Feast of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which is celebrated as a Solemnity and in Ireland it is a holy day of obligation.
Every year on 8th December the Pope goes to Piazza di Spagna in Rome to honour the statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception there designed by Luigi Poletti for the definition of the doctrine in 1854 and placed on the top of an ancient Roman column. What the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception means is that from the first moment of her conception, God, anticipating and foreseeing the merits of her Son's passion and death, and knowing she would say "yes" to becoming the Mother of the Saviour, filled her with grace, and preserved her free from all stain of original sin.
In 1849 Blessed Pope Pius IX consulted the faithful and bishops of the world about the appropriateness of defining the doctrine and received a largely positive response. The core of the definition was solemnly set out in 1854 and was expressed in this way in the Constitution Inneffabilis Deus:
“We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”
When Our Lady appeared at Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous four years later and Bernadette asked her, "Would you kindly tell me who you are?", she replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception".
Gospel - Matthew 3:1-12
Advent season continues this week and we are (re)introduced to John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah. John the Baptist, one of the first prophets to the Chosen People after 400 years of silence bursts onto the scene in Judea and in the traditional role of all the Prophets of God challenges the community to look at the way they are living in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah especially those who were content in the way they thought they were obeying the laws.
For us today it is a challenge, especially for people that call themselves people of faith as to how we participate in our faith community and how we show that we are christian by our love. Are we really alive to our faith, our is it a case we do our social obligation for thirty minutes on a Sunday and leave our faith at the church door? Are we like John the Baptist authentic in ever fibre of our beings, authentic in what we pray, live and act in our lives.?
It also focus' on the call for each of us to discover the wilderness where we need to retreat to, a time out for us to review our lives and where we are in that place.
More reflections here, here, here and here
Saints of the Week
December 6th - St Nicholas, Bishop
December 7th - St Ambrose, Bishop, Doctor
December 8th - Feast of Immaculate Conception of BVM - Solemnity
December 9th - St Juan Diego Cuauhtlatotzin
December 10th - St Eulalia of Merida, Virgin and Martyr
December 11th - St Damasus I, Pope
- Newcastle West Parish Advent Eucharistic Adoration - There will be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on the Saturdays of Advent from after the 6.30pm Vigil Mass until 8pm. All are welcome.
- Society of St Vincent de Paul annual church gate collection takes place the weekend of December 11th/12th. The Society has received very many requests for help this year and we ask once for your support to help alleviate the genuine problems in our own community. Thank you. Other ideas for helping out SVdeP can be found on the national website.
- Milford Hospice - Light up a Memory - The 'Light up a Memory' ceremony for our annual fundraising event takes place on Sunday, December 12th at 6.00pm. We invite you to sponsor a light on the Milford Hospice tree to remember someone dear to you (living or deceased). Lights can be sponsored on the night or by calling the Fundraising Department at 061-485859/485860 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm). For each light sponsored (€5) you will receive a 'Light up a Memory' card which can be dedicated to someone special or as a Christmas gift. Enrolment is also included in our 'Light up a Memory' book on display in the Hospice throughout the coming year. Funds raised will go towards patient comfort and care services at Milford Care Centre.
We did a quick review of some books during the show this week:
"Pope Benedict XVI - The First Five Years" - Michael Collins (published by Columba Press)
Fr Michael Collins has an intimate knowledge of Vatican affairs and has met Pope Benedict XVI on several occasions. He is writing a balanced biography of the new pope for those who would like to know him better. The book will describe the former Cardinal Ratzinger in both a human and historical context. Starting with the Pope's early years in Bavaria and his youth during the Second World War, he goes to describe Benedict XVI's academic career, teaching at four state universities.
During the Second Vatican Council Dr Ratzinger was chief theological advisor to Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne. Following this he returned to teaching and held the chair of dogmatic theology at the University of Tübingen, a position supported by Hans Küng. The student riots and unrest of 1968 was to prove a turning point and after this he rejected his earlier liberalism and embraced a more orthodox Catholicism.
He was appointed Archbishop of Munich in 1977. Four years later, he assumed his best-known position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office). This month, at the age of 78, he began a new career as leader of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world.
More information from here.
"No Second Chance - Reflections of a Dublin Priest" - Fr Martin Tierney (published by Columba Press)Martin Tierney, a native of Co Clare, was ordained a priest of the Dublin Archdiocese in 1964. His training for ministry was at Clonliffe College during the episcopacy of John Charles McQuaid . His priestly ministry varied from parochial appointments in Walkinstown and Swords, to a period of nearly twenty-five years in non-parochial appointments with The Charismatic Renewal, The Catholic Communications Institute and a variety of other positions. In 2001 he returned to parochial life in Kill o’ the Grange from where he retired in 2005. This short memoir is a very candid and passionate reflection on his priestly life. As he says in his Foreword to the book: ‘This book was written to try and put together some of the mysteries of the Irish Catholic church’s recent past … Real questions have seldom been asked about acts in which we participated willingly. We allowed a system to diminish others without ever shouting stop … This book is a very small attempt to set the record straight. It is my effort in saying sorry, not just for all those of my age group who were in positions of authority, but for quietly acquiescing in what every right thinking person must have known was wrong.’
More information from here.
"Battling the Storm - A Cancer patients diary" - Fr Martin Tierney (published by Veritas)The book is a collection of articles penned by Martin Tierney over months of illness which provides a compelling human witness to the beauty of life, the mystery of death and the tangible presence of a God of love who hovers insistently and graciously in the midst of suffering and helplessness. These articles show us a man of deep faith confronting impending darkness with courage and honesty. The author’s compassion for others is ever present, as is his honesty and his self-deprecation. His stories are personal and at times painful, but never self-indulgent. This collection will speak eloquently and sensitively to those who are dealing personally with cancer or to family members who are caring for sick relatives.
More information available here.
"Underground Cathedrals" -Mark Patrick Hederman OSB (published by Columba Press)‘My proposal is that, at this time, the Holy Spirit is unearthing an underground cathedral in Ireland which could help to replace the pretentious, over-elaborate Irish Catholic architecture of the twentieth century. An underground cathedral is a metaphor which describes an alternative place and time of worship.
At this time, the secret work of the Holy Spirit is not being done, in most countries of Western Europe, by politicians nor by church institutions. The people who are carrying the torch are mostly artists because, as Rainer Maria Rilke foretold, in destitute times we have to rely on art to show us the way forward. Now, it does not matter very much that such work goes unrecognised, that people fail to acknowledge their sources, that the Holy Spirit remains incognito. That has been the profile of the Holy Spirit since the beginning of time.’
Coupled with very incisive and honest comments on the current state of the church in Ireland, and with a reflective meditation on the Murphy Report on the Dublin Archdiocese, Abbot Hederman offers a visionary and very stimulating image of how things might be if only we all listen to the voices of artists in our midst.
More information available here.
"Cardinal Newman for Today" - Thomas Norris (published by Columba Press)Newman for Today presents the tree of John Henry Newman’s life. It locates the roots of that tree in his encounter with the wisdom of antiquity, the discovery of divine revelation and the encounter with the Fathers of the Church. As for the shoots, it identifies them in the living tradition of the Church, the faith-life of believers and the reality of doctrine. The fruits, finally, are visible in the Gospel of joy lived out in obedience to God and conscience.
Someone has described Newman as saying in effect, ‘If you have a religion like Christianity, think of it and have it worthily.’
More information available h
Thanks for listening as always
John, Lorraine, Michael and Shane ere.