The Feast of St. Andrew: November 30, 2013

Today is the feast day of the first called Apostle, brother of St. Peter and founder of the church of Constantinople St. Andrew.  Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist who went along with the beloved disciple St. John to follow our Lord at the direction of John the Forerunner.  He later introduced his younger brother Simon to the Lord who made of him Peter the Rock on which He built his Church.

Tradition records that St. Andrew went north after Pentecost to found the church of Byzantium on the Bosporus, the future site of Constantinople and later preached in what is now Russia and in what we now call the Ukraine but what was then broadly called Scythia.  He was martyred in the Peloponnese in southern Greece, crucified by the Roman governor.  St. Andrew is the great patron of the East, the older brother of Simon Peter the founder of the See of Rome.  Peter was ordained Prince of the Apostles not by his own choice or merit, but by the will of God.  The East and the West are brothers, the East older while the West is younger but with the Apostolic See of Rome given primacy by its founder, its history, and the inscrutable divine Will.  Pray for the unity of the Church, the unity between East and West, and to paraphrase Bl. John Paul II that the Church may breathe with both lungs once again.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, for its liberty and its salvation, and the restoration of its ancient position as a pillar of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome and for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.

Message of Pope Francis to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I on the Feast of St. Andrew

 

November 24, 2013: Homage to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the King of all the world, of all the nations and tribes, and of all men.  Let us pray today especially that all mankind may one day stand before his throne and with a single mighty voice sing praise to his holy and glorious Name.  What follows is the great hymn of praise to the primacy of Jesus Christ from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians (Col. i, 12-20) that is recited every Wednesday evening in the Liturgy of the Hours and is the second reading in today’s Mass for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe:

Gratias agentes Deo Patri, qui dignos nos fecit in partem sortis sanctorum in lumine: qui eripuit nos de ptestate tenebrarum, et transtulit in regnum filii dilectionis suae, in quo habemus redemptionem per sangiunem ejus, remissionem peccatorum: qui est imago Dei invisibilis, primogenitus omnis creaturae: quoniam in ipso condita sunt universa in caelis, et in terra, visibilia, et invisibilia, sive throni, sive dominationes, sive principatus, sive potestates: omnia per ipsum et in ipso creata sunt: et ipse est ante omnes, et omnia in ipso constant.  Et ipse est caput corporis Ecclesiae, qui est principium, primogenitus ex mortuis: ut sit in omnibus ipse primatum tenens: quia in ipso complacuit, omnem plenitudinem inhabitare: et per eum reconciliare omnia in ipsum, pacificans per sanguinem crucis eius, sive quae in terris, sive quae in caelis sunt.

Here is the English translation from the Liturgy of the Hours that comes from the New American Bible 1970 that leaves out the bit about the thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers:

“Let us give thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light.  He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.  Through him we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.  He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creatures.  In him everything in heaven and on earth was created, things visible and invisible.  Al were created through him; all were created for him.  He is before all else that is.  In him everything continues in being.  It is he who is head of the body, the Church!  he who is the beginning, the first-born of the dead, so that primacy may be his in everything.  It pleased God to make absolute fullness reside in him and, by means of him, to reconcile everything in his person, both on earth and in the heavens, making peace through the blood of his cross.”

Jesus Christ is King, not just of us but of all.  Let us pray that all mankind be united under Him.  Pray the Rosary.  Monday for the See of Constantinople, Tuesday for the See of Antioch, Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, Thursday for the See of Alexandria, Friday for the See of Carthage: for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  Jesus Christ shed his Blood for them too and He is King of us all.

The Feast of the dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul-November 18

Today, November 18, is the Feast Day in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church of the dedication of the basilicas of the two illustrious patrons of the Church of Rome:  Saints Peter and Paul.  Two men who came out of the East (from lands now dominated by Islam), one a brilliant scholar and the other a humble fishermen whom Our Lord took from his boat on the Lake of Galilee and brought him to Rome to make him Prince of the Church.  These two men, by the power of the Holy Spirit the resided within them, utterly transformed the world in a way that men have found unfathomable ever since.  Sancti apostoli Petre et Paule, ora pro nobis!

