This is a translation of Prof. James Hogg’s article in “Historisches Lexikon Bayerns” I do not take credit for the article other than it’s translation which I hope will do Prof. Hogg justice, assist other (non german speakers) to read his articles on the this fascinating austere Catholic Religious Order. I therefore dedicate this translation to Prof. Hogg and to all the future Carthusians, their supporters and friends. May the good Lord accompany you in your knowledge seeking walk and being always guided by the Holy Spirit. Pax +
Often, the Gospel of Luke emphasises the Jewish roots of Jesus. This is an aspect that has often been minimised or obscured during the centuries of church history. Today only He re-enters the light. On March 6th, 1982, Pope St. John Paul told delegates of episcopal conferences and other experts, meeting in Rome to study relations between the Church and Judaism: „Jesus was and always remained a Jew“, his ministry was deliberately limited to „the lost sheep of the house of Israel!“ (Matthew 15:24).
What we have just heard, it is the evocation of a liturgy in the synagogue — a scene as taken from life.
What happen’s today on the Sabbath day in all the synagogues of the world, is exactly the same as in the days of Jesus?
The essential moment is the reading of the Tôrah (תּוֹרָהinstruction). The scroll manuscript (ספרי תורהSifrei Tôrah) is taken out of the holy ark (אָרוֹן קׄדֶשAron kodesh) in which they are ordinarily housed; we symbolically „divest“ the Tôrah of the rich fabric that always covers it; and unroll the parchment until we arrive at the reading of the day. Several men may take turns to assist the reader throughout this pericope. The entire Pentateuch is indeed divided into 52 sections —and even 53, to cover all Sabbaths of the year. And when we finish, we start again: the last verses of Deuteronomy follow the beginning of Genesis.
Thus the integral text of the Pentateuch is heard by the Jewish (יְהוּדִיםYehudim) faithful each year.
Then comes the „second reading,“ taken from the Prophets. It is also not chosen at random, but corresponds to the text of the Torah that has just been proclaimed. Some exegetes thus sought to determine which Shabbat it was, in our passage from the Gospel of Luke. It’s actually difficult to know because it we know that the liturgical cycles have undergone several changes over the centuries.
Be that as it may, Jesus is invited to read the section of the Prophets, taken that day from Isaiah. I insist on it: he does not choose this passage (as one might do to have a quick read), but he stops at the intended section. And, if I may say so, it was perfect timing: which in our minds summons up Messianic times through the voice of a prophet sent by God, and vested for this mission by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet it is exactly this power of the Spirit that Jesus had just received on the banks of the River Jordan!
At the same time, the passage of Isaiah reverberates like a schedule for Him. Yes, it is He who proclaims a year of grace from the Lord, who announces liberation for the captives, returns sight to the blind, and who returns freedom to the oppressed!
„The entire synagogue had their eyes on Him.“As a matter of fact, it was customary at the time that the one who recited the second reading would articulate a few words for reflection. What will this native son say?
A single sentence, but charged with meaning: „Today this scripture is fulfilled in your ears.“
This will allow us to meditate upon a very important but somewhat difficult theme of our Christian confession of faith: that of the fulfilment of the Scriptures..
We gladly proclaim: Jesus came to fulfil all that was announced in the Bible, especially in the prophets. It is the Risen Himself who teaches it to the two disciples at Emmaus: „And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures, the things that were concerning him.“ (Luke 24:27). And the epistle to the Hebrews adds: „God, who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all; In these days hath spoken to us by his Son …,“ (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Yet if this really was the case … the story should simply have ended! We would have had nothing leftto wait or hope for …
In reality, it would not be erronous to say that „everything has been accomplished“, but at the same time we must be able to recognise … that there is still a lack of fulfilment. It is true that Jesus restored sight to the blind and announced the release to the captives – whatever their captivity may be. Yet there are still many blind people and many prisoners around us!
What we affirm is that Jesus inaugurated a new world … which has yet to mature and grow to full size, to replace the ancient world.
Let us again cast an eye over the very first verse of the Acts of the Apostles, interpreting it correctly: „The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach …“ Yes, you heard correctly: Jesus was just beginning. To put it a little familiarly: he did not finish the job! Apart from that, the book of Acts will reveal the apostles to us, in particular Peter and Paul, they who do the same as Him especially when healing the sick.
Jesus frees those imprisoned
Jesus Heals the blind
And what is quite extraordinary is that the book of Acts is incomplete: it stops mid-sentence, without a conclusion! Its an unfinished book…!
Unquestionably, we are able to see within this inconsistency an auspicious meaning: it is up to the successive Christian generations to „continue“ this story, and to continue in particular „what Jesus had only just began to do and teach“.
At the same time, it is the entire history of the Church up to our days, the whole history of Christian holiness, which represents this „continuation“. From this viewpoint, we can better understand the final reflection of the Gospel of John: „But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written.“ (John 21:25).
Yes, it’s up to us and our responsibility to „finish the job“ and to bring about this new world of justice and peace we call the Kingdom of God!
