23 December 2014

One Last Reflection before Christmas Eve

This entry makes one reflect on the state of affairs at His first coming and those now-- the state of Sion then and the state of the Church now.  This reading from Isaias, and the reflection on it from Dom Gueranger in The Liturgical Year, really hit home. 

We need God, and though we should tremble at the reality of our sins which made such a Redeemer necessary to us, yet we look with hope to the promises of such a loving God, Who will save us if we turn to Him.  It is a fitting last reflection before the Eve of the great Feast of Christmas.  

Christmas Mass schedule at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, Thursday, December 25:  Midnight, Solemn High Mass; 8 am, Low Mass; 10 am, High Mass.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and may God bless you abundantly!

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Isaias 64: 1-11


[1] That thou wouldst rend the heavens, and wouldst come down: the mountains would melt away at thy presence. [2] They would melt as at the burning of fire, the waters would burn with fire, that thy name might be made known to thy enemies: that the nations might tremble at thy presence. [3] When thou shalt do wonderful things, we shall not bear them: thou didst come down, and at thy presence the mountains melted away. [4] From the beginning of the world they have not heard, nor perceived with the ears: the eye hath not seen, O God, besides thee, what things thou hast prepared for them that wait for thee. [5] Thou hast met him that rejoiceth, and doth justice: in thy ways they shall remember thee: behold thou art angry, and we have sinned: in them we have been always, and we shall be saved.


[6] And we are all become as one unclean, and all our justices as the rag of a menstruous woman: and we have all fallen as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. [7] There is none that calleth upon thy name: that riseth up, and taketh hold of thee: thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast crushed us in the hand of our iniquity. [8] And now, O Lord, thou art our father, and we are clay: and thou art our maker, and we all are the works of thy hands. [9] Be not very angry, O Lord, and remember no longer our iniquity: behold, see we are all thy people. [10] The city of thy sanctuary is become a desert, Sion is made a desert, Jerusalem is desolate. [11] The house of our holiness, and of our glory, where our fathers praised thee, is burnt with fire, and all our lovely things are turned into ruins.

O God of our fathers! delay not, but show Thyself unto us.  The city which Thou lovest is desolate; come and raise up Jerusalem; avenge the glory of her temple.  This was the cry of the Prophet; Thou hast heard it, and hast come to deliver Sion from her captivity, giving her a new era of glory and holiness. Thou hast come, not to destroy but to fulfil the law; and, by Thy visit, Sion has been changed into the Church, Thy bride. But why, O Thou her beloved Saviour! why hast Thou turned away Thy face? Why is this Church of Thy love left in the wilderness, weeping like Jeremias over the ruins of the sanctuary, and as Rachel over her children that had been taken from her?  Why has her inheritance been delivered to the stranger?  

By Thy power, she had become the mother of countless children; she had nourished them; she had taught them, in Thy name, the things that pertain to the present and the future life; and these ungrateful children have turned against her.  She has been driven from nation to nation, bearing away with her the heavenly treasure of faith; her mysteries have ceased to be celebrated where once they were the glory and happiness of the people; and from Thy throne above, O divine Word, Creator of the universe, Thou seest everywhere, throughout the earth, altars overturned and temples profaned.  Oh! come, then, and rekindle the smouldering fire of faith.

Remember Thy apostles and Thy martyrs; remember Thy saints who have founded Churches, and honoured them by their virtues and miracles; remember Thy bride the Church, and support her during her earthly pilgrimage, until the number of Thy elect is filled up.  She longs to possess Thee in the eternal light of the vision; but Thou hast given her a heart with such a mother's love, that she will not leave her children as long as there is one to save, nor cease to save until that day come when there shall no more be a militant Church, but the one sole triumphant Church, inebriated with the enjoyment of the sight and embraces of her God.  But that last day has not yet come, O Jesus! there is yet time for Thee to descend from heaven and visit Thy vineyard. Restore to the branches of the tree the leaves which have fallen in the storm of iniquity. Let this tree of Thy predilection bud forth new branches; and the old ones, which have separated from it, and have seemed to force Thy justice to cast them into the fire, let them be once more grafted on the parent trunk, so torn by their rupture from her. Come, O Jesus, for the sake of Thy Church; she is dearer to Thee than was Jerusalem of old.

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...Give her, during this year also, firmness of faith, the grace of the Sacraments, the efficacy of prayer, the gift of miracles, the succession of her hierarchy, power of government, fortitude against the princes of the world, love of the cross, victory over satan, and the crown of martyrdom.  During this new year make her, as ever, Thy beautiful bride; make her faithful to Thy love, and more than ever successful in the great work Thou has entrusted to her; for each year brings us nearer to the day when Thou wilt come for the last time, not in the swathing bands of infancy, but on a cloud with great majesty, to render Thy rebuke with flames of fire, and destroy those that have despised or have not loved Thy Church, which Thou wilt then raise up and admit into Thy eternal kingdom.


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