Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Mother of God: The Surest Path To Her Son

Holiness and beauty are in her Conception: declare her glory among all people.
Traditional Roman Breviary

1969 was a very important year in my unimportant life.  It was also a pivotal year in our culture.  It was the year of Woostock (peace, love, mud, sex, drugs and rock and roll),  Altamont (Rolling Stones, Hell's Angels, murder, sex, drugs and rock and roll), man landing on the moon, "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice", the Charles Manson murders, "Midnight Cowboy", "Easy Rider". The gay rights movement was born with the Stonewall riots in New York City's Greenwich Village in June of that year.  1969 saw the last public performance of the Beatles, the group who had defined my childhood in many ways.  The Vietnam War was going strong with thousands of young American men dying for seemingly no reason.  People were "tuning in and dropping out."  And on December 8, 1969, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, I attended Mass and then decided to hang it up as a Catholic.

Up until just a couple of years before that momentous day in December 1969,  I had actually been a pretty devout little Catholic girl.  I even had a Marian altar in my bedroom at one point.  But then my parents took my brother and me out of Catholic school in 1965 when the tuition went up to a whopping $50 a semester, and they put us in public school.  It was all downhill from there, especially as the culture in which I lived started basically spinning out of control and taking me with it.  In 1969  I was a young teenager coming of age and beginning to comprehend that the world in which I lived was basically mad, and I decided that even if there was a God, he didn't matter because he sure wasn't trying to do anything to stop all the madness.  I was done with God and I was most certainly done with the Catholic Church.

And I walked away.


I did sort of come back to God in the next few years when I joined a fringe Christian group.   But it took many decades before I found my way back home to the Catholic Church.  It was on August 14, 2007, one day before the Feast of Mary's Assumption into heaven, that I went to confession and  was quite literally snatched from the jaws of hell through absolution and forgiveness of the sin that had accumulated and blackened my soul since leaving the Church 38 years previous.  I had to learn and re-learn many things, such as how to say the Rosary.  And I, who as a little girl had been very devoted to my Blessed Mother, actually had to re-learn Marian devotion.  Like other Protestants, I had completely turned away from our Blessed Mother and denounced all Catholics as Marian worshippers.

For the first couple of years back in the church, my devotion to the Mother of God was mainly an intellectual one.  I knew she was important and I knew the saints said a lot of good things about her.  I read the books by St. Louis de Montfort, and they helped me to understand why she was important.  I joined the Confraternity of the Rosary and got into the habit of praying the Rosary pretty much daily, and that certainly furthered my spiritual understanding.  But I still didn't feel a real bonding with our Blessed Mother.   I understood her greatness with my mind, but I had not really experienced Mary with my heart.

I decided last year to do St Louis de Montfort's Total Consecration to Mary.  I knew this was a meritorious act that draws us close to Mary which in turn leads us directly to Christ because the Holy Mother and her Son are never separated.  Mary's will has always been and will always be 100% in line with the Will of her Son.  But I would not be telling the truth if I said I fully understood at that time what Total Consecration to Mary means in all its many aspects, and a year later I'm still learning.  But I also know that understanding is not a pre-requisite when it comes to obeying our Lord and doing His Will.  Our Blessed Mother showed us that when she said "Yes" to the angel Gabriel in agreeing to be the Mother of God.   There was no way she could have known the consequences of her "Yes."  But she knew it was the Will of God, and that was enough for her.  Not understanding is never an excuse for disobeying God.

I can tell you that in the year since I consecrated my life to the Mother of God, my understanding, love and appreciation for her has grown by leaps and bounds, and with it my love for her Son, Our Lord, has grown tremendously.  I have heard many people in the Catholic Church say that devotion to Mary becomes excessive with some people.  That is impossible, and many of the saints have told us so down through the centuries.  The following quotes are taken from stpeterslist.com:
“We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”  Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #94
“If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother.” Saint Maximilian Kolbe
“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” Saint Maximilian Kolbe
 “Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son.” (“Non est dubium, quicquid in laudibus matris profermius, ad filium pertinere.”) Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church, Horn. 4, Sup. Miss.
“No matter how sinful one may have been, if he has devotion to Mary, it is impossible that he be lost.” Saint Hilary of Poitiers – Bishop, Father, and Doctor of the Church
Mary was the living Tabernacle
for her Son
Mary is God's most magnificent creation.  She was created specifically to be the Tabernacle for the Son of God so that He could come to earth as a man, receive His human nature from her, and die to redeem us from Satan's grasp.  She was created with absolutely no imperfection, completely without flaw or sin of any kind and she remained so throughout her entire life.  Her will never once deviated from the Will of her Son.