Dom Marcellin TheeuwesO. Cart., the 72nd successor of St. Bruno, has passed away. He died after a long illness on January 2 at the southern French Charterhouse of Méounes-lès-Montrieux.
Our Lord and heavenly Father, Marcellin is gone now from this earthly dwelling and has left behind those who mourn his absence. Grant that we may hold his memory dear, never bitter for what we have lost nor in regret for the past, but always in hope of the eternal Kingdom where you will bring us together again. Through Christ our Lord. R/. Amen.
Jacobus Johannes Maria Theeuwes, known by family and friends Jac, was born on 12 May 1936 in Gilze-Rijen, between Breda and Tilburg in the Netherlands, he was the youngest son. He had six older brothers.
From a very early age, Jac felt a monastic vocation. He made contact with the then flourishing Cistercian Abbey Marienkroon. This monastery had a good reputation and a great attraction for young men in those years. Jac Theeuwes devoted himself in Marienkroon theological studies. In this monastic atmosphere he became attentive through spiritual reading both on the Carthusian order and on its deep spirituality. He felt the call to live in a deeper solitude. The way of life of the Carthusians seemed to correspond to his calling.
Jac decided to become a Carthusian and enters on December 7, 1961 in the Charterhouse Selignac (Department Ain, France). He was ordained a priest on June 25, 1966; On December 8 of the same year he makes his solemn profession and received the religious name Marcellin. The monks of his monastery recognised his many talents and he soon became procurator in Selignac.
On June 11, 1973 Dom Marcellin was sent in the same function in the southern French Charterhouse Mougères. This monastery, located in the middle of the Languedoc vineyards, would be vacated and transferred to another religious order. Dom Marcellin was responsible for ensuring a smooth retreat in November 1977, as well as a good transition of the monastery to the community of the Sisters of the Monastic Family of Bethlehem, of the Assumption of the Virgin and of Saint Bruno.
After completing this discipline he returned to the Order on 17 November 1977 as a procurator in the Charterhouse of Montrieux in the Department of Var. The monks of this Charterhouse elected him as their prior on April 27, 1983.
When the Carthusian Prior General Dom André Poisson (1923-2005) stepped down from this position in 1997 as Prior of La Grande Chartreuse, the Carthusians elected Dom Marcellin, who was esteemed throughout the Order, as their new Prior entrusted to the order of the Prior of the Great Charterhouse and the Reverendus Pater, the Prior General of the Carthusian Order.
During his time as Prior various important decisions were made. Some Charterhouses had to be closed. There were new male monasteries in Argentina, Brazil and Korea; in Asia they also opened a women’s charterhouse. More opportunities were increasingly created for the nuns, comparable to that of the monks, to live in individual houses, so allowing them greater solitude.
For health reasons, Dom Marcellin Theeuwes resigned in September 2012 from his posts and asked for mercy, to acceptance of his resignation. It was granted to him – by the Order but also by the Holy See.
His last years he spent again in the Charterhouse Montrieux, where he served his brothers as Prior. He died on 2 January 2019 after a long illness.
(by Veronica Rasponi) The destruction of the female Monasteries is under way. Ever since the constitution on the contemplative life Vultum Dei quaerere appeared on 29 June 2016, The Corrispondenza Romana has denounced the program of the “sovietisation” of the Monasteries.
Now a further step have been taken by the Cor Orans instruction on the contemplative life of women, on April 1, 2018, which constitutes an application of the previous document. Few, with the exception of Vatican expert Aldo Maria Valli, who has dedicated three articles to this topic on his blog, have been aware of the gravity of the danger.
It should be remembered that the Church has always encouraged the contemplative life of religious men and women. The separation from the world of religious life constitutes a state of perfect life and is necessary for the Mystical Body of Christ as a manifestation of one’s holiness and as a permanent source of grace.
One of the main characteristics of the monastic communities was their legal configuration. According to the Church’s tradition, female monasteries are sui juris, i.e., autonomous and independent houses in relation to their internal regime.
The only form of dependency that they have is that from the bishop or, in some cases, from the superior of the male branch of the same order. This configuration reflects the proprium of each monastery, which is the separation from profane society. Monaco (monk) means “only”: solitude, and prayer are the pillars on which every monastery lives.
However, the enclosure regime means a separation from the world, not from the society that the nuns support with their prayer and penance. Thus Pius XII in the encyclical Sacra Virginitas of March 25, 1954, explains that the renunciation of the world of nuns, protected by enclosure, is not equivalent to social desertion, but rather allows a wider service given to the Church and society.
The same Pius XII, with the Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi of 21 November 1950, foresaw the birth of federations of monasteries, as an instrument to help the life of some monastic communities which, following the war, had found themselves isolated and in material difficulties. The experience did not turn out to be happy and would have suggested the abandonment of these structures, which instead under the pontificate of Pope Francis have multiplied, affecting a mortal blow to the female monasteries.
The new discipline envisaged by Cor Orans wants to suppress any form of legal autonomy, to create macro-communities presented as “structures of communion”. A series of bureaucratic and cumbersome organizations are born, which the Pontifical Instruction punctiliously lists.
