Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012 - Annunciation of the Lord Parish, Ottawa Ontario

Christmas Eve Mass, Annunciation of the Lord Parish, Ottawa,  ( highlights)


Father Jerry's Homily 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Saint Juan Diego Pray for Us

Today's feast anticipates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Wednesday,.

St. Juan Diego was born in 1474 in Cuauhtitlan, located 20 kilometers north of Mexico City.

On December 9, 1531, a native Mexican named Juan Diego rose before dawn to walk fifteen miles to daily Mass in what is now Mexico City. Juan lived a simple life as a weaver, farmer, and laborer. That morning, as Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he heard music and saw a glowing cloud encircled by a rainbow.

A woman's voice called him to the top of the hill. There he saw a beautiful young woman dressed like an Aztec princess. She said she was the Virgin Mary and asked Juan to tell the bishop to build a church on that site. She said, "I vividly desire that a church be built on this site, so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your most devoted mother . . . to hear your laments and to remedy all your miseries, pains, and suffering.

The bishop was kind but skeptical. He asked Juan to bring proof of the Lady's identity. Before Juan could go back to the Lady, he found out his uncle was dying. Hurrying to get a priest, Juan missed his meeting with the Lady. The Lady, however, met him on his path and told him that his uncle had been cured.

She then told Juan to climb to the top of the hill where they first met. Juan was shocked to find flowers growing in the frozen soil. He gathered them in his cloak and took them at once to the bishop

Juan told the bishop what had happened and opened his cloak. The flowers that fell to the ground were Castilian roses (which were not grown in Mexico). But the bishop's eyes were on the glowing image of the Lady imprinted inside Juan's cloak.

Soon after, a church was built on the site where our Lady appeared, and thousands converted to Christianity. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the patroness of the Americas.

Juan Diego deeply loved the Holy Eucharist, and by special permission of the Bishop he received Holy Communion three times a week, a highly unusual occurrence in those times

He died on May 30, 1548, at the age of 74

Pope John Paul II praised Juan Diego for his simple faith nourished by catechesis and pictured him (who said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf”) as a model of humility for all of us


Pope John Paul II's homily during Juan Diego's canonization

I thank you, Father ... that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was your gracious will" (Mt 11:25-26).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
These words of Jesus in today's Gospel are a special invitation to us to praise and thank God for the gift of the first indigenous Saint of the American Continent.

With deep joy I have come on pilgrimage to this Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Marian heart of Mexico and of America, to proclaim the holiness of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the simple, humble Indian who contemplated the sweet and serene face of Our Lady of Tepeyac, so dear to the people of Mexico....
Today I address a very affectionate greeting to the many indigenous people who have come from the different regions of the country, representing the various ethnic groups and cultures which make up the rich, multifaceted Mexican reality. The Pope expresses his closeness to them, his deep respect and admiration, and receives them fraternally in the Lord's name.

What was Juan Diego like? Why did God look upon him? The Book of Sirach, as we have heard, teaches us that God alone "is mighty; he is glorified by the humble" (cf. Sir 3:20). Saint Paul's words, also proclaimed at this celebration, shed light on the divine way of bringing about salvation: "God chose what is low and despised in the world ... so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1 Cor 1:28,29).
It is moving to read the accounts of Guadalupe, sensitively written and steeped in tenderness. In them the Virgin Mary, the handmaid "who glorified the Lord" (Lk 1:46), reveals herself to Juan Diego as the Mother of the true God. As a sign, she gives him precious roses, and as he shows them to the Bishop, he discovers the blessed image of Our Lady imprinted on his tilma.

"The Guadalupe Event," as the Mexican Episcopate has pointed out, "meant the beginning of evangelization with a vitality that surpassed all expectations. Christ's message, through his Mother, took up the central elements of the indigenous culture, purified them and gave them the definitive sense of salvation" (14 May 2002, No. 8).

Consequently Guadalupe and Juan Diego have a deep ecclesial and missionary meaning and are a model of perfectly inculturated evangelization.

"The Lord looks down from heaven, he sees all the sons of men" (Ps 33:13), we recited with the Psalmist, once again confessing our faith in God, who makes no distinctions of race or culture.

In accepting the Christian message without forgoing his indigenous identity, Juan Diego discovered the profound truth of the new humanity, in which all are called to be children of God. Thus he facilitated the fruitful meeting of two worlds and became the catalyst for the new Mexican identity, closely united to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose mestizo face expresses her spiritual motherhood which embraces all Mexicans.
This is why the witness of his life must continue to be the inspiration for the building up of the Mexican nation, encouraging brotherhood among all its children and ever helping to reconcile Mexico with its origins, values, and traditions.

