Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Holy Family

The Feast of the Holy Family
By St. Bernard of Clairvaux
In Mary we praise that which places her above all others, that is, fruitfulness of offspring together with virginity. For never has it been known in this world that anyone was at the same time mother and virgin. And see of Whom she is mother. Where does your astonishment at this so wondrous dignity lead you? Is it not to this, that you may gaze in wonder yet never sufficiently revere? Is she not in your veneration, nay, in the esteem of Truth itself, raised above choirs of angels? Does not Mary address the Lord and God of all the angels as Son, saying: Son, why hast thou done so to us?

Who among the angels may thus presume? It is enough for them, and for them their greatest honour, that while they are spirits by nature they have become and are called angels, as David testifies: Who makest thy angels spirits. Mary, knowing herself mother, with confidence calls that Majesty Son Whom the angels in reverence serve. Nor does God disdain to be called that which He disdained not to be. For the Evangelist adds a little later: He was subject to them.

Who was subject to whom? A God to men. God, I repeat, to Whom the angels are subject: Whom principalities and powers obey: was subject to Mary; and not alone to Mary, but to Joseph also, because of Mary. Admire and revere both the one and the other, and choose which you admire the more: the most sweet condescension of the Son, or the sublime dignity of the Mother. For either am I at a loss for words: for both are wondrous. For that God should obey a woman is humility without compare; and that a woman should have rule over God dignity without equal. In praise of virgins is it joyfully proclaimed: that they follow the lamb withersoever he goeth. Of what praise shall you esteem her worthy who also goeth before Him?

Learn, O Man, to obey. Learn, O Earth, to be subject. Learn, O Dust, to submit. The Evangelist in speaking of thy Maker says: He was subject to them; that is, without doubt, to Mary and to Joseph. Be you ashamed, vain ashes that you are. God humbles Himself, and do you exalt yourself? God becomes subject to men, and will you, eager to lord it over men, place yourself above your Maker? O would that God might deign to make me, thinking such thoughts at times in my own mind, such answer as He made, reproving him, to His apostle: Go behind Me, Satan: because thou savorest not the things that are of God.

For as often as I desire to be foremost among men, so often do I seek to take precedence of God; and so do I not truly savour the things that are of God. For of Him was it said: And he was subject to them. If you disdain, O Man, to follow the example of a Man, at least it will not lower thee to imitate thy Maker. If perhaps you cannot follow Him wheresoever He goeth, at least follow in that wherein He has come down to you.

If you are unable to follow Him on the sublime way of virginity, then follow God by that most sure way of humility; from whose straitness should some even from among the virgins go aside, then must I say what is true, that neither do they follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth. He that is humble, even though he be stained, he follows the Lamb; so too does the proud virgin; but neither of the two whithersoever He goeth: because the one cannot ascend to the purity of the Lamb that is without stain, nor will the other deign to come down to the meekness of the Lamb, Who stood silent, not merely before the shearer, but before the one that put Him to death. Yet the sinner who makes after Him in humility, has chosen a wholesomer part than the one that is proud in his virtue; since the humble repentance of the one washes away uncleanness, but the pride of the other contaminates his own virtue.

Truly blessed was Mary who possessed both humility and virginity. And truly wondrous the virginity whose fruitfulness stained not, but adorned her; and truly singular the humility, which this fruitful virginity has not troubled, but rather exalted; and wholly incomparable the fruitfulness which goes hand in hand with her humility and her virginity. Which of these things is not wondrous? Which is not beyond all comparison? Which that is not wholly singular? It would be strange if you did not hesitate to decide which you regard as most worthy of praise: whether the wonder of fruitfulness of offspring in virginity, or of virginal integrity in a mother: sublimity of Offspring, or humility joined to such dignity: unless it be that we place both together above each one singly: and it is truly beyond any doubt more excellent and more joyful to have beheld these perfections united in her, than to see but one part of them.

