O Eternal Father, after having thanked thy infinite bounty for thy exceeding benefits in the past, we humbly implore pardon for our manifold sins and negligences, for the time we have consumed and wasted in vanities and in things that profit not unto salvation, and for the woeful want of correspondence with Thy graces which we have so habitually manifested.
But filled with confidence in Thy mercy, so lavishly displayed in a multitude of ways, we ask Thy blessings upon our good purposes and resolutions. For now we renew the sacred promises we made in Baptism, when we first became Thy children and heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and we renounce Satan with all his works and pomps.
Firmly convinced that the salvation of our immortal souls is the one great business of life, the purpose for which we have come into the world, we solemnly resolve for the future not only to do all in our power to avoid every grievous sin in thought, word, and deed but also to shun every unnecessary occasion that might imperil our souls. We further resolve to fulfill with greater exactness and fidelity the duties of our station in life, to give more attention to our progress in things spiritual, to be more devoted to holy Mass, to receive the Sacraments more frequently, and to pray more often and more fervently.
Bless, O my God, these good resolutions which we offer to Thee at this, the threshold of a new year. Give us Thy precious grace and make us truly wise. The days and years of our life are passing so swiftly away. Help us, in Thy mercy, to utilize them, as we ought to do, for Thy greater honor and glory, for the good of our neighbor, and for our sanctification. The night cometh in which no man can work longer; soon, at best, we shall have to appear before Thee to render an account of our stewardship. May we then be found worthy to receive from Thee that divine welcome: “Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of thy Lord.”
Roráte caeli, désuper, et nubes pluant iustum. . .
“Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior” (cf. Isaiah 45:8).
The prophet Isaiah greets us in today’s Entrance Antiphon and helps us to prepare for Christmas. Dr. Pius Parsch writes that “(Isaiah’s) cry must become our own. Before God comes to us, He demands preparation. He will not force His gifts upon us. We must desire them, we must be spiritually hungry.” Parsch makes this great statement: “Advent desire means that we must cultivate a fruitful soil for the seed of grace, that we become receptive to God’s kingdom” (The Church’s Year of Grace, Vol. I: Advent to Candlemas, p. 134). This applies directly to these words from the prophet Isaiah: “Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.” This prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled with the coming of the Divine Child. By analogy, we can say that He has come down from heaven as a drop of dew from the clouds.
Though this is an analogy, this imagery is quite accurate. Remember the Gospel of the Annunciation. The Angel Gabriel said to Mary: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” She is full of grace. She is filled with the Holy Spirit to overflowing. Because the Lord is with her in a singular way, she is the soil that is receptive for the dew which drops down from the clouds of heaven. In fact, it is a cloud from heaven that dropped down upon her. The angel announced: “The Holy Spirit will descend upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” It was the glory cloud of the Holy Spirit. That same cloud descended upon the Holy of Holies in the Temple. When the cloud descended, God took His seat on His throne upon the Cherubim. And when that cloud descended upon Mary, God claimed His throne in the Immaculate cloister of her womb. The drop of dew which is the Word of God, found a receptive soil in her. “Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.” Mary was the Immaculate rich soil which brought forth the Savior.
The Eternal Word entered into human flesh. That is really the meaning of the word ‘Advent’. Ad means ‘into’ and vent from the verb ‘venir’ means to come. So, the Eternal Word came into this world, into human flesh, into the womb of Mary, so that He could come into our hearts.
The consequence of the Eternal Son of God entering into human flesh, is that He has entered into time. Time is fleeting. So, the moment Mary has heard these words, she begins planning her journey. She sets out in haste. Immediately, the Word of God sends out His Holy Spirit to those around Him. From the womb, Jesus sends His Holy Spirit to the infant John in the womb. “St. Augustine is even of the opinion that the unborn Baptist was miraculously endowed with the use of reason and will so that he could joyfully recognize, believe in and say Yes to his Lord” (Saward, Redeemer in the Womb, p. 25). Whether this is true or not, the Church has not defined; but it is certain that this event fulfills the prophecy made by the angel Gabriel to Zechariah promising that “[John] will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). “The grace of the Holy Spirit flows from Jesus through Mary to John and from John to Elizabeth” (Saward, 26).
