Archive for September, 2008

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary: 8 September 2008

September 8, 2008

Our Lady of Prayers

Collect of the Day:

We ask you, Lord, to bestow upon your servants the gift of heavenly grace.
 When the Virgin gave birth it was the beginning of our salvation:
 may the celebration of her own birthday increase our peace.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
 who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
 God for ever and ever.
Amen.

From a discourse by Saint Andrew of Crete
The old has passed away: all things are made new
‘The fulfilment of the law is Christ himself, who does not so much lead us away from the letter as lift us up to its spirit. For the law’s consummation was this, that the very lawgiver accomplished his work and changed letter into spirit, summing everything up in himself and, though subject to the law, living by grace. He subordinated the law, yet harmoniously united grace with it, not confusing the distinctive characteristics of the one with the other, but effecting the transition in a way most fitting for God. He changed whatever was burdensome, servile and oppressive not what is light and liberating, so that we should be enslaved no longer under the elemental spirits of the world, as the Apostle says, nor held fast as bondservants under the letter of the law.
This is the highest, all-embracing benefit that Christ has bestowed on us. This is the revelation of the mystery, this is the emptying out of the divine nature, the union of God and man, and the deification of the manhood that was assumed. This radiant and manifest coming of God to men most certainly needed a joyful prelude to introduce the great gift of salvation to us. The present festival, the birth of the Mother of God, is the prelude, while the final act is the fore-ordained union of the Word with flesh. Today the Virgin is born, tended and formed and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages.
Justly, then, do we celebrate this mystery since it signifies for us a double grace. We are led toward the truth, and we are led away from our condition of slavery to the letter of the law. How can this be? Darkness yields before the coming of the light, and grace exchanges legalism for freedom. But midway between the two stands today’s mystery, at the frontier where types and symbols give way to reality, and the old is replaced by the new. Therefore, let all creation sing and dance and unite to make worthy contribution to the celebration of this day. Let there be one common festival for saints in heaven and men on earth. Let everything, mundane things and those above, join in festive celebration. Today this created world is raised to the dignity of a holy place for him who made all things. The creature is newly prepared to be a divine dwelling place for the Creator.

Blessed Was the Day

 by King Alfonsus the Wise of Castile

Blessed was the day and welcome was the hour whereon God’s Virgin Mother wasw brought forth.

For of that birth Isaiah spoke and said in prophecy that a noble tree would spring out of the root of Jesse, and that this tree a bloom would bear on which the Holy Spirit of God himself would rest.

Blessed was the day and welcome was the hour whereon God’s Virgin Mother was brought forth.

Daily Reflection 3 September 2008: Saint Gregory the Great Pope and Doctor of the Church

September 3, 2008

About the Saint:

Born about 540, Gregory was Prefect of Rome when he renounced the world and entered a monastery about 575. He was ordained Deacon, and sent on a Papal Mission to Constantinople from 580-585. He became Pope in 590. It was the time of the barbarian attacks on Rome; he cared for the poor and refugees, made contact with the Barbarians, sent missionaries to England. His writings are extensive, particularly the commentaries on Scripture. His liturgies, collected in the Gregorian Sacramentary, have been influentual to our own era.

Collect of the Day:

Father, you guide your people with kindness and govern us with love. By the prayers of Saint Gregory give the spirit of wisdom to those you hvae called to lead your Church. May the growth of your people in  holiness be the eternal joy of our Shepherds.

We make our prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit ever one God world without end. Amen.

A Reading from the homilies of Pope St. Gregory the Great on the book of Ezekiel  Bk I,II,4-6

‘Son of man, I have appointed you as watchman to the house of Israel.’  Note that Ezekiel, whom the Lord sent to preach his word, is described as a watchman.  Now a watchman always takes up his position on the heights so that he can see from a distance whatever approaches.  Likewise whoever is appointed watchman to a people should live a life on the heights so that he can help them in taking a wide survey.

These words are hard to utter, for when I speak it is myself that I am reproaching.  I do not preach as I should nor does my life follow the principles I preach so inadequately.

I do not deny that I am guilty, for I see my torpor and my negligence.  Perhaps my very recognition of failure will win me pardon from a sympathetic judge.  When I lived in a monastic community I was able to keep my tongue from idle topics and to devote my mind almost continually to the discipline of prayer.  Since taking on my shoulders the burden of pastoral care, I have been unable to keep steadily recollected because my mind is distracted by many responsibilities.