We have the Federation of monasteries, because “in the sharing of the same charism the federated monasteries overcome isolation and promote regular observance and contemplative life” (n.7); the Association of monasteries, because “in sharing the same charism, the associated monasteries collaborate with each other” (No. 8); the Conference of monasteries, “in order to promote contemplative life and to foster collaboration among monasteries in particular geographical or linguistic contexts” (No. 9): the Confederation, as a “connecting structure between federations of monasteries for the study of topics related to the contemplative life in relation to the same charism, to give a unitary direction and a certain coordination to the activity of the single Federations »(n.10); the International Commission, as a “centralized body of service and study for the benefit of the nuns of the same Institute, for the study of themes relating to the contemplative life in relation to the same charism” (No. 11). Finally, we have the monastic Congregation, which is a “structure of government among several autonomous monasteries of the same Institute, under the authority of a President who is Superior Superior and of a general chapter which is the highest authority in the monastic Congregation” (No. 12). Missing only the Federal Assembly. Recites n. 133: “The communion that exists between the monasteries becomes visible in the Federal Assembly, a sign of unity in charity that has the primary task of protecting the charismatic patrimony of the Institute among the federated monasteries and promoting an adequate renewal that harmonizes with it. except that no Federation of monasteries of nuns or Confederation of federations represents the entire Institute “.
Membership of these bureaucratic bodies is mandatory. In the final provisions of Cor Orans it is specified that “what is laid down in the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quaerere for all the monasteries about the obligation to enter a Federation of monasteries also applies to another structure of communion such as the Association of monasteries or the Conference of monasteries”.
With the obligation of having to belong to these structures the monasteries lose, de facto even if not de iure, their autonomy to flow into an anonymous mass of macro-communities within which they organise training courses, debates, refresher meetings, moments of comparison that will see the nuns enter and leave the monasteries to live in a situation of perennial psychological and material instability.
Each community is called to develop a systematic and integral permanent formation program that embraces the whole person’s existence. The sisters need this “ongoing formation” to cultivate “the spiritual, doctrinal and professional capacity, the updating and maturation of the contemplative, so that it can carry out its service to the monastery, to the Church and to the world in an increasingly adequate manner.” (No. 236).
Every nun “is encouraged to take responsibility for her own human, Christian and charismatic growth, through the project of personal life, dialogue with the sisters of the monastic community and in particular with her major Superior” (No. 237).
The responsibility of formation belongs to the Major Superior, “who promotes the ongoing formation of the community through the Conventual Chapter, the days of retreat, the annual spiritual exercises, the sharing of the word of God, periodic revisions of life, recreations in common, days of study, personal dialogue with the sisters, fraternal meetings” (No. 238).
In order to guarantee this formation, the same papal enclosure is in fact abolished, because it also gives permission to enter the monastery to those whose skills are necessary for formation (No. 203), or to create chaos within the community.
The key words are “overcoming isolation” (n.7), “dynamic fidelity to one’s own charism” (n.70), the “undeniable value of communion” (n.86). Where these elements are missing, the monasteries can be suppressed. In those who survive, the atmosphere of peace, recollection and order that has reigned there has to be destroyed. Those who live in monasteries and those who aspire to enter it you have been warned.
At one time the nuns longed for diocesan canonical recognition and then for the pontifical recognition as the supreme guarantee of the stability of their life in common. Today, those who aspire to contemplative life and do not want to lose their vocation will be better oriented towards the establishment of de facto religious associations, independent of ecclesiastical authority, taking care not to ask for that canonical recognition that would mark the end of their spiritual life. (Veronica Rasponi)
Historically the Vatican has already caused its own version of the protestant led dissolution of monasteries. The Sisters of Auerbach in Germany, the contemplative sisters of Saint John a French Catholic community founded by Fr Marie-Dominique Philippe at Fribourg in Switzerland, and the 15 dissolved cloisters of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate in Italy. With a Rescriptum ex Audientia: prior consultation with the Holy See for the erection of diocesan institutes, 20.05.2016, which was made public only last May 11th, Pope Francis has revoked the previously sui iuris in church history of the right of a diocesan bishops to recognise a new religious community. The approval of the Holy See was given on June 1. With this Rescript, Francis noted that the establishment of an order by a diocesan bishop without the prior consent of Rome will be considered as null and void. [Editor]
This is the heart of the Christmas announcement: the answer to the radical question of man, that is, where to find the light and life in a world full of death and darkness, it is offered by God who sends his Son to become a man among us…
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
A solis ortu usque ad occasum laudabile nomen Domini… (Psalmi 112:3)
In parishes, the commentary on the Christmas gospel is very often the opportunity offered to the parish priest to speak to an unusually packed assembly. We can therefore give in to the temptation to say things that engage the attention of even the most distracted, especially worrying about teaching something good, to those many who rarely hear a sermons. The liturgy seems to invite this by proposing a text that is anything but popular: the prologue of John, a text that makes you want to talk about something else. There is no polemic intention in this observation, which among other things recognizes all the common sense of such reasoning. Leaving it up to every parish priest to locally update everyone on the mystery of Christmas I would like to propose a reading closer to the theological meaning of the Johannine prologue, and in particular of the central term: the Word, the Word, or rather the Greek noun logos. It’s a comment that derives from my notes of a beautiful conversation heard many years ago by the then Cardinal Martini of Milan, his words and his ideas are unfortunately filtered by my blunders and small personal insights, but Christmas is also time of poverty and in the crib, next to the child, there was also a donkey. This is why I offer them as they are for your reflection.