And where does this happen? It happens on a mountain. Mary hastens to the hill country. She ascends the mountain in order to meet the Just One in the clouds whence He came, having dropped down like dew from above. He has come to her from heaven and she now goes to be near heaven to prepare and to be of service to her Son’s first disciple, still in the womb himself.
Mary makes haste. We too must make haste. Time is short and God has given us these last days of Advent to prepare. In those days, Mary came to the mountain. This day we have come here to this holy mountain: the altar of God; as near to heaven as we can come in this life. Mary received the Word of God and she conceived and bore fruit in her womb. We have received the Word of God in this Mass. Let our souls now be prepared as rich soil for the Word of God that will drop down like dew from the clouds of heaven.
“Let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.”
1. A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart-St. Louis in Gervais, OR December 23rd, 2012, Dominica IV Adventus, Anno C ↩
To-day, again, the Church is full of joy, and the joy is greater than it was. It is true that her Lord has not come; but she feels that He is nearer than before, and therefore she thinks it just to lessen some what the austerity of this penitential season by the innocent cheerfulness of her sacred rites. And first, this Sunday has had the name of Gaudete given to it, from the first word of the Introit; it also is honoured with those impressive exceptions which belong to the fourth Sunday of Lent, called Laetare. The organ is played at the Mass; the vestments are rose-colour; the deacon resumes the dalmatic, and the subdeacon the tunic; and in cathedral churches the bishop assists with the precious mitre. How touching are all these usages, and how admirable this condescension of the Church, wherewith she so beautifully blends together the unalterable strictness of the dogmas of faith and the graceful poetry of the formulae of her liturgy. Let us enter into her spirit, and be glad on this third Sunday of her Advent, because our Lord is now so near unto us. To-morrow we will resume our attitude of servants mourning for the absence of their Lord and waiting for Him; for every delay, however short, is painful and makes love sad.
The Station is kept in the basilica of St. Peter, at the Vatican. This august temple, which contains the tomb of the prince of the apostles, is the home and refuge of all the faithful of the world; it is but natural that it should be chosen to witness both the joy and the sadness of the Church.
The night Office commences with a new Invitatory. The voice of the Church no longer invites the faithful to come and adore in fear and trembling the King, our Lord, who is to come. Her language assumes another character; her tone is one of gladness; and now, every day, until the vigil of Christmas, she begins her nocturns with these grand words:
Prope est jam Dominus: venite adoremus.
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.
Now let us take the book of the Prophet, and read with the Church:
From the Prophet Isaias.
Ch. xxvi. In that day shall this canticle be sung in the land of Juda. Sion the city of our strength: a Saviour, a wall, and a bulwark shall be set therein. Open ye the gates and let the just nation, that keepeth the truth, enter in. The old error is passed away, thou wilt keep peace: peace, because we have hoped in thee. You have hoped in the Lord for evermore: in the Lord God mighty for ever. For he shall bring down them that dwell en high, the high city he shall lay low. He shall bring it down even to the ground, he shall pull it down even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down; the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy. The way of the just is right, the path of the just is right to walk in. And in the way of thy judgements, O Lord, we have patiently waited for thee: thy name and thy remembrance are the desire of the soul. My soul hath desired thee in the night: yea, and with my spirit within me in the morning early I will watch to thee.
