Tuesday, 21 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures and as we come ever closer to the celebration of Christmas in just a few more days, all of us are reminded that God loves us all, and we are all precious and cherished by Him. We should be grateful and feeling very fortunate to have been treasured in such a way by our loving God, and to have experienced His most wonderful love and grace. God has always ever been patient in loving us despite our many transgressions and mistakes, as He wants us to return to Him and rediscover the love that we all should have for Him.

The Lord has promised us all His salvation, and has always proved His love for us from the very beginning, never abandoning us even in the moments of our greatest distress. He has always put us all first and foremost in His thoughts, and He always endeavoured to reach out to us, trying to find us and to redeem us so that we may not be forever lost to Him. And that was why He came down into our midst, through His most Blessed Mother Mary, the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mother of God, who went to visit Elizabeth, her cousin in our Gospel passage today.

Elizabeth recognised Mary and the One inside her womb, the Saviour of the whole world and the Lord Himself, the Divine Word Incarnate, Who has taken up the human existence and form in the flesh, to bring His salvation into our midst. The Lord has revealed Himself to us, the fullness of His love, through His incarnation and then His birth into this world. The world that was once in the darkness and in the shadows of evil and wickedness has finally seen the truth, love and salvation from God.

That is the true essence of Christmas, which often sadly had been forgotten by the world, by many of us, even we who called ourselves as Christians. We have forgotten what the Lord had done for us and sidelined Him because we have little faith in Him. We are easily distracted by the many temptations and worldly desires present in this world. These had misled us down the wrong path and caused us to be separated further and further away from God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these words of the Scriptures, we are therefore reminded of the need for us to respond to God’s love and to answer His call. He has called all of us to follow Him and to entrust ourselves completely to His care and to believe in His hope and light, in His truth and way. But in order to do so, first of all, we need to reject firmly the temptations of our worldly concerns and desires.

Today, all of us are celebrating the feast of a great saint whose life, works and devotion to God and His Blessed Mother Mary can be great source of inspiration and strength for all of us. St. Peter Canisius was a renowned Jesuit priest and teacher of the faith, who dedicated his life in serving God. Born as Peter Kanis in what is today the Netherlands, the future saint would come to join the Society of Jesus together with other famous saints like St. Francis Xavier and its founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

St. Peter Canisius dedicated himself in the many efforts of Counter Reformation in what is today Germany, seeking to undo and repair the damages caused to the Church and the communities of the faithful by the false teachings of the heresy of Protestantism back then. He laboured hard among the people, teaching the faith and revealing the truth about Church teachings and tenets, in a way that is both understandable, respectful and conciliatory.

He once remarked that the right manner and attitude must be used in persuading the lapsed ones to return to the Holy Mother Church, saying that if a forceful method is used, then it may end up preventing the healing of the division within the Church of God. To that extent, he continued to work hard to bridge the divisions among the people of God, and managed throughout his efforts to convert and convince many to abandon their rebellion and return to the true Church of God.

St. Peter Canisius was also well known for his Catechism, which was widely published and reproduced, which resulted in the great rejuvenation of faith among the people and the increase in the number of people who began to appreciate the true teachings of the Church more, and many others deepened their under his guidance and through their understanding and exposure to his works. He was also known for his Mariology and devotion to the Blessed Mother of God, and was credited with the last line in the Hail Mary prayer, ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Canisius in his faith and dedication to the Lord. Let us all devote ourselves ever more to Him and His Blessed Mother, while reminding ourselves of what we are celebrating this Christmas, of Christ Our Lord, Whose love for us and His generous mercy and compassion has saved us from certain destruction. May God be with us always, and may He continue to love us, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 39-45

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

Tuesday, 21 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 32 : 2-3, 11-12, 20-21

Give thanks to YHVH on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises. Amid loud shouts of joy, sing to Him a new song and play the ten-stringed harp.

But His plan stands forever, and His heart’s design, through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in Him, for we trust on His holy Name.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Song of Songs 2 : 8-14

The voice of my Lover! Behold He comes, springing across the mountains, jumping over the hills, like a gazelle or a young stag. Noe He stands behind our wall, looking through the windows, peering through the lattice.

My Lover speaks to me, “Arise, My love, My beautiful one! Come, the winter is gone, the rains are over. Flowers have appeared on earth; the season of singing has come; the cooing of doves is heard. The fig tree forms its early fruit, the vines in blossom are fragrant. Arise, My beautiful one, come with Me, My love, come.”

“O My dove in the rocky cleft, in the secret places of the cliff, let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice. Your face – how lovely! Your voice – how sweet!”

Alternative reading

Zephaniah 3 : 14-18a

Cry out with joy, o daughter of Zion; rejoice, o people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! YHVH has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. YHVH, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune.