 

St. Peter's Basilica-Rome

St. Peter’s Basilica-Rome (taken by me April 24, 2013)

 

The Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary

To cite Bishop Fulton Sheen: the Glorious Mysteries are the mysteries of our Faith.  They are the mysteries of where we are going as members of the Church, of what our purpose is in the universe.

On the morning of the Resurrection all seemed lost.  This great Messiah who had come and who promised so much had now been taken from them and there seemed nothing left of Him.  Early on that morning a group of women gathered while it was yet dark.  They went to the tomb with all that was needed for a burial, to dress and properly anoint the body of one who had done so much for them and who they believed would bring the kingdom of God into the world.  This is a place to start.  These women went in faith.  They did not even know quite what they had faith in, but they went anyways.  They would not abandon their Lord even in death, so they went to Him to care for Him as best they could.  And when they arrived He was not there and this sent them into a frightful panic.  They went to fetch Peter; he came to the tomb and stooped down inside, astounded as he picked up the head covering which lay separate from the other wrappings.  Mary of Magdala met Our Lord outside and at first thought he was merely the gardener.  It was hard to recognize the Risen Christ.  He visited the apostles in the Upper Room that night and breathed the Spirit on them, giving them the power through Him to forgive sins.  The Apostle Thomas was not there and did not believe so Our Lord came to him, he fell down before Him, and acknowledged Him as divine.  No matter how dead the world wishes to make Our Lord seem He is not.  He is very much alive and we must believe.  Beati qui non viderunt, et crediderunt (Io. xx, 29).

The Ascension.  My personal meditation on the Mystery of the Ascension begins with Saint John’s account in the twenty first chapter of his Gospel of the second Miraculous Draught of Fishes after Our Lord’s Resurrection and the meeting between Jesus and Simon Peter on the seashore because it seems to have so much to do with the mission that He entrusts to his Church at the Ascension.  Simon Peter tells the others that he is going fishing on the Lake of Galilee and only six go with him.  In the boat there are then Simon Peter, the two sons of Zebedee (James and John), Thomas, Nathaniel, and two unnamed disciples.  This number of seven in the boat is significant.  The Fathers tell us that the number seven represents completeness and fulfillment.  The fishermen in the boat once again have been fishing all through the night and caught nothing.  They are now nearing the shore at first light and Our Lord who is waiting there for them commands them to cast their net over the right side which they proceed to do.  The haul is so great that they cannot hold it.  When the beloved disciple points out to Simon Peter that it is the Lord, Dominus esthe realizes that he is naked and jumps into the sea (a parallel to Adam and Eve I think).  The Prince of the Apostles then proceeds to haul the net, full of 153 fish, to the shore as the day breaks.  The foreshadowing here seems to be of the end of time, when the mission Our Lord entrusts to His Church at his Ascension is reaching its fulfillment.  Christ and Simon Peter then meet by the shoreline and Jesus prepares him a meal, while giving both the Apostle who denied Him in the courtyard and the future Church a lesson about what love truly is and preparing them for martyrdom.  Our Lord then brings the Apostles to the mount of his Ascension and utters this marvelous command and promise that it would do well for the Church of our day and time to remember: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.  Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Mt. 28: 18-20).”

