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LIBERA NOS DOMINE

We should not be surprized that the Church’s Lenten call to penance and self-denial seems so out of step with the aspirations of the secular world. How could it be otherwise? The kingdom of this world and the Kingdom of Christ are not co-extensive. They have vastly different territories, different values, different laws. In Lent we follow Christ into the desert, into a retreat of deeper prayer and more generous penance. But that solitude is also the place where evil lurks and temptation whispers. In that wilderness we shall experience emptiness and loneliness. We shall feel the cold dry winds ...

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Expulsion from Eden

SEPTUAGESIMA

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima are the three Sundays and weeks which the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite wisely gives us in preparation for Lent. The afterglow of Epiphany is replaced by the austerity of Septuagesima and the three weeks which follow. The liturgical colour is violet. The Gloria is not sung or said. Alleluia is omitted. This is to help us get in training for Quadragesima itself, the forty days of intensive prayer and penance in preparation for Eastertide. These three pre-Lenten preparatory weeks are not included in the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite. However, in the magnificent ...

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ADORAVERUNT EUM

The Magi exemplify the merciful work of the Holy Spirit. Among countless other mercies, He can and does lead pagans, atheists, agnostics, and others, to find Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is intrinsic to our faith in Jesus of Nazareth that we want Him to be known, loved, and followed, by the whole of mankind. Conversion is God’s work, but He graciously allows us to play some part in preparing the ground for the action of the Holy Spirit. Here is how we can help to prepare the ground: Get down on our knees in front of the ...

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Shepherds at crib

THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

In the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus, in a dull provincial backwater of the Roman Empire, the world’s true King tabernacled silently for nine months in the virginal womb of a then unknown Jewish maiden, Mary of Nazareth. The Blessed Virgin Mary’s divine Infant is Jesus Christ, the long awaited Saviour of mankind, Messiah. Christ the Messiah generously invites every man, woman, and child on earth to follow Him. Where? Along the Christian path of new life, life in the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church is the home of the Holy Spirit. The Christian religion, as ...

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WAKE UP, LOOK UP

Hora est de somno surgere. Advent is the austere and sobering start of the new liturgical year. We recall humanity’s primordial expulsion from paradise. We ponder the Four Last Things; death, judgement, hell, and heaven. The cry of Wachet auf rouses sleepy pilgrims from their dreams. It urges us to wake up, and to look up, towards the transcendent horizon from whence Christ the Lord of history will return. Excita potentiam tuam. As Advent begins our conscience is stirred up by St John the Baptist. The Saviour’s stern precursor bids us repent. There is no denying the threatening tone of ...

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FROM PURGATORY TO PARADISE

We should fervently hope that at our particular judgement God’s mercy will allow us into purgatory. Pray hard to get into purgatory. Will it hurt?  Yes, it will. What are the pains of purgatory? Having been judged, and having by God’s mercy escaped damnation, the soul ‘wakes up’ in purgatory to find itself bereft of all its previous bodily senses, and therefore lacking anything resembling what we usually mean by consciousness. No sounds, no sights, no sense-experience. No longer part of the material world, the soul now apprehends the overwhelming gigantic reality of the spiritual and moral universe – the ...

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ANGELS AND ANIMALS

When Christ our Lord was fasting in the wilderness He was with the wild beasts, and angels ministered unto Him. From scripture and tradition we know quite a lot about angels. They were created before us and greatly outnumber the human creation. Angels are greater than us in intelligence, knowledge, power, and beauty, notwithstanding the unique dignity bestowed on human nature by the hypostatic union in Christ, and the fact of our redemption. The primary task of the angels is to glorify and serve our Creator. Their secondary task is the protection of His human creatures and the care of ...

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SEPTEMBER – MONTH OF THE HOLY CROSS

Thanks be to God that His wisdom often turns dysfunctional human plans upside down and inside out. We see this in the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The instrument of torture becomes the throne of glory. He Who was nailed to the Cross like a criminal is in fact the King of kings before Whom one day every knee shall bow. Every knee: the final clarification of all those interesting inter-faith discussions. The splendour of the Holy Cross guarantees that in our war against the forces of darkness we are already well and truly on the winning side. The principal ...

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BY GRACE AND PERSONAL INFLUENCE

From all eternity God’s wisdom has planned our individual salvation. He has so ordered His creation that even apparently chance occurrences can play a part in the unfolding of our salvation. In the complex and multi-faceted kaleidoscope of daily life, countless instances of human interaction (mostly unplanned by us) all combine in a dynamic synergy of cause and effect. From our limited vantage point, in place and within time, we rarely appreciate the providential coherence of those interactions. On 26th August we commemorate a 19th century missionary priest and preacher, Blessed Dominic Barberi, of the Passionist Order. Fr.Barberi felt called ...

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NEWMAN ON OUR LADY’S ASSUMPTION

“It is by the power of God’s grace that from this barren and desolate earth there have ever sprung up at all flowers of holiness and glory. And Mary is the Queen of them. She is the Queen of spiritual flowers; and therefore she is called the Rose, for the rose is fitly called of all flowers the most beautiful. But moreover, she is the Mystical, or hidden Rose; for mystical means hidden. How is she now “hidden” from us more than are other saints? What means this singular appellation, which we apply to her specially? The answer to this ...

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