O holy Roman Church, city of our strength! behold us thy children assembled within thy walls, around the tomb of the fisherman, the prince of the apostles, whose sacred relics protect thee from their earthly shrine, and whose unchanging teaching enlightens thee from heaven. Yet, O city of strength: it is by the Saviour, who is coming, that thou art strong. He is thy wall, for it is He that encircles, with His tender mercy, all thy children; He is thy bulwark, for it is by Him that thou art invincible, and that all the powers of hell are powerless to prevail against thee. Open wide thy gates, that all nations may enter thee for thou art mistress of holiness and the guardian of truth. May the old error, which sets itself against the faith, soon disappear, and peace reign over the whole fold! O holy Roman Church! thou hast for ever put thy trust in the Lord; and He, faithful to His promise, has humbled before thee the haughty ones that defied thee, and the proud cities that were against thee. Where now are the Caesars. who boasted that they had drowned thee in thine own blood? where the emperors, who would ravish the inviolate virginity of thy faith? where the heretics, who, during the past centuries of thine existence, have assailed every article of thy teaching, and denied what they listed? where the ungrateful princes, who would fain make a slave of thee, who hadst made them what they were? where that empire of Mahomet, which has so many times raged against thee, for that thou, the defenceless State, didst arrest the pride of its conquests? where the reformers, who were bent on giving the world a Christianity, in which thou wast to have no part? where the more modern sophists, in whose philosophy thou wast set down as a system that had been tried, and was a failure, and is now a ruin? and those kings who are acting the tyrant over thee, and those people that will have liberty independently and at the risk of truth, where will they be in another hundred years? Gone and forgotten as the noisy anger of a torrent; whilst thou, O holy Church of Rome, built on the immovable rock, wilt be as calm, as young, as unwrinkled as ever. Thy path through all the ages of this world’s duration, will be right as that of the just man; thou wilt ever be the same unchanging Church, as thou hast been during the eighteen hundred years past, whilst everything else under the sun has been but change. Whence this thy stability, but from Him who is very truth and justice? Glory be to Him in thee! Each year, He visits thee; each year, He brings thee new gifts, wherewith thou mayst go happily through thy pilgrimage; and to the end of time, He will visit thee, and renew thee, not only with the power of that look wherewith Peter was renewed, but by filling thee with Himself, as He did the ever glorious Virgin, who is the object of thy most tender love, after that which thou bearest to Jesus Himself. We pray with thee, O Church, our mother, and here is our prayer: ‘Come, Lord Jesus! Thy name and Thy remembrance are the desire of our souls: they have desired Thee in the night, yea, and early in the morning have they watched for Thee.’
In Palestine Christians gather today in Jerusalem for the celebration of holy Mass. In Rome they proceed to the stational church “Holy Cross at Jerusalem” which serves to give the atmosphere of the Holy City.
Why “Jerusalem”? Excavations of ancient sites often reveal a number of strata. When enemies destroyed a city, a new one would rise on the same location, so that today there are several layers of remains, one city, as it were, above the other. Our Jerusalem likewise has four strata. The bottommost layer is the Jerusalem of the Jews, that venerable land where the Lord Jesus began His mission of redemption, where He suffered and died. This is the historical Jerusalem so dear to us Christians. Anyone making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land enters that ancient city with holy awe. That Jerusalem, however, lies buried deep.
For us another has been built upon it, the Jerusalem of Christians, God’s kingdom on earth, the holy Church. This city still stands; it is the one which the divine King will enter at Christmas. Now we understand why we will hear so much about Jerusalem during the coming week. We should now clean and adorn our city, improving its streets and avenues through which the Savior will make His entrance. As a motto we should take the words of the precursor, St. John the Baptist: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths; let every valley be filled, every hill be leveled.” Holy Mother Church’s message today is that the Savior is coming to the Jerusalem of the Christians, to the Church.
Above the second stratum there arises a third, the heavenly Jerusalem at the end of time. Already now the Church sings of this Jerusalem. For during Advent we await the Savior who will appear on the Last Day to take all into “the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven.”
Finally, there may be recognized a fourth Jerusalem, our souls in sanctifying grace. This city too must be adorned and prepared, for the King will want to enter. That is our present task.
On Epiphany, the climax to the current season, the Church will cry out: “Arise, shine, O Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.” That is the goal. Today we must prepare for the great King’s visit to our city. The whole coming week must be devoted to it. The Church prays: “Awaken our hearts to prepare the way for Your only-begotten Son that we may serve Him with purified hearts.”
In the time of the Roman Empire, rulers rode from city to city for the purpose of official visitations. Their appearance, called epiphany or parousia, was a great event, one preceded by months of preparation. Something analogous takes place in the Jerusalem of our souls. From a high watchtower we see the Lord coming afar off. Suddenly John the Baptist appears; he hurries into the city to announce the King’s approach. God condescends to manifest Himself to us in grace; but He demands the proper reception.
Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace by Pius Parsch
I wanted to bring you what to me is a most blessed and welcome encouragement in the midst of the evil and confusion of our day. I pray it will cheer up your Advent and give you renewed strength and hope for the coming of the Christ Child and the indestructible Rock on which His Church is built.