* In the 18 verses of the prologue there is a small drama unfolding, a story that opens with the origin of the world and takes place in the fullness of time. The absolute protagonist of this adventure is the word Logos that in Latin translates as Verbum, which my mother tongue of Italian translates to: In principio era il Verbo… or into English In the beginning was the Word …
This word logos is a despairing word, perhaps because it a the Greek word that has more than one meanings: mind, reason, expense account, and many other extremely disparate things. One wonders why John chose this word instead of choosing more precise ones. For example, if he wanted to point to the “word of God“, why did he not choose rema, which was perhaps the most appropriate term to expressly indicate the creative word of God? If he wanted to indicate “wisdom“, why did he not choose sophia or other similar words? Probably John wanted to offer us all together the various possible meanings of this term, to offer us a kind of ladder to ascend, degree by degree, to a deeper understanding of the mystery of the incarnation.
* For a Greek the most obvious meaning, that he understood from the use of his philosophers of the term, was that of logos of things, that is, the ultimate reason for being from reality: why is everything around us that way? What is its origin? Its meaning? Its end?
If we begin to look at the Logos in this way emerge five fundamental meanings, which John seems to have connected to one another, as if they illuminate each other:
1. reason for being from reality;
2. creative word:
3. authoritative wisdom of creation
4. illuminating and life-giving word
5. revealing word: the Son of God comes among us in Jesus (incarnates), and it is Jesus who reveals the Father.
1) The Logos is the ultimate reason of things: The ultimate reason for everything and above all of my existence in God. This is certainly a first message, perhaps implicit, but very evident of this gospel. My existence as it is (and that of the whole human situation) has a reason, it has a why, it has a meaning. And this ultimate meaning, hidden within God, came to me in the flesh at some point in history, in a concrete human person: the Logos became flesh.
2) The Logos is the creative word: Where is this ultimate meaning of all reality, of all things, of my human situation? It is in dependence on God. It is in the fact that we have all been created by him and by him alone. Everything was done through him. And it would be foolish and disastrous to forget it! To welcome this dependence with gratitude and to live it in praise and obedience is the only true possible wisdom.
3) The Logos is the authoritative wisdom of creation: With God, our dependence on Him, it is the ultimate reason not only of the being of things, but of being in the “here and now”. That is: all situations of existence, all that has happened and takes place now, has a meaning in God’s ordaining wisdom. No human situation is therefore meaningless, even the strangest apparently: both my situation as a man, and the situation of others and of the world, and the situation of the Church. Everything has a meaning in God’s ordaining wisdom and only in reference to Him are the answers to the radical questions of man about life and the darkness that often surrounds him.
4) The Logos is Light and Life: The sense that God helps us to discover within reality, if we let ourselves be guided by Him, is luminous and vivifying. Despite the obscurity of the present situation of man, despite the human tragedy that surrounds us, despite the trials of the Church and the almost absurd situations in which the world finds itself and we can find ourselves too, there is at the bottom of everything a “gospel”, good news: there is a luminous and vivifying reason for all these things, if we only know how to grasp it and let ourselves be transformed by it.
5) This Logos is Jesus Christ among us who speaks to us of the Father: The words of Jesus, which we hear in Scripture, his own personal reality constitute the luminous and edifying sense of the whole human experience as we perceive it. This is the secure and necessary background on which all the subsequent construction is grafted. Without this basic trust in the creative wisdom that regulates the present situations and manifests itself in Christ, there is no hope of doing better, there is no hope of changing oneself and there is no hope for the world. Indeed, our hope lies in this source of everything in the ultimate reason, which is the divine creation and the presence among us of Jesus Christ, who reveals the words of God and creates a situation of truth and grace in the world: Jesus “full of grace and truth” (1:14).
“you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High”
In the Homily given at Holy Mass last Thursday, we recalled that the incarnation of the Son of God, which we celebrate at Christmas, first of all it communicates God’s passion for human history; God saves us in history, not preparing salvationin a laboratory which means, that He walks the road with us and makes use of our life to construct history. The feelings of discouragement, to the intervals of excessive modesty or lamentable attitude of believers, we recall the closeness of a God who lowers Himself, trusts us, needs our collaboration and even our mistakes and, therefore, He involves us in the history of salvation as responsible protagonists and not as passive recipients.
This reality is beautifully symbolised for us by Mary’s life and faith. This fourth Sunday of Advent closes the path of preparation for the coming of the Lord, introducing us to the intrepid faith of His Mother, His smallness which nevertheless opens up to the speculation of God and allows for the dream of a liberated humanity that the Father intends to accomplish by sending His Son into our midst. Of Mary, of His listening, of His generous availability and His “fiat”, God made use to build a new history, to begin “the new heavens and the new lands”, writing the word of “salvation” upon the existence of men!
