Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

That is all, carry on.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

John Tauler (c.1300-1361), Dominican at Strasbourg
Sermon 2, for the Eve of Epiphany

“Rise… for those who sought the child’s life are dead”

When Joseph was in exile with the child and his mother, he learnt from the angel while he was asleep that Herod was dead. But when he heard that his son, Archelaus, was reigning in that country, he nonetheless continued to be in great fear lest the child be killed. Herod, the one who pursued the child and wanted to kill him, represents the world which clearly kills off the child, the world that we must by all means flee if we want to save the child. Yet no sooner have we fled the world exteriorly… than Archelaus rises up and reigns: there is still a world within you, a world over which you will not triumph without a great deal of effort and by God’s help.

For there are three strong and bitter enemies that you have to overcome in you and it is with difficulty that we ever win the victory. You will be attacked by spiritual pride: you would like to be seen, taken note of, listened to… The second enemy is your own flesh, assailing you through bodily and spiritual impurity… The third enemy is the one that attacks by arousing malice in you, bitter thoughts, suspiciousness, ill will, hatred and the desire for revenge… Would you become ever more dear to God? You must completely forsake all such behaviour, for all this is the wicked Archelaus in person. Fear and be on your guard; he wants to kill the child indeed…

Joseph was warned by the angel and called back to the land of Israel. Israel means “land of vision”; Egypt means “darkness”… It is in sleep, it is only in genuine abandonment and true passivity that you will receive the invitation to come away, just as happened to Joseph… Then you can make your way back to Galilee, which means “way”. Here one is above all things; all has been passed through and one arrives at Nazareth, the “true flowering”, the country where the flowers of eternal life blossom. There one is sure of finding an authentic foretaste of eternal life; there is complete security, inexpressible peace, joy and rest. Only those who have abandoned themselves reach there, those who submit themselves to God until he has detached them and who make no attempt to free themselves by force. These are they who reach this peace, this flowering at Nazareth, and who there find those things that make for their eternal joy. May this be the lot of all of us. And may God, who is all worthy of love, be our helper!

How tough must it have been for St. Joseph?  As the historical protrayl of Joseph as a much odler man (only recently have we seen depictions of him looking younger in "art") with Mary and Jesus entrusted to his care.   His wife, immaculately conceived and without sin, gives birth to God made flesh.  If anything went wrong in the home, guess who was to blame?  

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to All!
"And the Word was made flesh"

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167), Cistercian monk
Sermon for the Annunciation

“They shall name him Emmanuel”

“Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’.” Yes, God with us! Until now it was “God above us” or “God before us”, but today he is “Emmanuel”. Today he is God with us in our nature, with us in his grace; with us in our weakness, with us in his goodness; with us in our wretchedness, with us in his pity; with us through love, with us through familial tie, with us through tenderness, with us through compassion…

God with us! You were not able, O sons of Adam, to climb to heaven to be with God; it is God who descends from heaven to be our Emmanuel, God-with-us. He comes to us to be Emmanuel, God-with-us, yet we fail to go to God to be in him! “Men of rank, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love what is vain and seek after falsehood?” (Ps 4,3). Behold, the truth has come; “why love what is vain and seek after falsehood?” Behold, the true and unchanging word has come; “why seek after falsehood?” Behold Emmanuel, behold God-with-us.

How could he be with me any more than he is? Small as I am, weak as I am, naked as I am, poor as I am… he has become like me in all things, taking what is mine and giving me what is his. I was lying dead, without voice, without consciousness; not even the light of my eyes was with me any more. He came down today, this greatest of men, “this prophet mighty in deed and word,” (Lk 24,19). He placed his face on my face, his mouth on my mouth, his hands on my hands (cf. 2Kgs 4,34) and he became Emmanuel, God-with-us!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saint Ambrose (c.340-397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church
Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, 2, 26-27 (SC 45)

“Glorify the Lord with me” (Ps 34 [33],4)

If only Mary’s soul might dwell in us all to praise the Lord; if only Mary’s spirit might dwell in us all to exult in God. If, physically speaking, there is only one Mother of Christ, Christ is the fruit of all of us through faith since every soul receives the Word of God provided it remains without fault, preserved from evil and sin, guarding its chastity in uncorrupted purity. For every soul to attain this state exalts the Lord just as Mary’s soul exalted the Lord and as her spirit rejoiced in God her Saviour.

The Lord is indeed glorified, as you have read elsewhere: “Glorify the Lord with me” (Ps 34 [33],4). Not that human words can add anything to the Lord but because he is growing greater in us. For “Christ is the image of God” (2Cor 4,4) and therefore the soul who does something righteous and holy glorifies that image of God in the likeness of which it has been created. Thus too, by glorifying it, the soul participates in a certain manner in its greatness and is raised up by it. It seems to reproduce this image in itself through the brilliant colours of its good works and to imitate it in a certain way by its virtues.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Saint Ambrose (c.340-397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church
On Repentance, 1, 1 (SC 179)

Go out to others in the same way as the Lord draws near to us

Moderation is surely the most beautiful of virtues… It is to this alone that the Church, bought at the price of the Lord’s blood, owes its expansion. It mirrors the heavenly gift of universal redemption… From this it follows that whoever would apply themselves to correcting the faults of their human weakness must bear with and, in some sense, carry this weakness on their own shoulders, not rejecting it. For we read that the shepherd in the Gospel carried the exhausted sheep, not that he abandoned it (Lk 15,5)… Indeed, moderation ought to temper justice. Otherwise, how could someone towards whom you show distaste – someone who might think himself to be an object of contempt towards his doctor rather than compassion – how could such a one come to you to be healed?

That is why the Lord Jesus gave proof of his compassion towards us. What he wanted was to call us to himself and not send us flying in fear. Gentleness is the sign of his coming; his coming is marked by humility. Moreover, he has told us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” So then, our Lord Jesus brings comfort; he does not exclude or reject. And it is with good reason that he chose as his disciples men who, as faithful interpreters of the Lord’s will, would gather together the People of God rather than turn them away.