On that day, they will say to Jerusalem : Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for YHVH your God is within you, YHVH, saving warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for He has revived His love. For you He will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the feast. I will drive away the evil I warned you about.

Monday, 21 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded to refocus our attention towards the Lord and the faith that Mary, His beloved Mother has shown. As we draw ever closer to the celebration of Christmas, our attention is brought to Mary’s role in the salvation of the world, by her humble acceptance of the role that was entrusted to her, and her obedience to God’s will.

Mary, the Mother of God, was just a simple and humble woman in the town of Nazareth in Galilee, someone without pedigree and status, without much wealth, and yet, she has been honoured far greater than anyone else, to be the Mother of God and to bear the Saviour of the world in her. Of course, the Lord has prepared herself specifically and preserved her from the state of sin, and by grace therefore made her to be a worthy vessel of the Divine Saviour and as Ark of the New Covenant.

However, it was also her genuine and pure love for God, for her Son, and her obedience in total fullness of grace that kept her as a truly worthy servant of God and also a great role model for all of us as Christians. Her love for God and her faith are things that we should be inspired to follow in our own lives, and we should live our lives just as Mary had lived hers, placing God above all else and as the priority and focus in our lives.

This is a timely reminder for all of us just as we are about to enter into the glorious mystery and joyful celebration of Christmas. Ultimately, Christmas is not about ourselves and all the joyful merrymaking and pleasures that we desire from all the festivities and celebrations. Christmas is about God’s love, reaching out to us through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, born into the world through Mary, His mother.

We are all called to love God in the same way that God Himself had dedicated Himself to us, cared for us and spent time looking for us and calling on us to repent from our sinful ways. That is indeed the true essence of Christmas for us, the celebration of God’s love in our midst. We rejoice because of the hope that Christ has brought us, the light that He has restored to us amidst the darkness of the world.

We have to appreciate fully just how beloved and fortunate all of us have been, to have God Who truly cares for us and desires for us to be saved and reconciled with Him, that He had done everything for that purpose. We celebrate this love at Christmas, and therefore, we are called to reflect on the way that we celebrate Christmas, not through mindless and meaningless extravagance but through genuine love and devotion to God.

Today, let us all model ourselves on the examples of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, as well as the other holy men and women, saints and blesseds of the Lord. In particular, we celebrate the feast of St. Peter Canisius, the great Doctor of the Church and Jesuit priest who was remembered for his great dedication to the Lord, his commitment to many works for the greater glory of God, his patient labours in spreading the Good News and truth of God among the people.

St. Peter Canisius was born in what is today part of the Netherlands, and he joined St. Ignatius of Loyola and other men in the newly founded Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. At that time, at the height of the reformation era in Europe, St. Peter Canisius and his fellow Jesuits were crucial in their role of ministering to the people and bringing back numerous people back to the Church through their efforts.

St. Peter Canisius was especially known for his efforts in evangelisation in the areas now part of Switzerland and Germany, and through his famous Catechism, many people rediscovered the true meaning and importance of the Christian faith, and many returned to the true faith they left behind out of ignorance and misunderstandings of the true Christian teachings.

And lastly, St. Peter Canisius was also known for his devotion to Mary, and his works on Mariology was also quite well remembered. In fact, he is credited with the last part of the prayer ‘Hail Mary’ that every one of us know very well, ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.’ Through this, all of us are reminded by St. Peter Canisius, of the important role that Mary as the Mother of God has in our salvation, for truly, she is our great helper and intercessor before her Son in heaven.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore be inspired to live our lives in the manner that the faithful people of God, as represented by Mary herself and by St. Peter Canisius, had done in their own lives. Let us all make good use of the remaining time of Advent to prepare ourselves well that we may celebrate Christmas well, with proper understanding and appreciation of its importance to us. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 21 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 39-45

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

Monday, 21 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 32 : 2-3, 11-12, 20-21

Give thanks to YHVH on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises. Amid loud shouts of joy, sing to Him a new song and play the ten-stringed harp.

But His plan stands forever, and His heart’s design, through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in Him, for we trust on His holy Name.

Monday, 21 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Song of Songs 2 : 8-14

The voice of my Lover! Behold He comes, springing across the mountains, jumping over the hills, like a gazelle or a young stag. Noe He stands behind our wall, looking through the windows, peering through the lattice.

My Lover speaks to me, “Arise, My love, My beautiful one! Come, the winter is gone, the rains are over. Flowers have appeared on earth; the season of singing has come; the cooing of doves is heard. The fig tree forms its early fruit, the vines in blossom are fragrant. Arise, My beautiful one, come with Me, My love, come.”

“O My dove in the rocky cleft, in the secret places of the cliff, let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice. Your face – how lovely! Your voice – how sweet!”

Alternative reading

Zephaniah 3 : 14-18a

Cry out with joy, o daughter of Zion; rejoice, o people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! YHVH has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. YHVH, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune.

