quod pro nobis traditum est

Friday, December 26, 2008

Saint Stephen, Protomartyr

Sederunt principes, et adversum me loquebantur.

Below are some excerpted commentaries on Acts 7 for this Feast of St. Stephen, First Martyr:

"Therefore to strengthen the blessed martyr's endurance the doors of the heavenly kingdom are opened and, so that the innocent man being stoned may not stumble to the ground, the crucified God-man appears crowned in heaven." (Bede, 86)

"The Lord too, who 'chose' us 'out of the world' for his heavenly kingdom and glory, suffered outside the gate, Like Stephen, who, as though he were a stranger to the world, was stoned outside the city. For he had no permanent city here, but with his whole heart he sought the city to come." (Bede, 87)

"And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' He did this to show them he is not perishing and also to teach them." (Chrysostom, 87)

(Source: ACCS, NT, V, 86-7)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Blessed Christmas and Christmas-Tide

Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, expectatio gentium et salvator earum, veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our king and ruler, the expectation and Savior of the nations, come to save us, O Lord, our God.

Monday, December 22, 2008

O Rex Gentium

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum, veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

O King of nations, and their desired one, and the corner-stone, that makes both one, come and save man, whom you formed out of dust.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

O Oriens

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol iustitiae, veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Orient, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice, come and enlighten those who sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Address


VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2008 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered during today's general audience in Paul VI Hall.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters:

Precisely today, we begin the days of Advent that immediately prepare us for the nativity of the Lord: We are in the Christmas novena, which in many Christian communities is celebrated with liturgies rich in biblical texts, all oriented toward nourishing hope for the birth of the Savior. The entire Church, in effect, turns its gaze of faith toward this approaching feast, readying itself, like each year, to unite to the joyful song of the angels, who in the heart of the night will announce to the shepherds the extraordinary event of the birth of the Redeemer, inviting them to draw close to the cave of Bethlehem. There lies Emanuel, the Creator made creature, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a poor manger (cf. Luke 2:13-14).

Because of the environment that characterizes it, Christmas is a universal feast. Even those who do not profess to be believers, in fact, can perceive in this annual Christian celebration something extraordinary and transcendent, something intimate that speaks to the heart. It is the feast that sings of the gift of life. The birth of a child moves us and causes tenderness. Christmas is the encounter with a newborn who cries in a miserable cave. Contemplating him in the manger, how can we not think of so many children who even today see the light from within a great poverty in many regions of the world? How can we not think of the newborns who are not welcomed and are rejected, of those who do not survive because of a lack of care and attention? How can we not think, too, of the families who desire the joy of a child and do not see this hope fulfilled?

Under the influence of a hedonistic consumerism, unfortunately, Christmas runs the risk of losing its spiritual significance to be reduced to a mere commercial occasion to buy and exchange gifts. In truth, nevertheless, the difficulties and the uncertainties and the very economic crisis that in these months so many families are living, and which affects all of humanity, can be a stimulus to discover the warmth of simplicity, friendship and solidarity -- characteristic values of Christmas. Stripped of consumerist and materialist incrustations, Christmas can thus become an occasion to welcome, as a personal gift, the message of hope that emanates from the mystery of the birth of Christ.

All of this, nevertheless, is not enough to assimilate fully the value of the feast for which we are preparing. We know that it celebrates the central event of history: the incarnation of the divine Word for the redemption of humanity. St. Leo the Great, in one of his numerous Christmas homilies, thus exclaimed: "Let us exult in the Lord, my dear ones, and open our hearts to the most pure joy. Because the day has dawned that for us means the new redemption, the ancient preparation, eternal bliss. Thus in the yearly cycle, the elevated mystery of our salvation is renewed for us, which, promised at the beginning and fulfilled at the end of times, is destined to endure without end (Homily XXII).

St. Paul returns to this fundamental truth many times in his letters. To the Galatians, for example, he writes: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law … so that we might receive adoption" (4:4). In the Letter to the Romans he sets forth the logic and consequent demands of this saving event: "And if [we are] children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him" (8:17).

But it is above all St. John, in the prologue to the fourth Gospel, who meditates profoundly on the mystery of the Incarnation. And it is because of this that the prologue has been part of the Christmas liturgy since ancient times: There is found, in fact, the most authentic expression and the deepest synthesis of this feast, and of the base of his joy. St. John writes: "Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis" -- And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).

