Monday, 30 December 2013

Mystery of two natures

The mystery of the Presentation, when Jesus is recognized by Simeon and the elderly prophetess Anna, "really brings together in the Temple all that was living and true in the Old Testament. This mystery shows us how the union of the Old and the New Testaments is found in Mary, how in and through her the Old Testament is assumed by the New without being abolished: the Old Testament is completely transformed" (M.-D. Philippe OP). The Mystery betokens the union of human and divine natures in Christ – the assumption of a human nature through a divine personality. The Old Testament is human nature brought by God to its highest point in Mary. It has been built up through the ages to reach the point represented by Mary sitting in her room with the Scriptures open on her lap, ready to receive the Word of God. She receives, and those Scriptures are raised to a higher level in Christ, a human nature assumed and therefore transformed by a divine Person. Anna and Simeon recognize what has happened. Among the last prophets of the Old Testament, they see the dawning of the New.

The quotation from Fr Philippe is taken from Magnificat, December 2013, p. 453. The Icon is by the hand of Father Vladimir.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Holy Family

A family like others – that is to say, unique. Of course, while many families have God at the centre, this one has God made flesh. On the road, confused, hungry, uncomfortable. What will happen next? So many children killed because of him! How much time do we have to do what God wants? The road marked out by angels leads to Egypt, the land of pagan mysteries and secret initiations. This is the land where the first Joseph was taken by slavers, where he became a master of dreams and a prince, able to offer bread in the midst of famine. Now Joseph is bringing the Bread of Angels into Egypt. How long must they stay, and what must they do there until the angels speak again, calling them home? What did they see, and what did they learn? The Bible only tells us what we need to know.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


The birth of a child is not a completely new beginning but it changes everything. It is a revelation that transforms us. The baby existed before, but now we can see its face. In this case, the unique case of Jesus, it is the face that God turns towards us, and also the face that we turn towards God – the mystery of two natures.

When Jesus comes into the world, all things turn towards him. The star representing the heavens leads wise men towards the baby. The peoples of the earth flock towards the stable where he shows his face. Everyone wants to gaze into those eyes. Mary and Joseph are the privileged ones. They live in his presence, surrounded by his aura, full of his joy.

The child begins to cry. He needs us, as we need him. He gives a voice to the cry of the ages, the cry of the world itself – the people, the animals, the rivers, the mountains. He gives a voice to the cry of God, who calls us to return to him, across such a great distance, over which there is now a bridge. The cry of God has never been heard before. The long ages have been silent. The bridge begins with a cry of need, and it will end with a cry of rejoicing, as the peoples of the world enter their Holy City.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Moses and Joseph

Saint Joseph, image of the Father, may also be seen in this image of Moses approaching the Burning Bush by Nicholas Froment. The Bush is Mary, Joseph's spouse. On her lap is the Logos, the I AM that she gives to the world. She is surrounded with flames that will descend again at Pentecost. Moses takes off his shoes, he hears the angels in the flames speaking for God. He takes his people to the threshold of Promised Land. As for Joseph, he cherishes his spouse, he listens to the angels, he leads his people into Egypt like the first Joseph, and back again. Mary is an Ark of the Covenant that contains the new Law—Mary containing Jesus, or holding him in her arms. In Jesus who is the Law, the divine Presence is saving the People of God. The whole painting is like an Annunciation because of the presence of the Angel (perhaps Gabriel) on the left. It is like the Annunciation to Joseph, when he is told about the divine conception of Jesus. It is then he sees Mary for the first time as the Ark and the Temple and the Seat of Wisdom. Or perhaps he knew this already – but now his own place in the story is revealed. The fulfillment of the divine promises is entrusted to him of all people. It is he, the unworthy, a mere creature, who must step into the place of the Invisible.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Advent devotion

Mother of God, thou heart of light,
Mother of God, heart of the world,
Mother of God, thou heart most pure,
Mother of God, heart of the Word,
We come to thee full of shame and weak of soul,
With body bowed down and bending the knee,
For, because of our ignorance,
Our hearts have greatly grown dark.
The Lord has let us wander in the paths of our spirit,
But now it is to thee that we come,
O Mother of Jesus;
Receive us as souls thirsting
For the joys of the unwaning morning,
And deign to renew in us a pure heart,
So that we may chant unto thee:

Rejoice, Ark of the Covenant with my soul!
Rejoice, Sealed Chest containing the Name of God!
Rejoice, Living Ship afloat on creation's mysteries!
Rejoice, Bridal Gift staining none with earthly vanities!
Rejoice, Throne whereon Life itself reposes!
Rejoice, living Resonance wherein chants a ray of uncreated Light!
Rejoice, interior Treasury of the riches of Grace!
Rejoice, mystic Tabernacle on the holy altar!
Rejoice, heavenly Temple whose liturgist is the Spirit!
Rejoice, Church ardently longing for espousal to Christ!
Rejoice, O Bride, Mother of continual prayer!

Part of an Akathist by the Romanian poet, Santu Tudor.