Blessed Virgin Mary: January 2010 Archives

Blessed Marmion Novena: Day Nine

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Blessed Columba's Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

For those who already know of Blessed Columba Marmion's friendship and frequent spiritual exchanges with Désiré-Joseph Cardinal Mercier (1851-1926), it will come as no surprise that the Abbot of Maredsous, like the Primate of Belgium, stood in the vanguard of the mariological and liturgical movement that sought to recognize and venerate Our Blessed Lady as the Mediatrix of All Graces. Dom Marmion's reflections on the universal mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, while expressed with sobriety in carefully measured theological terms, are no less compelling than those of Cardinal Mercier. Both prelates promoted and lived a filial consecration to Our Lady that expressed an entire dependence on her all-powerful maternal supplication.

The Ninth Day of the Novena
Saturday, 30 January 2010

O Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son,
establish Thyself as a furnace of love in the centre of our hearts
and bear constantly upwards, like eager flames,
our thoughts, our affections, and our actions
even to the bosom of the Father.

God willed to give His Son to men only through Mary; so, likewise, He wills that all graces should come to them through Mary. As Bossuet put it very effectively: "As God once willed to give us Jesus Christ through the Blessed Virgin, and as the gifts of God are irrevocable, there will be no change in this order. It is and always will be true that, having received, through the charity of Mary, the universal principle of all grace, we shall continue to receive through her mediation the various applications of that grace in all the divers circumstances which make up the Christian life."
The Lord is therefore pleased when we invoke Our Lady as the mediatrix of His pardon and of His benefits. She is our advocate for His mercy. Her prayers and her merits constitute an intercession for us which is unceasing, so that for centuries Christian piety has proclaimed her "The all-powerful suppliant": Omnipotentia supplex.

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When we cast ourselves at the feet of Our Lady, we can say to her, "I am a priest . . . turn towards me your merciful countenance"; Mary sees in us, not only a member of the Mystical Body of her Son, but a minister of Jesus who shares in His priesthood. She sees her divine Son in us and cannot reject us; it would be to reject Jesus Himself. The priest can repeat, with even more confidence than the simple Christian, those beautiful words: "It is a thing unheard of that anyone who had recourse to thy protection and implored thy assistance was left forsaken."
When you feel that you are plunged into an abyss of misery, recall to mind the words of Saint Bernard: "When you feel the breath of temptation passing over your soul . . . invoke Mary . . . if you are troubled by the remorse of conscience, frightened by the thought of the judgment, if you are sinking into the depths of sorrow or discouragement, think of Mary: Mariam cogita."
. . . I would like to make this final point. Before drawing His last breath, Jesus entrusted His Mother to Saint John. In this moment of unique solemnity He gave His disciple a legacy which was supremely precious. And what was the reaction of the apostle, the priest to whom Jesus confided the care of His mother? As a son, "he took her for his own": Accepit eam in sua (Jn 19, 27).
Let us also take Mary for our own, as a son full of affection receives his mother; let us dwell with her, that is to say, let us associate her in our works, in our troubles, in our joys. Does she not desire, more than anyone else, to help each one of us become a holy priest and to reproduce in himself the virtues of Jesus?

V. Pray for us, Blessed Columba Marmion.
R. That our lives may be hid with Christ in God.

Let us pray.

O God, Almighty Father,
who, having called the blessed abbot Columba
to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life,
wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
grant, in Thy goodness,
that, strengthened by his teachings
in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons,
we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence,
and so obtain, through his intercession,
a favourable answer
to the petitions we place before Thee.
[Express your intentions and requests.]
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Immaculata Victrix

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In the spiritual combat that is the daily experience of so many priests, nothing can take the place of a confident recourse to the Immaculate Virgin Mary. By begging Our Lord Jesus to grant His priests victory through the intervention and intercession of His Mother, we glorify His own desire to see her unique and irreplaceable role acknowledged and glorified.

O my Jesus,
save and sanctify all Thy priests!
Let not one of those whom Thou hast chosen
and anointed for Thyself be lost.
Let not the Evil One,
the sworn enemy of our souls,
overcome them,
but, rather, let Thy Immaculate Mother
crush the head of the ancient serpent,
and, by her constant intercession,
preserve Thy priests in purity and in holiness of life. Amen.

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The Week in Review

This has been a week of blessings upon blessings. With the generous help of many friends, we completed the move to the new Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. Our first concern was to prepare the monastic Oratory. It is lovely in every way. On January 12th, I offered the first Holy Mass in the Oratory, and reserved the Most Blessed Sacrament. That same night, I had the first hour of adoration in the new house.