I am forced to consider questions affecting churches and monasteries and often I must judge the lives and actions of individuals; at one moment I am forced to take part in certain civil affairs, next I must worry over the incursions of barbarians and fear the wolves who menace the flock entrusted to my care; now I must accept political responsibility in order to give support to those who preserve the rule of law; now I must bear patiently the villainies of brigands, and then I must confront them, yet in all charity.

My mind is sundered and torn to pieces by the many and serious things I have to think about.  When I try to concentrate and gather all my intellectual resources for preaching, how can I do justice to the sacred ministry of the word?  I am often compelled by the nature of my position to associate with men of the world and sometimes I relax the discipline of my speech.  If I preserved the rigorously inflexible mode of utterance that my conscience dictates, I know that the weaker sort of men would recoil from me and that I could never attract them to the goal I desire for them.  So I must frequently listen patiently to their aimless chatter.  Because I am weak myself I am drawn gradually into idle talk and I find myself saying the kind of thing that I didn’t even care to listen to before.  I enjoy lying back where I once was loath to stumble.

Who am I-what kind of watchman am I?  I do not stand on the pinnacle of achievement, I languish rather in the depths of my weakness.  And yet the creator and redeemer of mankind can give me, unworthy though I be, the grace to see life whole and power to speak effectively of it.  It is for love of him that I do not spare myself in preaching him.

Concluding Prayer:

God our Father, your rule of love, your providence is full of mercy for your people. Through the intercession of Saint Gregory grant the spirit of wisdom to those you have placed in authority, so that the spiritual growth of the people may bring eternal joy to the Pastors.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ Your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit ev er one God world without end. Amen.

Daily Reflection: Tuesday 2 September 2008

September 2, 2008

Andrej Rublëv 001.jpg

The Collect of the Day:

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the true light that lights all men’s paths to salvation.
 Give us the power, we pray you,
 to prepare for you the ways of peace and justice.

You live and reign with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
 God for ever and ever.
Amen.

Todays Readings:

First reading:

1 Corinthians 2:10 – 16
These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God. After all, the depths of a man can only be known by his own spirit, not by any other man, and in the same way the depths of God can only be known by the Spirit of God. Now instead of the spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts that he has given us. Therefore we teach, not in the way in which philosophy is taught, but in the way that the Spirit teaches us: we teach spiritual things spiritually. An unspiritual person is one who does not accept anything of the Spirit of God: he sees it all as nonsense; it is beyond his understanding because it can only be understood by means of the Spirit. A spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything, and his own value is not to be judged by other men. As scripture says: Who can know the mind of the Lord, so who can teach him? But we are those who have the mind of Christ.The Gospel:

  Luke 4:31 – 37
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and it shouted at the top of its voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the devil, throwing the man down in front of everyone, went out of him without hurting him at all. Astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another, ‘What teaching! He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.’ And reports of him went all through the surrounding countryside.Reflection: From the Imitation of Christ.

The Truth of the Lord endures for ever
You thunder your judgements upon me, O Lord; you shake all my bones with fear and dread, and my soul becomes severely frightened. I am bewildered when I realise that even the heavens are not pure in your sight.
If you discovered iniquity in the angels and did not spare them, what will become of me? The stars fell from heaven, and I, mere dust, what should I expect? Those whose works seemed praiseworthy fell to the depths, and I have seen those who once were fed with the bread of angels take comfort in the husks of swine.
There is no holiness where you have withdrawn your hand, O Lord; no profitable wisdom if you cease to rule over it; no helpful strength if you cease to preserve it. If you forsake us, we sink and perish; but if you visit us, we rise up and live again. We are unstable, but you make us firm; we grow cool, but you inflame us.
All superficial glory has been swallowed up in the depths of your judgement upon me.
What is all flesh in your sight? Can the clay be glorified in opposition to its Maker?
How can anyone be stirred by empty talk if his heart is subject in the truth to God?
If a man is subject to truth, possession of the whole world cannot swell him with pride; nor will he be swayed by the flattery of his admirers, if he has established all his trust in God.
For those who do nothing but talk amount to nothing; they fail with their din of words, but ‘the truth of the Lord endures for ever’.