Today, December 8, is the Feast Day of Mary's conception, and it is called the Immaculate Conception because Mary, unlike any human being other than her Son, was born without original sin.  Adam and Eve were created without sin, but only Mary and Her Son were born without sin.  It is a wonderful feast day to give glory to God for this magnificent creation and to our Blessed Mother for being that perfect servant of God and for always loving us and drawing us to Her Son.  I personally give all credit to our Blessed Mother for bringing me back to the Church.  I believe she remembered that little girl who was so devoted to her, and even though I fell far, far away from the Truth, she never gave up on me and brought not only me, but also my husband, back to the Church.   It was Christ's redeeming sacrifice on the Cross that cleansed my soul, but it was Mary who pulled me back from eternal perdition and to the cleansing sacrifice of her Son.   Only the love of God surpasses her love for her children.

I have included a meditation from today's Traditional Breviary that I feel is especially eloquent in discussing the Blessed Mother's role in our salvation.  Our Lord certainly doesn't need His Mother in order to save us, and Mary does not have any ability apart from her Son to save our eternal souls.  But just as Queen Esther in the book of the Bible named after her saved the Jewish people from certain death by appealing to the King, our Lady, Queen of Heaven and all the universe, saves us by appealing to the King of the Universe.


Homily by St. Germanus the Bishop

Hail, Mary, full of grace, holier than the Saints, higher than the heavens, more glorious than the Cherubim, more honourable than the Seraphim, and the most worshipful thing that the hands of God have made.
Mary, Queen of all of God's Creation
Hail, O dove, bearing in thy beak the olive-branch of peace that telleth us of salvation from the spiritual flood,―dove blessed omen of a safe harbour, whose wings are of silver, and thy feathers of gold, shining in the bright beams of the Most Holy and Light-giving Spirit.
Mary is compared to the dove that Noah released
to let him know that the world was saved from the flood;
Mary leads us to the true Salvation of the world
Hail, thou living garden of Eden, planted towards the East by the right hand of the Most Merciful and Mighty God, wherein do grow to his glory rich lilies and unfading roses, for the healing of them that have drunk in death from the blighting and pestilential breezes of the bitter West ; Eden, wherein hath sprung that Tree of life, whereof if any man eat he shall live for ever.
Mary is like the Garden of Eden in which the Tree of Life, Her Son, is planted
Hail, stately Palace of the King, most holy, stainless, purest, House of the Most High God, adorned with his royal splendour, open to all, filled with Kingly dainties ; Palace wherein is that spiritual bridal chamber, not made with hands, nor hung with divers colours, in the which the Eternal Word, when he would raise up fallen man, wedded flesh unto himself, that he might reconcile unto the Father them who had cast themselves away.
Mary is like a stately palace in which the King dwells
Hail, O rich and shady Mountain of God, whereon pastured the True Lamb, who hath taken away our sins and infirmities,―mountain, whereout hath been cut without hands that Stone which hath smitten the altars of the idols, and become the head-stone of the corner, marvellous in our eyes.
Mary is the mountain upon which the Lamb of God grazed
Hail, thou holy Throne of God, thou divinest store-house, thou temple of glory, thou bright crown, thou chosen treasure, thou mercy-seat for the whole world, thou heaven declaring the glory of God. Hail, thou vessel of pure gold, made to hold the manna that came down from heaven, the sweet food of our souls, even Christ.
Mary is a precious golden vessel holding the true Manna of God
Hail, o purest Virgin, most praiseworthy and most worshipful, hallowed treasury for the wants of all creatures ; thou art the untilled earth, the unploughed field ; thou art the vine full of flowers, the well overflowing with waters, Maiden and Mother;
Mary is like a beautiful flowering vine
thou art the Mother that knew not a man, the hidden treasure of guilelessness, and the clear, bright star of holiness ; by thy most acceptable prayers, strong from thy motherly mouth, obtain for all estates of men in the Church that they may continually tend unto him who is the Lord, and God, and Maker of thee, and of them, and of all, but of thee the Son also, conceived without man's intervention ; obtain this, O Mother, pilot them to the harbour of peace.
Mary always leads us to her Son

