Wednesday, 8 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 1 : 3-6, 11-12

Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, Who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in His presence.

From eternity He destined us, in love, to be His adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling His free and generous will. This goal suited Him : that His loving-kindness, which He granted us in His beloved might finally receive all glory and praise.

By a decree of Him, Who disposes all things, according to His own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3bc-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 3 : 9-15, 20

YHVH God called the man saying to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?”

The man answered, “The woman You put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.” God said to the woman, “What have you done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

YHVH God said to the serpent, “Since you have done that, be cursed among all the cattle and wild beasts! You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.

(Usus Antiquior) Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I Classis) – Wednesday, 8 December 2021 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Preface, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : White

Offertory

Luke 1 : 28

Ave, Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum : benedicta tu in mulieribus. Alleluja.

English translation

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you amongst women. Alleluia.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Salutarem hostiam, quam in sollemnitate immaculatae Conceptionis beatae Virginis Mariae tibi, Domine, offerimus, suscipe et praesta : ut, sicut illam Tua gratia praeveniente ab omni labe immunem profitemur; ita ejus intercessione a culpis omnibus liberemur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Receive, o Lord, the saving oblation which we offer You on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and grant that, as we confess her to have been preserved, by Your prevenient grace, from all taints of evil, so, through her intercession, we may be freed from all sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Preface of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos Tibi semper et ubique gratias agere : Domine, Sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus : Et Te in sollemnitate sacratissimi Rosarii de Beatae Mariae semper Virginis collaudare, benedicere et praedicare. Quae et Unigenitum Tuum Sancti Spiritus obumbratione concepit : et, virginitatis gloria permanente, lumen aeternum mundo effudit, Jesum Christum, Dominum nostrum.

Per quem majestatem Tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates. Caeli caelorumque Virtutes ac beata Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti jubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes :

English translation

It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, o Holy Lord, Father Almighty, Everlasting God, and on the solemnity of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, should praise and bless and proclaim You. For she conceived Your only begotten Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, and not losing the glory of her virginity, gave to the world the everlasting Light, Jesus Christ our Lord.

He through Whom the angels praise Your majesty, the Dominations worship it, and the Powers are in awe. The heavens and the heavenly hosts, and the blessed Seraphim join together in celebrating their joy. With these we pray to You joining also our voices, while we say with lowly praise :

Communion

Tradition of the Faith

Gloriosa dicta sunt de te, Maria : quia fecit tibi magna qui potens est.

English translation

Glorious things are spoken of you, o Mary, for He who is mighty has done great things unto you.

Post-Communion Prayer

Sacramenta quae sumpsimus, Domine, Deus noster : illius in nobis culpae vulnera reparent; a qua immaculatam Beatae Mariae Conceptionem singulariter praeservasti. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

May the sacrament which we have received, o Lord, our God, heal in us the wounds of that sin from which by a singular privilege, You had preserved immaculate the conception of Blessed Mary. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I Classis) – Wednesday, 8 December 2021 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : White

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 1 : 26-28

In illo tempore : Missus est Angelus Gabriel a Deo in civitatem Galilaeae, cui nomen Nazareth, ad Virginem desponsatam viro, cui nomen erat Joseph, de domo David, et nomen Virginis Maria. Et ingressus Angelus ad eam, dixit : Ave, gratia plena; Dominus tecum : benedicta tu in mulieribus.

English translation

At that time, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the Angel having come in, said unto her, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you amongst women.”

(Usus Antiquior) Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I Classis) – Wednesday, 8 December 2021 : Gradual and Alleluia

Liturgical Colour : White

Judith 13 : 23 and Judith 15 : 10 and Canticles 4 : 7

Benedicta es tu, Virgo Maria, a Domino, Deo excelso, prae omnibus mulieribus super terram.

Response : Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel, tu honorificentia populi nostri.

Alleluja, Alleluja.

Response : Tota pulchra es, Maria : et macula originalis non est in te, Alleluja.

English translation

Blessed are you, o Virgin Mary, by the Lord, the Most High God, above all women, upon the earth.

Response : You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you are the honour of our people.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Response : You are all fair, o Mary, and there is in you no stain of original sin. Alleluia.