On that day, they will say to Jerusalem : Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for YHVH your God is within you, YHVH, saving warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for He has revived His love. For you He will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the feast. I will drive away the evil I warned you about.

Saturday, 21 December 2019 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of one of the holy Doctors of the Church, who was also a member of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits, and also a great priest and champion of the Counter Reformation efforts of the Church. St. Peter Canisius is truly a great inspiration and role model that many of us Christians can look upon as we ourselves progress in our own respective journeys of faith.

St. Peter Canisius lived at the time when the Church and Christendom were at a crossroads, at a time of great challenges and trials for the Church and the faithful, when many of the faithful began to walk away from the true faith at the time of the Protestant reformation, when many different alternative thoughts and teachings brought segments of the faithful to splinter away from the Holy Mother Church.

It was there then that St. Peter Canisius, as one of the earliest members of the Society of Jesus founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, was instrumental in the efforts to counter the divisions within the Church, in what was called the Counter Reformation. St. Peter Canisius was one among the Jesuits tasked with the works of re-evangelisation of traditional lands of Christendom such as in what is now Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the Nordic countries among others.

St. Peter Canisius was remembered particularly not just for the zeal with which he carried out his mission, but also the love and gentleness with which he performed his works and ministries among the people of God, even in difficult and challenging times. He advocated clarity in doctrine and preaching and discouraged attacks and insults against the Protestant populations, arguing that such methods made the spiritually sick and needy to become incurable.

Instead, spearheading the efforts of the Counter-Reformation and the gradual implementation of the reforms of the Ecumenical Council of Trent which rooted out many of the ills and corruptions then affecting the Church, St. Peter Canisius contributed immensely to the efforts of the Counter-Reformation by his courageous efforts and tireless devotion to serve the Lord by his outreach to those who have separated themselves from the Church, focusing on clarifying the confusion within the Church and explaining more clearly the truth of the Church.

To that extent, St. Peter Canisius wrote and authored the three volumes of what would be known as the Catechisms in the Latin and German language, the language of those who have been most affected by the reformation. This was one of his most renowned contributions to the Church, which was part of the reason why he was canonised as a saint and made as one of the Doctors of the Church in the year 1925 by Pope Pius XI. His contributions in leading the Counter-Reformation in Germany, reclaiming many areas to the Church was also a contributing factor.

And not just that, as St. Peter Canisius was also renowned for his deep devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, and his contributions to the area of Mariology which helped to deepen the then developing spiritual devotion to Mary, in which again he is remembered for his lasting contribution of adding the final part of the Ave Maria or the Hail Mary prayer with the final prayer and petition of ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen’.

As we can see, the inspiring examples of St. Peter Canisius in everything he has contributed to the Church and his important role in the renewal of faith especially among those who have lapsed in their ways, should be important reminder for us all as well, in how we ourselves should rediscover our faith in God and deepen our relationship with Him, especially through a deeper relationship with His mother Mary, to whom St. Peter Canisius and many of our holy predecessors had deep devotion for.

As we approach the moment of Christmas in just a few days’ time, it is perhaps timely that today’s commemoration of the memory of the glorious St. Peter Canisius reminds us of the need for us to be reconnected with God, and how as Christians all of us have that obligation and calling to be witnesses for Christ within our own communities, friends and families.

Just as how it was during the time of St. Peter Canisius, when many had fallen away from the faith, there are also today many people who had lapsed from their faith and became wayward in their lives. Have we become like one of them, when we allowed our faith to become lukewarm? We have lost the faith if we have allowed ourselves to treat our faith as merely just a formality, and especially, if Christmas has no further meaning to us than just another holiday.

If this is the case, then there is a need for us to reexamine our lives and reconnect ourselves to God. We need to seek the Lord again with a new love and zeal just as how we heard from our first reading today in the Book of Song of Songs, like that of a lover seeking his or her long lost lover. And once we have regained that connection with God, then our challenge is such that, we need to follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Canisius, and bring others back into the faith just as we have done.

And how do we do that, brothers and sisters in Christ? Not through confrontation or by being condescending as what St. Peter Canisius had said, that if we do so, we will end up making those who have rejected God to close themselves against Him even more. Instead, we should be role models of our faith, just as St. Peter Canisius has been a great role model for us. Live our lives full of faith, and practice what we believe in our actions, words and deeds, and in time, all those who see us, hear us and meet us will be touched by our faith.

Let us all seek the Lord with all of our hearts then, and endeavour to love Him more as we are about to celebrate the glorious celebration of Christmas in just a few days’ time. We should not allow Christmas to be just another holiday or festivity, but instead, let us all immerse ourselves in the true meaning and joy of Christmas in our Lord’s coming, and share the love which He has shown us to one another. May God be with us all and with our blessed Christmas preparations. Amen.

Saturday, 21 December 2019 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 39-45

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”