Thursday, 8 December 2022 : 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.

Thursday, 8 December 2022 : 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.

Thursday, 8 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-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.

Thursday, 8 December 2022 : 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) – Thursday, 8 December 2022 : 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) – Thursday, 8 December 2022 : 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) – Thursday, 8 December 2022 : 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) – Thursday, 8 December 2022 : 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) – Thursday, 8 December 2022 : 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.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022 : 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 Scriptures, we are called to remember the loving care of God, our Lord and Creator, the One Who has always provided for each one of us and protected us from harm’s way, and how He has always looked out for those who are downtrodden and troubled. He did not forget those whom He has called and chosen to be His own, and He gathered all of them from among the nations, and gave them renewed strength and hope, encouragement and assurance that He, their Lord and God, will be with them, and will guide and protect them through the hardships and challenges of the world. That is why we have to put our faith and trust in Him, and not be easily swayed by worldly temptations and distractions all around us.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, God has shown His people His power and might, reminding them of everything that He had done for all those times that they had journeyed with Him, and rebuking those who had not placed their faith in Him, but instead entrusting themselves to wicked pagan idols and gods. God told them all through His prophet Isaiah of everything that He had done, and how He had raised them up, giving them hope and strength although they had fallen and been downtrodden, cast down and brought low, humbled and suffered as a result of their own actions, their own lack of faith in Him and wayward attitudes. They had not been faithful and true to the path that God had shown them, and yet, God still loved them nonetheless.

Back then, the people to whom Isaiah ministered to, the people of the southern kingdom of Judah, had experienced many years of tribulations and hardships, witnessing the downfall and destructions of their northern neighbours, the kingdom of Israel, who were their own fellow brothers and sisters, conquered and exiled by the Assyrians who crushed them and their cities, humbled and humiliated them, because they refused to place themselves in the hands of the Lord, and their wickedness, evils and persecutions of the Lord’s prophets and messengers eventually caught up to them, and the same, although to a lesser degree had happened to the people of Judah as well. The people of God there had not been completely faithful to God, and had from time to time, fell again and again into the path of sin.

They often rebelled and disobeyed God, refusing to listen to Him or obey His Law and commandments, and as such, they suffered the just consequences of their actions. They chose to put themselves under the yoke of the devil and the idols, preferring to enjoy the corrupt fruits of worldly desires, power and glory, succumbing to those temptations of their pride, ego and greed, and not listening to God and His truth. God reminds us all therefore, just as we heard in our Gospel passage today, that He loves us all and calls upon us to return to Him, and to get out of all of that yoke of the world, and embrace Him and His path instead, with the well-known words, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He reminds us all that while His path is not going to be easy, but in the end, compared to the path of worldliness, sin and evil, His path is going to be good and leads us to happiness, while the so-called more enjoyable path of the world, will lead us to nothing but regret and eternal suffering.

As Christians, each and every one of us must realise that God has shown us His love all these while, and He never gave up on us even when we have often been difficult and stubborn in refusing to embrace His love, kindness, compassion and mercy. He has always ever been patient in loving us and in reaching out to us, as a loving Father and Shepherd, calling out to us His beloved children and sheep who have been lost and separated from Him. Yet, we also must realise that unless we make the effort to welcome Him into our lives and open our hearts and minds to let Him enter into our existence and lives, then we are likely going to remain separated from Him and like many of us realised too late, that we may end up being forever sundered and separated from Him, for those who are eventually judged to be unworthy of God.

Today, let us all therefore be inspired by the great examples shown to us by one great saint whose feast we celebrate this day, namely that of St. Ambrose of Milan, the well-known Bishop of Milan and one of the most influential Church leaders of his time, through his piety and good works, his courageous and fearless efforts in leading the people of God to the right path, not afraid of oppositions and hardships, and his many contributions being recognised later on as one of the four original Doctors of the Church, together with St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Basil the Great or St. Jerome, which highlighted just how great an impact that St. Ambrose of Milan had in the Church and the Christian community, not just in his See of Milan but also throughout the whole entire Christendom.

St. Ambrose was born into a Christian family, a rather influential and powerful family, and he was brought up with good education, preparing him for a life of service in the Roman administration, becoming a government official and finally being appointed as the regional governor of the regions of Liguria and Emilia in what is now present day northern parts of Italy, with the headquarters in Milan. Back then, there was bitter divisions within the Church in Milan as those who believed in the falsehoods of the Arian heresy, popularised by the famous preacher Arius, were in conflict with those who believed in the true teachings of the Church, the true and orthodox Christian faith. At that time, the death of the Arian bishop of Milan led to heated debate and conflict in the election of his successor, as each parties desired to elect their own candidates.

St. Ambrose had to step in to settle the issue, and after protracted and heated struggle to elect the new Bishop of Milan, the assembled faithful were inspired by the Holy Spirit to elect St. Ambrose himself, despite not being a clergyman, to be the new Bishop of Milan. He was also acceptable to those who sided with the heretical teachings of Arius. St. Ambrose embraced God’s call and became a most dedicated servant of His in his duty and ministry as the Bishop of Milan, in building up the Church and the Christian community. He helped to steer the Church out of the influence and the falsehoods of the Arian heresy mentioned earlier, and fearlessly faced the opposition from the powerful supporters of the Arians, which included the Roman nobles and distinguished personas, that included the Emperor and his family.

St. Ambrose patiently endured the challenges and was persistent in his efforts to reform the Church, proclaiming God’s truth among His people. When later on the faithful and orthodox Emperor Theodosius the Great became the ruler of all the Roman Empire, he did not stop himself from opposing the Emperor himself in a very well-known occasion as St. Ambrose excommunicated the Emperor for having been complicit in his role in the massacre of the people and the innocent population of the great city of Thessalonica. That led to the Emperor himself humbling himself before God and the people, as he put aside his Imperial cloak and garments, wearing the garments of a penitent, and repented from his sins, and welcomed back into the Church by St. Ambrose himself. There were also many other contributions that this holy man of God had done, in his many writings and works, and in helping the aforementioned St. Augustine of Hippo, another original Doctor of the Church, in finding his way towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard the inspiring examples and dedications showed by St. Ambrose of Milan, and also of God’s love, compassion and mercy for all of us His people, and how many of those people had let Him down and betrayed Him for worldly temptations, let us all ask ourselves then, whether we have been truly faithful to God in our daily living and works. Have we spent our days and lives in faithful ways as our faith has called us to do? Or have we instead preferred to follow the whims of our worldly desires and the myriad of the temptations surrounding us? Let us all discern our path carefully, brothers and sisters, and be more faithful from now on, especially during this time of blessed Advent, when we are constantly being reminded of what we are supposed to do as Christians to welcome the Lord into our lives.

May God be with us all, especially as we continue to journey through this season of Advent, that we may be ever closer to Him, and that we may find our path towards Him, and be ever more attuned to His will, His Law and commandments. May God bless us all in our every good deeds and endeavours, all for His greater glory. Amen.