Be it thine to clothe God's priests with righteousness, and to make them shout aloud for joy in approved and stainless, and upright and glorious faith. Thine be it to guide in peace the sceptres of orthodox princes, even of princes who put their trust in thee to be the crown of their Majesty, and the Royal Robe of their greatness, and the firm foundation of their dominion, more than in purple, or fine gold, or pearls, or precious stones ;
Mary always guides our Priests to her Son
thine be it to put under their feet the unfaithful nations, nations that blaspheme thee, and the God that was born of thee ; thine be it to keep in meek obedience the people that are under them, according to the commandment of God. Behold, this is thine own city, which hath thee for her towers and her foundations,―crown her with victory, gird the house of God with strength, keep undefiled the loveliness of his tabernacles,―as for them that praise thy name, be thou their deliverer from strife and bitterness of spirit.
Mary comforts all of her children with more
love than we have ever known
Free thou the prisoner, protect the wanderer, and if there be any that hath no refuge, be thou him a consolation. Stretch forth thine hand help the whole earth―so shall we year by year keep this and all thy feasts, and at last be found with thee in Christ Jesus, who is Lord of all, and verily our God. To him, with the Holy Father, who is the Fountain of Life, and the coeternal Spirit, Three Persons and One Substance, even as there is one Kingdom, be glory and strength, now and for ever. Amen.
There is no end to how we can praise our Lady.  She gave her all when she was on earth, and she has continued to do so as Queen of heaven and earth.  Our Lord has given us His Mother to comfort and love us and lead us to Him, and she will never fail any of those who put their trust in her.




Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Michael Voris and Father Z: Say What?!

Two of the biggest "stars" among "traditional" Catholics are Michael Voris of Churchmilitant.tv and Father John Zuhlsdorf, often called Father Z, of wdtprs.com. I go to their websites on a fairly regular basis, and while I admit to having disagreements with them both from time to time, they seem to promote a very traditional, orthodox Catholicism.

They are joining together for what they call a "Retreat On the Sea", a 7-day Caribbean cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. You can watch a video promoting this event here. The link to sign up for the event and describing it in further detail is here. This is how Michael Voris is promoting this event:
It’s important for Catholics who LOVE Our Blessed Lord, who LOVE the FAITH, who LOVE the Church to be in touch with one another – to come together as like minds and console and enrich and share with one another.
The Church is under such vicious blatant attack in some quarters and sneaky subversive attack coming from other quarters that sometimes a good solid Catholic can feel like they are all alone .. or as crazy as everyone around them says they are.
That’s why ChurchMilitant.TV is happy to announce our first ever Retreat at Sea where Catholics who are authentic in their concern and love for the Church have the chance for a week long time of prayer .. Mass .. Confession .. talks .. and sharing all in the beautiful setting of a cruise to the Caribbean.
Our special guest will be Fr. John Zuhlsdorf .. affectionately known as Fr. Z .. who runs the awesome blog .. What Does the Prayer Really Say.
Fr. Z is an awesome [Michael, can you find another word besides "awesome"?] speaker with terrific insights and knowledge accumulated from his years of doing battle in the Church Militant.
We’re calling the trip .. the Year of Faith Retreat at Sea. We attached a link with all the latest up to date information. We’ll have Holy Mass every day, scheduled confessions, over a dozen talks by Fr. Z and your truly and all this is addition to time to meet and share the faith the dozens of other Catholics .. couples as well as singles.
When I was younger .. I heard a line once .. that the Catholic Faith needs reinforcing. It’s a line I’ve repeated often at various talks and presentations I’ve been blessed to be able to give around the world.