The noble task of building a better Mexico, with greater justice and solidarity, demands the cooperation of all. In particular, it is necessary today to support the indigenous peoples in their legitimate aspirations, respecting and defending the authentic values of each ethnic group. Mexico needs its indigenous peoples and these peoples need Mexico!

Beloved bothers and sisters of every ethnic background of Mexico and America, today, in praising the Indian Juan Diego, I want to express to all of you the closeness of the Church and the Pope, embracing you with love and encouraging you to overcome with hope the difficult times you are going through.
At this decisive moment in Mexico's history, having already crossed the threshold of the new millennium, I entrust to the powerful intercession of Saint Juan Diego the joys and hopes, the fears and anxieties of the beloved Mexican people, whom I carry in my heart.

Blessed Juan Diego, a good, Christian Indian, whom simple people have always considered a saint! We ask you to accompany the Church on her pilgrimage in Mexico, so that she may be more evangelizing and more missionary each day. Encourage the Bishops, support the priests, inspire new and holy vocations, help all those who give their lives to the cause of Christ and the spread of his Kingdom.

Happy Juan Diego, true and faithful man! We entrust to you our lay brothers and sisters so that, feeling the call to holiness, they may imbue every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel. Bless families, strengthen spouses in their marriage, sustain the efforts of parents to give their children a Christian upbringing. Look with favor upon the pain of those who are suffering in body or in spirit, on those afflicted by poverty, loneliness, marginalization, or ignorance. May all people, civic leaders and ordinary citizens, always act in accordance with the demands of justice and with respect for the dignity of each person, so that in this way peace may be reinforced.

Beloved Juan Diego, "the talking eagle"! Show us the way that leads to the "Dark Virgin" of Tepeyac, that she may receive us in the depths of her heart, for she is the loving, compassionate Mother who guides us to the true God. Amen

History of the Miraculous Medal

Miraculous Medal

from the book: 33 Days to Morning Glory

by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC pg. 2169,170


Like the scapular, the miraculous medal is a sacramental. It originated from an apparition of Mary to St. Catherine Laboure, a French nun, living in Paris. The specific apparition that has to do with the miraculous medal occurred on November 27th, 1830.

In that vision of November 27, St. Catherine saw Mary standing on a half-globe, with a serpent crushed beneath her feet and her hands bejewelled with rings, holding a small golden globe with a cross on it.  Bright light shone from some of the jewels on her fingers.  Suddenly, the small golden globe disappeared from Mary’s hands, and she opened her arms outward. The light from the jewels extended out from her hands and a semi-circle frame with an inscription in gold: “O,Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

The vision seemed to rotate and on the reverse side.  Catherine saw the letter “M” with a cross on it and surrounded by twelve stars. The cross stood on a horizontal bar. Under the “M” were two hearts engulfed in flames, one encircled in thorns, and one pierced by a sword.

Mary then told Catherine, “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around their neck.”

Mary explained the meaning of the medal to Catherine as follows.  Mary is Queen of heaven and earth. She crushes Satan  who is helpless before her, under her foot.   ( see Gen. 3:15 ). Her arms are open and the many rays of light are graces she obtains for those who request them. The dark jewels, the ones that are not full of light, represent the graces that are available but that people don’t receive because they don’t ask for them.

The inscription, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee,” refers to Mary’s Immaculate Conception, which means that from the first moment of her conception, she was free from all stain of original sin.

On the back of the medal, the twelve stars which surround Mary, represent the twelve Apostles, who represent the whole Church. The “M” is for Mary and the cross is the Cross of Christ, the symbol of our redemption. The horizontal bar represents the earth. The placement of the cross and the bar on, and in the letter “M” shows Mary’s participation in the Cross of Christ and in our world. The two hearts are those of Jesus and Mary burning with love for us all.

With the Church’s approval, the first “Medals of the Immaculate Conception” were made in 1832, and almost immediately reports of miraculous cures began to spring up so much so that the medal became known as the “miraculous medal”

Since the time of the apparitions, millions of medals have been distributed around the world, especially by people like Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It’s reported that her Missionaries of Charity currently distribute 1.8 million medals per year.

The miraculous medal received liturgical approbation ( special recognition and approval for public prayer) at the direction of Aloisi Cardinal Masella, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, in 1895. It’s one of only three sacramentals in the Church to be so liturgically honored, sharing this distinction with the rosary and the brown scapular.

Far from being a good luck charm or superstition, powerful conversions have taken place through Mary’s intercession and the use of the miraculous medal.

