Friday, January 1, 2016


 SOLEMN MASS FOR THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, MOTHER OF GOD AT SAINT PETER'S BASILICA (please note that the thurifer seems not to know that the Holy Father is to incense the altar after he kisses it, thus leaving the Holy Father waiting and waiting for it to be brought to him. The director has the camera on other things during this awkward moment. I'm sure Msgr. Guido was not pleased). The Pueri cantores join the Sistine Choir and both are wonderful. Perhaps John Nolan can tell us which Gloria setting the Pueri cantores are singing in a marvelous way. And Pope Francis tells the Pueri cantores something that gives us new insights into why His  Holiness doesn't sing and he doesn't speak well either:
RNS reports on Pope Francis’s meeting today with Pueri Cantores, the organization of young singers:
Francis acquired a love of music as a child, while listening to opera on the radio. But despite believing that singing is good for the soul, he said he has no such talents:
“I like hearing singing, but, if I sang, I’d sound like a donkey, because I don’t know how to sing. I don’t even know how to speak well, because I have a defect in the way I speak, in the phonetics.”

We have heard the words of the Apostle Paul: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal 4:4).

What does it mean to say that Jesus was born in “the fullness of time”?  If we consider that particular moment of history, we might quickly be deluded.  Rome had subjugated a great part of the known world by her military might.  The Emperor Augustus had come to power after five civil wars.  Israel itself had been conquered by the Roman Empire and the Chosen People had lost their freedom.  For Jesus’ contemporaries, it was certainly not the best of times.  To define the fullness of time, then, we should not look to the geopolitical sphere.

Another interpretation is needed, one which views that fullness from God’s standpoint.  It is when God decided that the time had come to fulfil his promise, that the fullness of time came for humanity.

History does not determine the birth of Christ; rather, his coming into the world enables history to attain its fullness.  For this reason, the birth of the Son of God inaugurates a new era, a new computation of time, the era which witnesses the fulfilment of the ancient promise.  As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes: “God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the world.  He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word” (1:1-3).  The fullness of time, then, is the presence of God himself in our history.  Now we can see his glory, which shines forth in the poverty of a stable; we can be encouraged and sustained by his Word, made “little” in a baby.

Thanks to him, our time can find its fullness.

Nonetheless, this mystery constantly clashes with the dramatic experience of human history.  Each day, as we seek to be sustained by the signs of God’s presence, we encounter new signs to the contrary, negative signs which tend to make us think instead that he is absent.  The fullness of time seems to fade before the countless forms of injustice and violence which daily wound our human family.  Sometimes we ask ourselves how it is possible that human injustice persists unabated, and that the arrogance of the powerful continues to demean the weak, relegating them to the most squalid outskirts of our world.  We ask how long human evil will continue to sow violence and hatred in our world, reaping innocent victims.  How can the fullness of time have come when we are witnessing hordes of men, women and children fleeing war, hunger and persecution, ready to risk their lives simply to encounter respect for their fundamental rights?  A torrent of misery, swollen by sin, seems to contradict the fullness of time brought by Christ.

And yet this swollen torrent is powerless before the ocean of mercy which floods our world.  All of us are called to immerse ourselves in this ocean, to let ourselves be reborn, to overcome the indifference which blocks solidarity, and to leave behind the false neutrality which prevents sharing.  The grace of Christ, which brings our hope of salvation to fulfilment, leads us to cooperate with him in building an ever more just and fraternal world, a world in which every person and every creature can dwell in peace, in the harmony of God’s original creation.

At the beginning of a new year, the Church invites us to contemplate Mary’s divine maternity as an icon of peace.  In her, the ancient promise finds fulfilment.  She believed in the words of the angel, conceived her Son and thus became the Mother of the Lord.  Through her, through her “yes”, the fullness of time came about. The Gospel we have just heard tells us that the Virgin Mary “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).  She appears to us as a vessel filled to the brim with the memory of Jesus, as the Seat of Wisdom to whom we can have recourse to understand his teaching aright.  Today Mary makes it possible for us to grasp the meaning of events which affect us personally, events which also affect our families, our countries and the entire world.  Where philosophical reason and political negotiation cannot reach, there the power of faith, which brings the grace of Christ’s Gospel, can reach, opening ever new pathways to reason and to negotiation.