Love Crucified in Tulsa

Father Jordi Rivero, pastor of Saint Timothy's Church in Miami, Florida and three Mothers of the Cross, Lourdes, Tessie, and Mary, belonging to the Community of Love Crucified arrived on Wednesday the 13th, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the traditional calendar. That same evening more than twenty Spiritual Mothers of Priests of the Diocese of Tulsa came to the Cenacle for a time of prayer for priests, Holy Mass, a potluck supper, and talks by Father Jordi and Lourdes Pinto. LIsten to their magnificent talks here!

Day of Recollection for Priests of the Diocese of Tulsa

On Thursday, Father Jordi and Lourdes spoke to Bishop Slattery and a group of priests of the Diocese of Tulsa. Father Paul Eichoff welcomed us at Saint Cecilia's Parish in Claremore, Oklahoma. After the conferences, followed by Vespers and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the ladies of Saint Cecilia's Parish provided us with a delicious supper.

Thank You

I am profoundly grateful to the Spiritual Mothers of Priests of the Diocese of Tulsa, and to other friends here, for all they have done to facilitate the opening of the new Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. As soon as possible, I will try to post some photos of the new house and Oratory.

January 17th is the feast of Our Lady of Pontmain. See what I wrote about Pontmain in 2008 here. During the apparition at Pontmain, the faithful sang the Inviolata, an 11th century prose to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

INVIOLATA, integra, et casta es Maria,
quae es effecta fulgida caeli porta.

INVIOLATE, spotless and pure art thou,
O Mary Who wast made the radiant gate of the King.

O Mater alma Christi carissima,
suscipe pia laudum praeconia.

Holy mother of Christ most dear,
receive our devout hymn and praise.

Te nunc flagitant devota corda et ora,
nostra ut pura pectora sint et corpora.

Our hearts and tongues now ask of thee
that our souls and bodies may be pure.

Tu per precata dulcisona,
nobis concedas veniam per saecula.

By thy sweet sounding prayers
obtain for us forgiveness forever.

O benigna! O Regina! O Maria,
quae sola inviolata permansisti.

O gracious queen, O Mary,
who alone among women art inviolate.

My Face Will Journey With Thee

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Readers of Vultus Christi can imagine my delight when I discovered that the Holy Father's homily on this Solemnity of the Mother of God focused on the mystery of the Face of Christ, the human face of God. Given that I could find no English translation at any of the usual sources, I quickly translated the Italian text for my own edification and for all of you, dear friends. Subtitles are my own. Here it is:

Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God
XLIII World Day of Peace
Homily of Our Holy Father Benedict XVI
Vatican Basilica
Friday, 1 January 2010

Venerati Fratelli,
illustri Signori e Signore,
cari fratelli e sorelle!

Nel primo giorno del nuovo anno abbiamo la gioia e la grazia di celebrare la Santissima Madre di Dio e, al tempo stesso, la Giornata Mondiale della Pace. In entrambe le ricorrenze celebriamo Cristo, Figlio di Dio, nato da Maria Vergine e nostra vera pace! A tutti voi, che siete qui convenuti: Rappresentanti dei popoli del mondo, della Chiesa romana e universale, sacerdoti e fedeli; e a quanti sono collegati mediante la radio e la televisione, ripeto le parole dell'antica benedizione: il Signore rivolga a voi il suo volto e vi conceda la pace (cfr Nm 6,26). Proprio il tema del Volto e dei volti vorrei sviluppare oggi, alla luce della Parola di Dio - Volto di Dio e volti degli uomini - un tema che ci offre anche una chiave di lettura del problema della pace nel mondo.

Venerable Brothers,
illustrious Ladies and Gentleman,
dear brothers and sisters!

Face of God and Faces of Men

On this first day of the new year we have the joy and the grace of celebrating the Most Holy Mother of God and, at the same time, the World Day of Peace. In both yearly observances we celebrate Christ, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary and our true peace! To all of you who have come together here: representatives of the peoples of the world, of the Church Roman and universal, priests and faithful; and to you who are joined to us by means of radio and television, I repeat the word of the ancient blessing: May the Lord turn His face to you and give you peace (Num 6:26). It is precisely the theme of the face and of faces that I wish to develop today, in the light of the Word of God -- the face of God and the faces of men -- a theme that offers us, as well, a key to reading the problem of peace in the world.