One of the most famous conversions happened to Alphonse Ratisbonne, a Jewish atheist, on January 20, 1842. He despised the Church and the Catholic faith, especially since his older brother Theodor converted to Catholicism and became a Catholic priest. On a dare from a Catholic friend, Baron de Bussieres Ratisbonne began to wear the miraculous medal and to recite the Memorare prayer to prove the fruitlessness of what he thought were just the ridiculous superstitions of the Catholic religion.

On January 20th,  Ratisbonne accompanied Baron de Bussiers into a church, what is now the Basilica of St. Andres delle Fratte in Rome, where the Baron had some business to attend to. When the Baron returned to him, he found Ratisbonne weeping and kissing his medal saying, “I saw her! I saw her!”

He's On His Way

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Father Jerry Gauvreau C.C.
Annunciation of the Lord Parish,
Ottawa, ON, Canada

Immaculate Conception Dec. 8th

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is truly a most beautiful Solemnity we celebrate today, especially in the Church’s Year of Faith.

Our Blessed Mother Mary not only shows us how to have Faith in God but also how to step out into expectant Faith all the while believing in ourselves!

In 1830, Our Blessed Mother appeared to a young girl by the name of Catherine Laboure.

In these apparitions, it was Mary who revealed or instructed Catherine to have the Miraculous medal made –  Catherine spoke to her Spiritual Director and it was then proposed to the Archbishop (of Paris) who agreed and allowed the medal to be made.

For a more detailed explanation see the book: 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC pg. 169,170

Back of the medal: letter M with a Cross above it and a crossbar below it - 12 Stars (apostles) circling this and under the letter M there are 2 hearts – Sacred Heart with crown of thorns & Immaculate Heart, pierced by a sword. 

On the front of the medal; Mary as the Immaculate Conception with the date 1830 and circling Mary are words inscribed which say: “Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” (recourse-turning to thee – turning to someone for help)

The Miraculous medal back then was actually known as the medal of the Immaculate Conception but due to so many cures and miracles people started to call it the Miraculous Medal.

At the time of Our Lady appearing to St. Catherine in 1830 the Immaculate Conception of Mary was widely believed throughout the Church but it wasn’t a dogma of our faith.

Around 1847 it was Pope Pius IX who consulted with the Cardinals and the theologians of the church to help him discern whether or not the Immaculate Conception should be defined as a dogma of the Church - the Cardinals agreed and then over 603 bishops of the world were asked for their input – 543 agreed (4 said no and the rest abstained) on Dec.8th 1854.

The definition itself reads as follows: "We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the first  instant of her conception by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

Just 4 years later in 1858 this dogma of our Faith was confirmed in the Marian Apparitions to St. Bernadette in Lourdes.  After persistent  requests from St. Bernadette as to who she was Mary said to her:  “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Just to re-cap:  The apparitions of Our Blessed Mother to St. Catherine back in 1830 about the Miraculous Medal prepared us for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, and the apparitions at Lourdes to St. Bernadette in 1858 confirmed it.

Turn to Mary today with open hearts for it is when we have open hearts that the Lord will fill them up with Himself

Last night at the CCO Summit – which consisted of a talk, Eucharistic Adoration, praise and worship and confessions, the young lady who spoke challenged all of us to Prepare Him room – "are we doing it?” she asked

Mary said Yes – why can`t we?  What’s holding us back?

A few years ago in one of Our Blessed Mother’s messages (during Lent) from Medugorje, Mary, Our Lady Queen of Peace  said: "our freedom is our weakness." 

This Advent and in the church’s Year of Faith I would like all of us to use our freedom as our strength – choose Jesus!

I encourage everyone today to turn to our Blessed Mother Mary. In fact, each day we need to beg her to obtain the graces we need to totally surrender our hearts to Jesus, to say yes to him just as she did.  Pope Benedict XVI says: Mary is Mother of the Yes.

I think many sons & daughters would learn plenty from their mother-  no question Jesus did.  We need to pay attention or start paying attention to what Our Blessed Mother is telling us. At the Wedding Feast of Cana, Jesus turned water into wine.

Mary instructed the servers to do whatever Jesus told them to do.  This is certainly a good word for us today!

If you’re not sure what this “do whatever he tells you to do”  is for your own life - just ask Mary for help – ask Mary to help you love the Lord Jesus with all your heart as she did.

Fr. Dennis Lemieux from MH in his book, the Air We Breathe encourages us to: sit at the feet of Mary today, to contemplate her and to ask her in silence and prayer to teach us what we need to know about loving God – Amen!
Father Jerry Gauvreau C.C.

After Mass the Knights of Columbus led us in a beautiful Rosary for Life. Click Here to pray this rosary