The Holy Spirit then descends upon the apostles at Pentecost.  They leave the Mount of Olives praising and thanking God but are drawn back into the Upper Room by their own timidity for they have not yet received the Spirit.  The Mother of Our Lord, the Mother of the Church, the Mother of God waits with the apostles in that Upper Room and prays for them.  Then, on the tenth day following the Ascension, a noise like a rushing wind rattles the shutters and doors of this locked Upper room.  A noise like the rushing wind that was the Spirit of God who flowed over the dark waters at the dawn of Creation.  The world is about to be recreated and the Age of the Church is born.  Tongues of fire appear over the heads of the apostles and they are imbued with the Holy Spirit just as the world was imbued with Light at its beginning.  Peter then goes forth from the Upper Room to preach a mighty sermon on the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Redemption of mankind to many of the same people who had mocked and ridiculed Our Lord at his Crucifixion.  3,000 are baptized that day the Church was born.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not spelled out specifically in Scripture.  A way to meditate on this is to meditate on the fact that though the Virgin is present in the Upper Room at Pentecost she then disappears entirely from Scripture.  What to make of this?  Tradition tells us that the Assumption probably did not occur until about twenty years after Pentecost so what was she doing?  She was praying for the early Church even when she remained on earth.  I think that it is safe to assume that she was in the background all of the time making intercession for the Church during those first crucial two decades when it was expanding throughout the Mediterranean basin and beyond, a foreshadowing of what Our Lady, Our Mother, has done for the Church through all the long subsequent centuries down to our own day.  Tradition also tells us that the Angel Gabriel, who had announced to her that she was to be the vehicle of the Incarnation, came to her and informed her that it would be time for her to leave this earth.  Her task fulfilled she remained sinless and was assumed body and soul into the realm of Light: a foretaste of what awaits all of us who believe and die in a state of grace at the Last Judgement.

The Coronation of Our Lady and the Glory of the Saints.  This can be a tough one I confess.  It requires our minds to go into realms which, in truth, we cannot really yet approach.  To contemplate Heaven and eternity is something that we can only do if God gifts us that gift.  But the purpose of this final Mystery of the Rosary I think is to keep us focused on the ultimate goal.  The victory of the Cross over the serpent.  The Coronation of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven is a fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption offered after the Fall.  The base of the Cross is planted on the head of the serpent and that one is no more.  May the prayers of the Queen of Heaven guard us from the snares of the evil one.

Pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, for its liberty and its salvation and the restoration of its ancient position as a pillar of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.

I hope that these meditations have been a help to anyone considering praying the Rosary.  If you find them a hindrance then please ignore them as the thoughts are mostly my own mixed in with others gleaned from study of this subject and from praying the Rosary myself.  Any errors, misprints, and typos are also mine.

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary

My own thoughts gleaned from others and from my own experience of offering these Mysteries.  If they are a help then take them use them where you will, and if they are a hinderance then please ignore them.

The Agony in the Garden is a poignant scene.  For it was another garden that God established for man in the first place.  The garden of paradise, and it was there that our first ancestor fell from grace into the darkness and of sin.  So now Our Lord and Savior enters another garden; in the dark of night after offering Himself to the Father for our salvation in the Cenaculum he enters the garden once more.  Except this is a garden disordered by sin.  The only thing awaiting Him in this garden are temptation and betrayal.  The temptation comes from the Tempter himself, the same who had deceived Eve so that she plucked the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and ate it.  We do not know what words passed between the enemy and Our Lord in that garden but we know that He was sorely tried, and kept praying to his Father to let that chalice pass from Him.  But, in a reversal of what Adam and Eve did, when Our Lord was tried by temptation in this terrible garden He called out to the Father for aid and then resolved to do his Will.

The Scourging at the Pillar.  The relentless tearing of Our Lord’s flesh as that bone studded whip end ripped into his skin.  This is pain that most of us cannot understand, suffered in reparation for all the times that we have sought the pleasures of the flesh that destroy our relationship with God.  It is our sins, each and every one of us both individually and as a group, that flung this whip onto his back and drew his blood.

When He was crowned with Thorns the soldiers stripped Him and dressed Him in a torn purple cloak.  They placed a reed in his hand and put on his head a crown of sharp and mangled thorns that drew yet more blood from Him and caused Him more pain, mocking his Kingship.  We did all this and we do all of this every time that we put anyone or anything above our King, and we do it all the time.  When we worship this world or its fruits then we strike Him with our fist and spit in his face.  Yet He sits there and takes and makes no move to protest.  God is Love.

He carried his Cross then, the weight of our sins, on his back after have taken such a beating.  The Jews mock Him and declare that the “have no king but Caesar (Jn. 19: 15)”, trading the God who brought them forth from Abraham’s loins, and from exile in Egypt and in Babylonia back to their land, and who had cared for them above all other peoples for a mortal man, a foreign conqueror whom the day before they had wanted to expel from their land.  Think of the enormity of what they did there, and we must remind ourselves that we are vulnerable to this same temptation every day of our lives when we choose to worship the world and ignore the Lord who bore our sins upon his back.