At Christmas, then, we are not limited to commemorating the birth of a great personality; we do not celebrate simply and in the abstract the mystery of the birth of man or in general, the birth of life; neither do we celebrate only the beginning of a great season. At Christmas, we remember something very concrete and important for man, something essential for Christian faith, a truth that St. John summarized in these few words: "The Word was made flesh."

It is a historical event that the Evangelist Luke concerns himself with situating in a very determined context: in the days in which the decree of the first census of Caesar Augustus was issued, when Quirinius was already governor of Syria (cf. Luke 2:1-7). It is therefore a night dated historically, in which was verified the salvation event that Israel had been awaiting for centuries. In the darkness of the night of Bethlehem, a great light was truly lit: The Creator of the universe incarnated himself, uniting himself indissolubly with human nature, to the point of really being "God from God, light from light" and at the same time, man, true man.

That which John calls in Greek "ho logos," translated in Latin "Verbum" and in Italian, "il Verbo" (the Word), also means "the Meaning." Therefore, we can understand John's expression in this way: the "eternal Meaning" of the world has made himself tangible to our senses and our intelligence. Now we can touch him and contemplate him (cf. 1 John 1:1). The "Meaning" that has become flesh is not simply a general idea inscribed in the world; it is a "word" directed to us. The Logos knows us, calls us, guides us. It is not a universal law, in which we fulfill some role, but rather it is a Person who is interested in each individual person: It is the living Son of God, who has become man in Bethlehem.

To many people, and in some way to all of us, this seems too beautiful to be true. In effect, here it is reaffirmed for us: Yes, there is meaning, and this meaning is not an impotent protest against the absurd. The Meaning is powerful: It is God. A good God, who is not to be confused with some lofty and distant power, to which it is impossible to ever arrive, but rather a God who has made himself close to us and to our neighbor, who has time for each one of us and who has come to stay with us.

Thus the question spontaneously arises: How is such a thing possible? Is it worthy of God to become a child? To try to open one's heart to this truth that enlightens all of human existence, it is necessary to yield the mind and recognize the limits of our intelligence. In the cave at Bethlehem, God shows himself to us as a humble "infant" to overcome our pride. Perhaps we would have submitted more easily before power, before pride; but he does not want our submission. He appeals, rather, to our heart and to our free decision to accept his love. He has made himself little to free us from this human pretension of greatness that arises from pride; he has incarnated himself freely to make us truly free, free to love him.

Dear brothers and sisters, Christmas is a privileged opportunity to meditate on the meaning and value of our existence. Approaching this solemnity helps us to reflect, on one hand, about the drama of history in which men, wounded by sin, are permanently seeking happiness and a satisfactory meaning to life and death; on the other hand, it exhorts us to meditate on the merciful goodness of God, who has gone out to meet man to communicate to him directly the Truth that saves, and make him participate in his friendship and his life.

Let us prepare for Christmas, therefore, with humility and simplicity, readying ourselves to receive the gift of light, joy and peace that irradiates from this mystery. Let us welcome the nativity of Christ as an event capable of today renewing our existence. May the encounter with the Child Jesus make us people who do not think only of ourselves, but rather open to the expectations and necessities of our brothers. In this way we too become testimonies of the light that Christmas radiates over the humanity of the third millennium. Let us ask most holy Mary, the tabernacle of the incarnate Word, and St. Joseph, silent witness of the events of salvation, to communicate to us the sentiments they had while they awaited the birth of Jesus, so that we can prepare ourselves to celebrate in a holy way the coming Christmas, in the joy of faith and enlivened by the determination of a sincere conversion.

Merry Christmas!

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we commence the Christmas Novena of Advent by contemplating the fulfilment of the ancient prophecies in the coming of the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary in the stable of Bethlehem. Christmas speaks to everyone; it celebrates the gift of life – often fragile or endangered – and the fulfilment of our deepest hopes for a world renewed. The present economic crisis, causing so much suffering, can however help us to focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and to welcome into our hearts the hope brought by God’s coming among us as man. The Word became flesh to offer humanity the salvation which can only be received as a gracious gift from God. The same Word by whom the universe was made, the Word which gives all creation its ultimate meaning, has come to dwell among us: he now speaks to us, he reveals the deepest meaning of our life on earth, and he guides us to the Love which is our fulfilment. In the Christ Child, God humbly knocks on the doors of our hearts and asks us freely to accept his love, his truth, his life. As Christmas approaches, let us rekindle our hope in God’s promises and, in humility and simplicity, welcome the light, joy and peace which the Saviour brings to us and to our world.

