THOUGHTS TO PONDER O ANTIPHONS O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.
O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples; before you kings will shut their mouths, to you the nations will make their prayer: Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.
O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.
O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.
The Annunciation Mary learns that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.
But Mary said to the angel, “How shall this happen, since I do not know man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and therefore the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God. (St. Luke 1: 34-35)
Don't forget, my friend, that we are children. The Lady of the sweet name, Mary, is withdrawn in prayer. You, in that house, are whatever you want to be: a friend, a servant, an onlooker, a neighbor... I, at this moment, don't dare to be anything. I hide behind you; full of awe, I contemplate the scene: The Archangel delivers his message... Quomodo fiet istud, quoniam virum non cognosco? —How shall this be done since I know not man? (Luke 1:34) Our Mother's voice brings to my memory —by contrast— all the impurities of men.... mine too. Holy Rosary, 1
Our mother is a model of correspondence to grace. If we contemplate her life, our Lord will give us the light we need to divinize our everyday existence. Throughout the year when we celebrate feasts dedicated to Mary and frequently on other days, we Christians can think of the Virgin. If we take advantage of these moments, trying to imagine how she would conduct herself in our circumstances, we will make steady progress. And in the end we will resemble her, as children come to look like their mother. Christ is Passing By, 173
Following her example of obedience to God, we can learn to serve delicately without being slavish. In Mary we don't find the slightest trace of the attitude of the foolish virgins, who obey, but thoughtlessly. Our Lady listens attentively to what God wants, ponders what she doesn't fully understand and asks about what she doesn't know. Then she gives herself completely to doing the divine will: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word.” Isn't that marvellous? The blessed Virgin, our teacher in all we do, shows us here that obedience to God is not servile, does not bypass our conscience. We should be inwardly moved to discover the “freedom of the children of God.” Christ is Passing By, 173
To take advantage of the grace which our mother offers us today and to second at any time the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, the shepherd of our souls, we ought to be seriously committed to dealing with God. We cannot take refuge in the anonymous crowd. If interior life doesn’t involve personal encounter with God, it doesn't exist — it's as simple as that. There are few things more at odds with Christianity than superficiality. To settle down to routine in our christian life is to dismiss the possibility of becoming a contemplative soul. God seeks us out, one by one. And we ought to answer him, one by one: “Here I am, Lord, because you have called me.” Christ is Passing By, 174
The scene of the Annunciation is a very lovely one. How often we have meditated on this. Mary is recollected in prayer. She is using all her senses and her faculties to speak to God. It is in prayer that she comes to know the divine Will. And with prayer she makes it the life of her life. Do not forget the example of the Virgin Mary. Furrow, 481
Consider now the sublime moment when the Archangel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary the plans of the Most High. Our Mother listens, and asks a question to understand better what the Lord is asking of her. Then she gives her firm reply: Fiat! Be it done unto me according to thy word! This is the fruit of the best freedom of all, the freedom of deciding in favor of God. Friends of God, 25
The Visitation Mary visits Elizabeth, who tells her that she will always be remembered.
Now in those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town of Juda. And she entered the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe in her womb leapt. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who has believed, because the things promised her by the Lord shall be accomplished.” (Luke 1:39-45)
Keep Mary Company By now, my little friend, you have no doubt learned to get along by yourself. —Joyfully keep Joseph and Mary company... and you will hear the traditions of the House of David: You will hear of Elizabeth and Zachary, you will be moved by Joseph’s pure love, and your heart will pound whenever there is mention of the Child who will be born in Bethlehem... We walk in haste towards the mountains, to a town of the tribe of Judah (Luke 1:39). We arrive. —It is the house where John the Baptist is to be born. —Elizabeth gratefully hails the Mother of her Redeemer: Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! —How have I deserved to be thus visited by the Mother of my Lord? (Luke 1:42-43) The unborn Baptist quivers... (Luke 1:41) —Mary's humility pours forth in the Magnificat... —And you and I, who are proud —who were proud—, promise to be humble. Holy Rosary, 2
“Blessed are you for believing”, said Elizabeth to our Mother. Union with God, supernatural virtue, always brings with it the attractive practice of human virtues: Mary brought joy to her cousin's home, because she brought Christ. Furrow, 566
Turn your eyes towards the Blessed Virgin and see how she practises the virtue of loyalty. When Elizabeth needs her, the Gospel says that she went cum festinatione, — joyfully making haste. Learn from her! Furrow, 371
She teaches us to have faith She teaches us to have faith. 'Blessed art thou for thy believing,' were the words of greeting uttered by her cousin Elizabeth when Our Lady went up into the hill country to visit her. Mary's act of faith had been a wonderful one, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.' Friends of God, 284
It is a peace that comes from knowing that our Father God loves us, and that we are made one with Christ. It results from being under the protection of the Virgin, our Lady, and assisted by St Joseph. This is the great light that illuminates our lives. In the midst of difficulties and of our own personal failings, it encourages us to keep up our effort. Every christian home should be a place of peace and serenity. In spite of the small frustrations of daily life, an atmosphere of profound and sincere affection should reign there together with a deep-rooted calm, which is the result of authentic faith that is put into practice. Christ is Passing By, 22
The Nativity Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem.