The faith DOES need reinforcing because it’s constantly being attacked and torn down.  That’s why opportunities to sit down with others in a relaxed and prolonged environment is so important.
Sounds pretty good: a chance to hear a couple of men who support and promote orthodox Catholicism and to spend time with like-minded Catholics on a beautiful Caribbean cruise.

There's just one problem - IT IS DURING LENT!!!! The dates are March 10-17, 2013. In fact, Voris is calling this a "Lenten retreat on the sea."

Say what?!

I have to say, this really has me scratching my head in confusion.

A cruise ship as a Lenten Retreat?
This just makes no sense to me. Lent is a time of austerity and mortification, a time to leave the world behind and go into the spiritual desert with our Lord as we prepare for the greatest event in history: the death and resurrection of the Savior of all mankind. Our Lord gave us the example by literally going into the desert for 40 days and fasting entirely from food and water. Many Catholics also spend the 40 days of Lent fasting from food and/or other material things. A lot of people turn off the TV and other media. It is a time for spiritual reading and prayer and quiet meditation, a time to stop spending money on our own selfish desires and give alms to those in need. Lent is a time to turn our attention away from the material world to the spiritual.
One of the "cells" to be used in the Retreat at Sea
Now Michael Voris and Father Z are saying we should spend thousands of dollars to go on a cruise (prices start at $1083.89 per person based on double occupancy and go up to $2869.39 per person) where food is constantly offered and there is worldly entertainment such as "live theater and the big screen to plush lounges, swanky casinos and dance clubs." There are several island stops where you can go sightseeing, such as Princess Cays, Bahamas (a private island) and St. Maarten, and of course spend even more money buying trinkets on these islands. I would hope that the Voris/Zuhlsdorf group will be the only ones on this ship, but that is not likely. And that will mean there will be many men and women on the ship walking around wearing next to nothing and engaging in activities that are decidedly not of a "Lenten nature." Not exactly a spiritual environment.
Jesus Christ in the desert, a long way
from a luxury cruise ship
Lent is basically a 40-day "Yom Kippur" for Catholics. Yom Kippur is the high holy day wherein Jews fast entirely from food and water and atone for their sins. Can we imagine Jews using this day to party on a Caribbean cruise? Would Jesus Christ spend any part of his 40 days on a cruise living the good life? How are we suppose to get our minds off of this material world and onto the things of God when we are surrounded by material opulence and other people engaged in, at best, "unspiritual" activities?
Voris says there will be daily Mass and scheduled confessions and also daily talks by both himself and Father Z. Now I could understand this "retreat" if it were being held in a monastery somewhere away from the material world. It could even be on a beautiful mountain or some other scenic setting, as many monasteries are. But I absolutely cannot understand having a Lenten retreat on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

Cell in a monastery
missing some of the amenities of a cruise ship
I suppose some could argue that they can go on this cruise and not partake of the material opulence, but what is the point of spending thousands of dollars for luxury and then rejecting it? We are talking about Lent, when we should be limiting how we spend our money and give the money we save as alms to the poor and needy.

I did find one other blogger who is voicing the same objections that I have to this "Lenten retreat." From Man With the Black Hat a/k/a David Alexander:
Now, I don't know about the rest of you kids, but when I go on a retreat, I go on a retreat. When I go on a cruise, I go on a cruise. (I haven't yet, but that's not important.) Retreats might be of varying depth and severity, this is true, but in the Catholic tradition, they all have certain things in common, such as the denial of varying degrees of creature comforts, and a certain severity in routine. Unless an entire cruise line is prepared to cooperate, this is an implausible scenario, and it is so during the season of the Great Fast, known in the Western church as Lent. Dressing it up with a certain routine, bringing a priest along, and calling it a retreat doesn't change any of that.
Amen!

Some of the "austere" entertainment
offered on the cruise ship
But Father Z and Michael Voris have their loyal followers who will most likely find no fault with this, as shown in this comment from Father Z's blog:
Supertradmum says:28 November 2012 at 11:30 am
Found out today of a special retreat with Fr. Z. and Michael Voris–this is an advertisement.
Wow….http://www.churchmilitant.tv/daily/?today=2012-11-28http://www.churchmilitant.tv/retreatatsea/    
this is good news………………..
This is good news?