Our Lord then reaches the hill of Golgotha, the skull place, and is stripped, tied to those planks of wood, and nailed to his Cross.  He is then raised up before the mocking gaze of all the people just as the serpent was raised up in the desert to heal the people in the book of Numbers.  The crowd ridicules Him, feeling that this is their moment of triumph.  He is crucified between two criminals (Lk. 23: 39-43).  These two thieves, murderers, revolutionary terrorists, whatever they were represent the two segments of mankind it seems.  We are all, all of us sinners, thieves and murderers, subject to the just judgement of God. The one mocks the Lord, wants to be freed on his own terms, and dies alone; the other acknowledges his own guilt, that he deserves death (as all of us sinners truly do), declares the innocence and majesty of Christ, recognizes his Sacrifice, and is saved.  Our Lord cries out to his Father in torment and the crowd mocks Him all the more and mocks the prophet Elijah as well, but his Father hears Him.  In the end the Father’s Will is done and the sin of Adam and Eve is reversed.  Grace is born in the world.  The veil of the Holy of Holies is torn.  God no longer resides in an empty room on a hill in Palestine but comes into the whole world through the Sacrifice of his Son that gives birth to the Church.

The important thing in meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries is to remember that it is our sins that are inflicting these torments on Our Lord and to meditate accordingly.   Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch and on Friday for the See of Carthage, for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome and for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.

The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary

Once again my own personal thoughts, interspersed with those of others and doubtless not originating with me in any case, borne of time spent meditating on the Luminous Mysteries.  If I repeat anything that anyone else has written elsewhere without giving them due credit then I beg forgiveness as it is not intentional.

The Luminous Mysteries begin with the Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan River.  John the Baptist had been going throughout the Jordan river valley preaching a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins, the vox clamantis in deserto; Dirigite viam Domini!  Just as the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed eight centuries before: here was this man dressed in rough clothes shouting back into the ‘civilized’ world from the wild lands that something new was coming, something wholly unexpected, and that they had better prepare themselves.  Then one day Jesus walks up to him beside the Jordan river and he cries out: Ecce agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccatum mundi.  This is a cry echoed down to this day by the priest celebrating Mass when he holds up the consecrated Host before the faithful and calls out: Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sin of the world.  Our Lord is then baptized by John in the Jordan, plunged down underneath the waters then raised up anew into the air to breathe.  Our Lord’s Baptism is both a prefiguring of the future and look back into the past.  There is much commentary from the Fathers of the Church about how this event prefigures the death of Our Lord and his laying in the tomb only to be raised back up on the third day.  Also this is linked to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea during the Exodus.  Once He is back on dry land the Holy Spirit descends like a dove down upon Him and the voice of the Father rings out: Hic est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi complacui.

The Wedding at Cana is Our Lord’s first public miracle.  The details are thus: Jesus, his mother, and his disciples are attending a wedding at Cana in Galilee when the guests’ supply of wine runs out.  Mary sees this and runs to her son to ask Him to help.  He asks what concern it is of theirs since it is not yet his hour and she tells the servants to do whatever He tells them.  Jesus tells them to fill up six giant cisterns used for the extensive and elaborate Jewish ceremonial washing of the day with water, and to take a cup of that water to the chief steward.  The chief steward takes a drink and, to paraphrase St. John, discovers that this stuff is the best wine he has ever tasted and goes on to scold the (probably completely confused and perplexed) host because he did not serve it sooner.  What to make of this?  How do we think of this as we meditate?  One way is to use this is as an excellent meditation on the relationship between Our Lord and his Mother: those who go through her to find Him will not fail.  Another is to take a cue from Benedict XVI in his book Jesus of Nazareth: from the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration where he points out that this is a prefiguring of how Our Lord would cleanse the world with his own Blood.  The fact that the ineffectual water in these ceremonial washing cisterns would be replaced by the wine of the Mass, the Blood of the New and everlasting Covenant, is inescapable here I think.

