Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Second Thursday of Advent

Peace and Prayer

ope Pius XII speaks to the world each Christmas eve.  His message always carries a plea to all men to return to the ways of Christ, to the paths of peace.

Some years ago there appeared a very dramatic and eloquent picture of the Pope surrounded by his people outside the Vatican walls, praying in the bombed City of Rome.  The caption read, "the Pope comes to the people."  Indeed, the Holy Father is ever with the people.  The shepherd is ever with his flock.  It is we, the people, who have strayed from the fold and wandered down the avenues of the world away from the beacon light of the eternal city to the devious paths of sin and war.

Said Pope Pius: "We confide more in the help of your prayers than we do in the ability of the wisest statesmen and the valor of the most courageous combatant.  Before God, prayer is more powerful than an arm of steel and bronze."  This is the essence of the holy Father's message that comes each Christmas time.  It is the age-old teaching which has weathered every storm against faith and morals down through the centuries.  It is the only solution to the ills of the world, and its formula must be applied to each individual soul before the cure is wrought.

The words of the Holy Father are broadcast each Christmas eve.  They ring out over the world like the voice of the angels at Bethlehem.  But as at Bethlehem, so in our own cities, there are ears that hear not, for they are not attuned to the voice of God.  It is for these and for ourselves that we must pray.  "For if today you hear His voice," says the Psalmist, "harden not your hearts."

In this Advent season wisely and most appropriately  comes the feast of our Blessed Lady, under her title, the Immaculate Conception.  It is this doctrine that teaches us the true dignity of our nature.  While hatreds and bombings only intensify the evil of human nature, prayer and a consideration of the virtues of Mary serve to lift us up above the earth to contemplate the fact that we are born for a high destiny.  "Once and only once did God create a souls that was never even for an instant defiled with the slightest sin; once and only once did god create a soul that was as pure at the instant of conception as it is now in heaven; once and only once did He relax the stern judgment on our race and clothe a soul with original justice and sanctity and innocence and grace superabounding, with attributes of ineffable grandeur -- a soul in which the Almighty could turn to gaze with pleasure when weary of the deformity which sin had stamped upon mankind: -- thus Canon Sheehan reminds us of Mary's dignity.

When man loses faith, he is left to view himself simply as a highly trained animal.  there is then nothing sacred.  There is no purpose to life.  There is no hope for tomorrow's world. 
When faith remains and man sees himself a sinner fallen from grace, but yet with a high destiny a seen in the light of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, then there is high reason to hope and strive and pray for a better world.  May American Catholics prove worthy of the cross that is being laid upon their shoulders as they have been dedicated to Our Lady.


Mary Immaculate, in this Advent season, when the heavens rejoice, we your earthly clients lift up our voices in prayer.  When our soul's craft rocks like a ship distressed upon the stormy seas of life, intercede with your divine Son in our behalf that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ!

O pure and immaculate
and likewise blessed Virgin,
who art the sinless Mother of thy Son,
the mighty Lord of the universe,
thou who art inviolate and altogether holy,
the hope of the hopeless and sinful,
we sing thy praises.
We bless thee, as full of every grace,
thou who didst bear the God-Man:
we bow low before thee;
we invoke thee and implore thine aid.
Rescue us, O holy and inviolate Virgin,
from every necessity that presses upon us
and from all the temptations of the devil.
Be our intercessor and advocate
at the hour of death and judgment;
deliver us from the fire
that is not extinguished
and from the outer darkness;
make us worthy of the glory of thy Son,
O dearest and most clement Virgin Mother.
Thou indeed art our only hope most sure
and sacred in God's sight,
to Whom be honor and glory and majesty and dominion
for ever and ever world without end. Amen.
Ephrem the Syrian (306-373)