Enough, Mr. Dreher! (An Open Letter from a Concerned Catholic Priest)
Written by Fr. Richard Munkelt
Editor’s Note: Anyone reading The Remnant for a period of time can attest to the fact that in these dark days of confusion we have long been committed to “uniting the clans” against the enemies of Christ’s Church whenever possible. Now more than ever before, those who can “pray the Creed with us, and mean it” (as the late, great Dr. William Marra used to say) must be considered brothers in arms. The following article pulls no punches. It is written by a diocesan priest, Father Richard Munkelt–an academic not given to the kind of pot-stirring polemics all the rage on social media. This is not a “spitting contest” with Rod Dreher–a well-known and talented writer with whom Father Munkelt has been acquainted for many years. Instead, this is a priestly tour de force on the fundamentals of Catholicism, closely following and critiquing Mr. Dreher’s recent articles on the Catholic Church. We are publishing it not because we have some personal animus against Mr. Dreher, who left the Church over the clerical scandals, but rather because we seek his return to the fold, while encouraging others not to follow the dangerous and misguided path he’s taken.
At this most critical moment, faithful Catholics are confronted with the same fork in the road that has divided these two men–Munkelt and Dreher: When faced with an ecclesial crisis of apocalyptic proportions, what are faithful Catholics to do: Stay on and fight for the Bride of Christ, no matter how vile her captors might be? Or shall we yield to the scandal we all feel in our heart and abandon Mother Church in pursuit of the illusion of greener pastures. In this article, we have the opportunity to consider the latter course of action as seen through the eyes of a faithful priest who has chosen the former. May God grant us all the grace to know the truth and the courage to defend it, come what may. Fr. Munkelt holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. MJM
Your recent articles in The American Conservative on “Catholic Triumphalism,” constituting your latest broadside against the Catholic Church, were brought to my attention. After reading the articles, and in close connection with your remarks, I have some sobering thoughts concerning your departure from the Church and ongoing vilification not just of her abusive personnel (who are fair game) but of her very person. As such, I am not writing to you alone but also to those among your Catholic readers who may not be fully cognizant of your not-so-hidden campaign to turn souls away from and against the Bride of Christ. To them I say, there is nothing more unprofitable than to try to pick figs from thistles. It is my duty, therefore, to assist my fellow Catholics in not becoming unwitting purveyors of your Anti-Catholicism. I’m sure you understand.
If you care to read on, brace yourself, for charity sometimes carries a stick, as St. Augustine noted. And I shall not spare it, especially since you boast of being irreformable. I promise you, therefore, something in the spirit of St. Jerome.
Somber anticipation, restrained joy that grows each day until Christmas, rather like waiting for a new mother to give birth — joyous, yet restrained, hesitant, and humbled until the moment of the birth arrives
Advent candles, empty crib, St. John the Baptist, the Ten Virgins
the 4th Sunday before Christmas to 24 December. The 1st of the 4 Sundays in Advent is known as “Advent Sunday”; the 3rd Sunday is known as “Gaudete Sunday.”
The focus of Advent is preparation for the coming of the Lord — both in commemoration of His Nativity and His coming again at the end of time. Though most Protestants — and far too many Catholics — see this time of year as a part of the “Christmas Season,” it isn’t; the Christmas season does not begin until the first Mass at Christmas Eve, and doesn’t end liturgically until the Octave of the Epiphany on January 14. It goes on in the spiritual sense until Candlemas on February 2, when all celebrations of Christ’s Childhood give way to Septuagesima and Lent. . . To sum up the similarities and differences between Advent and Lent as penitential seasons, there’s this, by Fr. Lawrence Smith:
Advent is the time to make ready for Christ to live with us. Lent is the time to make us ready to die with Christ. Advent makes Lent possible. Lent makes salvation possible. Advent is the time when eternity approaches earth. Lent is the time when time reaches consummation in Christ’s eternal Sacrifice to the Father. Advent leads to Christ’s life in time on earth. Lent leads to Christ’s eternal Life in Heaven. The Cross — through the Mass, penance, and mortification — is the bridge connecting Advent and Lent, Christ and His Church, man and God.
Beloved, here is a message from a true prince of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s outstanding talk given at the Rome Life Forum in May, contains all a true Catholic, a true soldier of Christ, needs to know – and to be – in these perilous times. The Apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthians to imitate him as he imitated Christ. We have such a shepherd in Bishop Athanasius Schneider whose steadfastness in the face of numerous trials and attacks of the enemy and whose unwavering faithfulness to the teachings of Christ and His Church are perhaps equaled by a few, but I do not think surpassed. I, for one, am grateful for such a courageous, nay fearless, holy bishop in our midst whom we indeed can “imitate as he imitates Christ.”