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including the various student groups and those coming from Ireland and the United States of America. To you and your families, especially those who may be in difficulty or suffering, I extend my best wishes for a happy and blessed Christmas!

© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana



Pope Benedict XVI. "Christmas: An opportunity to reflect on the meaning of our existence" (December 17, 2008).

Given at his weekly General Audience in the Paul VI Hall

Translation by Zenit

O Clavis David

O Clavis David et sceptrum domus Israel, qui aperis, et nemo claudit, claudis, et nemo aperuit, veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel, Who opens and no man shuts, Who shuts and no man opens, come and lead the captive from prison, sitting in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

Friday, December 19, 2008

O Radix Jesse

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt, reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur, veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.

O root of Jesse, who stands as the ensign of the peoples, before whom kings shall not open their mouths, to whom the nations shall pray, come and deliver us, tarry now no more.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

O Adonai

O Adonai, et dux domus Israel, qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti, veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extendo.

O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel, Who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush, and gave him the law on Sinai, come to redeem us by outstretched arm.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

As Advent makes the turn

Two different aspects of the Advent Season begin today, the Ember days in Advent and the first of the 7 Greater Advent Antiphons (December 17-23).

Today is Ember Wednesday in Advent. The other Ember days are Friday and Saturday of this week. These days come in the first week following the Feast of St. Lucy (or after the Third Sunday of Advent). The Introit for this day is the same as that for the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Rorate coeli) and the Gospel reading from Luke 1 helps to prepare us for Christmas.

The "O" Antiphon for December 17 is:

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altíssimi prodiísti, attíngens a fine usque ad finem, fórtiter suavitérque dispónens ómnia: veni ad docéndum nos viam prudéntiae.

O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.

Lutherans will find all of the "O" Antiphons listed in the Lutheran Service Book in connection with hymn 357, Veni Emmanuel

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

St. Eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli

It is no secret that one of the advantages of the ecclesiastical calendar is an opportunity to study and learn some church history.

On the traditional Western calendar today is the day of St. Eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli (c. 283 - 371). He was consecrated bishop by Pope Julius I on December 15, 340. St. Ambrose writes that Eusebius was the first western bishop to unite the monastic and clerical life. In the controversy with the Arians and even with threats made by the emporer Eusebius refused to sign a document condemning St. Athanasius. He co-presided with Athanasius at a synod in 362. In 363 he assisted St. Hilary of Poitiers against Arian influences in the Western Church. One theological journal in 1900 attributed to him authorship of The Athanasian Creed. The Canons Regular of St. Augustine name him together with St. Augustine as their founder. He is honored by the Western Church as a martyr.

(Source: Adapted from

Waiting for Presents

There is something refreshing in watching one's children get excited about the Christmas presents around the tree. They pick them up and weigh them, check out their shape and guess their contents. They truly look forward to the chance to open them. Whether or not they receive exactly what they were waiting or hoping for there is an extra charge in the air at the anticipation of finding out what is underneath the wrapping.

Part of this refreshment may have to do with realizing that as parents we no longer have the need to anticipate presents as we did when we were children so our eyes are opened to their anticipation and impatience. We like receiving presents but it is more important to us that our children receive them than that we receive anything. Much of this refreshment comes in knowing one is able to give to another even if it is something that provides temporary happiness.

This is what I appreciate about the Advent Season - the anticipation of the Second Coming and so too the Christ who comes to us now in the Mass. He gives and we receive. No greater gift. No greater refreshment. No greater joy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Catholic Theologian and Churchman Dies

Cardinal Dulles Dead at 90
Scholar Suffered From Post-Polio Syndrome

NEW YORK, DEC. 12, 2008 ( ).- The New York Province of the Society of Jesus reported that renowned theologian and prolific author Cardinal Avery Dulles died this morning at 90.

Avery Dulles was born Aug. 24, 1918, in Auburn, New York. He was the son of John Foster Dulles, who later served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Dwight Eisenhower.

Dulles converted to Catholicism in 1940 while studying at Harvard University. After graduation he continued at Harvard studying law, but after a year and a half he left the university to join the Navy during World War II, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant.

He entered the Jesuits in 1946 and was ordained 10 years later. He earned a doctorate from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1960.

Father Dulles taught theology at Woodstock College from 1960 to 1974 and at the Catholic University of America from 1974 to 1988.

He served as the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University from 1988 until April of this year.

