Immaculata

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IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

From a sermon by Saint Anselm, bishop
Virgin Mary, all nature is blessed in you.

Blessed Lady, sky and stars, earth and rivers, day and night—everything that is subject to the power or use of man—rejoice that through you they are in some sense restored to their lost beauty and are endowed with inexpressible new grace. All creatures were dead, as it were, useless for men or for the praise of God, who made them. The world, contrary to its true destiny, was corrupted and tainted by the acts of men who served idols. Now all creation has been restored to life and rejoices that it is controlled and given splendor by men who believe in God.

The universe rejoices with new and indefinable loveliness. Not only does it feel the unseen presence of God himself, its Creator, it sees him openly, working and making it holy. These great blessings spring from the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb.

Through the fullness of the grace that was given you, dead things rejoice in their freedom, and those in heaven are glad to be made new. Through the Son who was the glorious fruit of your virgin womb, just souls who died before his life-giving death rejoice as they are freed from captivity, and the angels are glad at the restoration of their shattered domain.

Lady, full and overflowing with grace, all creation receives new life from your abundance. Virgin, blessed above all creatures, through your blessing all creation is blessed, not only creation from its Creator, but the Creator himself has been blessed by creation.

To Mary God gave his only-begotten Son, whom he loved as himself. Through Mary God made himself a Son, not different but the same, by nature Son of God and Son of Mary. The whole universe was created by God, and God was born of Mary. God created all things, and Mary gave birth to God. The God who made all things gave himself form through Mary, and thus he made his own creation. He who could create all things from nothing would not remake his ruined creation without Mary.

God, then, is the Father of the created world and Mary the mother of the re-created world. God is the Father by whom all things were given life, and Mary the mother through whom all things were given new life. For God begot the Son, through whom all things were made, and Mary gave birth to him as the Savior of the world. Without God’s Son, nothing could exist; without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed.

Truly the Lord is with you, to whom the Lord granted that all nature should owe as much to you as to himself.

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Saint Athanasius – We know the Father through creative and incarnate Wisdom

From the Discourses against the Arians by Saint Athanasius, bishop
We know the Father through creative and incarnate Wisdom

The only-begotten Son, the Wisdom of God, created the entire universe. Scripture says: You have made all things by your wisdom, and the earth is full of your creatures. Yet simply to be was not enough: God also wanted his creatures to be good. That is why he was pleased that his own wisdom should descend to their level and impress upon each of them singly and upon all of them together a certain resemblance to their Model. It would then be manifest that God’s creatures shared in his wisdom and that his works were worthy of him.

For as the word we speak is an image of the Word who is God’s Son, so also is the wisdom implanted in us an image of the Wisdom who is God’s Son. It gives us the ability to know and understand and so makes us capable of receiving him who is all-creative Wisdom, through whom we can come to know the Father. Whoever has the Son has the Father also, Scripture says, and Whoever receives me receives the One who sent me. And so, since this image of the Wisdom of God has been produced in us and in all creatures, the true and creative Wisdom rightly takes to himself what applies to his image and says: The Lord created me in his works.

But because the world was not wise enough to recognize God in his wisdom, as we have explained it, God determined to save those who believe by means of the “foolish” message that we preach. Not wishing to be known any longer, as in former times, through the mere image and shadow of his wisdom existing in creatures, he caused the true Wisdom himself to take flesh, to become man, and to suffer death on the cross so that all who believed in him might be saved by faith.

Yet this was the same Wisdom of God who had in the beginning revealed himself and his Father through himself by means of his image in creatures (which is why Wisdom to is said to be created). Later, as John declares, that Wisdom, who is also the Word, became flesh, and after destroying the power of death and saving our race, he revealed himself and his Father through himself with greater clarity. Grant, he prayed, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

So now the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of God, since it is one and the same thing to know the Father through the Son, and to know the Son who comes from the Father. The Father rejoices in his Son, and with the same joy the Son delights in the Father and says: I was his joy; every day I took delight in his presence.

Good Friday of the Passion of Our Lord / DivineOffice.org

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Office of Readings for Friday of Holy Week

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Good Friday of the Passion of Our Lord
“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!’” (Lk 23:44-46).