Blessed are you, Mary, for you gave the Son of God to our world.  But even more blessed are you for having believed in him.  Full of faith, you conceived Jesus first in your heart and then in your womb, and thus became the Mother of all believers (cf. Saint Augustine, Sermo 215,4).  Send us your blessing on this day consecrated to your honour.  Show us the face of Jesus your Son, who bestows upon the entire world mercy and peace.

Saint Mary Major is my favorite basilica in Rome where the Holy Father opens the Holy Year Holy Door:


JBS said...

It could be that God chose "that time" because many Jews had learned the international language of Greek, and the Roman Empire had made routine international travel a reality, both of which made proclamation of the Gospel beyond the Holy Land fairly easy.

Michael (Quicumque Vult) said...

Happy new year, Father! How did the Christmas midnight Mass you talked about go? What EF-isms / other options did you incorporate?

John Nolan said...

Pueri cantores? Surely pueri et puellae cantores! Of course young people of either sex should be encouraged to sing liturgical music. I didn't recognize the setting and the Vatican website is very bad at giving composers their due.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Midnight Mass went very well and we did video it and I am awaiting for it to be digitized so I can place it on my blog. The odd thing with my parish is that I seldom get any feedback ya or nay about things. Our Midnight Mass compared to the others has a higher percentage of Christmas and Easter Catholics only as well as a higher percentage of non-Catholics (prior to Protestant Churches observing Christmas, many non Catholics have had a long standing tradition of attending Catholic midnight Mass with their Catholic friends. This extend back prior to Vatican II.

Anonymous said...

This holy door stuff is bordering on the ridiculous. Holy Doors all over the world, how many in Rome alone? The whole idea of the Holy Door was for people to make a heroic effort to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of the prince of the apostles. Now we have churches buying door frames from Home Depot, setting them up freestanding in lobbies so that people can pass through the magic door. This is the kind of thing that helped bring on the Reformation. Francis even manages to ruin a beautiful dignified practice like the Holy Door.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You have a short memory. Pope Saint John Paul II allowed Holy Doors in other parts of the world for the Jubilee Year of 2000. The Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta where I was pastor at the time was designated as a Holy Door Church or place of pilgrimage in the Diocese of Savannah's Augusta Deanery and so was St. Joseph Church where I am now for the Macon Deanery. Each of our 7 deaneries had churches designated as such which allowed for the same Indulgences and graces as going to Rome's St. Peter's Basilica or the other major basilicas in Rome.

Constantly berating our Holy Father shows how our Catholics have bought into the negativity of our secular culture's political atmosphere but also family life which creates division and divorce. For shame coming from Catholics.

Anonymous said...

If you don't want us "berating" Francis then he needs to stop saying the stupid things he says. The latest was that Christ asked forgiveness from Our Lady amd Saint Joseph when they had to go back and found Him teaching in the temple. Really! First of all God doesn't apologize to anyone. Secondly scripture clearly states that when Our Lady asked Christ why He did this, He didn't respond by apologizing, He told Our LAdy where do you think I would be , in my Father's house. If anything it was a small rebuke. He can't even get scripture correct. He is a disaster. I'm glad that so many curia officials boycotted this years Christmas address. The man is a joke. The sooner he goes to the reward he deserves the better. Well maybe not, those morons in the college will probablly elect that silly cardinal from the Philippines, you know the one who always cries. We have just entered a dark dark age in th Church that will last for hundreds of years. Oh well thank God for the Ordinarite and traditional chapels they are the only havens of orthodoxy left in the church.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

One can offer a respectful comment or critique about our Holy Father without carping about him, denigrating His Holiness or otherwise insulting His Holiness. If you had done this prior to Vatican II, the nuns would have smacked your immature little hands or adolescent mentality as rightly they should have.

Modern Catholics like yourself have no respect any longer for their "elders" and I mean this in the Christian sense of the term and easily divorce parents, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters by their negative superiority.