Quoniam implementum est tempus, et appropinquavit regnum Dei: poenitemini, et credite Evangelio.  “The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the Gospel. (Mk. 1: 15)”  The first public proclamation of his mission from the lips of Our Lord Himself.  The public birth of the new age and the new world.  The Old Law has now been fulfilled and the New is being born.  The Author of Life is in our midst from this moment until the end of time.  I like to meditate for the Mystery of the Proclamation of the Kingdom on the relationship of Jesus Christ’s above cited proclamation in Mark to the Hail Mary itself.  Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.  The Angel’s announcement to Mary in the grotto of the Annunciation announced that the time had now been fulfilled and accomplished: the birth of the new world was at hand.  Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus; Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.  Through the acquiescence of Mary Jesus was born in the world and in Him and through the choice of his Mother the kingdom of God has come to us.  Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus nunc et in hora mortis nostrae; Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Pray for us O Holy Mother of God that we repent and believe in the Gospel, and that we enter the kingdom of God.

The Transfiguration is Jesus revelation of his divinity to his apostles.  Peter, James, and John climb the mountain, following Him up to the high peak and are tired.  After a deep sleep they awaken to see Our Lord clothed with the sun and two men, who would have been to their minds the two greatest human beings ever to walk the earth, Moses and Elijah at his feet.  This reveals to them the superiority of this man over all other men who have ever lived.  An oft expressed point that I have heard in homilies on this subject is that, seeing this incredible scene, the three apostles want to stay.  They don’t want to go back down the mountains; they want to stay there forever and wait on the three.  This is why Peter wants to erect three tents.  The will of God is of course something else.  The voice of the Father comes down from the heavens, echoing his words at the Lord’s Baptism, and tells them to listen to his Son.  A message is this: God will take whom He wills in this world up to the mountaintop and reveal Himself to them but we do not stay there.  We must listen to Our Lord and follow Him down from the mountain on his journey to Jerusalem and take up the Cross.

The Institution of the Most Holy Eucharist.  The beginning of the Mass.  In the Gospel of Luke Our Lord tells his apostles at the Last Supper that He had greatly desired to eat that meal with them before He suffered.  When we think of Him not as a thirty year old carpenter from Nazareth but as the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity this statement take on a whole new significance.  This was the Word who had created the world.  He was there at the beginning; He was there when Adam and Eve fell from grace; He was there when Cain murdered his brother Abel; He who warned Noah of the Flood; it was He who called Abram from his father’s house in Haran and brought him to the land of Canaan promising to multiply his offspring like the sands of the seashore; it was He spoke to Moses from the burning bush; He who guided the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land; He who spoke through the prophets of Israel.  Now here He was, and here He is in every Mass, offering Himself for the forgiveness of sins to set right what once went wrong.  The Institution of the Most Holy Eucharist truly fulfills the exclamation of John the Baptist that begins the Luminous Mysteries: Ecce agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccatum mundi.

The Luminous Mysteries were first proposed by Blessed John Paul II in his 2002 Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae.  There are those who are skeptical of these Mysteries because of their lack of antiquity but this is the way of the Rosary.  The Rosary is a living devotion.  It was first given to St. Dominic by the Blessed Mother during the early 13th century and the details of its early history, save that there was a combination of meditation on the mysteries of our salvation and the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin (The Angelical Salutation), is quite murky.  It was not until 1569, some 350 years later, that Pope St. Pius V finalized the 15 ‘traditional’ Mysteries.  The Luminous Mysteries, when combined with the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries are a completion of the picture of the life of Christ and doubtless bring one closer to Him.

Offer the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, for its liberty and its salvation and the restoration of its ancient position as a pillar of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome, and for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.

The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary

Some random musings of mine on praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.  If these thoughts of mine can help anyone to meditate on the Mysteries then I am grateful, if you find them a hindrance then ignore this posting because it is strictly my way of thinking about these Mysteries.  Again these are my thoughts, but if any have been expressed by others elsewhere without me giving proper credit I beg their forgiveness.