(Usus Antiquior) Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I Classis) – Wednesday, 8 December 2021 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : White

Lectio libri Sapientiae – Lesson from the Book of Wisdom

Proverbs 8 : 22-35

Dominus possedit me in initio viarum suarum, antequam faceret a principio. Ab aeterno ordinata sum, et ex antiquis, antequam terra fieret. Nondum erant abyssi, et ego jam concepta eram : necdum fontes aquarum eruperant : necdum montes gravi mole constiterant : ante colles ego parturiebar : adhuc terram non fecerat et flumina et cardines orbis terrae.

Quando praeparabat caelos, aderam : quando certa lege et gyro vallabat abyssos : quando aethera firmabat sursum et librabat fontes aquarum : quando circumdabat mari terminum suum et legem ponebat aquis, ne transirent fines suos : quando appendebat fundamenta terrae.

Cum eo eram cuncta componens : et delectabar per singulos dies, ludens coram eo omni tempore : ludens in orbe terrarum : et deliciae meae esse cum filiis hominum. Nunc ergo, filii, audite me : Beati, qui custodiunt vias meas. Audite disciplinam, et estote sapientes, et nolite abjicere eam.

Beatus homo, qui audit me et qui vigilat ad fores meas cotidie, et observat ad postes ostii mei. Qui me invenerit, inveniet vitam et hauriet salutem a Domino.

English translation

The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything, from the beginning, I was set up from eternity, and of old, before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived, neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out, the mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established, before the hills I was brought forth. He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world.

When He prepared the Heavens, I was there, when with a certain law and compass, He enclosed the depths, when He established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters, when He compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters that they should not pass their limits, when He balanced the foundations of the earth.

I was with Him, forming all things, and was delighted every day, playing before Him at all times, playing in the world, and My delight is to be with the children of men. Now therefore, you children, hear Me : Blessed are those who keep My ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and do not refuse it.

Blessed is the man who hears Me, and who watches daily at My gates, and waits at the posts of My doors. He who shall find Me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.

(Usus Antiquior) Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I Classis) – Wednesday, 8 December 2021 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : White

Introit

Isaiah 61 : 10 and Psalm 29 : 2

Gaudens gaudebo in Domino, et exsultabit anima mea in Deo meo : quia induit me vestimentis salutis : et indumento justitiae circumdedit me, quasi sponsam ornatam monilibus suis.

Exaltabo Te, Domine, quoniam suscepisti me : nec delectasti inimicos meos super me.

Response : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God, for He had clothed me with the garments of salvation, and with the robe of justice He had covered me, as a bride adorned with her jewels.

I will extol You, o Lord, for You have upheld me, and have not made my enemies to rejoice over me.

Response : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Collect

Deus, qui per immaculatam Virginis Conceptionem dignum Filio Tuo habitaculum praeparasti : quaesumus; ut, qui ex morte ejusdem Filii Tui praevisa eam ab omni labe praeservasti, nos quoque mundos ejus intercessione ad Te pervenire concedas. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, had prepared a worthy dwelling for Your Son, we beseech You, that You, Who, by the death, foreseen by You, of the same Son, Your Son, had preserved her from all stain, will grant us also, by her intercession, to come to You pure in heart. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are called to reflect on our lives and actions as we continue to journey through this season of Advent. Today we are all called to seek the Lord, our loving God and our Good Shepherd, Who has always ever showed concern and care for each one of us. He has always reached out to us, seeking to be reconciled with us, and we should recognise His ever present love, compassion and generous mercy.

Today, in our first reading as we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, the prophet spoke of the words of the Lord, offering assurance and the coming of the Lord’s salvation for the people of God. This came in the context of the sufferings that the people had suffered for a long time for their disobedience, and all that they would still suffer, the humiliation and the trials and challenges, for having abandoned God and for having done what were wicked in the sight of God.

But the Lord assured them all through Isaiah that if they all were willing to turn to Him and seek Him, then He will come to gather them all and provide for them, as a Good Shepherd calling forth His sheep, gathering all of them scattered throughout the world and making them part of His one beloved flock. God will make them great and blessed once again, and they will enter into His glorious kingdom and receive the assurance of eternal life and joy with Him.