Abbiamo ascoltato, sia nella prima lettura - tratta dal Libro dei Numeri - sia nel Salmo responsoriale, alcune espressioni che contengono la metafora del volto riferita a Dio: "Il Signore faccia risplendere per te il suo volto / e ti faccia grazia" (Nm 6,25); "Dio abbia pietà di noi e ci benedica, / su di noi faccia splendere il suo volto; / perché si conosca sulla terra la tua via, / la tua salvezza fra tutte le genti" (Sal 66/67,2-3). Il volto è l'espressione per eccellenza della persona, ciò che la rende riconoscibile e da cui traspaiono sentimenti, pensieri, intenzioni del cuore. Dio, per sua natura, è invisibile, tuttavia la Bibbia applica anche a Lui questa immagine. Mostrare il volto è espressione della sua benevolenza, mentre il nasconderlo ne indica l'ira e lo sdegno. Il Libro dell'Esodo dice che "il Signore parlava con Mosè faccia a faccia, come uno parla con il proprio amico" (Es 33,11), e sempre a Mosè il Signore promette la sua vicinanza con una formula molto singolare: "Il mio volto camminerà con voi e ti darò riposo" (Es 33,14). I Salmi ci mostrano i credenti come coloro che cercano il volto di Dio (cfr Sal 26/27,8; 104/105,4) e che nel culto aspirano a vederlo (cfr Sal 42,3), e ci dicono che "gli uomini retti" lo "contempleranno" (Sal 10/11,7).

And My Face Will Give Thee Rest

We heard, in the first reading taken from the Book of Numbers as well as in the responsorial psalm, several expressions that contain the metaphor of the face in reference to God: "May the Lord make the splendour of His face shine upon thee, and be gracious to thee" (Num 6:25); "May God have mercy on us and bless us, may He make the light of His face shine upon us; that Thy ways may be known upon earth, Thy salvation among all the nations" (Ps 66:2-3). The face is the expression par excellence of the person, that which renders him recognizable, and that upon which sentiments, thoughts, and intentions of the heart become apparent. God, by His nature, is invisible, the Bible nonetheless applies this image even to Him. To show one's face is the expression of one's benevolence, whereas to hide it signifies anger and scorn. The Book of Exodus says that "the Lord spoke with Moses face to face, as one speaks with his own friend" (Ex 33:11) and, again, to Moses the Lord promises to remain close with this most singular formula: "My face will journey with thee and will give thee rest" (Ex 33:14). The psalms show us believers as those who seek the face of God (cf Ps 26:8; 104:4) and who, in worship, long to see it (cf Ps 42:3), and they tell us that "upright men" will "contemplate" His face (Ps 10:7).

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Tutto il racconto biblico si può leggere come progressivo svelamento del volto di Dio, fino a giungere alla sua piena manifestazione in Gesù Cristo. "Quando venne la pienezza del tempo - ci ha ricordato anche oggi l'apostolo Paolo - Dio mandò il suo Figlio" (Gal 4,4). E subito aggiunge: "nato da donna, nato sotto la legge". Il volto di Dio ha preso un volto umano, lasciandosi vedere e riconoscere nel figlio della Vergine Maria, che per questo veneriamo con il titolo altissimo di "Madre di Dio". Ella, che ha custodito nel suo cuore il segreto della divina maternità, è stata la prima a vedere il volto di Dio fatto uomo nel piccolo frutto del suo grembo. La madre ha un rapporto tutto speciale, unico e in qualche modo esclusivo con il figlio appena nato. Il primo volto che il bambino vede è quello della madre, e questo sguardo è decisivo per il suo rapporto con la vita, con se stesso, con gli altri, con Dio; è decisivo anche perché egli possa diventare un "figlio della pace" (Lc 10,6). Tra le molte tipologie di icone della Vergine Maria nella tradizione bizantina, vi è quella detta "della tenerezza", che raffigura Gesù bambino con il viso appoggiato - guancia a guancia - a quello della Madre. Il Bambino guarda la Madre, e questa guarda noi, quasi a riflettere verso chi osserva, e prega, la tenerezza di Dio, discesa in Lei dal Cielo e incarnata in quel Figlio di uomo che porta in braccio. In questa icona mariana noi possiamo contemplare qualcosa di Dio stesso: un segno dell'amore ineffabile che lo ha spinto a "dare il suo figlio unigenito" (Gv 3,16). Ma quella stessa icona ci mostra anche, in Maria, il volto della Chiesa, che riflette su di noi e sul mondo intero la luce di Cristo, la Chiesa mediante la quale giunge ad ogni uomo la buona notizia: "Non sei più schiavo, ma figlio" (Gal 4,7) - come leggiamo ancora in san Paolo.