I'm sure this event will fill to capacity with many disappointed they will not be able to go. Certainly there is nothing sinful in and of itself about this event. There is no church dogma that says you may not go on a luxury cruise during Lent. But if you're really serious about observing this most solemn time of the liturgical year, why would you want to do this?

Lent means austerity, not luxury
Michael Voris ends his promotion of this event with these words:
Catholics need to come together .. live IN the faith .. step out of the madness .. recharge .. re-energize and simply just rest in the faith .. in the arms of Our Blessed Lord ..His Holy Mother and splendid Bride – the Church He established personally and paid for in His own blood.
 So again .. please click on the link and seriously consider being a part of Church Militant’s Retreat at Sea
Does Michael really believe that Our Blessed Lord and his Holy Mother would spend any part of Lent on a Caribbean luxury cruise ship? We "step out of the madness" and "recharge.. re-energize and simply just rest in the faith" by spending a week surrounded by materialism? That's like saying that if you want to lose weight, just eat as much food as you can, and please, don't exercise. Those pounds will just melt off.

I know at least one way that my DH and I are going to be saving a few thousand dollars this coming Lent.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advent: A Time of Penance and Preparation

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,
the official start of the "Christmas Season"
Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
John 16:20

Many people bemoan the fact that our society no longer waits until Thanksgiving to start the official "Christmas season."  For several generations our society has viewed the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as the official start of the Christmas season, and many feel it is just wrong to start the Christmas season any sooner than that.

But even the Macy's Parade is an entire month before Christmas.  How is it that we are celebrating Christmas when it hasn't even started yet?  Is there really any difference between starting the "Christmas season" 30 days before Christmas as opposed to 90 days before?  Either way, when Christmas Day actually arrives, most people are so sick of it they just want it over with.  

And what the heck has a big Snoopy float got to do with the true story of Christmas?  The real Christmas story is about God in the second Person of the Trinity coming down to earth and taking on the nature of man in order to "save us all from Satan's power when we have gone astray", or as Philippians 2:6-7 says:
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.
Today, December 2, is the beginning of Advent.  The dictionary gives us two definitions for the word Advent:
1.  The arrival of a notable person, thing or event.
 2.  The first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.
The Liturgical Year
beginning with Advent
Certainly Christmas is about the arrival of the most notable Person in human history - the arrival of God to this earth in the form of a man.  And today, the first day of Advent, does indeed mark the beginning of a new liturgical year in the Church calendar.  The liturgical year celebrates the life of Christ and the life of the Church, and it all began with the seemingly inconspicuous birth of a baby in a manger in a small, unimportant town called Bethlehem.  We know that in the weeks and months preceding the birth of our Lord, only a handful of people on the entire earth were aware of Our Lord's imminent coming, that being Mary, Jesus' mother, and Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Elizabeth and Zacharias, the parents of John the Baptist, and most probably Mary's parents, Anne and Joachim.  The rest of the world was in complete ignorance that their Creator was about to be born as a man.

Thus, there were no parades, no parties, no festive lights, no gift giving, no rushing about in stores and knocking each other down to get the latest gadget.  There were just two people who were silently preparing themselves to welcome their Lord and Savior into the world.  

When it comes to Christmas, as with almost everything else in life, the world has it completely backwards from the way God intended.  Everywhere we go we see lights, decorations, Christmas trees (now referred to as "holiday trees.").  People are already starting to wish each other Merry Christmas, if they don't feel too intimidated by the secular left to instead say Happy Holidays.  I have found the ad campaign by Macy's this year to be particularly interesting.  It is one word:  "Believe." They don't tell us exactly what it is we are to believe, but it seems they would like us all to believe in Santa Claus.  There is certainly no hint of the Christ Child anywhere in their ads or anywhere in their stores, so we know that can't be it.  They don't even have the word "Christmas" anywhere in their ads.  The closest we come is "holidays."  And of course, "Santa Claus", who has become the patron saint of capitalism.

