Hope

Tonight, New Year’s Eve, might be the most celebrated event in the world. All around the world, regardless of religion, culture, race the people wait for midnight and the new year. There is a palpable atmosphere of hope with this celebration. The old year is passing and the future is very noticeable. No matter what the old year held there is always the promise of the new.

Of course, this evening Catholics start the last day of the octave of Christmas.  The eight day of the celebration of the birth of He who is Hope – Christ. We Catholics are, or should be, a hopeful people regardless of what is swirling around us. We are bolstered by the fact of what we are celebrating – God came among us. He came to us, to lift us up. He will never leave us alone; that is what our hope is built upon.

As we travel these last hours of this year, ready to welcome the promise of the next, Holy Mother Church, in her Vigil Vespers, prays two great ‘hymns’; the ‘Te Deum’ and this great ‘canticle’ of hope from Ephesians[1]; let’s make this our prayer as well:

Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

even as he chose us in him
before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy
and blameless before him.

He destined us in love
to be his sons through Jesus Christ,
according to the purpose of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace
which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace
which he lavished upon us.

For he has made known to us
in all wisdom and insight
the mystery of his will,
according to his purpose

which he set forth in Christ
as a plan for the fullness of time,
to unite all things in him,
things in heaven and things on earth.

As we pray this canticle let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the deliverer of Hope, who we celebrate tomorrow as Mother of God, to pray for us to her Son.

Happy New Year !
Ad multos annos!
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[1] Ephesians 1:3-10

The Meaning Behind the Title

At the beginning of Mass today Father collected our prayers and petitions and lifted them up to God the Father with these words.

‘O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary
bestowed on the human race
the grace of eternal salvation,
grant, we pray
that we may experience the intercession of her,
through whom we were found worthy
to receive the author of life,’

Today we celebrate Mary’s title as ‘Mother of God’, and with that title we celebrate her fiat to allow God to work through her.

It was through her yes that salvation was able to walk among us.  Could God have accomplished this feat without her? Yes; but He didn’t.  He desired that humanity would have a part in this supreme act of redemption.  Could He have chosen another person? Yes; but He didn’t – she was the perfect creature. But why?

All of creation, when the Archangel Gabriel came to her with God’s greeting and offer, held its breath.  Would this young maiden, understand what was happening? Would she comprehend what was being asked of her?   Would this girl of Nazareth raised in the turmoil of occupation; living her life in the fear of the Romans and their henchmen; just trying to survive each day be able to see the large picture?  Would she be able to put aside the fear of the unusual and seemingly sinful request of a perceived adulterous motherhood to bring salvation into the world?

I would venture to say it wouldn’t matter to her. The divine reasons, the eternal considerations for this request by the Archangel Gabriel would not be needed – God asked and she said yes.  God almighty came to her and asked to do something so she agreed.  God desired her participation and she would because God had need of her.  This simple, yet perfect, faith of Mary enabled the death of death to be born man, and in an important way we too were born; because we are born into the life our God.  By her total and unquestioning obedience to God we have eternal life at our grasp if we accept it.

People who don’t understand think we worship Mary – no, she is not God.  They think we put her on a pedestal – yes, so all can see her.  Why? Let us look to Mary this New Year – she who allowed God to work through her, and who, by her simple and total faith and through example and actions points us constantly to her Son  – and follow her example; allowing God to work through us. To me, in my heart, this is the meaning behind Holy Mother Church’s celebrationsof the title ‘Mother of God’

Happy New Year!

New Year Peace

Once again we are on the eve of  a New Year.  Society (at least in the United States) celebrates this with an almost manic pace.  It seems that we are frantic in celebrating the passing of one year for the next; as if we need to have a better year to satisfy our longings; to erase anything that disrupted our enjoyment of life; to try and create stability out of uncertainty.  We act like addicts trying to get the next high!  But when all is said and done there is nothing that will satisfy us as we wish, at least that is in our control.

Look to Mary, Holy Mother Church says on this first day of the year; this Solemnity of Mary – Mother of God.  Look to her faith, for that is where true happiness can be found. Mary didn’t have a perfectly peaceful life, and yet she was at peace because she was with peace, Jesus.  The things that we know happened in her life we wouldn’t want to happen to us.  Much despair and hardship – from her fiat to Gabriel to her holding her dead son; from the exile in Egypt to the exile in Patmos she lived much sadness and uncertainty.  But in spite of these events she was at peace because she was with God.  She had stability with her creator.

There is a quote by Saint Teresa of Avila that always reminds me of Blessed Mary:  ‘Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. God alone is enough.

May we all find the peace that Christ brings.