A Progressive Unveiling of the Face of God

The whole biblical narrative may be read as a progressive unveiling of the face of God, until it reaches its full manifestation in Jesus Christ. "When came the fullness of time -- as the apostle Paul also reminded us today -- God sent His Son" (Gal 4:4). And straightaway he adds: "born of woman, born under the Law." The face of God has taken a human face, allowing itself to be seen and recognized in the Son of the Virgin Mary, whom we venerate, for this reason, with the sublime title of "Mother of God." She, who kept in her heart the secret of the divine maternity, was the first to see the face of God made man in the little fruit of her womb. The mother has an altogether special exchange, unique and, in some way, exclusive with her newborn child. The first face that the baby sees is that of the mother, and this look is decisive for his exchange with life, with himself, with others, with God; it is decisive also in order that he may become a "child of peace" (Lk 10:6).

Mother of God of Tenderness

Among the many typologies of the icon of the Virgin Mary in the Byzantine tradition, there is the one called "of tenderness", that depicts the Child Jesus with His face resting upon that of the Mother, cheek to cheek. The Child gazes at the Mother, and she looks at us, almost as if to reflect towards the one who observes and prays the tenderness of God, come down into her from heaven and incarnate in the Son of God whom she holds in her arms. In this Marian icon we can contemplate something of God Himself: a sign of the ineffable love that moved Him to "give His only-begotten Son" (Jn 3:16). But this same icon also shows us in Mary the face of the Church, that reflects the light of Christ upon us and upon the whole world, the light that, through the Church, reaches every man with the good news: "No longer art thou a slave, but a son" (Gal 4:7) -- as we read again in Saint Paul.

Fratelli nell'Episcopato e nel Sacerdozio, Signori Ambasciatori, cari amici! Meditare sul mistero del volto di Dio e dell'uomo è una via privilegiata che conduce alla pace. Questa, infatti, incomincia da uno sguardo rispettoso, che riconosce nel volto dell'altro una persona, qualunque sia il colore della sua pelle, la sua nazionalità, la sua lingua, la sua religione. Ma chi, se non Dio, può garantire, per così dire, la "profondità" del volto dell'uomo? In realtà, solo se abbiamo Dio nel cuore, siamo in grado di cogliere nel volto dell'altro un fratello in umanità, non un mezzo ma un fine, non un rivale o un nemico, ma un altro me stesso, una sfaccettatura dell'infinito mistero dell'essere umano. La nostra percezione del mondo e, in particolare, dei nostri simili, dipende essenzialmente dalla presenza in noi dello Spirito di Dio. E' una sorta di "risonanza": chi ha il cuore vuoto, non percepisce che immagini piatte, prive di spessore. Più, invece, noi siamo abitati da Dio, e più siamo anche sensibili alla sua presenza in ciò che ci circonda: in tutte le creature, e specialmente negli altri uomini, benché a volte proprio il volto umano, segnato dalla durezza della vita e dal male, possa risultare difficile da apprezzare e da accogliere come epifania di Dio. A maggior ragione, dunque, per riconoscerci e rispettarci quali realmente siamo, cioè fratelli, abbiamo bisogno di riferirci al volto di un Padre comune, che tutti ci ama, malgrado i nostri limiti e i nostri errori.

The Human Face

Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, Gentlemen Ambassadors, dear friends! To meditate upon this mystery of the face of God and of man is a privileged path that leads to peace. This, in fact, emerges from a gaze of respect, that recognizes in the face of the other a person, whatever may be the colour of his skin, his nationality, his language, his religion. But who, if not God, can guarantee, so to speak, the depth of the face of man? In reality, only if we have God in the heart are we capable of receiving in the face of the other a brother in humanity, not a means, but an end, not a rival or an enemy, but another self, a facet of the infinite mystery of the human being. Our perception of the world and, in particular, of those like us, depends essentially on the presence of the Spirit of God within us. There exists a kind of "resonance": one who has an empty heart, perceives only images that are flat and without thickness. On the other hand, the more we are indwelt by God, the more will we be sensitive to His presence in what surrounds us: in all creatures, and especially in other men, even if, at times, the human face, marked by the harshness of life and of evil, may be difficult to appreciate and to welcome as an epiphany of God. All the more then, if we are to recognize and respect ourselves as we really are, that is, as brethren, must we refer to the face of a common Father, who loves us all, in spite of our limits and our errors.

