Monday, December 31, 2012

TE DEUM in thanksgiving for year 2012

From the Enchiridion of Indulgences:

§ 1. A plenary indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, in a church or in an oratory, are present [take part] in a recitation or solemn chant of: ... 

2° the Te Deum hymn, on the last day of the year, in thanksgiving to God for the favors received in the course of the entire year.

DECEMBER 31 (New Year's Eve)

114. Popular piety has given rise to many pious exercises connected with 31 December. In many parts of the Western world the end of the civil year is celebrated on this day. This anniversary affords an opportunity for the faithful to reflect on "the mystery of time", which passes quickly and inexorably. Such should give rise to a dual feeling: of penance and sorrow for the sins committed during the year and for the lost occasions of grace; and of thanks to God for the graces and blessings He has given during the past year.

These sentiments have given rise to two pious exercises: prolonged exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, which afford an opportunity for the faithful and many religious communities for silent prayer; and the singing of the Te Deum as an act of community praise and thanksgiving to God for the graces received from Him as the year draws to a close.

In some places, especially in monasteries and in associations of the faithful with a particular devotion to the Holy Eucharist, 31 December is marked by a vigil of prayer which concludes with the celebration of the Holy Mass. Such vigils are to be encouraged and should be celebrated in harmony with the liturgical content of the Christmas Octave, and not merely as a reaction to the thoughtless dissipation with which society celebrates the passage from one year to another, but as a vigil offering of the new year to the Lord.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


112. The feast of the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Sunday in the Christmas octave) is a festive occasion particularly suitable for the celebration of rites or moments of prayer proper to the Christian family. The recollection of Joseph, Mary and Jesus' going up to Jerusalem, together with other observant Jewish families, for the celebration of the Passover (cf. Lk 2, 41-42), should normally encourage a positive acceptance of the pastoral suggestion that all members of the family attend Mass on this day. This feast day also affords an opportunity for the renewal of our entrustment to the patronage of the Holy Family of Nazareth; the blessing of children as provided in the ritual; and where opportune, for the renewal of marriage vows taken by the spouses on their wedding day, and also for the exchange of promises between those engaged to be married in which they formalize their desire to found a new Christian family.

Outside of the feast, the faithful have frequent recourse to the Holy Family of Nazareth in many of life's circumstances: joining the Association of the Holy Family so as to model their own families on the Holy Family of Nazareth; frequent prayers to entrust themselves to the patronage of the Holy Family and to obtain assistance at the hour of death.



When we reflect upon statements in holy Scripture concerning the majesty of our Lord and Saviour and consider that he is called the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation, and that in him all things visible and invisible were created:  thrones, dominations, principalities, and powers, all were created through him and for him; that before anything was created he already existed and he holds all things in unity – when we reflect upon all this we cannot doubt that he is the one of whom Scripture says: I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that might be written about the glory and majesty of the Son of God. To put into writing everything that relates to our Saviour’s glory would be impossible.

When we ponder these tremendous truths concerning the nature of the Son of God, we are struck with profound amazement at one who is thus exalted above all others, stripping himself of his majesty to become a man and live among men.

But of all the great and wonderful things related of our Saviour, what completely overwhelms the human mind with wonder and is beyond understanding or conception by a weak mortal intelligence is that the mighty Power of the divine Majesty, the very word of the Father, the very Wisdom of God in whom everything visible and invisible was created, is believed to have been confined in a man who appeared in Judea; that the Wisdom of God entered the womb of a woman, was born a baby and cried like a baby; that he was troubled in the face of death, for he himself said: My heart is heavy, even to the point of death; and, finally, that he was brought to what was regarded as the most shameful of deaths, although he rose again on the third day.

When we thus see in him some marks of human frailty that make him seem no different from any other man and others so divine as to befit none but the supreme and inexpressible nature of the Godhead, the feeble human intellect is dumbfounded; it does not know in its amazement what to hold on to or where to turn. If it thinks of God it sees a mortal man. If it takes Christ for a man, it sees this man destroying the sovereignty of death and returning from among the dead with spoils of victory.

This mystery, then, should be contemplated with the most profound awe and reverence. Both natures have to be shown as really present in the one Christ. Nothing unworthy of it must be attributed to the impenetrable divine essence; nor on the other hand must the events of history be regarded as mere illusions.

