Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nativity Homily by John Chrysostom

Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been 'in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.


Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant's food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.


To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Keeping ChristMass

(by Fr. Mark Sietsema) But if we say “Keep the Mass in Christmas,” the point is this. Christmas isn't really Christ-mas without the Mass, without the Divine Liturgy. Christmas isn't Christmas if we don't make a point of coming together on the appointed day, with all the people of God, to observe the commandment that He gave, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Christmas isn't Christmas if we don't share the Eucharistic meal of His Body and Blood with one another in the Church. How is Christmas complete without receiving your most important gift?

Christ came to earth, not simply to be born in a lowly stable in Palestine, but to be born into the humble stable of the soul of each one of us. Through the sacraments He enters into our persons so that, as the Apostle Paul says, Christ is formed in you; and with Christ in you, you have the hope of glory.

Keep the Mass in your Christmas! Of course you should get together with family and friends. Of course you should open your presents around the tree. Of course you should enjoy your eggnog and mulled wine and ham and turkey and roast beast.

But don't forget the Mass! Don't skip the Liturgy! Don't leave out Holy Communion. If you do so, you are missing the real Christmas altogether. Come to church and worship the newborn King in the way that he Himself commands, by eating His Body and drinking His Blood. Keep the “Mass” in Christmas, and you will never lose “Christ” from your Christmas either.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

John Donne (1572 - 1631)


Immensity, cloister'd in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-beloved imprisonment.
There he hath made himself to his intent
Weak enough, now into our world to come.
But O ! for thee, for Him, hath th' inn no room ?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from th' orient,
Stars, and wise men will travel to prevent
The effects of Herod's jealous general doom.
See'st thou, my soul, with thy faith's eye, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie ?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee ?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gaudete semper!

Third Sunday in Advent 11 December 2011
How to keep the joy alive!
I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10
A beautiful bride or a handsome groom on their wedding day receive a gift of overwhelming joy from God. How to keep that joy and love alive as the vows say for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and health until we are parted by death remains for many an elusive mystery – hard to hold onto as a slippery bar of soap. The same could sometimes be said of our new life in Christ. We wonder where the joy of our salvation has gone – especially as the days grow shorter and darker -- many of us are sowing in tears as the Psalm says even on this third Sunday in Advent that calls us to rejoice always! Despite the inherent difficulties God not only desires but enables us to keep the joy of believing alive.
1. Keep the joy of believing alive by the gift of prayer and thanksgiving
a. Receive the gift as a holy habit, not based on feelings
b. Receive the gift in the church – psalms, hymns, canticles.
e.g. O Magnum Mysterium: O great mystery and wonderful sacrament: that animals see the infant Lord lying in a manger. Blessed is the virgin whose womb was worthy to carry the Lord Christ. Alleluia!

2. Keep the joy of believing alive by the gift of testing and holding fast.
a. False prophets and deceiving spirits can steal our joy
b. All believers need to examine all things with great care – even the Bereans did not blindly accept the preaching the holy apostle Paul, but searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
3. Keep the joy of believing alive by the gift of abstaining from every form of evil.
a. Forsaking all others, remain united to him/her alone, so long as you both shall live? What amazing freedom, to treat all others as sisters and brothers! Don’t even think about unfaithfulness to Christ!
b. “He who goes out weeping, bearing seed for sowing…” no matter our circumstances, we can be about our Father’s business: sowing seeds of kindness, friendship, hospitality, charity so that there remains not even standing room only for every form of evil.