Now it came to pass in those days, that a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that a census of the whole world should be taken. This first census took place while Cyrinus was governor of Syria. And all were going, each to his own town, to register. And Joseph also went from Galilee out of the town of Nazareth into Judea to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem – because he was of the house and family of David – to register, together with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass while they were there, that the days for her to be delivered were fulfilled. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (St. Luke 2:1-7)
A decree of Caesar Augustus has been proclaimed, ordering the whole world to be enrolled. For this purpose, every person must go to the city of his ancestors. Since Joseph is of the house and family of David, he goes with the Virgin Mary from Nazareth to the city called Bethlehem, in Judea (Luke 2:1-5). And in Bethlehem is born our God: Jesus Christ! There is no room at the inn: He is born in a stable. And His Mother wraps Him in swaddling clothes and lays Him in a manger. Cold. Poverty... I am Joseph's little servant. How good Joseph is! He treats me like a father. He even forgives me if I take the Child in my arms and spend hour after hour saying sweet and loving things to Him!... And I kiss Him — you kiss Him too! — and I rock Him in my arms, and I sing to Him, and I call Him King, Love, my God, my Only-one, my All!... How beautiful is the Child — and how short the decade! Holy Rosary, 3
At Christmas our thoughts turn to the different events and circumstances surrounding the birth of the Son of God. As we contemplate the stable in Bethlehem or the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth, Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus occupy a special place in our hearts. What does the simple, admirable life of the Holy Family tell us? What can we learn from it? I would like particularly to comment on one of the many considerations that we might make on this theme. As we read in holy Scripture, the birth of Jesus means the beginning of the fullness of time. It was the moment God chose to show the extent of his love for men, by giving us his own Son. And God's will is fulfilled in the simplest, most ordinary of circumstances: a woman who gives birth, a family, a home. The power of God and his splendour come to us through a human reality to which they are joined. Since that moment Christians have known that, with God's grace, they can and should sanctify everything that is good in their human lives. There is no human situation, no matter how trivial and ordinary it may seem, which cannot be a meeting place with Christ and a step forward on our journey toward the kingdom of heaven. Christ is Passing By, 22, 1-2
Do you see how necessary it is to know Jesus and lovingly observe his life? I have often gone to look for a definition or a biography of Jesus in Scripture. And I have found it written by the Holy Spirit: “He went about doing good.” Every single day of Jesus Christ's life on earth, from his birth until his death, can be summed up like that: he filled them all doing good. And in another place Scripture says, “He has done all things well,” he finished everything well, he did nothing that wasn't good. Christ is Passing By, 16
The Presentation Mary and Joseph take the infant Jesus to the Temple to present him to God.
And when the days of her purification were fulfilled according to the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord–as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”–and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:22-24)
When the days of the Mother's purification are accomplished, according to the Law of Moses, the Child must be taken to Jerusalem, to be presented to the Lord (Luke 2:22). And this time it will be you, my friend, who will carry the cage with the doves (Luke 2:24). —Just think: She — Mary Immaculate! — submits to the Law as if she were defiled. Through this example, foolish child, will you learn to obey the Holy Law of God, regardless of any personal sacrifice? Purification! You and surely do need purification! —Atonement, and more than atonement, Love. —Love as a searing iron to cauterize our souls' uncleanness, and as a fire to kindle with divine flames the wretched tinder of our hearts. A just and God-fearing man has come to the temple led by the Holy Ghost — it had been revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Christ. —He takes the Messiah in his arms and says to Him: Now, My Lord, Thou canst take Thy servant out of this world in peace, according to Thy promise... because my eyes have seen the Saviour (Luke 2:25-30). Holy Rosary, The Presentation
The Catholic faith sees Mary as a sign of God’s special love. God calls us his friends; his grace acts in us, winning us from sin, enabling us to reflect in some way the features of Christ, even though we are still wretched dirt. We are not stranded people whom God has promised to save. His salvation is already at work in us. In our relationship to God, we are not blind men yearning for light and crying in anguished darkness. We are children who know our Father loves us. Christ is Passing By, 142
Experience of sin, then, should not make us doubt our mission. True, our sins can make it difficult to recognize Christ. That is why we must face up to our personal failings and seek to purify ourselves. But in doing this, we must realize that God has not promised us a complete victory over evil in this life. Instead he asks us to fight. “My grace is sufficient for you,” our Lord replied to St. Paul, when he wanted to be freed of the “thorn in his flesh” which humiliated him. Christ is Passing By, 114
Mary, our Mother, “help of Christians, refuge of sinners”: intercede with your Son to send us the Holy Spirit, to awaken in our hearts the decision to go ahead confidently, making us hear deep in our soul the call which filled with peace the martyrdom of one of the first Christians: “Come, return to your Father,” he is waiting for you. Christ is Passing By, 66
The Christian vocation is one of sacrifice, penance, expiation. We must make reparation for our sins — for the many times we turned our face aside so as to avoid the gaze of God — and all the sins of mankind. We must try to imitate Christ, “always carrying about in our body the dying of Christ,” his abnegation, his suffering on the cross, “so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.” Our way is one of immolation and, in this denial, we find gaudium cum pace, both joy and peace. Christ is Passing By, 9
The Finding of Jesus in the Temple Jesus is found in the Temple discussing his faith with the teachers.
