With great gentleness He reveals His glory



If you or I do something stupendous, we want people to know about it – and quickly. It’s one of the reasons that Twitter and similar social media seem to be so popular. And yet Jesus chose to let the news of His resurrection from the dead spread slowly and gently. Why?

He could easily have appeared to the whole of Jerusalem, but He didn’t. Only a few faithful women were his earliest heralds. I think the answer comes from the whole wedding analogy that has been so strong this Paschal Triduum. When a gentleman in love goes down on one knee and offers his lady love the pearl of great price as a pledge of that love, he gives her time to respond and never ever forces that response – because it needs to be free and genuine if a whole new life together is to be built upon it. The Lord Jesus awaits from us those ‘I Do’s’ which will bind us to Him forever – our baptismal promises; and each year He gives an opportunity at the Easter Vigil and at the Easter Sunday Masses to renew and deepen those ‘I Do’s’ to Him.

It is only in the context of the reminders of His love in our living out of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the wonder of the resurrection liturgically that we are able to say those ‘I Do’s’ with gusto and understanding.

With this in mind, the intention for today’s Divine Mercy novena becomes thoroughly appropriate. Jesus asks us to bring all devout and faithful souls to His immense Mercy. It is another way of saying, ‘Bring all of those who have ever been baptised, all of those who have said ‘I Do’ to each of the baptismal promises,and immerse them in My Mercy. These souls have received the fruits of My Passion and have made it worthwhile.’ (my paraphrase only)

In this intention Jesus shares with us His joy over all of those who have become His through baptism, and invites us to pray for all that we and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ need to remain faithful to that baptismal commitment. Jesus sees in the devout and faithful baptised the Simon’s and Veronica’s who consoled Him by their generous help on the Way of the Cross. They were the tiny rays of hope and love produced by everyday men and women in the ocean of extreme violence that was unleashed against Him.

We all need His mercy – particularly those who have wandered far from the vision of holiness that was held out to us at our baptism. Only with His Mercy do we have the power to make a new start on the road to sanctity – and He wants to give us these graces in abundance.

So let us say our ‘I Do’s’ with gusto and true commitment today, and seek His Mercy upon ourselves and upon all the lay members of His Holy Church.

Jesus, I trust in You.

All holy women to whom the news of the Resurrection was first given, pray for us. 

 

i Do’sorur

Waiting and watching



Today, in spirit, we join with Our Lady watching in prayer and waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of the Resurrection of Jesus. Even though she believed in this promise with all her heart, her faith was tested and proved to be worth far more than gold. It is because of her sufferings on the day after the Crucifixion that Saturdays, and in particular First Saturdays of the months are when particular honour and devotion is paid to Our Lady.

Despite the bodily release of her Son from his agonies, the memories of the sounds of His pain, of the sounds of the nails being hammered through His flesh, of the sight of all His wounds and the smell of blood and sweat, the sounds of the jeers and insults – all echo in her mind and heart. Her grief over what was done to her Son to win our salvation goes on.

Added to this, as one by one the apostles come creeping back after they ran away, it is Mary’s difficult task to forgive each one, and to assure them of the forgiveness of Jesus.

On top of these sorrows was the greatest one of all, being deprived of the sight of her Son now buried in the tomb. All that was left to her was the sight of the nails, the crown of thorns and other instruments of His torture.

Let the living of this Holy Saturday help us to love our heavenly Mother more.

In this context the Divine Mercy intentions for Holy Saturday make sense – Jesus asks us to bring the souls of priests and religious to His Mercy, because their faithful and fruitful love gave Him strength to endure the Passion. Of these Our Lady is the pre-eminent one, and all consecrated souls are under her special patronage. They are the channels through which the torrents of Divine Mercy come to us. Woe to us if these channels are misshapen, sluggish or blocked. So today let us pray as Jesus requests for all of His consecrated ones, the priests, bishops, deacons, men religious and women religious, that they become true witnesses and channels of the Mercy He won for us on the Cross.