And all these were fulfilled by the coming of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all and the whole world, Who in our Gospel passage today reiterated the same truth and message, that the Lord indeed, as He often referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd, has come to this world to gather all of the lost sheep, so that the entire flock may become whole yet again. He came to us, in the flesh, to be with us and to help us find our way to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, of the shepherd who was so happy to have found the one lost sheep and went out all the way just to seek that one lost sheep, we should come to know of the truth that God has always ever been so patient with us, and based on what we have earlier heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, truly we should be able to realise and feel the great love that God has shown each and every one of us. He has done so much for us and He is truly willing to welcome us back into His embrace, that we may never be lost from Him again.

However, it is often that we are the ones who had been stubborn and persistent in our refusal to believe in Him, and despite the Lord’s constant attempts to reach out to us, we often spurned His love and compassion, rejected His mercy and generosity in trying to reach out to us and forgive us our sins. That is why it is important for all of us to remind ourselves of just how fortunate and blessed we are to have been beloved in such a way by the Lord, and how all of us should be grateful for this love and generosity we have received.

Today, we should also reflect on the life and the examples of a great saint that can become a truly wonderful inspiration for us on how we should live our lives as Christians. St. Ambrose of Milan, the great and renowned Bishop of Milan is a great role model to all of us, in his piety and dedication to God, as well as in his dedication to his flock and the salvation of souls. He was one of the four original Doctors of the Church and is widely revered throughout the Church for all history and up to this very day.

St. Ambrose was born into a high ranking Roman family and was the Roman governor of what is today the northern region of Italy, the province of Aemilia-Liguria when a particular turn of events brought him to be the Bishop of the important Diocese of Milan. At that time, the divisions within the Church were deep and terrible, as conflicts often arose between the supporters of the Arian heresy and the ones who remained faithful to the true teachings of the Church. The death of the Arian bishop of Milan led to a very heated and protracted election of his successor.

It was amidst all these that as St. Ambrose came to the election as a moderator in his role as the provincial governor that the Holy Spirit inspired the people gathered there, having known of the virtues and faith of this governor, to acclaim him as the next Bishop of Milan. Initially, St. Ambrose was hesitant to take up the office, as back then, although he was already nominally a Christian by faith, but he was not even formally baptised yet, and did not have a proper preparation in theology and many aspects of the Church.

Eventually, he obeyed the calling of God and was baptised, ordained as priest and bishop. As the Bishop of Milan, he adopted an ascetic lifestyle and committed himself to serve the needs of his flock. He helped to heal the divisions in the Church and gradually persuaded many of those who still held on to their heretical Arian beliefs to abandon those beliefs and return to the true faith of the Holy Mother Church. He dedicated much of his time to reform the Church not only within his own Diocese but also in the wider scope of the Universal Church.

He was a mentor, teacher and sponsor for St. Augustine of Hippo, another great and renowned Church father, who was to become another one of the four great original Doctors of the Church. St. Ambrose was also well-remembered for his confrontation with the Roman Emperor, the powerful and mighty Theodosius the Great, for his role in the deaths of many people in the Massacre of Thessalonica, one of the greatest cities of the Empire. St. Ambrose promptly excommunicated the Emperor, with the intention of leading him back towards God and not to give in to worldly corruptions from sin.

The Emperor was repentant, and he publicly denounced and confessed his own sins of having caused such a great dismay in the Church and for having sinned against God, laying aside his regalia and all the splendour of his office, and in the sackcloth of a penitent, he was welcomed back into the Church by St. Ambrose, whose actions and interactions with the Emperor Theodosius the Great reminded all of us of the dangers of sin, and how powerful the allure of sin is, and yet, at the same time, how generous God is with His mercy and compassion, as long as we are willing to embrace His love and mercy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we have heard today through the Scriptures and the life and works of St. Ambrose, let us all reflect on our own lives. Have we lived our lives worthily as the Lord has commanded us to do? Have we been faithful as Christians, in dedicating ourselves to God? Or have we spent our time in indulging in our desires and in worldly pleasures and corruptions? These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves this Advent, as we recall God’s mercy, love and compassion at the same time.

Are we ready to welcome the Lord into our hearts and into our lives? Are we willing to be humble before Him, admitting our sinfulness and our wicked past, and like the Emperor, cast aside the trappings of our pride and ego, and seek the Lord wholeheartedly and strive to love Him with all of our might from now on? May the Lord be with us all and may He guide us in our journey of faith through this Advent season and through life. Amen.