Fin da piccoli, è importante essere educati al rispetto dell'altro, anche quando è differente da noi. Ormai è sempre più comune l'esperienza di classi scolastiche composte da bambini di varie nazionalità, ma anche quando ciò non avviene, i loro volti sono una profezia dell'umanità che siamo chiamati a formare: una famiglia di famiglie e di popoli. Più sono piccoli questi bambini, e più suscitano in noi la tenerezza e la gioia per un'innocenza e una fratellanza che ci appaiono evidenti: malgrado le loro differenze, piangono e ridono nello stesso modo, hanno gli stessi bisogni, comunicano spontaneamente, giocano insieme... I volti dei bambini sono come un riflesso della visione di Dio sul mondo. Perché allora spegnere i loro sorrisi? Perché avvelenare i loro cuori? Purtroppo, l'icona della Madre di Dio della tenerezza trova il suo tragico contrario nelle dolorose immagini di tanti bambini e delle loro madri in balia di guerre e violenze: profughi, rifugiati, migranti forzati. Volti scavati dalla fame e dalle malattie, volti sfigurati dal dolore e dalla disperazione. I volti dei piccoli innocenti sono un appello silenzioso alla nostra responsabilità: di fronte alla loro condizione inerme, crollano tutte le false giustificazioni della guerra e della violenza. Dobbiamo semplicemente convertirci a progetti di pace, deporre le armi di ogni tipo e impegnarci tutti insieme a costruire un mondo più degno dell'uomo.

The Faces of Children

Beginning with little children, it is important to be educated in respect of the other, even when he is different from us. At present the experience of classes in school that are composed of children of various nationalities is more and more common, but even when this is not the case, their faces are a prophecy of the humanity that we are called to form: a family of families and of peoples. The smaller these children are, the more do they stir up in us tenderness and joy in the face of an innocence and brotherhood that appears evident. In spite of their differences, they cry and laugh in the same way, have the same needs, communicate spontaneously, play together . . . The faces of children are like a reflection of God's view of the world. Why then extinguish their smiles? Why poison their hearts? Alas, the icon of the Mother of God of Tenderness finds its tragic opposite in the painful images of so many children and their mothers prey to war and to violence: exiles, refugees, forced migrants. Faces hollowed by hunger and by sickness, faces disfigured by sorrow and by despair. The faces of these little innocents are a silent appeal to our responsibility. Confronted with their defenseless condition, all the false justifications of war and violence crumble. We have simply to convert ourselves to projects of peace, to lay aside arms of every type and to commit ourselves together to construct a world more worthy of man.

Il mio Messaggio per l'odierna XLIII Giornata Mondiale della Pace: "Se vuoi coltivare la pace, custodisci il creato", si pone all'interno della prospettiva del volto di Dio e dei volti umani. Possiamo, infatti, affermare che l'uomo è capace di rispettare le creature nella misura in cui porta nel proprio spirito un senso pieno della vita, altrimenti sarà portato a disprezzare se stesso e ciò che lo circonda, a non avere rispetto dell'ambiente in cui vive, del creato. Chi sa riconoscere nel cosmo i riflessi del volto invisibile del Creatore, è portato ad avere maggiore amore per le creature, maggiore sensibilità per il loro valore simbolico. Specialmente il Libro dei Salmi è ricco di testimonianze di questo modo propriamente umano di relazionarsi con la natura: con il cielo, il mare, i monti, le colline, i fiumi, gli animali... "Quante sono le tue opere, Signore! - esclama il Salmista - / Le hai fatte tutte con saggezza; / la terra è piena delle tue creature" (Sal 104/103,24).

Man and the Environment

My message for today's XLIII World Day of Peace: "If you would cultivate peace, take care of what is created," is situated within the perspective of the face of God and human faces. We can, in fact, affirm that man is capable of respecting creatures to the measure in which he bears within his own spirit a full sense of life. Otherwise, he will be inclined to devaluate himself and that which surrounds him, to lack respect for the environment in which he lives, for creation. One who knows how to recognize the reflections of the invisible face of the Creator in the cosmos, is inclined to have a greater love for creatures, a greater sensitivity for their symbolic value. The Book of Psalms is especially rich in examples of this peculiarly human way of relating to nature: with the heavens, the sea, the mountains, the hills, the rivers, the animals . . . ""How great are Thy works, O Lord! -- exclaims the Psalmist -- In wisdom Thou hast made them all; the earth is full of Thy creatures" (Ps 104:24).