Leafing through the Liturgy of the Word, starting at the Second Book of Samuel, we could say that God, in His love, chose to build His house among us, to plant His tent, stooping down to accompany us. But first of all, He needs a “home” to become a hospitable temple for His coming and finds it in Mary Most Holy. To the prophet David, who intends to build a great temple to “house” the Ark of the Covenant, God calls to mind through the prophet that: “the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.”This is the wonderful “exchange” of logic that works within God: it is not we, primarily, who have to do something for Him but it is He who leans down to our humanity to transform it. It is God who makes us a welcoming home, a refuge and a consolation, a shelter and a rest.
If this project of love takes place thanks to Mary’s yes, then she is home, she is the ark, she is a temple, she is a welcoming space for the Messiah who is born. She welcomes Him to present Him to the world and, thus, becomes the dawn of hope for humanity and contributor to the history that God wants to build. It is therefore important to grasp the reference to Christ within this Gospel passage and how the Mother is great precisely because she shifts the attention to the Son, makes us fix our gaze on Him, she refers us to Him. The Gospel of the Annunciation, therefore A few days before Christmas, He intends first of all to make it clear to Mary and to us, who really about to be born and who He is: “you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High”. The Son to be born is the Son of God, he is the heir of king David – to whom for this reason God had said “the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house” – it is God who will reign forever, fulfilling the promises of justice, of peace and salvation for all of humanity.
Finally, of the Annunciation to Mary we can also highlight the style of God: He comes to any place, in the ordinariness of the life, to an ordinary girl. God is always at the centre of our daily life, in the outermost fringes and the most unassuming, with small and silent gestures. It does not only touch us during the solemn liturgies or powerful professions but, with the Father’s love, it also touches upon every aspect of our daily lives, during our burdensome intermittent routines, in our daily sobriety. And to decisively pronounce a magnanimous “yes”, like that of Mary, thus permitting our transformation of life upon us and the world.
We are few days from Christmas, le us pledge to not allow ourselves to be distracted by the noise and by shimmering lights, let us learn from Mary. From her we learn faith, which offers us a collaboration with God’s story of our history, focusing not only on our limitations and our errors but, trusting instead, in His action which can do great things within us and that, in this manner, our history can help transform the world; we learn hospitality, which means ensuring that we become the house where God is born, to welcome Him in intimacy as well as in the countenances of our brothers, especially the poorest; we learn a love for daily life, which means searching for and finding the traces of God in every small thing, in small gestures, in remaining vigilant and paying attention to what happens within and around us. May Mary Most Holy enlighten us, guide us and fill our hearts with joy in expectation of the Lord who is coming.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
To formulate our Christmas wishes, this year we were inspired by several speeches that St. John Paul II said on the occasion of Christmas, during his pontificate: this to feel still alive his presence and implore his help and his blessing .
For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, we have seen His glory, glory of the Only Begotten from the Father. Sing to the Lord, bless his name, announce his salvation day by day. (Antif.monast.)
Christ was born for us, come, let us adore Him! Together we come to you, on this solemn day, sweet Child of Bethlehem, that when you were born you hid your divinity to share our fragile human nature. Illuminated by faith We recognise you as the true God incarnate for our love. You are the only Redeemer of mankind! It is our faith, is the energy that allows us to live and hope.
The Mystery of the night of Bethlehem lasts without interval. It fills the history of the world and stops at the threshold of every human heart. It even stops upon your heart! It ranks us among the seekers of Light. Every man, and citizen of Bethlehem that evening, would have able to look at Joseph and Mary and say: there is no room, I can not welcome you. And every man of every epoch can sadly repeat and and say to the Word, who became flesh: I cannot welcome you there is no room, my heart is sodden with things.
The feast of Christmas gives a Christian sense to the succession of events and human feelings, projects, hopes, and it allows us to trace in this rhythmic and apparently mechanical flow of time, not only the course of mankind’s tendency to peregrinate, but also the signs, the trials and appeals of Providence and divine Goodness.
Therefore, we can transform and debase Christmas as a reckless waste of time, effort and finances, an event that can easily be characterised as consumerism: Christmas is the feast of humility, of poverty, of divesting oneself, the labefaction of the Son of God, who comes to bless us with his infinite Love.
Christmas is the feast of mankind. Man is born. One of the billions of men who are born, are born and will be born on earth. Man, an element of great statistics. No coincidence that Jesus came into the world during the time of a census; when Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti filius Augustus the Roman emperor wanted to count how many subjects where within his empire. Man, the object of this calculation, considered under the category of quantity; one among billions. And at the same time, one, unique and unrepeatable. If we so solemnly celebrate the birth of Jesus, we do so to testify that every person is someone, unique and unrepeatable. If our human statistics, human cataloguing, human political, economic and social systems, these simple human probabilities cannot assure mankind that he can be born, exist and operate as unique and distinctive individuals, then all this is assured by God Himself. For Him and before Him, man is always unique and distinctive; someone who is eternally conceived and chosen; someone called and named by their rightful name. Thus the Child of Bethlehem comes to give us back our true identity and dignity as children of God.
