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 Louis and ”the Holy Chapel”, Sainte-Chapelle

Today we celebrate two great saints; St. Louis IX and St. Joseph Calasanz. St. Louis IX was King of France in the 13th century, having become king at age13. Throughout his reign, St. Louis defended justice and promoted peace. He organized ‘the court of the king;’ bringing regular reviews of feudal cases. He prioritized the poor; founding many hospitals and charitable organizations. Also, he loved architecture; supporting the famous Sorbonne University and the Sainte Chappelle, the ‘Holy Chapel’ known for its architectural complexity with stained glass. He was canonized in 1297 by Boniface VIII.

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From a commentary on the psalms by John Fisher, bishop and martyr

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The wonderful works of God

First God freed Israel from the bondage of Egypt by performing many signs and wonders. He permitted them to cross the Red Sea dry-shod. He fed them in the desert with food from heaven in the form of manna and quail. When they were suffering from thirst he produced an everflowing spring of water from the hardest rock. He gave them victory over all the enemies who made war against them. He forced the river to flow backward for a time. He divided the promised land and distributed it among them according to the number of their tribes and families.

Yet even though he treated them so lovingly and generously, the Israelites were ungrateful and seemed forgetful to all of this. They abandoned the worship of God and more than once they were guilty of the abominable sin of idolatry.

Then he also took pity on us, when we were pagans who went off to mute idols wherever we were led. He severed us from the wild olive tree of paganism and, breaking our natural branches, he grafted us onto the true olive tree of Judaism and made us share in the root of his grace and its richness. Finally, he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, an offering and a sacrifice to God in a fragrant odor, that he might redeem us from all our iniquity and cleanse for himself an acceptable people.

Now all these things are not merely certain arguments but also clear proof of his deep love and kindness for us. And yet we are the most ungrateful of men. Indeed, we have gone beyond the bounds of ingratitude: we give no thought to his love, nor do we recognize the extent of his kindnesses to us. Rather we reject the one who lavishes so many favors and even appear to despise him; and the remarkable mercy that he has continually shown to sinners does not move us to form our lives and conduct according to his most holy command.

Clearly these things are worthy to be written down in the second generation so as to preserve their memory for ever. Thus all who are still to be counted among Christians will know the great kindness of God toward us and never cease singing his divine praises.

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Sing to God with songs of joy

 

From a discourse on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop
Sing to God with songs of joy

Praise the Lord with the lyre, make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song. Rid yourself of what is old and worn out, for you know a new song. A new man, a new covenant‚ – a new song. This new song does not belong to the old man. Only the new man learns it: the man restored from his fallen condition through the grace of God, and now sharing in the new covenant, that is, the kingdom of heaven. To it all our love now aspires and sings a new song. Let us sing a new song not with our lips but with our lives.

Sing to him a new song, sing to him with joyful melody. Every one of us tries to discover how to sing to God. You must sing to him, but you must sing well. He does not want your voice to come harshly to his ears, so sing well, brothers!

If you were asked, “Sing to please this musician,” you would not like to do so without having taken some instruction in music, because you would not like to offend an expert in the art. An untrained listener does not notice the faults a musician would point out to you. Who, then, will offer to sing well for God, the great artist whose discrimination is faultless, whose attention is on the minutest detail, whose ear nothing escapes? When will you be able to offer him a perfect performance that you will in no way displease such a supremely discerning listener?

See how he himself provides you with a way of singing. Do not search for words, as if you could find a lyric which would give God pleasure. Sing to him “with songs of joy.” This is singing well to God, just singing with songs of joy.

But how is this done? You must first understand that words cannot express the things that are sung by the heart. Take the case of people singing while harvesting in the fields or in the vineyards or when any other strenuous work is in progress. Although they begin by giving expression to their happiness in sung words, yet shortly there is a change. As if so happy that words can no longer express what they feel, they discard the restricting syllables. They burst out into a simple sound of joy, of jubilation. Such a cry of joy is a sound signifying that the heart is bringing to birth what it cannot utter in words.

Now, who is more worthy of such a cry of jubilation than God himself, whom all words fail to describe? If words will not serve, and yet you must not remain silent, what else can you do but cry out for joy? Your heart must rejoice beyond words, soaring into an immensity of gladness, unrestrained by syllabic bonds. Sing to him with songs of joy.

Saint Gregory the Great, pope The performance of our ministry

Second reading from the Office of Reading for today:
From a homily on the Gospels by

Saint Gregory the Great, pope The performance of our ministry

Let us listen to what the Lord says as he sends the preachers forth: The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest. We can speak only with a heavy heart of so few laborers for such a great harvest, for although there are many to hear the good news there are only a few to preach it. Look about you and see how full the world is of priests, yet in God’s harvest a laborer is rarely to be found; for although we have accepted the priestly office, we do not fulfill its demands.

Beloved brothers, consider what has been said: Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest. Pray for us so that we may have the strength to work on your behalf, that our tongue may not grow weary of exhortation, and that after we have accepted the office of preaching, our silence may not condemn us before the just judge. For frequently the preacher’s tongue is bound fast on account of his own wickedness; while on the other hand it sometimes happens that because of the people’s sins, the word of preaching is withdrawn from those who preside over the assembly. With reference to the former situation, the psalmist says: But God asks the sinner: Why do you recite my commandments? And with reference to the latter, the Lord tells Ezekiel: I will make your tongue cleave to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be dumb and unable to reprove them, for they are a rebellious house. He clearly means this: the word of preaching will be taken away from you because as long as this people irritates me by their deeds, they are unworthy to hear the exhortation of truth. It is not easy to know for whose sinfulness the preacher’s word is withheld, but it is indisputable that the shepherd’s silence while often injurious to himself will always harm his flock.

There is something else about the life of the shepherds, dearest brothers, which discourages me greatly. But lest what I claim should seem unjust to anyone, I will accuse myself of the very same thing, although I fall into it unwillingly—compelled by the urgency of these barbarous times. I speak of our absorption in external affairs; we accept the duties of office, but by our actions we show that we are attentive to other things. We abandon the ministry of preaching and, in my opinion, are called bishops to our detriment, for we retain the honorable office but fail to practice the virtues proper to it. Those who have been entrusted to us abandon God, and we are silent. They fall into sin, and we do not extend a hand of rebuke.

But how can we who neglect ourselves be able to correct someone else? We are wrapped up in worldly concerns, and the more we devote ourselves to external things, the more insensitive we become in spirit.

For this reason the Church rightfully says about her own feeble members: They made me a keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept. We are set to guard the vineyards but do not guard our own, for we get involved in irrelevant pursuits and neglect the performance of our ministry.

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