He was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2001, making him the first American-born theologian not a bishop to receive this honor.

A respected theologian, he served as president of both the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society. He authored over 750 articles on theological topics, and dozens of books, the latest including "The History of Apologetics," (revised edition, 2005), and "Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith" (2007).

The cardinal had been suffering of complications of post-polio syndrome, which he contracted as a Naval officer. Confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, the cardinal continued to read and communicated by slowing typing on a computer keyboard or writing on a pad of paper.

Upon stepping down as the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University in April, he wrote: "Well into my 90th year I have been able to work productively. As I become increasingly paralyzed and unable to speak, I can identify with the many paralytics and mute persons in the Gospels, grateful for the loving and skillful care I receive and for the hope of everlasting life in Christ. If the Lord now calls me to a period of weakness, I know well that his power can be made perfect in infirmity. 'Blessed be the name of the Lord!'"

During Benedict XVI's visit to the United States last April, the Pontiff and Cardinal Dulles met for a private meeting.

Great theologian

Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. episcopal conference, said the death of Cardinal Dulles "brings home to God a great theologian and a totally dedicated servant of the Church."

"His wise counsel will be missed; his personal witness to the pursuit of holiness of life as a priest, a Jesuit and a cardinal of the Church will be remembered and will encourage the Church to remain ever faithful to her Lord and his mission," he added.

Cardinal Edward Egan, the archbishop of New York, said in a statement this afternoon that he learned of the death of Cardinal Dulles with "deep sadness."

"Cardinal Dulles was an eminent theologian and professor of theology in seminaries and universities throughout the nation," said Cardinal Egan. "All of us here in the archdiocese are very much indebted to him for his wisdom and priestly example."

Father James Massa, executive director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the episcopal conference and a student of Cardinal Dulles, said the cardinal was "for a generation of priests, scholars and faithful [...], a reliable and faithful interpreter of the Second Vatican Council. A number of his books have become classics in theological education."

"In some ways," the priest added, "his life bears comparison with another great cardinal-theologian, John Henry Newman, on whose birthday, 200 years later, Avery Dulles was created a cardinal of the Catholic Church."


[Ed. Cardinal Dulles wrote many theological books and articles, including many articles in the journal FIRST THINGS.]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Facing the Bridegroom

"The faithful so anticipate the Lord's Second Coming and can be likened to the virgins in the Gospel parable: 'But at midnight there was a cry, "Behold the Bridegroom! Come out to meet him"' (Matt. 25:6) So are the faithful described in their "common direction of liturgical prayer." "The whole liturgy is celebrated . . . facing the Bridegroom."

- U.M. Lang, citing C. Schönborn, p. 102

Monday, December 08, 2008

St. Ambrose, December 7

Reaching Milan, I found your devoted servant Ambrose, who was known throughout the world as a man whom there were few to equal in goodness.

Unknown to me, it was you who led me to him, so that I might knowingly be led by him to you.

- St. Augustine, Confessions 5, 13

Thursday, December 04, 2008

worship in proper measure

St. John of Damascus (c. 676 – December 4, 749)

Liturgically, this commemoration was moved from March 27 (a Memorial during Lent from 1890-1969) in the Catholic Church to today, the anniversary of the date of his death and which also coincides with his day on the Byzantine Rite calendar.

On worship:
"Worship is the symbol of veneration and of honour. Let us understand that there are different degrees of worship. First of all the worship of latreia, which we show to God, who alone by nature is worthy of worship. When, for the sake of God who is worshipful by nature, we honour His saints and servants, as Josue and Daniel worshipped an angel, and David His holy places, when be says, "Let us go to the place where His feet have stood." (Ps. 132.7) Again, in His tabernacles, as when all the people of Israel adored in the tent, and standing round the temple in Jerusalem, fixing their gaze upon it from all sides, and worshipping from that day to this, or in the rulers established by Him, as Jacob rendered homage to Esau, his elder brother, (Gen. 33.3) and to Pharaoh, the [14] divinely established ruler. (Gen. 47.7) Joseph was worshipped by his brothers. (Gen. 50.18) I am aware that worship was based on honour, as in the case of Abraham and the sons of Emmor. (Gen. 23.7) Either, then, do away with worship, or receive it altogether according to its proper measure."

(Source: from Part I of his Apologia against those who decry holy images;

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A still small voice

or Advent and the beginning of a new liturgical year. What better example of, and contrast between, the directions that we are going. It is like darkness and light.