There is another aspect to the watching and waiting of Holy Saturday. Through it we join the expectant anticipation of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Many of them will enter into the joys of heaven tonight as the Easter Vigil is celebrated. On that first Holy Saturday all of those who had died previously were waiting for the victory of the Saviour to open the doors to heaven for the first time. Only through the Mercy gained by His Blood could they enter. All of the patriarchs, prophets, judges, kings and levites were eagerly awaiting for this great moment. The passage from today’s Office of Readings (see below) expresses this waiting and the extraordinary love and mercy of Jesus towards these waiting souls. Each time I read this passage it moves me close to tears…

‘Today there is a great silence over the earth, for the King sleeps. The earth has trembled and fallen still, for the Lord sleeps in His fleshly nature; in the nether world He is arousing those who have slept for ages. God is dead in the flesh, and has shaken Sheol to its foundations. He goes to seek our first parents like a lost sheep. He wills to visit those who sit in the dark shadows of death, and to release Adam and his wife from their grievous captivity. The Lord takes Adam’s hand and says to him: ‘Awake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ shall enlighten you. I am your God. For your sake I became one of your sons; to you now and to all your posterity I say: Go forth! You who are in darkness, look upon the light! You who sleep, rose up!’ Office of Readings, Easter Vigil, From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday PG 43:439 

Gracious Redeemer, through the intercession of your holy Mother, please grant torrents of Your Mercy to all consecrated souls and to all the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Jesus, I trust in You.

To ponder the extent of His love is good for the soul



Today, through out the Church, each of us has a privileged opportunity to ponder what Jesus has done to win forgiveness for our sins. For some that will be following the Stations of the Cross, for others it will be attending the commemoration of the Lord’s Passion at 3pm. Some will watch a movie of the Passion, or sit down and read through one of the Gospel accounts. To ponder the Passion of Jesus frequently and regularly – and not just on Good Friday – is one of the secrets of the Saints.

Below are some varied quotations from spiritual writers and the treasures of private revelation that help us comprehend how important the Redemption that Jesus won for us is, and how much it pleases Him (and helps us) to think deeply about His sufferings on our behalf….

“From all this horror (of sin) wither shall we look for deliverance? Not to ourselves, for we know the practical infinity of our weakness, and the incorrigible vitality of our corruption. Not to any earthly power; for it has no jurisdiction here. Not to philosophy, literature, or science, for in this case they are but sorry and unhelpful matters. Not to any saint, however holy, nor to any angel, however mighty; for the least sin is a bigger mountain than they have faculties to move. Not to the crowned queen of God’s creation,the glorious and sinless Mary, for even her holiness cannot satisfy for sin, nor the whiteness of her purity take out its deadly stain. Neither may we look for deliverance direct from the patience and compassion of God Himself; for in the abysses of His wisdom it has been decreed, that without shedding of blood there shall be no remission of sin. It is from the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ alone that our salvation comes.” From ‘The Precious Blood’ by Frederick Faber.

‘Ah!’ exclaimed Gertrude, ‘teach me, O best of teachers, how to perform even one action perfectly in memory of Your Passion.’ Our Lord replied: ‘When you are praying, extend your arms to represent the manner in which I extended Mine to God My Father in My Passion; and do this for the salvation of every member of the Church, in union with the love with which I stretched out My arms upon the cross.’ ‘If I do this,’ she replied, ‘I must hide myself in a corner, for it is far from being customary.’ Our Lord replied: ‘If any one prays thus with his hands extended, without fear of contradiction, he pays Me the same honour as one would do who solemnly enthroned a king.’ From ‘The Life and Revelations of St Gertrude the Great’.