Advent, in contrast to Christmas, is all about looking forward, preparing, anticipating.  Advent is NOT a time of celebration.  The main color for Advent is purple, which is a color of penance.  This is the same color that is used during Lent.  Our Savior is coming and we need to be cleansing our hearts and souls and preparing a place for Him.

There is a wonderful new publication out that is a sort of "Magnificat" magazine for those who prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, or the Traditional Latin Mass as many of us call it.  It is called "Laudamus te" and the first issue just came out.  It contains the ordinary of the Mass along with readings for each day, and other articles and features as well.  This first issue is, unsurprisingly, dedicated to observing Advent.  It contains an article written by Father James Fryar, FSSP, entitled "An Anxious Waiting."  Father Fryar answers the question of whether we should be playing Christmas music during Advent, or putting up Christmas decorations or even attending Christmas parties during the season of Advent.

Father Fryar writes:
The reason society celebrates Christmas after Thanksgiving is primarily for commerce -- which is completely wrong. We should not be celebrating Christmas in order to make a profit and sell merchandise. This is clear. However, during the time of Advent, we should be longing for and awaiting the time of Our Savior, just as the patriarchs of the Old Testament did. Many of the holy texts of the Mass point us in that direction:
To Thee have I lifted my soul; in Thee, O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed: neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on Thee shall be confounded. (Ps 14:1, First Sunday of Advent.)
I will be the first to admit that all the lights, decorations and even a lot of the music are very alluring.  They give us a "good feeling."  But Advent is not about "feeling good."  Advent is a time of prayer, penance, reflection and preparation for the coming of Christ to earth.  Father Fryar tells us:
Christmas parties are definitely not what we want to do during Advent.  During Advent we want to mortify ourselves and fast.  We want to keep vigil with the virgins with their lamps, awaiting the coming of the bridegroom (Mt. 25).  Our Divine Master once posed the question to the Pharisees:  'Can the children of the marriage fast, as long as the bridegroom is with them?'  (Mk. 2:19).  Likewise, we could say it is not right to feast before the bridegroom arrives.   
The world uses these important weeks before Christmas not to prepare for the coming of our Lord and Savior, but to party and carouse.  Business people exploit this time of year to make a profit.  We hear all about the material aspects of what is called Christmas but none of the spiritual meaning.  Our Enemy does everything he can to divert our attention from where it should be.  He wants us all to concentrate on material desires and just "feel good" so that we think that is all Christmas is about.  Satan's way is always to draw you in with the expectation of fulfilling your desires, and then leave you with emptiness and meaninglessness in your life because you have effectively shut God out.  God's way is one that demands self denial and penance, a way that does not appeal to our carnal senses.  But the end of that hard road of self denial is a reward of great joy and fulfillment beyond our understanding.

All of the lights and celebration are there to draw us in, to celebrate a season that has nothing to do with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Christmas is not until December 25.  Ironically, the world considers December 25 to be the end of Christmas.  The lights, trees and decorations will be coming down shortly after Christmas Day.  You will not hear any more Christmas music after December 25.  There will be no more "Christmas" shows on TV, no more "Christmas" parties.  The "celebration" will be at an end.  Just at the time when the True Light will have come into the world beckoning us to come to Him, the world will turn its back and return to the darkness and emptiness.

But December 25 will be just the start of a time of celebration for those of us who will have spent the prior weeks as a time of mortification and penance.  December 25 is not the end of Christmas but just the beginning.  There are 12 days of Christmas, as the song says, which takes us to January 6, the time of the Epiphany.  This will not be a time of drunken carousing and crass materialism, but a time of celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, who is come to save the world from death and darkness.

But from now until December 25 we should all be preparing our minds and hearts to welcome our Lord Jesus Christ and to understand more completely the great significance of His coming to Earth.  It means separating ourselves from the illusions of the world and turning towards the reality of God.  As we are told in the readings from today's Mass:
May we receive Thy mercy, O Lord, in the midst of Thy Temple, that we may with becoming honor prepare for the approaching solemnities of our redemption.






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