As Jesus died on the cross, all laws failed. Roman laws had accused an innocent man, natural laws had ceased to exist, and the moral law inherent in man’s own heart had crucified our Savior. As the centurion stated in Luke 23:47, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

As we continue in our reflection through Holy Week, today we must come to accept that justice may not exist in our cause. Things may not seem fair. It’s as if we must hold our breath… progress suspended.

Today’s paradox is we know a Godly commitment leads to good. We recognize that God is present with us as we strive to do His will. We have hope that new life will come; but today, unfortunately, can feel like a place without justice. Today, only the law of love remains.

Opening Hymn of Compline at Mr.Saviour Monastery

A Little Night Prayer

Easter Monday – Celebrate!

Alleluia! Still celebrating Easter.  It’s too great for just one day.  When a greeted a friend of mine from Poland this morning with “Happy Easter” she said, “You know in Poland they are still celebrating.”  I mentioned the Easter octave and that here we are still celebrating, also.  What my friend then explained is that in Poland it is still a holiday, no work, no school.  She said she felt bad sending her children off to school today and that she thought Poland’s way is better.  Didn’t argue with that.

From the Office of Readings:

1 Peter 1: 1-21

Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ, sends greetings to all those living among foreigners in the Dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen, by the provident purpose of God the Father, to be made holy by the Spirit, obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood. Grace and peace be with you more and more.
Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for you in the heavens. Through your faith, God’s power will guard you until the salvation which has been prepared is revealed at the end of time. This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials; so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only it is more precious than gold, which is corruptible even though it bears testing by fire – and then you will have praise and glory and honour. You did not see him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.
It was this salvation that the prophets were looking and searching so hard for; their prophecies were about the grace which was to come to you. The Spirit of Christ which was in them foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would come after them, and they tried to find out at what time and in what circumstances all this was to be expected. It was revealed to them that the news they brought of all the things which have now been announced to you, by those who preached to you the Good News through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, was for you and not for themselves. Even the angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.
Free your minds, then, of encumbrances; control them, and put your trust in nothing but the grace that will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Do not behave in the way that you liked to before you learnt the truth; make a habit of obedience: be holy in all you do, since it is the Holy One who has called you, and scripture says: Be holy, for I am holy.
If you are acknowledging as your Father one who has no favourites and judges everyone according to what he has done, you must be scrupulously careful as long as you are living away from your home. Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold, but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ; who, though known since before the world was made, has been revealed only in our time, the end of the ages, for your sake. Through him you now have faith in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory for that very reason – so that you would have faith and hope in God.(source: Universalis)

Divine Office – Evening Prayer – Easter Vigil

From the Divine Office for Easter  – Evening Prayer:

The wedding of the Lamb

Jesus said: ‘Do not fear. Go and tell my brethren that they must go to Galilee: they will see me there.’ Alleluia. Alleluia.

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, because his judgements are true and just. Alleluia. Alleluia

Praise our God, all his servants, and you who fear him, small and great. Alleluia. Alleluia.

For the Lord reigns, our God, the Almighty: let us rejoice and exult and give him glory.  Alleluia. Alleluia.

The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his spouse has made herself ready. Alleluia.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Jesus said: ‘Do not fear. Go and tell my brethren that they must go to Galilee: they will see me there.’ Alleluia.

Good Friday

Office of Readings

First Reading: Hebrews 9 chapter 11-28

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be,  passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation,

He entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed,
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit  offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

Now where there is a will, the death of the testator must be established.

For a will takes effect only at death; it has no force while the testator is alive.

Thus not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.

When every commandment had been proclaimed by Moses to all the people

according to the law, he took the blood of calves (and goats), together with water and crimson wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,

saying, “This is ‘the blood of the covenant which God has enjoined upon you.'”

In the same way, he sprinkled also the tabernacle  and all the vessels of worship with blood.

According to the law almost everything is purified by blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Therefore, it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified by these rites, but the heavenly things themselves by better sacrifices than these.

For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.

Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own;

if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages  to take away sin by his sacrifice.

Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment,

so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many,will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.
Reading from the Catechises by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop

The Power of Christ’s Blood


If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. “Sacrifice a lamb without blemish,” commanded Moses, “and sprinkle its blood on your doors.” If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.
If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.
“There flowed from his side water and blood.” Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolised baptism and the holy eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, “the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit,” and from the holy eucharist. Since the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death.
Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.