To make known these things to other people and to explain them in words is far beyond the power of our rank, our intellect, or our language. I think it was beyond the ability even of the holy Apostles. It may be that the entire creation of heavenly powers is unable to comprehend this mystery.

Origen, On First Principles, Lib. 2, cap. 6, 1-2 (PG 11, 200-211), from Word in Season 1

Saturday, December 29, 2012

CHRISTMAS MEDITATION: Jesus lying on the Straw

Meditation V
Jesus lying on the Straw

Jesus is born in the stable at Bethlehem. His poor Mother has neither wool nor down to make a bed for the tender Infant. What does she do, then? She gathers together a small handful of straw into the manger, and puts it there for him to lie on: And she laid Him in the manger.1 But, O my God, how hard and painful is this bed for an infant just born; the limbs of a babe are so delicate, and especially the limbs of Jesus, which were formed by the Holy Spirit with a special delicacy, in order that they might be the more sensible to suffering: A body Thou hast fitted to Me.2
Wherefore the hardness of such a bed must have caused him excessive pain, pain and shame; for what child, even of the lowest of the people, is ever laid on straw as soon as he is born? Straw is only a fit bed for beasts; and yet the Son of God had none other on earth than a bed of miserable straw St. Francis of Assisi heard one day as he sat at table these words of the Gospel: And laid Him in the manger;3 and exclaimed, “What? my Lord was laid on the straw, and shall I continue to sit?” And thus he arose from his seat, threw himself on the ground, and there finished his scanty meal, mingling it with tears of tenderness as he contemplated the sufferings that the Infant Jesus endured whilst he lay on the straw.
But why did Mary, who had so earnestly desired the birth of this Son why did she, who loved him so much, allow him to lie and suffer on this hard bed, instead of keeping him in her arms? This is a mystery, says St. Thomas of Villanova: “Nor would she have laid him in such a place, unless there had been some great mystery in it.”4 This great mystery has been explained by many in different ways, but the most pleasing explanation to me is that of St. Peter Damian: Jesus wished as soon as he was born to be placed on the straw, in order to teach us the mortification of our senses: “He laid down the law of martyrdom.”5 The world had been lost by sensual pleasures; through them had Adam and multitudes of his descendants till then been lost. The Eternal Word came from heaven to teach us the love of suffering; and he began as a child to teach it to us by choosing for himself the most acute sufferings that an infant can endure. It was, therefore, he himself who inspired his Mother to cease from holding him in her tender arms, and to replace him on the hard bed, that he might feel more the cold of the cave and the pricking of this rough straw.
Affections and Prayers.
O Lover of souls, O my loving Redeemer! is not, then, the sorrowful Passion that awaits Thee, and the bitter death that is prepared for Thee on the cross, sufficient, but Thou must, even from the commencement of Thy life, even from Thy infancy, begin to suffer? Yes, because even as an infant Thou wouldst begin to be my Redeemer, and to satisfy the divine justice for my sins. Thou didst choose a bed of straw to deliver me from the fire of hell, into which I have so many times deserved to be cast. Thou didst cry and mourn on this bed of straw to obtain for me pardon from Thy Father. Oh, how these Thy tears afflict and yet console me! They afflict me from compassion at seeing Thee, an innocent babe, suffering so much for sins not Thy own; but they console me, because Thy sufferings assure me of my salvation, and of Thy immense love for me. But, my Jesus, I will not leave Thee alone to cry and to suffer. I myself will also weep; for I alone deserve to shed tears on account of the offences I have committed against Thee. I, who have deserved hell, will not refuse any suffering whatever, so that I may regain Thy favor, O my Saviour. Forgive me, I beseech Thee; receive me once more into Thy friendship, make me love Thee, and then chastise me as Thou wilt. Deliver me from eternal punishment, and then treat me as it shall please Thee. I do not seek for pleasures in this life; he does not deserve pleasure who has had the temerity to offend Thee, O infinite Goodness. I am content to suffer all the crosses Thou shalt send me; but, my Jesus, I will love Thee still. O Mary, who didst sympathize by thy sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus, obtain for me the grace to suffer all my trials with patience. Woe to me if, after so many sins, I do not suffer something in this life! And blessed shall I be if I have the happiness to accompany thee in thy sufferings, O my sorrowful Mother, and Thee, O my Jesus, always afflicted and crucified for love of me.
- St. Alphonsus Liguori