St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the 17th century French Visitation sister and mystic, along with St. John Eudes, St. Gertrude, and others, is associated with the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary says of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that she is the mirror of the Sacred Heart. Her love is a reflection, an image of Christ’s Heart.
Any authentic teaching about Mary will make clear that God is always the source of life. Mary is His humble handmaid, chosen from all mankind, to participate in a most extraordinary way in the mystery of the Incarnation. From Heaven she continues, through her maternal prayers, to bring the world to her Son.
Some years ago, Pope Benedict XVI surprised some people when he spoke about our responsibility to be conscientious stewards of creation. Addressing Italian students in 2011, the “conservative” Pope called on them to become ‘guardians of nature’ and follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology. It should not shock us to think that those we might call “conservatives” are determined to conserve the goods entrusted to mankind.
The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) was convened in an era of cultural upheaval and challenge. Pope John XXIII inaugurated the Council mindful of the “signs of the times.”
His successor, Pope Paul VI, continued and completed this historic gathering, the purpose of which was to proclaim the Gospel message of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Word of redemption and truth written on the human heart, in the context of the modern age. Its message was not new. The Council echoed the continuous teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
In the last weeks of the liturgical year, the Church provides for us, in her readings and prayers, a meditation on the final glorious coming of Jesus. He is the Son of Man come to judge the living and the dead. He is the eternal King, whose reign is our peace, and whose Kingdom, even now, provides the context for our continuing conversion.
As we begin the Advent season, our eyes and heart are also directed to the coming of the King, the newborn King of Bethlehem. He is Emmanuel, “God with us,” who, in the mystery of the Incarnation has united Himself in some way to every human person. (See Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, no. 22)
Epiphany is a Feast Day within the Church’s liturgical celebration of Christmas. In the current Western tradition, we associate it with the “Visit of the Magi,” or visitors from the East recounted in Matthew’s Gospel. (Mt 2:1-12). Epiphany is traditionally celebrated the 12th day after Christmas, (Twelfth Night), January 6th. In the Catholic dioceses of the United States this feast has been moved to the Sunday after January 6.
Epiphany takes its name from the Greek epiphania, a manifestation. Jesus, born quietly in Bethlehem’s stable, is revealed, or made manifest, as the Son of God. In the recognition of Him by the Magi, the Christ, He is revealed to the “nations.” (see, for example, Is 42:6; Is 60: 1-6; and Psalm 72:11)