The Joyful Mysteries are the beginning.  They are the beginning of the world recreated and the world reborn.  In many ways each Hail Mary we pray is the Incarnation all over again.  We start with the words of the Angel who announced to the Blessed Virgin Mother of God the turn of the age and the role she was to play in it, and then the words of her cousin Elizabeth who was the first human being besides the Virgin herself to acknowledge the Incarnation.  So this theme of the Incarnation then weaves itself throughout all of the Mysteries of the Rosary, both in the praying of the Hail Mary itself and the meditating on the Mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption of mankind by the Word made flesh.

The Joyful Mysteries make this theme of the Incarnation paramount.  Think of the world as it appeared from that small village in the Galilee five minutes before the Annunciation.  It was a dark place indeed.  The people Israel had been without a prophet for the better part of half a millennium, the return from the Babylonian exile had not restore to them any form of their ancient glory.  They were now a subject people, their one brief period of independence won by the Maccabees having been snuffed out now by the might of the seemingly all conquering might of Imperial Rome.  Nor were they at peace among themselves.  Some dove wholesale into the pagan, hedonistic culture that prevailed in the Mediterranean in those days, while others climbed back into the shelter of the old Law having long lost the sense of what that Law was really about or intended for, and others turned to politics thinking that the restoration of the political might of David and Solomon would bring about paradise.  It must have seemed that God had forgotten them and that his promise had withered and failed.  Then an Angel visited a young woman who lived in a region that would have seemed at the end of the world to anyone with power and influence in those days and announced these words: Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.  Benedicta tu in mulieribus.

From that moment to this the world has never been the same.  A Light came to be in the womb of Mary that day that will never go out through all the travails of humankind.  She then carried that Light in her womb to visit her cousin Elizabeth a woman, who despite her old age and previous barrenness, now carried in her womb the greatest of all prophets: John the Forerunner who was to announce the coming of the Lord to his people Israel.  This woman pronounced the words “benedictus fructus ventris tui.”  Elizabeth then becomes the first faithful witness to the Gospel.  The communion of faith between these two women in that house in the hill country of Judea is in many ways the start of the prehistory of the Church.

A decree then comes forth from Caesar Augustus.  Joseph takes his wife Mary from Nazareth down to Bethlehem to be enrolled in the census.  After a difficult journey they arrive, only to be shut out from the inns, a woman on the verge of giving birth to a new world but there is no place to put her.  Finally someone finds room for them in a nice out of the way place: a cave where animals are housed.  The child is born and the world is changed.  The angels of the celestial choir announce the birth of the Prince of Peace to the humble of the earth and they come to adore Him.  There is a message here I think for all of us: God will not force his way into our lives.  He will come in where we let Him, if we let Him, and from there He will begin his saving work.  And once you let Him start to work within you there is nothing that will stop Him.

The child Jesus is then presented to the world in his own holy place, the Temple of Jerusalem.  The priest Simeon pronounces his famous canticle and the glory of God that is in this child is first announced publicly, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the world.  Simeon then speaks his famous prophecy of trouble ahead for this child and his Mother and for the Israel that he had known.  Not long after Joseph takes Mary and Jesus and flees from Bethlehem to Egypt and Herod’s thugs raid the town, massacring its newborns, looking to exterminate this new Prince before He can begin his work.  Another message here: the work of God in this world comes with pain and suffering.  Jesus Christ was barely allowed to be born before the world sought to annihilate Him and it will always be so.  But in the end the Triumph is his, and this we must not forget.

When the child Jesus was twelve years old his parents were travelling back north to the Galilee from Jerusalem and discovered that He was missing.  They searched high and low among their relatives for Him, but did not find Him.  Then they turned back to Jerusalem, to God’s Temple, and found Him.  They asked Him why he had done this and his response to them was, essentially, that if they knew Who He was (which both of them did) then they should know where to find Him.  Again a message: God does not abandon us.  We sometimes lose sight of Him if we are looking in the wrong places but that He will always be there for us.

I hope this helps, the thoughts are strictly my own and I am no theologian but these do tend to help me ponder these Mysteries.  Pray the Joyful Mysteries each Monday for the See of Constantinople, for its liberty and its salvation, and for the restoration of its ancient position as a pillar of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome.  And for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.