicus Maternus (De errore profan. relig xxvi), Cyril of Jerusalem (Catecheses 12.29), Epiphanius (Hæres., lxxviii, 18), Theodotus of Ancyra (Or. in S. Deip n. 11), and Sedulius (Carmen paschale, II, 28).
Shared from the Catholic Encyclopedia 

#PopeFrancis blessing of Nativity and Christmas Tree "May the Nativity of the Lord be the opportunity to be more attentive to the needs..." - FULL TEXT + Video

The Pope met some 4000 people of various donor delegations at the Vatican’s audience hall. They were part of the southern Italian Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine that donated the Nativity Scene. Poland’s Warmia Archdiocese and Elk Diocese that donated the red fir tree and children undergoing cancer treatment in various Italian hospitals who made the various decorations.
  FULL TEXT - Address of the Holy Father
Dear brothers and sisters,
It is a joy for me to welcome you in this circumstance, and to address to you my thanks for the gift of the nativity display and the Christmas tree in Saint Peter’s Square. I offer a heartfelt greeting to you all, starting with the authorities and representatives of the Institutions that organized this initiative. I greet the Abbot of Montevergine, for the gift of the Nativity display; the archbishop of Warmia and the bishop of Elk in Poland, from where the tree comes, with the Directorate of Bialystok State Forests. In addition, I greet the children treated in the oncological wards of various Italian hospitals and in the areas of Central Italy affected by earthquakes, coordinated by the “Contessa Lele Thun” Foundation, who made the decorations.

Every year the Nativity display and Christmas tree speak to us with their symbolic language. They make more visible what we grasp in the experience of the birth of the Son of God. They are the signs of the compassion of the heavenly Father, of His participation and closeness to humanity, which experiences not abandonment in the night of time, but is instead visited and accompanied in its difficulties. The tree points upwards and inspires us to reach towards “the greater gifts” (cf. 1 Cor 12: 31), to rise above the fog that obscures, to experience how beautiful and joyful it is to be immersed in the light of Christ. In the simplicity of the Nativity display we encounter and contemplate God’s tenderness, made manifest in that of the Child Jesus.
This year’s Nativity display, produced as a typical expression of Neapolitan art, is inspired by the works of mercy. They remind us that the Lord said to us: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Mt 7: 12). The Nativity display is the evocative place where we contemplate Jesus Who, taking on Himself the miseries of mankind, invites us to do likewise, through acts of mercy. The tree, from Poland this year, is a sign of the faith of the people who, with this gesture too, wished to express their fidelity to the See of Peter.
Dear children, my thanks are addressed above all to you. In your works, you have transferred your dreams and your desires to rise to heaven and to be known to Jesus, Who made Himself a child like you to tell you that He loves you. Thank you for your witness, for having made more beautiful these signs of Christmas, that pilgrims and visitors from all over the world will be able to admire. Thank you! Thank you! This evening, when the lights of the Nativity display and the Christmas tree are switched on, the wishes you transferred to your work in decorating the tree will also be luminous and seen by all. Thank you!
May the Nativity of the Lord be the opportunity to be more attentive to the needs of the poor and of those who, like Jesus, do not find anyone to welcome them. To you present here, to your loved ones and those you represent, I heartily wish a happy Christmas. I assure you of my prayers so that the Lord may welcome you and fulfill your expectations. I ask you too to pray for me and for my service to the Church.
And I will give my blessing to you all, but first let us all pray to Our Lady, together.
[Hail Mary…]

Pope Francis "Every day we give thanks to the Lord for what He does in our life;" at Holy Mass - FULL TEXT + Video

Pope Francis celebrated the Eucharist for the 90th birthday of His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, on December 7, 2017.
Words of the Holy Father
Every day we give thanks to the Lord for what He does in our life; but when there are important anniversaries – 25th, 50th, also each decade – this giving of thanks to God is stronger. And in these recurrences, the memory of the past journey becomes stronger, and this memory leads us to offer a gift. Memory that is a dimension of life. It is a misfortune to lose the memory of all that God has done for us: “Remember, Israel, remember…” that deuteronomic dimension of life.
Cardinal Sodano has remembered these years, and every time we remember we find ourselves before a new grace. Memory also of our smallness, our mistakes, even our sins. Saint Paul prided himself on them because only glory goes to God; we are weak, all of us. And this memory gives us the strength to go on towards another decade. It is a grace of memory. And what the Cardinal did to prepare for this anniversary is offered to us as a gift: the gift of a witness of life that is good for everyone.
Every life is different. Each one of us has his own experience and the Lord takes him on a different path, but there is always the Lord who holds us by the hand, it is He. This is a gift we have received, and we give the gift of the testimony of a life. The Lord knows what the true witness is, the one that is hidden and has done good without appearing. We see in the Cardinal the testimony of a man who has done so much for the Church, in different situations, with joy, and with tears. But the testimony that today seems to me perhaps the greatest that he gives us is that of an ecclesially disciplined man, and this is a grace for which I thank you, Mr. Cardinal. And I ask that this witness of the ecclesial dimension, in the ecclesial discipline, help us to move forward in our life. Thank you so much, Mr. Cardinal.