Bishop Athanasius Schneider (Kazakhstan) speaks on “Church Militant: a forgotten truth” at the Rome Life Forum at the Angelicum, May 17, 2018. His full talk was published by LifeSiteNews who, in union with the Rome Life Forum, organized this conference.
One of the questions asked of Karl by LifeSiteNews in that interview was: “What thoughts do you have on the current stage of the sexual abuse crisis as it affects Pope Francis in the wake of the release of Archbishop Viganò’s testimony?”
Karl’s response contained these words: “Each week brings unhappy news — but, unexpectedly, consolation too. I recently posted at Facebook a meme that consisted of just these few words: “Oddly, a sense of peace, like a patient realizing a cure will come, though delayed.”
One dear friend picked up on Karl’s line and sent this back to us:
From the article:
“Oddly, a sense of peace, like a patient realizing a cure will come, though delayed”
Indeed, beloved, He makes all things new — especially when all hope seems lost.
By now you may have read the further testimonyof Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in the face of the Holy Father’s silence.
Archbishop Vigano has taken his motto from the words of the Apostle Paul who wrote to Timothy, his son in the faith:
For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:11-12)
Take courage, beloved. Our Lord is not asleep in the Barque. One does not have to be a prophet to know that things will become much worse before Our Lord is done purifying His Church and the glorious Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart is upon us. I, for one, am grateful to be alive “for such a time as this.” We have what the whole world and every soul in it needs: the truth and Him who is the Truth.
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised.
“For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls. (Hebrews 10:35-39)
In a wonderful article titled “Karl Keating: In the vanguard of Catholic renewal,” published by the excellent apostolate Catholic Cultureon January 26, 2018, Mr. Keating is rightly described as the “founder of Catholic Answers, easily the largest and most effective organization dedicated to Catholic apologetics in the world. He founded CA in 1979 and remained its president until he turned things over to Christopher Check in 2015.”
Many of you are aware that, in addition to being helped into the Church in no small way by the outstanding apologetics materials of Catholic Answers(including the much loved This Rock Magazine, now published as Catholic Answers Magazine), I had the privilege of working for Karl as an apologist and conference speaker for Catholic Answers for nine years prior to founding the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel’s Hope. I delight in any opportunity to say that I have not worked for or come under a more gifted, sincere, intelligent and kind gentleman and leader in the Faith. Karl is an uncompromising man of integrity whom I am honored to know. I can attest to the fact that he has chosen a worthy successor in Christopher Check.
In yesterday’s posting from LifeSiteNews, I was delighted to read the interview below referencing Karl’s latest book, and his thoughts on thecurrent state of the Church. In the midst of the pain and confusion of our day, Karl’s words come across as they always have: with integrity, sanity and clarity.
Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, O.S.B.
September 19, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Veteran apologist, author, and Catholic Answers founder Karl Keating entered the arguably heated conversation on the Francis papacy in book form earlier this year with The Francis Feud: Why and How Conservative Catholics Squabble about Pope Francis.
In the book he looks at the ongoing debate over the world’s first Jesuit pope, in particular among Catholics of a conservative mindset – conservative being a term that he points out is not necessarily easily defined.
Beloved, please read the article below in full and send it to all you know who could use a good dose of truth, clarity, sanity and hope!
I am most grateful to Marcus Grodi, the article’s author, who is the Founder and President of The Coming Home Network International, and Host of The Journey Home on EWTN television. You can see the original on their website as well: https://chnetwork.org/category/blog/articles/
After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him (John 6:66-71).
How does one adequately address the growing scandal in the Church? Specifically, as I consider this in relation to our work in the Coming Home Network, how do we explain to non-Catholics why they should still consider coming home to the fullness of the Church — and why must Catholics remain?
As we see in the above Scripture — and as has been said by many during this difficult time — scandals have been present in the Church from the very beginning: one among the Twelve betrayed his calling, his loyalty, betrayed Jesus and sent Him to the cross — one whom Jesus Himself had called into ministry!
Scripture also reminds us, however, that it didn’t begin with Judas, either. There have always been bad shepherds, as attested to throughout the Old Testament. From the very beginning, all the way back to Adam, God’s Chosen People have been plagued with bad shepherds — though not all of them were bad, of course — and too often they were the ones who had the biggest influence on the history of God’s People.