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Blessed William Joseph Chaminade has told us that new times call for "new ways" to communicate the faith. At the North American Center for Marianist Studies (NACMS), we have taken his words to heart and developed a new approach to teaching and dialoguing about the Marianist charism.
The Center has developed a virtual learning community (vlc) where participants can "log on" and learn at any hour of the day. This web-based course is ideal for adult learners with busy schedules.
"Founders of the Marianist Family: Their Lives and Times" is a five-week course that begins on January 12. Class size will be limited to 12 participants, and the course fee will be $40.
Registrations are now being accepted.
The course is being hosted through the University of Dayton's Institute for Pastoral Initiatives.
For more information on the Marianist vlc, contact Carol.Ramey@notes.udayton.edu or call 937/429-2521.
Click this link for a list of all of the current Marian Events by geographical position.
You are invited to help us pray for our Prayer Corner intentions. Please take a look! This site has been updated and enhanced and now allows users to directly submit prayer requests or to volunteer as a prayer partner for these intentions!
Marian Viewpoint Emphasized in Message
Pope Touches on a Theme of Year of the Rosary
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2002 (ZENIT.org)
John Paul II's 25th Christmas is marked by the Year of the Rosary he proclaimed last October. In his homily for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass as well as his Christmas greeting to the world, the Pope dedicated passages to encourage contemplation of the face of the Christ Child.
"In that Child, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in the manger, it is God himself who comes to visit us, to guide our feet in the way of peace," the Holy Father affirmed in the Christmas message.
"Mary watches him, caresses him and keeps him warm, pondering the meaning of the wondrous signs which surround the mystery of Christmas," he said.
"In the cold stable, wrapped in silence, the Virgin Mother, with prophetic intuition, already tastes the violent drama of Calvary, the traumatic struggle between darkness and light, between death and life, between hatred and love," the Pope said."The Prince of Peace, born today in Bethlehem, will give his life on Golgotha, so that love may reign on earth."
The Holy Father's message concluded with a prayer directed toward Mary in which he asks her to help mankind to recognize the face of Christ "in the children of every race and culture."
"Help us to be credible witnesses of his message of peace and love, so that the men and women of our own time, still torn by conflicts and unspeakable violence, may also recognize in the Child cradled in your arms the one Saviour of the world, the endless source of that true peace for which every heart profoundly yearns," he said.
The Pope has proclaimed the Year of the Rosary to invite Christians to rediscover the prayer which contemplates the great mysteries of Christ with the eyes of Mary.
John Paul II's Christmas Homily at Midnight Mass
Child in a Manger: "A Sign of Hope for the Whole Human Family"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2002 (ZENIT.org)Here is a Vatican translation of the homily John Paul II gave at Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
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1. "Dum medium silentium teneret omnia"... -- "While earth was rapt in silence and night only half through its course, your almighty Word, O Lord, came down from his royal throne"
(Antiphon to the Magnificat, 26 December).
On this Holy Night the ancient promise is fulfilled: the time of waiting has ended and the Virgin gives birth to the Messiah. Jesus is born for a humanity searching for freedom and peace; he is born for everyone burdened by sin, in need of salvation, and yearning for hope.
On this night God answers the ceaseless cry of the peoples: Come, Lord, save us! His eternal Word of love has taken on our mortal flesh. "Your Word, O Lord, came down from his royal throne". The Word has entered into time: Emmanuel, God-with-us, is born.
In cathedrals and great basilicas, as well as in the smallest and remotest churches throughout the world, Christians joyfully lift up their song: "Today is born our Saviour"
2. Mary "gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger" (Lk 2:7).
This is the icon of Christmas: a tiny newborn child, whom the hands of a woman wrap in poor cloths and lay in a manger.
Who could imagine that this little human being is the "Son of the Most High" (Lk 1:32)? Only she, his Mother, knows the truth and guards its mystery.
On this night we too can "join" in her gaze and so recognize in this Child the human face of God. We too -- the men and women of the third millennium -- are able to encounter Christ and to gaze upon him through the eyes of Mary. Christmas night thus becomes a school of faith and of life.
3. In tonight's second reading, the Apostle Paul helps us to understand the Christ-event which we celebrate on this radiant night. He writes: "The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men" (Titus 2:11).
The "grace of God" appearing in Jesus is God s merciful love, which dominates the entire history of salvation and guides it to its definitive fulfillment. The self-revelation of God who "humbled himself to come among us as a man" (Preface of Advent, I) is the anticipation, here on earth, of his glorious "appearing" at the end of time (cf. Titus 2:13).
But there is more. The historical event which we are experiencing in mystery is the "way" given to us as a means of encountering the glorious Christ. By his Incarnation Jesus teaches us, as the Apostle observes, "to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope" (Titus 2:12-13).
O Birth of the Lord, you have inspired Saints of every age! I think, among others, of Saint Bernard and his spiritual ecstasy before the touching scene of the Crib. I think of Saint Francis of Assisi, the inspired creator of the first live depiction of the mystery of Christmas night. I think of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, who by her "little way" suggested anew to the proud modern mind the true spirit of Christmas.
4. "You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger" (Lk 2:12).
The Child laid in a lowly manger: this is God's sign. The centuries and the millennia pass, but the sign remains, and it remains valid for us too -- the men and women of the third millennium. It is a sign of hope for the whole human family; a sign of peace for those suffering from conflicts of every kind; a sign of freedom for the poor and oppressed; a sign of mercy for those caught up in the vicious circle of sin; a sign of love and consolation for those who feel lonely and abandoned. A small and fragile sign, a humble and quiet sign, but one filled with the power of God who out of love became man.
5. Lord Jesus, together with the shepherds we draw near to your Crib. We contemplate you, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in the manger. O Babe of Bethlehem, we adore you in silence with Mary, your ever-Virgin Mother. To you be glory and praise for ever, Divine Saviour of the World! Amen.
Scott Hahn: "If We Ignore the Mother, We Can't See the Child"
Roots of Marian Devotion Go Back to Old Testament
ROME, DEC. 25, 2002 (Zenit.org)Scholar Scott Hahn roundly rejects the idea held by some outside the Church that Catholics, by honoring Mary, somehow detract from God.
"The glories we honor in Mary are merely her own reflections of God's glory," says the author of books such as "Rome Sweet Home" and "Hail, Holy Queen."Here, the one-time Presbyterian minister spells out his ideas.
Q: Why do you say that Catholics should love Mary a lot more than they do?
Hahn: Because God does! And he wants us to love her as much as he does. At the time of the annunciation, the angel Gabriel prophesied that all generations would call Mary blessed. In our generation, we need to fulfill that prophesy. We need to call her blessed. We need to honor her -- again, because God did.
Jesus himself, as a faithful Jew, kept the Fourth Commandment and honored his mother. Since Christ is our brother, she is our mother too. Indeed, at the end of John's Gospel, Jesus named her as the mother of all of us beloved disciples. So we too have a duty to honor her.
If we look back into the biblical history of ancient Israel, we discover that the Chosen People always paid homage not only to their king, but also to the mother of the king. The "gebirah," the queen mother, loomed large in the affections of Israelites. And the evangelists are very much aware of this.
In Matthew's Gospel especially, we find Jesus portrayed as the royal Son of David and Mary as queen mother. The Wise Men, for example, traveled far to find the Child King with his mother.
We find the mother of the Son of David portrayed in a similar way in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 12. There she is shown to be crowned with 12 stars, for the 12 tribes of Israel. The New Testament writers, you see, were careful to show us Mary's important place in the kingdom, and how we should love and honor her. In my personal life, I've found the Blessed Mother to be a great intercessor, as she was at the wedding feast in Cana.
Why should we love Mary more? Because of God's grace -- she exemplifies it! Because of God's Word -- she teaches it! And because she is God's masterpiece. The Scriptures provide too many reasons to love her; I couldn't list them in so short a space.
Q: What are the main objections that non-Catholics present against Marian doctrine and devotion?
Hahn: Some non-Catholics believe that, by honoring Mary, we're somehow detracting from God. We're not. The glories we honor in Mary are merely her own reflections of God's glory.
St. Bonaventure put it very well when he said that God created all things not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to share it. Mary's sinlessness itself was a grace from God.
St. Augustine said: When God rewards us for our labors, he is only crowning his work in us. When God exalted the lowly virgin of Nazareth, he was crowning the greatest of his creations.
When we honor Mary, we recognize God's work, and we praise him.
Others object to the Church's dogma of the immaculate conception -- that Mary was without sin from the very first moment of her life. They claim that, if this were true, she would have no need of a redeemer, no need for Jesus. But that's not true. Mary's immaculate conception was itself a fruit of Jesus' redemption. Even today, we can see that Christ saves some people by deliverance and others by preservation -- some turn away from a life of crime, others are preserved from it by their good upbringing. Mary was preserved by a singular grace. Mary, you see, is dependent upon God for everything. She, by her own admission, is his handmaid. Some very misguided people try to claim that Catholics make a goddess of the Blessed Virgin. But that is an abominable fiction. As much as we exalt Mary above our own sinful selves, we recognize that she is more like us than she is like God. She is still a creature, though a most wonderful creature. God himself exalted her to show us both the greatness of our human nature and the all-surpassing greatness of divine grace.
Even the early Protestant reformers never called for a wholesale rejection of the Marian dogmas. Luther and Calvin believed, for example, in Mary's perpetual virginity. Luther even believed in the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception, centuries before the Church solemnly defined it. Not until later generations would Christians come to such a far-reaching rejection of Mary's place in salvation history.
Q: How does Mary help us to understand the mystery of Christmas?
Hahn: Well, it's impossible for us to imagine the Christmas story without her. Her consent, her "yes," made that day possible. When God became man, he was born of a woman, born under the law. Christ is at the center of Christmas, but he chose not to be alone at the center. As a baby, he needed a mother to hold him. If we choose to ignore the mother, we can't see the Child.
In the stories leading up to Christmas, we encounter Mary as the model disciple. God found her humility irresistible, and we have to imitate her. God empowered her to love his Son as much as he deserves to be loved. And so we imitate her in that as well. Mary helps us to understand the mystery of Christmas because she received the greatest Christmas present ever, and she gave it to the world, just as we should.
Q: Why do you most converts to Catholicism have such an intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin?
Hahn: I can only speak for myself. I discovered the Catholic Church as not only the family of God, but as my family too. Mary is not only the mother of Jesus, but my mother too. That's a wonderful discovery to make so late in one's life. So maybe we're making up for lost time! Or maybe we have a special affection for the practices that are distinctive to the ancient Christian faith -- the practices that we missed in our own upbringing.
Christmas Message of John Paul II
"Mystery of Love ... Mystery of Peace"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2002 (ZENIT.org)Here is a translation of John Paul II's Christmas message given at midday at St. Peter's Basilica.
* * *
1. "To us a child is born, to us a son is given" (Is 9:5). Today the mystery of Christmas is renewed: this Child who brings salvation to the world is also born for the men and women of our own time, bringing joy and peace for all. We approach the crib with emotion; together with Mary we go to meet the Long-Awaited of the Nations, the Redeemer of humanity. "Cum Maria contemplemur Christi vultum." With Mary let us contemplate the face of Christ: in that Child, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in the manger (cf. Lk 2:7), it is God himself who comes to visit us, to guide our feet in the way of peace (cf. Lk 1:79). Mary watches him, caresses him and keeps him warm, pondering the meaning of the wondrous signs which surround the mystery of Christmas.
2. Christmas is a mystery of joy! The Angels sang in the night: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased" (Lk 2:14). To the shepherds they described the event as "a great joy for all the people" (cf. Lk 2:10). Joy, despite distance from home, the poverty of the manger, people's indifference, the hostility of power.
A mystery of joy nonetheless, for in the City of David "to you is born this day a Saviour" (Lk 2:11). The Church shares in this same joy, surrounded today by the light of the Son of God: the darkness can never obscure it. It is the glory of the Eternal Word, who out of love has become one of us.
3. Christmas is a mystery of love! The love of the Father, who has sent into the world his only-begotten Son, to bestow on us the gift of his own life (cf. 1 Jn 4:8-9). The love of "God-with-us", Emmanuel, who came to earth in order to die on the Cross. In the cold stable, wrapped in silence, the Virgin Mother, with prophetic intuition, already tastes the violent drama of Calvary, the traumatic struggle between darkness and light, between death and life, between hatred and love. The Prince of Peace, born today in Bethlehem, will give his life on Golgotha, so that love may reign on earth.
4. Christmas is a mystery of peace! From the cave of Bethlehem there rises today an urgent appeal to the world not to yield to mistrust, suspicion and discouragement, even though the tragic reality of terrorism feeds uncertainties and fears. Believers of all religions, together with men and women of good will, by outlawing all forms of intolerance and discrimination, are called to build peace: in the Holy Land, above all, to put an end once and for all to the senseless spiral of blind violence, and in the Middle East, to extinguish the ominous smouldering of a conflict which, with the joint efforts of all, can be avoided; in Africa too, where devastating famines and tragic internal conflicts are aggravating the already precarious conditions of entire peoples, although here and there signs of hope are present; in Latin America, in Asia, in other parts of the world, where political, economic and social crises disturb the serenity of many families and nations. May humanity accept the Christmas message of peace!
5. Adorable mystery of the Incarnate Word! Together with you, O Virgin Mother, may we stop and reflect at the manger where the Child lies, to share your own amazement at the immense"condescension" of God. Grant us your own eyes, O Mary, that we may understand the mystery hidden within the frail limbs of your Son. Teach us to recognize his face in the children of every race and culture. Help us to be credible witnesses of his message of peace and love, so that the men and women of our own time, still torn by conflicts and unspeakable violence, may also recognize in the Child cradled in your arms the one Saviour of the world, the endless source of that true peace for which every heart profoundly yearns.
[Translation of the original Italian distributed by the Vatican Press Office]
When giving his greeting in 62 languages, the Pope said in English: "May the birth of the Prince of Peace remind the world where its true happiness lies; and may your hearts be filled with hope and joy, for the Saviour has been born for us."
Lourdes Has Its 66th Officially Recognized Miracle
PARIS, DEC. 24, 2002 (Zenit.org)The latest officially recognized miracle at Lourdes involves a Frenchman who was once paralyzed by multiple sclerosis, a newspaper reported. Le Monde dedicated an entire page to the scientifically inexplicable cure of an illness that began affecting Jean-Pierre Bély in 1972. He was classified by the French health system as a total invalid by the time he went on pilgrimage to Lourdes in October 1987, at age 51.
Those who accompanied Bély did not think he would survive the trip. At the end of the pilgrimage he received the anointing of the sick in the shrine's esplanade. When he returned home, he was already able to walk. Today, virtually all traces of the illness have disappeared.
Patrick Fontanaud, an agnostic physician who looked after Bély, said there is no scientific explanation for what occurred. It was Lourdes' 66th officially recognized miracle since the 1858 apparitions of the Blessed Virgin.
The head of the Lourdes Medical Office, Dr. Patrick Theillier, told Le Monde that there are two other miraculous cures about to be recognized: a 25-year-old Frenchwoman and a 60-year-old Italian woman, both cured in 1995.
See the "Cures and Miracles" section of http://www.lourdes-france.com/bonjour.htm.
From L’Osservatore Romano
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