And can we wonder that God, of Whom it is written that He is wonderful in his saints, shows Himself in His own Mother yet more wondrous still. Venerate then, Ye spouses, this integrity of flesh in our corruptible flesh. Revere likewise, Ye virgins, fruitfulness in virginity. Let all men imitate the humility of God's Mother. Honour, Ye angels, the Mother of your King, you who adore the Offspring of our Virgin; Who is your King and our King, the Healer of our race, the Restorer of our fatherland: Who among you is so sublime, yet among us was so lowly: to Whose Majesty as well from you as from us let there be adoration and reverence: to whose Perfection be there honour and glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"On the feast of Stephen"

Father Stephen’s Homily & Reflection for Wednesday, December 26, 2012 during the Octave of Christmas on the Feast of St. Stephen. 

It’s sort of a jolt to celebrate the martyrdom of St. Stephen on the very day after Christmas. Yesterday, it was the angels singing the good news, and all is calm, all is bright was the mood of the day, but now we switch gears quickly and celebrate the martyrdom of Stephen, the first martyr of the Church – certainly nothing calm or bright about a martyrdom.

However, I do believe that our feast today reminds us of why the Lord Jesus came to earth in the first place. He came to earth, was placed in a wooden manger, so that some 33 years later he could be placed on a wooden cross to die for our sins, to bring us salvation. From the wood of the manger to the wood of the cross, Jesus comes to save us. He comes to save us and invites us to accept his invitation into his kingdom. However, the entrance into his kingdom calls us to follow him – his words and his actions. So therefore, if we wish to belong to his kingdom then eventually we will go to the cross.

Jesus told us as much as he told us that we must pick up our cross and follow after him.
If we wish to follow Jesus then we will go to the cross. Following the Lord is not always easy because many people will refuse the invitation and those who refuse will make it difficult, make it hard on those who accept. Once again, from the Lord’s mouth we hear that three will be against two and son against father and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law. If we accept his invitation the cross will be a part of our lives, just as surely as it was a part of St. Stephen’s life.

When we accept Christ we accept not only the tiny babe in the manger with all is calm all is bright, but we also accept the fact that Jesus calls us to follow in his footsteps from the wood of the manger to the wood of the cross. So then, like St. Stephen we can expect trials and tribulations and perhaps even death as we follow the Lord because if we follow the Lord, then we will be lead to the cross. In the words of another great saint, Saint Bonaventure, “there is no other way except through the burning love of the crucified.”

Today let us go visit Christ as he lies in his manger bed and ask him to give us the courage and strength to follow after him as did St. Stephen, knowing full well that it will take us to the cross. It will take us to eternal life!

God Bless,
Father Stephen McKinley, OFM Conv
Rector of the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe
Spiritual Advisor to the MI for the USA & Canada

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Blessed be the Holy and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

 Friends, as we approach this great solemity of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, let us renew our trust in Her maternal intercession as our Mother and Queen, the Mediatrix of all graces.
Mary's Immaculate  Conception was the first and perfect act of redemption, in which the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ was applied to Her at the moment of conception, that She would be conceived free from all sin including the original sin of Adam.

This act of preventive redemption shows forth the victory of Christ over Satan, sin and death. The Immaculate Conception echoes throughout eterntiy the power of God's grace over the snares of evil. The Immaculate Conception heralds the fufillment of Genesis , that the seed of the woman will crush the serpent's head. 

Our Lady the creature full grace goes forth to be the Mother of Grace itself , Jesus our Lord.She is totally united with the will of the Father and intimately configured to the operation of the Holy Spirit in Her soul . Thus our Seraphic father Francis proclaimed our Lady as  the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin made Church.

By renewing our consecration to our Immaculate Mother, we again say yes to God, to  receive the gift of Mary as Our Mother and Queen. The Immaculata will  lead us always to Our Lord ,and to keep us faithful to Christ and His Church. With Our Lady we will know the mercy of God and the goodness of our Heavenly Father that He has for His children.. With St Maximilian Maria Kolbe may we ever praise the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Br Louis Mary OFM Conv.