Christmas is the feast for all the children of the world, of all, remembering that we are also the children of God, whom he loves unreservedly, for He sees is no difference in age, race, nationality, disability or ability, single or celibate, religious belief, gender or sexual orientation, language or origin. to Him we are just His children whom he Loves like any father. Christ was born in Bethlehem for the whole world without exception. Representing every individual person on or off this world (we have to consider those who work in space now). Together and with everyone He speaks of His first day on this earth; the first message of the Child of a poor Woman; of the Mother who, after the birth, “wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them at the Inn”.
*** These Words that are the fulfilment of Jesus Christ ***
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
Today is the day of the Lord’s Christmas! The Father has given us his Son: for this ineffable gift we are full of joy.
Today, day of joy, the joyful proclamation of the birth of the Son of God resounds for the inhabitants of the whole world: Christmas is a mystery of grace to be contemplated; Christmas is an extraordinary event to share. The most beautiful gift is peace in the heart. Our wish for Christmas is that everyone can be happy today, tomorrow and always. Merry Christmas, may it be full of happiness and prosperity! Pass this happy festivity of the birth of our Lord in love and serenity. We, The Hermits of Saint Bruno have been doing it for years now, whispering to everyone and to each of you from the cells of the Hermitage, our fraternal good wishes as we supplicate from the Son who is born, the most favoured blessings for each and every single human being in Anno Domini 2019.
– The Hermits of San Bruno, at St. Mary’s Hermitage nr. Canterbury in Kent –
There are two kinds of prayer, according to the way in which it is made. There is mental prayer and vocal prayer. Mental prayer is made by the mind alone, without the utterance of the voice. When we give utterance to our prayer by the voice…
“… but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil. 4:6)
The holy season of Advent is set apart by the Church as a time of preparation for our lord’s coming. And the preparation we are to make should consist chiefly of the practice of the three eminent good works; prayer, fasting and alms-deeds. In order, then, that we may conform to the spirit of the Church, and exercise ourselves in these good works, let us meditate a few moments on the subject of prayer.
1. The importance of prayer may be gathered from the maxim of a great saint who said, “He who prays will be saved; he who does not pray will be lost.” The truth of this maxim will appear to every one after a very little consideration. There can be no doubt that no one will be saved who does not keep the Commandments; but we cannot keep the Commandments without God’s grace; and we cannot obtain God’s grace, unless we ask for it, that is unless we pray. For grace, as the very name denotes, is essentially a gratuitous gift, for which we are indebted to God’s bounty, to obtain which, therefore, we must, as the apostle reminds us, “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let our petitions be made known to God.” Not only is it impossible, without God’s grace, to keep the Commandments, but we have also been taught that it is impossible to do any good work whatsoever towards our salvation without the help of God’s grace; and this grace we can only obtain by prayer and the holy sacraments. There are, therefore, two sources through which grace enters the soul prayer and the holy sacraments. But we cannot receive the sacraments themselves worthily, ordinarily speaking, unless we pray. Hence, it is a fundamental principle of the Christian religion that we cannot save our souls, nor indeed, take a single step towards our salvation, without prayer; that, with prayer, we may do everything; without prayer, we can do nothing.
We may also judge of the importance of prayer from another point of view; by the hostility which the devil manifests to prayer, and the extraordinary pains he takes in order to prevent people from praying. In fact, the devil scarcely heeds what we do, so long as we do not pray, or do not pray fervently. The devil, of course, is constantly endeavouring to draw us into sin. If he succeeds, he is pleased surely enough; if he does not succeed in that, but can only manage to make us disgusted with prayer, or fill our minds with distractions when we do pray, he is fact, we had better give up the attempt altogether. This, indeed, is the difficulty which constitutes the chief part of that ceaseless struggle which characterises the spiritual life; the lassitude from which we suffer, and the disinclination we feel to persevere in prayer, proceed from sloth, which is one of the seven capital enemies of our salvation. And if we are in earnest about our salvation, we must beyond all question, take up arms against this enemy, and resist him even unto death. There can be no doubt, then, that this strange aversion to prayer is often to be traced to the direct agency of the evil one. He cares little for our external works of piety and religion and our works of charity; indeed, he is rather inclined to encourage them, if only he foresees that we shall, in consequence, take such pride in them as to fall unsuspectingly into some trap which he is preparing for us. But, when we begin to pray in earnest, then it becomes a serious matter for him. He knows well enough that any one who prays earnestly is sure to escape all his snares, that he has no chance with that soul; and he will, accordingly, bring all his legions of wicked spirits to prevent that soul from praying. He will torment that soul with distractions; he will put every imaginable obstacle in the way; he will suggest to that soul a thousand plausible ideas of other things they might do for the glory of God, for the good of their neighbours, for their own spiritual benefit except prayer that will never do. Such, my brethren, is the fact of which you must all have had experience, and such is the explanation of that equally satisfied, knowing well that, sooner or later, the soul that does not pray, must inevitably fall a victim to his stratagems. This is the explanation, my dear brethren, of a fact which must have often struck you that people find comparatively little difficulty in observing their other spiritual duties, such as hearing Mass, frequenting the Sacraments, engaging in active works of piety and charity; but when they come to the exercise of prayer, they encounter an insurmountable struggle. They feel an intense disgust for it, before commencing it, they avail themselves of any trivial excuse for putting it off; and when they do begin to pray, their minds are instantly filled with all manner of suggestions and trains of ideas, which prevent them from giving their attention to prayer; so that there is a miserable sense of unsatisfactoriness about the whole thing; as if it were all in vain and not worth the trouble — as if, in fact, we had better give up the attempt altogether.