In particolare, la prospettiva del "volto" invita a soffermarsi su quella che, anche in questo Messaggio, ho chiamato "ecologia umana". Vi è infatti un nesso strettissimo tra il rispetto dell'uomo e la salvaguardia del creato. "I doveri verso l'ambiente derivano da quelli verso la persona considerata in se stessa e in relazione agli altri" (ivi, 12). Se l'uomo si degrada, si degrada l'ambiente in cui vive; se la cultura tende verso un nichilismo, se non teorico, pratico, la natura non potrà non pagarne le conseguenze. Si può, in effetti, constatare un reciproco influsso tra volto dell'uomo e "volto" dell'ambiente: "quando l'ecologia umana è rispettata dentro la società, anche l'ecologia ambientale ne trae beneficio" (ibid.; cfr Enc. Caritas in veritate, 51). Rinnovo, pertanto, il mio appello ad investire sull'educazione, proponendosi come obiettivo, oltre alla necessaria trasmissione di nozioni tecnico-scientifiche, una più ampia e approfondita "responsabilità ecologica", basata sul rispetto dell'uomo e dei suoi diritti e doveri fondamentali. Solo così l'impegno per l'ambiente può diventare veramente educazione alla pace e costruzione della pace.

Human Ecology

In particular, the perspective of the "face" invites us to dwell upon that which, even in this Message, I called "human ecology." There is, in fact, a very close link between respect for man and the safeguard of creation. "Duties toward the environment derive from those towards the person considered in himself and in relation to others." If man is degraded, the environment in which he lives is also degraded; if culture tends toward nihilism, if not in theory, in practice, nature cannot but pay the consequences of it. One can, in effect, remark a reciprocal influence between the face of man and the "face" of the environment. "When human ecology is respected within society, then too will environmental ecology draw benefits from it." (Caritas in Veritate, 51). I renew, therefore, my appeal to invest in education, proposing as an objective, beyond the necessary transmission of technico-scientific notions, a more ample and deepened "ecological responsibility," based on the respect of man and of his fundamental rights and duties. Only in this way, will work for the environment truly become an education for peace and for the construction of peace.

Cari fratelli e sorelle, nel Tempo di Natale ricorre un Salmo che contiene, tra l'altro, anche un esempio stupendo di come la venuta di Dio trasfiguri il creato e provochi una specie di festa cosmica. Questo inno inizia con un invito universale alla lode: "Cantate al Signore un canto nuovo, / cantate al Signore, uomini di tutta la terra. / Cantate al Signore, benedite il suo nome" (Sal 95/96,1). Ma a un certo punto questo appello all'esultanza si estende a tutto il creato: "Gioiscano i cieli, esulti la terra, / risuoni il mare e quanto racchiude; / sia in festa la campagna e quanto contiene, / acclamino tutti gli alberi della foresta" (vv. 11-12). La festa della fede diventa festa dell'uomo e del creato: quella festa che a Natale si esprime anche mediante gli addobbi sugli alberi, per le strade, nelle case. Tutto rifiorisce perché Dio è apparso in mezzo a noi. La Vergine Madre mostra il Bambino Gesù ai pastori di Betlemme, che gioiscono e lodano il Signore (cfr Lc 2,20); la Chiesa rinnova il mistero per gli uomini di ogni generazione, mostra loro il volto di Dio, perché, con la sua benedizione, possano camminare sulla via della pace.

The Feast of Faith

Dear brothers and sisters, there recurs in Christmastide a psalm which contains, among other things, a stupendous example of how the advent of God transfigures creation and provokes a kind of cosmic feast. This hymn begins with a universal invitation to praise: "Sing unto Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, ye men of all the earth. Sing ye unto the Lord, bless ye His Name" (Ps 95:1). But, at a certain point, this summons to exultation is extended to all things created: "Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad, let the sea and all within it resound; let the countryside and all it holds keep festival, let all the trees of the forest clap their hands" (v. 11-12). The feast of faith becomes the feast of man and of creation: the feast that, at Christmas, finds expression by means of decorations on trees, in the streets, and in homes. All things bloom again because God has appeared in our midst. The Virgin Mother shows the Infant Jesus to the shepherds of Bethlehem, who rejoice and praise the Lord (cf. Lk 2:20). The Church renews the mystery for men of every generation, shows them the face of God, so that, with His blessing, they might walk in the way of peace.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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