And his parents were wont to go every year to Jerusalem at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. And after they had fulfilled the days, when they were returning, the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and his parents did not know it. But thinking that he was in the caravan, they had come a day's journey before it occurred to them to look for him among their relatives and acquaintances. And not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem in search of him. And it came to pass after three days, that they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who were listening to him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold, in sorrow thy father and I have been seeking thee.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?” And they did not understand the word that he spoke to them. (Luke 2:41-50)
Where is Jesus? —The Child, my Lady!... where is He? Mary is crying. —In vain you and I have run from group to group, from caravan to caravan: no one has seen Him. —Joseph, after useless attempts to keep from crying, cries too... And You... And I. Being a common little servant, I cry my eyes out and wail to heaven and earth... to make up for those times when I lost Him through my own fault and did not cry. Jesus: may I never lose Thee again... Then you and I are united in misfortune and grief, as we were united in sin. And from the depth of our being come moans of heartfelt sorrow and burning phrases that the pen cannot and should not record. And, as we are consoled by the joy of finding Jesus —three days He was gone!— debating with the doctors of Israel (Luke 2:46), your soul and mine will be left deeply impressed by the duty to leave our home and family to serve our heavenly Father. Holy Rosary, Finding of Jesus
We should learn from Jesus' attitude in these trials. During his life on earth he did not even want the glory that belonged to him. Though he had the right to be treated as God, he took the form of a servant, a slave. And so the Christian knows that all glory is due to God and that he must not make use of the sublimity and greatness of the Gospel to further his own interests or human ambitions. We should learn from Jesus. His attitude in rejecting all human glory is in perfect balance with the greatness of his unique mission as the beloved Son of God who takes flesh to save men. He has a mission which the Father affectionately guides with tender care: “You are my son; I have begotten you this day. Only ask, and you shall have the nations for your patrimony.” And the Christian who, following Christ, has this attitude of complete adoration of the Father, also experiences our Lord’s loving care: “He trusts in me, mine it is to rescue him; he acknowledges my name, from me he shall have protection.” Christ is Passing By, 62
If we truly got to know Mary our Mother, how quickly the supernatural virtues would grow in us! Let us not be shy about repeating short prayers and aspirations to her throughout the day. There is no need to say them out loud, we can say them in our heart. Christian devotion has gathered together many of these loving words of praise in the Litany which accompanies the Holy Rosary. But each one of us is free to think up new ones, and address new praises to her, telling her with our heart with a holy bashfulness that she understands and approves what we would not dare to say out loud. Finally, I would recommend that, if you haven't already done so, you find out for yourself by personal experience the meaning of Mary's maternal love. It is not enough just to know she is our Mother and to think and to talk about her as such. She is your Mother and you are her son. She loves you as if you were her only child in this world. Treat her accordingly: tell her about everything that happens to you, honor her and love her. No one will do it for you or as well as you, if you do not do it yourself. I give you my word that, if you set out along this way, you will quickly discover all the love of Christ: and you will find yourself drawn into the ineffable life of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. You will draw strength from it to put the Will of God fully into practice, and you will be filled with desires of serving all men. You will be the Christian you have sometimes dreamed of being: full of works of charity and justice, happy and strong, understanding towards others and demanding on yourself. This, and no other, is the kind of faith we want. Let us have recourse to our Mother Mary; she will accompany us and help us make firm and constant progress. Friends of God, 293