This, indeed, is the difficulty which constitutes the chief part of that ceaseless struggle which characterises the spiritual life; the lassitude from which we suffer, and the disinclination we feel to persevere in prayer, proceed from sloth, which is one of the seven capital enemies of our salvation. And if we are in earnest about our salvation, we must beyond all question, take up arms against this enemy, and resist him even unto death. There can be no doubt, then, that this strange aversion to prayer is often to be traced to the direct agency of the evil one. He cares little for our external works of piety and religion and our works of charity; indeed, he is rather inclined to encourage them, if only he foresees that we shall, in consequence, take such pride in them as to fall unsuspectingly into some trap which he is preparing for us. But, when we begin to pray in earnest, then it becomes a serious matter for him. He know swell enough that any one who prays earnestly is sure to escape all his snares, that he has no chance with that soul; and he will, accordingly, bring all his legions of wicked spirits to prevent that soul from praying. He will torment that soul with distractions; he will put every imaginable obstacle in the way; he will suggest to that soul a thousand plausible ideas of other things they might do for the glory of God, for the good of their neighbours, for their own spiritual benefit except prayer that will never do. Such, my brethren, is the fact of which you must all have had experience, and such is the explanation of that fact. Do we, then after this need any further argument to convince us of the immense importance, the absolute necessity of prayer in the work of our salvation?
2. In the next place, let us consider what is prayer. Prayer is the raising up of the mind and heart to God; not of the mind only, for it is not enough to think of God merely; nor are theological speculations prayer; nor of the heart only, for we must know what we are doing, when we pray; but of the mind and heart to God. Hence, prayer, generally speaking, is to enter into communication, to occupy our thoughts and our affections with God. In a stricter sense, it means to address our petitions to God, asking Him for those things of which we stand in need. In this sense, it is the expression of the utter dependence of the creature upon the Creator which leads us in all our necessities to have recourse to Him who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift.
There are two kinds of prayer, according to the way in which it is made. There is mental prayer and vocal prayer. Mental prayer is made by the mind alone, without the utterance of the voice. When we give utterance to our prayer by the voice…, it is called vocal prayers. Of course, vocal prayers, without the attention of the mind to what we are saying, is worth nothing at all. It is of this kind of prayer that our Lord speaks when He reproached the Jews: “This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” (Matthew 15:8)
Mental prayer is, therefore, of the greatest importance; for it is by this kind of prayer that we are enabled to fulfil the precept of the apostle, “pray constantly.” (1 Thess. 5:17) For, it is not necessary that we should go on our knees, nor give utterance to our prayer; but it is sufficient, if we merely lift up our mind and heart to God, in the midst of our daily occupations, and occupy our thoughts with Him. Indeed, we may say that holiness and perfection depend upon the degree in which the soul practices this life of continual prayer; seeing that prayer is the very nutriment of spiritual life; consequently, he will possess this life more abundantly, who shall pray more frequently and fervently. Now, there is no one, whatever may be his condition of life, who cannot use this means, and lead a life of continual prayer. At the same time, vocal prayer, at stated periods, should not be omitted, for this is a necessary part of the virtue of religion, by which we render due homage to Almighty God. And it is rendered in two ways; publicly and privately: privately, by ourselves, and publicly, in common with others. With regard to this latter kind of vocal prayer, our Lord has said that it has a special efficacy of its own. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20) For we all form but one body in Christ; so that when we meet together in the Church, and join our prayers with those of the faithful, these prayers ascend to the throne of grace with a power of impetration far greater than when they are put forth privately. And here let me exhort you to remember this, whenever public prayers are recited in this Church, as for example, the holy Rosary, it is the duty of every one in the Church to join in those prayers in an audible voice; and those who, through indolence, or a foolish timidity, do not recite the prayers aloud, deprive themselves and their fellow-worshippers of much grace and edification.
I have said nothing of the disposition with which we ought to pray, because this is an important subject, which would require a much longer time than remains to me to treat of it. But I trust that what I have said will not fail to move you to greater fervour and perseverance in prayer, understanding that so much depends on it; nothing less, in fact, than our eternal salvation. By prayer alone can we obtain grace to resist temptation: “Keep awakeand pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Matt. 26:41) By prayer alone can we obtain those effectual graces which are necessary for us to work out our salvation. “Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) God wishes our salvation, and He is always ready to give us His abundant graces, whereby we may secure it; on one condition only, namely, that we should ask for them; that we should pray. Pray, then, and pray without ceasing, “that your joy may be full;” the joy which “no man shall take from you.” The eternal possession of all good in the beatific vision of God.
