21 Dec – Memorial for St. Peter Canisius, priest, doctor
Peter Canisius (1521-1597) was known as the Hammer of Protestantism. He was educated in Cologne, Germany. An excellent student, he received a master’s degree by the age of 19. He became a Jesuit after attending a retreat conducted by Blessed Peter Faber. He was a preacher, a writer, and a teacher. He travelled and worked with St. Ignatius of Loyola. During prayers, he received a vision of the Sacred Heart, and ever after offered his work to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He led the Counter-Reformation in German lands. His catechism went through 200 editions during his life, and was translated into 12 languages.
He was ordained in 1546, and was known for having founded colleges. He addressed the Council of Trent on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.
The following quote by Peter Canisius is reassuring for those who are still rushing to prepare for Christmas:
“If you have too much to do, with God’s help you will find time to do it all.” – Peter Canisius
– Source: Patron Saint Index
Song of Songs 2:8-14
I hear my Beloved.
See how he comes
leaping on the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My Beloved is like a gazelle,
like a young stag.
See where he stands
behind our wall.
He looks in at the window,
he peers through the lattice.
My Beloved lifts up his voice,
he says to me,
“Come then, my love,
my lovely one, come.
For see, winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth.
The season of glad songs has come,
the cooing of the turtledove is heard
in our land.
The fig tree is forming its first figs
and the blossoming vines give out their fragrance.
Come then, my love,
my lovely one, come.
My dove, hiding in the clefts of the rock,
in the coverts of the cliff,
show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet
and your face is beautiful.”
Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, “Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
We often have readings from the Old Testament books, but rarely do we have a reading from the Song of Songs. What is so special about this book that the Church has chosen to place it on one of the days leading up to Christmas? What is written in the Song of Songs that prepares us for Christmas?
The Song of Songs is essentially a love song between two lovers – a man and a woman. It is traditionally seen as a representation of the relationship between God and Israel as husband and wife. The poem suggests movement from courtship to consummation, from romancing to marriage. And this is indeed why this reading is chosen for this day that leads up to Christmas – the birth of our Lord Jesus, most definitely a historical event in history of the world.
The reason is this – God wants to marry us. This is His eternal plan – to marry us and to impregnate us with His divine life. He has revealed this plan to us in many ways. I will just highlight two of them. One way is the very way we are made – male and female. This is one of the most ways God makes His eternal plan obvious to us, by stamping an image of it right in our bodies by making us male and female, and calling us to become one flesh, according to the theology of the body.
The second way that God has revealed this plan to us is by actually marrying a woman and impregnating her with divine life! Yes, there was a woman who received God so totally into herself that she literally became pregnant with this divine life, and that woman is none other than Mary, the mother of our Lord.
Mary has always been a representation of the Church and indeed the whole of mankind. We, as brothers and sisters sharing a common humanity, look towards Mary as our model. We are to be open to God as she was open to the Holy Spirit; we are to receive God into ourselves and become pregnant with the Word, and bringing Him into the world.
That is what Christmas is all about – receiving Christ into ourselves and bringing Him into the world. When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating God’s eternal plan to marry us, to impregnate us with His divine life, and our call to bring Him into the world, in the same way that Mary did 2,000 years ago.
Let us pause for a few moments now to contemplate the wonder and awesomeness of God’s eternal plan.
Dear Lord, we ask for the grace to be totally open to receiving you in our lives, and that we may be impregnated with divine life and bring You into the world this Christmas. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Mary, the mother of our Lord, and her openness to her spouse, the Holy Spirit.
Sat, 22 Dec – 1 Samuel 1:24-28; Luke 1:46-56
Sun, 23 Dec – Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24; Fourth Sunday of Advent
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