Archive for January, 2011
CONSIDER that after so many centuries, after so many prayers and sighs, the Messiah, whom the holy patriarchs and prophets were not worthy to see, whom the nations sighed for, “the desire of the everlasting hills,” our Savior, has come; he is already born, and has given himself entirely to us: “A child is born to us, and a son is given to us.”
The Son of God has made himself little, in order to make us great.
He has given himself to us, in order that we may give ourselves to him.
He has come to show us his love, in order that we may respond to it by giving him ours.
Let us, therefore, receive him with affection. Let us love him, and have recourse to him in ill our necessities.
“A child gives easily,” says St. Bernard; children readily give anything, that is asked of them. Jesus came into the world as a child in order to show himself ready and willing to give us all! good gifts: “The Father hath given all things into his hands.”
If we wish for light, he has come on purpose to enlighten us.
If we wish for strength to resist our enemies, he has come to give us comfort.
If we wish for pardon and salvation, he has come to pardon and save us.
If, in short, we desire the sovereign gift of divine love, he has come to inflame our hearts with it; and, above all, for this very purpose, he has become a child, and has chosen to show himself to us worthy of our love, in proportion as he was poor and humble, in order to take away from us all fear, and to gain our affections.
“So,” said St. Peter Chrysologus, “should he come who willed to drive away fear, and seek for love.” And Jesus has chosen to come as a little child to make us love him, not only with an appreciative but even a tender love.
All infants attract the tender affection of those who behold them; but who will not love, with all the tenderness of which they are capable, a God whom they behold as a little child, in need of milk to nourish him, trembling with cold, poor, abased, and forsaken, weeping and crying in a manger, and lying on straw?
It was this that made the loving St. Francis exclaim: “Let us love the child of Bethlehem, let us love the child of Bethlehem. Come, souls, and love a God who has become a child, and poor, who is so lovable, and who has come down from heaven to give himself entirely to you.”
THIS TUESDAY, THE FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL AND THE END OF THE OCTAVE OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY is also the 25th of the Month, and a day traditionally dedicated to the Child Jesus as a monthly remembrance of His Birth (and popularized as “Little Christmas” by many great Saints, as well as Founders of religious congrega-tions, including the Doctor of Prayer and Founder of the Redemptorists, St. Alphonsus Liguori). Therefore, at St. Mary in Salem – on this first “Little Christmas” of the Year of Our Lord 2011 -we will begin the custom of honoring the Child Jesus with prayers and devotions following the morning Mass, continuing on the 25th of every month.
Why not make the sacrifice and assist at Holy Mass on the first “Little Christmas” of 2011? Why not make the resolution to come to church on the 25th of every month to adore and offer thanks to the Lord Jesus, Who, out of His tremendous became Man in the virginal womb of Our Lady?
The general prayer intentions for the monthly “Little Christmas Devotions” will be for the spiritual and physical protection of the children and young people of our parish, the strengthening of Catholic family life, for the end of abortion and child abuse, and for the sick, especially those suffering from cancer. To those general prayer intentions, you are invited to add your own and place them with confidence in the all-loving Heart of the Infant Christ. Whenever the liturgical calendar permits, the Priest of Salem will offer a Votive Mass of the Holy Name or of the Nativity of Our Lord on the 25th of the month.
The Chair of Unity Octave
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The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity
Since 1908, a period of eight days (January 18th, the former feast of the St. Peter’s Chair at Antioch, through 25th, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul) has been set apart for the express purpose of seeking “that unity which was prayed for by Christ Himself.” This was the inspiration given by God to Father Paul Wattson. Fr. Paul, along with Mother Lurana White, founded, within the Episcopal Church, the Franciscan Society of the Atonement in Graymoor, New York. Father Paul, who converted to Roman Catholicism along with Mother Lurana, in 1909, considered the Octave as the greatest project which came from Graymoor, and even though it was overshadowed by the less-specific “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” during his own lifetime, he rejoiced that those separated from the Catholic Church felt called to observe the January period as a time of prayer for unity. Even though their concept of unity differs from that of the Catholic Church, it is significant that so many pray for that unity which God desires for His people. The Octave, as originally conceived by Father Paul, reflects the unchanging truth that there can be no real unity apart from union with that Rock, established by Christ Himself, which is Peter and his successors. For that reason, St. Peter is considered the special Patron of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Known more familiarly today as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the traditional prayers set by Fr. Paul Wattson are as follows:
ANTIPHON: That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.
V. I say unto thee, thou art Peter;
R. And upon this rock I will build My Church.
[Here is brought to mind the intention for the day’s prayer.]
January 18: The return of the “other sheep” to the One Fold of our Lord Jesus Christ;
January 19: The return of Eastern Orthodox to communion with the Holy See;
January 20: The return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ;
January 21: The return of all Protestants to the unity of the Catholic Church;
January 22: That American Christians may be one, in union with the Chair of Saint Peter;
January 23: That lapsed Catholics will return to the Sacraments of the Church;
January 24: That the Jewish people will be converted to the Catholic Faith;
January 25: That missionary zeal will conquer the world for Christ.
Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst unto Thine Apostles: Peace I leave you, My peace I give to you; regard not our sins, but the faith of Thy Church, and grant unto her that peace and unity which are agreeable to Thy Will; Who livest and reignest ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
The video and many photographs from our Quasquicentennial Celebration on July 4, 2010 are now online in the PAGES section of this blog (on the right hand column). You may also go to it by clicking http://www.salemcatholic.org/?page_id=3009
The feast of the first American-born Canonized Saint, Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, was celebrated on Tuesday, January 4th. A statue of Mother Seton, and her first-class holy relic, were honored in the sanctuary at Salem during and after Holy Mass. This is a special feast, since our parochial school children attend Mass every morning and Mother Seton is honored as the Foundress of the Catholic School System in the United States (along with St. John N. Neumann, the 4th Bishop of Philadelphia). Likewise, the Priest of Salem is a graduate of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD (on Mary’s Mountain, which overlooks St. Joseph’s Valley in Emmitsburg, home to Mother Seton’s Basilica and National Shrine). Mother Seton taught catechism up on the Mount, near the current location of the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.
With praise and thanksgiving to God, the Priest of Salem would like the readers of Salemcatholic to know that Mother Seton’s intercession brought about the 1996 cure from very serious bladder cancer of the eighth Bishop of Sioux Falls, the Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, who ordained the Priest of Salem. During the Canon of today’s Mass, at the Memento of the Living, the health and happiness of this same good and holy successor of the Apostles was offered to the Father with much devotion. Thankfully, from her place in heavenly glory, Mother Seton is still caring for our former bishop and his health – so much so that he is now courageously serving the Lord Jesus as the 9th Archbishop of St. Louis, once home to many of Mother Seton’s daughters in religion. Ad multos annos, Your Grace!