#PopeFrancis "Sing the authentic values of life and, through song, praise and thank God" to #Choir of Youth - Video + FULL TEXT

“Mariele Ventre” Youth Choir of the Antoniano of Bologna in the Vatican:
FULL TEXT of Pope Francis
Dear children and young people,
I greet you with affection, and those who follow you in the activities of the “Mariele Ventre” Youth Choir of the Antoniano of Bologna, which this year celebrates the sixty years of the contest entitled “Lo Zecchino d’Oro”.
I would like to express my appreciation for the fame your choir has gained over the years through its beautiful musical performances, which have given pleasure to children and also to adults. And this is because with your songs, with simplicity and skill, you convey a sense of serenity, greatly needed by everyone, especially those families that experience difficulties and sufferings.
Continue your journey: sing the authentic values of life and, through song, praise and thank God for all the good that He gives us. In this time of Advent, in preparation for Holy Christmas, your songs that narrate the event of the birth of Jesus can help those who listen to you to understand the love and the amazement of what happened in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. God became a child to be closer to man in every time, demonstrating His infinite tenderness.
I ask you to pray for me, and I cordially invoke upon you the Lord’s blessing, which I extend to your spiritual Assistant, to the Franciscan Fathers, and to all your family members.
And now, from where we sit quietly, let us look at the Madonna who awaits the Child, who awaits Jesus. We too all await Jesus, Who comes into our hearts. And let us all pray to Our Lady, the Hail Mary.
[Ave Maria]
Whenever we are in need, when we are sad or have some difficulty, sickness or problems, let us look at Our Lady, who teaches us to wait for Jesus. Jesus always comes. It takes a little patience, as she had –among great difficulties! – to receive Jesus.
Now I give my blessing to you all.
Text source :

Pope Francis “Without love, peace is not truly peace; without love, the world descends into chaos” to Bishops of Taiwan

At an audience in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, where he received a delegation from the National Council of Churches of Taiwan.
Address of the Holy Father
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I offer a cordial greeting to you, the officers and members of the National Council of Churches of Taiwan, and I thank you for your kind words of greeting.
As you know, I have just returned from a visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh. There I was thus able to experience the vitality and the enterprise that mark the peoples of Asia, but also the suffering face of a humanity all too often deprived of material prosperity and social well-being. There are many areas in which we, as Christians, are called to work together to promote the dignity of each human being and to support those who are less fortunate than ourselves. I am encouraged by what you have told me: “Without love, peace is not truly peace; without love, the world descends into chaos”. As Christians, we are bound above all to practice the Lord’s command: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples” (Jn 13:34-35). The love of God, made incarnate in life, is thus our royal road, and the basis of our common responsibility before the world to account for the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).
The Catholic Church, through the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference, has been committed, from the establishment of the National Council of Churches of Taiwan in 1991 to promoting greater unity between believers in the Lord. The strengthening of relations between the Christian confessions, and the shared proclamation of Jesus, also through works of charity and educational projects aimed at the young, will prove beneficial to society as a whole. Building a better future for all requires, in a particular way, educating the younger generations in the art of dialogue, so that they can become protagonists of a much-needed culture of harmony and reconciliation. This will encourage them to pursue, with God’s help, the path that leads from conflict to communion, a path that has shown itself so fruitful in the ecumenical journey.
I thank each of you for your commitment to pursuing this path by strengthening fraternity and cooperation among your communities. Let us continue to journey together in the primacy of charity towards that day when Jesus’ prayer will be realized: “that they may all be one… so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). I ask God to bless you, your dear ones and your communities, and I ask you to remember me in your own prayers, and I invite you to recite the Lord’s Prayer together.
[Recital of the Lord’s Prayer]

#PopeFrancis "It was important for us to meet first and foremost in prayer, for the gift of unity" to #Lutherans - FULL TEXT