The priest is more than once compared by St. Paul to a soldier; and rightly so, for the more of the soldier there is in him, the better a priest he is. We therefore dedicate this article to the Servant of God Fr. Emil Joseph Kapaun (April 20, 1916 – May 23, 1951). Fr. Kapaun was a Roman Catholic priest and United States Army captain who served as a United States Army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War. Kapaun was a chaplain in the Burma Theater of World War II, then the Battle of Unsan and served again as a chaplain with the U.S. Army in Korea, where he was captured. He died in a prisoner of war camp. Recipient of Medal of Honour, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, Prisoner of War Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Combat Infantryman Badge, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Korea Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal. In 1993 the biggest honour of all, St. John Paul declared him a Servant of God, the first stage on the path to canonisation.
Fr. Kapaun is not the only priest soldier but he is an outstanding example of one and we felt he should be included in this article as one of our persons who inspires.
At first sight, nothing seems more opposed than the two callings, but a closer examination reveals the fact that several of their leading features are the same. The same general conditions of life are found in both, and the same qualities are required.
1. The priest, like the soldier, once engaged is no longer free; he is no longer at liberty to forsake his profession, and to turn to any of the pursuits of life which were previously open to him. He cannot even combine them, to any extent, with the duties he has assumed. “No man” says St. Paul (ibid), being a soldier to God, entangleth himself with secular business” That is, he has no right to do so. The soldier has ceased to belong to himself. His very life is not his own. The Roman soldier that St. Paul had in mind was separated from family, kindred, home, country; indeed, everywhere the soldier’s life is a life of detachment. In active warfare he has to hold himself always in readiness; at any time he may be called upon to face certain death. And therefore he is best without a family. If he has left behind him persons tenderly loved. It is not good that he should give them much thought; such memories would unman him. In a word, the life of a soldier in active service is a life of detachment, of self-devotion; a ready gift of his energies, and, if need be, of his life, to the service of his country.
What else is the life of a priest, if he is true to his calling? His time, his energies, hiss influence, all his gifts, belong to the great purpose for which he became a priest. Like St. Paul, he is ready to give his very life for it: But I most gladly will spend and be spent myself for your souls? — 2 Corinthians 12:15.
2. The qualities of the soldier are no less necessary in the priest, — courage, endurance discipline. The true soldier is the type of courage. He is fearless in presence of danger, or, if fear is awakened in him, he does not yield to it, else he would branded as a coward. But his courage is only occasionally appealed to, whereas his power of endurance is taxed at every hour. Long marches, scanty provisions, excessive heat or cold, lack of shelter, sickness, — these are what try the soldier much more than facing the enemy. This is why St. Paul does not say: “Have courage; be brave;” but “suffer hardship” for such is the meaning of the Greek term, κόπος, rendered in the Vulgate by the word labora. Last of all, but not least, discipline. In the Roman army discipline was of the strictest kind, and the oath of obedience (sacramentum) was looked upon as the most sacred of all. In man, as in nature, only disciplined power is useful. Uncontrolled, it wastes itself, and often proves destructive.
Courage, too, is a requirement of the priesthood; physical courage sometimes, moral courage always. To be faithful to duty, at any cost; to live up to his convictions whatever others may say; to speak out for the right, to censure and to oppose what is wrong; to carry out necessary but unpopular measures; to face; the risk of being misunderstood or blamed, or to forfeit certain advantages sooner than relinquish a useful purpose, — all this is necessary in the priest and it means in all cases to have true moral courage.
The power of endurance is not less necessary. The life of a priest, if he strives to meet all the requirements of his position, is generally a trying one. His mission may be what is called a hard one. The demands upon his physical strength may be as much, as he can bear. His patience is tried in numberless ways. Among those with whom he is placed in contact, there are the thoughtless, the unreasonable, the obstinate, the deceitful, the selfish, the ungrateful; he has to bear with all, and strive by dint of gentleness and forbearance to win them to Christ.
Finally, his life has to be one of order, of rule, of discipline. In many things he is left to his own initiative; but in a still larger number he is under rule, — the rule of the Gospel and the rules of the Church. His action as a priest is individual in one sense, in another it is collective, that is, associated with the action of the Church herself and of her representatives. In both it is equally withdrawn from capriciousness and subject to law.
But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.”
“It is the soldier’s pride to fight for his king; what an honour to be the soldier of Christ! But if campaigning means endurance, he who endureth not is no soldier” — St. John Chrysostom on 2 Timothy
A Good Soldier of Christ Jesus
You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier’s aim is to please the enlisting officer.And in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules.It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops.Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel,for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself.
A Worker Approved by God
Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place. They are upsetting the faith of some.But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.”
In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. All who cleanse themselves of the things I have mentioned will become special utensils, dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every good work. Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
Please pray for our priests, remembering especially our military chaplains and Vocations in your daily conversation with God. We in turn remember you collectively in our prayers. May the Lord our God walk always at your side and the Holy Spirit’s breath guide your life.