‘There is more merit to one hour of meditation on My Sorrowful Passion than there is to a whole year of flagellation that draws blood; the contemplation of My painful wounds is of great profit to you, and it brings Me great joy.’ Passage 369, ‘Divine Mercy in my soul’, Jesus to St Faustina, February 1935

‘I see that you know what I have done for you. Oh, how happy I am when I see that you are meditating on My sufferings. For Me this means that My sufferings for you were not in vain.’  Jesus to Erzebet (Elizabeth) Kindelmann, Hungarian mother of six, February 20, 1964

‘It’s always possible to pray, no matter what you are doing. When I was covered with wounds and bruises, I recited the psalms. And staggering up the hill to Calvary in the midst of the yelling mobs, and on the Cross, my poor Cross. And yet you find it difficult to pray while doing your comfortable tasks. Oh! Merge with Me.’ Jesus to Gabrielle Bossis, ‘He and I’, 1 March 1942

All holy Saints who witnessed the Passion of the Lord Jesus, pray for us.

Do you love weddings?



What happens at a wedding? Each spouse-to-be gives to the other the totality of themselves and all that they have. For those who love each other with the highest form of love it is a joy to give to the beloved absolutely everything – with nothing missing. It was with such love that Jesus gave Himself to us on the night of the Last Supper.

This is not a new thought. It has been understood from ancient times that the Last Supper was the wedding ceremony and the Crucifixion was the consummation of the marriage. In the iconography of the Church you will find several portraits of the body of Jesus taken down from the Cross having the title ‘The Bridegroom’. Even when we dress our First Holy Communicants in bridal white, we are acknowledging this understanding.

It was with the same joy and anticipation of a groom that Jesus looked forward to the Last Supper and the institution of the Holy Eucharist. Every detail was perfectly arranged for this great action of love. On this night Love rested, because It had given itself fully and completely.

With the same love and devotion we should celebrate the anniversary of this Love every Holy Thursday night. He has given His all for us, let us at least give Him these few hours of our time at Holy Mass tonight and at adoration afterwards!

Here are two excerpts from private revelation to ponder, and then a prayer of reparation, which hopefully will ready our hearts for this great feast of Love… 

‘…If you only knew of how many outrages My Body is the object of in the Most Holy Sacrament! And nevertheless, you see, I foresaw it on the day I instituted the Most Holy Eucharist and, if I did not desist from instituting it, it is because I also foresaw that in the course of centuries, a few good souls would receive Me with love, would make Communion their delight,their treasure,their joy and that, consequently, I would be able to pour out upon them all My Love and all My graces.I love to dwell in the hearts of My Children, to be one with them. One Communion well made could suffice to sanctify a soul, as My Presence could transform everything…’ Jesus to Mamma Carmela Carabelli, Friday, June 7, 1968

‘During the June devotions, the Lord said to me, ‘My daughter, My favour rests in your heart. When on Holy Thursday I left Myself in the Blessed Sacrament, you were very much on My mind.” Passage 1774 ‘Divine Mercy in My Soul’, Jesus to St Faustina

 

Act of Reparation to the Blessed Sacrament

With that most profound respect which divine Faith inspires, O my God and Saviour Jesus Christ, true God and true man, I adore You, and with my whole heart I love You, hidden in the most august Sacrament of the Altar, in reparation of all the irreverences, profanations, and sacrileges, that I, to my shame, may have until now committed, and also for all those that have been committed against You, or that may be ever committed for the time to come. I offer to You,therefore, O my God, my humble adoration, not indeed, such as You are worthy of, nor such as I owe You, but such, at least, as I am capable of offering; and I wish that I could love You with the most perfect love of which rational creatures are capable. In the meantime, I desire to adore You now and always, not only for those Catholics who do not adore or love You, but also so to supply the defects, and for the conversion of all heretics, schismatics, atheists, blasphemers, sorcerers, and idolaters. Ah! yes, my Jesus, may You be known, adored, and loved by all and may thanks be continually given to You in the most holy and august Sacrament! Amen.

O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament divine!

All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine!

 

Don’t miss it!



Tomorrow the great Paschal Triduum begins, in which we are privileged to relive the great moments of our redemption. Each time we participate in the liturgy of Holy Thursday, of Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil, we come to a new personal awareness of the magnitude of what Jesus has done to save us. To not be there, to not follow each moment of the great drama of God’s love for us, is incomprehensible for any one who believes in Him.

Tomorrow, Holy Thursday, is The Great Day of Love and The Day of Reparation above all others. It is the memorial of the day when Jesus gave us the greatest gift possible in the entire universe –the gift of the Holy Eucharist. How could we not be present for the liturgical commemoration of the Last Supper, to thank Him for such an immense gift? If we love Him, how could we not be present in prayer afterwards at the Altar of Repose – when we relive the moments of His great agony. How could we not spend an hour in prayerful reparation for all of the outrages, sacrileges, insults and indifference that Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament receives?

For such great love, can we not repay Him a little with an hour of prayer (or more) on this most Holy Night of Love? Please read these passages from the treasures of private revelation that Jesus has given us through his holy followers, and be moved to spend time with Him in prayer when the Mass of the Lord’s Supper comes to its close….

‘I withdrew into the Garden of Gethsemane, that is to say into solitude…Adore His will for you, whatever it is… and humble yourself as befits a creature before its Creator…It was thus I offered Myself to carry out the redemption of the world. At the same moment I felt all the torments of My Passion burst overwhelmingly upon Me:  the calumnies and the insults…the scourging and the Crown of Thorns, the thirst…the Cross…. All these sufferings thronged before My eyes and pressed upon My Heart, while at one and the same time I saw all the offences, sins and crimes that were to be committed throughout the ages…I not only witnessed them all, but was invested in them…so that under the burden of their ignominy I was constrained to present Myself before the face of My all-holy Father and implore Him to show mercy. And there burst upon Me the wrath of an angry and offended God, and in order to appease His Majesty I offered myself as security for sinful man, I, His Son, to calm His anger and satisfy His justice. But so great was the anguish and so mortal the agony of My human nature under the strain and weight of so much guilt, that a bloody sweat poured from Me to the ground. O sinners who thus torture Me…will this Blood bring salvation and life, or will it be shed in vain for you? How can I express My sorrow at the thought of this sweat, this anguish, this agony, this blood…useless for so many souls. Console My Heart. Remain close to Me in Gethsemane that My Blood may fertilize and strengthen the root of your littleness.      Jesus to Josefa Menendez 12th March 1923

‘Simon, it is the hour of My Passion. To make it more complete, the Father is withdrawing His light from Me, as it gets nearer. Before long I shall have but darkness and the contemplation of what is darkness: that is, all the sins of men. You cannot, none of you can understand. Nobody, except who will be called by God for this special mission, will understand this passion in the great Passion, and as man is material even in loving and meditating,there will be who will weep and suffer because of the scourging and the torture of the Redeemer, but this spiritual torture that, believe Me you who are listening to Me, is the most atrocious one, will not be measured…’  Conversation, recorded by Maria Valtorta in Vol 5 of the Poem of the Man God, of Jesus speaking to St Simon Zealot on the way to Gethsemane.

My agony was the most terrible of all the agonies on earth, as much on account of the sufferings that preceded it as the sensitivity of My nature and My deep insight. Come close to Me. Try to enter as best you can into My anguish of soul. Offer this anguish to the Father for all times, for your time. If you could only help Me save everyone in your time…’ Jesus to Gabrielle Bossis, ‘He and I’, Nov 28, 1940

I then tasted the bitterness of the bottom of the cup. The flavour of despair. It was what Satan wanted: to lead Me to despair, to make Me a slave of his. I overcame despair and I overcame it only with My power, because I wanted to defeat it. Only with my strength of a Man.I was nothing but the Man.And I was nothing but a man no longer helped by God. When God helps you, it is easy to lift even the world and hold it up like a child’s toy. But when God does not help us any more, even the weight of a flower is a burden to us. I defeated despair and Satan, its creator, in order to serve God and you, by giving you the Life. But I became acquainted with Death. Not with the physical death of crucifixion—that was not so dreadful—but with the total conscious Death of the fighter who falls after triumphing, with a broken heart and blood pouring out of him in the trauma of the effort exceeding all endurance. And I sweated blood. I sweated blood to be faithful to God’s will. That is why the angel of My sorrow showed Me the hopes of all those who have been saved through My sacrifice, as a medicine for My dying. Your names! Each name was a drop of medicine instilled into My veins to invigorate them and make them function, each of them was for Me life coming back, light coming back, strength coming back. During the cruel tortures, to avoid shouting My grief of Man, and in order not to despair of God and say that He was too severe and unjust to His Victim, I repeated your names to Myself. I saw you. Since then I blessed you. Since then I have carried you in My heart. Jesus speaks. Volume 5, Poem of the Man-God, Maria Valtorta

During adoration, Jesus said to me, ‘My daughter, know that your ardent love and the compassion you have for Me were a consolation to Me in the Garden (of Olives). Passage 1664 ‘Divine Mercy in my Soul’, Jesus to St Faustina.

….So, please, make every effort to get to the Holy Thursday night liturgy, and then to spend some quality time with Our Redeemer in the Garden of Olives who needs our love, gratitude and compassion.

All the holy Apostles present on that most holy night of love, and all of the ardent apostles of the Eucharist, of the Blessed Sacrament and of Reparation through out the centuries, pray for us.

An invitation to hope



As human beings we are amazingly good at stuffing up our lives, our health, our minds, our relationships – just about anything that crosses our paths. As human beings we are also amazingly good at forgetting where to go to get our stuffed lives fixed. Thankfully our Creater understands us better than we understand ourselves, so He regularly issues us invitations to hope. If we answer an invitation our lives can begin to get repaired and the gloom on our horizon can give way to optimism.

Most of us have come into contact with someone whose marriage is in trouble, or whom we are pretty sure has an addiction to alcohol, gambling, narcotics etc, or whom we suspect are having a difficult time making ends meet or trying to cope with a toxic relationship. Until that person can admit that there is a problem, and then come to the point of desiring to be free of the problem, there is very little that anyone can do to help them. Up until then, he or she is unable to listen to any helpful advice. The catalyst for change generally comes only after hearing the story of someone who has been in the same sorry pit and how they got out of it. It might take a long time for the seed of that story to ripen into action in the troubled person, but it will happen. Such stories are the invitations to hope that God gives us, and which He expects us, as His ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) to pass on to others. 

How often we forget that the name ‘Jesus’ means ‘Saviour’! The angel of God instructed St Joseph to give the unborn baby in Mary’s womb the name of Jesus, ‘because He is the one who is to save His people from their sins.’ (Matt 1: 21). It is sin that lies at the heart of all the misery in our lives. To get out of that misery we need the power to forgive, or the power to seek forgiveness; the power that heals, restores and makes new (Rev 21:5). Such power comes only from God and was purchased at the immense price of the blood, sorrows, tortures and death of Jesus.   

Here is an invitation to hope issued by Jesus through St Faustina (passage 1602 ‘Divine Mercy in my Soul’): ’Today the Lord said to me, Daughter, when you go to confession (ie. the sacrament of reconciliation), to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls.’

To access this power requires admitting that we have stuffed up our lives. The reason why pride is so bad is because it stops people admitting that they need help and it also stops them from admitting that they want to change. 

Going to Confession is a lot like going to the doctor, only better. For the Divine Physician to help us we have to tell Him all that is wrong with us, and show Him all of our inner wounds – the self inflicted ones as well as the hurts received from others. He has the power to heal us. Through His intermediary He gives us advice and the medicine of penance (be it prayer, service, restitution or some form of self denial). Afterwards the uplift of grace comes, which helps us resist temptation and helps us to forgive and seek forgiveness of others.

The season of Lent is a time when lots of invitations to hope are issued. Sadly some priests only go as far as talking about the need for conversion, but never talking about what we need to be converted from (sin that leads to misery) and what we need to be converted to (getting out of the pit and living a much happier life under God’s smile). Unfortunately these priests who speak about the need for conversion don’t understand that we in the pews need a far more direct approach. We need to hear that the major step in the conversion journey is going to confession. If we want to kick start our spiritual lives and ask God for a second chance, we need to go to confession – because that is where the grace, healing and bounty of God’s love is found. That is where the Mercy of God meets us right where we are in our sinfulness, heals us, cleans us up, and sets our souls singing for joy with His personal care and attention.

The biggest invitation to hope is issued by God on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday that comes after Easter Sunday. On this day the flood gates of God’s Mercy are wide open. This day is meant to be the great altar call day; the day when God’s priests challenge God’s people to take hold of the transforming power of the Passion, Death and Resurrection in their own lives by making a whole new start with Jesus through the Sacrament of Penance (Confession). On this day miracles of Divine Mercy should superabound to the glory of God. Sadly the great majority of priests have never really taken Divine Mercy Sunday seriously. To paraphrase a famous quote, it hasn’t been tried and rejected because it has never been truly tried. 

Here are some of the promises that Jesus gave through St Faustina: (passage 49b,50a ibid) ‘I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy. I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy. I desire that priests proclaim this great Mercy of Mine towards souls of sinners. Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. The flames of Mercy are burning Me—clamoring to be spent; I want to pour them out upon these souls.’ (passage 570 ibid) ‘No soul will be justified until it turns with confidence to My Mercy, and that is why the first Sunday after Easter is to be the Feast of Mercy. On that day, priests are to tell everyone about My great and unfathomable Mercy.’ (passage 1521 ibid) ‘Tell my priests that hardened sinners will repent on hearing their words when they speak about My unfathomable Mercy, about the compassion I have for them in My Heart. To priests who proclaim and extol My Mercy, I will give wondrous power: I will anoint their words and touch the hearts of those to whom they speak.’

How I have longed to hear a priest speak about God’s Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday! That has yet to happen. The most I have heard is a tiny brief acknowledgement as Mass begins or a small announcement about parish devotions at the end. To some it is of no consequence that the Magisterium of the Church has both approved and strongly recommended it. Others want to preach about what they want to preach about that Sunday and won’t consider that they happily talk about God’s love on the Feast of the Sacred Heart and about the marvel of the Eucharist at Corpus Christi. It has to be the priest that preaches of Mercy and leads the faithful in Divine Mercy devotions that Sunday because the priest is the witness par excellence of the Mercy of God in the sacred Tribunal of Penance. He is the one who knows how great God’s Mercy really is because He has absolved so many sins in God’s name. During the homily is when he needs to preach it. We all know that at the Divine Mercy Devotions those that come are already convinced of God”s Mercy and are leading regular sacramental lives. Jesus wants to reach those who are on the fringe, those whose souls are at risk. In the pews on any given Saturday vigil and Sunday Mass there are plenty of them. That’s why the homily that Day is so important, because it is supposed to be the biggest invitation to hope of the whole year of grace.

Even then, should you be so fortunate as to come across a priest who actually preaches about God’s Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday, they don’t go far enough. To preach of God’s Mercy and then to not offer the Sacrament of Penance to those whose hearts have been touched is plain stupidity. It is a mighty rare priest who tells his congregation that he will be available after Mass for any who want to avail themselves of the Sacrament of God’s Mercy. Multiply them Lord!. If they only preached on His Mercy and generously made themselves available in the confessional afterwards they would see stupendous miracles of grace. If they were really convinced that these promises of Jesus to St Faustina are real, they’d have an assistant priest already in the confessional ready and waiting for pentitents as soon as the homily of Mercy begins. Particularly with the grace of returning to the Sacrament of Penance, if you don’t strike while the motivation is there, and red hot, that motivation dissipates rapidly and may never ever come to fruition. 

So, if you haven’t experienced God’s personal Mercy towards you for some time, get along to the Sacrament of Mercy this week.

If you have experienced God’s Mercy for yourself, tell someone about it – issue them with an invitation to hope. If needs be, change names, dates and places, but get your story of God’s Mercy out there online – on a facebook page, on a Catholic online forum, as an xt3 personal blog.

If there is a priest that you know who might benefit from reading this, send him a copy. They need invitations to hope, too.

Divine Mercy, I trust in You.

St Faustina, pray for us

Father Sopocko, pray for us.

Liturgical trend



Today, 9 Dec 2011, I’m going to highlight a liturgical trend which is worrying me. Perhaps where you are in the world it is not an issue, but it is here where I am. Under the banner of helping people to love the Holy Scriptures there has been a growing reluctance to interrupt the flow of the Lectionary to celebrate all but the most important saints. Since the deposit of faith comes to us both through Holy Scripture and through Tradition, it is crucial to keep them in balance.

Last week we had the feast day of St Francis Xavier, a memorial during Advent, and yet the priest came out wearing Advent purple instead of white, and giving us the Opening Prayer for St Francis Xavier and perhaps the rest of the Proper, with no mention of St Francis in the homily at all. Basically it was being treated more like an optional memorial than a memorial. If you weren’t listening closely you would have missed the news that it was the feast day of St Francis Xavier.

If we follow this line of thinking and pare back the celebration of the Saints to the Apostles, Evangelists and major feast days of Our Lady, we run the risk of not knowing the full inspiring story of the Church and the risk of not being challenged to pursue holiness. The Holy Gospel comes to us not only in the pages of the Bible but also in the lives of all those who have radically taken God seriously and who model for us how to live out the Gospel challenge in every vocation, career and state of life.

Holy Mother Church places the cult of the Saints into the liturgical calendar with care and with heavenly guidance. The reason why the feast of St Stephen follows on from Christmas is that when the Holy Spirit led the early Christians to discover the relics of St Stephen, He also revealed when He wished the feast day to be celebrated. The feast day of St Francis Xavier is in the perfect Advent location to renew our evangelistic fervour in time to invite those who have strayed to return to the Sacraments and to invite them to come home to the Church for Christmas. We all need to be reminded of the marvels the Lord has done and is willing to do again in our own times if we but follow Him.

We can’t really complain that Europe has lost its Christian roots if the average person cannot tell you about St Boniface, Saints Cyril and Methodius and St Peter Canisius. We can’t really complain that the people who sit next to us at Mass on Sunday have swallowed the erroneous notion that miracles ceased with the Apostles if they never hear from the pulpit about the wonders God has done in the lives of His Saints, especially those Saints who lived in recent centuries. We can’t really complain that heaven isn’t helping us if we don’t even know the best intercessors to turn to in heaven for particular situations. eg Should you have a gambling problem, St Camillus de Lellis is the Saint who knows just how difficult a problem it is to kick, and his intercession and example can win you freedom. We can’t really complain that there is lots of heresy around if we don’t get inspired to read the writings of the Doctors of the Church to obtain the knowledge to vanquish those heresies.

Now I am not advocating that the pendulum swing in the opposite direction and that all we do is talk about Church history and the lives of the Saints, just that we don’t put Sacred Scripture in the spotlight to the detriment of Sacred Tradition. By all means preach with gusto about the readings for the Advent day, please do, we desperately need the Word of God broken open for us, but also include a little something memorable and inspiring about the Advent Saints when their days come around. It is no accident that the feast day of St Charbel falls on Christmas Eve. Who better to prepare us for the Christ Mass than one who devoted his whole day to preparing for Holy Mass and to thanksgiving for Holy Mass! In the midst of the pre-Christmas bustle, give a cheer for St Peter Canisius who wrote, ‘If you have too much to do, with God’s help, you will find time to do it all.’

All holy Advent Saints, pray for us.