Pope Francis in audience with the members of the Presidency of the World Lutheran Foundation.
FULL TEXT Address of the Holy Father
Dear Brother, Dear Archbishop Musa,
I extend a warm greeting to you, to Dr. Junge, the General Secretary, to the Vice Presidents and to the Delegates of the Lutheran World Federation. In expressing gratitude for your kind words, I offer my congratulations on your recent appointment as President.
Today we can join in commemorating, as Scripture teaches, all that the Lord has accomplished in our midst (cf. Ps 77:12-13). We think in particular of the ecumenically significant moments of the recently-concluded Year that marked the fifth centenary of the Reformation. I am especially happy to recall 31 October 2016, when we prayed at Lund, where the Lutheran World Federation was founded. It was important for us to meet first and foremost in prayer, for the gift of unity among believers takes root and blossoms not as a result of human projects but by the grace of God. Only by praying can we care for one another. Prayer purifies and strengthens us; it illumines our path and enables us to move forward. Prayer is like the fuel of our journey towards full unity. Indeed, the love of the Lord, which we experience in prayer, sets in motion the charity that draws us closer; it is the source of our patient expectation, the motive of our efforts at reconciliation, and the power that enables us to go forward together. Prayer is in fact “the soul of ecumenical renewal and the yearning for unity”, the “basis and support” of all dialogue (cf. Ut Unum Sint, 28).
By praying, we can constantly see one another in the right perspective, that of God our Father, Whose loving gaze rests on each of us, without preferences or distinctions. In the Spirit of Jesus, in whom we pray, we realize that we are brothers and sisters. This must be our continual starting point. From it, we can also look to the past and thank God that the painful divisions that kept us distant and in conflict for centuries, have brought us in recent decades to a journey of communion, the path of ecumenism awakened by the Holy Spirit. This has led us to abandon old biases like those having to do with Martin Luther and the state of the Catholic Church in that period. A significant contribution has been made in this regard by the dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, initiated in 1967. Today, at a distance of fifty years, we can recall that dialogue with gratitude, and acknowledge certain particularly important texts, such as the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and, most recently, From Conflict to Communion.
With a purified memory, we can now look with confidence to a future unburdened by past conflicts and preconceptions, a future whose only debt is that of mutual love (cf. Rom 13:8), a future which calls us to discern the gifts coming from the different confessional traditions and to receive them as a common patrimony. Prior to all disagreements, differences and past hurts, there is the present, foundational and permanent reality of our baptism, which has made us children of God and brothers and sisters of one another. Henceforth we will never again allow ourselves to be adversaries or rivals. Although the past cannot be changed, the future challenges us: we can no longer refuse to seek and foster greater communion in charity and faith.
We are also called to be on the watch against the temptation of halting along the way. In the spiritual life, as in ecclesial life, whenever we halt, we are always turning back. To be self-content, to pause out of fear, indolence, weariness or convenience in the midst of our journey to the Lord in the company of our brothers and sisters, is to refuse His invitation. In order to advance together towards him, fine ideas are not enough; there is a need for concrete steps and outstretched hands. That means, above all, spending ourselves in charity, looking to the poor and the least of the Lord’s brethren (cf. Mt 25:40): they represent precious signposts to us along our way. It will do us good to touch their wounds with the healing power of Jesus’ presence and with the balm of our service.
By this simple, exemplary and radical way of acting, we are called, today, in particular, to proclaim the Gospel, the priority of our Christian life in the world. Reconciled unity between Christians is an indispensable part of that proclamation: “How indeed can we proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation without at the same time being committed to working for reconciliation between Christians?” (Ut Unum Sint, 98). Along the way, we are spurred on by the example of all those who have suffered for the name of Jesus and are already fully reconciled in his Paschal victory. How many there are, even in our own day, who are suffering for their witness to Jesus! Their heroism, shown in meekness and peace, urgently summons us to an ever more authentic fraternity.
Dear Brother, I cordially invoke upon you every blessing of the Lord. I ask the Holy Spirit, Who unites what is divided, to pour out upon us His gifts of wisdom, meekness, and courage. And I ask each one of you here present, please, to pray for me. Thank you.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thursday December 7, 2017 - #Eucharist

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 178

Reading 1IS 26:1-6

On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:

"A strong city have we;
he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
Open up the gates
to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith.
A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace;
in peace, for its trust in you."

Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock.
He humbles those in high places,
and the lofty city he brings down;
He tumbles it to the ground,
levels it with the dust.
It is trampled underfoot by the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor.

Responsorial PsalmPS 118:1 AND 8-9, 19-21, 25-27A

R. (26a) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This gate is the LORD's;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
O LORD, grant salvation!
O LORD, grant prosperity!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has given us light.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaIS 55:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call him while he is near.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 7:21, 24-27

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,'
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined."