Monday, 31 May 2010

Visitation Ein Karem



For the Night Office this morning we had a choice from or five weighty Patristic Readings.
The Venerable Bede writes with a simplicity and warmth.
Even if he travelled beyond his own country he has been classified among the Fathers of the Holy Land. His words are touching with a sense of closeness and intimacy with the geographical place.

Luke 1:39-56

Reading A sermon by St Bede the Venerable

Mary proclaims the greatness of the Lord working in her soul

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour. With these words Mary first acknowledges the special gifts she has been given. Then she recalls God’s universal favours, bestowed unceasingly on the human race.

When a man devotes all his thoughts to the praise and service of the Lord, he proclaims God’s greatness. His observance of God’s commands, moreover, shows that he has God’s power and greatness always at heart. His spirit rejoices in God his saviour and delights in the mere recollection of his creator who gives him hope for eternal salvation.

These words are often for all God’s creations, but especially for the Mother of God. She alone was chosen, and she burned with spiritual love for the son she so joyously conceived. Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her saviour, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord.

For the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of the one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him.

She did well to add: and holy is his name, to warn those who heard, and indeed all who would receive his words, that they must believe and call upon his name. For they too could share in everlasting holiness and true salvation according to the words of the prophet: and it will come to pass, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This is the name she spoke of earlier: and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.

Therefore it is an excellent and fruitful custom of holy Church that we should sing Mary’s hymn at the time of evening prayer. By meditating upon the incarnation, our devotion is kindled, and by remembering the example of God’s Mother, we are encouraged to lead a life of virtue. Such virtues are best achieved in the evening. We are weary after the day’s work and worn out by our distractions. The time for rest is near, and our minds are ready for contemplation.

Ein Karem Village
Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth

(courtesy of

Nestled in the terraced hills southwest of Jerusalem is the village of Ein Karem, where picturesque lanes lead you to the traditional spot where Elizabeth “felt life” when she met her kinswoman Mary, and where John the Baptist was born and raised.

Luke 1:39 tells us that after the annunciation, Mary hurried to “a town in the hill country of Judah” to visit Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. Centuries ago, Christians began to mark Elizabeth’s hometown at Ein Karem, whose name means “spring of the vineyard.”

Though just a short drive from Jerusalem’s modern neighborhoods, once you arrive you can leave the everyday world behind and step back in time. You’ll still find the spring, where no doubt Elizabeth drew water for her household. If you arrive in the waning of winter you’ll see the almond trees rejoicing in their pink and white blossoms; in summer the grapevines on their terraces still bear fruit. As you watch children at play in the little village park, it’s easy to imagine John as a young boy clambering across these very slopes.

Ein Karem was less than a day’s walk from the Temple in Jerusalemto which Zechariah, John’s father, would be called to his duties as a priest. It was while serving at the altar of incense in the Temple that Zechariah saw the angel Gabriel, who informed him that his aged wife Elizabeth would give birth after years of barrenness. The shock must have caused Zechariah to forget his manners at angelic meetings! He immediately questioned the angel’s words, and so was struck voiceless until the naming ceremony at his son’s circumcision.

In the cool, restful interiors of Ein Karem’s churches you can see where ancient Christians marked the site of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, and where Mary uttered her great praise poem that begins with the words “My soul glorifies the Lord...” (Luke 1:46). Keep your Bibles open to Luke’s Gospel here, because in the gardens, quiet corners and courtyards you can also pause over the story of Elizabeth’s naming of John (Luke 1:59-60) and Zechariah’s own poem of praise and prophecy (Luke 1:67-79). Many tradtitions surround John’s early years. One tells of his miraculous survival of the murder of the innocents by King Herod. John was only a few months older than Jesus and thus, when the order came from Herod to kill all the boys “in Bethlehem and the vicinity” (Matt. 2:16), John, too, was in mortal danger. It is said that Elizabeth managed to conceal her son in a cave (still shown to visitors) and though the soldiers came close, they unknowingly passed over his hiding place.

COMMENT - Holy Trinity

Thank you, William,

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: William J ...
To: Fr Donald ...
Sent: Mon, 31 May, 2010 13:01:27
Subject: Re: [Blog] The Most Holy Trinity

Dear Father Donald,
God does not live in splendid solitude but rather is an inexhaustible source of life that is ceaselessly given and communicated.”
I am very excited by the extract you quote from Pope Benedict. What he does is make us realisethat we do not simply observe the Trinity all around us, in Creation, in Scripture, in the fulfilment of mankind's destiny, but that we participate in the life of the Trinity, the 'why' Christ became man. "Love" can be a bland word: he makes us aware that to live in the love of the Trinity is no less than toparticipate in the life of God, the "inexhaustible source" of life ceaselessly given and communicated.
Truly Inspirational.
... in Our Lord,

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Most Holy Trinity

The Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity, Sunday 30th, 2010

We celebrate the Mass of the Most Blessed Trinity. The Gospel has four verses from John 16: 12-15. Jesus speaks for the Father and of the Spirit. He tells the disciples, and us. Fathers of the Church are all eloquent on the Trinity … meditation on the enlightening activity of the Holy Spirit and on the mystery of the shared life of the Holy Trinity

Hilary, e.g., says “By my regeneration I have received the faith, but I am still ignorant; and yet I have a firm hold on something which I do not understand.” … Rather than waste time in a fruitless war of words, I would prefer to spend it in the firm profession of an unhesitating faith.”

Last Trinity Sunday (2009), Pope Benedict xvi spoke in very clear and simple words among others, “Three Persons who are one God because the Father is love, the Son is love, the Spirit is love. God is wholly and only love, the purest, infinite, and eternal love. He does not live in splendid solitude but rather is an inexhaustible source of life that is ceaselessly given and communicated.”

In this act of faith in the Most Blessed Trinity we offer Holy Mass …

(Benedict XVI (Pope) From L'O$servatore Romano, p. I. June 10, 2009, courtesy Libreria Edit-ice Vaticana.

The Most Blessed Trinity

Today we contemplate the Most Holy Trinity as Jesus introduced us to it. He revealed to us that God is love "not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance" (Preface). He is the Creator and merciful Father; he is the Only-Begotten Son, eternal Wisdom incarnate, who died and rose for us; he is the Holy Spirit who moves all things, cosmos and history, toward their final, full recapitulation. Three Persons who are one God because the Father is love, the Son is love, the Spirit is love. God is wholly and only love, the purest, infinite, and eternal love. He does not live in splendid solitude but rather is an inexhaustible source of life that is ceaselessly given and communicated.
To a certain extent we can perceive this by observing both the macro-universe: our earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies; and the micro-universe: cells, atoms, elementary particles.

The "name" of the Blessed Trinity is, in a certain sense, imprinted upon all things because all that exists, down to the last particle, is in relation; in this way we catch a glimpse of God as relationship and ultimately, Creator Love. All things derive from love, aspire to love, and move impelled by love, though naturally with varying degrees of awareness and freedom ...
"In him we live and move and have our being," Saint Paul said at the Areopagus of Athens (Acts 17: 28). The strongest proof that we are made in the image of the Trinity is this: love alone makes us happy because we live in a relationship, and we live to love and to be loved. Borrowing an analogy from biology, we could say that imprinted upon his "genome," the human being bears a profound mark of the Trinity, of God as Love.

The Virgin Mary, in her docile humility, became the hand maid of divine Love: she accepted the Father's will and conceived the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. In her the Almighty built a temple worthy of him and made her the model and image of the Church, mystery and house of communion for all human beings.

May Mary, Mirror of the Blessed Trinity, help us to grow in faith in the Trinitarian mystery.

Pope Benedict XVI

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Messianic motherhood - Mary

Saturday, Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Eight Week in Ordinary Time

The Reading of the Second Nocturn this morning the words about Mary’s Motherhood were gripping.

While listening, too casually, the sound bite, “a messianic motherhood of Mary”, by Hilda Graef, called for a re-read.

The source for the passage is from Hilda Graef’s two volume, “MARY: A History of Doctrine and Devotion”. The book was donated to Abbot Columban for the abbey library by the Sisters of Charity, Assumption House, Airdrie in the 1960s.

During the pilgrimage season, the faithful are admirable in devotions to Our Lady. It is such times when enrichments of Marian doctrine in speakers, and fortunate in reading from the likes of, e.g., the outstanding writer, Hilda Graef.

A Reading about Mary's Motherhood by Hilda Graef.

Mary is venerable above all and in so far as she represents the community of those who "hear the word of God and keep it". I n Christ's messianic work physical relationship had no place; all that mattered was doing the will of the Father, hearing the word of God and keeping it. If Mary was to be praised, it was precisely for this, as Luke had recorded before: "And his mother kept all these words in her heart."

Mary Under the Cross

No more is said of Mary during the public ministry of her Son, in which she took no active part. But she appears again at the most crucial moment of all, on Golgotha.

Only John mentions this meeting of Mother and Son under the cross and, as at Cana, the narrative, though quite brief, has given rise to very different interpretations. "When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said to his mother: Woman, behold your son. After that he said to the disciple, Behold your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own." (John 19:26f.) These words of Jesus have often been taken to refer only to the material provision Jesus made for his Mother; among the Fathers only Origin interpreted them differently.

In modern times, however, they have been scrutinized more closely and been given a far wider interpretation. It is said that Christ's words from the cross have a profoundly messianic content, and that the words to his mother cannot be an exception.

Moreover, it might well be asked why he left this filial duty to the last moment, and why he entrusted her to his disciple rather than to his family. The words themselves are no less strange. All the words from the cross are extremely brief; if he wanted to do more than make provision for Mary it would have been enough to address only John. Instead of which he addresses her first, again with the formal term "Woman", and places… a duty on her rather than consoles her, by asking her to act as a mother towards John.

Only then does he say to John: "Behold your mother." Thus, he revealed a relationship which had its starting-point in her and in which she had the principal obligation… a messianic motherhood of Mary towards John, and not only towards John, but towards all the faithful, since the word of Jesus was not a private personal act but his bequest as Messiah and Saviour of the world. And when Jesus consummated his sacrifice Mary's motherhood acquired a new dimension. Precisely by calling her "Woman" Jesus asked her to expand her physical motherhood of himself and to extend it to all his followers.

Adapted from 'Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, Vol 1, S&W, 1963. pp. 23-5.




… This study has several special qualities to recommend it. It is by a woman. It is based upon a deep and wide theological learning, which includes a specialized knowledge of the Greek Fathers and the Byzantines, whose contribution to Mariology is often underrated in the West. It is permeated throughout by a firm devotion to our Lady-and precisely because of this it is honestly and. openly critical of excesses and aberrations, from whatever source. Our Lady is not honoured by bad theology, or nonsense, or the unguarded. rhetoric which sounds as if it places her on a level with her Creator and Redeemer; this book, with judgement, learning and the occasional touch of quiet humour, makes clear the central sane tradition of the great theologians, where devotion and good sense go hand in hand, and the Mother of God is clearly shown as the help of all Christians. (Dust Jacket)